Our Family

Our Family

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

45 Minutes of Peace and Quiet

I had a dentist appointment yesterday.  Chelsea is OK to babysit Anthony (6), Christian (4), and Lily (2), but I took Nick (9), and Alex (7), and of course Emelia (6 months) with me.  The office is not far from where Art works and he was going to meet me over there and sit with the children while I got my teeth cleaned.  I have to admit that I hate going to the dentist!  I like our dentist and the hygienists that clean your teeth, I just hate going to the dentist.  So, after my teeth were cleaned and the dentist came in (we know him outside the dentist office too) and said, "Aren't you glad you got to enjoy 45 minutes of peace and quiet?"  Huh?  Do people believe that I am that desperate for peace and quiet that I would rather sit in a dentist chair then be at home with my children?  Not a chance!  I can think of thousands of things that I would rather be doing including 7 children crying all at the same time all day long, then be sitting in the dentist chair.  Trust me, staying home isn't that bad.  Though we have our moments from time to time, I wouldn't trade being at home with my children for any amount of money in the world and am so thankful that I can be home with them.  I believe that we only have such a short time with them and it goes by so fast!  I will have plenty of peace and quiet some day when they are grown and I won't know how to fill my days, but I can guarantee that I won't be looking for more peace and quiet in the dentist chair!   

Monday, August 29, 2011

TOS Review: How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids


Being a homeschooling parent isn't always easy.  You probably already know that.  We need help and inspiration if we are going to be successful in our homeschooling journey.  Apologia Press's new book, How to Have a H.E.A.R.T for Your Kids by Rachael Carman is a great resource for any homeschooling parent and provided me with some much needed perspective and inspiration.

How well do you really know your kids?  What has God shown you about who they are and what they will become?  God has sent these children to your home at this time to fulfill His specific purpose.  You are on a wonderful adventure where you will see walls fall, seas parted, and giants slain.  Thankfully you don't need any special training, you just need to seek God and hold tight to His mighty hand!

This book contains:

Table of Contents:
 Introduction: The Heart of the Matter
Chapter 1: H-Have a Heart for the Things of God
Chapter 2: E-Enrich Your Marriage
Chapter 3: A-Accept Your Kids
Chapter 4: R-Release Them to God
Chapter 5: T-Teach Them the Truth
Epilogue: Heartfelt Encouragements

To see a sample chapter click here.

How to Have a H.E.A.R.T for Your Kids by Rachael Carman is a hard cover 205 page book that retails for $13.99.  At the end of each chapter you will find Heart Checkup questions. To order click here.

 To see the many other products Apologia offers visit their website at www.apologia.com.

What is the focus of your homeschool?  Is your priority to teach their minds, or to instruct their heart?  Or maybe you want to reach their hearts but do not know how.  In this book, Rachael Carmen tells of how she started out homeschooling, what her plans and goals were in the beginning, and how it all began to change.  She speaks candidly about her successes and failures and how she felt God leading her in a specific direction.  She talks about how to really get to know your children and how to instruct their hearts not just their minds. Most importantly, she uses God and His word as her foundation.   Her book is written in a conversational tone, like you are talking to a good friend.  It will inspire and direct you, but it also may step on your toes a bit.  I had a few "ouch" moments while reading this book, but I believe God uses those moments to show us what we really need  to know and where we are falling short.  I know that I often get caught up in the everyday and forget to focus on preparing my children not just for life, but for eternity.  This quote really spoke to me, "What if you knew God's ultimate destiny for each of your children?  How might you talk with them differently?  Would you spend more time with them?  Would you choose to talk about different things?  How would your activities change?  Would it change anything?"

This book brought many ideas to light for me that I never had thought of before. She emphasizes that God has given us our children and they are only on loan to us at this time for His glory..  We need to be aware that they are not ours.  Although we want out children to be happy and well educated, it is more important to give our children the joy of the Lord and release them to seek His plan for their lives. Things such as History, Math, Science, and Art are important, they should not come first.  We must, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33.)"

I would highly recommend How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids for homeschooling moms of all ages.  It will give you inspiration, direction, and perhaps a renewed purpose for homeschooling your children.  You and your family will come away blessed for having read it.

To read what other crew members had to say click here.

