Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Concert

For the Out of towners that missed it, here are some quick clips of our Childrens' Choir Concert. Unfortunately, they are above the age of way-cute antics (Jack was never one for acting silly anyways) But Laura got involved pretty well with her hand motions. Jack's the one in the red shirt with black sleeves (His head is right above the music stand) Laura is bottom row, far right. Laura also had a line to say to introduce one of the songs, but it was not captured on video. They both did a great job!

video
video

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Review: Potluck Survival Guide

This is a product review for Mama Buzz reviewers. The cookbook Potluck Survival Guide by Cherie Kimmons was provided for me free of charge to review.

Photobucket

Another Cookbook. I know what you are thinking . . .but this is a cookbook that I am actually super excited about. I will tell you why. It has recipes that you can use. Recipes that you will use. That is if you have a family that is as picky as mine. Or if you occassionally are called upon to provide a meal/appetizer/dessert/side dish for a church/school/bake sale/family in need/potluck event. The recipes in this book will get people to tell you they "need the recipe" for that great dish you brought to the function.

Sound like you? It sure sounds like me! Usually I'll flip through a cookbook, frustrated to find only one or two meals that I could present to my family without being laughed at. This one has many recipes that my picky family will eat. Normal recipes, yet yummy!

From cover to cover this book is full of information. Instructions on boiling a chicken, reflections on Meatloaf, and handy tips and serving suggestions in the margines of the recipes make this a book that will not sit on your shelf. The book includes pages of wisdom from obviously experienced sources on how to coordinate that "big event" from decorating to calculating just how much bacon to fry up for that Men's breakfast with 25 guests.

Here my kitchen friendly 6yo Jack is helping mommy break in the cookbook:



Isn't he just adorable . . .I am training him well in the kitchen . . .he'll be a hot commodity in about 15 years.
We chose to make the Cow Pattie Cookies (a favorite from my childhood), also known as "no bake cookies."






The cookbook lays flat (even though my counter wasn't, it has gift bags on it) but the cookbook still stayed open for me.



The hardest part was keeping the toddler away from them while they cooled. A mistake by me to cool them on the kitchen table, you'd think I haven't made cookies before
with children around.



I took a little holiday creative license and sprinkled some to see if these would make a good gift giving treat . . .they do!

Here is the info on how to get a copy, get some as gifts, but make sure you order one for yourself!

Price: $18.96, regularly $24.95

Put out by: Five Star Publications

Links: http://www.fivestarpublications.com/book_detail.php?recordid= 95

http://www.fivestarpublications.com/potluck/book.html

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Homeschool Christmas Party

What you need for a homeschool Christmas party:

Gather all your friends together.

Have That Family with all the kids put on a super cute skit of the events surrounding the birth of our Savior.



Try, try, and try again to get a picture of all the kids together:

















Settle for individual pictures of the children in a more natural setting for them:

Megan:



James:


Jack:


Laura

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Coordinating Outfits


These are the coordinating outfits I made for the kids. I know it is kinda hard to see them, but then again, it is kinda hard to get the kids all together, looking in the *almost* same direction, and not crying. So, this is also the picture for our photo Christmas cards ( see previous sentence for the reason why). I have other holiday outfits for the kids, because I have a huge place in my heart for dressing my kids alike . . .



Posted by Picasa

Sweater and Hairbow

I made the dress,
my mom made the sweater,
I got the headband from my friends' etsy shop
and I attached the hairbow.
Cute baby provided by GodPosted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Review: Wright On Time:Arizona




This book, Wright On Time: Arizona (Book One) was provided to me free of charge for review through Mama Buzz.


Author: Lisa M. Cotrell-Bentley

Although we are commonly told not to judge a book by its cover, I was excited when I first saw this book. The cover led me to believe that this would be a great book for us all to enjoy. In no time at all we joined 7 yo Aidan Wright and his 11yo Nadia sister on their adventure in Arizona.

