Our Family

Our Family

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fun at 4-H

The boys' Cloverbud 4-H meeting was last night, and we did a program about rabbits. A boy in the club bred his rabbit and had it had 5 babies. They photographed and documented their growth and taught the children all about rabbits. They really enjoyed it, and of course the best part was when they got to hold and pet them. I heard a lot of,"Mom can we get one?" Right now 6 children, 3 dogs, and 59 chickens are quite enough.

2 Week Old Chickens

Our Chicks were 2 weeks old on Friday and they are doing great! They are growing more wing feathers, and tail feathers, and are starting to fly. They have grown so much that we will have to split them up into two boxes very soon so they will have enough room. The boys have been helping their daddy build the chicken pen that they will move to when all of their feathers have grown in.

That's Some Great Teamwork!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Back to School

I have a new picture of our chickens that I am going to post for this week, but there is something wrong with my camera USB cord. It is bent and I am pretty sure there are teeth marks in it (really? who would have put the cord in their mouth?) So I will try and fix that later. In the meantime Spring Break is over and we are back to work. There is about 8 weeks left in the school year. Here is an update of what we have accomplished and what we are working on now.

Chelsea 7th grade Sonlight Curriculum and Alpha Omega Math- Chelsea works independently on her schoolwork and goes at her own pace. As long as she is staying somewhat on track for the year I let her do as much as she wants. Right now she has worked so far ahead that she only has 2 weeks left in Sonlight. We have 2 Life Packs left for math so we should finish on track. After she finishes up her Sonlight, I have some 8th grade Abeka textbooks that she will work on until the end of the year.

Nick 2nd grade- We have finished 2nd grade Abeka Science and History. We are still working on Language Lessons for the Very Young and I think we should finish that on time. We have started on Abeka Health, Safety, and Manners and should go through that in a couple of weeks. Nick is very interested in History, and right now we are learning about each of our Presidents. So far we have made it through number 17, but we will complete this before the end of the year. In Math he is working on fractions, multiplication, and Roman Numerals. We are reading Charlotte's Web and will finish that up next week. After we are done reading we will watch the movie. The older children have seen it before, but it has been awhile.

Alex K- Finished Abeka K Science (and listened through 2nd grade Science and History) Working on Math Subtraction. Alex also listens in on Charlotte's Web and discussions on the Presidents. He is not reading yet, so we are still working on phonics sounds and blending letters. I read aloud to him and the little ones quite a bit.

Next week we will be working on a Spring lapbbook I downloaded for free from www.eggheadacademics.com called Blooms, Bugs, and Babies.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Our Grocery Shopping Trip

Some of you may already know that I am a big fan of www.moneysavingmom.com. Through her website I find lots of links to coupons, free samples, encouragements, and other ways to save money. Her recent series 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget has got me back on the money saving bandwagon especially when it comes to food and grocery items. Over the last couple of months I had not been paying as close attention to our grocery budget and could not believe how much I let it get off track (especially on take out food.) So this month I am determined to turn it back around. I spent some time clipping coupons, checking out sale adds, and money saving mom for deal match ups. Then I wrote out our Monthly Meal Plan. I usually buy enough dinners and household supplies for one month and do a weekly shopping trip for things like bread, produce, milk, and lunch meat. I went to Alps yesterday to buy the items I needed out of their sale flyer. Today we headed to Texarkana TX to do the rest of our shopping which is a 1 hour and 20 minute drive, but we had to go anyway for supplies to work on the family room. There is also no tax on food in Texas and a much better variety of stores with a bigger selection. Our trip went great! We split up the children and I took 3 shopping with me and Art took 3 to Lowes. I will not bore you with all the details of everything I bought, but I saved $32.75 in coupons, plus no tax, and the items I bought on sale. Some of my best buys today at Target were: free band aids,free Johnson's Buddies Soap, .50 toothpaste, and 2 pks of Huggies Diapers for $5.99 each. Some of my best buys at Walmart were: $1 Baby Wipes, .37 cream cheese, .50 mustard, .50 yogurt, $1.00 Jelly, and .50 Lunchable. Not to mention that a gallon of Milk was only $2.77 there compared to $3.43 here (we go through about 6 gallons a week.) It was definitely worth the trip and will probably continue to head to Texarkana once a month to go grocery shopping.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring Break

