Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blog design and 100.00 holiday

First let me start by saying - I have NO idea what I'm doing with the whole blog design thing.  I'd rather have a totally cute and custom design on my blog but since my blog isn't a business I can't justify the expense of that.  If any of my readers could explain to me how to make the freebies work on my blog I'd totally appreciate that a TON.  But for now it is how it is and it will stay this way until I figure out how to use a freebie (not blogger) template to create the background and header.

Now onto my 100.00 holiday.  It's been a while and I think I normally update more around the middle of the month but I've been side tracked and well I hadn't really bought anything more yet.  But as I just made another holiday purchase a few minutes ago I figured I could update now.

I buy for:

Something to read:  Little Bear book
Something to wear: I spy quilt - I'm making these, already have most of the supplies and they are more than half done.
Something you need: banks (so that we can start giving an allowance and have a place to put it lol)  I'm going to create kits for each of the boys with three tootsie roll cans or pringles cans and stuff to decorate them.  It will be a fun activity we can do together on Christmas day.
Something to share: doll and people house - this will be a group gift.  I hope to find a used bookshelf at a yard sale this summer and decorate it with different colors of paint and wall paper samples to look like different rooms in a house.  The boys love to play with the little people toys we have so this will be great for them and Princess will grow into it over time. UPDATE: I found a bookshelf at a yard sale last weekend for 2.00.  I will switch it out for one we already have that is made of real wood.  I will remake the one we already have into the "doll and people house". Update 2: I have abandoned this plan. lol  I'm using the bookshelf for storage in my closet and frankly I don't have the time or energy for this kind of project SO I think I'm going to make a fold and go house from a vinyl tablecloth.  I saw something similar only it was roads.  I'll square the table cloth off into rooms and keep my eyes out for some doll house furniture.  This solves a few problems - 1 space, I don't really have space for another large stationary toy.  2 - space - with a regular doll house or even a bookshelf dollhouse at best two people could play without it being necessary to shove each other to get their hands into the house.  This layout is open on the floor, they can each have space and it folds up for storage.  LOVE right?  I'll share pics when I manage to get it done.
Something you want/for fun:  Hot Wheels Dynamite Blaster Launcher on clearance for 10.49 - this spit out a rebate for a free Hot Wheels Triple launch jump so he'll get both of these for this gift. - 3.00 for shipping total: 13.49
santa: DVD - Postcards From Buster - 1st season 1.40


Something to read:  Little Bear book
Something to wear: I spy quilt
Something you need: banks
Something to share: doll and people house
Something you want/for fun: Cars 2 Duplo block set 12.48
Santa: All About dvd 2.00


Something to read: The Sunflower parable
Something to wear: I spy quilt
Something you need: banks
Something to share: doll and people house
Something you want/for fun: DC super hero friends trio sets Mr Freeze and Batwing 4.98+2.24 = 7.22
Santa: All about Dvd 2.00

Something to read:  The parable of the Lily
Something to wear: a dress and matching bow - I will make the dress, might try my hand at the bow too.
Something you need: winter coat and hat - bought on clearance at the end of last winter
Something to share: doll and people house
Something you want/for fun: Little tykes doll high chair. 1.00
Santa:  I would like to get her a little toddler purse with some of my amazon money.

KOJ: Not a CLUE!  Open to ideas and suggestions. I have a plan here but on the off chance that KOJ comes and reads this I'm not posting what it is. lol

SIL: groupon deal*

Sis 1 and BIL: Have a plan here

Sis 2 and BIL: Have a plan here

Mom: groupon deal*

Dad and Mom2: groupon deal*

FIL: groupon deal*

*groupon deal 35.00 for 100.00 at a certain website.  Great deal.

-4.00 (All About dvd's)
-35.00 groupon deal
-2.00 (bookshelf)
-1.00 (doll high chair)
58.00 left as of June 21, 2011
-9.00 (books for all four kids)
49.00 left as of July 20, 2011

 + 2.00 (not using the bookshelf for Christmas)
 29.90 left as of August 31, 2011

I plan to do some baking for church and other friends but I'm not going to count those supplies in this dollar total.

I'm doing so-so on inbox dollars at about 22.00 even today.  I need to be more aggressive on that to get the last 8.00 earned so I can cash in.  I have no idea how long it takes for the check to get to me.  I'm hoping to have it before Christmas but I may borrow the money from myself and pay it back with the check whenever it does get here.

