Our Family

Our Family

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Field Trip!

Our Homeschool Group went on a fieldtrip to Mid America Science Museum today. We had a great time! The museum was practically empty because it was a weekday afternoon, so the kids did not have to wait in line and got to do their favorite exhibits over and over again. The museum is all hands on exhibits, so even Anthony had a good time. They also gave us a good deal on admission. Teachers are free, so all of the adults in the group were free since we are all teachers and kids were $1 off regular admission. What a great way to spend a fun and educational day!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Walmart Price Matches

I live in a very small town. About 4 years ago we got a Walmart Supercenter and ever since then I have bought everything at Walmart. They are always cheaper right?
Over the last several months I have been on a mission to drastically reduce our grocery spending. After taking the Supermarket Savings 101 course from Biblical Womanhood, I decided to start shopping according to what was on sale, and to shop at different stores. The sale paper came out for one of our local grocery stores and they had some really good deals. I was very excited and went to the store all by myself (no kids.) When I got there, they were out of every single item in their sale paper that I was interested in buying. Very discouraged I left the store without buying a thing. After sharing my story with a friend, she told me that happens quite often and so she just takes the sale paper to the Walmart checkout with her because they price match competitors ads. Am I the only person in the world who didn't know this? On Friday after the post office and the bank, we went to Walmart and they had all of the items I was looking for. I put the price match items in the front of the checkout and let the cashier know I had several price match items. It was that easy!

Happy Birthday Chelsea!

Happy Birthday to Chelsea! I can't believe she is 11 years old today. It seems like only yesterday I was rocking her to sleep. I am very proud of the young woman she is becoming. We celebrated on Saturday when Nana and Papa were here so she got to pick a special dinner, we made a cake, and she got her present the newest American Girl Doll, Mia.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My Favorite Dinner Rolls

Before I started making my own bread and rolls, I used to buy frozen dinner rolls that were $3.99 for 10 rolls. They were very good and my kids loved them. These dinner rolls taste just like them and they only cost pennies a piece. It makes 24-30 rolls per batch depending on how big you make them.

In the bread machine:
1 C milk
1 egg
1/3 C butter, margarine, shortening
1/4 C sugar
3 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast

Turn the machine on dough setting. When cycle is complete remove dough and punch down. Let rest 10 minutes. Shape the dough into about 24 balls. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-18 minutes.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Camp and Care Weekend

I read this post on Imommies this morning www.imommies.com/fifnancial-resources/saving/camping-for-a-cause-050908-051008.htm We love to go camping and were able to purchase a used motor home on ebay last year. I just booked our reservation and for the 7 of us to go camping will only cost $28.80 for the week-end!

Monday Morning Project: Drawing Animals

It's Monday again! Today was a very easy project. The kids wanted to draw so we used the Usborne Book I Can Draw Animals (great drawing book) to pick something to draw. We drew tigers in a jungle. Anthony had to draw a family of tigers, Alex drew a tiger that had just eaten a deer (that's why he was so fat) Nick copied the page exactly as it was in the book, and Chelsea decided she didn't want to draw tigers so she drew a picture of the solar system instead. She has decided she wants to learn about astronomy, so next library trip we will be looking for books about astronomy. We are off to another exciting week of homeschooling!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Date Night

Art and I have 5 children (10,6,4,2, and 10 months) and we have never hired a babysitter. We have on occassion had the opportunity to go out on a date (thanks to my mom and dad) but it is rarely alone since I have been nursing for close over 4 years now, so we always have a baby tagging along. Friday nights we do pizza and a movie for the kids at 5:00, then they all get a bath and got to bed by 8:00. Then we have our Friday Night date. We get to watch a grown up movie alone together. It is something I look forward to every week. The cost? We are on the 2 at a time Netflix plan which at 2 movies a week is $1.87 a movie, plus .25 for a bag of popcorn. Not a bad price for a date.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Homeschool Lounge

There is a new website for homeschoolers http://www.thehomeschoollounge.com/. This website is designed to be a place where homeschoolers from all over can get together. There are several groups you can join, discussions to join in, and a place you can begin a blog. I have only been on this site a few times, so I haven't seen everything there is to see yet. Check it out, and pass it on to your homeschooling friends.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Nick's Glasses!

