Friday, July 29, 2011

30 Day Freezer Meal Friday

Dinners are somewhat rough around here. I have a picky husband (whom I love dearly!) and his lack of desire for variety often clashes with my love for it. When I cook something he doesn't like, which happens often, I am left with the two choices of cooking a separate meal for him, or letting him fend for himself. Neither of which are ideal.

Freezer meal cooking has been my rescuer! Even though Karl still doesn't eat most of what I cook from the freezer, it has freed me up to cook him a separate meal if I need to. I had been cooking up an extra serving here and there, but after talking with my friend Jessica from Feeding the Family for less, we decided to get together via Skype and have a 30 Day cooking frenzy! The day was a fun and furious mix of chatter and cooking and at the end my freezer was well stocked:


Ok, fine, so that isn't really my freezer. Mine looks more like this:



but at the end of the day I had bagged 41 dinners and as soon as everything is frozen solid, the freezer will be organized.

There are a few things that I could not have done without during my first 30 Day Freezer Meal frenzy. The first was Jessica. She was my pillar of strength when my feet were burning from standing. More importantly though, she introduced me to 30 Day Gourmet's BIG Book of Freezer Cooking and to the software that goes with it! The cookbook gives you over 150 recipes and the software does everything from a grocery list to telling you what order to prep and cook! It was WONDERFUL!

What made the day so easy was having directions on what to do when. Starting out with chopping all of our veggies for every meal that we were going to make:



I had a hard time taking photos while we were cooking, but the software gave us instructions every step of the way!

Wondering what I did with the kids while we cooked? They did a bit of food art! The bottom end of the cut celery stalk makes a great stamp! You can also get neat patters with onions, a stalk of celery, potatoes and just about any other firm fruit or veggie. Oh, and grandpa took them out to lunch for about an hour and a half.





Her uncle is in the USAF and she loves wearing his hat in case you were wondering.

A few things I learned through this process:

Have a plan
Shop ahead
Do as much prep work as you can ahead of time (cook meat, chop veggies)
Do the dishes as you go

So there it is! My fun freezer meal day with Jessica. Even though my kitchen still looked like this at the end of the day:

it was fun and I now have 41 yummy dinners/lunches in my freezer! I am actually looking forward to adding some breakfasts and maybe even deserts!

Do you do freezer meals? I would love for you to share your freezer meal posts with us. Just add your post to the linky below! Look for this meme at the end of each month!




New Friend Friday Link Up

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I couldn't find an updated one to follow so I am going to try hosting my own. This is just a fun way to meet new bloggers and to get your blog out there a bit more. So if you are a FAMILY FRIENDLY blogger and want to participate here are the directions:

1. Add your blog using the Mr Linky at the bottom of the post.

2. Post a small blurb linking back to this blog post.

3. Follow at least 3 of the blogs already linked (the first few will have to come back later in the day to get 3).

4. Comment on their blog letting them know that you are following from Follow Me Friday at Molding Minds.

5. Follow anyone that comments on your blog.

The last is very important as that is what makes this work! Any type of blog is welcome to participate as long as it is FAMILY FRIENDLY. Have fun and I look forward to meeting some new friends! Be sure to give the linky a few minutes to refresh before putting your info in a second time. It can take up to 5 minutes sometimes.







Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Case For Homeschooling

I realize this article was written several years ago, but since I often come against these same arguments I thought I would go ahead and write up a response. My responses will be somewhat cheeky since the author wrote in such an antagonizing way.

The Case Against Homeschooling
By JESSE SCACCIA

Homeschooling: great for self-aggrandizing, society-phobic mother…… but not quite so good for the kid.

Nothing I could reply with here would do anything but make people mad so I will refrain. Trust me though that I am hardly society-phobic. If I am, homeschooling probably wasn't a good choice for us since we are often out more than we are in. Try again.

