Tuesday, October 25, 2011

'Tis the Season . . .

. . . for this year's Christmas Countdown.

This is the third year I've implemented this wonderful tool. The first year I jumped in, set up a binder and did my best to keep up with the checklists. Last year I customized the checklists and accomplished more of our holiday projects than I often do, mainly because there was a plan. It was great! This year I'm all set and ready to go.

The focus for Week 1 is "Get Organized".  It's all about getting things in order and being prepared so when December rolls around, we can truly enjoy the important things of the season. Thanks to the work I did the last 2 years, my Christmas Countdown Binder is ready to go. I've customized it just a bit more, taking out a couple of dividers that I just didn't use, simplifying and grouping the forms that have been most helpful. I have already printed the new 2011 Countdown Calendar, and the Weekly Checklists that needed to be replaced. I'll be reading the recommended articles to gain inspiration and motivation.

You can go here to check out Christmas Countdown at Organized Christmas.  You can follow along with daily updates, plus download and print the calendars and checklists and forms they have available. The great thing is you can pick and choose what suits you and your family.

Monday's Menu Plan

Better late than never, eh? 

b'fast - cereal
lunch - tuna salad
snack - gorp
supper - chimichangas

b'fast - oatmeal
lunch - hot dogs
snack - popcorn
supper - crockpot chicken

b'fast - cereal
lunch - sloppy joes
snack -graham crackers
supper - chili

b'fast - muffins
lunch - soup
snack -peanut butter crackers
supper - hamburger helper

b'fast - scrambled eggs
lunch - sandwiches
snack -chips & salsa
supper - pizza

b'fast - pancakes
lunch - leftover pizza
snack -veggies or fruit
supper - black beans & chips

b'fast - bagels and fruit
dinner - crockpot roast
supper - popcorn

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's Friday!

And it's 9:00 in the morning, and I'm still in pj's.

BUT, considering it is Hubbie's day off it seems like a good idea to let everyone sleep in so he can have a quiet morning.

And so, even though I am not yet dressed for the day, I HAVE spent time in the Word, AND sent a note to my accountability partner (good thing, since she reminded me the other day that I had not checked in for a couple days)

AND, considering a certain someone has a birthday today, I have cinnamon rolls in the oven for a breakfast treat.

Haaahhhhhhhhhh. (Deep breath, contented sigh)

Ahead of me today -- make my bed, have my second 'cuppa', fold the mountain of clean clothes on the couch, decorate a 9 year old's birthday cake, wrap birthday gifts and make the place look festive, scrub toilets, sweep floors, start the assembling/foundation decorating on grandson's birthday cake, call my oldest child (it's been a while since he's checked in, so this ol' mom will be nosy and find out what's been happening), find a recipe for garden pizza (Gabe wants broccoli on his pizza tonight -- WHAT!?!?), send special birthday wishes to a special friend (Happy Birthday, DG!) and enjoy my day and my family.

Oh, yeah - get dressed is on that list somewhere. Guess I better get started!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

It'll be another busy week here. I'm working on purging my piles and sorting my stashes while getting ready for a new school year. AND, playing with my grandbabies as much as possible. We are so excited to be able to babysit Arioch a bit this week. Alyssa and George will take some to away to celebrate their anniversary. AND, this weekend, we will have extra young people (teenagers) around the house. Soooooo, a detailed menu plan will definitely help the week go more smoothly, right?

b'fast - breakfast burritos
lunch - tuna salad
supper - tacos & mexican rice

b'fast - oatmeal
lunch - mac n' cheese
supper - manicotti

b'fast - cereal
lunch - Funny Faces (bagels, spread with cream cheese or p'nt btr, and bits and pieces of edible things for the kids to build their own)
supper - venison & oven fries

b'fast - toast (made from mom's whole wheat bread)
lunch - sloppy joes
supper - date night, big brother and sister are in charge of tonight's meal for the kiddos

b'fast - muffins and fruit
lunch - sandwiches
supper - pizza night (company should be here, so will add breadsticks and salad)

b'fast - pancakes
lunch - leftovers
supper - Cheesy Chicken & Rice

b'fast - bagels and fruit
dinner - baked potatoes and chef salad
supper - popcorn, apples, leftovers, every man for himself

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Power of a Penny

My favorite home remedy for bee stings:

Yep, a penny. A plain ol' 1ȼ piece. The other day, the kids and I were picking up after they had finished building their new playground set. I picked up a pile of plastic and paper trash and felt something poke -- I thought there must have been a staple or nail in the pile, but when I dropped it all in the trash bin, there was a bee still stuck to my finger. Ouch! (Why is it things like that always hurt worse once you've seen the wound?)

