Tuesday, November 12, 2013

American Symbols Unit Study

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is working together on unit studies. If my big girls were closer in age we would do tons of these every year. But Taylor (13) is usually busy with her studies, so Mary (6) is the lucky one who gets to do the fun stuff :)
We spent October working on an American Symbols unit study. It was so much fun, I wanted to share. We used her Abeka social studies book as a guide but added art projects, read books and watched movies on America. I felt there were a few things missing from the lessons in the book so I just found my own resources for those things. 

Mary had fun and learned a ton about our country! I could blog all day about it but I just don't have the time.
So here are some pictures of her work. If you haven't done a unit study before, I strongly encourage you to try it. You can add in every subject and spend a week doing only that or like we did, you can do a little every day along with your normal work.
Our study consisted of some simple knowledge about:
The American Flag
The Declaration of Independence
The Constitution
The Bill of Rights
The Great Seal
The American Eagle
The Liberty Bell
Uncle Sam
The Statue of Liberty
American Coins
The White House
The 4th of July
American Symbols folder and Mary's bald eagle helping her with her studies.

Learning about eagles was definitely her favorite part.
Victoria (1) painted her own Statue of Liberty.

Mary working on her masterpiece of the Statue of Liberty.

Our art wall during the study.
Mary's sketch of our Freedoms of Worship and Speech.

The Liberty Bell
American Symbols mini book pages.

Printable cards she used to help fill in the blanks of the mini book.

Printable information and work sheets I found online.

Learning about coins.

This is a page out of her Abeka social studies book.

 There are so many awesome resources for unit studies. You could do one on literally anything you can think of.
Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

10 Meal Planning Tips

I must say, I did exceptionally well with my October menu. I stuck to it (pretty much) and I'm happy to say that I should come out a little under last months food costs. I have learned a few things over the last three weeks so I'd like to share.

  • Plan fresh food meals (like salad) for nights right after town day. My town day is Thursday, so my fruits and veggies are freshest over the weekend. I planned a fried chicken salad for Wednesday night and my lettuce was almost nasty by then.
  • Keep in mind seasonal items. This month we did a bulk buy of apples and none, that's right, none of my meals included apples in October.
  • Be sure you don't plan similar items in the same week or close to each other. I planned loaded baked potato night way too close to potato soup, and it's practically the same thing. I ended up taking the potatoes to church and skipped the chicken ball that was planned.
  • Plan meals with rolls for days you make bread so they'll be warm, fresh, and soft and meals like grilled sandwiches for days when your bread may not be as fresh.
  • Don't forget company, desserts, potlucks, holidays, and parties!
  • Always have a freezer meal ready for those unexpected, crazy nights. I fixed double lasagnas and froze one. It really came in handy one night this week.
  • Plan easy meals on nights with church or sports or you'll bomb out and go for pizza or fast food. You will. I promise.
  • Football days must have special man food. Plan something tasty and fun for football games like hot wings, dips, and finger foods.
  • Try something new but not too many things or you'll get overwhelmed.
  • And lastly, keep your budget in mind. Mix cheap and easy with a few fun or new things and maybe even a special treat night, like steaks, to keep thing interesting.
Now go plan those meals!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Journey's Creations Fall Canvas Giveaway!

Head on over to Journey's Creations and enter to win this adorable "Thankful" 11" x 14" canvas!!

This giveaway will close Sunday October 20th at 10:00 pm central time.
The winner will be announced on Monday October 21st!
Good luck friends :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Season of Continual Transition

A few days ago I was talking to my friend Nikki R about how life with little ones leaves you in a stage of continual transition. Transition can be difficult when you have lots of babies, and things never really feel settled. You spend months planning and preparing for the baby's arrival. Then baby arrives and it's finally time to put your plans into play. Some plans work perfectly and others flop. That awesome swing you had to have doesn't seem so awesome after you bump into it a few times and your baby cries every time you put her in it. Clothes suddenly become too small, baby furniture becomes to big, and toys begin to overtake your home, car, and purse and you realize it's time to declutter. You sort and store outgrown items for selling, donating, and saving for the next possible baby. It goes on and on forever. The more children you have, the more sorting, storing, selling, and donating you do. And like you have time for that when you're busy taking care of said children!
Once our school room, now a play/school room