I received a complimentary copy of How to Have a H.E.A.R.T  For Your Kids by Rachael Carman for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Night At the Movies : Spy Kids 4 All The Time in the World

The children and I went to see my mom and dad for a couple of days to celebrate my dad's birthday.  Mom and dad like to take the children to the movies when we go visit.  I wanted to see Winnie the Pooh, but it was only showing in one theater and it was on when my parents would be at work.  After reading the Plugged In review of Smurfs, there was NO way we were going to see that one.  So, that left Spy Kids 4 All the Time in the World (mom took Chelsea (14) to see the last Harry Potter which I don't let the other children watch)  Spy Kids was in 4 D so not only did you not need glasses, you were given a scratch and sniff card that when a number came up on the screen ans you scratched and sniffed the same number on the card you could smell what was going on on the screen.  I don't know how well that worked since I didn't have a free hand to try it out myself.  Dad and I got the kids situated in the theater with me and Emelia (6 months) on the outside, Lily (2) next, then Anthony (6), Nick (9), Christian (4), Dad, and Alex (7.)  The boys loved the movie!  I thought it was pretty good.  The effects were decent, although at one point made me dizzy.  The "violence" was very tame with no blood or major injuries and was not scary at all.  The "bad guy" wasn't even scary.  Some scenes were a little gross (think vomit and dirty diapers.)  There was no bad language and although the "spy mom" is in battle when 9 months pregnant and again with a baby strapped to her chest, you never have a real sense of danger for the baby.  The movie has a very positive message about families working together and not wasting the time that you have with them.  There was nothing in the movie that scared Lily, but she did tell me it was not her favorite.  If you go see it at the theater, get there after the previews.  I thought they were highly inappropriate and was glad we were busy settling into seats and getting our snacks to pay too much attention to them.

Emelia was not happy to be at the movies.  I was surprised since at 6 months old she has already seen Hop, Kung Fu Panda 2, Cars 2, and Harry Potter.  As soon as the previews came on she started crying.  Luckily, I got her to sleep quickly and she slept almost the whole time.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: Cherished by Kim Cash Tate

How can she believe God cherishes her when she can't forgive herself?
Kelli London once dreamed of being a songwriter. As crazy as it seemed, she hoped that God would use the lyrics that came to her while she slept. She dreamed about Brian too, that the love they shared would be a forever kind of love. But choices she'll forever regret upended her hope . . . and turned her dreams to dust. When those dreams come knocking once more, she's forced to deal with the pain of the past.
Heather Anderson's life has spun out of control—first, an affair with a married man, then a one-night stand with the drummer of a popular Christian band that left her devastated. Broken and alone, she cried out to the only One who can save her. And He did. But that's just the beginning, because now she must leave behind the only life she's ever known.
Two women with shame-filled pasts form an unlikely friendship. What does God's forgiveness look like for them? Will they ever believe that He loves them . . . and can still offer them a life where they are cherished?

Cherished is definitely a "chick" book.  It is a story about women: their friendships, their struggles, and accepting and giving forgiveness.  It does however not only focus on the women in this story, it also tells it from the male perspective.  We get to see inside the main male characters in this story: their hopes, dreams, failures, and search for forgiveness.  The book tells a powerful story of forgiveness and healing and the difficulty in really accepting that not only can God forgive us, but He can use our sins and what we learn from them for good.  It also shows how difficult it is for us as human beings to forgive even though we all want to be forgiven.  The power of friendship and prayer are also main elements in this story.  Cherished is a very good read, one that will leave you with a lasting impression.

I received a complimentary e book copy of Cherished from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Getting A Wiggle Worm to Sit Still and Listen

Two of my boys (6,7) do NOT like to sit and listen for any length of time.  They do ok for a little while (think 10 min) but pretty soon they are very antsy.  While begin very antsy, they of course are not listening because all they are thinking about is how much longer it will be until they can get up and what they are going to do when they can.  We do a lot of reading in our house.  I needed to figure out a way the boys would be able to sit, keep themselves busy and still be able to listen to me.  So, they draw while I am reading.  They get their colored pencils and notebook out when we sit down to start reading and start drawing.  This keeps their hands busy and keeps everyone quiet, but they are still listening to me as I am reading.  How do I know?  At the end if what I am reading (history, science, Bible, read aloud) I will ask them to narrate back to me or ask questions about what I just read.  i think allowing them to draw while I read actually clears their minds of thinking about how long it will be until I am done and what they will be able to do then and allows them to focus on what I am saying.  They also do not interrupt and ask how much longer and I don't get frustrated because they keep interrupting!  It's a win, win situation for all of us!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Neat Little Story....God is So Amazing!