For amazon cards right now I have: 30.00 built up and I'm almost halfway to another 5.00 card already.  I used 10.00 of my gift cards for a book for school or we'd have another 10.00 too.  The purse I'm looking at for Sierra is 11.24 right now.  I'll probably go ahead and grab this in another couple of weeks if I haven't decided on something different by then.  That leaves me with 18.76 of amazon money that I might let KOJ use to get me something if he wants.

The remaining cash will be split between my sisters - all three of them.  Yeah, I know I don't have Em listed at the top there but I do plan to get or make her something for Christmas.  Not sure what yet.  I'm leaning towards a tutu.

I've got a few things for stockings but lets say the 30.00 from inbox is for stockings.

I picked up a few stocking stuffers for the kids at the Target summer clearance!  7.88 total
I've picked up toothbrushes and toothpaste for the kids' stockings:  7.12
I also have toothbrushes and toothpaste for KOJ and I but I don't know offhand how much they were - I do know that I got them on sale, with coupons, and they earned me extrabucks at CVS. lol lets say 5.00 for all of it.
I found two more stocking stuffers for Princess in the closet at 5.00 total.
So I have 5.00 left of the 30.00 check from inbox that I'm working on earning to spend on the rest of the stocking stuffers.  2.00 of that will buy hot wheels cars on black Friday - one of our stores always has them for .50 a piece that day.  Even Princess will get one.  So I have 3.00, lol.

They'll each get mandarin oranges, and I watch for sales on the fun hot cocoa and peanuts for the stockings too.  If all else fails and I need more to fill the stocking (which I don't think has EVER happened) I toss in some new school supplies from our school supply stockpile.  Coupons for holiday candies always abound closer to the season and I just pick up a few things.  I try not to go too much on candy. 

Another project I'm going to be making is a car holder for their hot wheels.  I have TONS of flannel so I'll use that for the backings and I have some clear vinyl but might need to purchase more to make the pockets with.  I have two dowels already in the laundry room and I have ribbon.  Once I decide what size I'm making I might determine that the dowels are long enough to have a friend saw in half so I would not need to purchase much for this project.  Each boy will get their own and they will hang in their bedroom I think.

So in current conclusion I will probably end up over the 100.00 BUT not by a lot and it's still a HUGE improvement from what we normally spend at the holidays.  We'll see though.  I have something else I'm going to try in the near future that might earn me some more income to put towards this.  Cash income even.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - the Letter M

Last week in our school the letter of the week was M.  So come Friday I had gotten some M foods ready for consumption.  Most of them were things the kids normally eat but there was one new food item in our tins.
Mango, mushrooms, macaroni, muenster cheese, and milk!

All three trays together.

Baby girl didn't get a tin but she had the same yummy food for dinner!

The boys eating their dinner with all of our FIAR stuff still scattered about the table. lol

So the mango was a new food for the kids.  They're usually really great about liking different fruits but this time only Squirrel seemed eager to go at it.  From the kitchen, I heard him coaching Howler to give it a try, that it was really yummy.  Which just cracked me up.  Then I hear Howler exclaim "It tastes like a (something else another fruit that is actually closely related but the name of which I am having a difficult time remembering at this very moment.)"  He must have only eaten that one bite though because at the end of the night that spot was still full of mano.  The other two ate all of theirs gone.  Actually so did the Princess come to think of it.  Spider didn't eat very much but he made that mango disappear.

Check out the rest of the muffin tin meals by clicking on the button!

Friday, August 26, 2011

What a week!

In my life...
I've been working hard at eating right and adding some exercise into my daily routine. That's one.... mediocre in my opinion.  I've also been working hard at cleaning, organizing, and decluttering through the first floor.  I totally cleaned out our laundry room/family closet the other day and it feels so good to walk in there now to wash laundry.

In our homeschool....
I've been SUPER busy trying to juggle three kids with different curriculum and all still in fairly teacher involved stages. Trying to find the best schedule (but you can read more about that in yesterday's post).

My favorite thing this week was seeing Howler write his name so neatly:

A link or picture to share:
Who can resist this cuteness???
Not me that's for sure.  Stinking adorable!

So I'm linking up today so click on the button and check out the other homeschool mother's journals out there in blogland.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A day in the life in the NOT back to school hop

It's the final week of the NOT back to school blog hop and this week's topic is a day in the life.  So ya'll want to know what a day in the life is like (otherwise you wouldn't be here reading this right now right?).  So here it is, the ugly truth.