Life can be a bit of a challenge for Mama's stuck in transition for many years. Houses seem to shrink as children (and their belongings) grow. Keeping on top of the chaos is the key to success. I personally do not like transition. I like normal. I like easy.
Right now we have a 13 year old with her own room, a 6 and 1 year old sharing a room, and a 6 month old in our room. I am constantly brainstorming about who to move where and when to do it. This is the time I normally move the baby out of my room and into their own room. The trouble is, we're out of rooms :)
2nd bedroom shared by our six year old and one year old
Our bedroom with baby crib
We made a large trip this weekend of things we're consigning and donating and I must say, I feel way better with it all gone. I've moved things around (again) and it feels a little bit more open and inviting now. I don't think we realize how our stuff can weigh us down and cause so many messes and complications.
I think homeschool families are much more likely to hang on to things we don't need. After all, we're trying to fit an entire classroom full of supplies we may need one day into our dens and kitchens! We have little ones, big ones, tiny ones, and we have everything each child needs to learn and grow. That can be a lot of stuff!!
I'm working on being content in this season of continual transition and working on letting go of the extra stuff that overwhelms me and my kids so we can enjoy a relaxing home while we're here together.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Breakfast Menu

Monday's eggs & toast
Here's a look at our plan for breakfast foods. Everything seems to work out better with a plan so we'll see how this goes. A plan not only makes it easier to figure out what we're having, it also helps with the shopping list and the kids don't have to wonder what's for breakfast, they can just look on the fridge and see what day it is. We've basically had these same breakfasts for years. But somehow I feel better knowing what to expect every day.
Many things about breakfast still vary. For example cinnamon rolls can be homemade or store bought, whatever I can handle that week. Pancakes can be blueberry, chocolate chip, banana nut, buttermilk or buckwheat. The main purpose of the chart is to avoid wasting time standing in the kitchen looking through the cabinets, fridge, and freezer trying to decide what to fix. If the morning is a disaster because I've been up all night with a baby or we have to leave the house early, I may just hand out milk and bananas :)
It's all part of my big goal to be more organized and waste less of my precious time on simple tasks.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Storytelling Festival

Now this is a post that I'm excited to write about. We just had our 2nd annual Fall Storytelling Festival!

It's sooo much fun. We invite over some of the families from our homeschool group and the kids all have an opportunity to share a story of their choice. Some write their own story, some bring a favorite book, some little ones just tell their story and show pictures and some just enjoy listening. It's a fun way to practice public speaking, reading, listening, respect for others, and sitting quietly. And as a bonus they get to run and play with a bunch of friends for a few hours.

Mary (6) likes to write and illustrate her own story. So we spent the week learning about the writing process and working on her book. She worked very hard and I could see how proud she was when she read it to her friends.

We focused on learning about different prewriting strategies and publishing her work.

We made sure to incorporate her spelling words and I typed up the final draft and cut it out for her. She put the sentences in order and pasted them to her pages. Then she illustrated each page.

She added a cover and a few decorative touches.

We also ask that each family brings a finger food to share. Taylor made her special pumpkin pecan bars and I made little hammies, orange cream punch, and popcorn balls.
We wrapped up the popcorn ball as a take home treat. Cheap, easy, and yummy!

Taylor and I cleaned up a bit and tried to make it look fun and friendly for the kids.

I even grabbed a couple packs of plates and napkins from the Dollar Tree a few weeks ago.

By the time our friends started filling up the countertop with goodies, we had a fabulous lunch to eat before story time.

I think if there was a prize for most creative and cutest finger food, these little pumpkin treats by Mickie would have taken it!

I'm so thankful we were able to have another Storytelling Festival and I can't wait to plan another fun day with our friends!