Nick (6) had started to complain about his eyes being tired and sore at the end of the day. Also he said that Bible sized print was too small for him to read. So, last Monday we all took him to the eye doctor for a check-up. He is far sighted and needs glasses for playing the computer and for reading. So far he is doing well with them (we just picked them up today) and he did tell Alex no wrestling until he takes his glasses off.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Something about having 5 kids makes people ask you the strangest questions. How do you keep them all staight? How do you manage with 5 kids? How do you go grocery shopping? Then there are even stranger (more like rude) things people say. Haven't you figured out how to prevent that from happening? How can you afford to have that many children? Don't you want time for yourself? Something somebody asked me recently struck me today as I watched Christian playing with his toys. A lady asked me " Doesn't the novelty wear off?" She had three children and said that even though she loved all three of her children, nothing was ever as exciting as watching the first one's accomplishments. The first time they walked, talked, etc... I have to argue against that. The "novelty" doesn't wear off. In fact, I come to appreciate each of my beautiful blessings more and more as time goes on. This time we have with them is precious whether you have 1 child or 20.

Christian is such a sweet little baby. He is trying to walk, he stands up and just hasn't braved that first step yet. He will be running after his siblings soon enough. He talks a lot for a 10 month old. He mimics people's words and tones. I have never heard a baby do that before. He says momma, dadda, doggy, hello, gotcha, yucky, he even tries to say his own name. He has been such a blessing to our family, and his siblings adore him. The novelty most definitely hasn't worn off.(I think Christian will be glad to hear that.)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Individualized Learning

One of the problems with public education is the assembly line theory of learning. Everyone has to do the same thing at the time. It offers no room for individuality. One of the things I love about homeschooling is the ability to cater to your child. God created us all as individuals with different strengths and weaknessses, likes and dislikes, and special gifts and talents. It is wonderful to be able to help your children in their learning processes and to see them blossom and grow. Alex (age 4) has just started recently to be interested in learning his letters. Both Chelsea and Nick could write their names before they were 4. I asked Alex if he wanted to learn how to write his name. He told he would when he was 5. The other day we were making some valentines to send to my parents and Alex told me to wait before he put his in the envelope. He wrote his name all by himself. I was so proud of him. He did it all by himself and because he wanted to do it. He was ready though, and he was quite proud of himself too. Who knows what next obstacle he will climb next, but I will love being here to see him do it and to encourage him every step of the way.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pizza Hut 2008-2009 Book-It Program Homeschool Registration

I was over at imommies this morning and read that Pizza Hut has opened enrollment for their 2008-2009 Book-It Program.This is open for homeschoolers and you can register individual homeschools and homeschool groups. Go to http://imommies.com/entertainment-resources/fun-for-kids/2008-2009-pizza-hut-book-it-homeschool-program.htm for more information.
I went ahead and registered my kids because I always forget in September and miss it. The program kicks off October 1st.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Supermarket Savings 101

I have had several people ask me about this, so I thought I would write about it here.

Over the last several months, Art and I have been working hard to get and stay on a reasonable budget. We have several fixed expenses that are just that...fixed. We have other expenses that can change from month to month. Guess what one of the biggest is? You got it! Groceries! Now first I have to remind you that we do have 5 children, two of which are in diapers, and one in nighttime pullups. I spend a fortune at Walmart every month and decided it was time to do something about it. A friend told me about the www.moneysavingmom website and I have been reading it several times a week ever since. One day I clicked on Crystal's other website Biblical Womanhood and read about her Supermarket Savings 101 Course. I purchased the course and I have to say WOW! Let me tell you a little about it. The cost is $17.95 there is no shipping because you download everything in a matter of minutes off of your computer. For the $17.95 you get the 6 lesson course plus the audios, and 6 more ebooks Simply Centsible Suppers, Simply Centsible Breakfasts, Menu Planning Made Easy, Thriving on One Income, Bread by Hand, and Momma's Guide to Growing Your Own Groceries. I listened to the audios while I was downstairs cleaning the playroom and have printed out the ebooks and read through them. I think this course has something that everyone can use in it, and the ebooks alone are worth the price of the course. I have begun to save a large amount of money on my grocery bill already and even though I have barely begun my frugal journey, I feel like I am headed down the right path. If you want more information look for Biblical Womanhood on the right side of my page and click where it says CLICK HERE.

