Our Family

Our Family

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Devils Den State Park

Last week-end we met my parents at Devils Den State Park to go camping and celebrate his 65th birthday. It was a wonderful week-end! My favorite State Park so far complete with a baseball diamond, swimming pool, hiking trails, playground, lake, and Visitor's Center. We went to 3 of their educational programs, Alex and Chelsea played in a softball game, and Art, Nick and Alex went on a guided hike to the Devil's Den Cave. The park Interpreters were great. My parents, brother and sister-in-law, and Alex and Chelsea went on an hour long horse back ride. The weather was beautiful! We can't wait to go back again next year!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Favorite Recipes: Homemade Sloppy Joes

We loved Sloppy Joes as kids. We used to eat them made with Manwich, but my children think it is too spicy. So I came across this recipe and decided to try it out. It was a hit! It was the quietest meal we have had in a long time and it is pretty inexpensive.

1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 cup ketchup
2 TBSP white sugar
2 TBSP white vinegar
2 TBSP yellow mustard

Brown meat in a large skillet and drain. In a large saucepan over medium heat mix together all other ingredients then stir in your meat. Cook, stirring often for about 30 minutes. Serve over hamburger buns. Makes 6 servings.

I usually double the recipe since we are feeding 7 and like to eat the leftovers the next day.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Loads of Books

Last week, a friend of mine who is the director at a local Christian School, called me and said she had been cleaning out the classrooms and library. She had lots of A Beka readers and workbooks she wanted to sell $1 for used and $3 for new. Plus, she had books out of the library that she was giving away. We went over and got a van full of books and a complete Hooked on Phonics Program and I only spent $23. We also got some school desks really cheap for the children to do their work in downstairs. This Friday, the children were really excited because the books we had ordered from Rainbow Resource and Usborne were supposed to be delivered. We got both of those orders in and they loved the books I ordered and the kid kits my mom bought for them. Then, I got a phone call from a lady who used to homeschool but isn't anymore. She said she needed the books out of her garage and if I could come and get them that day, I could have them for free! I got 4 boxes of books from K all the way through High School, including many different subjects, and a lot of them were complete sets with Student and Teacher books included. I spent yesterday afternoon sorting books and organizing our school room. You can never have too many books!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Monday Morning Project (well really Wednesday)

Chelsea had a Babysitting Workshop on Monday and Tuesday, so we didn"t have any schoolwork on those days. This morning we started our day making homemade jelly. We went to a Jelly Workshop last week, and I had no idea making jelly would be so easy. The children and I had a lot of fun and loved the jelly so we decided to make some at home too. We made Strawberry Freezer Jam and Grape Jelly. Here is the recipe for the Strawberry Freezer Jam:

3 cups strawberries

5 cups sugar

1 box pectin

3/4 cup water

Wash, chop and mash 3 cups of strawberries and place in a bowl. Add sugar, stir and let sit 20 minutes stirring occassionally. Dissolve pectin in 3/4 cup water, bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Add pectin to berries and sugar and stir for 2 minutes. Pour jam into freezer containers or canning jars leaving 1/2 inch at the top. Cover containers and let stand 24 hours at room temperature. Freeze or refrigerate. Makes about 7 half-pint jars.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back to School!

The children were chomping at the bit to get started on their school work, so we started back yesterday. It is two weeks earlier than what I had planned and I don't even have all of my books in yet, but I wanted to go ahead while they were so excited. Last year our first day did not go as well as I had hoped, so this year we are easing into our work and will be up to a normal schedule in about two weeks (or as soon as I get my books.) Our Monday Morning Project yesterday was making owls out of paper plates. It turned out very cute (I will try to post a picture later) and they are already looking forward to next weeks craft. We also did a Bible Lesson with the boys. Chelsea did a full schedule (her choice.) I thought I would share what I am using for curriculum this year.

Chelsea 7th grade-Sonlight Curriculum. I love using Sonlight. I think it is a great way to teach. The biggest problem I have with it is cost. I cannot justify the expense for 1 child when I have 5 others. I was very blessed this year that a friend of mine loaned me her entire 7th grade Sonlight curriculum! All I had to add to it was Math (Alpha-Omega 7) and Chelsea wanted to start Spanish this year so I ordered Instant Immersion Spanish on CD Rom.

Nick 2nd Grade- Horizons 2 Math, Language Lessons for the Very Young, A Reason for Handwriting, The Story of the World. We are using www.spellingcity.com for spelling, doing a study on animals starting with Birds for Science, and I have selected several read alouds and readers for him.

Alex K-Horizons K Math, Build your own Phonics Book, Handwriting Without Tears, The Story of the World, Same Science and read alouds as Nick.

Anthony pre-k. He wants to do "school" with his siblings so I am using some workbooks from Usborne: Ready for Writing, Shapes, and Letters.

Chelsea's Bible Study was included with her curriculum and the boys and I will be reading through the Story Book Bible again this year.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Back in the Chicken Business

We picked up our new chickens on Thursday. We found a lady that had 4-H chickens that she got the same day we got ours and she wanted to sell some of hers. She also has several different kinds of show chickens. We bought 15 4-H hens and 3 Black and White Birchens (2 roosters and 1 hen) that we hope to incubate some eggs and hatch some chicks. The same chickens that cost .80 a piece at 1 day old cost us $8 a piece at 16 weeks old (after she gave us a deal.) The show chickens were $5 a piece. We caught a raccoon and have had no other problems. We got our first egg this morning so the boys are back in the chicken business.