I am the Children's Church Coordinator at my church.  This means I prepare the lessons that are taught during Children's Church and also fill in to teach when someone is not there. There are a couple of ladies that like to prepare their own lessons. Last Sunday I had told the children that we would have a party in Children's Church the next week to celebrate promotion Sunday and I would make a special snack for them.  Unfortunately I forgot until I woke up Sunday morning.  I had the ingredients to throw together a yellow cake and had some canned frosting in the cupboard so I quick made a cake.

I got to church and the lady that was teaching Children's Church stopped me to say that she had prepared her own lesson.  She had found an object lesson online that talked about following God's Recipe.  She had brought an apron, mixing bowl, and ingredients to make a "cake."  But, instead of using all of the correct ingredients, she would substitute some.  Instead of butter she brought mustard, soy sauce for vanilla, ketchup for eggs, etc..The message was that when we don't follow God's recipe for our life (the Bible) and start inventing our own rules, we don't end up with a tasty cake, we end up with a mess instead.  Little did she know that I had the perfect compliment to her lesson....a finished yummy cake that showed what will happen when you follow the recipe.

Isn't it amazing to see God working in all things even something as simple as one Children's Church Lesson?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Not Back to School Blog Hop: A Day in the Life

The topic for this week's Not Back to School Blog Hop is a Day in the Life.  What is a typical homeschool day like in your house.  We "do school " 4 days a week.  Fridays we take off from homeschooling and run errands, go grocery shopping, have play dates with other homeschool friends.  This year we will also be doing an Art Class on Friday afternoons. This is what a school day looks like in our house Mon-Thurs.

7:30-9:00- wake up, breakfast, morning chores- Children's morning chores include cleaning up their breakfast dishes, dressing, brushing teeth, feeding and watering chickens, dogs, and rabbit.  My morning chores include breakfast, cleaning up kitchen , dressing and feeding myself and little ones, doing a load of dishes, starting a load of laundry.
9:00-9:30-outside play time- It is still very hot here in Arkansas, so we get outside in the morning to play and burn off some energy before our school day begins.
9:30-11:00- We do all of our "together " school work first. We use our Morning Board and do Bible, History (Mon, Wed), Science (Tues, Thurs), Art (Mon.)  Then Alex uses the computer for Reading Kingdom, and I spend some time reading to the little ones.
11:00-12:30- lunch, recess.  Make, eat, clean-up lunch.  Outdoor recess in fall, winter, and spring.
12:30-2:00- individual school work-Handwriting, Spelling, Math, and Reading.  Two little girls are napping during this time so I can work one on one with Spelling and Math.
2:00-3:00-media time if schoolwork is completed
3:00-4:00-afternoon chores,productive free time
4:00-5:30-preparing, eating supper
5:30-7:00-free time
7:00-8:00 -evening chores, snack, getting ready for bed
8:00-bedtime- all of the children go to bed except for the two youngest since they get a nap.  The children do not have to go right to sleep.  They can play quietly in their beds and the older ones can read in the beds with their reading lights until they are ready to go to sleep.

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Saturday, August 20, 2011

First Ever TOS Crew Blog Hop

Crew Blog Hop

The TOS Crew is having  it's first ever Blog Hop!  You do not have to be a member of the Crew to participate.  Visit one of the following hosts to see the rules and start hopping: Our Village Is A Little Different, A Glimpse of Our Life, and Our Homeschool Studio.

Favorite Recipes: Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I needed something quick and easy for breakfast that I could make the night before and the children could grab as they got up in the morning.  They love cinnamon rolls but I did not have time to make those so instead we tried out this recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Bread.

