Portrait Painting with the Little Ones

The other day I was doing a lesson from Artistic Pursuits that I really loved and I thought I would share a little bit about it with you guys.  We’re still occasionally using an Artistic Pursuits book that I reviewed earlier this year.  All of the lessons are great, but we really liked this one.

In this lesson, the author teaches us about drawing portraits.  First we examine a portrait of Henry the Eighth and we answer questions about the portrait.  Then, we learn that our assignment it to draw pictures of ourselves or our friends with our watercolor crayons.  The author gives some advice about shapes in your head and about placement of features on the head for us to listen to and look at.

One of my highlights for this lesson was when I was reading about how the head is shaped like an oval.  Monkey ran to his paper yelling, “Oovals!!  I know how to draw oovals!!”  (I’m going to have to eventually correct this pronunciation, but not today!

To use watercolor crayons, all you really need is watercolor paper, watercolor crayons, a paintbrush and water.  If you’ve never used watercolor crayons, you should definitely try them.  You color with them like with crayons, and then brush the water over to make it into a painting.  I love it for first painting work with children because they have much more control over the outcome of their painting than they do when using traditional watercolors.

So, we begin to draw and color in the painting.  Rose decides to use watercolor pencils instead of crayons.  She has both in her artbox because she prefers the sharp points on the pencils.


Firecracker, as always, is the first one finished.  He draws very quickly in a cartoonish style.  His painting is of “Connor the Strongman.”


Monkey is the second one to finish.  He is having so much fun with his paintings that he decides to make two more paintings!


Owlet works hard at a drawing, and I’m very proud of how good it looks.  Then, she decides to heavily coat her painting with a layer of mud-looking brown watercolor crayons.


This leaves Rose and me working on paintings.  A lot of times this is when Rose gets discouraged because everyone else is long done, so I’ve started painting with her to encourage her and keep her company.  Finally, Rose turns out a self-portrait.  It’s done from a picture, but she’s put herself in a wig and Halloween costume.

portrait painting

As I’m sitting and watching Rose work, I feel moved to do my own painting of Rose.  So, here it is.


Neither one of us captures the look of Rose or her essence, but we’ve spent a fun and relationship-building time drawing and painting.  So, what about you guys?  Have you portrait painted with your children?  Do you paint too or just leave it to the kids?


Bunnicula’s Cream Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

This month’s Poppins Book Nook theme is called To The Kitchen!  So, when I was looking for a book to share with you guys, I started trying to think of a book that inspired us to get in the kitchen and create.  It took me a little bit of thinking, but then I realized that I already had the perfect book!

Bunnicula's Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes

For those of you who are not familiar with the Bunnicula series of books, it follows the adventures of a paranoid cat, a nocturnal bunny and two dogs, one of which is the narrator.  The narrator, Harold the dog, spends several pages throughout the series of books fantasizing about his love of all things chocolate (Don’t forget this is fiction!  I know not to feed dogs chocolate!)  Most fondly, he fantasized about chocolate cream filled cupcakes.

Given Firecracker also often dreams of all things chocolate and sweet, he decided that we must make our own cream filled chocolate cupcakes.  We used a recipe from The Pioneer Woman that we made minor adaptations to, and I’m going to share with you today.  They are completely delicious, and if you like chocolate, you might find yourself eating a bunch of them!!

Bunnicula’s Cream Filled Chocolate Cupcakes


2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 sticks of butter

4 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1 cup boiling water

Directions:  Spray 18 muffin cups with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine 2 flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Combine milk, baking soda, vanilla and eggs in a separate bowl.  Melt butter in a saucepan.  Add cocoa powder and boiling water and stir to combine.  Pour cocoa mixture into flour mixture and stir.  Then, add liquid mixture and fully combine.  Divide mixture between baking cups and bake for fifteen minutes or until done.  Set aside to cool while you make the cream filling.

Cream Filling:

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening

4 cups powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1/4 cup milk

1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract

Beat together the butter and shortening.  Once you have those completely combined, add the remaining ingredients and beat together, making sure you stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Once we had finished doing this (and our cupcakes were cool), we placed cream filling in a ziploc bag and cut the tip.  We put the tip into the bottom center of the cupcake and squeezed cream into the cupcake.  You’ll feel a pressure while squeezing and you’ll know then that you shouldn’t keep trying to squeeze cream in.

Chocolate Frosting:

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

6 tablespoons corn syrup

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

2 tsp vanilla

Melt together and combine milk, butter and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium heat.  Place chocolate chips into a bowl.  Add vanilla to milk mixture and then pour over chocolate chips.  Whisk as chocolate chips melt and then pour over cupcakes.

As you can imagine, things were kind of chaotic (in a good way) with four kids in the kitchen trying to make these together, so I didn’t think to pick up my camera to take photos of the process, but we loved the finished product.


