Our Family

Our Family

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Overcoming His Fear

Nicholas has a very cautious personality. He doesn't particularly like to try new things (he usually makes Alex do everything first.) He has been afraid of the water for a long time. I have written before about his experience at a hotel pool, slipping off of the stairs, panicking, and being unable to get his head above water. Ever since then he has hated getting water in his face, would only get in and out of the water to cool off, and would not even try to swim with Art or I helping him. A couple of weeks ago, some friends came over to swim and they brought a pair of goggles that covered your eyes and nose. They were doing all kinds of swimming under the water and Nick asked to borrow the goggles for a minute. He put them on, held his breath, and put his face in the water. I couldn't believe it! The next time we went to Dollar General, they had two masks ($2.50) left. So I bought the two masks one for Nick and one for Alex and two pairs of goggles for Chelsea and Anthony. Nick started wearing the goggles whenever he went swimming and little by little would hold his breath for longer periods of time. Then, he began swimming under the water across the pool. Now he is like a little fish! He loves going swimming,water in his face does not bother him anymore, and sometimes he even goes under without the mask. All it took for him to overcome his fear was a little courage, and a $2.50 mask. My children never cease to amaze me!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tasty Tuesday:Peanut Butter Prints

Somehow I didn't have time to post this yesterday. Art has a Pot Luck at work once a month to celebrate everyone's birthday in that month and once again we volunteered to do cookies. Chelsea wanted to try something new (I never do that when I am cooking for someone else) but she dug out my Cookie Lover's cookbook and found a recipe that we had all of the ingredients for. I wish I would have taken a picture to post because they turned out really good. We made a double batch so we could have some too.

Peanut Butter Prints

1/2 C sugar
1/2 C butter
1 square unsweetened baking chocolate melted and slightly cooled
1 egg yolk
1 TBSP milk
1 1/4 C flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 C miniature candy coated semisweet chocolate chips (we just used regular chocolate chips)
1/3 C creamy peanut butter

1/3 C semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vegetable shortening

Heat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl combine sugar, butter, melted chocolate, egg yolk, milk, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add flour and salt. Beat at low speed until soft dough forms. Stir in candy coated chips.
Shape dough into 1 in. balls and place 2 in. apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Indent top of cookie with thumb. Bake 8-12 minutes or until set. Immediately indent cookies again. Cool completely. Spoon about 1/2 tsp of peanut butter into each thumb print.
In a 1 quart saucepan combine drizzle ingredients. Melt over medium heat stirring constantly. Drizzle mixture over peanut butter. Let dry before storing.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Tip: Use end of a spoon to make indentation in hot cookies.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Our School Schedule

Originally I had planned to start school again in the 11th of August, but now that Anthony is having surgery on the 14th, my plans have changed. I still have a few things for us to do in August, but it doesn't look like we will be diving back into our school books until after Labor Day. This is a tentative schedule of what our School Day will look like.

7:00-9:00 am-wake up, eat, dress, complete our morning chores
9:00-11:00- Cooperative Learning Time (things that we all do together)
11:00-12:30-Lunch and Recess
12:30-2:00-Individual Work Time, Naptime for little ones
2:00-3:00-Video Game Time (30 min for Nick and Alex, 30 min for Chelsea)
3:00-5:00- Productive Free Time, Outdoor Play
5:00-7:00- Supper,Evening Chores, Play
7:00-8:00-Snack, Ready for Bed, Storytime, Prayers
8:00-Bed (everyone but Chelsea who gets to read in her room until 9:00)

Every day we will do Bible, Math, Reading, History, Writing, PE. and Five in a Row for Nick and Alex.
Mondays we will have a Craft or Art lesson.
Tuesdays we will do Music.
Wednesday we Read our Science and complete the Notebook Page.
Thursdays we do our Science Project/Experiment.
Fridays we take off to run errands and go to the park.

Does Anyone Else See The Irony?

Is it just boys that do this? Or maybe it's just my boys. Here is a nice clean fresh swimming pool right beside him, and Christian is swimming in a mud puddle. Well I guess I should just call it creativity because the mud puddle is as deep as it is because Nick, Alex, and Anthony made a dam out of rocks, sticks, and blocks. Christian had fun in the puddle and then I hosed him off because he was too dirty to get in the pool.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Anthony!

