God’s Promises Bottle Cap Rainbow

One of my big girl’s favorite summer activities is a camp called “Created for a Purpose.” It is a fabulous day camp hosted just for girls by a local church. They spend a week celebrating all the many good plans God has for them. They talk about how God created girls with talents and characteristics and interests that are uniquely their own because He needs them to fulfill His purpose in their own way. Each day they work on a project that is very “girly” and fun.

This rainbow project is one that I will hang on the wall in the girls’ bathroom because, not only is it cute, but it has truths I want them to see everyday. The rainbow is a sign between God and His people. When God makes a covenant or promise to us, His promises are YES and AMEN. (For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” ascends to God for his glory. 2 Corinthians 1:20.) And we know when He promises us something, He will not go back on it. (God isn’t a man that he would lie, or a human being that he would change his mind. Has he ever spoken and not done it, or promised and not fulfilled it? Numbers 23:19) I want them to know that truth in their spirits so that when the devil speaks lies to them, they will hold fast to the Word of God stored within them and be able to discern His voice.

So on to our project. First you need to gather your materials. You will need a board cut to the size you want, acrylic paint, bottle caps (they used some vintage and some spray painted in rainbow colors), small nails, a Sharpie marker, and about 2 feet of ribbon with which to hang it.

Rainbow Title

Step 1: Paint the board. We wanted the grain of the wood to show through, so we watered down the paint. However, you can paint it any way you like. Allow to dry fully before moving on to next step.


Step 2: Nail bottle caps to form the “spine” of your rainbow. Be sure to use proper order of colors. You know the ROYGBIV mnemonic, right? Well, we didn’t use indigo, but you get the idea. Simply nail in one bottle cap of each color to form a vertical line down the middle of your painting. Start with the red bottlecap at the top and end with the purple (or violet) bottlecap at the bottom. You want tome space between the purple bottle cap and the bottom of the board so that you have room for your rainbow to arch.


Step 3: Fill in the rest of the rainbow beginning with bottom row and moving up. After the spine is in place, finish out the purple row. Then move on to the blue row. Going in this order will keep you from having a cattywompus rainbow. (Sorry, I slipped into southernese.) When finished you should have something that resembles this…



Step 4: Using the Sharpie, add the wording around the edges. You can use whatever promises from God’s Word that you want your child to remember. Ours says, “God’s promises: He always loves me – He will always be with me – He will give me the things I need – He forgives me – He will guide me through tough times – He will keep me safe.”


Step 5: Add ribbon to hang. Using two more of the nails, tack each end of the ribbon onto the back of the piece to hang. You will want to add ribbon close to the top so that the piece doesn’t kick out from the wall when hung.

I pray that as your children work on this piece they will be reminded of God’s faithfulness toward His children. He is able and will keep His promises!

To see more of our artwork projects, click here and here.

Giveaway: A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet

Just in case I haven’t convinced you to BUY your own copy of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by talking about it here or here, I am giving away a copy. And this is not just any copy of the book, this one will be signed by Sophie Hudson herself! Can you even believe it?

There are a few ways to enter, as you can see by the handy Rafflecopter doodly-doo below. Giveaway will open on Thursday and close on Saturday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Perhaps you aren’t the giveaway-entering type and just want to go ahead and purchase a copy. You may click on this picture for a Kindle copy:

or you may click on this picture for the paperback:

(Those are Amazon affiliates links, by the way. If enough of you buy a book, maybe I can take Sophie to lunch and let her know how much you enjoyed reading, mkay?)

Today is the Day!!


It’s book release day for my friend and yours, Sophie (Better known around the interwebs as BooMama.) Sophie was kind enough to send me an advance release copy of the book to read, and y’all… all I can say is I sure do hope she writes a thousand more! A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet is a hilarious and touching and sentimental and – Did I say HILARIOUS? – account of life in a southern family. It celebrates all that is good and right about living in our neck ‘o the woods. I can’t wait for you all to read it so we can discuss. Here’s a little something to get you started…

Now y’all get to your local Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Lifeway, or what have you and buy a copy.

PS – If you are in the Birmingham area, I received word yesterday that Sophie will be doing a book signing at Books-A-Million at Brookwood Village on Saturday, June 15th at 3:00. For my Mississippi peeps, she will be signing books on Thursday, June 6th at the Liberty Shop in Meridian (3:00-6:00) and on Friday, June 7th at Lemuria in Jackson from 4:00-6:00.