Friday, September 27, 2013


Here we are, the first week of Autumn!! I thought we'd never get here. It doesn't feel or look like Autumn yet but I'm still thankful it's officially NOT Summer anymore.


We decided to celebrate the arrival of Fall by doing a good deed for a friend. So Saturday morning I woke up early and finished this beautiful pumpkin canvas. We were able to deliver it that afternoon. The girls were so excited to surprise her with it. She wasn't home when we got there and I thought they might be disappointed but they were just as excited to leave it with her husband. We girls know how something pretty can really lift your spirits. I hope it did!!

This week we've been busy preparing for our Story Telling Festival. I had originally planned on doing a writing workshop with some of the kids from our homeschool group but I ended up having to cancel the workshop and just have the kids bring their stories from home. Mary wrote a story about a pumpkin named Sam. It's super cute! I'll have plenty of pictures to share. We were able to get in about 2 days on the writing process and I think we both had fun, which is really the whole point.

Other than that, life is flying by, one day at time. There's so much I want to do and just not enough time to get it done :)

Happy Fall!

Friday, September 20, 2013

October Dinner Menu

One of my main goals for this month is to be more diligent with our finances and resources. I totally stink at a budget and my husband is even worse than me. It's not that we spend a lot of money or buy unnecessary things, it's more of an income problem. A family of six living on one income is no easy task. If you were to look at our bills and expenses, you would easily see that the number going out is greater than the number coming in :(
How do we make it you ask? Well... I don't know. It seems that each month the Lord provides us with the extra we need to survive. It comes in all different forms. It's really quite amazing how many times I've said "we're never going to make it" and how each time we do "make it". God says He will provide and He always does.
Money stresses me out. That is the thing that always gets the best of me. I try to tell myself that everyone on the planet has problems, and I've had the blessing of being able to choose my problems. I chose money problems. I chose to stay home with my kids and not shop, not eat out often, not get my nails done, not spoil my kids with their hearts desire. I chose to worry about bills instead of worrying about what my kids were getting into while I was at work or if they were safe. I chose to know that my family is serving God and that my girls are spending their time focusing on things that please God.
So, with that being said, to help ease some of the pain of feeding a family of six on a household expense budget (meaning everything from cleaning supplies and toilet paper to food) of $800 a month (if we're lucky) I've made a Dinner Menu for the month of October.

It's so much easier to have it all wrote down so I can be sure to have my ingredients on hand and it helps me to not buy food that will go to waste. I'm working on a weekly breakfast menu also but it's not complete. I have a good friend who is awesome at meal planning. I am not awesome but I am trying. I do usually stick to my plan, it's making the plan and stocking up on the food that I stink at.
I try to keep my pantry stocked with dry goods and key ingredients that won't spoil. We order each month from Azure Standard and I stock up on what ever I can afford. This month was tomatoes. Crushed, diced, and quick pasta sauce for those unexpected trouble days.

I also went ahead and ordered a turkey for Thanksgiving. Last year, they were out of them in October. The rest of the items purchase were dried beans (red, black, and white) frozen organic peas and corn, soy sauce, butter, some fresh tomatoes, and apple sauce.
Earlier in the month we order apples and peaches from Bulk Natural. We have really enjoyed peach cobbler, apple pies, apple pancakes, apple oatmeal, and fresh fruit too. I have enough peaches frozen for two more cobblers and I just placed another apple order today.

 I try to stay out of the grocery store as much as I can. Mainly because I hate to leave but also because I'll spend more money if I go often. There are plenty of things I still have to buy at Kroger and Walmart but I try to only go when I have to and stock up there as well.
Taylor's Deep Dish Apple Pie

October planning is starting out great and I'm hopeful for an organized and joyful holiday season filled with yummy homemade food, fun crafts, neat field trips, productive school days, and most of all- amazing memories with my family!

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
I'm working hard every day to treasure these times and not dwell on our struggles. Feeding my family nutritiously should not be a sacrifice I have to make. We can be mindful of our spending and mindful of our health without braking the bank with a little extra planning.