This week our local public schools are on their Spring Break. We don't always follow the school schedule, but we are ahead for the year and at a good stopping place so we decided to take the week off. I also wanted to have an opportunity to get some spring cleaning done and gather up items for a yard sale. Usually we take days off when we go out of town or have special plans or an appointment. This week I had absolutely nothing planned so I was a little worried about the children being bored, but so far they have had a great week. The weather has been great so they have spent quite a bit of time outside. Chelsea got to go on a day trip to Little Rock with 4-H yesterday to go to The World of the Pharaoh Exhibit and The Clinton Library and she had a wonderful time. Since it is raining today, I am going to enlist the children's help in sorting toys in the playroom. Wish me luck!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pizza Party!

We had a great time at our DiGiorno House Party on Saturday. The children had a great time and Lily even stayed awake for the whole thing. I had an earlier post about our House Party but I wanted to explain what this party was for and how I got chosen because a number of people have asked me about it. I am a member of Kraft First Taste. This is a Kraft website where they post new products and allow members to print off free or high value ($1.00 off or more) coupons on new products. On this website I also found out about their new promotion called House Party. On the website you will find a listing of current and upcoming house parties (ex. Digiorno, Maxwell House, 100 Calorie snack Packs, etc..) you fill out an application that takes about 10 minutes and agree that if you are chosen you will agree to : host a party, invite guests, use their party website, fill out a survey, post pictures and videos of the party on the website, and give coupons to your guests. I was chosen for the Digiorno Party. They have a new product selling pizza, bread sticks, and marinara dipping sauce. in the same box. There are 3 different kinds; cheese, pepperoni, and supreme. The pizzas sell for $6.25 at our Walmart. I received in my party pack 6 free coupons and 15 $4.00 off coupons to give to my guests, so not only did they get to be among the first to try the new product, they get to buy their own for $2.25 a piece. The pizza and bread stick combo was very good and much less expensive than delivery. I very much enjoyed the entire House Party experience and would do it again. Signing up for Kraft First Taste is free for more information click here.

One Week Old Chickens!

Our chickens turned one week old on Friday and are doing well. We did have one die within the first three days, but that is pretty typical. I was kind of worried when our 4-H office called to let us know that there has been a state wide problem with mortality from the hatchery they are using, but it seems that all of the chicks in our area are doing well. They are already growing some feathers on their wings and try to fly. With the cold snap we had this week-end (complete with snow flurries) we did take some extra precautions to keep them warm (lowering the heat lamp and putting a blanket over the box.) Warmer temperatures are coming back this week so hopefully we won't have to worry about that again.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Walking Across Arkansas

Last fall members of our 4-H club decided to participate in Walk Across Arkansas. This is a state wide program sponsored by our local extension office to get people to moving and exercising more. The program runs for eight weeks and all you have to do is wear a pedometer to log your steps, convert them into miles (2000steps=1 mile), log them every day, and report to your team captain once a week. At the end of the fall walk my team consisting of 2 adults and 6 children had walked a combined total of 2500 miles! My children really enjoyed participating in this (especially Nick who continued to log his miles every day even after the program ended) that when the Spring walk began we decided to do it again with new members on our team. So we are in the second week of Walk Across Arkansas.

