Our Family

Our Family

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Book Review: Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor

I recently received a copy of the fifth book in Chuck Black's Knights of Arrethtrae series Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor to review. My oldest daughter (13) has read two other books in this series and has really enjoyed them. I had never read any of them though and was eager to dive into this book and see what she liked so much about them. As always when I read a book that is not the beginning of a series, I am concerned that I will be a little lost or not understand fully what is going on. Not to worry in this book though. After a brief introduction talking about what the whole series is about, you jump right in and completely understand the book.
The story is about a young knight who makes a choice to leave his safe little world behind him and instead to become a faithful follower of the Prince. he knows it is not going to be easy, but really has no idea what things he will have to face. He faces a terrible tragedy and runs back to the only home he knows only to discover there is now something about him that makes him not quite fit in anymore. Despairing he begins to wander the kingdom trying to flee his past when he is offered a second chance to redeem himself. Can Quinlan reunite the Valor Knights in time to save the people from the Dark Knight's evil plot to rule the kingdom, or will they lose the most important battle of all.
There were many things I enjoyed about this book. The whole story was filled with suspense and intrigue and although the battle scenes were intense, it was not grossly violent. The main characters that are in this book show qualities that you want your children to read about. The plots of the Lucius were subtle and not what you would expect. I loved what Twitch said as he gave himself to the Prince and it's something we all can relate to. " I haven't much to offer my Prince for I am unskilled, ill-equipped, and unworthy. Yet I offer myself to you. If there is something more to following You, then show me and I will see. Command me and I will obey. Lead me and I will follow. If my feeble life can be used by You, I give it. I am Yours, my King and Prince." There are also discussion questions for each chapter in the back of the book that makes a great springboard for discussing this with your teen.
I finished this book during the course of one day. I could not wait to see how it ended. Highly recommended for teens and adults. I look forward to reading the other books in this series.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation

TOS Review: Teaching Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day


When the vender list came out to show who would be reviewing some different products from The Institute For Excellence in Writing, I quickly scanned the lists to see if my name was on one of them. I laughed out loud when I saw that I would be getting a DVD called, Teaching Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day. Does anyone think that this DVD might benefit me at all? Me? With 8,7,5 and 3 year old boys (and two girls.) I was very intrigued to watch this DVD and see what Andrew Pudewa had to say about the differences between boys and girls (other than the obvious) and how we can use this knowledge to do a better job teaching them.

Boys and girls were created differently, so it makes since that they will learn differently. In this 80 minute lecture, Andrew Pudewa talks about some of the big differences between boys and girls and how these differences will affect the way that they learn. He backs up his statements citing several credible sources. For example, did you know that it has been scientifically proven that boys and girls hear differently? Can you think of how this might affect the way that they learn?

Have you ever found yourself bored with a topic because it was not relevent to you? How many times have you tried to teach your child something they could care less to learn? It is much easier to teach your child something they are interested in. From the back of the DVD, "Children like to do what they can do, and they hate to do what they think they cannot do." Another fascinating part of this talk is the insight that is offered into ways you can create relevency for your children, not just in academics but also with life skills.

I found this DVD very interesting. Andrew Pudewa is a very intersting speaker and the lecture was packed full of useful information, not just to me as a homeschool mom, but as a person that works with children in many different capacities. It also explained quite well why it is normal for Alex to stand up and yo-yo while I am reading to him. Building up our children's emotional bank is VERY important and I found the reminder of how and why we need to do this a very important part of the DVD.

Teaching Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day is one of the many products offered by the Institute For Excellence In Writing. It is available in both DVD for $1o.00 and MP3 Format for $3.00. You can click here for a PDF file listing Books for Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day arranged by grade level.

I received a complimentary copy of this DVD for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

To see what other crew mates thought about this DVD and the Phonetic Zoo program click here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Spirit of Giving

In the days before Christmas, there seemed to be quite a lot of conversation in the house regarding all of the things they were going to get for Christmas this year. I heard my almost 9yo refer to Christmas morning as "a truckload of free gifts." Hmmmm....we try very hard to make the children realize it is more important to give then receive and it is much better to share with others than to worry about all of the things you are going to "get" for Christmas. I try to have them involved with helping with community service projects like the Salvation Army Christmas Tree, food drives, etc..but it seemed as though this year we forgot all of those things in the light of what they wanted. Now, I understand completely children being excited about Christmas and getting presents. It is exciting and a lot of fun, but I don't want that to become their whole focus on Christmas and have them forget why we even celebrate. We had a lot of long talks about giving and doing kind things for others. Most of the children said they couldn't "give" because they had no money, so we talked about different things we could do to be kind to others without having to spend any money. We went over the bible verses about the birth of Jesus and the kindness of the innkeeper to let them sleep in the stable. You wonder sometimes though how much of what you are saying sinks in, or would we go right back to the "all about me" Christmas focus. I got my answer the day before Christmas Eve.

Nicholas ran into the kitchen and grabbed several brown paper bags. He turned each of these into gift bags for each person in the family. In each bag he took something that belonged to him that he knew the other person would appreciate and gave that item away. For example, he gave Lily some sill bands, Alex some army men, and me a New Testament Bible. Then when the other boys saw what he was doing they did the same thing for each member of the family. Anthony even took a picture of his Nana and Papa and made a paper frame for it to give it to Christian. It really touched my heart to see the boys putting forth that effort to be a giver and not just a receiver at Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone!

So I have spent the last several weeks trying to explain to Christian (3) that it doesn't have to snow to be Christmas (even though it always is snowing in Christmas movies on TV) and that where we live it hardly ever snows at all and we have a 50 % chance of flurries tonight. IF it does snow, it won't be anything he can go out and will probably be after he is in bed. We have spent the day baking cookies and watching Christmas movies. The children were up very early and are very hyper and it's pouring down rain outside so they are stuck inside. I still have to finish some cinnamon rolls,bake a cake, and let the children wrap some presents for daddy before supper so I better get off the computer. I wanted to take a minute and tell everyone to have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Enjoy the special time you get to spend with your family or friends. I pray that all those who are traveling will arrive at their destinations and back home again safely this year!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wrapping Up Schoolwork for Christmas Break

The public schools here got finished last Thursday, so my kids were grumbling a bit about having to work this week. I reminded them that we don't follow the public school schedule and if they wanted to we would start and work 5 days a week for 6 hours a day. They like my schedule better :). The reason we continued to work this week is that we are taking a few days off the week of New Year's to go see my mom and dad for "Christmas." Nick and Alex decided that they wanted to get all of their work done Monday and Tuesday, so they doubled up and got it done. Chelsea had a bit more to do, but all she has left to finish up today is a book report. This is what we have been working on for the last couple of weeks:

1,3 (with some 5 and 3 yo tag alongs)

Bible-Enjoying God's Gifts-review to come soon
Math-Abeka - Alex is measuring and adding and subtracting. Nick is multiplying and dividing with remainders. Nick is having a bit of trouble with remainders. His mind wants every Math problem to come out evenly.
Math Facts Now-review to come soon
Times Alive-review to come soon
Reading-Abeka reading program for 3rd grade, Dr Seuss for 1st grade
Science-Abeka 3rd Grade Science I'm planning on taking a break from this for awhile and doing a lapbook from www.homeschoolshare for a few weeks. Topic to still be decided
History-We just finished up Time Travelers Revolutionary War CD and completed our lapbook. In January we will start using Abeka's 3rd grade History
Spanish-Speekee TV-review to come soon

