Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Activity Drawers

When I did a clean out of our craft supplies I decided to use our drawer cart to encourage more projects.  As I was purging, I took note of supplies we have not used, things I had printed out (but never actually did anything with!) and general fun stuff that had been buried. 

1.  Patterning activities: Various caps I save from bottles, cartons, etc. and an egg carton.  A strip printed from Confessions of a Homeschooler Letter-of-the-Week Curriculum.

2.  Paint a ceramic train magnet- picked it up on clearance.

3.  Removeable sticker activity book- bought at Friends of the Library bookstore for $1.75.

4.  Wooden cut-outs (not sure what they are called!).  Bought on clearance at Michael's for 19 cents each.  Take one out and start telling a story with it, then keep taking peices out one at a time and the story grows with each addition.

5. Write and send a post card to each of the cousins.

6.  Counting activities printed from Confessions of a Homeschooler.

7.  Bear activities we did here.

8.  Spin art using salad spinner.

9.  Work on squares grandma is collecting for the family quilt. 

10.  Various file folder games

Sean surprised me by doing several of these drawers back-to-back.  I will have to get creative to keep it filled!

Gingerbread house- good enough to eat for lunch!

I love gingerbread houses.  I have never made one.  I felt the pressure not to let the boys' childhood progress any further without the introduction of this tradition.  I liked the pre-made kit at the grocery store, but a) not paying $10 for b) all that sugar!  We did a version that I did not mind them actually eating.  Not as colorful, but still fun. 
We used graham crackers and peanut butter for the house.  Nuts, dried fruit, popcorn and oats were the decoration. I meant to put pretzels in there, too.  They each got a mini muffin tin filled with the goodies, a plate of peanut butter, spreader and dinner plate to build on.

Luke was busy at work, too.

Sean's creation.  It fell over once.  I got the picture.  It fell over again. 

Sean turned his hand into a crane and became a "house-eater." 

Next year we might actually make real gingerbread- yum!  Until then, this protein rich project has just turned into lunch!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Order in the house

The craft/ project supplies were getting out of control.  I have it organized, but things were starting to just get shoved into spots.  I could not remember what we had and was not using stuff sitting there for months (years!).  


So I pulled it ALL out.  More junk on the floor not pictured.

Didn't take long for him to get into something!

I decided to use the cart and put a project in each drawer.  It was fun coming up with something for each one and making use of the supplies.  Another post coming up with each drawer.  After purging, I fit everything onto this one shelf.

Building a bear cave

An effort to make a bear cave... we used pine cones as the bears.  An impromptu attempt to add arms and legs from twigs did not really work out!  Budreaux oversees the work.

Armless/legless "bears" peeking out.

Remembering that bears use dried grass and twigs to make their den.

The best rock-collecting partner!

Looks innocent enough here, but shortly after the cave was destroyed by a tornado of little hands.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bear Activities

I gave Sean a couple of choices for a topic we could study.  He picked Bears.  We checked out a few books and I put together some activities.
1.  This is a "Black Bear's Winter" booklet photo copied from a Mailbox workbook (got from Friends of the Library bookstore for $1!).  He drew, colored, glued dried grass & twigs and made a log out of paper to put in it.

2.  A fun one using dried out coffee grounds (not hard to come by thanks to Daddy!).  I spread them out on a paper towel and let them dry for a few days bofore we did the project.

His name:  Coffee Ground-y.

3.  And my favorite... using buttons (bought the whole jar for $1 at a yard sale!).  First he sorted them.

He picked out brown ones to make the bear.  Then we took turns- one of us glued while the other placed the button and vice versa.

He liked using his hand as an excavator to dig out the buttons.

His name: Button-y.

We also had a teddy bear picnic-no pics taken- but we'll probably do that again.  Random information, Sean's nickname from before he was born is Bear.  :-)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fall Nature Table

I love the variety of things in our yard!  I did not realize until we went out and started collecting.