Chelsea's Outfit

Chelsea spent last week Monday -Thursday from 9-3 at a 4-H sewing workshop. They made pants, a blouse, and a bag. She had a lot of fun and worked very hard. Didn't they turn out great?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Buying Homeschool Curriculum (and other things) on Ebay

For the last several weeks I have been making decisions about what curriculum we will use for our next school year. This year I will have 3 in "school" and one in "preschool." Cost is definitely a factor in our house, so I look for several ways to save money. I am willing to buy used books to save money so I have been searching ebay (anything you want you can find it on ebay.) To my surprise, I have not found very much I am interested in buying. Why? The used curriculum on ebay is selling for more than I can buy it brand new. That is great news if you are selling, but not so good if you are buying. I believe there are two main reasons for this. The biggest one is people are not doing research do not know your prices. If you don't know how much something costs new, how will you know if it is a good deal? The second reason is the determination to win. People get caught up in not getting outbid and don't pay attention to what they are actually paying for the product.
There are still some good deals on ebay. Here are my suggestions for finding them.

1. Know how much the item costs brand new. The Rainbow Resource Catalog is a good place to look up Homeschool Curriculum.
2.Know as much information about the item (condition, writing in the book, torn pages, etc..) as possible. If the listing is not specific ask the seller for more details.
3. Decide what you think a fair price would be and do not increase your bid if someone outbids you. Stick to your original decision.
4. Buy from sellers with positive feedback.
5.Buy from sellers that will combine shipping if you are purchasing more than one item.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Our Chickens

I just wrote a post last week about how excited the boys were to have their brown chickens laying eggs. Well, I am sad to say that something got into the coop and killed all but one chicken. Last week, we had 21 chickens 7 were already laying and now we have one poor hen left. The boys have taken it pretty well. They would like to get more chicks and start all over again even though they will not be able to show in the fair this year. We have a trap and are hoping to catch the culprit (we think it is a minx) tonight. I am sad for my boys, and for all of the money we have put into raising their chickens, but I am encouraging them to get more. They really enjoyed watching the chicks grow and taking care of them.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nick's Vanilla Chocolate Pudding

Some recipes turn out better because of a mistake. Last night the boys wanted their 7:00 snack, and since I hurt my back a couple of days ago I didn't have anything made. Nick decided he was big enough to make some instant vanilla pudding he found in the cupboard. He made a mistake and put double the milk in it. To "fix" the mistake, we added a box of chocolate pudding to it and made Vanilla Chocolate Pudding. The children were very pleased with the results.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Chickens and Eggs

Yesterday for Nick's Sunday School class, he needed some pictures of pets or animals that he cares for (they are studying creation and talking about God made animals.) Nick and Alex ran down to the chicken pen to take some pictures (Henry the famous rooster was the star in all the pictures) and collect eggs and guess what they found? A brown egg! We ended up with two brown eggs yesterday and Alex ate them for breakfast this morning. Our brown chickens have started laying. This is much sooner than our last year's chickens. The boys are really excited and anxious to get their egg selling business off the ground. In the next couple of weeks we will be getting 20 eggs a day and most of them will be to sell. Anyone need eggs?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Favorite Summer Recipes: Taco Salad

When it is 100 + degrees outside, who wants to heat up the house even more by cooking? Even if you do cook a large hot meal, no one feels like eating it. So, in the summer we (and probably most people) cook a little lighter. I made this Taco Salad Sunday night and it was a big hit.

1 lb ground beef browned
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 bag shredded lettuce
1 bag shredded cheese
Tortilla Chips

After browning ground beef in a skillet, pour off the fat and add corn and beans. Cook about 5 minutes until warm. Pour into a bowl over shredded lettuce. Crumble Tortilla Chips add them to your salad. Top with shredded cheese and salsa to taste. Toss and serve. Makes about 8 servings.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Movie Review : Up

We are back from our Branson/Springdale 11 day vacation. While the children and I were in Springdale, we got to see Disney's 3-D movie Up. The children love to go to the movies. I don't know what they like more, the movie or the popcorn. Up was a great movie for people of all ages. It wasn't exactly what I thought it would be, but it was funny, adventurous, and at times a little sad. I enjoyed the 3-D special effects, but I do wish they made glasses in a smaller size for kids. They were way too big for Christian and Anthony to wear. There were a couple of parts that were a little scary mostly towards the end ; a fire scene, dogs that were ferocious, and the villain fighting. Alex (5) and Anthony (4) were bothered for a few minutes by these scenes. Overall it was a very enjoyable movie and one I would recommend.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What is "School?"

In general, I believe that homeschooling is becoming more accepted, and even if it isn't something you would do yourself, most people recognize our right to educate our children as we see fit. I do still hear quite a few negative comments about my decision to homeschool mostly regarding the quality of their education. For most people "School" is a building you go to 6 hours a day 5 days a week 9 months out of the year. Any learning must be done within these walls, during this time frame and certainly taught by someone with a piece of paper stating they are capable of doing so. Learning must be done out of textbooks only of course and everyone must learn the same thing at the same time. Even though homeschooling is different than this traditional model, that doesn't mean my children are learning less. I think they are learning more. While we only use the occasional textbook (mostly Math) we teach in other ways too. My favorite is hands on learning and reading real books. Learning is not confined to only certain days a week at certain times a day, it can be done all of the time. Children are like sponges, they soak up everything around them. For instance, even though it is summer, when Daddy went to Dallas for work, we found Dallas on the map, talked about what direction we would have to travel to get there, and how long the trip takes. The children also learned quite a bit about reptiles at the program at DeGray Lake, and yesterday did several experiments on how to make a paper airplane fly higher. Think of it this way. When you learned to ride a bike or drive a car was it just from reading a textbook, or did you have to go out and do it? Can you learn to cook by just reading a cookbook, or do you actually have to cook? I am quite certain my children are getting a "quality education" from the comfort of their own home and from a teacher who loves them more than anyone else in the world.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

DeGray Lake State Park

Over the week-end we went camping at DeGray Lake State Park with my mom and dad. It was a lot of fun! DeGray Lake is beautiful and there is a lot to do at the State Park such as golfing, swimming, bike riding, boating, fishing, camping, snorkeling, and other fun programs. It was sunny and very hot so we spent quite a bit of time at the beach. Lily enjoyed her first time swimming in the lake. Friday night we roasted a few marshmallows, but it was still too hot to enjoy sitting around the campfire. On Saturday Chelsea, Nick and Alex went to a free program about reptiles with my parents at the amphitheatre. They learned a lot and got to touch a snake and an alligator (well Nick didn't touch them.) The children love camping and can't wait for our next trip next week.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lily and Alex