I am NOT a morning person.  I resemble this:
until about 10am.  Some days even longer (today was one of the longer days).  And caffeine really has no effect on me so I can't even down a pot of yummy coffee for any kind of benefit.  So KOJ is up and out the door at 6:30 on Mon and Fri and 7am on the other three days.  When he leaves he comes and kisses me goodbye and lets me know who's awake and what they're doing.  Princess has been thinking that 6:30-7 is a great time to wake up so I'm not getting much sleeping in time lately.  Usually Sierra and I head downstairs by 7:30.  The last few days I've been doing the shower thing right away followed by breakfast before I even SIT down because if I sit down first I'm a goner till at least 10.  If I do this I'm pretty awake by 9am.

So here's what an "ideal" day looks like (some days this is real and others it just doesn't happen - I have four small children who are completely unpredictable at times).

9am - head upstairs, monkeys monkey around in their room, mama rides her bike for 10 min, does some stretches. (this did NOT happen today)

9:30am - princess down for nap, monkeys and mama downstairs  (this did happen today lol)

9:45am - group time at school - we do our calendar, weather chart, and days of school sticks in plastic cups.  Then we move to the big table in the dining room and we do one or two activities as a group (including Squirrel who mostly has his own curriculum).  I also read a small portion of Squirrel's NIrV translation bible out loud, we talk about what it said, and I pray for our day.  Group time looks kinda like this:

10:30ish sometimes later - I have Squirrel start his math and sometimes his journal page and I take the other two in the playroom and we talk about our letter of the week do their school stuff.

Today it was about 11:30 before Squirrel was ready to move on in school subjects BUT I don't think he started math at 10:30 either, it was definitely later today.

Then I focus on Squirrel and shoo the other two outside or put on a Leapfrog video or both because schooling Squirrel alone can take some time.

Today at 11:30 Squirrel and I started his spelling and Princess woke up from her nap,
at 12 we broke for lunch.
Spider went down for a nap at 12:30 and I did his before FIAR book with him when I tucked him in
At 12:45 we finished spelling which took about 3 minutes and then I had him clean up his spelling supplies.
At 1:20 I finally tossed the cut up veggies and meatballs in the crock pot for dinner and ate a mostly cold lunch of pizza bagels.  Then I zoned out for a bit.
At about 2:30 I did reading with Howler and
at about 2:50 I did grammar with Squirrel.
At about 3:20 I started hunting for my car keys because we had to go to my mom's this afternoon for a while.  At about 3:51 I finally found my keys and went out and headed off.

Normally in the afternoon I do FIAR with the older two while Sawyer is still napping and after I've put Sierra up for her 2nd nap which she usually takes around 2:30/3pm.  But because I knew we were leaving I did not put her down for her 2nd nap and we did not do FIAR today.  I've decided to do FIAR books for two weeks, reading it at least 3 days one week and 2 the other and any other days are gravy.

I don't feel that our current schedule is very efficient but it's only the 2nd week in and I have three boys at three different grade and skill levels and it's a terribly interesting juggling act.  I figure I'll keep juggling until I finally catch all the balls.  Ideally I'd like to have an hour of free time in the afternoon and I think once I have princess on a one nap a day schedule and she and Spider are napping at the same time that will be attainable but right now it just isn't.  I'm also going to try to plan more crock pot meals and things I can prepare ahead and just pop in the oven so that I'm not trying to rush around prepping dinner after such a long day.

And can I just say that writing and the reading about my own day just gave me a mind numbing headache.  Complete chaos.  Complete, but it's my life, what are ya gonna do?

Check out all the other day in the life blog posts by clicking this:

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Friday, August 19, 2011

The first week of school is done

Welcome to another edition of the homeschool mother's journal.  I'm linking up here today so head over and check out the other journal entries shared around the web!

In my life this week:
The weather this week had been nice, hot during the days but cooling off fantastically in the evenings.  LOVE.

Not much other than starting school happened here this week.  KOJ took a promotion at work and so we're getting used to his new even longer drive (which means new longer days for me and the kids).  Tomorrow we're going to take the kids apple picking which I'm pretty excited about.  My life is pretty boring huh?

In our homeschool this week:
We started school this week.  It went very nicely.  I'll say though that if you walk into our home and expect to find a neat and orderly classroom and a neat and orderly class you're going to have to look elsewhere because you won't find that here.  This week I started the main curriculum with the oldest monkey.  He's doing 1st grade this year and I wanted to get into a flow with him.  Next week I'll add in my k-4 monkey's curriculum (this week he and the toddler tot monkey just played different activities and watched leapfrog videos).  I am really happy with Squirrel's curriculum.  It flows nicely with little to no teacher prep and with four small monkeys it's exactly what I NEED!  We spent Thursday at the park this week and made a short trip to the library after naps in the afternoon.