Complete with toy race car...

Washing pumpkins from the garden:

We love Fall!

Monday, December 6, 2010

What we've learned so far... I think

I have been online researching curriculum.. again.  First of all, I am trying to make it more of a prayerful adventure rather than getting bogged down by all the options (because- WOW!- there's a lot out there!).
I think (until I further confuse myself) that I can narrow down a few things about our style and what I am looking for next year as I start more in-depth learning projects.
  1. I like the Charlotte Mason method.  There is a free curriculum guide here.  I am  not crazy about the guide though as it seems like a lot of work to actually figure out how to use it.
  2. I might be lazier than I thought when it comes to all of this.
  3. The Waldorf method is also pretty cool.  I can see how it would be a natural transition into our style.  It is more new-agey (is that a word?), but their focus on creation could be easily directed to the Creator... with some imagination and effort.
  4. Maybe I am not quite as lazy as I thought!
  5. I will admit the whole unschooling is appealing.  I totally like the idea of following Sean's lead and taking advantage of his interests.  Giving him exposure to all sorts of knowledge, researching different subjects and coming up with projects and experiments...
  6. See #2.
  7. The curriculum I like most...so far... is My Father's World.  It is mission minded, includes all the subjects (no pricey add-ons for basics!) and has a Charlotte Mason influence.   I am going check out some blogs for a while to see it in action.  Thankfully I have until next fall to seek the Lord and look into it.  Right now it's my top contender.
Until then we will keep at the reading lessons, crafts projects, nature play & study and good ol' play time.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A New Day

This will be late in terms of time of year, but I thought it an appropriate way to start the new blog.  We "started" school this year in September.  I was really hesitant to commit to a specific curriculum.  I instead decided to take this year really laid back and see how the flow might go for us.  I am convinced that the delayed learning approach is healthy (waiting to start formal schooling until the child is older).  So, I figured there was not much to loose by testing the water this year.
I did know that I was interested in Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  So, when I found it for $1.00 at the thrift store- I was super excited!  Sean was pretty eager to start so we went for it.

For the sake of posterity I wanted to put up some pictures of the day.  It started as usual with some playing.

Lunch time.

While Luke was napping we started the reading lesson and letter project.


So proud of his work.
Then more play time. 

Here's a shot of our nature table:

These shots were all from a few months ago.  Since then we have done more, figured out about our style and are looking forward to being even more intentional with our learning.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Menu planning... Part 3

Master grocery & pantry lists:
After I made lists of meals, I went by the recipes for each and made up a grocery and pantry list.  I am hoping this will help me to streamline shopping and get most of it done in one big trip.  If not, at least I will have the list to go by to get the rest of the ingredients.

Grocery List

Whole chicken- 2
Chicken breast- bag                                                                Black beans
Ground turkey- 2 pkg. or 1 sausage                                        Navy beans
Ham- sliced 2 lb.
Fish                                                                                        Red beans
Pepperoni                                                                              Garbanzo beans
Hot dogs


Dairy:                                                                                       Carbs:
Milk- whole, skim, soy                                                             Rice
Eggs                                                                                          Quinoa
Cheese blocks- cheddar, mozzarella                                         Elbow pasta
Cottage cheese                                                                          Lasagna noodles
Cream cheese

Crushed tomatoes *- 26 oz. x 4
Miso                                                                                         picante sauce
Jello                                                                                         dark choc. chips
WW fig bars                                                                             raisins, craisins

Veggies/ fruit:
Spinach- 1lb. x 2                                                                      Bananas
Romaine lettuce                                                                       Apples
Celery                                                                                      Melon
Potatoes- sweet, white
Garlic                                                                                      Cucumbers
Onions                                                                                     Peas
Olives                                                                                      Green beans
Tomatoes                                                                                 Kale
Squash/Zucchini                                                                      Avocado
Check Seasonal                                                                       Broccoli 