After I (not so calmly) flicked the bee away and pulled the stinger out, I headed into the house, pressed a penny on the sting, leaving it there until the stinging feeling subsided (only a minute or two, honestly!) The pain was gone, I could barely see the spot where I had taken the stinger out, and back to work I went.

Moral of the story - keep a penny in your pocket, some say it's good luck, I say it's good medicine. Happy Summer!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Rainbow Resource Catalog has arrived!

I wait with anticipation every year for this catalog to make its way into my mailbox.

And here are my Top Ten Reasons why I am so excited (in no particular order):

1. It's a treasure trove of useful items I can use to educate my very brilliant children, helping them to become even more brilliant each passing year.

2. $$$ Their prices are the best around! Makes Daddy very happy.

3. Books. The book selection is fabulous. What shall I order? What shall I add to my wish list? You cannot have too many books. (Ok, let's not go there)

4. Fun. They have available really cool toys (all educational of course) like the Klutz books, paper dolls, plastic dragons and dinosaurs and princesses. Games such as Muggins, Apples to Apples, Set, Chess and Checkers, Blokus. And much, much more. It's all educational stuff. It's all fun stuff. It's all stuff worth my money. I'm thinking birthdays and Christmas as well as school.

5. I can recycle last year's catalog and use it as a step stool now! Yes, it is that thick. It must rival the New York City phone directory. I really do tape it up with duct tape, or cover it with contact paper and VOILA! a step stool! (perfect for little boys with short legs that cannot quite reach the toilet, or little girls with arms that don't quite reach to the back of the counter or the knobs on the faucet). Really and truly we use them this way.

6. I can also replace Caitlin's piano footrest. Yes, she actually uses an old, recycled Rainbow Resource Catalog under her heel so she can reach the pedal.

7. Weight training. Yes, it's that heavy. Seriously. Hefting it around gives a body a great work out.

8. It's a booster seat. With my grandbabies coming to visit soon, I'll be glad to have another booster for the dining room chairs. It also works great to boost up my boys when it comes time for haircuts. My great big blue dictionary is almost too tall, but RR Catalog puts them at the perfect height.

9. Inspiration. The write ups and reviews and product selection often give me inspiration into what materials and resources might meet the needs of our homeschool or a particular child for the upcoming school year.

10. Memories. While perusing the pages, an item will often jump out at me, and I'll find myself saying things like "Awww, this used to be so-and-so's favorite book" or "Remember when we did this?" or "Wow, that was a fun project, we should do that again!" Sometimes it jogs my memory "Now, I know I had a copy of this. Where did we put it?" and "That's right! I forgot we need to do such-and-such this year!"

I get to visit with an old friend. Truly. I enjoy sitting down with a cup of coffee, reading up on the family that runs this supply business. Their family has grown so much. And their business has grown so much, I literally cannot get through the catalog cover to cover in one sitting like I used to. I enjoy looking to see if the materials I was hoping to purchase are still available, and what new items are available now.

How long have I been receiving this fantastic curriculum supply catalog? I know it's been 10 years. Maybe 15? It's gone from a couple hundred pages thick to over 1300 pages, full of books and supplies and games and helps and curriculum and encouragement and inspiration. The Schneider Family has been a great blessing to us in the HomeSchooling community. I hope and pray they continue!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

I've been inspired encouraged these past few months by a blogger named 'Nony' at A Slob Comes Clean. I have absolutely fallen in love with her. She's a girl after my own heart. Nony began blogging her way to a neat and orderly home, to de-mystify the mystification of the slob-brain, to understand her tendencies and weaknesses and find solutions to making life better for her family. The things she writes about are often amazingly thoughts right out of my own head. I admire her focus, and her stick-to-it-iveness, and her willingness to say, "this might work for you, but it just is NOT going to work for me, and that's ok!" or "I've let things slip, but I'm moving ahead anyway!" Back in February, I read her very first post and continued all the way to the present (this is known as reading backwards - you never knew I was so talented, did you?). I found myself saying, "If Nony can do it, I can too!"