This story depicts the fictional Wright family, as they "Road school" in their RV. The first book, Arizona, takes them through adventures in caves, searching for minerals, dealing with bats . . .and weaves in enough education to really make it worth your while. Targeted for the 5-12 year old crowd, by 7 yo girl and 5yo boy both enjoyed the adventure. The reading was easy enough for my 7yo to do independently, but we enjoyed reading it as a family during our school day. I can't wait to see what other adventures. I have always been amazed at what a blessed nation we are, with our mountains, plains, wetlands, deserts . . .I know these books will help foster an attitude of appreciation in my children for the wonderful land our nation has been entrusted with.

In addition, the website also feature a blog by Nadia who is transcribing from her paper journal, I think my daughter will enjoy seeing what Nadia has to say about her adventures.

In conclusion, I am thrilled that I have been made aware of this series. I am eagerly awaiting the upcoming books. Being a military family that has made our own way through 3 states in the last 6 years, I think that this series will be enjoyable for us. As the books come out for the states that have been part of our lives, we will definitely be ordering them.

Currently the book Arizona is the only one available, with Utah available as a pre-order. They are easy to obtain at the Wright On Time Website Store.
It can also be obtained at Amazon.com

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I know it is time . . .Stay tuned

I know it is about time for an updated photo of my children wearing coordinated outfits. I don't know why I am so fond of my children dressed this way, but I'm doing it while I can. A shipment will be arriving soon, and I am going to try to set up a little studio in the house (or maybe outside based on the weather). So, stay tuned.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Review: The Ultimate Cloth

**This is a Mama Buzz review for The Ultimate Cloth, It was provided for me free of charge for review**

Price: $6

Link: http://www.ultimateclothamerica.com/index.html

Media Blurb:

The Ultimate Cloth is eco-friendly solution for homes as well as a money and time saver. The Ultimate Cloth is a brand new technology – in fact, it is the only cloth to receive a new patent in the last 25 years. The Ultimate Cloth is a simple, green and effective one-step cleaning process. The Ultimate Cloth cleans any hard surface – glass, wood, granite, stainless steel and many more – with just water! No longer do you have to use harsh chemicals in your home, nor do you need spend hundreds of dollars per year buying them. The Ultimate Cloth has been lab tested to remove 96% of bacteria, without the use of chemicals. And, can cut 50% off your cleaning time. The Ultimate Cloth is truly the ultimate in green cleaning."


My Blurb:

I really like this cloth. It resembles a very rugged paper towel, and it has been used primarily in my kitchen since it arrived in my mailbox. Clicking on the link above will take you to their very informative website with many, many suggestions for usage. I tried it out on the following:

1. My stainless steel kitchen sink. I love it. I am an occasional follower of the FLYLady (and her goal of the shiny sink). Keeping this cloth handy made for a great finishing touch to a clean sink, especially by getting rid of the water spots and leaving a shine that I love. I also used it to wipe down my stainless steel bowl on my Kitchenaid mixer, again, great results.

2. I used it to scrub my stove. I was almost hesitant at first, since I did not want to damage the cloth . . . but its durability impressed me as I got some rather tough spots cleaned.

3. Windows/Mirrors. My small children like to leave fingerprints on my windows, and toothpastey water splashes on my bathroom mirrors. This worked well on those jobs, but I did have a small learning curve on the level of dampness that the cloth should be at for these jobs. Not a big deal at all for me.

4. I didn't realize it until I read it on the website, but it can be used as a flat mop refill. I have the swiffer model that takes both wet and dry refills so I ran to try it out. I like how quickly I could give my kitchen floor a cleaning without worrying about what chemicals I was leaving on my floors. I would mop, remove it, rinse/ring it out, and replace. No sick feeling in my stomach trying to calculate how much each of those refills was eating out of my grocery budget!

I love that it can be bleached, although I have not tried that yet. It can also go into the washing machine. I usually let it air dry on my kitchen towel rack (aka stove handle) and then fold it away in the towel drawer for its next use. Be careful to advise husbands, house guests, and if you are so lucky . . . your maid . . . that this is not a disposable towel.

I like to get my children involved in the household cleaning, and I feel very comfortable with handing them The Ultimate Cloth and letting them clean what they can. (usually they are armed with spray bottles and some paper towels) I believe the $6 price tag will save lots for our family in the paper towel department!