How many steps do you take in a day? I have found this program very interesting. On a normal day I walk about 2.5 miles just doing housework and taking care of the children. On days I get to go walking at the park or in the yard I usually walk 4.5-5 miles or more if I have to go to Walmart. My children average on a normal day about 6 miles each and usually on week-ends will walk 8-10 miles! This includes running and riding their bicycles. Logging our miles everyday has shown me how active my children are and also which days I need to get myself walking a bit more. It has also taught the children about coverting steps into miles and recording information on a chart. They do get a little competitive at times comparing their steps walked but it really has been a lot of fun.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lily's 1st Birthday and a Free Pizza Party

My Sweet Little Princess is one today! Can you believe it? I can't. Seems like only yesterday.....We don't always celebrate birthdays with birthday parties. We have had a few, but usually we just take the children out for a special dinner, a movie, or Chuck-e-cheese. Anthony has a summer birthday so we took the family to the water park on his birthday. For Lily's birthday, we are doing something a little different. I applied to host a Digiorno House Party, and I was chosen as a host. Digiorno sends a party pack to all of its hosts which for this party included: 6 free pizza coupons, 15 $4 off coupons for guests, an apron, a pizza cutter, coasters, party beads, a refrigerator magnet, and a basketball game. It was delivered in a cute little pizza box. The party date is this Saturday, so we are having a First Birthday Pizza Party. The boys said Lily wanted white cupcakes with pink icing so that's what we will have. What can be better than free pizza and cupcakes? I am sure she will have a lot of fun.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Baby Chicks!

Our new baby chicks arrived this afternoon! The children were so excited to see them and hold them. Last night the boys helped their daddy build a new chicken box so we would have room for all of them. This year we decided to buy 40 at .90 a piece and hopefully keep them all well protected so they will make it to adulthood. The children bought the chickens out of their chicken money and will buy feed and supplies for the new pen. The chicks will stay in their boxes up in the shop under a heat lamp for a couple of months until they grow all of their feathers. Then we will move them to into a movable chicken pen that the boys will help their daddy build. Four children will be showing chickens in the fair this year and they will show 3 a piece. We will definitely have lots of eggs to sell this fall!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Product Review: When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Firefighter


When I Grow Up I Want to be a Firefighter is part of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Wanna Be Series. This is a series of fun interactive e- books to help children understand the world around them and the many different professions in it. Each topic is a complete unit study with activities for ages 4-10 but older children and adults will enjoy it also. Some of the other e books in the series include: Chef, Doctor, Missionary, Police Officer, and much more. The cost of each unit is $8.95. Go to www.theoldschoolhousestore.com for more information.

How we used this product

I used this e book with Nick (8), Alex (6), and Anthony (4). We spent about 1 hour a day for a week working with this product.

What We Liked

What little boy is not interested in learning more about firefighters? This was definitely a subject that my boys were interested in learning more about especially after taking a trip to the fire station not too long ago. This e book was full of interesting information and activities related to firefighting. It is a complete unit study covering topics like: history of firefighting and equipment, in and outside of a firetruck, building inspections and codes, pay scale of firefighters in different regions and ranks, a firehouse dog, and the relationship between robots and firefighters. Some of the activities included were: coloring pages, copy work, firefighter math, fill in the story, crossword, word search, sign language, Bible memory verses, Party Ideas, PE activities, fire safety, and instructions for building a robotic arm. There is definitely something for everyone in this study. I did not have to do any advance preparation and the print ables were black and white ink making them less expensive to print.

What We Didn't Like

The reading sections were a bit long and used vocabulary that I would consider advanced even for my eight year old. I found it difficult to keep the little boys' attention during "reading" time and did have to summarize the sections for them.

My Recommendation

Overall, I thought this was a great product. I love using a unit study approach to teach and this had something for everyone. The price is very reasonable with nothing else to buy and I can use it again in a few years with the younger children.-

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tornado Season Has Begun!

We were almost to our 4-H meeting today when I heard that there was a tornado warning about 50 miles away. About 30 minutes through the meeting we heard that the storms were heading our way and decided to end the meeting. I thought I would pick up Chelsea and head for home (20 minutes away) and be able to beat the storm. Unfortunately, the tornado sirens started going off, rain was pouring down, and some light hail started. Instead of taking my chances and driving in the storm, I headed around the corner to stay at a friend's house until it passed. The sirens were really scaring the children, but after a few minutes everyone settled down. Luckily the storms were not too bad in this area and we were able to head for home about 30 minutes later. We are supposed to have thunderstorms on and off this evening so it may be a long night.