I can't believe that Anthony is three already! I remember when we found out we were expecting him. The whole family had a stomach virus, but when everyone else started feeling better I wasn't. Surprise! We called him baby " Olive " because the ultrasound tech said that at 8 weeks he was the size of an olive. I had a very easy pregnancy, but I knew from the beginning that he was going to be a big baby. I wasn't any bigger than with my other children, but he felt huge to me. Chelsea was 8lbs 8oz, Nick was 8lbs 6 oz, and Alex was 8 lbs 7 0z, so it stood to reason that he was going to be a good size. We decided we did not want to find out if he was a boy or a girl, but 10 days before I had him my doctor sent me for an ultrasound to check my fluid and the tech said, "Well it is still a boy." I was so upset, but she felt terrible for letting it slip. When we were leaving to go to the hospital I asked my mom how big she thought the baby would be and she guessed 8 and 1/2 pounds, I guessed 9. My labor was pretty uneventful (besides the nurses thinking I was crazy for wanting to have him natural I will write a post about that another time.) All of the nurses has been warned that I tend to have babies pretty quickly (Nick and Alex only took 2 hours and 15 minutes) so they were prepared. It always confuses me why they wait until the very last second to call the doctor. My doctor was sleeping in a room down the hall (it was 1:30 am) and I told the nurse I had to push. The doctor came running while the nurse kept saying, "Don't push yet." (yea right, you try to stop it.) I pushed twice and there was a beautiful, huge baby boy. The cord was around his neck, but he was crying like crazy and kicking his arms and legs. He was 9lbs 5 oz and 22 inches long! The nursery nurses took the newborn diapers away and brought in some size 1's. He was finally here, our newest miracle.

Today my little Pea Pod is three years old and playing He- Man the most powerful man in the universe. I took the picture of him with his sword on his back riding on his mighty Battle Cat (I turned the rocking horse into Battle Cat after Anthony wanted Christian to play him so Anthony could ride on his back.) Anthony says it is not his birthday he is not getting presents and not eating chocolate cake. I bet he'll change his mind when we get to the campground and he gets to see his brothers and sisters again and we give him the cake and presents. Happy Birthday Anthony!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sleep Apnea

Yesterday, we went to Arkansas Children's Hospital for Anthony's ENT appointment. Anthony has huge tonsils and adenoids, and even though he is not chronically sick with sore throats, the doctor told us it would be in his best interest to have his tonsils and adenoids taken out because of obstructive sleep apnea and the medical problems that can come as a result of it. Anthony will be having the surgery on August 14 and they will keep him in the hospital for 24 hours because of his age. I am not looking forward to my baby having surgery, but the staff at Children's Hospital are wonderful, and it should make a big difference in his life. So what exactly is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

The main reason for removing a child's tonsils and adenoids used to be chronic sore throat, but now OSA is the leading cause of this surgery. Children with Obstructive Sleep Apnea may have symptoms that include: continuous loud snoring, failure to thrive (weight loss or poor weight gain) mouth breathing, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, problems sleeping or restless sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, and daytime cognitive and behavior problems. Children suspected of having OSA should be evaluated by a Pediatric ENT specialist. Treatments may include: weight loss for overweight children with OSA, allergy evaluation and treatment, and removal of tonsils and adenoids. Obstructive Sleep Apnea can cause a lot of complications including: poor growth, head-aches, high blood pressure, and other heart and lung problems. Children with Down Syndrome are at a high risk for OSA. Sleep problems are now being recognized as a main cause of daytime school and behavior problems. So if your child is having problems concentrating during the day, or is having problems with his behavior and he snores loudly it may be a problem with OSA.

Anthony has had problems sleeping as long as I can remember. At almost 3 years old he still does not sleep through the night and he is very restless in his sleep. He snores very loudly, often pausing in his breathing and can not breathe through his mouth. He actually makes snoring noises when he is awake and often acts very sleepy by early evening even though he still takes a nap. He also sounds like he has a rock in his throat when he is trying to talk and it can make him difficult to understand. The recovery time for the surgery varies with each child, but is usually 7 days to two weeks. It is my prayer that Anthony does well during the surgery and has an easy recovery with very little pain, and I would appreciate all of your prayers also.