9th grade

Home Ec-sewing project completed-cooking next semester
Math- Algebra -Tenmarks (review to come soon)
Bible, Science, Geography, Literature, Spanish-Abeka- Truthfully not my favorite curriculum, but it was free and Chelsea really likes it which is important
Every other week we pick a book off of Sonlight's reading list and do a book report. next semester Chelsea will pick a topic for a research paper. She really needs more practice on long term projects and managing her time.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Day Dessert: A Birthday Cake for Jesus

This week in my Menu Plan Monday post, I mentioned that for our dessert Christmas Day we have a Happy Birthday Jesus Cake. I got several comments and questions about it so I thought I would write a quick post. I don't even remember where I originally got this idea but I have been doing this with the children for the last several years and it's a simple little thing you can do to put the focus of Christmas back on Jesus and have fun with your children. It can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. Make a cake from scratch or using your favorite recipe. The size and shape is up to you and depends on how many people you are feeding. Sometimes I use my heart shaped cake pan, but usually a 13x9 suits us the best. The children help me make, frost, and decorate the cake. They love sprinkles so it usually gets quite a few of those. We write Happy Birthday Jesus in gel icing and "draw" star and present shapes on the cake (that's what they are supposed to be anyway.) I'm sure many of you are much more creative than I am and can elaborate on this idea and make it your own. However you decorate your cake have fun and enjoy the Christmas season with your family.

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:23 NIV

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

28 Week Pregnancy Update

So today I had my glucose tolerance test. Thankfully my hubby is on vacation because I knew I would have to be there for awhile (you have to wait an hour after drinking the tasty drink before they can draw your blood) and I didn't want to have to take all the children with me. Drinking the sugar drink usually makes me feel very sick but it was not too bad today, and I only had to be stuck once which is always a good thing. Blood pressure is great, baby's heartbeat is strong and she is measuring perfect for 28 weeks. I even gained 6.5 pound making my total weight gain 16 pounds (I told you I would put on a few extra over the holidays.) They now want to see me every 2 weeks. I asked the doc why so soon and she said she follows the recommended scheduling for pregnant women. I honestly don't remember this starting so soon even when I had Lily. I told her I am not trying to be difficult but it seems a little silly to me to drive up there every two weeks to get my weight, blood pressure, and baby's heart checked when I am in perfect health. She said I could push the next one off for 3 weeks but then need to come every two. I still think that is an awful lot of unnecessary doctor's appointments. I guess I shouldn't complain and just be thankful for the good reports.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I did two weeks worth of grocery shopping on Friday hoping to avoid Walmart completely this week (although I will have to go the grocery store for milk at least.) Here's what's cooking up at my house this week:

Friday 12/17-pizza
Sat 12/18-chicken patties, french fries, peaches
Sun 12/19-goulash
Mon 12/20- deer steaks, baked potatoes, mixed vegetable
Tues 12/21-broccoli and cheese soup, biscuits
Wed 12/22-Italian Beef Sandwiches, carrots, fruit
Thurs 12/23-Turkey and rice casserole
Sat- Merry Christmas!-ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, corn, Birthday cake for Jesus

Have A Merry Christmas!
For some great menu inspiration go to http://www.orgjunkie.com/

Friday, December 17, 2010

TOS Review: Tiny Planets

Over the last several weeks, the children and I have been enjoying exploring the Tiny Planets Universe. Tiny Planets provides safe, award winning, educational entertainment geared at children ages 4-12 in the areas of space exploration and discovery. I remembered watching Tiny Planets on TV when Chelsea was a little girl but did not know that it was still around or that they had a website and (you'll really like this part) the majority of the website is FREE!

To begin using the website, all you have to do is create a free parent account and then a cadet account for each child and add them to your parent account. It really is simple once you figure it out, but could use some clearer instructions on the website. They assign the cadet a name and you pick the password. After creating the accounts you are free to explore the different areas of the Tiny Planets Universe.

To read some of the books, watch TV episodes, or add extra items to your ship or planet you have to purchase KEYS through the Parent Account with a credit card. Once you purchase a TV shoe episode, book, or accessories for your planet your ship, you don't have to purchase the same one again. It is "yours" to keep. The cost of the Keys are as follows:10 for $1.95 , 25 for $3.95, 85 for $9.95, 250 for $25.95, and 600 for $49.95.

Here are the different areas you can visit on the website:

Tiny Planets TV-You can choose different episodes of Tiny Planets to watch. Some are free and some require KEYS to be purchased.

My Tiny Planets- Children choose their spaceship,navigate through space, adopt and care for their own planet, solve missions with Bing and Bong, help care for neighboring planets, and play mini games while earning points and badges as they go along.

Tiny Planets Fun-has games, puzzles, coloring books, and comics

Tiny Planets Books-Interactive story books featuring Bing and Bong you can read to your child or they can read themselves. Some are free and some have to be purchased with KEYS.

Tiny Planets Learning-for parents, homeschoolers and educators. Has printable puzzles and worksheets for preschoolers (around 3-5 years old) plus over 65 Science related lesson plans with questions and suggested learning activities to go along with Bing and Bong story books.

Tiny Planets Labs-new games just created for kids to test out.

Tiny Planets Blog-where parents and cadets can go to explore tips, science experiments, and astronomy facts.

The Tiny Planets Universe is a safe place for children to play, learn, and explore. The site is completely ad free so there is no worries about what could "pop up" while your child is playing. Even though you can interact with other people on the site, there is no place for children to type in their own text. Cadet names and planet names are auto generated so you don't have to worry about your children reading anything inappropriate. You have the ability to talk to other ships that are in space but can only choose from speech bubbles that have been programmed into the game.

My children really have loved playing on the Tiny Planets website. They enjoyed flying their ships through outer space and playing the games. They have requested to play Tiny Planets every day for their computer time. My two younger boys (5, 3) really enjoy the books and TV episodes.

I like the safety measures that are in place so I don't have to worry about who they are talking to or what is being said. The lesson plans linked with the books are a wonderful science resource for preschoolers. The books and printable worksheets are great.

A few things to consider on this one. TV shows where the characters don't talk bother me. I remember thinking the same thing when Chelsea watched it on TV but the children really enjoy it. Most of the educational value on this site is for preschoolers but I think the Science Activities can be interesting for older children too. A lot of the games seem to be geared for the older children but Christian and Anthony could play with help.

To see what other crew members are saying click here.

