Monday, June 25, 2012

Crossing it off the list!

Remember about a month ago when I wrote a list of my summer "want-tos"?  I think the buzz word is "bucket list".  Anyway, high on my list was that I wanted to take the older kids to the Arizona Science Center and the younger two to the Children's Museum.

Well, today, we were able to cross those off the list that for a grand total of thirteen dollars (cost of one admission and parking) thanks to culture passes and two weekends.  Culture passes are awesome and FINDING them is like finding treasure, so getting three of them to the places we wanted to go was HUGE.

So many times we think that we are not receiving miracles or blessing, everyone else is.  But God sends these little things to remind us, and if we look for them, we will find them.

I'll post pictures later, but I'm so thankful that, in only about a month, we get to cross that off our list.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Preschool Links

Jason will be starting Kindergarten in the fall of 2013.  This coming school year, I want to do some home-preschooling with him, mainly letter and number recognition, scissor skills and tracing.

I found some great resources online and thought I would share them here.

I found this page extremely helpful in listing skills that children need to already have when starting kindergarten.  This will be my launching place as I plan our daily activities.

10 easy steps for helping your child learn how to read in a natural, everyday environment.  Excellent!

This site has lots of printables for scissor skills and tracing for beginning cursive.  Both of my older children struggled and still struggle with penmanship and I remember Sis Aldridge telling me that they needed more finger exercises, so that's where these activities will come in, along with lots of playdough play.  I will not be teaching the actual letters because Abeka has their own style and so I don't want to add any confusion.  I will be focusing on fine motor skill development, not the actual writing.
YES!!!  Cursive writing readiness worksheets.  Waves, circles, etc.  25 pages.

This is a great list of things to do to help develop your children's fine motor skills
Developing Fine Motor Skills.  Things to do to prepare your preschooler for the writing necessary in school

This is one more website for great preschool printables: art pages, scissor skills, number recognition
a variety of free printable preschool worksheets promoting early childhood education.  Colors, numbers, shapes, etc.

If you would like to follow my Preschool Pinterest board, click here

Have fun!

Monday, June 18, 2012

And a little child shall lead them...

Justin found his missing microphone, so the boys started playing church.  They sang some songs and did some baptizing and asked lots of questions about the Holy Ghost until I announced that it was time for bed.

Jason informed me that, along with our nightly reading of the Read and Learn Bible, we needed to pray.  Well, who was I to argue?  We haven't been consistent recently, and, you're right,son, we do need to pray!

So, we all prayed together.  The little boys are so funny.  They always insist that they have to have hankies when they pray.  Then they pace back and forth and repeat whatever they hear us say.  But, the Spirit of God fell and we were touched.

Then Jason said "Okay, you're done praying."  Lol.  So we got the Bible and turned to today's story.  It was about Joseph and how he prepared Egypt for the famine.  I wanted to remind everyone about the previous story, so I said "Remember how Joseph was sold and his brothers told his dad that he was dead?"

Jason nodded his head and solemnly said "Yeah.  Poor Joe."  It tickled all of our funny bones!

Then, after I had put the boys to bed, I started my personal prayer time.  The boys came in and insisted that they needed to pray, too.  So I put them to bed with hankies and could hear them in their beds "Oh, God, we love you Jesus, hallelujah."  I just love it.

Like I told Jason tonight, you can get the Holy Ghost anywhere, even in your bed!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Enjoying Summer

So, have you noticed a lack of "What I did on my Summer vacation" posts this week?

There's really nothing to report.  We haven't done any projects this week.  We've been very content to just "be".  We did host a Princess House party on Monday, go to the library on Tuesday and go grocery shopping on Thursday, but we haven't felt a need to fill every minute with planned activity.  We may or may not do a project today.

I was thinking about and realized that the same thing seems to happen every summer. Why?  I have come to the conclusion that, when school lets out, kids are still in that "every minute must be planned" school mode, so it takes them a week or two for their minds and bodies to wind down, for them to adjust from having the teacher tell them everything that they must do to being able to think of things themselves.  That's why the first few days of summer we have that structured feeling where mom is planning activities, etc.