No, I am not going to be blogging daily about my de-slobification process (I don't think I could take the blow to my ego for all the failing I see in my future) - but I do want to join in a couple of link-ups that she has participated in (well, once I figure out how to link-up). One being Menu Plan Monday from OrgJunkie.com. Most months, I do have a monthly menu plan, but it does vary a bit from week to week, and so I think this will help me focus in on what's coming up each new week.

This week our menu will be:

b'fast - breakfast burritos
lunch - tuna salad
supper - tacos

b'fast - oatmeal
lunch - mac n' cheese
supper - crockpot chicken

b'fast - cereal
lunch - Mom's chicken soup
supper - lasagne

b'fast - toast (made from mom's whole wheat bread)
lunch - quesadillas
supper - date night, big brother and sister are in charge of tonight's meal for the kiddos

b'fast - egg casserole
lunch - sandwiches
supper - pizza night

b'fast - pancakes
lunch - leftovers
supper - Luke's grilling burgers and dogs

b'fast - bagels
dinner - this may be Caitlin's b'day meal (which will be meat, potatoes and corn), since her actual birthday will be a bit crazy with a trip to the airport

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Some will sow . . .

. . . some will water, some will weed, some will stake, but it is God that gives the increase. That is my own paraphrase from 1 Corinthians chapter 3. God used Paul to give us some wonderful word pictures, and this is one of my favorites.

This year, we discussed these lessons as we did, indeed, sow our seeds - literally. As a part of our science lessons early this spring, we started our own bedding plants for the first time.

Not only did we plant the seeds in good, healthy soil, we kept them moist until they sprouted. And then we watched over them, making sure they received enough light (but not too much), and enough water (but not too much).

We also celebrated when we measured their growth. All the while, we were amazed and astonished at what a wonderful God we serve, Who can take a tiny speck of a seed and bring life up out of the ground.

It was an exciting day when we were able to transplant pepper plants, and tomato plants, and watermelons, zucchini, cantelopes, sunflowers, sweet william and alyssum into our gardens.

And then we were able to plant the rest of our seeds - the ones that prefer being sown directly into the garden bed, like green beans and cucumbers. Everyone pitched in and worked together.

Mom hoed the trench and then the rows were marked with the twine-and-stick method. It's amazing how we lose track of where we planted what, so this is an essential step in the process. The kiddos then planted the seed. We have a tried and true method for spacing. It's called the heel-toe-heel method. You drop a seed at the beginning of the row, place your heel just in front of it, drop a seed at your toe, place the heel of your other foot in front of that one, drop another seed, etc, etc, etc.

We had some cool days leading up to our regular planting season, so as soon as it warmed up, we were out in the garden. But, boy did it warm up! I think it went from 50 degrees one day, to 90 the next! It was quite a shock to our systems. But Bekah was happy to be our water girl, offering a refreshing drink to anyone showing a drop of sweat on their brow. Or, at least, anyone who had not yet had a drink in the last 5 minutes. She took her job VERY seriously!

I had not realized until I started this post, that I don't have a photo of our entire young garden yet. I'll have to do something about that, as I'm hoping and praying that our severe weather and storms are now over, and I expect we'll be out and about much more this coming week. So, be watching for garden updates and pictures.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Going Back in Time

Learning, Schooling, Education, whatever you want to call it, comes in all shapes and forms around here. One of our favorite activities this year was a Living History Museum.

A 16 year old homeschooled girl in our area took this project on with the help of her mother and 13 year old sister. She asked all participants to research the life of an important person in history, and then to bring that person to life for our family and friends. They were to prepare a display of some type, and step into their 'hero's' shoes for the evening.

What a great opportunity for my younger guys! History, Reading, Speech, Language, Writing, Art, Woodshop, HomeEc, Science, Geography - these are just some of the subjects we covered while preparing for this big assignment.

Esther chose to portray a lady named Frances Grayson (wife of Andrew Jackson Grayson, naturalist and artist).

