A happy heart makes the face cheerful...Proverbs 15:13

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cleaning Tip of the Week

Using Vinegar in the Microwave
There are many ways to use vinegar as a natural cleaner around your home.
This weeks cleaning tip comes straight from the queen of cleaning, my mother in law, Andrea.

 Often by then end of the week there is caked on crumbs, sauces, and vegetables in our microwave. I used to just take a scotch pad and scrub it. That is until Andrea taught  for me an easier way that made this task 10 times easier.

Using a microwave safe bowl, mix 1 parts water to 3 parts vinegar. (if the smell of vinegar is to strong for you, you can lessen the amount to half and half.)

Put the bowl, uncovered, in the microwave for 5- 7 minutes. When the time is up you will notice that the steam from the vinegar water has softened any stuck on matter. You should be able to take a rag or paper towel and wipe it off with ease. If things are still stuck, just pop it back in for a few more minutes.

Warning: This will make your kitchen smell like vinegar for a little while. So it is wise to do in between meals when you don't have to be in the area.

Happy Cleaning.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Getting the most for your money: Frozen Chicken Breast Tenders

Feeding 4 growing, and VERY hungry boys, who seem to all play sports at the same time, has forced me to  learn how to stretch many main course items in order to make many meals. I have also learned how to adjust these items in a way that make them freezer friendly for those evenings when we need a good, but quick meal.
This week I stretched 1 bag of frozen chicken breast tenders into 3 separate, easy to freeze, meals.

Meal 1: Chicken Fettucini Alfredo:

5-7 tenders, cut into chunks
2/3 box of fettucini noodles
1 Jar of alfredo sauce or try a home made sauce
Grated Parmesan cheese or mozzarella

1.Season tenders with salt, pepper, oregano and garlic
        Bake chicken tenders at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes.
2. While chicken is baking, cook noodles according to the directions on box. *If freezing-Do not cook fully. That way the noodles have some room to cook when reheated. Otherwise they'll be mushy* Drain. Return to pan.
3. Add alfredo sauce to noodles and cook on low until sauce is hot.
(If you want to freeze this, mix chicken to noodles, place in an airtight freezer bag or container and allow to cool in the fridge for an hour or two, before placing in the freezer)
4. Place sauced noodles on plate. Top with chicken and cheese.
Serve with garlic bread or rolls.

Meal 2: Chicken Taco Bowls

1.5 lbs chicken tenders(or chicken breasts)
1 (16 oz) jar salsa
1 can black beans
1/2 lbs frozen corn
1/2- 1 packet taco seasoning
2 C dry rice
1/4-1/3 cup of water
Shredder Cheddar cheese
(optional) cilantro, Frito's

1. Mix all ingredients in crock pot, EXCEPT rice and cheese.
2. Cook on low for 4 hours(6-8 if using nomral chicken breasts)
3. When 8 hours in nearly complete, cook rice according to directions on package. (To freeze- Pour mixture into an airtight plastic ziploc or container. Allow to cool in fridge for 1-2 hours before placing it in the freezer)
4. Using a fork, break up chicken so it looks 'shredded'.It should be tender and shred apart easily.
5. Place rice in bowl. Top with mixture. Top with cheese, cilantro, and broken Frito's

Meal 3 - Barb-Q Chicken Kabobs

These tenders fit perfectly onto a kabob stick. I often use the small corn on the cob sticks as it makes handling for the kids a bit easier.

5-8 Chicken Tenders
1 bottle of your favorite barb-q sauce
Kabob sticks
Optional- onion quarter slices, cherry tomato, green pepper slices

1. Place tenders in a bowl or container and cover to coat with barb-q sauce. Allow to marinade in fridge.
    These can marinade for any amount of time! (If you plan to freeze, put chicken with barb-q sauce into an airtight freezer bag, and place in freezer)
2. After marinading,  remove chicken from bag and place 1 tender on each kabob sticks. Add any additional kabob items. My kids prefer the chick by itself.
3. When ready, cook kabobs on a grill or in a low setting skillet or griddle, until cooked completely through.

We have these over white rice with corn on the cob or with mashed potatoes and corn kernels.

So its that simple. You could make all 3 of these meals in one day in order to provide 3 meals in the following weeks.