Book Buying

We LOVE to read! We LOVE books! How do you make the most of your book budget, when you homeschool? We do use two small libraries that are close by, but we also buy a lot of books. Our closest bookstore is 1 hr away, so I do a lot of my shopping online. Here are some tips to get the most for your money.
1. Check ebay. Anything you want you can find it on ebay. Look for "lots" of books, or when looking for a particular book, check the sellers other auctions you never know what kind of deal you can find. I bought 17 books from 3 separate auctions from a seller last week, and since she combined shipping I only paid $3.68 to ship all of the books. I only paid $8.00 for the books, so for 17 books I spent $11.68.
2. Amazon.com has a wide variety of used and new books. If you order over $25 from the amazon store, they ship for free. People that sell on Amazon have books listed for as little as a penny, but it is $3.99 shipping for each book.
3. When buying on half.com find a book you are looking for, then check the sellers store to see if they have any other books you are interested in. If you purchase more than one book from a particular seller, the first book's shipping is $3.50, but each book after that is only $1.89.
4. Shop at library sales. Library sales are a great place to get cheap books, and you don't have to pay shipping.

A Great Website for Little Ones

This website has a lot of free printable worksheets and crafts. Most of the activities I have seen are pre-k-kindergarden age. There are several different Bible lessons too. Great for homeschool or that last minute Sunday School Lesson you have to prepare for.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Frugal Valentine's Day

This year for Valentine's Day we are dining at home by candlelight. I am making a special dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and homemade brownies for dessert. The children and I will make Valentine Placemats on Thursday to decorate our table. I am using scrapbooking supplies to make these. I have a bin full of stickers, paper, fancy scissors, and other embellishments. I think the kids will have a lot of fun decorating the table for dinner. It will be as pretty as going out to a restaurant, with 1/4 of the cost, no crowds, and better food.

My Favorite Homemade Brownies

Cake Brownies

3/4 c butter
1 1/4 c sugar
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 c milk

1. Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl. Stir in sugar and cocoa. Add eggs and vanilla, beat lightly until combined.
2. In a a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to chocolate mixture.
3. Pour batter into a greased 15x10 pan (I use a 13x9) Bake in a 350 oven for 15-18 minutes. Cool 2 hours. Frost if desired (I use recipe on back of cocoa container) Cut into bars. Enjoy!

Monday Morning Project: Nature Journal

I know it is Tuesday. I am running a little behind. Yesterday we had to take Nick to the eye doctor, he's been having problems and sure enough needed glasses. Then last night I had a home school meeting and didn't make it back to the computer.

Our Monday Morning Project this week was starting a nature notebook. I was reinspired to start working on notebooking again after finding the website http://www.notebookingpages.com/ Even though it is winter there are many things you can add to a nature notebook. The kids have the freedom to put whatever they want in it that has to do with nature. I had a bunch of spiral notebooks from the back to school sale in August when they were .10 a piece (I bought like 30 of them) I gave one to each child. Nick and Alex went outside and drew pictures of some things they saw. Nick drew a deer, rock, flower, stick, and the wind. Alex drew a pricker brush (wouldn't you know) Chelsea gathered some leaves and flowers and taped them into her notebook. Anthony was grumpy yesterday and didn't want to draw. This was a quick and easy project that we will keep working on every week.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

Here is our menu for this week

Breakfast: cereal, biscuits and jelly, pancakes
Lunch: sandwiches and fruit, leftovers, noodles
Supper: Monday: homemade cream of potato soup, homemade bread, melon
Tuesday: breakfast
Wednesday: lasagna, homemade bread
Thursday: Valentine's Day! roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and homemade brownies for dessert
Friday: Pizza

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Simplifying Sunday

As I am sure you can imagine, getting 5 children (and Art and myself) up, fed, dressed, combed, washed, and out the door on time on Sundays is always a challenge. I feel like I am rushing constantly from the time I get up until after lunch. I have 3 great ideas to help make Sundays go a little smoother. First, have the children lay out their clothes the night before. Those who can't I will do for them. Second, make breakfast ahead the night before. I did this last night for the first time. I made homemade cinnamon rolls, baked them, and wrapped them in plastic wrap so they could be eaten first thing in the morning. You have no idea how much time this saved me! Third is to make ahead lunch the night before. By the time we get out of church and home on Sunday everyone is starving especially me! Eating out every week is not a good option. Not only is it expensive, the children are tired and cranky which doesn't make for a pleasant dining experience. So, I am going to start making Sunday Lunch a big meal cooking it in the crockpot so it will be ready as soon as we get home. Then we can have leftovers or sandwiches Sunday evening.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Best Christmas Present My Husband Ever Bought Me