1/3 cup white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Mix 1/3 cup sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.  Combine all other dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Combine all wet ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients stirring until smooth.  Add half the batter to a greased 9 in loaf pan.  Pour half your reserved cinnamon/sugar over top.  Add remaining batter and top with cinnamon sugar topping.  Draw a knife through batter to marble.  Bake in a 350 degree oven 50-60 minutes or until tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool and enjoy!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Easing Back Into School

A couple of years ago, we went from being off for two months to starting back on the first day with a full schedule.  To say it didn't go well would be an understatement.  It was a disaster!  The day ended with a house full of cranky children and a cranky mama.  Ever since then, I have used a more gradual approach in starting back to school.

Monday was our first day of school.  For this first week, we are only doing History and Science.  Alex is also still working on The Reading Kingdom and all of the boys have started using Time For Learning (review coming in Sept.)  We are using Mystery of History Vol I for History on Mondays and Wednesdays.  I am doing the readings on Mondays and an activity, memory cards, and time line figures on Wednesdays.  I'm hoping this will work out well, but if it doesn't I will change our schedule a little bit.  For Science, we are using Apologia's Zoology 1 and are following the two day a week schedule that is in the Student Notebooking Journal.  We are doing Science on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  We take Fridays off for errands, grocery shopping, and play dates with other homeschool friends.

The last week of August we will be adding in Art, Spelling and a read aloud.  The next week we will add in Math,Handwriting, and some books for silent reading.  By the end of September I will also be adding in Writing Tales Level 1 for Nick (4th grade.) 

Chelsea, who is in 10 th grade this year decided to go ahead and start in full speed.  She realizes that High School is more work and wanted to get a jump start on all of her subjects.  She does History  with us on Mondays and Wednesdays and does project work for upper level students Tuesday and Thursday.  You can find my post on her curriculum here.  In addition to the subjects listed she is also doing an American Government course and looking for a French course for fun.

I am very flexible in our scheduling.  Sometimes we may have to post pone some (or all) of our core curriculum and focus on reviews.  Also, we may decide to take some time off here and there to go out of town or on a field trip.  We also may have some sick days through out the year, though I hope not!  Starting out the school year gradually and by being relaxed and staying that way throughout the year makes for happier children and a happier mama! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Not Back to School Blog Hop: Student Photo Week

It's Student Photo Week at Heart of the Matter's Not Back to School Blog Hop.  Yesterday was our first day back at school so it was a good time to take some pictures before we got started.  I always intend to take pictures on the first and last days of school, but usually end up forgetting.  Now that I have pictures of the first day, I just have to remember to take them again on the last day.  I did not tell the children I was taking pictures so they weren't dressed in anything special, just what they put on whwn they got up in the morning.

Chelsea 14, 10th grade

Nicholas 9, 4th grade

Alexander 7, 2nd grade

Anthony 6, Kindergarden

Christian 4, pre-K

Lillian 2

Emelia 5 months

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Monday, August 15, 2011

Kregel Blog Tour: Across the Wide River by Stephanie Reed

Publication: September 2004



176 pages
Trim Size: 5.25 x 8
Publisher: Kregel Publications

Lowry Rankin knows all too well the cost of freedom; after all, his family’s red brick home is the first stop on the Underground Railroad north of the Ohio River.
He’s seen friends beaten for the color of their skin. He’s watched simple farmers make a difference. He’s even risked his own life transporting escaped slaves to the next "station". But will Lowry be able to conquer his greatest fear when he’s called to speak out?

About the Author: During her childhood, Stephanie Reed’s family would often pass through Ripley on their way to her grandparents’ home. The signs she read there about the Rankin house were what prompted her to write Across the Wide River and The Light Across the River. After working for nearly a decade with the Dayton Metro Library, Stephanie is now a volunteer spotter for the National Weather Service. She lives with her husband and two children in Dublin, Ohio

You can visit the author's website by clicking here.

To read an excerpt from the book click here.

Across the Wide River was an outstanding read!  I would say it was the best Historical Fiction I have read in a long time.  The author does a wonderful job of telling the "story" of real life character Lowry Rankin and his family.  Not only do we get to see what amazing things the Rankin family (and others) do during this difficult time in history, we also get to see Lowry and what is going on inside his head and his heart.  We learn that even though his acts are courageous, he has little self confidence and even at times is resentful of what he knows he needs to do.  This adds an amazingly real human element to a very heroic story.  I loved this quote when Lowry saved his sister from a wild hog, "For a week, Lowry had been a hero in Carlisle, the envy of his schoolmates.  Privately, he thought that if he had to battle a wild hog to be a hero, he would just as soon let somebody else have all the honors."