FREE OFFER FROM THE MAKERS OF THE ULTIMATE CLOTH

Want to try it out for yourself?

Become a fan on Facebook (Click on Facebook link)
or Twitter (Click on Twitter Link)

Those links will provide you with the info you need to obtain YOUR free ULTIMATE CLOTH!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Raising Successful Children . . .Or Not

I receive the Proverbs 31 Ministry email devotionals daily. Today was particularly heartwarming for me. I am not sure if I am allowed to copy and paste the devotional onto my blog, but I am providing the link for you to explore. Intriguing thoughts whether you homeschool, public school, private school. Helpful for parents, grandparents, teachers, or church leaders.

I Don't Want to Raise Successful Children

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Week

A week has gone by since my last post, and what a fast week it was.

My husband did a little bit of computer updating, and that has made our computers run better. I like the new operating system.

Megan is getting more teeth, even though her Auntie Beth told her no more teeth until Thanksgiving. I think she just wants to be prepared for the big dinner she'll be smelling in a little over a week. The good thing is, even though she is cutting four teeth, it really seems like no big deal to her. She is crawling, pulling up, finally eating some solid foods, and sleeping well.

James is on the brink of full blown 2yo-ness. He has all the mobility and dexterity you could wish for, but no judgement. He seems oblivious to the fact that no one else in the family seeks out joy by emptying the oatmeal box on the floor. He blissfully finds joy in playing in chocolate milk powder on the floor of the pantry. Today he opened the door to go out into the garage, only to cry when the door closed behind him. (note to self, lock garage door during the day) He is also experimenting with the art of tantrums, but we are nipping those in the bud pretty quickly.

Jack is growing and growing and growing. He is coming along in school just fine. He has such a sweet heart, I get comments from a lot of my friends that he is a sweet boy. I have to agree.

Laura is growing in her faith by leaps and bounds. She contemplates God on a level that I know I wasn't at her age. Her questions usually begin with, "Mom, this is a question about the Bible" and proceed on to . . . .

1. "I am pretty sure I know this, but was Jesus alive up in Heaven before he came down to Earth as a baby?"

2. "How did those women keep those things on their heads?"

3. "Does God know His own future?" When I responded yes, she said, "Oh, yeah, because He knows everything. He even knows what He looks like, but we can't see Him until we get to Heaven" When I reminded her that Moses had gotten a glimpse of God in all His brightness and glory she said, "Yeah, if we saw Him we'd probably just faint over dead"

We are in the middle of our church Missions Conference and Laura has been soaking in all the information that she has been learning about the different countries in the world . . .so far Colombia and India. She asked if tonight we could "play India" and sleep on the floor of our living room (Since most families in India only have that much room of their own) with nothing but a light blanket. I said I'd have to make that decision later . . .

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Easily Distracted Life

So there I was, sitting on the living room floor, looking through some new Weight Watchers Cookbooks that I got a garage sale this weekend. Some of my family members are following the program, and since they will be visiting in a few weeks (woo hoo) I thought I could make meals from there and they could stay on program. (I was on the floor so I could let the babies crawl all over me while I am doing this job

So I went to eamil my SIL to tell her about that, but then there was an email from my husband about library books that need to be returned.

As I am still sitting a the computer I hear Laura and Jack say something like "We're going to take James out front to play" 15 seconds later when I process that through my brain (It sometimes operated on a delay) I jump up, run outside and reclaim the 18 month old, explaining to the kids that they cannot be responsible for their baby brother outside. And lock the door so he can't sneak out.

So I bring James back inside and find the pantry door open with 6 packets of instant oatmeal (Thankfully still unopened) on the floor, along with a Wii Remote, the broom and dustpan on the floor, and a few Leap Frog fridge letter magnets on the floor. Hmmmm, what has the baby been up to?

So after a quick lesson on how to put the magnets back on the fridge I pick up the oatmeal packets, sweep some extra magnets toward him, replace the the broom to the closet, and take the Wii Remote back to the box under the TV (Where it belongs) and then see my cookbooks on the floor.