Here are my top ten reasons why homeschooling parents are doing the wrong(right) thing:

10. “You were totally home schooled” is an insult college kids use when mocking the geeky kid in the dorm (whether or not the offender was home schooled or not). And… say what you will… but it doesn’t feel nice to be considered an outsider, a natural outcropping of being homeschooled.

10. "You were totally home schooled" is a compliment given by colleges such as Yale, who go out of their way to court homeschooled graduates. Since most homeschoolers are taught to be comfortable in all of their social groups, most will make friends easily and I doubt how they were schooled will be an issue at all.

9. Call me old-fashioned, but a students’ classroom shouldn't also be where they eat Fruit Loops and meat loaf (not at the same time I hope). It also shouldn’t be where the family gathers to watch American Idol or to play Wii. Students–from little ones to teens–deserve a learning-focused place to study. In modern society, we call them schools.

9. Call me old-fashioned but weren't classrooms where were children ate their Fruit Loops long before they were concrete buildings that resembled prisons? Learning should take place in a more natural environment. What better place to learn than where the family gathers? Students-from little ones to teens-deserve a learning-focused place to study. Since the prison, um I mean school building with their hard desks, in segregated classrooms with a teacher who likely has no personal interest in them does not provide this, home is the more natural option.

8. Homeschooling is selfish. According to this article in USA Today, students who get homeschooled are increasingly from wealthy and well-educated families. To take these (I’m assuming) high achieving students out of our schools is a disservice to our less fortunate public school kids. Poorer students with less literate parents are more reliant on peer support and motivation, and they greatly benefit from the focus and commitment of their richer and higher achieving classmates.

8. Public Schooling is selfish. I would love to have time to eat a hot meal, or maybe use the bathroom without being interrupted every now and then. Expecting my kid to carry yours(or anyone else's) is equally selfish. Further more, you may very well be holding back your high achieving (I'm assuming) child by forcing them to hang around students who do not care about their education. A building is on fire, for the sake of this comparison lets say it's a school. Your child is inside as are several of her classmates. You have a choice. You know for a fact that you can pull your child out of the fire to safety, or there is a very slight chance that by leaving your child, you can save not only your child but also several others. What do you choose?

7. God hates homeschooling. The study, done by the National Center for Education Statistics, notes that the most common reason parents gave as the most important was a desire to provide religious or moral instruction. To the homeschooling Believers out there, didn’t God say “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”? Didn’t he command, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me”? From my side, to take your faithful children out of schools is to miss an opportunity to spread the grace, power and beauty of the Lord to the common people. (Personally I’m agnostic, but I’m just saying…)

7. God loves homeschooling. The Bible, states in numerous verses that it is the parents job to raise and teach their children. It also states that we are not to be unequally yoked. Since I am unsure of my children's heart status at this time, I will not risk their souls to the world. Here is one of my favorites Proverbs 13:20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

6. Homeschooling parent/teachers are arrogant to the point of lunacy. For real! My qualifications to teach English include a double major in English and education, two master’s degrees (education and journalism), a student teaching semester and multiple internship terms, real world experience as a writer, and years in the classroom dealing with different learning styles. So, first of all, homeschooling parent, you think you can teach English as well as me? Well, maybe you can. I’ll give you that. But there’s no way that you can teach English as well as me, and biology as well as a trained professional, and history… and Spanish… and art… and counsel for college as well as a school’s guidance counselor… and… and…

6. Public School teachers are arrogant to the point of lunacy. They think they are the backbone of society when in actuality, the family is. You think that you deserve to have a guaranteed job, to the point that your union makes it virtually impossible for even the worst teacher to be fired. You think that you have more invested in my child than I do. And you think that just because you have a degree that makes you more qualified to teach my child. Science, Spanish, art....those aren't the most important things being taught in this school.

5. As a teacher, homeschooling kind of pisses me off. (That’s good enough for #5.)

5. As a mom, I am sure glad you aren't schooling my kids with a mouth like that.

4. Homeschooling could breed intolerance, and maybe even racism. Unless the student is being homeschooled at the MTV Real World house, there’s probably only one race/sexuality/background in the room. How can a young person learn to appreciate other cultures if he or she doesn’t live among them?