The author also does a fantastic job at describing the scenery and activities going on around the characters.  It truly makes you feel like you are part of the story.  As I read the novel I could hear the annoying sound of the cicadas and feel the itchy bites that the chiggers left behind. 

Although the book is written during a very violent period of time, the author does an excellent job of portraying the violence and fear without being overly graphic or making the book inappropriate for children.  Across the Wide River would make a great read aloud for a family or independent read  for ages 9 and up  who are studying the era leading up to the Civil War or the Underground Railroad.  It also is great if you are looking for an excellent read about true American heroes.  Now, I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel, The Light Across the River.  I am compelled to find out more.

I received a complimentary copy of Across the Wide River from Kregel Publications for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Menu Plan Monday!

I do not have to leave the house until Friday!  That makes menu planning much easier.  Here is what is on our menu this week:

Friday 8/12- pizza
Saturday 8/13- cheeseburgers with pickles, lettuce, tomato and fruit salad
Sunday 8/14- oven fried chicken, rice, applesauce
Monday 8/15-taco soup, homemade bread
Tuesday 8/16-blt's, fruit salad
Wednesday 8/17- pork chop parmesan
Thursday 8/18- meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans

See some great menu plans at http://www.orgjunkie.com/

Have a great week!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Using Technology to Teach Young Children

Back in my childhood days, we had  educational TV shows like Sesame Street and Romper Room and those really old Apple Computers in the classroom.  Each class had one computer and if you finished all your work for the week you might get to play part of an educational game on Friday.  Today, there is an enormous amount of educational gizmos, gadgets, and educational websites.  There are a ton of "educational" TV shows, computer games, children's books on mp3's and e readers, apps for Ipods, Ipads, and telephones.  All of these things are available pretty much every where and at the push of a button.

This can be a good thing.  A child can have the opportunity to spend time on the computer learning something educational.  A audio book on an mp3 player can provide entertainment on a rainy afternoon or while traveling in the car.  Educational apps on your phone or Ipod can keep a child occupied in the waiting room of a doctor's office.

But, these items cannot and should not replace the one on one time a child has learning from their parents.  Nothing can take the place of snuggling with your children over their favorite picture book, or writing their name in the sand.  An educational app is not going to provide the same sense of accomplishment as a child actually having the chance to count and sort M&M's by color and to figure out how many are left when mom eats two.  A computer website showing insects and all of their habitats is not the same as getting outside and exploring the insect world first hand.  It is wonderful that we have all of these things at our finger tips, but these items should be used sparingly as tools to reinforce what is being taught and should not replace a young child's education, exploration, creative thinking, and imaginative play.   Put down the DS, close the computer, and find a great living book to read and engage your child!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Book Review: Healing Hearts by Beth Wiseman

Beth Wiseman's Amish novellas are available for the first time in one collection—Healing Hearts.

"A Choice to Forgive" Lydia has loved two men in her life. Daniel, who disappeared one Christmas Eve long ago, leaving only a note saying he wanted to live in the Englisch world. And Elam, Daniel's brother, to whom she had been happily married for 15 years. When Elam dies, Lydia gives up on ever loving again. But she is shocked when Daniel wants to return to the Order and her life.

"A Change of Heart" Leah is a writer in a community that does not encourage such fruitless endeavors. She lacks the skills necessary to be a good Amish fraa. Aaron knows these things about Leah, but his heart is captured by this spirited young woman.

"Healing Hearts" Levina Lapp and her husband Naaman are alone for the first time in 30 years. When Naaman left to visit cousins in Ohio, Levina wasn't expecting him to be gone a year. Now that he's back, will they be able to move beyond this estrangement and fall in love again?

These novellas were previously published in An Amish Love, An Amish Gathering, and An Amish Christmas.