My favorite thing this week was:
Doing school on the couch with Squirrel this morning.  I like that we can do our school wherever we want/need to here at home.

Questions/thoughts I have:
How do I balance it all?  Now that school has begun I'm so focused on that and doing well with it and being consistent that watching my calories in the losing weight process, and menu planning and cleaning and such get kinda ignored or put on the back burner.

A photo/video/link to share:

 This is what school looks like.
This too.  FUN!  And helping each other.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

He calls, He equips

 Moses was called to lead the entire nation of Israel out of captivity.  He had a stutter.  He did not have faith that God would equip him to do the job at hand.  Moses pretty much solved the problem himself - by having his brother Aaron speak for him.  Am I the only one who wonders what would have happened if Moses had just trusted that God had a plan to equip him?  Perhaps God planned to cure him of his stutter.  Perhaps.  I don't know, I'm not God, but it is certainly a possibility.

Sometimes I know that I try to do God's job of equipping.  Sometimes, I probably even ignore the call in the first place.  But after a discussion I was recently part of something has become abundantly clear to me.

Those whom HE calls HE will equip.

A quick search of the word equip on biblegateway gave me these three verses (there were others but these were the most applicable - the others were about equipment):

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV) 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

God equips us with His word.  We can be equipped for life by reading and studying and absorbing his word.

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIrV)  11 He is the One who gave some the gift to be apostles. He gave some the gift to be prophets. He gave some the gift of preaching the good news. And he gave some the gift to be pastors and teachers. 12 He did it so that they might prepare God's people to serve. If they do, the body of Christ will be built up.
 13 That will continue until we all become one in the faith and in the knowledge of God's Son. Then we will be grown up in the faith. We will receive everything that Christ has for us.

He has given us all different gifts and He has equipped us each to use our gifts.  We should not be a carbon copy of that other totally awesome blog mom.  We should not be a carbon copy of anyone.  We should rejoice in the uniqueness that God has created in creating us and we should embrace our calling.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV)  20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

equip you with EVERYTHING.  What does everything entail?  I don't know.  I think that tends to depend on what you have been called personally to do for the kingdom.  I have been called to be a mom, so for me part of EVERYTHING includes patience, perseverance, wisdom.  Some callings require the equipment of knowledge, some require a large amount of money.

I've posted about adoption here on my blog before.  I've recently been saddened by some outlooks on adoption - international adoption specifically.  

James 1:26-27 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

To be more clear here are the verses in the MESSAGE: 26-27Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

I think that we often - like Moses - deceive ourselves with thinking that we can't do what God has called us to because we don't have enough time, talent, or money.  But it's a LIE.  If God has called us He has equipped us.  He calls some to adopt, He calls others to give financially towards bringing these homeless and loveless children into warm and loving homes and others He calls to neither adopt nor give but to pray - a gift above measure.  But, to ignore or to judge those who are willing to open themselves up, their homes up, to ask for the community of believers around them to aid in the endeavor to bring the homeless and loveless home? That is nobody's calling.

Let me close with this: sometimes what God calls people to do doesn't make sense to the world's sensibilities. When we get to a point where we care more about the world's sensibilities than obeying what we believe God has called us to do then we have gone terribly, horribly wrong and my heart grieves for that.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Not Back to school pictures!

We are joining in the Not back to school hop once again.  This week is school picture week.  So I snapped some pics of my boys over the last two days of school.
 Squirrel being a silly guy!
 Spider monkey
 Squirrel has been in a silly mood lately.  Princess watches on.
 My big little first grader: Kayden, 5yrs old
 My precious K-4 studen: Colton, 4yrs old
 Brothers.  This is what school is made of people.

 Howler - he's always happy.  It took one shot to get a nice smile from him.
Toddler Tot - Sawyer, 2.5yrs old
Teeny Tot - Sierra, 13 mo (and such a helper haha)
One more pic of the precious princess.

Make sure to stop over to the blog hop and check out the other great student photos.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday returns!

It's back to school day for us today and in celebration I brought back our Muffin Tin meals!  Today we had a breakfast muffin tin and I'm glad we did because it took me nearly an hour to make the food and put it all together.  Eek.  So here it is:
 Letters, and shapes cut out of sweet potato pancakes, numbers cut out of egg, and bacon made into an = sign and in the tins below a + sign.  The banana circles, frog filled with syrup, and the last three have the scraps from the pancakes and eggs.  The kids pretty much devoured it so at least it didn't go to waste.