Tasty Tuesday: My Favorite Pasta Salad

When the thermometer is hovering around 100 degrees, you may not be interested in preparing or eating a hot meal. This is my favorite cold pasta salad, and I serve it with fresh fruit and home-made bread.

1 8 oz package egg noodles
2 tomatoes diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 cups cooked chicken diced
1 cup Italian Dressing (I use fat free)

Cook noodles according to package directions. Mix in all other ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, July 21, 2008

And Then There Were Two

On Friday, the boys and I drove back to camp to pick Chelsea up. Instead of going out to lunch again, I packed peanut butter and jelly, juice boxes, and Cheetos to eat in the car on the way home. Chelsea had a wonderful time at camp, but she was glad to be back home. The week-end went by very quickly, and yesterday after church my mom and dad took Chelsea, Nick and Alex to spend the week at their house. Anthony did well most of yesterday, but last night he started getting sad and missing "his guys." What am I going to do all week with only two kids? Well to be honest the house is already too quiet, especially right now while the little ones are napping. Tomorrow we have to take Anthony to Children's Hospital to see an ENT and find out if we need to have his tonsils removed and that will take the entire day (2 hr drive one way.) Wednesday I hope to tackle the playroom and get it organized before school starts again. Thursday I have to clean house and get ready to go camping because we are meeting my parents and children at the campground on Friday and we will be gone until Sunday. Then my house will be back to normal again with all of the children back home.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Potty Training Tips

We have begun our potty training adventure with Anthony (almost 3). Summer is a great time for potty training. There are less clothes to remove and you spend a lot of time out side (which is a much better place for accidents than the carpet or couch.) How do you know when to start potty training? Look for the following signs: your child is interested in sitting on the potty, he can go for long periods of time without wetting, and he is able to dress himself. Anthony began to be interested in the potty several months ago (watching older brothers) so we began to potty before bath, when we woke up in the morning, and before bed, but still kept wearing diapers. In the last couple of weeks he had started to tell me every time he had wet his diapers, so now every morning we put on big boy underwear (it helps that he wanted to look like He-Man) and we sit on the potty about every 30 minutes and clap and cheer every time he is successful. We do not use pull-ups. I believe they are a waste of time and money. They are very expensive and they don't teach the child what it feels like to be wet. At nap time and bed time he is still wearing a diaper. So far it is going really well and he has only had a few accidents (no big deal we just clean up and put on dry underwear.) I hope to have him completely day time trained in the next couple of weeks (then I will only have to buy diapers for one!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Four Mechanics for the Price of One

About a month ago, our tractor broke down while Art was mowing and I had to tow him out of the field with my truck. Since then Art had to locate the parts (it is an older tractor), order the parts, wait for them to arrive, and wait for them again when they didn't send the right amount. The boys love helping daddy so now that the parts are in Christian, Anthony and Alex picked up their tools and went to work. Hopefully by tomorrow Art will be mowing most of our 11 acres (except for around the house he has been mowing with the small mower.) It should only take a week or so to get it all caught up, right honey?

Tasty Tuesday: Broccoli-Cheese Chicken

1 TBSP margarine
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 can broccoli cheese soup
2 cups fresh broccoli flowerets
1/3 cup water or milk

In a 10 in skillet over medium high heat cook chicken 10 min or until brown on both sides. Remove and set aside. In same skillet combine soup, broccoli, and water. Heat to boiling. Return chicken to skillet and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and broccoli is tender stirring often.