I had the opportunity to read and review the e book version of Healing Hearts.  I was hoping for a light hearted, easy read and this book did not disappoint.  Each story carries a message of forgiveness and the healing in one receives when they are able to forgive those who have wronged them.  Each book also is honest in the difficulty it can be to forgive those who are closest to us after they have hurt us.  My favorite of the three was "A Change of Heart."  I could really identify with Leah's character and loved Auntie Ruth.  I also thought that the Amish recipes included after the book discussion questions was a very nice touch.  I am certain if you enjoy reading Amish  Fiction, Healing Hearts will leave you happy and uplifted.

I received a complimentary copy of Healing Hearts from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Our Morning Board

This is a picture of our new morning board.  I got the idea from this post from Heidi's Ramblings, Reflections, and Reviews (If you read her post you will see she got the idea from someone else.  Aren't blogs great for inspiration?)  I thought it was a great idea and that my children would love it!  I already had a laminator and laminating sheets, so I only needed a few supplies to finish the project:

Metal Rings- I found index card rings in a pack of eight for $1.44 at Walmart.  I used two packs.
Plastic Hooks with adhesive- An eight pack was $1 at Walmart.  I used two packs.
2 Thumbtacks to attach clock hands and arrow for seasons
Tri Fold Science Project Board -$3.44 at Walmart.  You could also use poster board or a foam board.

Most of the printables I got from Mama Jenn: Calendar Time.  At the top of the board is the day of the week, month, date and year.  Underneath that is a Clock that I got here.  Then is an obedience prayer from Totally Tots.  The next sheet is a list of Bible verses from A-Z (I cannot remember where I printed that from.)  Next is a sheet with address, phone number and emergency numbers (Mama Jenn.)  The next row has the 4 seasons and What is the Weather Today from Confessions of A Homeschooler.  The alphabet cards I had from our Hooked on Phonics set so I just had to hang them on a hook.  Next are shape cards and the last thing on the board is a blank state of Arkansas map that we will put out location, my parents, and a few other important places.  I printed it out from http://www.50states.com/.

The children are very impressed with our Morning Board.  My very funny Nicholas (9) got up the other day and turned all the weather days to snow and the date to December 25th.  I told him nice try but we have to remember we are using this as a tool to teach the little ones and we don't want to confuse them.  If I had it to do over again, I would have covered the board with some kind of contact paper or pieces of card stock so the background would be a little more interesting.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Free Summer Digital Issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!

Read It Online Today!

As homeschooling moms and dads, we need plenty of encouragement to keep us going.  We also need new ideas to add into our homeschools and curriculum recommendations.  For the last 10 years, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine have provided all these and much more to the homeschooling community.  The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is my absolute favorite homeschool magazine. TOS is offering for free (no strings attached) their brand new digital Summer edition.  You access it  by clicking here.  TOS magazine truly blesses me every time I read it.  Go check it out!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Not Back to School Blog Hop : School Room Week!

Right before last year's Blog Hop, we had to gut our School Room because of water damage.  All last year we spent doing "school" in various rooms in the house.  This worked out just fine, but I am very glad that the room is completed and we will be starting school next week.  Here is what it looked like last year:

Here is what it looks like now:

We put ceramic tile floors in and then covered half the room with thick interlinking foam pads for the children to play on and the baby to crawl on.  The book shelves got a fresh coat of paint (white is not a good color when you have seven children.)  We left the doors off the cabinets so the children can get to their things easier.  Storage bins with lids keep all of the small toys where they belong.  Nick, Alex, Anthony get a small cubby for their school supplies: spiral notebooks, 3 ring binder, sketch pad, silent reading books, and pencil box with: scissors, glue, pencils, colored pencils, and crayons.  Christian and Lily are sharing a cubby and Chelsea gets a shelf.  The shelves on the right side of the room has all of our educational books and supplies and the shelves have art supplies, paper, science kits, and other items we will need for school.  The left side has children's books, board games, and toys.  The top shelves are dedicated to storing some of the boys' Lego's (trying to keep little sister away from them.)

Daddy thought it would be fun to put a chalkboard in.  He made this one using plywood and painting it with blackboard paint.  The boys drew a space ship and some planets in this picture.

This is where our table is going to go.  We used to have desks down here but I wanted an area we could all work together and not have to use the dining room table for art projects.  So I ordered a 30 x60 adjustable classroom table.  I hope to have it by the end of the week.