People often ask me if the children get jealous when we bring a new baby home. The truth is they really don't. Christian (2) does like to be heard (all of the time) but even he has not shown a lot of jealousy towards his sister. They all adore her. They hug and kiss her every night when I tuck them in, they are always playing with her and trying to make her laugh. I have lots of helpers to change her, dress her, and fetch her pacifier. Nick insists on sitting beside her in the van so he can take care of her while we are driving down the road. Art says that the reason she is such a good baby is because she has so much entertainment all of the time. Yesterday, Alex was laying on the floor singing to Lily (she loves his singing you know, it makes her laugh) so I snapped this really sweet picture of the two of them.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yard Sale!

I had two big motivations for wanting to do a yard sale. To get rid of some CLUTTER, and to make some extra money to go towards homeschooling supplies for next year. Cleaning out closets to sort items for a sale with so many "helpers" was a little challenging, but we got it done. My next challenge was that I live out in the country, who would come out here for a yard sale? That problem was solved when my friend who lives in town wanted to get rid of some of her stuff too. We had the sale at her house (she has 3 children 15, 8, 6) all the children played very well together for all three days (one to set up, two to have the sale.) It was fun having the sale with a friend and even though we were all tired it was well worth it. I was a little disappointed that I didn't sell more of the baby stuff, but all in all it went very well. I made $186 on things we weren't even using and my friend did even better than that. I will probably try to do another one in a couple of weeks to sell what I have left.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Last week we had a very busy week, making any computer time impossible. We had VBS at our church Mon-Fri from 9-12. I volunteered for the nursery since three of my children were in there. Chelsea was a youth helper and got to work in music so she was thrilled. Nick and Alex had a great time. Their favorite parts were snacks and crafts and every night they would tell Daddy what they had learned that day. Lily, Christian, and Anthony had fun hanging out with me. VBS averaged over 105 kids every day (not bad for a small town) and raised $750 for a little girl with cancer in our community. Every year I am glad we go, but it also makes me appreciate not having to get up every morning and drag the kids out the door. By the end of the week we were all exhausted.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Camping at Lake Catherine State Park

We had a great time on our camping trip this week-end! We left at 4:00 on Thursday and got home at 4:00 on Sunday. The weather was beautiful! Sunny and 90 degrees Saturday and Sunday. The great thing about camping at a State Park (in Arkansas anyway) is all of the fun things it has to offer for only $17.50 a night. We had a large campsite pretty close to the lake which had a lot of places you could fish easily without having to go down a steep bank and it had a great beach with a pavilion, a bath house, and tables up in the shade. The roads were paved so the children could ride their bikes and it had a great playground. The park also offered a ton of free activities and a nature center with fish, turtles, and snakes. During nap time for the little ones I took the three older children to some of the activities. They made a nature bookmark, pine cone bird feeder, sun catcher, and a litter bug. We all went to the movie Friday night in the Amphitheatre. We got to see the Lorax on an old time reel projector. Saturday we had some friends come out to the campsite and we roasted marshmallows and made Sm ores. We are looking forward to our next trip in 3 weeks.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Favorite Recipes: Jello Pudding Pops

We are headed out for our first camping trip of the summer today, so we made these to take along with us for a dessert. I got the idea from Kraft Food and Family Magazine and we tried them last week. They were really good, easy to make, and inexpensive (especially if you printed out the $1.00 off 3 Jell-o pudding or Jell-O mixes on the Kraft website made the pudding only .16 each at Walmart.)

1 box instant pudding
2 cups of milk
1/2 cup cool whip

They also added crushed oreos, but we didn't have any so I left them out.

Add 2 cups of milk to pudding mix, beat 2 minutes and stir in 1/2 cup of cool whip. Spoon into plastic cups (ours made 7) and add a popsicle stick. Freeze about 6 hours until firm.

Note: To remove pop from cup run under warm water for 15 seconds to loosen.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I have seen some pretty big spiders since moving South, but I had never seen a Tarantula until the boys spotted this one next to the shop yesterday. I had seen Tarantulas in a pet store before and had no idea they are found in this part of the U.S. The good news is that they are not poisonous even though they do have fangs. They usually stay underground and go out of their way to avoid humans. They will bite when threatened and just like anything else you can have a reaction to the bite if you are allergic. We set him free in the woods and I hope to never see him again, I am not a big fan of spiders.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Yesterday the children participated in B Day for 4-H. B Day is bait casting, bicycles, and bee bee shooting. They can choose to do some or all of the activities. For bait casting they had to cast their line in a round target. They got three chances sitting and three chances standing. They also had to complete a fish identification worksheet. For bee bee shooting they had to shoot at a target and complete a gun safety test. The bicycle riding was a course they had to weave in and out of cones and answer bicycle safety questions. Chelsea earned a 3 rd place ribbon for bicycles and participation for bee bee and bait casting. Alex earned 1 st place for bicycles, 3rd place for bait casting, and participation for bee bee shooting. Nick earned 3 rd place for bait casting, and participation for bee bee shooting. Anthony and Christian played in the sandbox and Lily slept almost the whole time (I was glad she was napping so I could run around and take pictures.) The children all had a wonderful time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Favorite Recipes: Dessert Pizza

Every Friday we have pizza and a movie (yes we still do that) and this week we will be making Dessert Pizzas as a special treat to celebrate the end of our school year. Nick's work is completed and Chelsea will be finished tomorrow. The boys made this at a 4-H meeting and loved them.