I received complimentary access to Tiny Planets for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Homeschooling High School:Home Economics Project

For her first semester of High School, Chelsea decided she wanted to do Sewing for Home Economics (cooking will be next semester.) She has taken a few sewing workshops with 4-H over the last couple of years which has increased her sewing skills quite a bit. She has made pants, a shirt, a bag, a pillowcase, stockings, and several items from the Home Furnishings Workshop that was right before school started this year. For her project, I asked her to decided what she would like to make and she decided to try to make a dress for Lily since she had never made a dress before. Over the summer we picked up a pattern and all of the supplies while we were visiting my parents' house since our Walmart no longer carries fabric or sewing pattens. I wanted her to complete this project by December 1st and she could work on it whenever she wanted to as long as it was finished by the deadline. Well, Chelsea is a bit of a procrastinator and waited and waited to get started on this project. Every week on her assignment sheet it would be there as a reminder, but she still waited. Finally in November she started working on the dress. Once she got going she did a really good job. There were a few things she learned on this project that she had never done before, like sewing pleats and applying interfacing, that she can add to her list of sewing skills. She completed the project on time and it turned out really well. As you can see by the photos that Lily really likes it too!

Decorating Our Gingerbread House

Every year for the last several years, the children have wanted to make a Gingerbread House. One year we tried to build and decorate one, but we could not get the walls to stay up no matter what we tried to do. So, from then on I bought the kit from Walmart ($9) that has an already assembled house, already made icing, and pre-packaged candy for decoration. The children get to have fun decorating the house without me having a hard time trying to put one together. I do let them eat a few candies and try the icing while we are decorating, but after that they are not allowed to eat any more of it. It is just another pretty Christmas decoration to put on the table.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Week-end Getaway

This past week-end was Art's company's annual Christmas Party at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs. An opportunity to have a week-end away (without being too far away) before the baby is born ,along with a discounted room rate, and the availability for my mom to come babysit made it seem like the perfect timing to get away for a few days. The last time we were even alone together for dinner was last May and I was pregnant with Lily the one other time we made it to the Christmas Party. We got to Hot Springs late Friday night and enjoyed having a quiet dinner in a fairly empty restaurant. Saturday morning we were up early ( I seem to be unable to sleep past 7:30 even with no kids to wake me up) so we had breakfast and decided to do some shopping at some of the cool stores in downtown Hot Springs. We wandered by a Toy Store called the Toy Chest and since I had a few more things to pick up went in. This was a very cool toy store. It is privately owned by a family who opened it 21 years ago after the husband retired. They introduce themselves to everyone that comes in and show you around the store. They only stock good well made toys that kids enjoy playing with and only a handful of their toys require batteries. I was very impressed with their toys and books that they had. We spent quite a bit of time in there and bought a few things. I will definitely keep that store in mind as birthdays throughout the year come up.
After shopping we went to the movies. It had been ten years since we had gone to see a movie just the two of us! By then it was time to get ready for the party. The food was good, the games were entertaining, and the band that played was excellent. It was a very enjoyable evening. Sunday morning I was up early (again) and although had thought about hanging around in Hot Springs and going home later in the afternoon, I missed my babies and was ready to go home. It was wonderful for Art and I to have some much needed time alone but it was the first time I had been away from Lily and was ready to get back to her and the rest of the children. I do hope to be able to do it again sometime but it will probably not be for a couple of more years.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I got two days off of cooking this week. One because I was away for the week-end with my husband (will post about that later) and the other because of a pizza party later in the week. Here's what's on our menu for the week. My grocery week runs Friday through Thursday.

Fri 12/10-pizza
Sat 12/11- grilled cheese and canned soup made lovingly by nana
Sun 12/12- spaghetti and bread
Mon 12/13- steak, noodles, green beans
Tues 12/14- potato soup and biscuits
Wed 12/15-stacked burrito pie
Thurs-12/16-pizza party

For menu inspiration go to http://www.orgjunkie.com/


You may be wondering, "What exactly is ALEKS?" Before this review, I had seen it advertised in different homeschool magazines but I never knew exactly what ALEKS was.

From the website: "Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system that uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ALEKS offers truly individualized instruction that meets the student at her learning level and instructs her on the exact topics that she is most ready to learn. As a result, no two students will experience the same learning path while working in ALEKS."

ALEKS is a comprehensive Math program for grades 3-12 with a complete course library ranging from elementary Math all the way through to complex subjects such as PreCalculus. No textbook is required for this program. ALEKS is web based so you have unlimited usage from any internet capable computer and is PC and MAC compatible (JAVA does have to be downloaded.) It offers indiviualized instruction and students can learn at their own pace. The program starts with an assessment to find out what topics the student has already mastered and what they have yet to learn. Students receive immediate feedback and step by step explanations are provided for each problem. Worksheets and quizzes can also be generated and printed out. Parents receive in depth reports for each student so you can see exactly what your child has been working on and for how long. Also included are Quick Tables a complimentary Math Facts program for Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction. Interactive games help reinforce what is being learned. During your subscription period, your student will have access to the full course library so if they finish one of the courses they can move on to the next one without having to purchase another subscription. A subscription starts at $19.95 a month, $99.95 for 6 months, or $179.95 for 12 months for one student. They also offer a family discount program in order to use the program with more than one student.

Through the link below, Homeschoolers who have never tried ALEKS before are eligible for a one month free trial!

Visit ALEKS for 1-Month Trial

Here are a few screen shots of ALEKS

My Pie
Quick Tables Student Explanation

I have 2 students in the 3-12 grade range, so Chelsea and Nick both had an opportunity to use a 30 day trial with ALEKS and we set aside our regular Math program during the trial period. Chelsea (9th grade) was working with the Algebra 1 program and Nicholas (3rd grade) was using the LV 3 with Quick Tables. Chelsea really enjoyed using the program. She prefers to work independently and at her own pace. The teacher explanations made it very easy for her to understand how to work out the problems step by step. She also liked that it didn't make her keep going over and over stuff she already knew. I liked not having to teach Algebra for a whole month (she didn't come to me with one single question!) I also liked the reports so that I could see exactly what she was spending her time on and for how long, and how many areas she had mastered.

Nicholas is not a kid who adapts to change very well although he is willing to give it a shot. He did pretty well on the assessment, but got a little frustrated with the program. It is very different from his regular Math and he had never done Math on the computer before. Although he enjoys using the computer it was harder for him to solve Math problems on it than doing them in a book. He wants to know how to do eveything the first time he does it and did not want to have to click on the explnations to learn how to do a new topic (stubborn boy.) He liked the Quick Tables much better than the full program. If it was something we were going to do for the long term I think he would have gotten used to the way the program worked and done just fine.

If you are looking for a computer based Math program , I would highly recommend you sign up for the 30 day free trial for ALEKS.

I received a complimentary 30 day free trial of ALEKS in order to write a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

To see what other crew members are saying about this program click here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

TOS Review: Good Morning, God



I recently received the sweetest book in the mail to review Good Morning, God by Davis Carman from Apologia Press. The story is about a 4 year old boy as he goes through a week with his family showing the ways we can enjoy the Lord with our whole being and worship God daily from sunrise to sunset. There are daily prayers meant to inspire your children to consider their own relationship with Jesus and respond with childlike faith. The age range intended for the book is 1-8 years old and the cost of the book is $14.00. There is also a Good Morning, God 32 page coloring book that you can purchase for $4.00. To see a sample of the book click here.