Cost Break Down: Family of 6
1 bag of frozen chicken breast tenders-  $7.99
1 box alfredo noodles-                               .94
1 jar alfredo sauce-                                  1.99
1 jar salsa-                                               1.99
1 can black beans-                                     .99
1 bag frozen corn-                                      .99
Taco seasoning-                                         .74
1 Bag rice-                                               3.89
Shredded cheddar-                                   2.00
1 bottle barb-q sauce                                2.50
                                                              $ 24.02 for all 3 meals 
                           that makes each meal    $ 8.01 per meal
                                                                $ 1.34 a serving

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Homeschool Swap

For the month of August I joined the Homeschool swap through The Homeschool Post. What a blast this was. Our children always get wonderful surprises, so it was really nice to receive something my self. So what did I get?

1. I got an awesome pink sip and stir reusable cup(Love these)
2. A beautiful batch of handmade cards.
3. A bunch of learning materials and memorabilia on Winter the dolphin.
4. A small journal
5. A picture wallet
6.A picture labeling pencil

Last but not least I got a wonderful time and a brand new friend. This really was a wonderful experience. I hope that you might consider joining on the next swap. You wont regret it!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Telling God's Story- Week 1

We started a new Bible curriculum this year called Telling God's Story by Peace Hill Press. It is also fairly new as a curriculum itself. Since I have not seen many reviews of it,  I wanted to log our adventure as we go through the study. I hope that this will be a useful tool to anyone considering this study for their children.

*The teachers guide is wonderful as it helps you to understand the lesson before you bring it to your children! Read it before the beginning of each new week.

Week 1- God is Joyful over You
 Day 1- We read the parable of the lost coin from the text:
                            " Suppose a women has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And then when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin." In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

The teachers text has a wonderful explaination of the parable that helps the children to understand the reasoning of the parable.

Day 1 includes a game activity. I used painters tape to tape 10 quarters on a cookie sheet. Each quarter had a letter/number combination on it. I then covered them with dirt and the boys had to use a paint brush to search for their coins. As they found the coins they completed a worksheet in which the letter/number combinations worked to spell out a phrase.
Since we have been exploring archeology, this tied in well to that

 Day 2: We re-read the parable and asked the boys to tell me what they thought it meant.
Day 2 included a history project. We made roman coins. We used the template in the student book and printed the coins on cardstock, colored them and cut them out. There is a description written for all of the coins if your child is interested in whats on them.

Day 3: Again, re-read the parable

Day 3 included a craft project. Using an 8 X 11 felt piece we made coin pouches to hold the roman coins from the day prior. 

Day 4: Had the boys tell me their version of the parable

Day 4 included a game and a coloring sheet. We played find the lost coin. We chose a small section of the house and one child hid the coin(or the paper coins) and the other searched. (This turned into a your hot or cold game really fast!) Then we did the coloring sheet provided in the student book of the women searching for her coin.

So there you have it! My conclusion thus far: AWESOME! The hands on activities over the week helped for the memorization of the parable and the verse of the Bible which contains it. I am so excited to continue this over the year and cannot wait to see the year 2 curriculum that has not yet been released!

Does this sound like something you would consider a you Bible study for your homeschool?

Monday, August 1, 2011

First Day of School.

Back to school today! Though it is always difficult to get back to a regular school schedule, it is often more difficult to put the summer fun behind us and put school ahead.

We always want to make the 1st day back to school fun. I try to create a day that motivates the boys to get back into  the groove. Here is what we did today to get the year started.

We did back to school photos.                                                                         

We discussed expectations, schedules, and introduced all of our new curriculum.

We did spin art for a fun art project.
We created this by using an old salad spinner and acrylic paint.

We had a back to school lunch party. We had small sandwiches, fruit, veggies, chips and cake. The boys all helped to decorate by making name plates and using left over birthday supplies.

We just enjoyed the rest of the day together!!We played the WII together and a few board games. We tried to fight the heat enough to play tag for a little bit. Then we wound down with some power rangers and a bed time story!

In all today was a success! We got a great start to the school year and the boys are ready to go full speed tomorrow!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summer School: Cooking Basics Wrap up

This is the first summer that we have added additional fun summer school 'courses' of sorts. I decided to add on basic cooking and basic cleaning into the summer mix. You can see the full schedule for both courses here.