She and her husband and small son traveled west on the Oregon Trail to California, with the Donner/Reed party. But, before the Donners chose to travel their infamous shortcut, the Graysons chose to stay the course and arrived in Sacramento safely before winter. Esther dressed in authentic mid-1850's clothing, and gathered a few items that may have traveled west with her, and displayed a copy of one of her husband's sketches.

Gabriel stepped (very easily, I might add) into the shoes of inventor Eli Whitney.

Yes, the man that brought us the cotton gin, but more importantly, the man who first began mass producing interchangeable parts for firearms. As Eli Whitney, he enjoyed explaining how he came up with the idea that if you could make all parts the same, you could manufacturing and repairing guns would be more efficient and more cost-effective. Gabe especially enjoyed drawing up blueprints of many of his ideas.

Noah Webster was the obvious choice for our Mr. Noah.

He took it very seriously, and devoured every book he could find at our local library concerning Mr. Webster. Already a good reader, his research inspired him and helped him see how our words are such very important tools.

One last minute addition was Mr Webster's wife. Our little Rebekah decided that she would like to join in after all (once she realized how much fun everyone was having!) and her big brother Noah came to the rescue! He remembered that Mrs. Noah Webster's wife's name was Rebecca, and so he said 'you can be my wife'. Perfect!

On the evening of our presentation, there were 15 or so different people in history portrayed by some very talented and creative homeschooled children, ranging in ages from 6 to 16. Let me see, who else was gathered together with us that night? People from our frontier like Lewis & Clark, Daniel Boone, Annie Oakley. Figures from the War Between the States such as Clara Barton and Stonewall Jackson. Spiritual heroes like Amy Carmichael and Mother Theresa. Even more modern day figures such as a lady photographer and a woman percussionist. Oh, and don't forget Jane Austen and Mary Cassat! I'm sure I've left someone out, but that gives you a little glimpse of who we were rubbing shoulders one night earlier this spring.

It was a lot of work, but a wonderful experience. So much so, that on the way home that night, my 4 pupils were already trying to decide who they would be portraying next year. That brought a big smile and a contented sigh to this totally exhausted mother. OK, and some raised eye-brows, because I was totally NOT ready to think about next year yet.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Graduation Day

Mother's Day weekend was extra special this year.

We traveled to the big city to watch our oldest graduate with a degree in Civil Engineering, Magna Cum Laude.

The ceremony was held in the basketball stadium and there were over 400 graduates (from the Engineering College alone). No one had up close and personal seats, except for faculty, so we were thankful for the large screen set up so that we could actually see him cross the stage and shaking the hand of the college Dean. It was a proud moment for all of us, a special gift for his Mom, who invested all those years schooling and training (and often falling short of the mark - Praise God for HIS wonderful grace!).

We've always known we had smart kids, but Brent has worked very hard to reach his goal. God has great things in store for him.

My 3 engineers:
my dad, my son, my husband - they are all great men!

And here you see Brent and his women (wife Melissa, and little sisters Bekah & Esther):

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Smart Puppy

If you think schooling your children at home is an amazing feat, I have something even more amazing to show you:

Our resident 9 month old collie puppy, Solo, takes his reading lessons very seriously.

And so does his 4 year old teacher.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Treasure Hunter

That's what I call Luke these days. In the last couple of months, he has come across the most amazing things. Just look at some of his latest treasures -

This arrowhead is absolutely perfect! A friend of ours came out with his 2 sons not long ago, and joined Mike, Luke and Gabe hunting arrowheads. They scoured the bridge bottoms behind our house. They found many pieces, a few almost-intact arrowheads. But, Luke brought home the grand prize. They also brought home bunches of little chips of rock, little slivers, that had come off in the process of making the tools/arrowheads. You could almost see the people of long ago, gathering near the creek, making these sharp points in order to provide food for the family, clothing to wear, etc. We know that at some time in history, Indians have lived on this land, because we have found some evidence here and there through the years, like bits and pieces of arrowheads. I think this one is the best of them all. Very Cool Indeed!

And then, recently, we purchased a piece of property nearby. Once the previous owner had cleared out, Dad and the kids went exploring and searching, to see what was left behind. See what Luke brought home?