The book can be used in many different ways. You could simply read the story to your children. There are also suggested questions and activities in the back of the book for each day of the week that you can do with your children. To get really in depth, you could read the book every day from Sunday to Sunday. For each day after reading the book you could read the suggested scriptures listed, ask the questions and do the recommended activities for that day. Studying the book in this way would make it a mini-curriculum and a literal application of Deuteronomy 6:6-7. These commands that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

We loved this book! I had all of the 9 and under crowd reading it with me (even Lily 21 months) and they all enjoyed it. It is a sweet little story about an active and curious 4 year old boy and his family. The story is realistic, the prayers are sweet, and the illustrations are absolutley adorable (some are in color and some are in black and white.) The black and white illustrations make you want to grab some crayons and color them in when you are reading so I would like to get the coloring book to go along with it too. I like that the book emphasizes family and the mom and dad teaching their children. My boys loved the illustrations with the boy jumping, climbing, and running (things they can easily relate to.)All of the questions and activities listed in the back of the book are very age appropriate. To be perfectly honest, I cannot think of any negative things or considerations about this book at all!

To see what other crew members are saying click here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Book Review: God's Promises For Women of Faith

"God's Word is the most cherished we, as women will ever receive." So true. Where else will you find promises that are always true and never change. In His Word he shows us His love and shares his plans for living a godly life and growing in knowledge of Him. Whether you are looking to use it for a daily Bible reading or for reference purposes, this book will help women in all walks of life to pray, worship, and trust in Christ every day.

This book was listed as a gift book. I have to say it is a beautiful, very portable book that I would definitely recommend to give as a gift or buy for yourself. In our day to day life, we find ourselves working hard to do our jobs, take care of ourselves and our families, and we often forget about all the promises God has made to us and that His resources are unlimited. This book is a great reminder of those promises. It is not full of someone else's commentary or personal opinions of what The Word says. Instead, it simply lists Scripture for each of the categories in the book. A few of these are: God's Plan for Women is To, God Teaches Women to Walk in His Word by, God Delights in Women Who Are, God Walks with Women, God Encourages Each Woman to, God Teaches Woman How to....and several more. The book ends with a chapter of Dynamic Women of Faith and includes scripture for Mary-mother of Jesus, Elizabeth-mother of John the Baptist, Sarah-wife of Abraham, Hannah-mother of Samuel, Ruth-great grandmother of David and Lydia-seller of purple. There also is a section in the back of the book for recording verses that are special to you.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in order to write a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Favorite Recipes: Chicken Pot Pie

I love making chicken pot pie, it's like making chicken soup, you can put just about anything in it and not mess it up. I have been making it for so long I don't measure or use a recipe but I tried to pay close attention to how I made it so I could post it here. Keep in mind that you can use just about any kind of vegetables or meat in a pot pie and there are a lot of different variations you can use for crust too. I use my biscuit recipe thinned out with extra milk, but you also could use biscuits from a can, or an already made pie crust. I am feeding a crowd here so I make it in a 13x9 cake pan instead of a pie pan. You may also want to add some salt or pepper to the filling, I don't because we have different tastes and salt/pepper our food once it is on our plates.

Chicken Pot Pie Filling

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups(or more) cooked chicken or other kind of meat
4 medium sized potatoes, diced
1 16 oz bag frozen mixed vegetables (or other kinds of vegetables)
1/2 cup flour mixed with 1/2 cup water

Bring chicken broth to a boil and add diced potatoes. Cook until slightly tender. Add frozen mixed vegetables and cook approx. 8 minutes. Add in cooked chicken. Stir in flour/water mixture to thicken the broth and mix well. Pour into 13x9 pan (or pie pan.)

Biscuit Topping
2 cups flour
4 tbsp butter
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup milk

Cut butter into flour. Add other ingredients with milk being last. Spread over the top of Pot Pie filling. Place in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until biscuit topping is golden brown.

Keeping Christmas Simple

It seems like the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year's gets busier and goes by faster every year. It's easy to get caught up in everything that's going on and forget about why we are celebrating in the first place. By New Year's you can be exhausted, cranky, and completely broke. After several years of making these kind of mistakes at Christmas, we work hard to keep our holiday season a little more simple.

There are so many fun things going on during the holiday season. Everyone is having parties, parades, and festivals. If we are not careful and schedule too many activities, we can end up with cranky, tired children and parents, and no time to enjoy just being together and doing things together as a family. During the holiday season we try to chooses activities that we can all do together and only do 1 or 2 things every week so we are not running around in different directions all week long.

Cooking is kept fairly simple throughout the holidays too. On days where we have something going on I try to do a crock pot meal or have sandwiches so there's no added stress of "What's for dinner?" I love to bake and have lots of little "helpers" so our baking projects are kept fairly simple too. We usually make chocolate chip, m&m, peanut butter blossoms (my favorite) and cut outs. Cut out cookies are probably my least favorite to make and the messiest, so to make my life a little easier, I buy already made sugar cookie dough to use for these. That way the children still have the fun of cutting out and decorating cookies, but we don't have to make a batch of dough that will result in 10 dozen cookies to cut out and decorate. For Christmas Day, I make muffins the day before and buy bagels and fruit for breakfast so the children can eat whenever they are hungry and we have a very light lunch. Our Christmas dinner is ham, potatoes, rolls, corn with a Birthday Cake for Jesus for dessert.

Presents. Who doesn't love getting Christmas presents? Our first few years of being parents, our children got piles and piles of presents and we bought presents for everyone in our whole family and close friends too. If we didn't have the money that was ok, we just whipped out one of our many credit cards. The children would get a pile of toys and most would be broken or at the bottom of the toy box before the week was out. What was the point? Once I became a SAHM and a few more children came along (along with more and more debt) we really had to look at this idea of gift giving and what would be reasonable and meaningful, but still fun for our children (and us too.) We had to stop buying gifts first for all of our family and friends or switch to homemade or baked gifts (enjoyed by everyone!) Then we made a commitment to not go into debt for Christmas. It is not fun or enjoyable when January rolls around with a pile of new bills that need to be paid. Then I read somewhere about a family who gave their children 3 gifts each symbolizing the three gifts that Jesus received and we thought that was a great idea. One present is a "big" present, something that they really want, and 2 smaller presents (one is educational and the other usually clothes.) They also get a few things like candy and coloring books, crayons etc.. in their stockings. I do not spend exactly the same amount on each child but do spend less than $100 dollars on each including their stocking stuffers. Art and I buy a few small gifts for each other and we also buy gifts for 3 angels off the Salvation Army tree and give to other charities during the holidays. All of these things come from money I set aside every month specifically for our Christmas Budget.

A few years a go, I even stopped sending Christmas cards. It wasn't really about the time it took to address and send them out (although that was a factor) but simply the cost. Even though you can buy cards fairly inexpensively, the price of postage keeps rising and rising. I do a Merry Christmas blog post and facebook post and for those of my dear friends who do not use a computer in any way, I will mail out a few cards.