4. Public schooling could breed intolerance and maybe even racism. Since the children are age segregated and since most schools are local and therefore hold children of similar "privilege" children are unable to interact with others properly. Since homeschoolers are out in their environments interacting with people of all ages, mental ability, culture, and privilege, they are more able to learn to appreciate other cultures since they actually live among them.

3. And don’t give me this “they still participate in activities with public school kids” garbage. Socialization in our grand multi-cultural experiment we call America is a process that takes more than an hour a day, a few times a week. Homeschooling, undoubtedly, leaves the child unprepared socially.

3. And don't give me this "they still participate in activities with others" garbage. Proper socialization takes more than a few hours a day, oh wait...your kid probably had homework that took most of the evening and a good portion of the weekend. I wonder if they are getting out at all into the real world? And the 20 minutes a night you sit at the dinner together, well yeah, I don't think that counts either. Public schooling, undoubtedly, leaves the child unprepared socially.

2. Homeschooling parents are arrogant, Part 2. According to Henry Cate, who runs the Why Homeschool blog, many highly educated, high-income parents are “probably people who are a little bit more comfortable in taking risks” in choosing a college or line of work. “The attributes that facilitate that might also facilitate them being more comfortable with home-schooling.”

More comfortable taking risks with their child’s education? Gamble on, I don’t know, the Superbowl, not your child’s future.

2. I don't know who Henry Cate is, but studies such as this one, personal interaction with public schooled children, and the daily news tell me that it is public school parents who are taking the risk. Not me.

1. And finally… have you met someone homeschooled? Not to hate, but they do tend to be pretty geeky***.

1. And finally...have you met someone who homeschooled? Not to brag, but they do tend to, be less worried about peer trends, be more polite, more social, better out of the box thinkers, less likely to conform, more secure in their faith, get along better with their family (especially siblings), have a better grasp of life skills. Besides, I am sure I have NEVER met a geeky public schooler *cough*.


Friday, July 22, 2011

New Friend Friday Link Up for June 22nd

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I couldn't find an updated one to follow so I am going to try hosting my own. This is just a fun way to meet new bloggers and to get your blog out there a bit more. So if you are a FAMILY FRIENDLY blogger and want to participate here are the directions:

1. Add your blog using the Mr Linky at the bottom of the post.

2. Post a small blurb linking back to this blog post.

3. Follow at least 3 of the blogs already linked (the first few will have to come back later in the day to get 3).

4. Comment on their blog letting them know that you are following from Follow Me Friday at Molding Minds.

5. Follow anyone that comments on your blog.

The last is very important as that is what makes this work! Any type of blog is welcome to participate as long as it is FAMILY FRIENDLY. Have fun and I look forward to meeting some new friends! Be sure to give the linky a few minutes to refresh before putting your info in a second time. It can take up to 5 minutes sometimes.



















Thursday, July 21, 2011

Home Science Tools $30 Gift Card Giveaway!



Ahhhh, that was a nice break! Over this past weekend I flew up to Virginia to visit my brother who is stationed at Langley AFB. It was a fast and furious weekend of going here and there and by the time I got home, I was exhausted. Since it took me 4 days to recover from my 3 day visit I haven't written anything and now it is time to get back to work!

So, to ease myself back into blogging (because you know, I was gone for nearly a whole week. I hope I remember how this is all done), I am going to tell you about one of my absolute favorite homeschool resource stores, Home Science Tools. But that isn't all! I am also going to give one lucky reader a $30 gift card!

The subjects in which homeschooling parents are required to freak out about are in this order: reading, math and science. Well, I do, scratch that did, freak out about the first two, but because I found Home Science Tools early on in our journey, I never had to worry about science!

Check out some of these affordable products carried by Home Science Tools:






And this is not even close to everything! Everything from anthills to dissection equipment, I could just go on and on! They even have kits specifically for most of your major curriculum brands!