Pantry Checklist

Bulk:                                                                   Spices:
WW bread flour                                                 Sea salt
WW pastry flour                                                 Pepper
Unbleached white flour                                      Garlic powder
Flax seeds                                                          Thyme
Flax seed meal                                                   Onion powder
Wheat germ                                                        Chili Pepper
Chia seeds                                                          Cumin
Sesame seeds                                                     Oregano
Pumpkin seeds                                                    Basil
Demarrara Sugar                                                Paprika
Whole oats                                                         Ginger
Black beans
Red beans
Navy beans
Garbanzo beans

Vinegar                                                            Mustard
Coconut oil                                                     Ketchup
EVOO                                                             Baking soda
Tahini*                                                           Baking powder
Apple sauce
Peanut Butter*
Maple syrup

Tea- rooibos

Cleaning:                                                      Hygiene:
Vinegar                                                         Shampoo/ Conditioner
Club Soda                                                     Toothpaste
Oxygen Bleach                                              Deodorant
Hydrogen Peroxide                                       Floss
Baking Powder                                             Diapers
*bought or home made

I print a copy of each of these lists each month, along with the meal list.  I can easily check my kitchen stock to see what I need.  I cross off items I do not need.  This is such a help in remembering everything!  This list changes just a little each time as I get the details figured out. 

Part 4 will be the Monthly Menu Plan notebook.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Menu Planning...Part 2

I said before that we have lunch as our big meal of the day.  My main planning rotates around those meals.  To fill in the others, I made a list of breakfast and light dinner ideas.

Breakfast Ideas:

Toast w/ topping
French toast
Green smoothie
Hot cereal

Light Dinner Ideas:

Chicken Pasta Salad
Egg Salad sandwiches
Grilled cheese
Chef Salad
Omelets, toast
Hummus, fresh vegi, pita chips
Hot dogs
HM Salsa, chips, fruit
Leftovers, of course!  With all this home cooking we usually can fill in several meals.

HM Crackers
HM Granola
HM Muffins
Fruit & cheese
HM Yogurt
Cottage Cheese & fruit

The ingredients for all of these also go on the grocery and pantry master lists.  I am still checking around and experimenting so I will add as I go.

The chocolate chip muffins, though... do not last nearly long enough!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Menu planning and lists... oh boy! Part 1

I like to be organized.  But liking it and living it all the time are two different things right now!  One area that I have just struggled with is menu planning and grocery budget.  I am also learning all kinds of new things about healthy eating.  And it's not always cheap.  So, struggle on struggle.  I am thinking that once a month shopping will be the best bet for budgeting.  A little of the budget will be set aside for weekly replinishment.  We eat lunch as our big  meal of the day.  I needed to have a main meal planned and then just fill in the gaps for each day.  This is what I did:
  • I made 5 weeks worth of daily main meals.
  • I made a list of dishes to eat for breakfast and light dinners.
  • I made a list of things to make on Bake Day (breads, snacks, etc.).
  • I compiled recipes for all of the above.
  • From these lists I made a master grocery and pantry list.
It was a labor of love, let me tell you.  But definitely satisfying work.

To make it easier some of the meals are repeated during the weeks and I tried to stick with little variety in the meats.  I do not have beef or pork in these meals.  The only frozen meat I got in bulk was chicken, ground turkey and fish.  "HM" stand for homemade in the list.