1 roll sugar cookie dough (or make your own)
1 7 oz container marshmallow creme
1 8 oz package cream cheese softened
1 8 oz container cool whip
Fruit of your choice

Roll out cookie dough onto a floured surface in the shape of a pizza and place on a floured pan. Bake at 350 for 12 min or until golden brown. While the crust is baking mix cool whip, cream cheese, and marshmallow creme. Cool crust completely and spread cool whip mixture on top of the crust. Top with your favorite sliced fruit, chill, and cut into pizza slices.

Someday Dolls Will Live Here......

But for now it is home to Hot Wheels and Star Wars Men.

Monday, May 18, 2009

This Thing Called Time

I went to a women's group last week and we talked about time. We cannot make more than 24 hours in a day, so how do we make the most of the time we have? Here are the highlights of the discussion.


These things produce another p: Pleasure

I. Consolidate lists and schedules.

II. Keep a family calender.

III. Plan each day.

IV. Write family time into your schedule.

V.Pare down your possessions.

VI. Maintain order.

VII. Ration TV and computer time.

VIII. Don't overschedule your children.

IX. Establish a sensible bedtime for your children.

X. Involve children in everyday activities (chores)

XI.Ask for help.

XII. Be mindful of small opportunities.

XIII. Focus on the most urgent priorities.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Favorite Recipes

The only magazine that I get is Family Fun. A subscription is around $15 for a year and it is a great magazine full of fun things to do with kids. My kids love to cook and Family Fun has great recipes for cooking with kids. Monday, Nick Alex, and I made Stacked Burrito Pie from the May 2009 Family Fun. It was delicious!! I used a 9 in pie pan because I don't have a spring form pan.

2 Tbsp oil
1 diced onion
2 gloves minced garlic
3/4 lb ground beef
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
1 can black beans
1 1/2 cups frozen corn (I used canned)
4 10 in flour tortillas
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup sour cream
8 ounces Cheddar cheese grated

Saute the onion in the oil for 5 min. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add ground beef chili powder, and cumin. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Add salt, water, beans. and corn bringing it to a boil. Continue boiling for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally until water boils out. Heat oven to 350. Butter the bottom and sides of your pan. Press in one tortilla for the crust. Spread 2 tbsp sour cream over the tortilla followed by the 1/4 cup of salsa. Spread 1/4 of beef mixture and a sprinkle of cheese. Place a trimmed tortilla over top of that and repeat steps until you have four layers ending with a sprinkle of cheese. I could not fit 4 layers in the pie pan. I ended up with three. Bake for about 30 minutes, slice into wedges and serve.

It said that it serves 10, but it was just enough for Art, Chelsea, and I. The rest of the children had cheese quesadillas.

Water Logged

I can not believe how much rain we have been getting! It has been raining every day for about a week and there is more to come. We're not talking sprinkles either. Down pouring rain, thunder and lightning. Saturday, Chelsea, Lily, my mom and I were on our way home from Texarkana and I was driving through the worst weather I have ever driven through. There were 70 mph winds,pouring down rain, thunder, lightning, and the sky was black as night. The only thing I could see was the white line on the side of the road. We were in the middle of nowhere an hour from home and it turns out a tornado had touched down not far from where we were driving. Sunday, our road into town washed out from all of the rain and yesterday our power went out and the playroom had water leaking in. Well, it has to stop sometime, doesn't it?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lillian's Baptism

Lily was baptized today. The gown she wore was hand-made by my great-great-great grandmother. She did a great job and only cried for a minute. She was wide awake when she was introduced to her Christian family. Anthony was worried that our pastor was not going to give her back to us.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Nick's Story

Dictation is a wonderful way for very young children or those who are not confident writers to tell a story. It is pretty easy. They tell the story and you write it down for them. Today, Nick (7)dictated this story to Chelsea and she typed it for him.

The Rise of the Dark Side

My name is Annakin Skywalker and this is my story.

On Mustafar the lava planet.
Lord Sidious sent me here.
Lord Sidious is now my master.
There is a Seperatist base on this planet.
My old master has come to fight me.
He will attempt to destroy me but he will fail.
We both ignite our lightsabers.
They clash and the fight has begun.
He jumps onto a ledge and I run after him.
The light sabers clash once more and Obi-wan falls off.
A second later I follow him.
As his saber swoops up I jump over him.
More parrying and I am pushed to the edge of an island.
With no other choice I jump over him a second too late.
One slash and my legs and one of my arms are gone.
Obi-wan my former master leaves.

My master comes later and rebuilds my body.

I am now Darth Vader!
The dark side has risen!

Sick Kids Again

Did you notice I haven't posted anything this week? The stomach virus visited my house again affecting 4 of the children in various ways. Between that, Lily, and the laundry I have had very little time this week, but I hope everything is getting back to normal again. Have a great week-end.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Love of Reading

I called the children to breakfast this morning and Christian said, " Wait I need to finish my book first."

Bird Houses

My boys wanted to build bird houses, so I got online and found some kits that had the pieces cut and included the nails, paint, and glue. We only did 4 (we left Christian and Lily out.) The children sanded and painted them themselves. Chelsea and Nick were able to assemble them themselves which was a difficult task because the nails were very small. I uses a hot glue gun on Alex's and Anthony's. They were thrilled with the finished product and we hung them outside in a tree.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Favorite Recipes: Homemade Shells and Cheese

This is the recipe Nick made for the cooking contest. My kids loved it and said it was better than Olive Garden.

16 oz box of pasta (we used shells)
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1/3 stick butter
2 cups of shredded cheese Nick wanted lots of different kinds so we used 1/2 cup chedder, 1/2 cup mozzerella 1/2 cup colby, and 1/2 cup monteray jack.