This is a closer picture of the cubbies.  Our morning board is also in this picture (doing a separate post about explaining about that.)  The morning board will go on the wall along with some posters and our laminated map as soon as the table is put in and I get something to hang them without damaging the paint or putting holes in the walls.

I am so happy to have our School Room back!  Check out some other great School Rooms here.

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Our New Family Room!

When we looked at this house over 4 years ago, one of the first things we noticed was the potential to create more space by closing in the garage and turning it into a family room.  Our house is a tri level and the garage was right off if the playroom and a half bath/laundry room are also on this level.  The second level has a living room, dining room, and kitchen and the top level has 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms.  I loved the idea of having a playroom/schoolroom, but the children would drag their toys up to the living room so they could be in the same room as me.  Turning the garage to a family room would put us all on the same level and keep the toys in one space plus would add 600 square feet onto our house.

In January 2010 we began the remodel.  My husband did all of the work himself with some assistance here and there from me and the children and my dad helped put in new windows.  At the same time we decided to go ahead and renovate the garage, we had major water damage in the playroom that forced us to gut it and remodel it as well.  Having two rooms to do made it a bit more expensive and take a lot longer to complete, but it was so worth it!  Here are the pictures of the family room renovation.

It is not 100 percent finished yet, but it was done enough that we could move down there.  We did the floors in ceramic tile so they would be easy to clean and take care of and resistant to water damage (should that ever happen again.)  To make a soft place for Emelia to play on, instead of an area rug we used the same thick interlinking mats that we put in the playroom.  The walls are painted sage green.  The closet is in the process of being finished and the doors still need to be painted.  In the area between the two closets, Art is making me a long desk with an area to put my sewing machine.  I am still in the process of making curtains and hope to have them done in a day or two.

We love our new family room!  It is so great to have the extra space and have us be able to be all together.  The living room is going to be empty for awhile until we finish up some other projects and have the time and money to start a new one.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

It's going to be another blazing hot week!  Temperatures over 100 degrees every day.  The weather usually has an effect on what we eat, but every now and again I make an exception (like eating soup when it's 105 degrees outside) if one of the children request it when I am making the menu plan.  Here's what's cooking up at my house this week:

Friday 8/5-pizza
Saturday 8/6-quesadilla
Sunday 8/7-sandwiches and fruit (we went out to lunch after church)
Monday 8/8-chicken salad
Tuesday 8/9- broccoli and cheese soup, homemade bread
Wednesday 8/10-goulash
Thursday 8/11-breakfast

See some great menus at http://www.orgjunkie.com/

Sometimes It's Just Better Not to Window Shop

Art, Emelia, and I had a date on Saturday.  We had plans to go buy school and art supplies while they were tax free, pick up a few supplies to finish the family room, and go to lunch and a movie.  On the way to Lowes we drove past a furniture store that was advertising huge markdowns and tax free purchases.  I wanted to go in and look around so I could get an idea of what kind of furniture I wanted for the new room when we had the money saved to buy it.  We went in and I found exactly what I was looking for.  Exactly.  A seven piece leather sectional with a matching rocking recliner in the perfect color with a 5 year guarantee against rips or stains.  We continued to wander through the store to see what else they had, but I knew that was the kind of furniture I wanted for the new room.  Then, when we were getting ready to leave, the salesman said, "If I can get you an awesome deal n this sectional can I earn your business today?"  His awesome deal was half price on the sectional, free recliner, and sales tax free.  Wow!  That is an awesome deal.  So awesome we were very, very, very tempted to whip out a credit card and buy it right then and there.  But, the voice of reason prevailed.  We have been working very hard to pay off our debt, not to earn more.  We need to move forward not backwards.  It was a really awesome deal and we were very tempted, but when I have the cash saved there will be an even better deal.  And, we won't have the debt on our shoulders weighing us down.

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7

Friday, August 5, 2011

4 H Robotics Workshop

Wednesday, we went to a 4 H Robotics workshop.  We were building Smart Robots (purchased at Hobby Lobby for around $15 each.)  The value for these robots was much better than the Solar Power Cars that we did last year for $10 each that didn't work very well after we got them built. The Smart Robots turn left or right like magic as it bumps into obstacles.  It also flips over when it is turned the wrong way.Anthony, Alex, and Nick signed up for the workshop. First there was a talk and a slide show on what a robot is and different places you find robots.  Then we got to work building them.  Chelsea was not interested in having her own robot, but she was able to help Anthony build his.  The age listed on the box was 8 and up and the screws were very small, he would not have been able to build it himself.