Makes 4 servings. I use 6 chicken breasts and a little extra broccoli to serve our family of 7.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Today the boys and I took Chelsea to church camp for the week. We had to drive about 1hr and 15 min and we get to do it again when we pick her up on Friday. (I was not crazy about her going but she really wanted to, the days won't go by fast enough for me) Anyway, after being in the car for such a long time I wanted to take the boys somewhere they could play and we could eat. We passed two McDonald's of course, but we are no longer patronizing them after we learned about their sponsorship of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Then we came across Chick-fil-A. We had never eaten there before but they had an indoor play place so we went in. The restaurant was very clean and we were greeted as soon as we walked in. After we ordered, they carried my tray to the table for me (a wonderful plus for a woman carrying a baby with three other young children in tow.) The food was great and reasonably priced. The boys had a great time playing and there was an attendant in the dining room to clear the table when we were getting ready to go. The boys had a choice of the prize with their nuggets, or they could turn it in for an ice-cream cone (one less thing I have to throw away later.) It was a great experience and we will definitely continue to patronize Chick-fil-A.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Many Advantages of Homeschooling

Many people believe that we home school because we don't believe that we live in a "good" school system. Other people believe it is for religious reasons. What a lot of people don't understand is that there are many, many advantages that we have as homeschoolers. I sat down and made a list off the top of my head of 20 advantages we have over families who have children in the public school system.
1. We teach a creation based curriculum.
2. We are allowed to pray and study the Bible.
3. We are walking in obedience to God. ( You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk about them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down , and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:7)
4. We have control over our children's education and everything they are learning.
5. We can individualize our children's education (no assembly line theory, children all learn differently and should be allowed to learn differently)
6. Delight directed learning. We can allow our children to learn through things that they are interested in.
7. Real life learning. We can teach through real, living books, and real life, hands on experiences.
8. Self directed learning. We can teach our kids to go and discover on their own, not just spit out what is told to them.
9. We have the opportunity to get to know our children.
10. We have more time to do things all as a family learning together side by side.
11. We don't have to worry about WHO is teaching our children every day and what kind of personal values they may have.
12. No peer pressure, bullying, or ridicule at home.
13. No school violence. (okay, the children do fight occassionally but I don't have to worry about guns, knives, or bombs.)
14. No drug pressure at home.(unless it is a prescription)
15. We have control over who our children spend time with.
16. Our children are able to associate and relate to people of all ages not just members of their own peer group.
17. I do not have to rush my children out the door every morning.
18. We have freedom to decide our own schedules. (how many hours of school a day, week, when to take vacations, sick days, etc.)
19. We are able to provide better food choices.
20.While eating healthier food choices our children have the opportunity to eat not just to get ushered through the line to find out it is time to go to recess before they even eat one bite.

These are some of the many reasons I am glad I home school. This was a short list I jotted off in just a few minutes. I thank God (and my husband) for every day that I am able to spend at home teaching my children.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Teething Torture

Christian is cutting 4 molars all at the same time, so the baby who has not been bothered by any of his other teeth has been miserable the last couple of days. Here is how we cope with teething troubles.

Popsicles- At 15 months old Christian is able to eat Popsicles (with help of course) so we have been snacking on Popsicles the last couple of days.

Distraction-When you have a cranky teething baby, do what makes them happy. Splashing in the tub, going for a walk in the stroller, swinging in the swing,rocking, reading, blowing bubbles (which is what we are doing as I write this) are all good ways to distract a cranky baby.

Tylenol-I do give Tylenol at night for teething pain. Check with your doctor for dosing information.

My favorite teething "toy"- Take a washcloth and wet half of it. Stick it in the freezer until stiff and frozen. The dry part becomes the handle and the child can suck or bite on the cold part. All of my children have loved this better then frozen teething rings and you don't have to worry about them biting a hole through it.

I do not use Biter Biscuits for teething. I have in the past and discovered that they are very messy and also can break off in big chunks so they are a choking hazard. I also do not use numbing ointments because they don't taste good and work for only a few seconds because the baby's saliva washes the ointment away very quickly.

Like Father, Like Son

Christian really likes to do whatever daddy is doing. Art came home from work and sat down to read the paper, so Christian grabbed Lego Magazine and climbed into his lap. I thought it made a cute picture.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My Son the Chicken Farmer

Nicholas has always been afraid of animals. He tolerates our dogs and the pets of people he knows, but he won't go on a pony ride, or into a petting zoo, and he certainly won't go near an animal he doesn't know. Since we got the chickens he has been spending quite a bit of time with them; feeding, watering, and building the chicken pen. Every morning he goes down and lets the chickens out of the coop (we lock them up at night to protect them) and feeds and waters them. Every evening he goes back down and herds all of the chickens up the ramp and back into the coop for the night. He doesn't like to touch them, but he does spend time down in the pen talking to them. I am very proud of the responsibility he is showing by taking care of them, and also by teaching Alex and Anthony how to care for the chickens.