Then, after a week or so, or in our case Camp Meeting hits, and the bedtime gets a little mixed up and you begin to wake up later and feel a little more lazy and relaxed.  Kids become more content to sit around and read a book, or make up their own imaginary play.  The house is actually cleaner even though you're home more, so there's more time to sit down and play a card game.  And suddenly you are at the end of Summer and wondering what happened to all those plans you had.

And that's okay!!!  I'm not going to feel guilty for not doing everything on our "summer bucket list" as the popular saying seems to be this year.  I'm going to enjoy relaxing with my children, try to go with the flow and thank God for every moment.

We have been savoring the cooler evenings, enjoying lots of time out at the park.  One day we did water balloons.  Wow, it takes forever to fill up enough balloons for all of us and they were gone so fast!!

But it's been fun.  Tomorrow Jim is taking Katelyn to the Arizona Science Center.  We were able to pick up a culture pass at the library, so he just has to pay for parking.  Jim's never been, so it will be fun for him and good for the two of them to have dad/daughter time.

And we carry on...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Weekly Menu update

So it's been a month since I instituted a rotating weekly menu plan, in which we have the same seven meals every week.

I asked my family the other night what their thoughts and feelings were about it.

Overall, they seem to like it, Tyler especially.  He's getting foods at dinner that he likes and will eat, with the exception of the fried chicken, which surprised me because he used to like it.  However, he is complaining that it's too greasy, so I may need to work on my standard recipe a little.  He did eat it last time, though, after I cut the meat off the bone for him.

He also said he likes getting parmesan noodles twice a week.  I make tettrazini and spaghetti and I save out his cooked noodles so that he can eat them plain.

Unfortunately, the tettrazini is the one dish that everyone else is giving the thumbs down to.  We all like it, just not enough to eat it every week.

But I'm kinda stuck on what to serve in its place.  The tettrazini meat comes from the whole chicken that I serve on Sundays, so I can't afford to insert a different kind of meat.  I could substitute another chicken dish, but there is nothing else that Tyler likes.  I could just continue to make and serve the noodles just for him, but part of the whole point is NOT to serve him (and his little imitator) a different meal.  Ugh!

There are a lot of things that I'm enjoying about this weekly menu plan, and it kinda surprises me.  As much as I love to cook and enjoy trying out new recipes, it has been so nice to just know what I'm going to make, when I'm going to make it, and let that be that.  There's no "hmmm, I don't feel like making that, so what else can I make?", no "oops, I forgot an ingredient to this new recipe", and it really has cut down on eating out because, for the most part I choose quick and easy meals.

Shopping is easier because I have a master list and just check everything off of the list.  It helps me to remember to buy everything.  I have had to adjust some amounts, finding out that we really do go through 4-5 dozen eggs within two weeks, as well as 6-8 lbs of butter.

As usually, the snacks have been a stumbling block, but, really, it's not for lack of food, it's lack of choices, which is something we just have to get over in our minds (especially you-know-who).

I used to be a huge advocate for variety in meals, lots of options, etc, but I am coming to the realization that we really do need to see food as a necessity in life, we eat to live, and not as entertainment.  We seem to constantly be looking for that fun and interesting food, pleasing to our palate, and we bypass the healthy and affordable standbys.  I didn't think so before, but now I'm convinced that it really has made us spoiled.

And don't even get me started on meat.  Ugh.  I would LOVE to serve more meatless meals, but certain people in this house prowl around like I've starved them if they don't have meat on their plates.  So I've compromised and am now serving meat with every meal.  But, they are more "Less Meat" meals.  One whole chicken is stretched into two more meals, chicken soup and tettrazini.  I buy four pounds of ground beef and cut it into six portions, so we get meat in our tacos (mixed with beans), in our spaghetti, and on our tostadas (again, with beans).  The meat is there, they can see it and taste it, it's just not the focal point of the meal.  I'm not serving steak.

So, I will continue on for now.  I am tweeking certain things here and there, but overall we are happy with it.

Oh, and I do stay in budget.  Except for when I have weeks like this one where I have to buy diapers, wipes AND toilet paper.  Oy!  It's gonna be a tight one this time around.  "Justin, what to go pee-pee in the potty?"

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Day 4

This is day 4 because we skipped Wednesday and Thursday due to Old Time Camp Meeting.