However you decide to spend your holiday season, I hope it is a fun and joyous time spent with your family and friends celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

We have a freezer full of deer meat (Yeah!) a free turkey that I am going to cook and split up into as many different meals as I can and the meat that I bought ahead on sale last week so we are in good shape meat wise for the next few weeks. My bread machine however broke after 3 years of using it quite a bit so no fresh bread this week. The good news is I found a barely used one for a great price and will pick it up later in the week. Here's what's cooking up at my house this week:

Friday 12/3-pizza
Sat 12/4-dinner out
Sun 12/5 cheese ravioli
Mon 12/6- chicken pot pie
Tues 12/7- pot roast (well deer roast), potatoes, and carrots
Wed 12/8- chicken, broccoli, noodle casserole
Thurs 12/9- deer chili, biscuits

Go to http://www.orgjunkie.com/ for more menu inspiration.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

14 Years Ago Today......

I was 28 weeks pregnant with Chelsea and woke up in the morning feeling not quite right. I had not been sick at all during my pregnancy and thought it was odd that I was feeling so sick at this stage. As the day progressed I felt worse and worse. I was achy, nauseous, and vomiting. By late that evening I also had pain that had settled in my right side. After heading to the ER and having blood drawn I also had a very elevated white blood cell count. My doctor thought it was probably a kidney infection, but shortly it was discovered that I had appendicitis. I was told I had 2 choices. I could not have surgery and the baby and I would both die, or I could have the surgery and I would probably go into labor and the baby could die. My OB (who had delivered me) had never had a pregnant patient with appendicitis and my surgeon had never taken an appendix out of a pregnant woman. Needless to say I chose to have the surgery. They gave me spinal anesthesia because it was less dangerous for the baby so I was awake during the surgery. At first, I was terrified. I was not worried about myself at all, but I did not want my baby to die. I remember laying on the table while Christmas music was playing, watching the clock tick, and praying. After a few minutes, a wave of peace came over me and I knew that everything was going to be all right. Even though I was not living my life anywhere near the way I should, even though I had not been to church or even prayed in a very long time, I felt the presence of God as I laid on that operating table and my prayers were answered. I never even had one contraction and the baby's heart rate stayed strong. I recovered my my surgery and 12 weeks later delivered an 8 lb 8 oz very healthy little miracle who changed my life forever.

Friday, December 3, 2010

So Many Questions

The fact that we are a larger than average homeschooling family prompts a lot of questions from people. Not just friends and family but also people I barely know and strangers in the grocery store. I don't mind the genuinely curious questions (even though I would never ask anyone myself.) The mean spirited rude ones I have a little bit of a harder time with especially when 95% of the time they are asked in front of my children. I try very hard to set a good example and always answer with a smile and positive response even when I am really thinking,"What is the matter with you people? How can you ask something like that in front of a group of sweet children?" (they usually refer to how many boys we have in a negative way.) Anyway, here are some of the most common questions and answers if you are curious and just didn't want to ask about the size of our family( I am going to ignore some of the most rude questions and assume that you know that we really do know what causes it etc..etc..etc..)

How many kids are you gonna have? My answer to this is we know we are going to have at least 7.

Where do you put all of those kids? We have a 4 bedroom house. The downstairs bedroom we use as a playroom/schoolroom (when the remodel is completed) The boys share a bedroom. We have two sets of bunk beds in there with the older boys sleeping on the top bunks. Lily just moved into the girls room with Chelsea. We have a set of bunk beds in there and a twin bed for Lily. The baby's crib stays in our room until the baby stops nursing and is ready to move to a bed. Our living room has 2 couches (one is a futon) and a love seat so we have room for everyone to sit. We are in the process of remodeling our house and turning the garage into a family room. I drive a 15 passenger van. The last row of seats is taken out (so it seats 11) so I have plenty of room for a stroller, bicycles, groceries, or whatever else I am hauling around.

Do you keep having kids to get money from the government? This was one of the most surprising to me (the fact that anyone would even think it.) But we have been asked more than once. We pay for all of our children and do not get grants or ANY kind of government assistance or funding. We do not live in government housing. We own our home (well in 26 years and 3 months we will.) We do not get Medicaid or food stamps. We do pay school taxes even though we don't use the school system and yes we have to pay for all of our own schoolbooks and supplies to homeschool.

How do you afford all of those kids? My husband works very hard at his job, and I work very hard to stretch that money as far as I can. Somehow, our culture has gotten the idea if you don not buy kids everything they want you are not a good parent. We do not believe this to be the case. Our children have a lot, don't get me wrong but they don't get everything they want. We do not wear $150 jeans and our children don't have cell phones. We encourage them to work for and save money for things that they want. We have a budget for monthly expenses and put away some money into a savings account. I make as much as possible from scratch, use coupons, and shop sales to keep the grocery bill as low as possible. I make Art a lunch every day so he does not have to by one. We do not eat out very often but save that as a treat like for birthdays. We try to buy toys and clothes that will last through several children. We do wear hand-me-downs and shop at garage sales. We put money into an FSA for medical expenses every year.

What about college? Again, many people believe that if you don't spend a fortune and hand your child a college education you are not a good parent. We do not agree with that. We also don't think you should go into debt for your education (the parents or the student.) Art and I started our marriage with over $30,000 in school loans combined (some of those we are still paying on) and it's not a great way to start off your life as an adult with all that debt on your back. Our children who choose to go to college are going to have to work hard and earn scholarships. We will help them find ways to achieve their goals but will they will have to earn it not have it handed to them.

Do you believe in birth control? (yes, complete strangers ask me this question) This can be a touchy subject for some people, remember I am entitled to my own opinions just as you are :).
I do not believe in using chemical forms of birth control. I believe that putting chemicals into your body to stop a natural process that God intended is not a good thing and can cause severe and dangerous consequences for women including things from minor ailments to death (I understand that there are some extreme medical conditions where the benefits outweigh the risks.) I also do not believe in the way many of these chemicals work not just preventing ovulation, but if that fails making the uterus inhospitable for implantation. I believe a baby is a baby at the point of conception so preventing implantation is the same to me as an early abortion.

Why would you want to keep bringing children into a world like this? This one makes me sad. This world is a hard world to live in as it has been ever since the Fall. God sees children as a blessing and so do we. You never know what kind of difference your child can make in this world and for eternity. I saw this quote the other day (I'm not sure who wrote it.) "A baby is God's way of showing that He thinks the world should go on."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Night In A Big Girl Bed!

Over the last two evenings, Lily (20 months) has been watching us get her big girl bed ready. The whole time she was watching her daddy put it together she kept saying, "That's my bed." Last night it was all set and ready to go and she happily climbed up into her new bed. At bed time when I told her it was time to go night night, she gave her daddy a kiss, grabbed her sippy cup, and went and climbed into her new bed. I tucked her in and sang her rock-a-bye-baby song and in minutes she was asleep. I got up and checked on her 3 times in the night and her daddy covered her up before he went to work this morning. At 7:15 I heard her hop out of her bed and she came running into my room happy as could be. Her first night in her new bed was a success ! (we'll see what happens at nap time)
It makes me sad every time we move one of the children out of the crib and into a bed. It makes them seem so grown up! Lily is a good sleeper though and every night climbed into our bed to go to sleep and then I moved her into the crib. Since we need the crib in a few months anyway for the new baby and Lily wanted to be in a bed, it just made sense to move her now. I am so glad she had such a good night and hopefully nap time will be just as easy.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Too Quiet Around Here