And, of course, if you’re looking for some learning opportunities with Bunnicula, this is not the only post I have on our Bunnicula learning adventures.  You can also visit:

Poppins Book Nook main image 2014 - 2015

Don’t forget to check out some of the other Poppins Book Nook posts!! The wonderful bloggers that participate in the Poppins Book Nook are:

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ My Bright Firefly ~A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~Where Imagination Grows ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am  ~ Simple Living Mama

And, as always, you can link up your own “To the Kitchen” related posts with us.  Just use the button below to go to the link-up!


You can also visit the main Poppins Book Nook Page at Enchanted Homeschooling Mom to learn more about past themes and future themes!

*Clipart by MelonHeadz

Parenting Unchained Giveaway!! ($300+ value)

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been reading a book about the lies that Satan would have us believe about parenting, and about the parenting truths we can apply to overcome these lies from the Bible.  I’m finding it to be a very interesting and helpful read, and I can’t wait to share a full review with you in a couple of weeks!!

This book is authored by Dr. James Dempsey, who is a family minister and a trainer for the National Institute for Biblical Parenting.  I can tell you that he has a heart for parents and families that really shows through in his writing.

Today, however, I have a great opportunity to you to win some resources that are really going to help your parenting!!

Parenting Unchained Kindle Paperwhite Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Parenting Unchained: Overcoming the Ten Deceptions That Shackle Christian Parents, we are joining other members of the Launch Team in a wonderful giveaway filled with a Kindle Paperwhite, $25 Amazon Gift Card and several biblical parenting products! A value of more than $300!

Here’s what you could win:

Kindle Paperwhite 6″ eReader ($119 value)

Unlike tablets, Kindle Paperwhite is designed to deliver a superior reading experience:

  • No screen glare in bright sunlight
  • Read with one hand—over 30% lighter than iPad mini
  • Battery lasts weeks, not hours
  • Built-in light—read without eyestrain

Your Kindle comes loaded with 2 biblical parenting books right at the start:

Parenting Unchained Kindle Edition ($4.99 value)

In Parenting Unchained – Overcoming the Ten Deceptions that Shackle Christian Parents, Dr. James D. Dempsey reveals the ten most destructive lies about parenting. He writes from the heart about the way these lies infected his own parenting, and illuminates the Bible’s powerful truths that counter each lie. Both Biblical and practical, each section ends with home activities to help parents take immediate steps to develop their kids’ character–character that lasts when they leave home.

Home Improvement Kindle Edition ($4.99 value)

This book contains eight principles every family needs written by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. You’ll learn practical, handon ideas for helping your kids deal with their anger, constructive ways to end discipline times, and keys that will help children change their hearts, not just their behavior. Turansky and Miller offer tried and true strategies in a refreshingly new family-friendly format. This is the parenting book you can read to your kids.

$25 Amazon Gift Card

Buy even more books for your new Kindle!

The Christian Parenting Handbook and Companion Guide ($39.85 value)

The Christian Parenting Handbook contains nuggets of parenting wisdom condensed into 50 short chapters, each one biblical, practical, and relevant for parents of children ages 2-18. Learn appropriate ways to correct, instruct, and set limits. Glean wisdom for dealing with emotions, conflict, and developing closeness in your family… and much more. These 50 strategies provide you with hands-on tools for parenting children of any age.

The Companion Guide is a workbook of 50 lessons along with 50 audio tips to take you through The Christian Parenting Handbook step by step. Each lesson contains advice from Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller in a 5 minute audio tip and then offers teaching, an assignment, a Bible verse, and a prayer to help you apply each idea or strategy in your family. The tips are available to you as MP3 downloads and access to them comes in the workbook.

The Family Toolbox ($99.95 value)

The Family Toolbox has 8 lessons. Each one has a 1-2 minute scene of a family living life and experiencing common challenges in their relationships. A discussion guide prompts dialogue between parents and teens and a 10-minute teaching session for parents featuring Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN gives practical tools to use right away.

As your family works through the lessons, teens learn 16 Life Success Principles and parents learn valuable tools.

Philippians in 28 Weeks Digital ($18.95 value)

It is easier to share the Word of God when it is etched upon your heart. Philippians in 28 Weeks™ is a delightful and painless way to commit the entire book of Philippians to memory. This streamlined approach uses memory cards carefully constructed to present Philippians thought-by-thought, copywork versesjournal questionsweekly reflections,recitation charts to test your retention, and an optional tracking tool called “The Log.”

To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below. U.S. residents, age 18 and older. Void where prohibited by law.

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Join us for the Parenting Unchained Facebook Release Party. There will be even more prizes and giveaways there and the author of Parenting Unchained will be present to answer your questions!

RSVP today so you won’t forget!

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Longing for More (Review)

Longing for More

I’ve been on the market for a new devotional, so when I received the opportunity to review Longing for More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life by Timothy Willard, I jumped at it.  Why?  Because I am longing for more…more joy, more peace, more love, more Jesus in my life each day.  I thought that I would try a daily dose of reflection in the hopes that I would become more like Jesus.