Shedding the Baby Weight

I actually added it up. During the course of 6 pregnancies, I have gained and lost 200 lbs. That's a lot of baby weight. I am often asked what my "secret" is to losing the weight. The truth is their is no "secret " or magic formula. You cannot wave a magic wand and be back to your pre-pregnancy weight (unless you live in Hollywood.) Here are some of the things that work for me.

1. Be mindful of how much weight you are putting on. Your doctor will give a weight gain range that is best for you and a healthy baby. A few extra pounds aren't a big deal, but too much weight can cause problems with your pregnancy, delivery, and health of your baby.

2. Breastfeed if you can. Not only is it the best thing for your baby, it burns a lot of calories and will help to shed the weight.

3. Drink lots of fluids especially water.

4. Eat well balanced meals. I have to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day while I am nursing. I try to eat a good variety of foods throughout the course of the day. I do love to eat sweets though, and I do this in moderation and make sure if I am eating cookies or other sweets that I eat no other "junk" foods that day.

5. Exercise. You do not have to have expensive gym equipment in order to lose weight. Put the baby on the stroller and head outside. Walking is great exercise and pushing a stroller (or a double stroller) can help burn more calories. Yoga is something else you can do throughout your pregnancy and after to help get back into shape. If you have a friend that will go walking with you it makes for greater accountability and it is more fun.

Remember it is not about how much you weigh, it is about being healthy. It takes 9 months to put the weight on, you need to give yourself time to take it back off.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Favorite Recipes: Pigs in a Blanket

The other day when I needed a quick and easy supper, I was planning on making hot dogs. Then I discovered I did not have any hot dog buns. Instead of trying to eat hot dogs on bread, I hopped on the internet and looked for a pigs in a blanket recipe from scratch and found this one. These were very good and everyone liked them even my no meat eater who ate the blanket without the pig. They only took around 20 minutes to make including cook time.

2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
18 mini hot dogs

1. Mix together dry ingredients. add butter in small pieces until mixture is crumbly. Stir in cheese and milk.
2. Sprinkle dough with flour and stir once or twice and turn onto a well floured counter.
3. Roll dough into a large rectangle. Using a pizza cutter divide horizontally into thirds, then vertically into thirds. Split each rectangle into two triangles.
4. Roll hotdogs one at a time in dough triangles. Place pointy side down on greased cookie sheet.
5. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12-13 minutes until golden brown.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Book Review:The Singing Tree

One of my favorite times everyday is when I get to sit and read with Chelsea. We just finished reading, The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy. We both throughly enjoyed this book. Read what Chelsea had to say here.

House Remodeling.....A Family Project

Three years ago when we bought this house, we talked about the possibility of converting the garage to a family room. The garage is right off the playroom and laundry/bathroom which made it a great spot for a family room. We have a detached shop for the boat, motorcycle, truck and Art's other stuff and I have never parked my van in a garage. Last spring with all of the rain that we got, our playroom flooded and ruined the floor. After paying off some debt and finishing other projects we decided that construction could begin. In December we bought supplies and started deconstructing. One of the challenges to converting the garage is that there was a crack in the concrete that ran the width of the garage. Art had to rent a special tool to cut out the crack so we could refill it with concrete. This weekend it was finally warm enough to start mixing and pouring the concrete. The children were really excited to be "helping" and their daddy gave them each a dust mask and rubber gloves. I put Lily down for her nap and headed out to help. Chelsea and I mixed the concrete while Art dumped, spread, and leveled it out. He also had to pour it into the wheelbarrow for me (those bags were heavy!) The 3 smallest boys lost interest after about 45 minutes and went on to other things. Nick acted as a great foreman handing Art his trowel and telling Chelsea and I how much water to add. It took about 2 1/2 hours to get it all done, but we are one step closer to having a family room. We are hoping if all goes well to get it finished by this summer. I think it is great to have all the children learning so much and helping out their daddy work on this room. It is something we all will remember.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Product Review: Download and Go Expedition Austalia


We had an opportunity to use Expedition Australia part of the new Download and Go E book series by Amanda Bennett and The Old Schoolhouse. The units are theme based and full of fun and exciting discoveries. It is set up to be used in five days, but has different sections within each day that if desired could easily make it last much longer. The cost is $7.95 each and they are reusable year after year with no other required resources to buy. There is a book list included with each topic if you would like to explore that topic further. There are several different themes from the Download and Go series to chooses from including: Amelia Earhart, Davy Crockett, Valentine's Day, George Washington, Spring Surprises, and several others. Go to http://www.theoldschoolhousestore.com/ and click on Download and Go Series to see all of the different products and to purchase.

