Saturday, November 29, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs: #15 A Thankful Heart

This week, you guessed it, is going to be about having a thankful heart! Yes, of course, we should always be thankful for everything we’re blessed with, but it’s not too often we actually sit and ponder what. This week please join me in writing 27 things you’re thankful for.

1. A very real relationship with Jesus

2. A wonderful husband who also happens to be a great dad

3. My children

4. My family and family in laws

5. Supportive friends

6. A house that fits us perfectly

7. A new mattress

8. Chocolate....a must have on some days

9. The opportunity to stay home and homeschool

10. A craft/school room that is just for my daughter and me

11. Hot showers (heading in there, soon!)

12. Warm summer days

13. Sunday Family Dinners

14. A wonderful church family

15. My new kitchen

16. My new computer

17. Trader Joes

18. Avocados

19. My warm blankie that is wrapped around me now

20. Chick-fil-a lemonade (that I am hoping will help fight my cold)

21. Tissues

22. A great group of women that I email regularly with

23. Our stuffed pantry

24. Our two cars that we are fortunate enough to have

25. Games (spent most of the day playing with family)

26. Sushi (I love that stuff)

27. My wonderful 9 year old daughter that wrote her own Thankful post right under mine. :)

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

Thursday, November 27, 2008

K's list of thanks....

K wrote this list yesterday and I thought I would share it with you!

I may be small, but I still have a lot of things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for:

A Mighty Lord
Loveable Pets

A great father and mother
Brothers and sister in law
Family and Friends that care
The World
Clothes that keep me warm
My home and shelter
A bed to sleep in
Water and food to keep me from starving
Someone to play with me
A Name
A wonderful church
My eyes, feet and hands
My head, heart, brain and nose
Great teachers (she's homeschooled!) ;o)
Things to learn
Great neighbors

Soft, warm blankets to snuggle in on a cold night
My stuffed dog, Brownie
Somebody to love
People that help me
My Dad's Job
Me to like things that I like
Everything around me
My belongings

Thank you, Lord, for everything. You are the greatest! Happy Thanksgiving, Amen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is such a fun holiday. I tend to love all holidays that are centered around family getting together. :) Throw in all the great food and that "love" factor jumps up a notch. This is the holiday where everyone here pitches in and makes some of their favorite recipes and we get together not once, but twice to eat everything! How's that? Well, our family has a tradition we call "Repeat Friday". After Thanksgiving dinner the last thing you really want to do is sort out leftovers and split them up for families to take with them. So, we started just gathering Friday afternoon and reheating everything, adding some nice bread for sandwiches and enjoying another meal. The best part about this is it comes without HOURS of cooking beforehand. It's also a good way to relax and help put a dent in the leftovers. Then if there is anything still around at that point, we divide it up. I am so thankful for my wonderful family!!

I'd like to wish all my friends, family, followers, and BFS members a Blessed Happy Thanksgiving!!

I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart,I will enter His courts with praise,I will say this is the day that the Lord has made,I will rejoice for He has made me glad.

great blog discovery....

Well, today is just a grey day here and I am have been cruising around the internet looking at Black Friday ads, Thanksgiving recipes, and CVS deals. I stumbled across a wonderful blog that is just overflowing with incredible giveaways. The one that really got my heart going pitter patter was the one on November 22! Check it out! Keurig ~ Platinum Brewing System Giveaway I would love one of these and the first purchase I would make is called My K-Cup and it's a reusable filter for the Keurig. If you run out of the premade K-Cups, you can just use your favorite coffee until you pick up some more of the premade variety. :)

Check out Frugal Mommy's blog. I bet you will find something that makes your heart go pitter patter!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

goofing off.....