A 25-gallon fish aquarium! He tested to see if it would hold water (very important, don't you think?), scrubbed it clean, and now . . .

it is on display, ready and waiting for new residents. How many fish will a 25-gallon tank hold? I don't know yet, but WAY more than that dinky little 5-gallon tank we used to have set up (which we used to think was kind big, by the way).

And now, for the piece d' resistance (I have no idea if I spelled this correctly, but blogger didn't flag it as a spelling mistake - just read it with a french accent please)!

my 18 year old son now has wheels! And dreams, lol.

A '59 Chevy Apache. He won't be traveling very far in this classic just yet, but once he hauls it out of the pasture and gets it into the garage, he'll be hitting the road in no time. Well, maybe it will take some time, but he's already making plans and researching what it'll take to get this thing running.

It inspires me, the way Luke can look at a cast-off object and be able to envision potential, usefulness, and new life. He loves rolling up his shirt sleeves and applying elbow grease along with his creativity and imagination to bring something all worn out back into service.

It makes me think of our Creator - I'm so thankful that He was willing to send His Son to the cross and to take each of us in our imperfect bodies with sinful hearts and make them new again.

"Therefore,if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become now."
2 Corinthians 5:17

Sunday, February 6, 2011

It's A Girl!

A beautiful baby girl was born to Alyssa and George only a few hours ago. Now, since she was born in Africa, she was born on February 6, that's today. But, we received the news on February 5. Strange, eh? But no matter - exciting news anyway! Here are a few pictures George sent out this morning, along with all the statistics. We are grateful to God, once again, for bringing this beautiful little life into the world safely, and for blessing their little family.

Jemimah Belle Osebreh
born at 12:19 a.m. on February 6, 2011 in Ghana, West Africa
8 pounds 8 ounces

I love this picture. She's brand-spankin'-new. I can almost smell her - how I'd love to squeeze her and kiss her! Her eyes are so big and alert - she's soaking in the face of her sweet mama, who's been waiting such a long to time to meet her. I remember well those special moments when I first met my own newborns.

Alyssa did a great job! She looks so rested and, well, relieved. She looks beautiful. I'm so glad the delivery went smoothly and quickly. She did labor all day long, but was only at the birthing clinic an hour or two before baby arrived.

Here you see Big Brother meeting Baby Sister for the first time. Arioch loves her to pieces already. He's going to make a terrific big brother. I'm sure he'll be a big help to his mother and watch out for his baby sister.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blizzard Bliss

So, what does a family do when the Storm of the Century blows through?

First: predictions -- last night at the supper table everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, gave their estimates on how much snow we'd actually receive. There were not very many optimists in the group -- the children all came in with a number much lower than the weather man's prediction.

Second: plans -- what if the electricity goes out? do we have the stuff for snow ice cream? can we bake (a, b, c)? can we (x, y, z)? are the snow pants all clean? where did my other boot go? hey! I KNOW I put both mittens right here!

Next: sleep -- this is not easy when you are 6 years old 'cause 20 inches is, like, HUGE. This is very exciting stuff and it's hard to keep you mind quiet - the potential of what you can do!

And today so far: Take care of the animals first thing, before we have to tie a rope the post out front in order to get to the barn (we've been reading the Little House books lately!) A game of Monopoly. A couple of Mom's old-time B&W movies (the Queen and the Baby are always game for that!). Make a braid from rug yarn (the wind was blowing the front door open - Needed some weather stripping fast!). Check the weather updates, again. And again. And again (we are a housefull of weather watchers!)Lego building. Lego Wars. Brownie Baking. Jigsaw puzzle. Read Aloud (The Borrowers by Mary Norton). Check in on kids in Chicago. Find out if new grandbaby is making an appearance yet. A game of Tractor Tipping.

Still to come: More games! Maybe video games? Definitely garden planning - gotta think Spring! Family Devotions - very enjoyable as we'll get wrapped up and snuggle in as we read scripture and share together.

And most importantly: Cover everyone and everything in prayer.

We are safe, sound, and having a great time. How boring this week would have been without all this weather excitement. Each of us will have a story to tell when it is all said and done. So, off to fire up the tea kettle - time for hot chocolate and brownies!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Year, Fresh Look

Hello Out There! I'm taking a little time this week to freshen things up around here. I have a few posts in draft, and having some fun rearranging and tweaking. Please come by again soon, I'll be watching for you!
Blessings to you all.

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