We had a blast this week cooking together. I tried to do a little bit of everything.

        From boiling water and cooking noodles....

To peeling, slicing, and boiling raw carrots ....

         And even one of our favorite breakfasts: smoothies.     

Some of our other dishes included: baked chicken breast, white rice,  scrambled eggs and bacon, biscuits(from scratch),  sauasage gravy, and homemade chicken noodles soup.

I have made the choice to continue doing this every summer, and often through out the school year. The kids truley enjoyed this time. With daddy being a chef, this is also an area that he can join in on.

If you are interested in trying some cooking with your children, but you arent sure where to start,check out mixingbowlacademy.com. They offer inexpensive online cooking courses for kids.

What is your favorite dish to cook up with your kiddos?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Zucchini Brownies

It has been ages since I have tried a zucchini brownie recipe. The last time the recipe was a failure! The texture and taste were just horrible. The kids couldn't believe that I had wasted chocolate that way.
I had a zucchini left over that was on its last 24 hours. So, I decided to give it another go.
My Verdict: Simple Delish!

1/2 applesauce(or vegetable oil)
2 C. shredded zucchini(squash works well too) ---------->
1 1/2 C. sugar                                                    
2 tsp vanilla
2 C. flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder                                                     
1 tsp salt                                                                                  

6 Tbsp Cocoa
1/4 cup butter
1/4 C milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2C confectioners sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9X13 baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the applesauce, sugar and 2 tsp vanilla until well blended. This is the product when vegetable oil is used.

3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, 1/2 C cocoa, baking soda and salt. Stir into sugar mixture.The mixture will resemble a cookie pie crust mixture.
4. Fold zucchini into chocolate mix.
     HINT: The water/liquid from the zucchini should be enough to turn this into the correct brownie batter consistency. If there is not enough liquid, just add small amounts of milk until the proper consistency is reached.

Spread mixture evenly into pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in preheated oven until brownies spring back when gently touched. All to cool completely.

5. To make frosting: melt together 6 Tbls of cocoa and the butter. Set aside to cool. In a bowl, blend together confectioners sugar, milk, and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Stir into the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting them into squares.

                                  6.   Enjoy

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Benefits of Penpals

Since we started homeschooling, I have been on the search for a legit penpal service for my children. I had failed to find one that didn't allow grown men overseas to be penpals with 9 year old children. Inappropriate!!
Recently, I have viewed many question on different blogs and facebook pages about moms trying to find penpals for their children. After noticing the need, I decided to start a homeschooling penpal facebook page. In less than a week we attracted 30 members to the page. Why is penpalling so appealing?
There are many benefits for a child who has a penpal(s).
1. Its allows for the good ole practice of putting pen to paper:
     With technology being the present and future of all communication, it is important that our children can learn the importance of old fashion writing.Many states are completely removing cursive from the public school curriculum. Having a penpal will offer them the chance to have a passion for 'pen to paper' writing as well as learning the continued practice of cursive . It simply encourages writing skills in a fun way! Many children are beginning to use abbreviated computer talk writing. Long-handed letter writing will also offer lessons in proper grammar.

2. It allows for your child to get to know another child, from another city or country, who may or may not share any interest with them.
        For some children, who may be shy, this is a great way to get them to open up on a personal level. Telling someone about yourself and learning about them in return offers your child a curiosity for people. As they get older they will be more willing to talk to people and find out more about them.
It also gives them a glance into another location in the world and the hardships of that area. It can also give them insight into other cultures. Hearing those experience first hand will be a learning experience that you just cannot get from reading in a textbook! This also helps if you have a child who feels like there is no one else like them. Finding other kids who have the same interest or schooling will give your child more self confidence!

3.Encourages learning another language.
         Whether your penpal is stateside or from another country, there is a great opportunity for language lessons. Your child could become a mini-teacher. Encouraging another child in learning English. In return they can also learn the language of their penpal. Again, this is something that will encourage them as adults to go beyond the language barriers and talk to someone they don't know. There are people every where in this world who have not yet heard the name Jesus. Encouraging our children to reach beyond the language barriers could be a major change in someones life!

