Sunday, October 31, 2010

Homeschool Chore List

Now that my kids are old enough to be a big help around the house we have begun experimenting with different responsibility charts and chore lists. We have tried several different ways from individual chores with allowances, to you name it. We have finally settled on what we call "area" chores. Now, instead of individual chores, the girls are responsible for specific areas of the house.

We generally have several 15 min tidy breaks and then one big clean at the end of the day before daddy gets home. Brianna is responsible for the upstairs family room and bathroom (except for the toilet) and Keira is responsible for the downstairs family room and the powder bath. They both have to clean their room and are responsible for the play room as well as putting away their laundry (I fold). For each chore they can earn $.10 which they get at the end of the month for a total of up to $15. They must however, complete the chore entirely without complaining and immediately when they are told to. Also, this does not mean that they do not have to put away their things just because they are in someone else's area. They are still required to put away anything that they personally took out.

Switching to an area responsibility instead of individual chores has really eliminated the "but that's not my job" complaints as no matter what it is in the room they are responsible for putting it away.

My 2 year old also gets in on it. Though he isn't old enough to be responsible for an area all by himself he does know that when I turn on the clean up song that it's time to clean up whatever he was playing with.

It is easy to just do it ourselves because it's faster and usually neater, but teaching your children from an early age that they have a responsibility to help keep the house clean is a very important life skill. Your child will learn a lot faster that taking one toy out at a time is the smarter thing to do when they are the ones cleaning up the mess!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Getting Rid of High Fructose Corn Syrup

And let me tell you, it is in everything. Everything from our bread to our snacks and of course my vice, Dr Pepper. After reading around on the internet, Karl and I decided that we can't in good conscience allow our children to ingest it any more. Even if we don't believe in the mercury findings, there are just too many links to other health issues for us to ignore.

So, since we just went grocery shopping, my first decision is how to start the process. I did think about just donating what I could to a food pantry and tossing the rest, but like most families, we just can't afford to do that. Since we can't just start from scratch, we are going to finish off what we have and replace it with healthier options. I actually think that this will make it so much easier on me as I can work on gradually learning how to shop and fix meals that are HFCS free, instead of just being thrown into it full force.

This week we will be replacing our ketchup (which according to any British citizen HAS to be Heinz) with Heinz Organic Ketchup, 15-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 12) and our old granola bars with Cascadian Farms Organic Chewy Granola Bar, Chocolate Chip, 6-Count Boxes (Pack of 6).

I might eventually start making our granola bars, but for now I am taking the easy route while I am learning so as not to overwhelm myself.

Somethings I am learning right now: Organic doesn't always mean better! Sometimes the organics are packed with other things that aren't healthy so just because it says organic doesn't mean you shouldn't check the label. Healthy food is more expensive. I am definitely going to have to be more consistant and more creative with my menu planning. We may go bankrupt, but we will be healthy when we do!

If you have any tips for me I would love to hear them!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why We Wont Be Trick or Treating This Year

When I had kids I wanted my children to experience halloween. It wasn't something we did growinig up (I think I can remember once going to the mall in homemade costumes). I wanted them to get to pick out a cute costume and to see and hear people react to their adorableness. But this year we won't be trick or treating.

While the appropriateness of a Christian celebrating (and by participating we are celebrating) had crossed my mind, it actually was my 6 year old who sealed the deal for us.

Brianna has recently become aware of Satan's role in deceiving us into sin. She has realized and verbalized to several other children now that while we make the final choice, Satan is the master deceiver. As we drive through our neighborhood she asked me what God thought about halloween. Up until this point I had always chosen to believe that because we personally did our best to avoid the evil aspects of halloween that it was ok for us to go trick or treating. I mean what's the harm right? We would just explain to our kids why we don't dress up scary and move on. After all the Bible doesn't specifically say not to celebrate halloween, right? When the line is blurred between what is right and wrong in a situation (let's for the sake of this blog post pretend that it is), or the Bible doesn't give us specifics on how to act in certain circumstances, I refer back to 1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. So now the question is, is participating in halloween to the glory of God?

I don't think it is really necessary to go into detail about what halloween stands for. It is plain as day, when I walk outside to get my mail and see ghosts, witches, demons and murder scenes in peoples front yards. It is evident when you visit a haunted house that it is not a God honoring place.

No matter what frilly outfit we put our daughters in or what costumes we avoid for our sons, when I walk out the door and participate in halloween, I am celebrating the devil.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 (King James Version)

21Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

22Abstain from all appearance of evil.

This year we will not purchase costumes and we will stay home. We will chose to glorify God by not participating in trick or treating.

Halloween and the Bible
This is a great site to start with on learning the back history on halloween.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Book of the Week

And actually on time this week!!!

This weeks book is The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter.