Tasty Tuesday:Pumpkin Bread

Chelsea and I made this Saturday night for a quick and easy breakfast Sunday morning. It was delicious!

1 can pumpkin
3 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 C water
1 C oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp soda
2 tsp cinnamon
4 eggs
3 C flour
1 C chopped pecans (optional)

Mix all ingredients and pour batter into three loaf pans that are greased and lightly dusted with flour. Each pan should be a little over 1/2 full. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Makes three loaves of bread.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Science Lesson

Did you ever notice how the most interesting lessons that you teach are usually the ones that are unplanned? Yesterday, we noticed some wasps hanging around one of the children's outdoor toys. Art sprayed the toy down with wasp spray, flipped it over, and found the nest. Inside the hive we found wasps in all of the different life cycle stages. Even though the children had seen this in books, they had never seen it in "real" life. It was a fascinating science lesson, and Chelsea took the photos with her new digital camera.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The No TV Experiment

Have you noticed that there are very few family friendly television shows on anymore? What's worse is that when you find something that is family friendly the commercials are not. I am very careful about what my family watches on TV and how much time they spend watching it. Out of the hundred channels that we pay for every month, we watch only a handful. They watch Discovery Kids or Playhouse Disney when they wake up until 9:00, Anthony gets to watch a show on Nick Jr before he takes a nap, and we usually watch HGTV, Extreme Makeover Home Edition (we mute the commercials), or The History Channel for an hour in the evening (unless it is football or hockey season.) Since our DirecTV bill went up again we decided we would put our TV on vacation for a month for a test to see if we could eliminate this bill altogether. We are still watching a movie (or part of one if it is too long ) in the morning, and Blue Clues or Dora (video tape) before nap time and nothing in the evening (unless it is Friday Night Movie Night.) It has been two weeks and we haven't missed it at all, so I think the experiment has been a success and we will be cancelling on DirecTV soon.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Rising Price of Groceries

Every time I walk into the store, I wonder what kind of price increases I am going to find. This week it was milk and cheese. Who knows what it will be next week. The challenge to stay on a grocery budget is growing harder so I have been finding new ways of saving money on gas and groceries. In order to conserve gas and save money by spending less time at the store (every time I walk into Walmart I walk out with at least one thing not on my list) I shop for two weeks worth of groceries. The meal planning and grocery list making takes me about 30 minutes for I week and 45 minutes for two weeks. I sit down and make a menu plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks after I check sale ads from our local grocery stores and Walmart. Next, I write down everything I need to make these meal and cross off what I already have on hand. Then I rewrite my list by organizing it into categories and write down in the margin how much each item costs. After that I add up everything on the list to see how much I expect to spend so I can compare it with actual spending after I am done shopping. The actual shopping for 1 week takes about 45 min- 1 hour (depending on if I am alone or with all of the children) and two weeks takes about 15 minutes longer (mostly in checkout time.) I also make a small shopping trip at the beginning of the second week just for milk and fresh produce and I plan that trip after church on Sunday and spend 10-15 minutes. Shopping this way has saved me quite a bit of time and $40-$50 per month in groceries plus $20 in gas.
In the past I have tried the cook for a day, eat for a month cooking plan. The planning, shopping, and cooking do take a lot of work but I did save time and money. The hardest part for me was the actual day of cooking, and we didn't like many of the recipes that were in the book I was using. I am considering going back to a once a month shopping day by writing a two week menu plan and doubling the recipes to eat the second two weeks. If I can save $40-$50 shopping every two weeks, maybe I could increase that by shopping every 4.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Tasty Tuesday: Strawberry Smoothies

I waited to post this today because we tried them last night for our evening snack.

Strawberry Smoothies

16 oz of strawberry yogurt

2 packets Kool-Aid cherry singles

10 strawberries

2 cups of ice cubes

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
I got the idea from Kraft Food and family magazine's "Berrylicious" Smoothie and adjusted the recipe. This made 4 servings so I doubled it to serve 7. The kids had a great time making it and then drinking them!