4. Its a great family activity.
          This is something we all can do together. We often sit at the dining room table and discuss what we want to know about our penpals this time or what happened in our lives this week that we would like to share as we are writing. We also can share our letters with each other. In most cases, my intention is to have a penpal for the kids only to find out that the other moms involved are great pals as well.

Boys aren't always enthralled with writing to others. In their young age, its a fun experience. My hope is that they find connections and have learning experience that will encourage them continue in this penpalling activity!

What benefit do you find the most important when it comes to having a penpal for your child?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chore Cards

After many failures of creating a successful chore chart system, I am trying a new technique. Laminated Chore Cards.

We have tried so many techniques in efforts to have an orderly chore system. They all have failed. It has basically come down to me reminding the boys daily of what needs to be done.

Our closest success was the sticker chore chart. The boys had their own separate sheet, with their individual chores. It was simple. They completed the chore, they added a sticker. if their week was full they would get a reward. At that time it was allowance or they could trade that for a reach in the goody bag. The problem we ran into was that the chore would get done and then the boys would go on with their day and never make the completion. After a while of not getting rewarded, the chores just stopped getting done.

With my constant 'reminding' ,  the chores would get accomplished. However, I started to feel more like a broken nagging record. (My husband would be thrilled to hear me admit that). What we did was sit down and create a list of our daily chores. We separated them into morning and afternoon and then printed them out and made them into 4X6 laminated cards. We placed magnets on the back of each card so they could stay on the fridge as a "safe spot". Because boys loose everything if you didn't know! In the morning they can grab it to be sure they have gotten everything accomplished and then return it when we head down for school. Then check on it gradually throughout the day.

A list of items to be done weekly will be left on the fridge permanently, more as a reminder to myself. However, if they do the extra chores(without being asked) they will be allowed some additional allowance.

To encourage them I have slightly raised our allowance rates. That would motivate me. We are also creating our own 'piggy banks' of sorts using empty oatmeal containers or something similar.

Fingers crossed! If this works I could save some breathe, and time,  and use it during school time.
Not that they'd enjoy that any more.

What type of chore organization do you use?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Indoor Camping

I absolutely LOVE to camp. I love to be out in the wilderness, explore, and get dirty with my boys. However, we just don't get to go often enough. This summer we thought we would just camp out in the back yard, that way we would be close enough to the house for potty breaks or for anyone who happen to get spooked in the middle of the night. My youngest, whose 2, had never been before.
To bad we had planned our adventure in the midst of all the storms that hit the US. After seeing the boy's disappointment, we decided to have an indoor camping adventure.
We brought the tent inside and with 8 little hands helping, we set it up in the basement. I thought we were going to have to sleep on top of it being that the little ones were having more fun tearing down.

After the tent was set up, we did an indoor scavenger hunt. I pair them into 2 teams of 1 big kid and 1 little kid. They would not get the next clue until the previous item was put in their teams basket. The first team to finish their list won.
Some of our scavenger hunt clues were:
  • Something small and round
  • Something green
  • Something that is the same object, but different sizes
  • Something you wear
  • Something that comforts you when you sleep.
  • A red car
  • Something that tells or shows time
  • Something that stars with "L"

Once our scavenger hunt was over we made s'mores on our gas stove burner.

Once we made ourselves 'unsticky', I sat down all the boys to watch Scooby Doo Summer Camp. This gave me a few minutes to get the kitchen and dining room cleaned up.

No camping trip is complete without a campfire, right? So, we made one. We laid a floor fan on its back and taped pieces of red, gold, and yellow streamers onto different sections. When the fan is turned on,  the papers blow upward giving the 'fire effect'. Kids had way more fun taking the papers off and letting the wind float them high above our heads.

We sat around our paper flame and read a few books and learned the Kumbaya song.

Then bed time! Everyone grabbed their favorite pillows and blankets and came down to settle in. I was able to find night time noises online. I hit repeat and it played throughout the whole night. It was actually very soothing. My four year old loved listening to the bugs and would say "SHHHHH" and you could just see the concentration in his eyes as he tried to listen.

We had a blast with this indoor camping adventure!! This is a great idea for any time of the year! If you don't have a tent, use furniture and blankets and let the kids make their own.