"Now run along, and don’t get into mischief," Mrs. Rabbit tells her bunnies. But frisky Peter runs straight to Mr. McGregor’s tasty garden and sneaks under the gate!

School Kills Creativity (Ken Robinson)

A thought provoking animation. Ken Robinson speaks on the ADHD epidemic, standardized testing, loss of creativity in children and many more hot topics. It is long, but it is worth the watch!

Smores on a Stick

I can't remember where I came across this recipe, but I knew I was going to have to try it! It is a fun twist on the classic smores and best of all it was something the kids could do right along with me!
I just kind of went with the flow on the measurements for this one so I am going to guesstimate what it took me.

1 package(1lb) semi-sweet morsels
1 large package large marshmallows
about 8 graham crackers
24 kebab skewers

In a ziplock bag crush graham crackers. Some like it crushed really fine others like bigger chunks. How fine you crush is up to you, but we crushed ours pretty fine.

Place one or two marshmallows on the wooden skewers.

Melt chocolate using the microwave or a double boiler method. I add a bit of vegetable oil to thin it out while it's melting. It just makes for easier dipping.

Dip marshmallows in chocolate then immediately roll in graham cracker. Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and allow to harden in fridge.

This would be a great recipe to do with the Chocolate Lapbook!


Disclaimer: These are incredibly addictive! I can not be held responsible for any weight gained as a result of using this recipe. Eat at your own risk!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Other Side

When you blog it is easy to get sucked into only writing about all of the wonderful things that happen. While I don't think it is appropriate to drag my readers through every struggle I may be having at that moment, I do want you to see that I am real and that sometimes, I struggle. I struggle to keep a clean house, the get the girls schooled, to make sure the kids aren't fighting, to care if the kids are fighting, to make sure my 2 year old isn't sat in front of Noggin' all day long, to make sure dinner is fixed, and the list goes on. Most of the time I absolutely love being with my kids. Most of the time it is my joy to clean house and cook meals. Most of the time I am ok with the never ending task of going from room to room never seeming to catch up with the mess. Most of the time I can deal with spending an hour cooking a meal only to be thanked with groans and complaints. But sometimes, I have had enough. Today was one of those days.

Today, I sat in bed until my kids forced me out with their hunger cries. Today, they ate frozen waffles and poured their own drinks. For all I know they probably drank Gatorade for breakfast. Today, I sat on the couch and even though I did work on a bit of our curriculum for next year, for the most part I played on facebook. Today, when my son refused to each lunch, he went straight down for a nap. Today, we went out for dinner. I sat next to a squirmy 2 year old who managed to completely push me off the bench. I got Mac and Cheese slung on me and by the time I finally got up and switched sides with DH my food was cold and I was grouchy. Now, I am laying in bed completely beat from my day of nothing and I am about to yell at my girls for taking too long getting ready for bed.
Tonight is going to be a long night of confessions.

Did I mention I started breaking my Dr. Pepper habit today?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Homeschooling with a Toddler

I figure there are those that are either going to love this or hate it, but I get asked the question often enough that I figured it was time to answer.

How do you homeschool with a needy toddler at your heels?

Well, truthfully up until recently, I was begging other homeschool moms to tell me how they did it! But the other day I was reading the Duggar's, book The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America's Largest Families--How they Do It and discovered an idea that I had to try, blanket time. Obviously three children doesn't give me near the amount of chaos as does 19, but I found myself fretting over not being able to give my elder children the one on one time that they needed during math. Blanket time offered a solution that not only gave me that extra time with the girls, but also began us on the path of learning self-control and contentedness.

So, what is blanket time? During blanket time I excitedly tell Lukey, "Yay! It's blanket time! Let's go pick out our blanket time toys and have some fun!". He excitedly helps me spread out his blanket, picks out a few toys and then will play contentedly by himself for up to 30 min.

What happens during blanket time? During blanket time he not allowed to play anywhere but on the blanket. If he throws the toys off I do not recover them for him. He learned very quickly that it was much more fun to keep the toys than it was to throw them off!

How do you get him to stay there? Actually, I am blessed with naturally compliant children (I say compliant because to us compliance and true joyful obedience are two different things! My kids still struggle with obeying with a joyful heart, however they are naturally compliant).We started small. The first day I announce very enthusiastically that it was blanket time and that he was going to learn to play by himself for a few minutes while mommy helps sisters with school. He was not happy. He tried to leave the blanket twice, but I very quickly placed him back on the blanket. After that he sat there and cried. He threw the toys off and as I said before I did not retrieve them. After 5 minutes I went over and hugged him and told him how proud I was that he stayed on the blanket (even if he was crying) and then we picked up the toys together while I said something like "wouldn't blanket time be more fun if we didn't throw the toys off?". We did that three times the first day. The second day I moved it to 10 minutes. This time he sat on the blanket without crying and instead of throwing the toys set them just far enough off the blanket that he could still reach them. Day 3 I moved it up a bit more. This time he excitedly got his blanket and picked out his toys and sat down without a problem. After about 30 min I told him he could get up and we cleaned up and since that day he is very excited about blanket time!