Sigh.

Now what was I going to do? Oh, yeah, email my sister in law about the cookbooks.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jelly Telly

It's not as sticky as it sounds!

If you haven't heard about it before: click here

Adventures in Breadmaking 2

So the breadmaking journey continues. I must say, I love it. I get mixed reviews from the family. Sometimes they say they love it and it is the most wonderful bread in the world. Other times they say, "Not THAT bread", but then eat it and enjoy it.

As far as the actual breadmaking, this has made all the difference:

MY KITCHENAID MIXER


I purchased the Classic model, and it does the job, but it seems like it struggles a bit in the ending stages of the mixing and kneading. I would have to recommend a mixer that is slightly more powerful, but this does the job, and also whips up a double batch of chocolate chip cookie dough in a flash. Love the limited cleanup!

Well, back to bread. I am never quite sure how long to let my bread rise, but I think I pulled it off this time. I also read directions on how to shape the loaf which helped out tremendously. I actually pulled bread out of the oven that looked like a loaf of bread.

My next post about breadmaking will include a list of all the links for the products I use that are helpful. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

No TV

We have always had a TV. I like TV. We never really felt the need to restrict time on TV, and our children have not had difficulty limiting their viewing to the shows that we had approved.

Lately though, the kids seem to be turning to TV when they are bored. And hearing the TV now for some reasons produces stress for me. (I can feel my body stressing when I hear it turn on)

Our friends' TV broke (or died, or something in the middle of that) So they have their computer, and a small TV in the parental bedroom. And they are doing fine. I know several people who survive with very little - no TV.

Laura asked me the other day, "Mom, do you think we could go without the TV?" I told her that I am sure we could. Today, we are. They watched their Jelly Telly. And I must confess we are easing the transition by watching a Netflix movie Horton Hears a Who. But we are done with our schooling, have done a few chores, and one of the two children is worn out and relaxing while he watches it.

So, hopefully, this will be a start of something better for us during the day.

Laundry Day!



It's Laundry Day!

Aren't you happy too?

I have recently come across a concept that has never occurred to me . . .

Limiting my children's clothes.
To just enough sets that they need to get by.
So I am not so overwhelmed on laundry day.
So that we can fit their clothes in their dressers.
So when I say go get dressed they don't come down looking all silly.
So that on laundry day I can be as happy as Megan is here!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Reformation Day

My friend Abbie, her husband, and their crew of 5 children hosted a Reformation Day Party for Halloween night. Given that Martin Luther chose the night before All Saints Day to post his 95 theses, we figured it would be fun to celebrate that. It helped out my kids, since they are generally frightened by many halloween decorations and most constumes that the older kids wear when trick or treating.

Jack was sick with a fever, so he stayed home and handed out candy with daddy (actually, they shut off the lights, and cuddled on the couch watching college football, but shhhhhhh)
The three other children had a great time.

What does one do at a Reformation Day party? Well, during a wonderful dinner of chicken and coleslay (no doubt authentic Reformation Day faire) you can watch a video of Martin Luther's life (pay attention, there may be a pop quiz later for candy)

Here are the older girls in their costumes:




Then there is the game that Abbie and Mark created called "Grab the indulgences" Which basically involves moving the living room furniture around so that you can throw a bag of candy on the floor and see who can get to it first.


Josiah jumped the gun and got his indulgences first . . .with a great slide!

Or "Pin the Theses on the Door", very similar to pin the tail on the donkey, without the donkey.




There were other fun moments of the night, which mostly involved having so many kids in one house at one time, and some adorable "baby moments"

Like James finding different ways to modify his pumpkin costume:








It was a grand time. Thanks for having us!

And here is the link to my friend's blog where you can see her kids' awesome costumes!