Cook pasta according to directions. Beat eggs and milk. Add butter pasta and cheese. Pour into 13x9 pan. Sprinkle additional cheese over top. Cover with foil and cook at 335 for 30 min. Uncover and cook at 350 for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday Morning Project:4-H Egg and Dairy Cooking Contest

This was not just a morning project, it took all day. My kids love to cook, and it is fun to have them in the kitchen with me, but it is a completely different experience when everyone is trying to cook something different at the same time. Chelsea is pretty self- sufficient in the kitchen, but Nick(7) and Alex (5) still need quite a bit of help and supervision. There are two different categories Egg and Dairy and they can choose to make a Main Dish or a Party Idea. The children are allowed to enter two different categories. I usually only let my children enter one, but this time I let them do two provided they chose dishes that we already had the ingredients for. Since we always have eggs it was pretty easy for them to choose a second dish. Chelsea made Midwestern Cheesecake (she earned a participation ribbon) and a French Omelet (3rd place.) Nick made Shells and Cheese (2nd place) and Egg Casserole (3rd place.) Alex made Country Quiche (2nd place) and Egg Salad (1st place.) We had a great time cooking and trying everyone else's dishes after the contest was over.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Soothing a Crying Baby

Isn't she beautiful?

Babies cry. I think everyone knows that. But, what do you do with a baby whose needs have all been met and the baby won't stop crying? When Chelsea was a baby she cried almost all the time for the first 3 months. Thankfully, Lily does not do that, but she does cry for about an hour every night. Here are a few tips I have learned over the years to help calm a crying baby.

1. Try a pacifier.

2. Motion. Stroller, Rocking Chair, Baby Swing, Walking, or go for a drive.

3. Singing or talking to your baby. Sometimes they are comforted by the sound of your voice.

4. Baths can be very relaxing for babies too.

5. Massage with or without baby lotions. Lily loves it when you rub her feet.
6. Undress the baby from head to toe (including diaper.) You never know if there is something in the clothes that may be bothering her.
7. Head for the outdoors if possible. We all need fresh air and sunshine.
8. Try feeding again. Babies don't always eat on a schedule.
You never know what might work. Sometimes something will calm the baby for a few minutes and then they will start crying again and you might try something else. Sometimes nothing seems to work. It doesn't mean you are doing something wrong. If you have a non stop crying baby and you have done all you can don't get frustrated. To quote the song, "It won't be like this for long." Don't feel bad if you need a break. Put your baby in a safe place (like a crib) and take a few minutes, or ask family or a friend to come and hold the baby so you can get some fresh air.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Planting Seeds

I love teaching doing hands on projects that children can participate in and see the results of what is happening. Children love playing in the dirt. So, every Spring we do a lesson on seeds and flowers. All last week this is what we worked on. We planted Sunflower seeds in paper cups, and within 5 days they had already sprouted. Chelsea planted a small vegetable garden and that will be her main 4-H project this year. She planted peppers, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, and corn. Hopefully everything will grow. The boys also wanted to plant some vegetables, so they planted some in containers and put them under the swing set. Thursday we took a trip to a greenhouse and bought some pretty flowers. Unfortunately we did not get them planted before it rained for 3 straight days but I hope we will be able to do that tomorrow. Don't you just love Spring?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Favorite Recipes:Heathified Chocolate Chip Cookies

I changed my Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe to make it a little more nutritious and was pleased with the results.

1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 bag chocolate chips

I put all ingredients in my Kitchen-Aid mixer ( I love my mixer) then drop a heaping teaspoon onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes.

Spring Colds

Last week when Chelsea started complaining of a sore throat and stuffy nose, I thought it was the abundance of pollen in the air. But, since then it has passed from person to person slowly making its way through everyone in the family. Sunday morning the baby started sneezing and yesterday was worse and at 5:00 last night (after the doctor was closed) started running a fever. I have never had a baby this little sick before, but after a sleepless night she is much better today. Now that everyone has had this cold I am looking forward to the last of the runny noses and coughs and having a healthy household again.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Favorite Recipes: Banana Bread

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 eggs
3-4 med bananas
1/3 cup water
1 2/3 cup flour (I used half white and half wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer and added all the ingredients in the order listed and when thoroughly mixed poured the mixture into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and remove from pan. Cool completely before slicing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Homeschooling with a Newborn

Lily is 3 weeks old now, and we have started back into our school work and trying to get into a routine. I am feeling pretty much back to normal, a little tired from nursing the baby and scaring away Anthony's monsters when they show up. Homeschooling with a newborn is pretty easy since they sleep most of the time(although Lily really likes to be held while she sleeps.) Our school time just like everything else revolves around Lily's schedule. I try to do any teaching of new material when she is sleeping so there are no distractions. I also have no plans to do any large detailed projects that I have to help a lot with. The last two weeks we have done simple crafts that the children can do on their own. We do a lot of reading aloud and that can very easily be done while nursing a baby and I can look over the work the children have done during that time also.

We do have plans to build birdhouses hopefully next week if I get the supplies in. We will also be learning about plants and seeds and I have several hands on projects planned for that. We love the spring and all of the fun things that we can do and get outdoors.

I also hope to get back to some regular blogging again, and plan on using more nursing time ( that is what I spend most of my time doing right now) to do that.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Baby Chicks

Monday the 23 rd, we got our new baby chicks. The 6 chickens we have from last year are doing well and producing enough eggs for us and to sell a few, but the boys wanted to expand their flock and be able to make some money from selling the eggs. So, we got 20 new baby chicks all hens and no roosters. All of the children were very excited and wanted to hold the chicks. I didn't get very many pictures because the baby was sleeping on my shoulder. So far they have been doing a great job taking care of them.

Our Birth Experience

Isn't that a great picture of Art spending quality time with the baby?

Last week, we were quite spoiled having my parents here to cook and clean and take care of the children. All I did all week was take care of Lily and squeeze in a nap now and then. This week mom and dad are gone and we are trying to get back in a routine ( I do have some wonderful friends who are bringing supper this week which has been a great help.) But I wanted to share a little bit of our birth story for those who might be interested to know how everything went.