Do you do indoor camping?  What is your favorite indoor camping activity?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer School Courses

Summer is a great time to offer extra curricular classes for your children. This summer I have decided to do 2 different classes with our boys. Basic Cooking and How to Clean. (not pick up, but clean). This is something that I would like to do every summer. It is also something that can advance with their age. I decided to do these classes because at some point the boys will be moving on and out of our home. They are going to have to know how to do the basics for themselves. That knowledge will be a wonderful asset for them once the enter into marriage.

Here is how our weeks will go:

Week 1~
Basic Cooking:
Day 1:
            Following directions
            Clean as you go
            Boiling water
            Cooking noodles
Day 2:
            Measuring properly
            Scrambled eggs
            Frying Bacon(Different ways to cook)
Day 3:
             Stove and oven safety, burn treatment
             Homemade chicken noodle soup
             Grilled cheese

Day 4:
             Baking chicken breast
             Boiling raw vegetables
Day 5:
               Cooking temperatures(eggs, meat)/Uncooked food illness
               Sausage Gravy
               Biscuits(refrigerated containers and homemade)
Extra: Learn about meals that freeze well(lasagna, tuna casserole). Make some meals for some families in need.

Toward the beginning of the school we plan to attend Mixing Bowl Academy. Mixing Bowl academy offers live cooking classes that are made just for kids. You have the option to look at the menus ahead of time and pick out a month of live classes that sound the most interesting to you. The best part is its an inexpensive and fun way to introduce your kiddos to cooking.
Week 2:
Basic Cleaning

Day 1:
       Germs and bacteria
       Bathroom Cleanliness

Day 2:
       Why we clean/Whats in the air
        Laundry(separating, loading)

Day 3:
       Whats Dust?
        Dusting and sweeping

Day 4:
        Organized cleaning(All toys in correct bucket, laundry in correct drawers)
        Clean as you go

Day 5:
        Create our new chore charts
        Discuss rewards
        Discuss initiative and teamwork
Extra-  "Adopt" an elderly widow/widower and help them clean their home a few times a month

What extra curricular classes do you enjoy doing with your kiddos?

2011/2012 Curriculum

Finally..I am am finished determining curriculum! Back in February, I had decided on all of my curriculum. Then after attending 2 homeschool conferences, I changed mostly all of our individual studies and altered some combined studies. I was able to find all of these used(except for our Bible because its a new series) and even found a couple items at goodwill. Buying them used saved us nearly $250-$300.

Art:(2nd and 4th gr.)

Science:(2nd and 4th)

History: (2nd and 4th)
     Story of the World- We use the audio.

Bible: (All)
     Telling God's Story

Foreign Language: (2nd and 4th)
     Learn in your car(CD)

2nd Grade




Houghton Mifflin English Text

4th Grade



Miscellaneous Cursive Work books

Bob Jones- Reading for Christian Schools-
Skill Builders- Reading Comprehension


What new curriculum's are you trying this year?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Crazy, Un-socialized Homeschool Family and Proud of it

One of the first question you get asked as a homeschooling parent is, "So, How do your children get socialized?"or " Wont they be weird if they aren't around children their own age?"
I have always had patience with this question, as many people do not know or understand what goes into homeschooling a child. At first, I struggled to answer these questions or statements in a way that proved them otherwise.
Something my father always taught me was to be strong enough to defend yourself and your beliefs. To have a full understanding of why you believe what you believe and how to express it in a knowledgeable and fearless manor. Though I am sure he was referring to my faith, I am taking full advantage of the advice. Having that in mind I sat down with a pen and my notepad in efforts to remind myself of the positives of homeschooling and the benefits of socialization that a homeschooling child receives over public school students. If I gave you my whole list, you'd get tired of reading. So in effort not to be used as a method of sleep medication, I am listing the ones I feel that are the most noticeable reasons to me. :)