The children did a good job building their robots.  I was proud of Nick because, although he wanted to build the robot, it was a bit out of his comfort zone and he gets frustrated very easily.  I just had to remind him a few times to take his time or try again and he was quite pleased when he got it finished.  Alex does a great job working with tools (only a screwdriver was required) and only needed a little help at the end.  After we got them built, they had a chance to play with them to see what they could do.  My boys were very impressed with their smart robots.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Favorite Recipes: Oven Roasted Potatoes

Quick and easy side dish.

6-8 potatoes diced
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp garlic salt

In a 13x9 pan place diced potatoes.  Pour melted butter over top and sprinkle with garlic salt.  Bake at 375 for 1 hour stirring once.  Also is good with shredded cheese melted over top the last few minutes of baking.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

4 H Chef School Workshop

Last week Chelsea had the opportunity to attend a two free 4 H workshop called Chef School that was being held for 4 H ers 9 and up.  They started the workshop out discussing healthy foods and the food pyramid.  They also did a talk about safety in the kitchen.  Then the children had the opportunity to prepare snacks and lunch for that day.  They also divided into two teams to plan a theme and a menu for the next day when the parent s would have the opportunity to come and eat.  On the second day, the prepared their own breakfast and then set out for Walmart to buy the necessary ingredients for the parent's meal.  Each team was given a budget of $75 for the meal.  Chelsea's team decided on Home Cooking for their theme and prepared:  salad with Ranch dressing, home  made chicken tenders with BBQ sauce, twice baked potatoes, green bean casserole, Texas toast, and peach cobbler with lemonade or iced tea to drink. The 2nd team did a Cajun theme.  Before preparing the parent's meal, they also participated in an Iron Chef competition in which they had to make something using a jar of grape jam, pie crust, a granny smith apple, and a package of saltine crackers.  The Iron Chef competition ended at 3:00 which gave them 2 hours to prepare the food and set up for the parent's meal. 

Right before I got there, Chelsea was slicing tomatoes and cut her finger.  She does not do with with the sight of blood, especially her own.  Since she was feeling faint, they had her lay down and one of the other parents that had arrived and is an EMT bandaged her up.  Thankfully it wasn't serious enough to need stitches.  When I got there she was sitting in a chair white as a ghost and was a little teary.  She wasn't feel bad enough to leave though.  She said she worked hard and wanted to stay until the end.  Although she missed the final preparations and setting up, she was ready to help serve the food.  The children did a great job and everything was delicious!  We got to sample foods from both teams and I was very impressed with all of their hard work and glad to have some new recipes!

I also am impressed with our 4 H organization and the programs they put on for our kids.  After reading about how much 4 H costs in other areas of the country and the limited activities and programs you are allowed to participate in, it makes me so thankful that my children have this opportunity to benefit from our local 4 H program.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Not Back to School Blog Hop- Curriculum Week

Not Back to School Blog Hop

It takes months of researching, planning, and preparation for me to make my final curriculum choices for my family.  My biggest goal for this year was to not only find things that they (and I) would find interesting and enjoy learning, but to plan on doing as much as we possibly can together.  My children love doing hands on projects and that's how they learn best.  This year I will have children in grades 10,4,2,K, pre-K, plus a 2 year old and an infant.  I am really excited about our curriculum choices this year and know we are going to have a great year!

Elementary Curriculum:

History-Mystery of History Vol 1 Creation to Christ
Science- Apologia's Zoology 1 Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day
Bible-readings to go along with MOH
Spelling- All About Spelling
Art- Artistic Pursuits
Reading (for 2nd grader) The Reading Kingdom
Writing (for 4th grade) Writing Tales

High School Curriculum:

History: Mystery of History Vol 1
Bible- Assignments to go along with MOH
Science- Apologia Biology
Math-Abeka Algebra 2
Latin-Classical Academc Press
Art-Artistic Pursuits
Literature/Writing-Excellence in Writing American Literature

My 4 year old and 2 year old will be tagging along as interested and I also will be using Before Five in A Row and the Brill Kids Little Reader program with them.