Now for the fun part! Home Science Tools has offered me ONE(1) $30 gift card good for anything on their site!! In order to be entered for one(1) entry, you MUST visit the Home Science Tools website and tell me what you would spend the gift certificate on. None of the bonus entries will count if you do not complete this first entry. For one(1) entry you can Follow My Blog. For one(1) entry you can "Like" Molding Minds Homeschool on Facebook. For one(1) entry you can Share On Facebook or on on your favorite social media site (to share just cut and paste this blog into your status and let me know where you shared). For one(1) entry you can follow Molding Minds on Twitter. This is a total of FIVE(5) chances to win!

Please post a SEPARATE COMMENT for each entry and be sure to leave an email address for me to contact you at if you win! Multiple entries in a single comment will not count! Be sure to read the entry requirements thoroughly!

Winners will be chosen Monday, August 1st at 7PM central and will be notified via email. Winners will have 72 hours to respond.



US Residents Only. I was not paid for this review. I was offered the gift certificate in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% mine. Please take a moment to read my disclosure policy.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Follow Me Friday Link Up for June 15th

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I couldn't find an updated one to follow so I am going to try hosting my own. This is just a fun way to meet new bloggers and to get your blog out there a bit more. So if you are a FAMILY FRIENDLY blogger and want to participate here are the directions:

1. Add your blog using the Mr Linky at the bottom of the post.

2. Post a small blurb linking back to this blog post.

3. Follow at least 3 of the blogs already linked (the first few will have to come back later in the day to get 3).

4. Comment on their blog letting them know that you are following from Follow Me Friday at Molding Minds.

5. Follow anyone that comments on your blog.

The last is very important as that is what makes this work! Any type of blog is welcome to participate as long as it is FAMILY FRIENDLY. Have fun and I look forward to meeting some new friends! Be sure to give the linky a few minutes to refresh before putting your info in a second time. It can take up to 5 minutes sometimes.











Saturday, July 9, 2011

Family Fun Magazine Deal



Disney's Family Fun Magazine is a great magazine full of fun crafts and recipes. Now you can get it for just $5! And if you are a first time buyer you can use the code DISNEY20 to get an extra 20% off!



Friday, July 8, 2011

Follow Me Friday Link Up

Picture credit




I couldn't find an updated one to follow so I am going to try hosting my own. This is just a fun way to meet new bloggers and to get your blog out there a bit more. So if you are a FAMILY FRIENDLY blogger and want to participate here are the directions:

1. Add your blog using the Mr Linky at the bottom of the post.

2. Post a small blurb linking back to this blog post.

3. Follow at least 3 of the blogs already linked (the first few will have to come back later in the day to get 3).

4. Comment on their blog letting them know that you are following from Follow Me Friday at Molding Minds.

5. Follow anyone that comments on your blog.

The last is very important as that is what makes this work! Any type of blog is welcome to participate as long as it is FAMILY FRIENDLY. Have fun and I look forward to meeting some new friends! Be sure to give the linky a few minutes to refresh before putting your info in a second time. It can take up to 5 minutes sometimes.












DISCIPLESHIP: TEACHING YOUR CHILD WHAT IT MEANS TO REFLECT CHRIST




Richele homeschools 4 children and has taught everything from tying your shoes to the laws of physics but nothing could prepare her for the mountains of laundry and the many blessings that would fill her life. She blogs at Under the Golden Apple Tree.


1 CORINTHIANS 11:1
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
Paul is speaking about being Christ like in his spiritual walk and encourages us to be Christ like in our walk.