Chelsea, Nick, Alex, and Anthony are staying with my mom and dad until Friday. That means I only have 2 sweet babies at home with me this week. It is too quiet in this house! We miss our "guys" and can't wait for them to come home on Friday. I put them on speaker phone last night and Lily wouldn't say a word she just kept staring into the phone like she was trying to find them. Christian and Lily are doing a good job playing together. Lily follows Christian around and so far he is taking it pretty well and has had done a good job sharing with her. You can tell he is a little bored without his brothers but I am trying to keep him busy while getting a few things done that need to be done. They both have been helping take care of dogs and chickens. Yesterday we rearranged the living room to make room for the Christmas Tree we are going to get on Sunday. Today we are going to finish up setting up Lily's big girl bed (I never like moving them to a bed it makes them seem so grown up!) and clearing a path to the closet to the attic so daddy can get the Christmas decorations down. Tomorrow hopefully we will get out of the house for a little while for a playdate. I am also cleaning up and rearranging our school books and deciding on what we will be working on until Christmas. During Lily's nap, I am hoping to be able to work on her scrapbook. I have only done 2 pages and would like to have it done before the baby is born. I can give Christian some of his own supplies to use on his own page if he wants to "help."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This week I am minus 4 children. They stayed at my parents house to visit for the week. It has been a long time since I have only cooked for 4. I made my grocery list Sunday morning while working in the church nursery so it does not have a whole lot of inspiration this week. I did find a lot of meat on sale at Walmart so I bought some things ahead for next week, plus my DH got a deer Saturday morning, and we got our annual free turkey from the company he works for so I hopefully will be saving some moneyon groceries over the next couple of weeks.

Fri 11/26-pizza
Sat 11/27/ spaghetti
Sun 11/28- chicken noodle soup
Mon 11/29- ham steaks, mashed potatoes, green beans
Tues 11/30- sloppy joes and french fries
Wed 12/1- pork chops, noodles, corn
Thurs 12/2- leftovers

To add some inspiration to your weekly menu, go to http://www.orgjunkie.com/.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

24 Week Pregnancy Update

We were planning on heading to my parents house on Wednesday afternoon for Thanksgiving. My doctor's appointment was also supposed to be the same day, and since it put us about 40 minutes in the right direction plus saved me the trouble of another long drive on a different day, I decided to keep the appointent and then head to my parent's house from there. The children loaded up the van while Art was at work and he went in to work early and skipped his lunch so he could get out early. The children brought some books and coloring books so they would be busy in the van while I ran in to the doctor. The visit should have been a very quick one. I just needed to be weighed, have blood pressure checked, get measured, and listen to baby's heartbeat. Well, once again I waited for over an hour in the waiting room for a 5 minute visit. Every time I have been there except for once I have waited at least an hour and once it was 2 hours. At least the children handled it well and after my next visit (I have to wait an hour anyway for my glucose test) I am going to try to switch my appointment time to right after lunch. Maybe I will have better luck then. Anyway, blood pressure was perfect, baby's heart rate was great, and I gained 4 pounds making my total weight gain 9.5 pounds. At my last visit, the ultrasound had showed that baby was measuring small for her "age" but at this visit my uterus measured perfect for 24 weeks. Baby is growing and on the move constantly, so even though I still am feeling not that wonderful, it has gotten better, and as long as baby is doing well that's the most important thing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Being Thankful

It is so easy for us to look around and see all of the negative in the world right now that we forget about all of the good. As I was preparing Children's Church lessons for the month of November, it said children need to be reminded not just to be Thankful because of Thanksgiving, but need to remember to be Thankful always. Grown-ups need to remember this too and that no matter what our circumstance there is something to be Thankful for.

Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:20

In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday and as a reminder off all I have to be Thankful about, here is my short list of things I have to be Thankful (and not in any particular order.)

1.The Lord for creating the universe and everything in it and for sending His Son to die for us that we may be with Him forever in Heaven.
2. My wonderful husband who is such a good husband and father and works so hard to support his family.
3. My 6 precious children and the one we are expecting in 16 more weeks.
4. My wonderful family and friends.
5. My church and the freedom to worship.
6. Our country and all of the other freedoms we have living here.
7. the men and women who are serving our country even as I pray for the day when they don't have to.
8. Every moment that I get to spend at home with my children.
9. My children do not have to go hungry, clean water, and have a warm place to sleep at night.
10. When the children are sick I can take them to the doctor.
11.Running water, flushed toilets, disposable diapers, a washer, dryer, and dishwasher.
12. Chocolate
13. Every sweet hug and kiss
14. Our health
15. Our home

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Favorite Recipes: Baked Ziti

1 box of ziti pasta
2 cans spag sauce
1 can undrained diced tomatoes
6 oz cream cheese cubed
1 8 oz pkg shredded mozzarella

Cook pasta as directed on box. Cook sauce over medium heat until warm add cream cheese and tomatoes. Stir until smooth. Mix pasta with sauce mixture. Pour half in a 13x9 baking dish sprinkling half the mozzarella cheese over top. add other half of pasta and cheese. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until heated through.

Walmart Announces it Will Price Match Black Friday

Last week I wrote this post about shopping on Black Friday. Walmart has announced that it will price match even on Black Friday again this year. You can read a copy of Walmart's Corporate Policy on Price Matching here. Some things to keep in mind:

You have to have a copy of the competitors ad with you.
A competitor you are matching must be in a 50 mile radius.
They will not honor internet pricing, BOGO, or percentages off.
They will not honor gift card deals (ex. Target is offering a $10 gift card BF for every $100 you spend. You can't "price match" that deal.)
Whenever the sale prices are good on the ad is when you can price match. (If Toys R Us has X on sale from 10 pm to 5 am those are the only times those prices will be good at Walmart too.)

Happy Shopping!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

It's a short week this week because of Thanksgiving and I don't have to cook! Here's what's cooking up at my house this week.

Friday 11/19- pizza
Sat 11/20- chicken enchilada casserole
Sun 11/21- spaghetti
Mon 11/22- steak, baked potatoes, carrots
Tues 11/23 chunky chicken chilli (I never made this last week because my menu changed due to company)
Wed 11/24- on the road (dr. appt) sandwiches and chips
Thurs 11/25- Thanksgiving Dad's cooking!!

To see some other great menus go to http://www.orgjunkie.com/

Friday, November 19, 2010

One Week Until Black Friday

Yes, yes, I am one of those crazy people who are out standing in line while it's still dark with hundreds of other people to score whatever "deals" manufacturers have come up with to boost this year's Christmas Sales. Why? I love shopping and want to be able to get the best deal available on the gifts I am purchasing for my family and it really is fun. Now I know some of you think I am crazy and would rather pay twice the money then be out at 3:00 am on the Friday after Thanksgiving. But, for those of you who are trying to plan ahead and are going out shopping next Friday morning check out this website. Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Toys R Us and a few other ads are already posted on this site. While I think it is more fun to have the sale papers in my hand I did take a look to get an idea of what the "hot" deals are going to be this year. The sales are starting earlier than usual too. Toys R Us is opening at 10:00 pm Thanksgiving night, Old Navy at midnight, Kohls at 3 am (I love Kohls!), Target at 4 (they have never opened before 7) and Walmart at 5:00 am. I am hoping to start and finish all of my shopping on this day. Also, Walmart will price match competitors ads even on Black Friday (double check on that before you go just in case they have changed since last year.) Honestly, I think Black Friday shopping is easiest at Walmart. If your store is open 24 hours, you can go inside at any time and do not have to wait in the cold. They usually have a pretty good amount of each sale item and give you a map showing where everything is located. Last year, for electronics and big ticket items, they gave you a ticket when you got in line so you knew whether or not you were going to get the item. If you got out of line you lost your place and your ticket would go to someone else. It made for a much easier shopping experience. So those of you who are shopping get out your comfy shoes, grab your coffee (or hot chocolate if you can't drink coffee like me) (I heard Starbucks wasn't opening until 5) and have fun shopping!