Summer Reading List

We’ve had a busy school year, folks. As we have hustled and bustled through it, I have not had much time for pleasure reading. Oh sure, I’ve read history and science and Bible, but haven’t had much time to sit still long enough for just-for-fun reading. Now that summer is here, I am looking forward to spending time in my porch swing with a few titles I’ve been eyeing. Here is what is on my list:

1. Start by Jon Acuff

2. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

3. What Women Fear: Walking in Faith That Transforms by Angie Smith

4. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

5. Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Lauren Hillenbrand

6. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

7. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

8. The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

9. Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices From a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz

10. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

11. America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great by Ben Carson

12. The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World
by Randall E. Stross

What is on your summer reading list?

(PS: Those pictures are Amazon affiliate links, so if you click on them and buy, I make a few pennies to keep this little blog ‘o mine going 🙂

Library Day

It’s library day at the Hill Hangout. My stack is as big as the girls’ today, thanks to the fact that school is officially OVER!!

What are y’all reading that’s good? Any great read-alouds for kids?


10 MORE Summer Art Projects


One of my most popular posts of all time here on The Hill hangout was called “Summer Art Projects.” Who knew that so many parents look online for inspiring art projects for their children? After I participated in a chat yesterday focused on incorporating art and creativity into your homeschool day, I was challenged anew to give my girls more time, space, and resources to create. Littles have such an artistic imagination and they need more freedom to let it run wild! After all, God is the master creator, and we are created in HIS image. He has gifted each of us with the ability to create unique things, if only we will take the time to develop the spark.

So to get your artistic wheels spinning, here are 10 MORE summer art projects you and your kids can enjoy:


1. Kathy at Art Projects for Kids introduces us to self-portraits in the style of James Rizzi. My girls had never done a raised image like this before, so it was a new, fun concept. Here is how Pitty Pat’s turned out:


Obviously, we used different media than Kathy recommended, but it’s what we had on hand and since art is free expression anyway, we went with it 🙂 While we created, we talked about how God made us each with unique qualities, but that we are all made in His image.

2. Gah! Do we love Georgia O’Keefe’s flower paintings, or what?!? Deep Space Sparkle used Georgia’s inspiration to create these flower masterpieces using construction paper, oil pastels, watercolors, and patterned (scrapbook) paper. This would also be fun using painted paper. As you cut and paste, you can discuss Matthew 6 where Jesus tells us not to worry about what we have. God makes the flowers beautifully clothed and gives them the food they need. Won’t He much more care for us, His beautiful creation?


3. We’ve talked about doodling our memory verses before. I adore a project that kills two birds with one stone, and this one definitely fits the bill. The girls think of it as a fun art project, but what they don’t realize is that at the same time they are committing God’s word to memory. Creativity AND hiding His word in their hearts – my kind of project!


4. Blow painting is fun and can be executed in a variety of ways. All you need is watered down acrylic or tempra paint in several colors, a few straws, a medicine dropper, and water color paper. Here’s an example from Kabubble:


Simply use the medicine dropper to add a few drops of paint to the paper. Use the straw to blow the paint around in all directions. You can put paper in a cookie sheet to keep the mess to a minimum.

This is also a great project to do with a crowd. We did this one in VBS last summer. The message was that no matter which way life blows you, God is making you into His beautiful masterpiece.

5. The inspiration for drawing fireworks came from Art Projects for Kids. Can you tell she’s one of my favorite online sources for art ideas? Kathy is an art teacher and has developed hundreds of art lessons, many of which she shares at her site. This project was fun because BOTH of my girls could do it well. No frustration that big sister’s piece looked better than little sister’s 🙂


6. An easy, fun outdoor project is a Chalk Self Portrait (aka Dead Body Outline). All you need for this project is a bucket of chalk and a sidewalk or driveway. The girls lay down on the driveway, and I outlined them in chalk.


Then I gave them free reign to decorate themselves any way they’d like. Again, we discussed that God made us all with the qualities He chose for us. We have so many things to love about ourselves and thank Him for, because He created us just the way He wants us.

Chalk Portraits

7. Kandinsky was a Russian abstract artist known for his concentric circle paintings. Our friend Kathy once again gave us great inspiration for using Kandinsky’s ideas to create a piece of our own.

Kandinsky Trees

We were short on time the day we created these, so they could have used a few more “leaves”, but I was happy that both of my girls worked together happily on this project. Big sister cut out the tree trunk, and little sister cut her own circles. This would be a fun project to adapt for a science lesson on how leaves change with the seasons. And since everything we teach should be God-centric, you can build on God as the organizer of time and changer of seasons: “He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” (Daniel 2:21)

8. Artsonia is another great online source for art ideas. It is an online museum of children’s artwork. You can spend hours looking through pieces that have been submitted. We loved the paper cutting projects like this horse:


All you’d need are scissors, paper, and scraps of random materials. What a fun way to use up all your left-over art supplies and show kids that God is knitting together the random parts of our lives into a beautiful creation that He can use.

9. Print-making projects are a little more involved and require a few special items to create, but they can also be a lasting treasure. Fine Lines has done a great tutorial on how to use styrofoam plates to create beautiful prints.