Isn't it fun just to have someone to goof around with?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Double Birthday Celebration

This past Sunday we had family dinner, but we also celebrated two birthdays. Son#1 has a 25th birthday coming up on the 21st. His wife, our daughter in law, turned 25 on the 10th. We showered them with gift cards and had them hanging on K's Christmas Tree. They went shopping this evening and ate out using their cards. They love the gift of shopping. :)

Anyway, dinner was French Dip Sandwiches....also called Italian Beef in a Bucket. I know, I know...two different countries, but that is what I have heard it called. It's so easy, peasy and oh, so yummy. You put a roast in your crockpot. Sprinkle the contents of an Italian Seasons Italian Dressing packet on top of your roast. Then sprinkle the contents of a packet of Au Jus mix over the beef. Open a jar of mild banana pepper rings...or you could go for hot. The mild ones were actually pretty spicy this time around. Pour the contents of the jar...juice and peppers...over the beef. Put your lid on, plug the crockpot in and set to high. Cook for 6-7 hours. When you are ready to eat, pull out the roast and shred the beef. This step is pretty quick at this point. Put your meat back in the crockpot with all the juice. Serve the beef on some good crusty french rolls with a slice of provolone. Spoon some of the juice into little bowls for everyone to dip their sandwiches. It's a hit in this house!!

The birthday kids in '06

The birthday kids in '08 (heading to a Halloween party, of course!)

Monday, November 17, 2008

four dogs and a camera

Ever wonder just how many hands it takes to get a good photo of 4 dogs? Apparently more then we had available!! We tried and it wasn't pretty. I'll try again....when I recover.....

Trying to get the 4 close enough to fit in one shot. Remi (licking his nose) is Audrey's brother. I bet you can tell who Audrey is! They are almost 11 months old and are Puggles. Seamus is 2 years old and shares a birthday with K. Then there is Dodger and he is the old grandpa type. I think he likes when every pup comes to visit....

Ok, almost there.....but they aren't looking at the camera.

Someone ALWAYS has to blink...
and just how long are Puggle tongues anyway??

Aww, almost there. But what and the heck is it with Puggles having one green eye and one blue eye? This is as close as we got. Next time....I am gonna wear their tushies out first and take a picture outside. (hopefully eliminating all the weird eye things)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

another cvs trip...

Gosh...I just love my CVS trips. I only go when I find deals buying stuff that we can, maybe every two weeks or so. However, when I go and it all works according to plan I walk out of that store on a cloud. Yep, getting deals does that to me. I was psyched for days!! So, what did I get? Let me share.

I walked into the store with $4 ECB(extra care bucks) that you can spend on anything in the store. I loaded my cart with my planned purchases and went to the checkout. I divided it up into three transactions to get the best deal.

First, I bought 2 palmolive dish liquids, 1 garnier fructis conditioner and 1 - 1 liter bottle of smart water. I used two $1.00 off manufacturer coupons(1 - $1.00 off 2 bottles of palmolive and 1 - $1.00 off any garnier fructis), plus I used my $4 ECB. This made my total for those items, $1.78. I was given $5.59 in ECB to use on a future purchase. (their deals were $1.00 back for each bottle of palmolive that you buy, $2.00 for buying the conditioner and $1.59 for buying the smart water...the water deal was limited to one time, as was the conditioner) I was also given a $4.00 off a $20.00 purchase! (which came in play later on)

Second up, I bought 2 more palmolive dish liquids and 2 bottles of Listerine Agent Blue. (that is to turn kid's teeth blue to show them where to brush) I had $3.00 in manufacturer coupons($1.00 of 2 bottles of palmolive and 2 - $1.00 off Listerine Agent Blue), plus I used my 5.59 ECB that I earned in transaction #1. This brought my total down to $2.37. I was also given $8.00 in ECB. ($2 for the dish liquid and $3 for each Listerine)

Next, came my biggie....

CVS had a deal if you buy $20.00 in Hershey chocolates you would get $10.00 back in ECB. S0, I bought 6 bags of Hershey Bliss chocolates. (a girl can never have too much chocolate!) They were on sale for $3.00 each. So, my total was $18.00. I picked up 4 individual candy bars that were 50 cents each to make my total $20.00. I used that $4.00 off 20.00 purchase coupon they gave me earlier. Also, I had 3 manufacture coupons each for $2.50 off 2 bags of Bliss. That brought another 7.50 off my total. Then I gave them my $8.00 in ECB. That brought my total for $20 of chocolate down to .98!! (.48 of that was tax!!)

My total out of pocket for the trip was $5.13. The sale price total of the merchandise before coupons was $39.22. I also have $10.00 in ECB to use on the next deal. :) I hope they have something good on sale tomorrow!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs #13: “Mom” Help!

This week I’d like to invite you to share what YOUR “Mom” help is. Some drink coffee, soda, or chai-tea. Others check email or read their favourite blogs. Some talk a walk…. what do you do when you need to clear your head and take a breather?