*My children participate in community sports(soccer, football, and basketball), their own grade level in a co-op, separate and combined clubs and church functions. Actually, they participate in more than most public school children because we have all day for activities and do not have to squeeze activities into a time period 4 hours between school ending and bed.They are not stuck in a house all day, deprived from life kids.
*No way in public school would you see a 3rd grader helping a preschooler do a game, learn a lesson, do a project or offer to keep one entertained while mom does a chore. And not often in home school do you see a 3rd grader who thinks its 'uncool' to be around kids of a lower grade.
*Bullying isn't part of our school routine. It, beyond the shadow of a doubt, isn't going to make my children socially inept to do with out it.
* My kids learn about airplanes and how to fly model airplanes from the old Vietnam Vet who lives alone. At the same time getting a history lesson from someone who lived it.
* My children learn gardening and how to get more suckers out of the girls at the bank from the elderly couple across the street. And how to make homemade chicken noodle soup to take to them when they are ill.
* My kids don't worry about wearing the perfect thing or trying to impress the popular clique. They are able to focus on their studies because who cares what their siblings think, right. They are not constantly confronted with on-going school based socialization, peer pressure and standardization.
* My kids do go beyond the kitchen table and into their community. They gain experience from opportunities like reading to younger kids at the local library, volunteering at a local nursing home, or handing out blankets and speaking to a homeless child or family.

What people fail to see is that children being around kids their own age all day, everyday is okay, but it is the experience with people of all other ages that will help them to grow in understanding of people as a whole. A child will not always be around their 'age group' for the rest of their life. Once they reach college and head into the workforce they will come in contact with people in all age groups, people from different 'times'. I have confidence that my children will be able to walk out in the world and not only be able to be able to fit in with their age group, but will be able to understand, interact, and handle situations with people, in general, no matter what age or year they graduated. I have had the joy of hearing the conversations my 9 year old has with our elderly neighbors or the folks at the nursing home. He is able to walk into situation and know how to have a proper dialect with any age group. You just cant learn that sitting in a room with 20-30 other kids of the same age. I might add that public school they get in trouble when they 'socialize' in class, so I in guess they do some double duty during their 20 minutes of recess. :)

Are my children odd? Yes, by the standardization of the non-homeschooling community. Yes, in a sense that they do not comply with the social mediocrity that is expected of them. Personally, I feel that is something to be proud of. They stand out because they are different from the norms of society. They have an individuality that has not become processed by social expectation, but by their own will to be who they are and who God wants them to be. If that is considered to be un-socialized, then watch out, we are a crazy, un-socialized, homeschool family and proud of it. Get over it! I am glad my children can be different from everyone else!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

He is 4

On Saturday May 14th 2011 my 3rd son will be the big 4. I only blinked...really. He was only 1 yesterday...really!
My big guy is one of the funniest, smartest, loving, crazy, WII playing children I have ever known. I once wrote a post about him being near pretty close to a feral animal. Some of the statements in the post still remain true. However, I am happy to announce that he has grown out of many of them! I guess the extra prayers for sanity didn't bounce off the ceiling.

I will say that the last year of 3's has been incredibly, wonderfully INSANE. It has also been a blast and a learning experience. It still amazes me that after 2 other children I still learned something.
That being said, I am excited for his pink panther birthday and thank God that he has given me another year with this amazing little, curly head, ball of fire! I can't believe I will have my 3rd Kindergartner this time next year...ekkk!

Happy 4th birthday to to one of the greatest blessings in my life.

We love you so much Keegy-bops!! You are my joy, my comedian, and the one who can always brighten my day, when the day has gone wrong! You are so smart, loving and so courageous. My prayer for you is to use those God-given character traits to be a warrior for God, for those in need, and most importantly for yourself! Always love yourself because you are you and you are amazing!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Making Double Meals

I love pictures like the one above. It makes you think of how the '50's' era made being a house wife look so easy and enjoyable. Oh, how Mrs Cleaver and Mama Walton make me cringe. Though I wish times as a homeschooling housewife could be as easy as they were portrayed to be, they are not. So, why not find some easy techniques to make life easier. One way is making double meals.

When I sit down to make my menu for the week, I try to combine main ingredients so that I can create more than one meal at a time. This technique is a huge time saver for us. It really helps on those days when we have many things that unexpectedly come up!

Basically, as you are making dinner for the night, you will use the main ingredient to make a second (or third) meal to use for another lunch or dinner. Here is a double duo I made this week.

Main Ingredient: Chicken Breasts(Feeding 6)
You will need 9-10 chicken breast for these recipes. I simply used one of the bags of frozen breast from Walmart.