On Thursday the 12th I went in for my weekly check-up and was 3 cm and 75% effaced. I had been having some mild cramping in my back off and on for the last couple of days, but nothing to be excited about. On Friday morning I woke up with horrible back pain like nothing I had ever experienced before. It wasn't like labor and is very hard to describe, but it continued on into the day and hung around on Saturday too. We decided to go into the hospital and break my water on Sunday morning. My parents were visiting and could take care of the children while we were at the hospital. I was having irregular contractions but they were not very strong. My doctor broke my water at 9:40 and still I did not start having regular contractions until 1:00 in the afternoon. My nurse was wonderful. She only asked once if I wanted an epidural, she only talked to me between contractions did what she could to make me comfortable (putting the thermostat on 65 degrees, bring extra pillows, etc..) and left us alone as much as possible. We did not have an epidural or any other pain medications. At 4:30 I was 9 1/2 cm and since I was feeling the urge to push we decided to start pushing while the doctor tried to move that last lip of cervix over the baby's head. She wasn't moving down so we rested for a few contractions and started again and at 5:25 pm Lillian Grace was born. She had a very short cord and it was all bunched up on her shoulder which explains why she was slow moving down the birth canal. A few minutes after she was born she was nursing like a pro. The hardest part of my labor was the delivery because for my last 4 children I only had to push 2 or 3 times and they were born. It was frustrating to me to have it take longer. All in all it was a wonderful birth experience.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lillian Grace

Our beautiful daughter, Lillian Grace was born Sunday March 15 at 5:25 pm. She weighed 8 lbs 1 oz and was 20 inches long. We came home Monday night and we are both doing well.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Taking a Break

We have been so busy the last week with school, doctor's appointments, and other activities that yesterday was the first day we stayed home in about two weeks ( and actually we would have gone to the library, but Art took the van to work.) It was wonderful to stay home for a change. Being busy can be fun, but everyone needs a break once in awhile. We are 11 days from my due date (not that I am counting) so we are going to be taking a school "break." For the next couple of weeks we will be cutting back a little until after the baby is born and we get on a good schedule. I am planning on the children working on their math and spending a lot of time reading. Chelsea and I have 4 chapters left in the second Lord of the Rings book that we need to get finished. We also may do a few science projects depending on how things are going.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How to Be Successful in Natural Childbirth

In a previous post I wrote about why you would want to give birth to your children naturally. Now I am going to give you some tips on HOW to achieve this goal.

1. First, you need to find a doctor that will support your decision to not be medicated during your delivery. It will be harder for you to get information, ask questions, etc if your doctor is not supportive of your decision.

2. Educate yourself. I cannot stress how important this is. It is not enough to read a book on pregnancy and childbirth. Read several books on Natural Childbirth, watch videos on Natural Childbirth, take a class (not a prepared childbirth class but a Natural Childbirth class there is a difference between the two) talk to people who have been successful. Some great books to read are Husband Coached Childbirth by Dr. Robert A Bradley and Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon.

3. Stay healthy and in good shape during your pregnancy. Exercise, eat properly, and get a good amount of rest to make sure your body is prepared to give birth.

4. Have a well educated, supportive coach who can respond to your needs and when necessary communicate them to the hospital staff.

5. Put your birth plan in writing. It doesn't have to pages and pages long. It can be just a few things that are very important to you that you want the staff to know without having to explain it to everyone that comes in the room.

6. Conquer your fear. Whether it is fear of the unknown (first baby) or fear of the known (more then one baby) fear can be your biggest obstacle. Educating yourself about what is going on inside your body is a great start, but some people may need more than that. Recently I read a great book called Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize that talks about promises that have been made to us in Scripture and how to deal with fear during pregnancy and delivery. When you are nearing the end of Stage 1 in childbirth you will usually get a panicky feeling. Relax and know that feeling comes when you are close to the end. Soon you will be able to push and you will not feel pain any longer. When it is time to push it doesn't hurt anymore.

7. Try out some different relaxation techniques to find out what works best for you and use them. When I was having Chelsea the nurses wanted me to do Lamaze breathing. It made me uncomfortable and it did not relax me. The more you can relax the less amount of pain you will be in, and the faster your labor will go.

8. Remember we are women and were made to have babies. We have done it for centuries with no pain killers and have been very successful. Labor is hard work, but at the end you will have a wonderful reward.

Arkansas Virtual Academy

Online enrollment for the 2009-2010 school year for Arkansas Virtual Academy has begun and will continue through April 15Th. The Virtual Academy is for grades K-8 and uses K-12 curriculum. Students are chosen by a lottery and they take up to 500 students. It is free and everything you need to teach the curriculum in the areas of Language Arts, Math, Science, Art, History, and Music is sent to you including a computer and a printer, and your Internet fees are reimbursed monthly. Check out their website www.k12.com/arva for more information or to enroll. Many states offer a virtual school so if you don't live in Arkansas you might try googling your state and Virtual Academy to find out if your state offers one.

Would I use Arkansas Virtual Academy? No. While it may be a great option for some, it would not be a good fit for us. First of all it is not a Christian Based Curriculum. Second, the majority of the work is done on the computer and I think that it is not good for children to spend that much time on computers. Third, you have to log 30 hours of schoolwork every week. Even if your child finishes a subject or concept in much less time, you still have to log 30 hours every week.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why Natural Childbirth?

You spend 9 months eating all the right foods, taking your vitamins, getting exercise, and listening to what the doctors tell you in order to give your child the best start in life that you possibly can. Then, in the last few hours of your pregnancy, you make a decision to have an epidural or pain killers that can have severe consequences for you and your baby.

Today it has become very common to have an epidural, IV drugs, or a shot of Demerol or Nubane during labor. It is so common that people think you are crazy when you tell them you want natural childbirth. Why would you want to do that when you can have a "pain free" labor and delivery?

Now, I am not an expert, but I have given birth 5 times and hopefully will be doing so again in the next couple of weeks. 2 of my deliveries were with epidurals. This last baby will be a natural childbirth. I wish that I had known more about the decision I was making to have an epidural and that is why I am writing this.

First of all, anything (good or bad) that goes into your system also goes into the babies.' When you take Tylenol when your pregnant your baby is taking it too. That fact does not change just because you are in labor. The baby is still inside of you. This is something that should always be considered and pain medication only given when the benefits outweigh the risks such as in a necessary emergency C-section.