Every year for Christmas, Art and I buy each other one present and we set a price limit usually around $40. This year I told him that what I really wanted was a Bread Machine. He thought I was kidding because husbands that buy their wives appliances for Christmas usually get into big trouble. I was serious. I was making an attempt to make our bread and rolls by hand and thought that a Bread Machine would make it easier. He didn't buy a very expensive one (some cost hundreds of dollars) Sunbeams least expensive model at Walmart. I have to tell you that this is my most favorite present ever. I didn't write about it sooner, because to be honest I was afraid when the novelty wore off I would stop using it. Not the case at all! I have used it at least 3-4 times a week since I got it. I make all of my dough using the dough setting and it is a huge time saver! I also bake fresh breads quite often and can program the Bread Maker to have the bread ready in time for dinner. Any one who is thinking of buying a Bread Machine but doesn't want to spend a lot of money should definitely try this one, and I believe that I have already earned the $40 back from savings in making my own bread. The kids really like it too. It is easy enough for Chelsea to operate and everyone likes to look through the window to see what is going on with the bread.

Reading Time

Every morning we start our school day with Reading Time. The children usually like to gather up their pillows and blankets and we all sit in a circle on the floor. We start out reading our Bible story, then practice our memory verse for the week. Next we read one for the little one's. I am reading Dr. Suess right now and everyone (even Chelsea ) still enjoys his books. We also read something about animals for Science. They like to read about snakes, whales, dolphins, spiders etc.. Then Nick has his opportunity to read to me. We wait until after lunch to do Chelsea's read aloud because the little ones don't have that long of an attention span. Reading is a great way to start the day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Free Homeschooling Resources

I have been looking around online for free resources that are available to homeschoolers. Here are a couple of good sites that I found or that people have recommended.

http://www.amblesideonline.org/- This site has book lists and reading schedules that follow the Charlotte Mason approach to education.

http://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/ There is a lot of different things on her site regarding homeschooling and meal planning. There is also a list of freebies, some of the ones I clicked on were out of date though. You can sign up for a free newsletter and weekly favorite homeschooling site.

http://www.googolpower.com/ Free virtual field trips. This is pretty cool especially if you live in a place where you might not get to do a lot of fieldtrips in person. There are also free printables on this site. They also have a free newsletter you can sign up for.

http://www.notebookingpages.com/ This is my favorite so far. Notebooking is a great way to keep all of your child's stuff together and organized. It is also neat to look back on what they have learned over the years. It is also a great way to keep all of their projects. Every time we do a project, we take a picture of it to put in a notebook. That way you will always have the picture even if you can't keep the project. (If you have more than one child you know what I mean, the fridge can get awfully crowded) There are several articles on notebooking and free notebooking pages!

Tasty Tuesday:My Favorite No-Bake Cookie Recipe

2 C white sugar
4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 C milk
1/2 butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
1/2 C peanut butter
3 C quick cooking oats

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, cocoa,milk, and butter. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, salt, peanut butter and oats.
2. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto wax paper. Allow cookies to cool for at least 1 hour. Store in an airtight container.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My Homeschooling Adventure:Monday Morning Project

This Monday we had a different sort of project. After the last couple of weeks with cold weather and quite a bit of rain, it was 75 degrees when we got up with a 60% chance of rain. So, instead of our usual project, we hit the great outdoors for a couple of hours. Christain even got to go out and play and he was very excited to play in the swing. Isn't homeschooling great? We did accomplish the rest of our normal work in the afternoon, but what a great way to start the week!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Homeschool Freebies

I have been homeschooling for 3 years, and I never really was aware of the many items that are out there for homeschoolers for free. I will be listing them as I come across them.

http://www.mysavings.com/ Go to product samples, then teachers. Also check out the ones for moms. You do have to register as a user, but it is free. Some things I have signed up for is Lego Magazine free for 2 years, One free issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine, and Free Curriculum Kits. There is a lot of other offers and coupons on this site.

The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Freebie Directory 2008

I found this link on http://www.moneysavingsmom.com/ (I love this blog)
but you can go to www.thehomeschoolmagazine.com/freebiedirectory/index.html
There are 40 freebies for Homeschoolers. Most are downloadable. It is great to be able to see this stuff before you buy it, and there is a variety of stuff. One caution, if you are on dial-up internet, it will take FOREVER to load.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Friday Night Fun

Friday nights are special in my house. Every Friday we have pizza and a movie. We make the pizzas ourselves and each person gets their own so everyone can have whatever toppings they choose. (except Christian) The kids love making their own pizzas, but their favorite part of the day is that we eat them in the living room while we watch a movie. We get a new Netflix every week and the kids take turns picking it out. We also like to play a game. Yahtzee is the favorite one right now, and everyone is able to play. It is just a nice way to celebrate the end of the week and do something a little different. Everyone looks forward to Friday.