How We Used This Product

I used this product with Anthony (4), Alex (6), and Nicholas (8). We spent an hour each day for five days in a row. Each morning after our Bible lesson we sat down in front of the computer and worked our way through each topic for that day.

What We Liked

The name Download and Go is perfect for this product because that is literally what I did. I did not have to prepare anything ahead of time. At the beginning of each day I printed out what we needed for that day, sat down with the boys, and we got to work. We have already made a few lap books and really enjoyed making one all about Australia. The boys loved the videos at the start of every day. We enjoyed making the maps of Australia, learning about different areas in Australia,and finding out more about native animals there. We also loved the links that showed the time and temperature in different regions compared to the time and temperature where we are. We liked the link to the Australian currency comparing to other money around the world. We also enjoyed learning a new vocabulary word every day. I loved that there was nothing else that had to be bought to use this program and that I can use it again in a few years with my younger children.

What We Didn't Like

One negative to this product is that quite a few of the printables are in color. While that is very engaging for the children, colored ink can be quite costly especially if you have more than one child.

My Recommendation

I would definitely recommend this Download and Go Expedition Australia. We had a great time using the product to explore and learn about Australia. Expedition Australia did a great job teaching both the children and I about the land "down under."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Our Chickens

Some of you may remember when last August a raccoon got into our chicken coop and killed all of our chickens that the boys had been raising for 4-H but one lonely chicken. We found somebody through 4-H that had bought extras and sold them to us for a lot more than they had cost as chicks. We actually spent $135 so the children could jump back into chicken raising and be able to show chickens in the fair. At the fair last September, we won two 2nd place ribbons and 1 first place. Then the children participated in the Premium Auction which local farms businesses and individuals can "bid" money to each participant (they don't really take the animals.) For such a small community, there is great support for things like 4-H. I think there was around 200 children participating and over $22,000 was raised. Our family received $500 total (3 children.)
That money was enough to pay us back for what we spent on the second round of chickens, let the children have a little money for themselves, and the rest went into a fund for future livestock. Our chickens lay about 16 eggs a day and we sell them for $2 a dozen ( I get mine for free.) There is a big difference in the taste and quality of fresh eggs. We get enough money from that to pay for feed and other small expenses (hay, new water er etc...) In about 2 weeks we will be getting our new set of chicks and this year we ordered 40. Art, Nick, and Alex drew up the plans for the new movable chicken coops which they will build in a couple of weeks. The chicks will start out in a brooding box in the shop. Raising chickens have taught the children a lot of important things about responsibility, caring for others, money management and other business skills, design and building, and (sorry) "processing chickens" for us to eat (they just watch.) They also still enjoy every day of taking care of their chickens and will come up from the chicken pen with funny stories and always announce how many eggs they got. The little boys like to help out too and ride on the tractor to take them water. Next year I would like to hatch some of our own chicks. The chicken business has been a great experience for all of us.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Favorite Recipes: The Best Cheesy Potato Soup Ever

1 bag hashbrowns
1 med onion chopped
2 cups water
1 lb velveeta cheese
1/2 stick butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup thinned with 3/4 can of water

Add 1 st three ingredients to your crockpot. Cook four hours on low or two hours on high. Turn crockpot to keep warm. Add the rest of ingredients and stir until cheese is melted. Serve.

This recipe is very yummy and very easy to make. My mom had it at a potluck and liked it so much that she brought the recipe and the ingrdients to my house for us to try. We gave it two thumbs up.