Today's activity was "Staycation Camping".  I made a tent in our living room and we did a craft under it.  We also have Chex Mix S'mores.  The kids plan to sleep under the tent tonight, but I don't think it will actually happen.

Jason being silly inside the sleeping bag.  Just realized this should be turned, sorry!
Our tent.  It's hanging from the fan and I was very worried that the kids would pull down the fan.
Tyler did not want to be under a girl colored tent, so he made his own with a table and his sheet
Jason adds glue to his "log" craft stick.  I was so impressed with how "into" the craft he was and how carefully he applied the glue.

Add his felt fire

Justin wasn't quite able to follow the craft, so first I had him cut up some construction paper.

Then I laid down lots of paper all around him and he went to town dripping glue everywhere.  See the pieces of purple paper he tried to apply?

Katelyn creates

Katelyn was quite ambitious and created a 3D fire scene.

Tyler's fire circle.

Tyler cuts out fire

Tyler shows off his creation

Happy 15th Anniversary!

Katelyn made this for us.  It's beautiful and going on my bedroom wall.
Thursday, June 7 was our 15th anniversary.  We didn't plan much because of the Camp Meeting and our recent house purchase, but Jim did surprise me with a Mocha Coconut Starbucks :)

This song sums it all up :) (please note that I don't advocate country music or Youtube.  This is from our pre-VPC days. I"m sorry if you're offended. Oh, and it's just words.  I didn't know how to imbed just music.)
Love you babe!

Summer days 2 and 3

Katelyn rolls and cuts
 I deliberately didn't plan anything specific for Mondays, thinking that we would use the day to clean the house and rest after a busy weekend.  Apparently the kids don't need to rest, so they were quite anxious to pull a boredom buster.  Ty was thrilled to get "Make cookies with cutters" and that kept them busy for quite some time.

Katelyn did most of the mixing and measuring, rolling and cutting, but they both did a great job decorating.  I didn't have any frosting, nor much powdered sugar, but I did find some marble ice cream toppings that look like nerds, jelly beans, red hots and writing icing, left over from Christmas gingerbread houses and forgotten in the freezer.  They had a blast.

Tyler decorates a bear
 Tuesday's activity was painting.  I attempted to do Handprint caterpillars, but they were mostly happy just to make a mess.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Thanks to various blogs, pins, etc, including a comment from my friend Adrienne, this morning I made a boredom buster jar and a "you've been naughty, do a chore" jar.

I took some craft sticks and wrote ideas on both sides.  For the boredom buster, I wrote things like "Play restaurant" or "Read a story to the littles".  For the chores, I wrote easy things that don't get done nearly enough like "Wipe down the front door" or "Wipe down the washer and dryer".

If they are bored, they can choose ONE stick and must do what is written on either side of the stick, their choice.  They can only choose one stick per day.

On the other hand, there is no limit to the number of chores sticks that they can pull in a day ;).  Again, they are written on both sides, so they can choose which one to do.

So far I'm pleased and my door, washer and dryer look much better!

Day One of Summer

Today was the "first day of summer" for us as GCA ended yesterday.
On our list for today was making Homemade Playdough.  The kids love to play with playdough, plus I figured that we could save it and use it later.  I'm a genius that way :)

Here are Katelyn and Tyler mixing up the first two batches of playdough.  It was actually a bit difficult to stir as it thickened.  Tyler pooped out about halfway there, but Katelyn was a trooper and saw it to the end AND helped me make a second batch. 

Here I am adding salt to my batch.

Katelyn and Jason show off the final product.  We made four batches of the recipe, each a different color.  Each batch made about 1.5 to 2 store-bought containers worth.  It was sticky while hot, but as it cooled off, we kneaded it and it was the perfect consistency.  The kids do complain about the smell though.  I think the cream of tartar must have an odd odor.  I don't use it on a regular basis in my cooking, so I'm not familiar with it.

After the playdough, I had Katelyn make brownies.  Last week she made brownies for her prayer partner, Shelbie, as a graduation gift.  Katelyn had the great idea to use cookie cutters to cut the brownies into cool shapes.  It had so much more "WOW!" than plain square brownies.  Here she is with the brownie cut outs that she made today.

One day down.  How many to go??