A few of my own tips if you are going to try this:
Be consistant. Your child will just end up confused if you just randomly throw blanket time in once or twice a month. We do it every day, even if only for a few minutes just to keep it reinforced.

Don't make blanket time a punishment! That is not what this is about! This is essentially a "playpen" without walls. The purpose is to teach my son that he is able to sit and play by himself contentedly for short periods of time, to foster self-control on a level that is appropriate for his age and to show him that he is OK not being the center of attention during times when his siblings need me. I do administer corporal punishment on occasion but I do not spank for leaving the blanket. I just sternly remind him that mommy needs to have a bit of time to focus on his sisters.

Don't let it become a baby sitting service. My son is usually compliant, but I am not delusional. He is 2 and at some point he would leave the blanket if he could not see me. I may take a short trip to the bathroom, or run some laundry upstairs but NEVER leave him unattended for more than a few min. I also will never ask him to do more than 3o minutes as I believe at that point I would be pushing what his abilities allow for. He is a baby and needs to be up playing most of the day!

Make it fun! Designate a few toys that are just for blanket time. Help him/her pick out a special blanket and be sure to be excited when blanket time arrives! If you make it seem like it is a punishment or speak in a dull boring voice your child will associate blanket time as such.

After blanket time is over give some PRAISE!!!! It is so so very important that you praise your child for doing a great job, especially when it is done with a good attitude.
I am looking forward to trying blanket time in church for the first time. I am going to spread the blanket out on the pew and see if he can sit there during the 30 min service. I think the visual of the blanket it really going to help him associate church with being quiet.
I have also adapted blanket time for my older two and they read during their blanket time.

Now if only mommy could get some blanket time!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mary of Puddin Hill Field Trip

A few months ago while we were working on our Chocolate Lapbooks, I did some searching around and found out about a neat chocolate factory tour at Mary of Puddin Hill in Greenville. We were so blessed to be able to not only tour the factory, but we got to make our very own chocolate bars! The factory tour itself is completely free and to make the chocolate bar (which in my opinion is an absolute must!) is $5 and is something they only run in the off season so be sure to call ahead to make sure they are doing it during the time you are touring. The employees were so nice, the tour was conducted by a very enthusiastic manager who was very knowledgeable about the factory, from its history to the chocolate making process, and after we were done we got to try out some yummy samples.

If you are looking for a great lapbook that is fun and easy I definitely suggest the Chocolate Lapbook. I did have to modify it a bit to suit my younger ones, but that was easy enough and between the chocolate factory tour and all of the great chocolate recipes that we tried it was definitely in our top 5 favorite lapbooks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Seed Art

What do you do with all of those seeds after you have cleaned out the pumpkin? Well, if you don't like to eat them, then here is great way to use up those seeds and have a lot of fun at the same time.


Pumpkin Seeds (either in a bag or prepared in the oven)
White Vinegar
Food Coloring
Plastic Cups
Construction Paper
Tree with No Leaves (or other template)


The night before you plan on using the seeds, pour white vinegar into the plastic cups, add a few drops of food coloring and dump dried seeds into the cup. Stir to make sure all the seeds are covered. Stir seeds occasionally.

The next day strain off the water and spread the seeds out on a cookie sheet. Place in low heat oven (around 250F) for approx 20 min. Stir occasionally.

Once the colored seeds are dry you are ready to start using them as leaves on your tree! Have child use a q-tip to place some glue on the seed and stick it down to the paper!

There are so many ways to use these seeds. You can do mosaics, flowers, leaves...Your child's imagination is the limit!

Tinker Toys and Noise

We had them when we were growing up and I was very excited when a friend of mine was able to sell a ton of them to me for a great price! Tinker Toy 200-piece Plastic Construction Set's are a classic toy that is appropriate for all ages! The sets consist of dowels, wheels, t-connectors and a few other bits and pieces. The pieces connect together in various ways to create just about anything your child can imagine! Tinker Toy 200-piece Plastic Construction Set's are great for teaching pattern, color recognition, sorting and for older children can be used to teach formulas (area, perimeter and so on), scale and much more. Not to mention creativity, hand-eye coordination, and fine and gross motor skills. Tinker Toys truly are one of the best toys ever created!

We have the plastic set because it is larger and easier for my little one to manipulate. Well, that and it happened to be the one my friend had for that great price. We will probably ask for the wooden set for Christmas in a few years as I am just partial to wooden toys.