Editing this to add: Many of Walmart's sales are starting at 12:01 am on Friday with only a few of the big ticket electronics going on sale at 5:00 am. Looks like I am taking a nap Thursday afternoon so I can start my shopping at 10 pm Thursday night.

TOS Review: KB Teachers


Looking for some fun and educational work sheets for your children? KB Teachers might be the website you are looking for.

From the website-"KB Teachers is the one stop destination for teachers and parents who are always on the lookout for new and engaging 21st century tools and materials."

KB Teachers has a wide variety of worksheets for children of all ages. Some of the subjects include: English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Basic Skills, and Seasonal worksheets. The age range on the worksheets are from Pre-K all the way up to High School. A great feature of their website is customizable alphabet and math worksheets so you can create brand new worksheets in seconds. Answer keys to the worksheets only show up when you print the sheets out. There is no search box on their site because everything you are looking for should be able to be found in three clicks or less. The website is very easy to navigate even though it is currently undergoing construction and improvements are continuing to be made. All of their content is unique and have been created by their own team so you won't find anything like it anywhere else on the web. They do offer several free worksheets. The cost of a premium membership is $29 per year or $49 for two years. You can view all of the worksheets they currently have available before you purchase a membership and there is a 30 day money back guarantee when you pay with a credit card and a 10 day free trail with your pay pal account.

Some of my favorite worksheets were the Alphabet and Math worksheets. I also liked the worksheets they have for mixed Basic Skills. I think they have a good variety of pre-k,k ,and 3rd grade and up but I didn't see a whole lot of 1-2 nd grade. There are several interesting Science Topics although many of them do not list an age range and they do not come from a Creationist View (you might like to know that ahead of time.) Another section I enjoyed were the Web Quests. These worksheets have several links to investigate a topic and then you come back and fill in the answers on the worksheet.

Overall I thought this was a great website. It was very easy to navigate and covered several topics that I have not seen on other sites. I look forward to continue using this site with my children and can't wait to see the final result when their construction is finished.

I received a complimentary premium membership to this website for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

To see what other crew members are saying click here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

4-H Workshops

This week we had two 4-H workshops to go to. On Saturday, we had a Holiday Craft Workshop. Nick, Alex, Anthony, and Chelsea (who was also a volunteer) had an opportunity to make 8 different Thanksgiving and Christmas crafts (Christian and Lily just got to tag along.) They made: a 4-H ornament, a cookie cutter ornament, a Rudolph light bulb ornament, a pine cone elf, a felt turkey, a foam hands and feet turkey, a paper bag scarecrow, and a painted bulb ornament. After the children completed those crafts to bring home, there was a table set up to make a few other crafts that were to be donate to the nursing home. The children love the craft workshop and look forward to it every year.

On Monday, we had another 4-H workshop. This time we were making solar powered robot cars. Alex and Chelsea signed up for this one. Nick didn't want to (even though he had to be there anyway we helped the younger boys) and I thought it would be too hard for Anthony but he really could have done one too. The actual assembly took less than 20 minutes even with sharing one hammer and trying to keep all of the children at the same place. The children had fun putting them together but really wanted to race the cars outside. Unfortunately, it was very cloudy that day and solar powered cars will not run on a cloudy day. These cars do not have a battery, just a solar panel on the back. We did hold all of the cars up to a very bright lamp to make sure they all worked. Yesterday was a little sunnier and they did get a chance to race their cars.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

It's Monday again! I only bought a few groceries this week so we can use up what I already have stocked in the cupboard.

Friday 10/12- homemade pizza
Sat 10/13- hot roast beef sandwiches with mushroom and gravy, baked potatoes
Sun 10/14-homemade mac and cheese, biscuits
Mon 10/15- sandwiches and chips (we have a workshop and a meeting to go to)
Tues 10/16-chunky chicken chilli (will post recipe if we like it)
Wed 10/17-pork chops, mashed potatoes, cauliflower
Thurs 10/18-spaghetti

To get some menu planning inspiration go to www.orgjunkie.com

TOS Review: Corps of Re-Discovery

Corps of Discovery was the name President Jefferson gave Lewis and Clarks party as theywent out searching for an east-west water passage to the Pacific Ocean. The Corps of Re-Discovery is a company founded by a homeschool family who has found and created great project kits to help enrich your studies of American Indians, Fontiersman, and Pioneer and Colonial Americans so that we too can "re-discover" America. Their project kits are great not just for homeschools but also schools, churches, scout activities, birthday parties, and other group events. Prices of their kits start around $3.99 and go up to $72.00 with the most expensive items being craft packs offering several different kits.

The first time I had an opportunity check out this website, I decided that I would like to have at least one of everything! There have so many fun and reasonably priced craft kits! American History is my favorite subject to teach and I love doing hands on projects with the children to help reinforce what they are learning and make History come alive. They have kits that would be great for boys, girls, or both.

We were sent the Coin Pouch Kit to make. Everything you need to make the project is included in the kit. The kit included pre-cut, pre-punched leather parts, snap, plastic lace, and instructions. I had two children who really wanted to make this project so we flipped a coin to decide. Alex (almost 7) won the toss and got to make this project. He is a very hands on learner and loves doing stuff like this. The pouch is made of sturdy leather, and the plastic cord was very strong. I read the directions to Alex and gave him all of the pieces. The directions were very easy to read and understand. After a few minutes of working on the coin pouch he said," This cord is very hard to push through these holes. A smaller piece of string would be a lot easier." I fed the cord through a few holes and decided he was right. The cord was the same size on both ends and was square so I took a pair of scissors and cut a very small snip on the end we were feeding through the holes so it was cut on an angle. This made feeding the cord through much easier and Alex was able to zip right through it.

He was very pleased with his results. The coin pouch turned out great and he had fun making it. It is very sturdy and I think it will be holding his coins for a long time to come.

If you are a parent looking for some great hands on learning projects, or a leader of any kind of child's clubs (boy scouts, girl scouts, 4-H) you should head over to the Corps of Re-Discovery and look at all of the wonderful project kits they have to offer.

I received a complimentary Coin Pouch Kit in order to write a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

To see what other crew members are saying about the Coin Pouch Kit or other kits from Corps of Re-Discovery click here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Free From The Old Schoolhouse: Digital Holiday Supplement

The Digital Holiday Supplement is now available from The Old Schoolhouse completely free! 176 pages of Christmas Articles, Holiday Gift and Craft Ideas, Holiday Recipes, and articles on regional holidays. Download your copy for free by clicking here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 1918 an Armistice was declared. This would eventually evolve into what we now know as Veteran's Day where we honor all of the men and women who have served during both times of war and times of peace.