Whew, being a homeschool mom on call 24 hours a day really can have it's moments. It's not wrong to admit we need a break once in a while to just recharge our batteries. I don't have just one thing that I always turn to for a breather. Sometimes I just love to curl up on the couch and read a book, other times I love to check out other blogs for ideas, and let's not forget mom's lunch or night out. There is something so refreshing about just getting together with other moms and chilling. Someone in the same boat as you, someone to bounce ideas off of and someone that may have been there done that several times over. I have a friend that goes to lunch with me about twice a month. Granted we take our children and it is Chick-fil-a, but it's our time! Also this month, I am hosting mom's game night out with a group of homeschooling moms. Everyone seems to be excited about that and it's not all about the chance to play a game. ;o)

Even with all those relaxing ways, there are still times that call for........chocolate. :) It could be a yummy piece of dark chocolate, a warm, fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookie or an ice-cold, homemade mocha frappucino.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

1/2 cup cocoa, packed

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon butter

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix the cocoa and water with a whisk; add sugar and dissolve. Over medium-high heat bring mixture to a boil and continue soft boil about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; add salt, vanilla and butter. Stir to combine then let sit until cool. Store in refrigerator. This makes thin, but delicious syrup.


3/4 cup double-strength coffee, cold

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

cup low-fat milk

2 cups ice

Make double-strength coffee by brewing with twice the coffee required by your coffee maker: That should be 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per each cup of coffee. Chill before using. To make drink, combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until ice is crushed and drink is smooth. Pour into two 16-ounce glasses, and serve with a straw.

CARAMEL For this version, add 3 tablespoons of caramel topping to the original recipe and prepare as described. Top each glass with whipped cream and drizzle additional caramel over the whipped cream.

MOCHA For this version, add 3 tablespoons chocolate syrup to the original recipe and prepare as described. Top each glass with whipped cream, if desired
Scripture: I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

BFS Assignment #109 We Bring Good Things To Life (GE)

Memory Verse: Philippians 4:8
In conclusion, brothers, focus your thoughts on what is true, noble, righteous, pure, lovable or admirable, on some virtue or on something praiseworthy.

The passion to sing, the passion to draw, the passion to build, the passion to ride, the passion for reading, the passion for nature… the list is endless. Some children exhibit their passion from day one, others need an experience to spark that passion.

Assignment: Share a field trip/lifestyle learning experience where you really felt you were bringing good things to life for your children, where something came alive for them, or ignited a passion.

Our daughter is now 9 years old and I believe we saw her passion for animals before she was even 3 years old. You could sit her on the couch with a big animal reference book and she would sit still for over a half hour turning the pages one at a time and studying all the pictures! There is little doubt that animals will play a part in her life. She will either work with them, farm with them, play with them or who knows what. It is something special though to see her around animals. Her blue eyes just sparkle!

Knowing this about her, we do try to center some of our activities around animals. One of her favorite trips is going to Florida. Sea World is always a big hit and this last time we went we to Florida we included a trip to Gator Land.

Just being able to cater field trips and extra learning opportunities to fit her interests is one of the beauties of being a homeschool family. We did the same for older brothers, of course!! (just don't have digital pictures from back when they were little!LOL)

Here are some of our Florida pictures with some of her favorite creatures...

She spent quite a bit of time talking to this guy and his friends. He paid attention to her, but that might have had more to do with the fish in her hands!

This one also liked the fish and posed quite a bit for us and even let her pet him.

There really isn't a better way to make friends with an animal then feeding it. Here she is feeding the sting rays.

I think dogs rank up in her top 5 favorites and she was happy to meet this one.

It was really nice of this trainer to take some time to pose with her. She has this picture enlarged ready to hang in her room.

Here he is at work. is a great way to meet animals. A few minutes later she had more then a dozen on her!

This python was heavy!!

She was thrilled that they had a little gator for her to pet.

At Gator Land they had many, many beautiful birds and I made a point to take lots of pictures. I knew we were going to be working on Zoology 1. :)

His mouth is taped and yes, he is real!!

Now one last picture of one of her favorite Florida Creatures.......

Monday, November 10, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs #12: Let’s Play A Game!