Monthly Meal Plan- Summer/Spring
Week 1
1. Crockpot chicken, vegi, bread
2. Chicken salad (made from leftover chicken), vegi,  HM bread
3. Taco salad
4. Quesadillas (HM tortillas), vegi, fruit
5. HM Pasta & meatballs, salad
6. Hot dogs, HM bread, roasted vegi
7. Leftover-palooza

Week 2
1. Ham, squash casserole, beans
2. Turkey burgers, HM bread, oven fries
3. Pepperoni roll, salad
4. Beans, rice, salad
5. Oven-fried chicken, quinoa, vegi
6. Fish, vegi, fruit, HM bread
7. Leftover-palooza

Week 3
1. Crockpot chicken
2. Chicken salad, vegi, bread
3. Quesadillas, vegi, fruit
4. Homemade pizza, salad
5. Pate McMuffin, fruit
6. Turkey meatloaf, baked potato wedges, vegi
7. Leftover-palooza

Week 4
1. Crockpot meal
2. HM Pita pizza, salad
3. Mac-n-cheese, w/ beans, vegi
4. Fajita salad
5. Loaded potatoes, salad
6. Quiche, fruit, jello
7. Leftover-palooza

Week 5
1. Chicken Squash Bake
2. Easy 3 cheese enchiladas
3. Turkey burgers, HM bread, oven fries
4. Homemade pizza, salad
5. Lasagna, peas/green beans, garlic bread
6. Fish, roasted vegi, sweet potatoes
7. Left-over palooza

Because I will have most of the ingredients for all of the meals, I can mix and match if I want.  That's the idea anyway. We used the bigger part of our budget at the first of this month, but we are still working that part out, too, so I will have another mini shopping trip after mid month payday.  I have a paper copy of the meal list from when I went shopping.  To keep track I just mark the date by the meal I made.  Since this will be a work in progess I'll tweak it each month depending on new ideas and recipes.

Next I will post the breakfast and light dinner ideas. 
Then the master shopping and pantry lists .
Then Bake day (if the goods last long enough for a picture!).
And finally the notebook that brings them all together.  I love noteooks almost as much as I love lists. 


Monday, June 21, 2010

Home Tour (until I change it around- again)

I have been wanting to post a home tour since before I even had a blog (I love them like a crazy person!).  The problem is- I am always moving stuff around.  So, I figured I will just have to do a regular "state of the home" post and just see how it changes.  And the other teensy problem- getting it all straightened up enough to take and post pictures!  When Jeff was in Brazil on  Discovery/Mission trip I did what I almost always do- clean something out or change a room around.  And I figured it was a good time to take pictures.

Here is my kitchen where I spend oodles of time.  It is never fully cleaned and put away, because by the time I get it that way it's time to make another meal.  I used to feel more stressed about it, but now that I am learning to cook healthier, more nourishing meals it is satisfying to have such a well-used kitchen.

See if you can find Luke up there.  :-)

One of my favorite spots because I do not like shoes all piled up at the door!

I can fit a lot onto that counter.  Here is a random action shot:


Small, but functional dining room.

Here is the big ol' living room.  One of the selling points of this house, for sure.  We fit lots of students, family, friends and toys in here!

Toy corner.

Sean's room and eventually Luke's, as well.  I am standing on the corner of the second bed, squished up against the wall trying to get this angle.  It is not as big as this makes it look- some good camera work if I do say so myself!

Ok- this is just embarrassing, but I had to include it.  This is the hallway outside of Sean's room.  I stored all our craft and homeschool stuff here.  I have since changed all that.  :-) 

Yeah... another great shot of the dark hallway.  It does not look like this anymore.  This has the makings of a good before and after post!

Because I'm all sophisticated, I had to include the laundery room.  But seriously, I love this little closet- turned- laundry room.  It is right across from my bedroom.

Speaking of my bedroom, I totally forgot to take a picture.  In it is also Luke's sleeping nook.  Not quite big enough to call it a nursery.  And the basement is looking much better these days, although not all the way done.  I will just have to do a part two. 
I think almost all of the rooms have been tweaked sinced the pictures.  I could almost do a whole new tour.  Almost. 
And here is my sweet assistant photographer:

I really do like looking at other homes on blogs, but I have not done it in a while.  Most of them, although gorgeous, used to make me feel less content with my own God-provided home (God has thankfully done a work in my heart about that).  My favorites are the ones that look like every day houses, not magazine pictures.  And I am always a sucker for a good picture of home organization!