MATTHEW 5:48
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
In this verse the term “perfect” is not suggesting sinless perfection yet means “complete” as in having a complete love like God’s love. Meaning one should love those who love him and those who do not.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO REFLECT CHRIST?
To reflect Christ in our daily lives means we must walk in the spirit and exhibit love while always remembering who we represent. We are no longer our own but bought with a price as it states in 1 Corinthians 7:23: Ye are bought with a price; be not ye servants of men.
Learning that we reflect Christ daily is a hard lesson to learn for adults much less children. Daily we are faced with stress, trials, distraction, and the flesh. It is all too easy to forget we are ambassadors for Christ in this world when someone takes our toy, breaks our iPod, or disappoints us. Consider this verse from Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wand'ring heart to Thee.
Prone to wander Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

METHODS OF TEACHING CHILDREN ABOUT REFLECTING CHRIST

The Man in Uniform Activity
Show your child pictures of men and women in uniforms. For example, show your child a picture of a policeman and ask him who this person is and what this person represents. Ask your child to give you characteristics he expects from this person. Now ask him why he has these expectations. Most likely your child will view this person based on the uniform and the fact this uniform represents a concept beyond the person’s individual personality. Ask your child what he would think if this person acted the exact opposite of his expectations. For example, what if the police officer committed criminal acts? What if a doctor did not treat a patient but harmed a patient? What if a chef fixed the plumbing in the kitchen and did not prepare the food?
The purpose of this lesson is to bring the understanding that when one puts on a uniform one represents ideals which must be upheld or risks making all of those in that uniform look bad.

The Rude Waitress/The Nice Waitress
This activity requires play acting. Make a made up restaurant name tag for yourself. Invite your child to come visit your restaurant. Set up something simple in your dining area and have a snack prepared. Once your child sits at the table you will want to portray a rude waitress. At first your child may be shocked or laugh. After a few minutes or so of this play acting ask your child if she would ever visit the restaurant again. Chances are she will say no. Then explain that the restaurant consists of other waitresses and staff that may be very nice yet one rude waitress spoiled the reputation of an entire establishment. Now explain how a Christian represents Christ and while being only one person can tarnish the image of Christ in the eyes of other’s.
Next, have your child play the waitress. However, this time we want to play a waitress who represents her restaurant in a positive way, serves gratefully, and is filled with joy. Explain you would certainly come back to that restaurant and love to learn more about it. Ask your child to correlate the experience to a Christian representing Christ.

I Work for Jesus Name Tag
Make name tags for you and your child that say “I Work for Jesus”. Now go about your day. Whenever your child disobeys, displays a bad attitude, or grows slack in her countenance gently remind her that she works for Jesus.
This exercise is not to humiliate, demean, confuse, imply legalism, or chastise your child. It is a way of pointing out how actions we allow to pass by or not realize we are doing are unChrist like. It is to serve as a physical reminder that one is always representing Christ. Use your own judgment if you think this lesson would be lost on your child.


The New Kid in Town
This role playing game will involve one person playing herself and one person playing a new neighbor. The first round you will want to play a new neighbor who is fun, nice, and great to be around. After a few minutes ask your child if she would enjoy having this person as a friend? Could she envision having a love for this person?
The second round the new neighbor will be bossy, rude, and hard to like. Now ask your child if she would enjoy having this neighbor as a friend? Ask her if she could envision having a love for this person? Now ask her what Christ would want her to do? Would Christ want you to love this person? Does Christ love this person?
You do not need to act out these scenarios. You can simply tell a story or use puppets or other toys to tell the story.


©Richele McFarlin, 2011




Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Easy Canvas Review and Giveaway



Every time we get photos I consider one of the canvases, but I was always unsure of how they actually turn out and most of the time they were pretty expensive! I jumped on top of getting this review to say the least and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

Easy Canvas Prints takes your favorite photo and turns it into a canvas print for a reasonable price! The prints range in size from 8"x8" all the way up to 30"x40". My review product was 8"x10" so I am going to tell you about my experience with this size.

One of the best things about Easy Canvas was how easy it actually was! I chose a photo and uploaded it to the site. The site then told me how much the item was, told me if the photo was good enough quality and gave me options to customize it. Because this was a review product I went with the standard options and opted to have the photo wrapped around the sides of the frame. I definitely suggest chosing this option, but you could also chose to have it mirrored or a colored border put on. After I chose my photo and how I wanted it wrapped the photo was auto fitted to the proof box and I added it to my cart. It was that easy!