I had my first epidural for my second child when I was about 6 cm dilated. The nurse had come into the room and asked me for the 3rd time if I needed an epidural and that once I hit 7 cm it would be too late. I panicked and said yes I wanted one. No one ever told me that it hurts to get an epidural (a lot.) It is also very hard to sit up on the edge of a bed bent over when you are 9 months pregnant and in the middle of a contraction. Moving can be very dangerous because the needle has to go in the right spot. Immediately following the procedure my blood pressure rapidly dropped and I had to be put in oxygen. 20 minutes later I delivered. Getting out of bed for the first time was horribly painful. I couldn't stand up straight or bend over for several weeks.

I was very nervous when I went in to have Christian (baby number 5) I had had a hard pregnancy and was worried about my labor. My friends and family all told me not to be a martyr if I needed the epidural I should have it. When I was 5 cm the nurse came and checked me, asked me to rate my pain and told me that I had a very long way to go. Once again I panicked and on came the needles for the epidural. A few minutes later my blood pressure dropped, I had to be put in oxygen, and the baby's heart rate fell to a dangerously low rate. Alarms rang, the nurses came in and moved me from side to side in the bed trying to get his heart rate back up. I really believed that I was going to go for a C-section but slowly his rate came back up. 20 minutes later I delivered. After getting to hold him for a few minutes, I was told his breathing wasn't as good as it should be (even though they had already had to suction out his lungs) and he would need to go to the nursery to observe him. The nurse brought him over to me and told me to kiss my baby good-bye and he would be back later. Luckily he did OK and after a couple of hours was brought back to my room. I had a hard recovery that included pain in my back for more than 6 weeks and severe head-aches. All of these things had been caused by the epidural and could have been avoided.

I have never had any other pain killers during my labors because I have relatively short labors and these kinds of drugs depress breathing in the baby. I did have a shot of Nubane when I had my appendix out, but all it did was put the baby to sleep and it didn't touch the pain. What I have heard about these medications in labor is that it makes you nauseous (who wants to be throwing up when trying to push) and it doesn't stop the pain it just makes you not care about being in pain. These medications are relaxers which may relax the uterus and make your labor last longer. In addition to causing depressed breathing, babies born to medicated mothers have lower Apgar scores and very often have a problem with their sucking reflex making it difficult for them to nurse. They are also a lot less alert then a natural birth baby and traces of the drug has been found in their system for several days after delivery.

In the next couple of days I will be posting about Natural Childbirth and some things you can do to prepare for it. Two of the main reasons people are unsuccessful are fear and lack of preparation. If you are prepared there is no reason why you can't give your baby the best possible start in this world and make your birth experience a joyful one.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pretend Pets at 4-H

At the boys 4-H meeting on Thursday, the topic was pet care. The children all talked about what kinds of pets they had and the different things they had to do to take care of those pets. After that, they were given play dough and asked to make a real or imaginary pet. After sculpting their pets they filled out a short form telling about their pet.

Alex's Pet: Snowman elephant named Joe who lives in the ground and eats pizza, marshmallows and chocolate chips.

Nick's pet: Sharkblaster who lives in a cave, eats guns, swims, and has whales for enemies.

Chelsea made a duck named Quakers.

Christian and Anthony had a great time playing with the play dough.

Happy Birthday Chelsea!

Chelsea turned 12 on Friday! I can't believe she is 12 already(now a pre-teen so she says.) I am a bad mom for not posting this on her actual birthday, but I find it very hard to get to the computer on the week-ends, and Friday is an especially busy day. For her birthday dinner she chose Simple Simon's so we went there for pizza and video games. My mom and dad were able to come and celebrate with us. The children had a great time and enjoyed eating pizza out again, and of course playing games.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Yesterday as I sat in the waiting room at the Doctor's office, I overheard part of a conversation from a woman who was there for her 6 week check-up with an adorable baby girl. She told a lady with her that she had started out wanting to breastfeed, but when the baby wanted to nurse every 1 and a half hours she decided that she didn't have enough milk and switched to formula. I have heard similar comments from many first time moms and think this is sad. A newborn baby's stomach is the size of their fist and because breast milk is so much easier to digest than formula, breastfed babies do eat more often then formula fed babies. This does not mean you are not producing enough milk. Actually, the more your baby will nurse in the first few weeks, the better it is for you. Frequent nursing helps shrink your uterus after giving birth, helps prevent engorgement, and increases your milk supply. Not to mention all of the medical benefits it has for your baby. Here are a couple of tips to make breastfeeding more successful.

1. Read books about breastfeeding to educate yourself about what is normal and the How To's of breastfeeding.
2. Nurse your baby whenever they will nurse.
3. Get plenty of rest after having a baby. Sleep when your baby sleeps (especially if you only have one)
4. Eat well-balanced meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
5. Drink lots of water. Breastfeeding makes me very thirsty. I always keep a large thermos full of water and have it beside me while I am nursing.
6. Expect that your baby will lose a little bit of weight after he is born. It is normal for them to lose 10% of their body weight, and they start gaining again after a couple of days.
7. The nurses in the hospital are there to help you. Ask for help to get the baby to latch on or for any questions you might have.
8. Avoid giving the baby a bottle of a pacifier for the first couple of weeks.
9. If the baby is having a hard time latching on, try the football hold (this always works for me)
10. Don't give up! Breastfeeding is best for you and your baby. Any time you try something new you have to practice before you know what you are doing. In a couple of weeks you will be an old pro at this parenting, breastfeeding thing. You are doing a great job so hang in there!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: Alex's Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butter melted and slightly cooled
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 bag chocolate chips

1. Stir together dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in another.
2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients stirring just to combine. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Spoon into greased muffin cups.
4. Bake 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.
5. Serve warm or cool. These muffins freeze well.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Morning Project: The Easiest Kite Ever

We did a really fun and easy project this morning. Not only was it fun and easy, but it included teaching a wide variety of subjects. One simple craft taught: reading, following directions, math (measuring), science (experimenting to see what would make the kite go higher), Art, and PE. We made Family Fun's Easiest Kite Ever p.88 of the March Magazine or www.familyfun.com/magazine. We made a few changes to the supplies because we did not have any ribbon so we used streamers instead and instead of embroidery floss we used regular yarn for the cord. It only took a few minutes to make and the children flew these kites outside for over an hour even with very little wind. I had some better pictures, but for some reason they wouldn't load.