We did these in VBS a couple of years ago, and I was so touched by how much care the kids took with their pieces. We were discussing how time-consuming it is for missionaries to translate the Bible into other languages. We demonstrated by having the kids write a Bible verse onto a piece of styrofoam backward (because words have to be written in mirror-image to print correctly.) It was difficult for them, but they persevered. It taught them how painstaking it is to translate something, and how grateful we are to have easy access to God’s Word. My daughter’s print hangs in my kitchen.


10. Summer is a fabulous time for extended art projects like these papier mache Greek Urns from Art Lessons for Kids (different site than Art Projects for Kids).


We will be studying Greek history in the fall, so we will definitely be making these. They give an in-depth tutorial on supplies and instructions. This will be a fun outside project, as it will be messy and the Alabama summer sun will help the papier mache and the paint to dry faster.

Do you have a favorite website for art ideas? A Pinterest board of great art projects you’ve pinned? Posts on your own blog of great pieces your kiddos have completed? Leave a link in the comments so we can all check them out!

Visual Latin

As a homeschooling mom, I am filled with a hundred different varieties of angst and doubt over how well I am teaching my children. Am I covering it all? What if I leave out something really important? What if they aren’t prepared for college when the time comes? And I know I’m not alone, because at every single curriculum fair I’ve ever attended, I see mom who pore over books and charts and CD-ROMs and DVDs just trying to be sure we are providing our kids with the best education we possibly can.

After five years of teaching my children at home, I have learned that one of the best things I can do to put my mind at ease is to invest in good curricula that I KNOW is teaching my children what they need to know about any given subject. It doesn’t take a homeschooling parent long to know which publishers are reputable and which leave big gaps in learning. There are good, solid curricula out there, but sometimes you have to weed through a few bad ones to get to the ones that you stick with.

Take Latin, for example. I knew from early on in this journey that learning Latin is part of a classical education. However, my only exposure to Latin was when my mom enrolled me in a course at the local junior college when I was in middle school and I cried after every class until she let me quit. (Perhaps I was a little more dramatic than the situation called for, but it was a time I needed a little grace and was HAPPY to bow out.) I knew I needed a well-developed, well-respected Latin curriculum that gave my girls a solid Latin foundation. I tried out one curriculum that indeed met all my criteria, but MA thought it was boring, so we struggled to get it done every day. I really needed something that was going to be slightly more entertaining than translating words and memorizing declensions from a workbook. Needless to say, Visual Latin was a God-send.

Not only does Visual Latin provide a solid foundation in teaching the language, Duane does it in a way that is silly and entertaining to my 11 year old. She really looks forward to watching the videos. Also, one of the hallmarks of Visual Latin is the belief that children will earn a language better by immersion into the language than by studying a textbook. As a result, Visual Latin uses lots of stories, paragraphs, and texts which hold student’s attention and teach them more than merely translating a list of sentences that don’t fit together. (Sure, there is some translating of sentences, but the immersion technique works WONDERS!)

Y’all, anytime a curriculum gives my children a solid foundation of learning AND does it in a fun way, I am a fan. Because, I gotta tell ya, it’s no fun to have to make a child in tears study their Latin vocabulary or translate their sentences. It’s really nice when they say, “Mom, I think I’ll go watch a Latin video.” We, alrighty then.

I really appreciate that Visual Latin sent us lessons 11-20 to do this review, but I would have given them a great review anyway. They really are our curriculum of choice.

And so you know, I’m finally over the middle school drama and learning a little Latin myself. 🙂

What about you? What are your tried-and-true curriculum choices?

Doodling to Remember


Here at the Hill Hangout, we’ve already covered why we memorize scripture. It’s life to us. We have also covered the technique we use in our homeschool to commit God’s word to heart. We have used this method for several years, and it is a tried and true way to get scripture into your head and into your heart. However, we occasionally like to make scripture memory a little more FUN. My children are little Picassos who remember things faster and more accurately if they can incorporate a little artwork into their lessons.


We pull out our markers and whatever verse we’re working on memorizing.


And then we doodle to our heart’s content. We use lots of colors, various media, colored paper, scissors, glue – whatever we need to make the verses stick.


I have to help LIttle Bit write her verse and then read it to her, but she gets into the artwork just like her big sister.


“I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)

Pluralizing Surnames on Christmas Cards

Every year I have the same grammar questions. They come around as I am addressing Christmas cards, and I bet you have the same questions. When I am addressing cards, instead of using a formal title like “Mr. and Mrs. John Jones” (especially when I want to include children’s names as well), I usually opt for a more casual “The Jones Family”. However, occasionally I like to go with “The Joneses,” but then that doesn’t look right, so I try “The Jones,” but that looks too singular. How do you use the plural form of surnames???