1. Bake chicken breast on a cookie sheet at 400 for about 20-25 minutes. Until cook completely through.
2. Cut half(4-5) of the chicken breasts into small bite size pieces.
3. Shred the remaining chicken breast. This is done best by allowing the chicken to cool and then using your fingers to tear the shreds.
4. Prepare you meals

Barb-Q Chicken Sandwiches:
  • Put the shredded chicken into a bowl.
  • Add your favorite barbecue sauce and mix well.
  • Refrigerate to use for another meal.
  • When ready to use: Warm chicken in a microwave safe container until heated well.
  • Serve on a hamburger bun with fries, fruit, corn, potato salad, pasta salad, or cole slaw.

Enchilada Casserole:

You will need:

1 Package corn tortillas
1-1/2 lbs cooked, cut up chicken
2 cans enchilada sauce
1 C. sour cream
1 C shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stack the corn tortillas. Cut lengthwise, then width wise to form triangles. Loosen well
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients.
Pour into a well greased casserole or baking dish.
Cover with foil.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350.

Serve with brown rice and corn.

The color of this dish is kind of drab, so I suggest adding some chopped green peppers or pimentos for color! Just add them in the mix before baking.

So there you have it. Just one small way to make your life a little bit simpler!

If you already use these recipes, what do you do differently?

This Weeks Muffin Recipe

Recently, I started making a new, from scratch muffin recipe every week for our breakfast(to go with smoothies). Since my family has enjoyed the new muffins so much, I wanted to share them with you so that your family can enjoy them too!!

Here is muffin 1: Raspberry Cream Cheese Muffins

What you need:
1 C fresh raspberries
1- 3 oz packet of cream cheese
3 eggs
6 TBLS of butter
1 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 C. milk
2 C. flour
1/2 tsp salt

* Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin pans or line with 'cupcake' cups
*Beat together cream cheese with 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 egg, and 1/2 tsp vanilla until smooth. Put to side for later.
*In sauce pan combine milk, butter, and remaining vanilla. Stir over medium heat until butter melts.
*Cool mixture until warm to the touch. Then beat in remaining eggs, one at a time.
* In a bowl, combine baking powder, flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and milk mixture. Stir to blend.
*Fold in raspberries. Divide into muffin pans.
*Spoon 2 tsp of cream cheese mix on top of each muffin.
*Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.

*The raspberries do tend to be kind of tart. Consider sprinkling some sugar on them and letting letting them sit for a few hours.
*Any type of berry, such as blackberries and strawberries, would work well with this recipe.

Please let me know if you tried any different variations to this recipe.

Our muffin for next week is an: Apple Muffins
Stop by and check out the recipe.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Anne Frank Lapbook

We started this Anne Frank lapbook as an assignment for Woman's History Month. The boys were not excited to learn about a girl, so I tried to find someone they could relate to. I considered Julia Childs since my oldest likes to cook. I researched some 'girls from the past' who were western villians or something boyish. In the end I decided on Anne Frank. Someone close to their age. After reading the book, we realized that Anne was a lot like my 7 year old, so he enjoyed that. I planned this lapbook out to be a 2 week project. However, we got into. Talking about Germany and Hitler and The White Rose Group. It was closer to a month of studies. Oh, and I definitely recommend the kids biography for this.

Before we start
....Our lapbooks are never extravagant. They are basic. Just a hands on tool. I just don't have the time to deck these things out like the 'true' lapbookers!

This is our front cover. We did a small window with a picture of Anne in it.

Our inside cover has some small flip books that show information on Anne Frank. We listed things she liked to do, her family, Jewish traditions, and talked about the secret annex. Also, when and where she was born and died.

The 2nd page is a time line. The 1st shows the time line of Anne's life. The second shows the time line of the world during the same time.

Our 3rd page consisted of a Hitler and WWI flap book. It hit the boys when we talked about the fact that there are people today who still have the same mindset as Hitler did. It was hard for them to grasp. That was a bible/character lesson in itself, but we only discussed it enough for them to get the point!
We also talked about our ancestors from Germany. We learned who our first ancestor to come to America was, when he came, where he settled, and where he and his wife are buried. We also discussed what our last name was before they came to America and why it was changed.
Lastly, we discussed the White Rose group. After discussing this group I decided to add a character trait into this study.