When I received the book, I immediately started thumbing through it, and I wasn’t disappointed.  The book is divided into fifty-one chapters, with each week’s chapter covering a different theme.  Topics include themes such as joy, love, gentleness, romance, and disappointment, with each 12th week containing a longer topic for reflection and journaling.  The author has provided five devotions and prayer for each week, realizing that often our daily rhythm on the weekend is different from the one that we cherish during the week.  Also, although it is undated, and you can start at anytime, the reflections tend to go along with the seasons, and you might find it easier to start around the beginning of the year.

This book is deeply reflective and meditative.  It draws on classic works and prayers, and while the author’s tone is one of encouragement and explanation, his tone is never preachy.  Instead, he acts as a fellow traveler and pilgrim along the way.  This is a book that is beautiful and one that I expect that I will return to often, long after I have finished my year’s journey with it.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers.  My opinions are my own.

Nurturing Great Kids Devotional (Review)

Nurturing Great Kids


I confess that recently life has run me down as a parent.  It’s nothing major, but it’s just the grind of the every day.  Because of this, I’ve been on the look out for some resources to help give me back some strength and grace as a parent.  So, when I had the opportunity to review the Once-a-Day Nurturing Great Kids Devotional, I thought that this might be a source of encouragement for me.

The devotional is 365 days, and you can start at any time or follow the date recommendations on each page.  There are no specific seasonal reflections however, so you could start at day one anytime.  There’s also a topical index at the back, so that you can look up scripture and devotional advice by topic.  Each day has a scripture, a devotional application, a parenting principle and some points to ponder.

It’s not a beautiful devotional.  The look and the feel is pretty basic, and I strongly dislike the parenting principles because they’re so trite.  However, most days the advice is welcome, and the three points to ponder each day give you many things you can reflect upon and pray about for your family.  I’m going to be continuing to use it as I find both points of agreement and disagreement with the author of the devotional, but I was expecting the devotional to come down on the nurturing side of “nurturing great kids,” and instead I find it coming down on the instruction and reproof side of parenting.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book through the BookLook Bloggers program.  I wasn’t required to write a positive opinion and my opinions are my own.

Thinking About Heaven

thinking about heavenIt’s been almost a year since Firecracker drew this picture.  I remember the morning that he sat and drew it.  We had been reading out of Romans and a little out of Revelation for Community Bible Study.  The question asked him to draw what he imagined that heaven would look like.  He immediately began drawing people, angels, and Jesus.  He said things as he drew like, “I can’t wait to go to heaven.  Jesus will be there.  So, will Paw, and Abraham and Paul and all the other people who knew Jesus and died.”

He continued to draw his heaven full of people.  Then, He said, “Don’t worry.  I’m not going to try to go there early.  I just know it’s going to be awesome there.”

Out of a heart of a child came a picture that has transformed my views of heaven.  Always before I had pictured the gold and mansions described in the Bible, but never before had I thought about the the people who are at the heart of heaven.  Never before had I been excited at the idea of seeing Jesus and the other ones that I loved when I thought about heaven.  Always before I had thought of heaven as a “someday,” “not wanting to go anytime soon” type of place.

This one conversation and drawing with my son has been something that God has used to change my heart though.  Now, when I consider heaven, I think about all the people I love who will be there.  And best of all, I think about Jesus.  My son taught me a lesson.  Heaven is going to be an awesome place, and while, like my son, I’m not aiming to go there early, I am more and more aware of how temporary, fragile and short this life is in the eyes of eternity.

Circle Paintings

The little kids have been using circles as the shape that they’ve been concentrating on for a while now.  We don’t do circle activities every day but I try to have them work on making a new page for their circle book about once a week.  The older kids join in when there’s an activity that is appropriate for them (such as this one).

I’ve seen several variations of this activity on Pinterest, so I feel like it’s safe to write my own variation on this craft :-)  For this, you will need:

  • Toilet paper tubes
  • Black Tempera Paint
  • Watercolor Paper
  • Watercolor paint, brushes, etc.

To begin, since the children are creating a circle-shaped book of their circle activities, I cut each child a piece of watercolor paper into a circle shape.  (I’m tracing a paper plate to get the size and shape of my circles.)  Then, I set out black tempera paint and toilet paper tubes to stamp the paper with.  The kids are quite familiar with this technique, so this portion was completed fairly quickly.  My black paint is a cheaper brand, and it dried with just a little greenish tint.


A few days later, we picked up the paintings, and pulled out the watercolor paints.  I didn’t give them any instructions other than that we were going to fill in the circles.  However, I did one alongside them, so they would know how I was doing it.  (There are some cool variations where you fill in the circles to do color mixing, but the children weren’t interested in that.)

paintingThe kids were happy to be painting, and I was pleased with the results.  From Owlet, my three year old:


From Monkey, my four year old:


From Rose, my seven year old:

Circle Paintings

And from Firecracker, my nine year old:


They all had their individual flair, but turned out quite pretty!!