My go-to article to refresh my memory on proper grammatical pluralizing of surnames is found on Grammar Girl. In this article, Mignon Fogarty gives the down and dirty on this topic.

1. The most common way to change a family name to its plural form is to simply add an “s” to the end. The surname “Hill” becomes “Hills.”

2. For surnames ending in “s,” “x,” “z,” “ch,” and “sh” an “es” is added to the ending. So, “Jones” becomes “Joneses.” My maiden name “Mills” becomes “Millses.”

3. In all circumstances, you keep the base name the same, regardless of whether you would typically pluralize the word in another way. For instance, let’s look at “Chapman.” In everyday language, we would pluralize “man” by changing it to “men.” We ignore this rule when it comes to surnames and always keep the surname’s original form. Therefore, instead of changing it to “Chapmen,” you would use “Chapmans.”

4. Never, ever, ever use an apostrophe to pluralize a name. Apostrophes are ONLY used to show possession or to form a contraction. Therefore, the following are incorrect:
Let’s send a Christmas card to the Jones’.
I like to hear the Chapman’s sing.
The Mills’ are some of my favorite people.
Instead, you should say:
Let’s send a Christmas card to the Joneses.
I like to hear the Chapmans sing.
The Millses are some of my favorite people.
Should you, in fact, need to show possession to a plural surname, you would do it in the following way:
The Millses’ home is so lovely.
The Chapmans’ singing sounds like angels.
The Joneses’ card is in the mail.

Clear as mud?

The Grammar Nerd


Christmas Storybook Favorites

One of the most meaningful Christmas traditions we have around the Hill Hangout is the reading of a new Christmas children’s storybook. We started this tradition when Mary Anneliese was a little punkin’. We thought she might not understand the real story of Christmas as read from the Bible, so we looked for a storybook that was a little more on her level. Though our girls are now old enough to understand the Bible – and we read the passage of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Eve aloud – we have kept the tradition of reading a new Christmas storybook each year. It’s fun for me to choose the new book, and the girls both enjoy hearing their daddy or me read to them. Through the years, we have acquired quite a selection of stories about Christmas, so I thought you might enjoy seeing some of them.

If you have never read the God Gave Us… series by Lisa Tawn Bergren to your children, you have missed some very sweet stories. We received God Gave Us You as a gift when we were expecting our first baby. When PItty Pat came along, we started reading God Gave Us Two to big sister. God Gave Us Christmas is a very sweet addition to our collection.

Liz Curtis Higgs writes another of our favorite series of children’s books. She has written a parable for several holidays, pointing out the Christian characteristic behind each of those holidays. She has one for Easter called The Parable of the Lily: Special 10th Anniversary Edition (Parable Series)
and one for Halloween/fall called The Pumpkin Patch Parable: Special Edition (Parable Series). But her Christmas story is called
The Parable Series: The Pine Tree Parable.

Dandi Daley Mackall has written hundreds of children’s books. She has written a fabulous series for younger children on the armor of God, the Lord’s Prayer, the Beattitudes, and so on. The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving is her Christmas story. It is a beautifully illustrated book telling the story of St. Nicholas. This sweet book shows that Christmas is a time to show the same generosity to others that God has shown to us.

You can’t have a list of Christmas storybooks without including Max Lucado’s The Crippled Lamb. You will need a tissue when you read this one. It is the heart-warming story of a lamb who is born with a bum leg. It causes him not to be able to run and play with the other lambs. His leg is a source of insecurity and shame for the lamb until one special night when he discovers that because of his leg, he is the perfect lamb for a very special job.

The King’s Christmas List is taken directly from Matthew 25:40 (“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’). Emma and her little dog Shu-Shu are invited to a birthday party for the King. They have no gift to bring that is fit for a King, but they prepare a special Christmas cake, wear their best winter cape and take their special Cherry-Bear. Along the way they find people who are in need of the gifts they bring. Arriving empty-handed, they discover that their giving was exactly what the King wanted all along.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get good, classic children’s literature. Little Golden Books are a great source for Christmas books, and they usually run around $3.00. We own The Christmas Story, The Animals’ Christmas Eve (Little Golden Book), and The Night Before Christmas (Little Golden Book). These are all classic stories that have stood the test of time.

Our family has enjoyed the building holiday traditions together, and reading Christmas books together is a tradition that we all love. But, of course, the BEST Christmas story of all is found in the Bible. We love to read from Isaiah 9 and Luke 2.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11)

Disclaimer: Those links are Amazon Affiliate links, which means I make a few pennies if you buy the books from Amazon after clicking on the link. Although I don’t make much from the sales, every little bit helps. I thank you for allowing this mama to stay home and raise her babies 😉