Our character trait for this lapbook was Virtue.
We talked about a few characters of the Bible to understand the trait. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego, Stephen, and Joseph in Egypt.
We discussed different definitions of the word, synonyms, antonyms, bible verses that relate, and what they can do to show this trait in their daily lives.

I love studies like this one. You start out prepared to learn a selected material only to find out you have learned above and beyond what you expected to. There was so much more we could have thrown into this study, but I figure a month was enough time and we needed to move on :)
I am thankful that we jumped into this.

What has been your favorite lapbook that you and your kids have done?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Homeschooling Mom of 4.

If you have been homeschooling for a while, it is very likely that you have heard these questions at one time or another. What do you do all day? When do you clean? When do you have you time to yourself? How long is your school day? What is your daily schedule like?

My favorite is, “How do you keep your sanity?” To be honest, I am not sure how or if I even do keep my sanity through out each day! However, I am able to rely on structure and a trillion prayers a day to make it work.

When I first started homeschooling I would have categorized myself in the over prepared bracket. I had our entire day laid out. I knew what time we would do each subject and for how long, what time we would play and eat, and allotted certain days for field trips and hands on learning. What I realized, very quickly I might add, is by doing this I often found to be disappointed in myself when my schedule wasn’t stuck to. When we weren’t able to move on to the next subject because we hadn’t completed the previous one or when a field trip went on a different day then our schedule allowed. This approach just was not realistic.

Now, I do not think that we could run with out a plan. Structure is very important in a chaotic household of 4 boys! So here is how our day is normally laid out. You will notice I use “between” time. This has really lowered the stress of our schedule. By leaving that leeway I do not feel rushed to finish something.

6:30- Mom time- During this time I will make coffee, throw in a load of laundry, take a run or do a quick workout, or do a Bible study and try to shower before the boys wake up.

7:30-My preschooler is normally up before everyone- So I use this time to do his flash cards for letters and letter sounds. He enjoys the one on one time with me without the going back and forth to his brothers.

Between 7:45-8:30- Boys wake up. They normally don’t sleep later then 8:45. For those women who start school at 5:30 in the morning-God bless you!

Between 7:45-9:30- Breakfast, make beds, get dressed, devotion or Bible study (I do this when they are eating so they do less talking because they have full mouths). Tidy up kitchen, living and dining areas.

No later then 10:00- Start school. Seem late? It’s rare that we actually start this late; again it gives me that leeway. We normally are full speed by 8:45ish

*Once we start school the times go away and we just go by assignments!!!!! Lunch is normally always the same time as well as dinner. So we work around that.

1st- Calendar Time, Review Bible Verse, see what subjects are for that day.

2nd- Multi-age studies

· Aplogia Astronomy(Monday/Wednesday)

· Any lap book or note booking pages we are working on together

· Lif Pac Art(Friday)

· The Story of The World History(Tuesday/Thursday)

3rd- I normally squeeze my preschoolers ‘work’ in between helping the boys in group and individual lessons. In many cases the older boys enjoy doing some of the activities with him. This is not a forced activity and sometimes we will do it before dinner. Again, he enjoys the alone time with me.

4th- Individual Studies: Everyday

· Math

· LA

· Reading- If they need to catch up. The boys enjoy reading before bed. It helps them to fall asleep.

5th- Tidy school and toy areas

Break for Lunch- Between 12:00-1:30

Between finishing lunch and 5:00-

· Finish any work or projects that were not completed.

· Outdoor time/ Physical activity

· Practice instruments

· Free Time

· Clean rooms, put laundry away

Between 5:00-5:30- Dinner

After Dinner- We normally have club meetings or sports practice

That is our day. It may seem like a full day to have everyday, but some things do give on some days. We don’t always have clubs or sports, we sometimes work ahead a couple days in certain subjects in order to enjoy a day or two of field trips, and most importantly we are flexible.

So, just remember when you are trying to create a structure in your homeschooling day, be flexible and be realistic. Work isn’t always going to be completed, cleaning isn’t always going to be finished, and dishes might still be in the sink in the morning. But that’s okay! Breathe and pray and leave yourself leeway. Being less stressed will allow you to be a more patient(God willing), and relaxed teacher for your kiddos.