After my order was placed I received a conformation email and another email when it was shipped with the tracking details. I received the canvas shockingly fast! The order was well packaged and the canvas was secure inside the box so that damage was unlikely. The quality of the canvas is excellent. The texture gives the canvas a painted feeling. I really just love it!

I enjoyed this product enough that I am going to be ordering two more with my girls pictures on them so that I can display them all together. The excellent quality, price and customer service have me sold!


Now for the fun part! Easy Canvas Prints has offered me ONE(1) 8"x10" canvas to giveaway!! For one(1) entry you can Follow My Blog. For one(1) entry you can "Like" Molding Minds Homeschool on Facebook. For one(1) entry you can Share On Facebook or on on your favorite social media site (to share just cut and paste this blog into your status and let me know where you shared). For one(1) entry you can follow Molding Minds on Twitter. And for one (1) entry you can like Like The Easy Canvas Facebook Page. This is a total of FIVE(5) chances to win!

Please post a SEPARATE COMMENT for each entry and be sure to leave an email address for me to contact you at if you win! Multiple entries in a single comment will not count!

Winners will be chose July 15th and will be notified via email. Winners will have 72 hours to respond.

*Note: I am currently in the process of swapping from a group page to a fan page on facebook. You MUST LIKE THE FAN PAGE for your entry to count. The group page will be changed over to just North Texas homeschoolers in a few weeks so feel free to unlike the group page once you have liked the fan page.


US Residents Only. I was given a review copy of this product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% mine. Please take a moment to read my disclosure policy.


What my Pre-ker Needs to Know



This is a popular question right now as parents prepare their pre-ker for Kindergarten. What used to be the place for learning ABC's and 123's has now become the breeding ground for stressful drilling and teaching young one's to read whether they are ready or not. But, I agree that there are some things we need to teach our children before we start school with them and these apply whether you homeschool or otherwise. So what does your child really need to know before starting school?


1. They need to know that mommy and daddy have a close relationship with Christ. For most children starting school is a step closer or maybe even into the world if you do traditional school, and your children need to see you as an example of how to follow Christ. They need to see that above everything, including academics, comes the Lord Almighty; above getting an A, above making new friends, above pleasing the teacher and above learning to stand in line.

2. They need to know that home is a safe place to be. Home should be a soft place to fall. Your children should know that at home they are safe and well taken care of. It should be a peaceful (and I don't mean noiseless!) place to be.

3. They need to know they can talk to you. Little problems are big problems for young ones and they need to know that you are there to listen no matter what the problem is. They need to know that when they chose to do the right thing and come repentantly to you, that you will be fair, and they need to know that they can tell the truth without fear of an unjust response.

4. They need to know that you will consistently discipline. Your child needs to know that actions equal consequences and that you will consistently and fairly discipline them. A fairly disciplined child is usually a joy to be around. That will make things easier for everyone involved in their education.

5. They need to know what compassion, grace and mercy are. How can a child understand these concepts without being shown them? Take every chance you can to show your child compassion, grace and mercy and they will be more likely to show them to others. It will also go a long way in emulating the grace and mercy of our Savior.

6. And maybe, if you find time and your child is ready, they need to start working on their ABC's and 123's. Believe it or not, your child will not be more likely to drop out of school, or less likely to go to college, if they are not reading fluently by the ripe ol' age of 5. Training in them and working on their heart condition should be front and foremost in a parent's mind. Even after they accept Christ as Savior, their constant training should lead more towards how to honor Christ than to academics.



For fun, here are some great ways to work on the academic parts of preping for K-5:

Color
Dot-to-dots
Read aloud
Play the ABC sign game when you are in the car
Cutting with safety scissors
Pretend play of any sort
Playdoh
Cooking with supervision
Puzzles