This week I want to invite you to share what different games you use for learning in your homeschool. Outside games, board games, or card games, and what purpose or subject you use them for.

Well, we are a game loving family! Just playing games teaches kids how to take turns, how to win or lose gracefully, encourages counting skills and reading, etc. It's really cool when everyone can have fun and not really know they are learning something. :)

Some of our favorites...

K would say that Zooreeka is her favorite game. We happen to like most of the Cranium games. This is another game that she loves. Can you tell what she likes learning about?

We also have Map Tangle, which is interesting. She hasn't played it with a group and we might change the rules up a bit...but she has worked on finding all the places with her own two feet.

Banana Gram is a good one for those kids that can already spell small words.

A month ago we bought a Wii as an early family Christmas gift. Bowling and Tennis have been the biggest hits, here. Well, that is until my parents surprised us with Wii Fit. If school and chores are done, we certainly don't mind her playing on Wii Fit for a while. It has been fun for all of us. (including the older kids!)

Card games are a big hit around here, but I need to look for some math games to play with K. I used to know a few and played with the boys, but it has been years and I have forgotten them. (that and some domino games) I think I will have to spend some time checking out all the replies to this theme. I'll have my handy dandy notebook right next to me to jot down suggestions.

I think one of my favorite games has to be the one K made a while ago. It's called Family Trivia. The goal of the game is to learn more about our family members. We have to ask questions about ourselves and if the person gets the right answer they get to continue their turn. There are even some cards that have to be drawn if you land on a B and you have to follow what it tells you....and your turn is over. I love that she thought it out and made it happen. It really was fun playing and I am sure we will play again. :)

Soups on....

Well, finally last night we were able to have another soup night. It is supposed to be a regularly scheduled thing, but with birthday celebrations, trying new places to eat on the first Sunday of the month, and one Sunday of just not feeling like it....let's just say it has been a while. So, yesterday it was back to routine. Hehe...if you can call something that has only occurred one other time "routine".

We had to pretend it was cold outside, because it really was only just a tad chilly. I like making soup when it is COLD outside. I opened some windows and got to work. Tonight's menu was a pot of chili and a pot of broccoli & cheese soup. Sides were cornbread, tossed salad and marshmallow fruit salad.

Saturday we ran to the store to get a few of the necessary ingredients. While I was there I automatically reached for my normal chili seasoning package. Sure, it makes yummy chili, but something stopped me. I actually had the package in hand and glanced up at the price. Yep...for $2.99 I could have the seasonings to make the chili. All I needed to provide was the beef, the tomato sauce, the beans and the water....while it provided seasoning. I glanced at the ingredient list and realized I had all that stuff(well, all the spices not the preservatives and additives) in my kitchen cabinet. The Internet is an awesome thing if you use it right and I just KNEW that I could find a chili seasoning recipe. So, in the interest of trying to actually stay WITHIN my food budget this month I put the seasoning package down.

The thing with the Internet is you have to have an idea about food. You should be able to decide by looking at a recipe if it is something that will fly in your household. It also helps to go to sites with lots of reviews!! ;) After 5 minutes of searching, I had picked the recipe for my first batch of homemade chili seasoning. Now...this wasn't a recipe for chili...just the recipe for the seasonings. Check it out HERE! I had all that in my cabinet and it said it made enough for two pounds of ground chuck and what was I planning to use, but two pounds of ground chuck. Perfect!! So how did I make it and how did it turn out? Glad you asked!

I browned some chopped onion with the beef. Drained off most of the fat, added one and a half cans of tomato sauce, one can full of water, one beer(that just happened to be in the fridge, lucky me) and the seasoning. I let that simmer and bubble for over an hour. Then I added some beans and some thickener. Now normally you would use masa de harina...but I didn't have anything, but flour. So, I mixed about a Tablespoon of flour with some water, added some chili liquid to it and got it all smooth. Then I poured it into the pot. Worked like a charm. The chili was crowned a SUCCESS! Due to a big lunch, I wasn't hungry for dinner, but I did manage to store away about 1/2 cup to try later. It was all that was left in that pan!! I heard lots of YUMs all around the table. (Warms a momma's heart!!) Of course, this was all served with tostito chips, grated cheese, chopped scallions and chopped onions, corn bread and sour cream. It was an assemble your own creation type layout.