And another link of the activities

Two Litttle Pumpkins

Hand-me-downs from a few years back . . .so glad I still had them!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Good Book List

A friend shared this list with me, and I can't help but posting it for whoever is interested. It is from the Classical Christian Educations Support Loop. The list contains books with a Judeo-Christian world view, recommended by the contributors to be of good literary value. I was happy to see many of the titles we are reading for Sonlight on the list. I also found more that I would love to share with my children. The list is broken down into levels, and next to the title and author it indicates if the book would be a good reader (for the child) or a read-aloud (for the parents to read to/with their children)

Here is the link to the Classical Christian Education Support Loop List

Friday, October 30, 2009

Adventures In Breadmaking

So, I have started on the journey of making my own bread / bread products through the encouragement of a friend. I am impressed at the way freshly milled wheat products keeps certain members of the household "regular". I was impressed with what this book and this book had to say about the value of whole grains in our diet. Two very differing viewpoints, but they each reinforce what I was learning about.

Being the bargain shopper that I am I found a grain mill (used) on ebay (since these can easily run 200-300 dollars for starters) and I placed a bulk co op order from Breadbeckers (along with their cookbook).

The order came delivered to my house on Wed night (thanks to some helpful friends)and the kids and I milled our first batch of flour out on the back porch. (My mill is a little messy and spews small amounts of a fine floury-dust) It was really fun. The kids were impressed.

My first recipe with this flour was a batch of biscuits. My friend supplied the recipe. I have never eaten her freshly baked biscuits plain, but I don't know if mine turned out right or not. I suppose it would have helped if I had a biscuit cutter. But it was fun.

This is the recipe I used, supplied by Abbie over at Just A Bunch of Characters

*adapted from Bread of Life Volume 1...will feed a six member family with a few left over*

6 cups flour (I use fresh milled whole wheat but I believe any would work fine)
2 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c (or less) butter
4 tbsp mayo (I use plain yogurt)
2 c buttermilk (or you can use plain milk or make your own buttermilk..see below)

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in butter and mayonnaise until it looks like coarse cornmeal. Add milk. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Knead approximately 15 times. Pat to 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Cut into biscuits. Bake 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees.

To make buttermilk: 1 cup whole milk to one tablespoon lemon juice

*I use the 1/2 cup butter...this is down from the full cup of butter original to the recipe. I've found that using yogurt in place of mayo or shortening is not only healthier but it also makes the biscuits way moist and extra yummy.

I will continue to post as I learn what to do and what not to do in the bread baking world. I must say, I had a biscuit and some eggs for breakfast and I feel stuffed!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

He does slow down



When he gets a fever


When he eats apples (they take a long time)


And when construction guys are in our backyard

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From a Small Boy's Perspective



Jack is our budding amateur photographer. He loves taking pictures with the digital camera. It is fun to see what pops up on the computer when I download the shots. These have not been altered (although some should be!)



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bible Time

One of my favorite times of our homeschooling day is our opening time where we do our Bible devotional. We are currently working through Leading Little Ones to God (I highly endorse this devotional, it explains things in terms that they totally get, it also reviews the concepts and then continues to build on those concepts)

We will read a Bible passage, review our AWANA verses, and usually pop in our CD of children's hymns as we progress onto our seatwork. Usually while I am reading the lesson the kids will pull out their dry erase boards and draw. Here is Jack's picture of "Jesus" that he doodled the other day. It's just too awesome, I had to share.

Get Ready to Say AWWWW!

Jack loves his little Megan

Where DOES he get his energy???



Mystery Solved . . . Case Closed

Pat and Nat

Jack is reading his 1st "real book". It is a story you may be familiar with, it is Pat the Rat and his long time friend Nat the Cat. They are both fat and they like to sit on mats and wear hats . . .you get the drift. For you Sonlight users, it is the 1 Readers, You Can Read It Book 1. video

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's Auntie Beth!

>

Auntie Beth came to visit this weekend. The kids always have so much fun when she is around.



We took lots of pictures, including this one of Megan:



Jack was showing off his big brother skills, Megan had a little bit of a frightened look about her . . .



James is learning some big brother skills as well. . .



Jack and Laura put on a Weatherman show for Auntie Beth . . . not sure why he was reporting the weather in a construction hat . . .




And we transformed Laura's Princess bike into a bike for Jack with a couple cans of spray paint