Busy being creative!

Even the containers are useful. Nothing better than a little boy and his drums!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Redesign Giveaway!!!

I am very excited about giving this one away! Kristin over at Simple Whimsy Designs, who designed my blog has offered up as a giveaway a Simple Blog Design Package. For this giveaway Kristin will work with you to custom design your blog with the following included:

~Uses your existing template
~Custom Header/Banner
~Custom Background Color with Border

~Blog Button 150x150
~Includes Installation

This is perfect for your blog moms!

If you are looking for a blog designer, let me be the first to recommend Kristin. She was fun to work with, didn't mind changing things until I was happy with them and is priced incredibly reasonably!

Now for the fun part! To enter all you need to do is follow my blog and post a comment (if you already follow just post a comment) ! Want a second and third chance? Follow me on Twitter and/or on Facebook. For an extra 2 entries visit Simple Whimsy Designs and look at her portfolio and pick out your favorite blog (besides mine) design that she has done!Please post a SEPARATE comment for each entry (up to 5 entries with 4 comments). I will chose the winner using on October 27th! Be sure to leave a contact email!

I was in no way paid for this review. Kristin at Simple Whimsy Designs has generously offered to give away the blog redesign in exchange for my review.

Rainy Day Art

This past Monday it rained. I love everything about the rain, except the restless children it produces. 5 kids cooped up in a house is a recipe for disaster so we had to get creative to take up some time I asked around on facebook for rainy day ideas. We chose to do a Rainy Day Art project (shout out Ashlea!). This is one that the whole family can do!
PS This example really could have stayed out a bit longer. The more the rain drips on it the more "art" is produced, but be careful not to leave it out too long or it will just be a soppy mess!


White Cardstock
Washable Markers
Rain or a Bowl of Water


Color on the cardstock with washable markers. It is best to fill it in as much as possible. Any color works.

Set cardstock out in the rain just long enough for it to start causing the colors to run. If it isn't raining you can have your child dip his hand into a bowl of water and splash the paper.

Leave paper somewhere to dry.

Hope you have fun making your Rainy Day Art!

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness

Just taking a moment to remember our Jaime who left us to be with Jesus on December 23rd 2006 at just 7 weeks gestation, as well as 2 siblings I never met that were miscarried by mom at 10 weeks. Miscarriage has been a pain like no other and I hope that you have never experienced it, but if you have this is for you and me as well as for those who have experienced losing a born child.
Now go kiss your babies that are here on earth and never let a moment go by without remembering what a blessing they are.

Psalms 127:3
Lo, children [are] an heritage of the LORD: [and] the fruit of the womb [is his] reward.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Modesty Link-up~

I have not forgotten! I am having trouble figuring out Mr Linky, but I will have it up by Friday with all of my photos!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Blue Bohemoth Freebie!!! is celebrating it's 2 year birthday and as a free gift to you is offering the first 5 hours of the Jonathan Park audio book series!

Just enter the code 2NDBIRTHDAY into the "redeem code" section at checkout!

Jonathan Park the Adventure Begins

Friday, October 8, 2010

My First Link-up Modestly Feminine and Fashionable

I saw this challenge a few weeks ago and thought this might be fun! All you do is snap pictures of yourself doing regular activities in a modest dress (for the purposes of this blog modest=below the knee, no spaghetti straps, not sheer, not low cut in front or back) each day (we will do Monday through Friday) a link up showing us your daily life in modest dress.

I am really looking forward to this and hope that you will join me. We will start on Monday October 11th! Hopefully I will be able to figure out Mr. Linky by then!

I am doing this purely for fun and to show that you can be fashionable, practical and modest all at the same time. It is not a statement about only wearing dresses. Sometimes even dresses can be immodest and above all modestly is about having the right spirit. It does no good to dress like a nun and still have a haughty spirit.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Japan in a Suitcase

When I was working at the co-op, I managed to get on numerous mailing lists. Most junk, but every now and then I get a gem. This one was the ArtReach catalog for the Dallas area. Through them I was able to book a class called Japan in a Suitcase. The class was taught by a native Japanese Lady and was so much fun! I was very excited to host it and was even more excited to meet so many of my followers in the Forney area! Here are a few photo from our two classes, School Life and Daily Life.

PS I'm fighting the urge to make a snarky comment about my children not getting any socialization with those of different cultures.

Japanese Tea Ceremony

Learning Japanese Table Manners

Finding Japan on the Map

Learning to write Japanese Calligraphy

Keira writing in Japanese Calligraphy. She's a natural!


How Japanese Children Get Ready for School
(I will flip the photo soon!)

In a Japanese school there is no lunch lady. The kids take turns serving each other!

Learning which is bigger Japan or Texas.