For the Broccoli and Cheese soup, I decided to visit the Food Network's Site. I rustled up a recipe from Emeril Lagasse. You can find it HERE! Oh, you noticed it says with croutons. I didn't make them....but don't tell the kids. Yes, they would have loved them....but in the interest of time, I chose to do without them. ;o) The soup was also a hit!! WOOHOO!! You gotta love a double hit night. The only thing I did different here was added one tablespoon extra of butter and flour and added 1 cup more chicken stock. (oh, and then just a little extra broccoli and extra cheese) I didn't puree the whole pot of soup. Instead, I just pureed a couple of cups in the Vita-mix to add some thickness to the soup. It was all good.

Next week we have a double birthday celebration with some extra guests invited. It won't be soup night, but the menu is already planned and I will have some recipes to share. :o)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

BFS #108 - Quality is Job #1

Memory Verse: I Timothy 4:12-13 - Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

Assignment: My family and I rarely do anything apart from each other. We don’t really have quality time together because all our time is together. We feel like the more special moments are when we have dinner together or when we worship God together. For this assignment, tell how you and your family spend QUALITY time together.

We love to spend time together. My boys are now 25(almost), 22 and 19. They grew up very close and for the most part (hehe) enjoyed each other. It is great to see them now as great friends. Nine years ago we had a daughter. She is a wonderful girl and she loves her brothers' company as much as we do. Spending time together has always been a priority to us. It is even more important now that son #1 is married and son #3 is also out of the house.

Everyone gets so busy and days can slip by without actually having a chance to check in with each other. Son #1 runs a Chick-fil-a and since they are always closed on Sundays, that is the day that seems to work best for us. So, on many Sundays we will get together for family dinner at our house. The special ladies in my boys' lives are also invited. Often times we include my parents for dinner, as well. Sometimes we will play a game afterward or watch a movie or just hang out. That means there is up to 11 of us for dinner. I really do look forward to those times.

This fall and winter season I am planning on trying many homemade soups for Sunday dinners. It seemed like a frugal way of making enough for everyone and also having leftovers. The plan is to make two pots of soup each week, with some bread and a salad to round the meal out. So far, we have only had one soup meal together. One Sunday was a birthday celebration so we had a special dinner and this past Sunday we went to a new to us restaurant for pizza. We had seen the restaurant on the Food Network.

My plan is to share the recipes and the critics' reviews after each meal. If anyone has a great recipe, please share!! :) I'd like to make one with meat and one without each time.

Here's a family photo from the wedding.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

Ok, so it's November 4th and the Election is all the news....except here. Oh, yes we did go out and vote....and picked up our free Starbucks coffee. (I even brought mine home and made some delish Mocha Frappucinos and have enough to make another batch!) :) But the big news is Mike took off work today and kid #4 helped him work on Christmas lights!! Oh yeah! We are so ready. Hmmm....well, the outside of the house is so ready. The inside is NOT decorated and could even stand to be tidied up a bit and I do NOT even want to discuss shopping. Not even going to go there. However, the scene in my living room did lift my spirits and had me humming, "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...." Almost makes me want to!

Hard at work putting on the clips to hang the lights.

This strand is all done and ready for bulbs!

Here are the lights we are using this year to outline the house.

They look pretty all lit up!

A snapshot of outside. It's just the beginning, but it will all be ready to go on Thanksgiving day!! :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs #11 - Field Trips

This week I’d like to invite you to share your favourite field-trip that you’ve been able to go on since you’ve started homeschool.

Field trips are so much fun!! We love to take breaks from our regular school work and have what we call a "fun day". We've gone to pumpkin patches, museums, zoos, aquariums, parks, fishing spots, historical sites, etc. The best part is when you learn something new and it doesn't feel like "school". :)

I think one of our favorite field trips was the time we went to a colonial farm. Everyone there was in period clothing and talked as if we had been transported back in time. We were visiting on their farm! They shared so much with the kids and there was quite a bit of hands on activities.

Learning about the colonial life and their food.

Hard at work hauling water.

Here she is grinding grain.

A view of the cabin from outside.

The day included playing some colonial time games. :)

Here they are about to enter the tobacco barn where all the leaves are hanging to dry.

This was a view from another cabin. It actually had some separate rooms and glass windows.

We thought this chimney was really interesting.