Early Education

During the last several months I have seen many articles on the need for "Education Reform." Clearly the public education system is not as good as it should be and there are changes that need to be made. I personally am of the opinion that no matter how many changes are made there is nothing that is going to "fix" public education. It cannot be fixed because that is not the way children are meant to learn. One of the things that concerns me though is the growing trend to push children into "formal" learning at younger and younger ages. One of the articles I read talked about the need for more Head Start programs at earlier ages with more formal learning. They already take them at 3-4 years old how much earlier can you get? People were disgusted that the children in these programs were not sitting down and learning anything. Instead they were able to play for 3 or more hours a day. Does anyone remember when Kindergarten ages (5-6) was nothing more than a half day of playing? 3 and 4 year old children should spend their whole day playing.

Even in church I have noticed that people are sending their children at younger ages to Sunday School. I teach a Pre-school Sunday School Class geared for 4-5 year olds with short lessons and a fun craft. Lately, we have been getting children as young as 2 because they shouldn't be "wasting" their time playing in the nursery. They need to be learning something.

I don't think that children at these ages require any kind of "formal" learning. My children all learned to walk, talk, feed themselves without me ever sitting them at a table and telling them how to do it or giving them a worksheet on it. The best way for children to learn is by observing what is going on around them and through their play. Anthony (3) knows all of his numbers 1-10, alphabet, colors and shapes but I never sat him down and taught it to him. He learned by listening to me read and by playing with him. I remember when Nick learned that if you mix white and red it makes pink. I could have sat him down and taught it to him, but instead he discovered it by himself when he mixed ranch dressing with ketchup on his dinner plate and he was delighted with the discovery. If we continue to push children at an early age, all of their love of learning is going to disappear. Instead, learning is going to be for them part of the boring monotony that many of our older children face every day.

Friday, February 20, 2009

4-H Breads Contest

Yesterday was the annual 4-H Breads contest, so we did not do our "regular" schoolwork. Instead we had lots of fun lessons in the kitchen (math, science, reading, health, clean-up etc) as Chelsea, Nick, and Alex each made their own bread recipes. There were several categories to choose from and each child could enter up to 3 categories, but because of cost of supplies and a limit of time I only let the children enter 1 category each. Chelsea decided to make Yeast Rolls, Nick made Cinnamon Rolls, and Alex made Chocolate Chip Muffins. They all did a great job making their recipes and we taste tested each one when they were finished. Chelsea won 1st prize for her rolls, Nick won second prize for his, and Alex got a participation ribbon for his. Alex was a little disappointed at the contest because they only announced 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners of each category and so he didn't think he was going to get a ribbon. He was much happier when he did get a ribbon like Nick and Chelsea. It is fun to cook for a contest, but I also want when children to learn and remember that the ribbon doesn't really matter. They all had a great time cooking and that is the important part.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Baby Shower

Monday night some friends of mine gave me a Baby Shower. It was a great way to get out of the house and spend some time with friends without our children. I got some really sweet little girl things like hair bows, frilly socks, shoes, and pink blankets, clothes and sleepers. Along with that I also got some important practical items like diapers and wipes. It was very sweet of them to give me a shower and now I just can't wait until I have the baby to put her in all of the sweet clothes. Only a few more weeks to go!

Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Hot Pockets

Homemade Hot Pockets taste much better than the frozen ones at the store, and they are easy to make for lunch or supper. They also freeze and microwave really well.

1.Make a batch of your favorite biscuit dough.
2.Divide the dough in half and roll out onto a lightly floured surface.
3.Using a butter knife slice the dough into sections depending on how big you want your hot pockets. I divide it into 5 sections giving me a total of 10 per batch of dough.
4.Fill with 2-3 TBSP of your desired filling using pre-cooked meats like: ham and cheese, chicken broccoli and cheese, or meatballs, sauce and cheese.
5.Fold in half, match the edges and pinch them closed all the way around.
6.Freeze until ready to bake, or bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday Morning Project: 4-H Cloverbud Journals

This week our Cloverbud Journals are due for 4-H. The Cloverbuds are a group of 4-H children ages 5-8. It was designed to start introducing the children t0 what kind of things they will be working on as they get into the older 4-H groups ages 9-19. My boys really enjoy the different kinds of fun things they get to do as a Cloverbud, and Chelsea also enjoys her 4-H group. The journals are a record of what the children have worked on during the year, and since they are due on Wednesday, we used our project time to finish them yesterday while Anthony and Christian colored. They have to list what their main project and other projects are along with their Community Service, Leadership, and other activities they do besides 4-H. They also draw or attach pictures showing what they have done throughout the year. They did a good job and it only took about 20 minutes to complete.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Christian's Big Boy Bed

Friday night was Christian's first night in his big boy bed. At first he was very excited to be going to bed with the boys, but that wore off pretty quickly and he began wandering around the room and playing in the closet. I did have to go up and lay down with him for a little while to settle him down. He fell asleep and slept through the night, even after he fell out of bed. Art and I heard a thump about 11:00 and there he was on the floor. He was still asleep so we put him back into bed. I couldn't believe he fell out even with the bed rail. My husband, the engineer, got some zip ties and made the rail more secure so it can't fall out again. Since Friday Christian has been sleeping fine, but I still am laying down with him for a little while to keep him from climbing in and out of bed. I hope after a week or so he will be more used to it and I won't have to do this anymore.