For the last two years, our Homeschool Group has done a great program on Veteran's Day. We have had a wonderful Veteran come and speak with our children and then the children gave presentations on either a Veteran or something patriotic. Both years it has been my children's favorite Homeschool C0-op. This year our group did not put anything together, and with Christian having been sick all week, I did not have a whole lot of time to put anything together. Still, I wanted to set aside our normal History work and do something related to Veteran's Day. We went to this website and read about the history of Veteran's Day and watched several of the videos that were on the site. Then we did a little research with our Usborne book of World Wars (great book by the way.) We also made this paper craft and this paper craft from www.dltk-kids.com. Although it wasn't as involved as previous years, I think the children learned a lot and had fun making the crafts.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanksgiving Craft and Lapbook Ideas

My kids love to do crafts and holidays are a great reason to make a lot of crafts either for decorations or for gift giving. One of my favorite websites for crafts is www.dltk-kids.com. We have used this site quite a bit in our homeschool and I have used several of their Bible Lessons for Children's Church Lessons. I also found this website for Thanksgiving ideas after doing a google search. It has several links to lessons and activities about teaching children to be thankful to God. I also found this website that has links to several lapbook and notebooking pages about Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Soccer's finally over (Nick's team came in second) and this week seems relatively calm so far. I don't even have to leave the house until Thursday! Here's what's cooking up for supper at my house this week.

Friday 11/5- frozen pizza (it was that kind of day)
Saturday 11/6- homemade sloppy joes, french fries, fruit
Sunday 11/7-baked ziti (will post recipe later in the week), bread
Monday 11/8-chicken, baked potatoes, carrots
Tuesday 11/9-broccoloi and cheese soup, biscuits
Wednesday 11/10 potato topped mini meatloaves, corn
Thursday 11/11 beef stroganoff

Check our http://www.orgjunkie.com/ to see some other great menu plans for this week!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Favorite Breakfast Recipes

Breakfasts around here are rotate between hot breakfasts and cold cereal and toast. Making your own breakfast foods can save a lot of money at the grocery store and they are much better for you. Many recipes are very quick to make and can be made in advance and stored in the freezer. Some of our favorite hot breakfasts are: pancakes, waffles, blueberry muffins, banana chocolate chip muffins, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, french toast, scrambled eggs, omlettes, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, and egg casserole. We also do a breakfast meal for dinner every other week because it is quick, easy, and inexpensive (it doesn't hurt that we always have eggs either!)


1 3/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup oil or melted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup milk

Mix all ingredients until well blended. Follow waffle maker directions for cooking waffles.

Pancakes (I sometimes add chocolate chips or blueberries to this recipe)

2 1/2 cups flour
1tsp salt
1tsp baking soda
2 tsp sugar
3 tsp baking powder
4 tsp melted butter
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk

Mix ingedients until well blended. Drop batter in frying pan or electric skillet. Cook until pancakes are bubbly then flip to other side.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Homeschool Art Class


Nick and Alex

Christian, Lily, Anthony

Last Tuesday we had our second homeschool Art class (see how caught up I am on blogging that I am just posting this today.) The children had a great time. They got to make masks. After seeing several examples of famous people, made up characters, and masks of objects they got to decide what they would like to draw. Nick did a made up character, Alex did a pumpkin head, and Chelsea made Jesse the cowgirl from Toy Story. Then they wrote a little story about what they drew on the back of the mask and shared their character and story with the whole class. They also did a second activity where they shaded faces light and dark. Christian, Lily, and Anthony just color on their own paper. They have kept busy and been very well behaved for both classes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Finished Creation Dino Study

Nick and Alex's Lap Books
Paper Mache Dino Eggs

Lily working on her Dino worksheets

We have finished this Creation Dinosaur Study that we found on http://www.homeschoolshare.com/. We took 2 weeks to do this study and to complete our lapbooks. We also made a dinorama, clay fossils, dug for dinosaurs, and made paper mache dinosaur eggs (no pictures of us making the eggs since I was elbow deep in paper mache.) The children had a great time doing this study and learned a lot about dinosaurs and fossils. They enjoyed making all of the mini books to go in their lapbooks and the fun projects. The recommended books were great and I picked them up very inexpensively on http://www.half.com/ and http://www.amazon.com/. There are a lot of different free unit studies to choose from on http://www.homeschoolshare/ and we will be choosing another one to do in a few weeks.

Menu Plan Monday

The last week of soccer. This week will hopefully be our last chaotic week for a little while. This is what our supper menu is looking like this week.

Sat 10/30- hot dogs and grapes after trick or treat (when Halloween falls on Sunday our town does trick or treat on Sat so it doesn't conflict with church)

Sun 10/31-lasagna and bread

Mon 11/1- Soccer Pizza Party

Tues 11/2- bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits, fruit

Wed 11/3- chicken, brocc, rice casserole

Thurs 11/4- grilled cheese, tomato soup

Check out some great menus at http://www.orgjunkie.com/

Friday, October 29, 2010

TOS Review: Buckets O Fun

Wondering what on earth these pictures are of? We recently had an opportunity to review a sampling of Yuck! from Buckets O Fun. Buckets O Fun carries unique products for recreational and social events. "From things that fly to a bucket full of slime we are your source for fun and unusual products for all your events."

Chunky Yuck- starts out the size of rock alt and hydrates to the size of machine ice cubes. Takes 24 hours to completely hydrate.


Saucy Yuck- starts out as a powder and turns into the consistency of applesauce.

Snowy Yuck- starts out as a powder and turns into fluffy white snow that can be formed but not packed.

Sticky Yuck- super sticky yuck

For Yuck game ideas click here.
For a free sample of Yuck (one per person/organization) email orders@buckets-o-fun.com.

The price of Yuck starts out at $16 for a pound and also can be purchased in 5 pound and 50 pound amounts. There are also Yuck accessories such as tints and water ballons you can purchase to enhance your Yuck fun.

What We Liked- Most children (especially boys!) like to play with things that are gooey or sticky. The children enjoyed measuring out the water and seeing what the powder was going to turn into. They had fun freezing and thawing the snowy yuck, dying and blowing bubbles in the sticky yuck, and playing with the chunky and saucy yuck.

Some Things to Consider- The Yuck products absorb water and cannot be poured down the drain because it will clog your pipes. This can make cleanup a little difficult. We used disposable containers and threw them out when we were done instead of trying to clean the bowls. We also worked outside so we could clean up the picnic table with the outside faucet and water hose. I did not want to take a chance of Lily putting any of this in her mouth, so we did the experiments while she was napping. The sticky, snowy, and saucy yuck absorbed the water right away, but the chunky yuck took a long time (about 24 hours) to absorb.

My Final Thoughts- With 6 children messes aren't anything new to me. I personally would not buy something just for the "fun" of getting messy and gooey. If it has educational value (like a scientific experiment) I would. I think Buckets O Fun is tapping into that market with the suggestions for scientific experiments that were included with our samples and as they expand on that it may bring even more interest into their products.

I received complimentary samples of Yuck products for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

To see what other crew members are saying click here.