Even Princess girl chowed down on some pancakes, eggs, and bacon.  She ate her banana while I cooked.

And that is our Back to School Muffin Tin.  Head over to Muffin Tin Mom and check out the other great Muffin Tins today!

Muffin Tin Monday at

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Preview of the coming week

It's the night before the first day of school here in our home and mama's got the jitters.  Of course that also means that the teacher has the jitters.  I'm super excited to start school tomorrow and can't wait to see how things go.  I will spend the next hour or two finishing up getting ready for the week.  This week I've decided to focus on getting into a routine with Squirrel and his first grade curriculum before setting in to get Howler started on his official K-4 stuff.  I'm a little nervous about teaching 1st grade and I'm a little nervous about teaching Howler to read.  I'm not at all nervous and couldn't be more excited about starting our Five in a Row adventures this week with Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel!

So coming up this week on the blog:
Monday - Muffin Tins are returning tomorrow with a special back to school muffin tin breakfast!
Tuesday - School pictures!  (Done by me of course, lol)
Friday - I plan to join back up with the Homeschooling Mother's journal blog hop

Oh and we went yard sale shopping this weekend!  We had a blast.  The kids scored some hot wheels cars (like they needed more, lol) from the early/mid 1990's!  KOJ was super pleased to score a Discovery Toys marble works set complete in almost brand new condition, he and the boys have played almost non stop with it for the past two days.  I'll be hearing the marbles rolling in my sleep!  I scored some great Eric Carle and Richard Scary books at great prices.  I also scored some furniture - shelves - to replace the futon we have sitting in the entrance to our home.  As soon as I get the futon gone and the shelves in place I'll be posting about it, I promise, because I cannot wait to share!

So make sure you come back tomorrow and check out our muffin tins!

Friday, August 12, 2011

School room on the Not back to school blog hop

Yay!  Another week of blog hopping in celebration of NOT going back to school.  This week we are sharing our classrooms.  The environments in which we learn.  I've been perusing a lot of the blogs that have already linked up this week over the past few days, gleaning ideas and just generally feeling somewhat green with a little bit of envy.  But a few posts I read yesterday really spoke to me about contentment.  About being content to learn wherever we are.  I needed to hear that.  We have an amazing home.  One that I still feel so blessed to be living in a year after we moved in.  It has it's quirks and we have no garage or outside storage at all but we have a roof over our heads and we have plenty of room to play and learn.  I am content.  I am content with learning in the playroom this year.
This is our playroom.  That is the main wall, with the world map and my teacher shelf - it's best that some things are kept out of reach.  The door on the left there is the closet, the shelves and bins of toys are in there.  That drawer unit houses our various games and activities by subject (not my LOTW stuff, other random things).  And there's a poster of the alphabet.  And above my teacher shelf is our alphabet train.

This is the opposite side of the room.  That little table is where Spider and Princess can sit and work/play.  The larger table against the wall is for Squirrel and Howler to do their work.  The shelf above Howler's head has some of our manipulatives (we have lots of these) and the bookshelf houses more manipulatives and our alphabet magnets, Spider's activity bins, the magna doodles, the play kitchen food and dishes, and the bottom shelf is for Princess with her baby/toddler toys.

And this is looking from the window to the door of the playroom.  Behind the door is the basket of stuffed animals and dolls.  The posters above are the alphabet and numbers.  Howler is sitting in our other reading corner.  With the basket of books and a random pillow.  Don't ask.  mostly cause I don't know.  Above him is the calendar, to the right of the calendar is our weather chart but you can't see it because it's taped on the jutted out wall.  I might add a few more components in this area - namely a hundreds chart, and a days of the week spot where we can discuss that today is Friday and tomorrow is Saturday and yesterday was Thursday.  This is our main classroom.

I am content with containing our art messes to the dining room table.

I am content with reading our stories on the loveseat in the living room.

I am going to be especially content once I have the laundry room clean and get our nature center set up (no more rocks from mars sitting on the computer desk!)

We learn just about everywhere in our home.  We learn just about everywhere outside our home.  It's what I love so much about homeschooling.  Homeschooling is not creating a sterile classroom environment in your house.  Homeschooling is creating a natural, loving environment where the natural curiosity of a child can be quenched.  Where google sees it's share of random questions on a regular basis and not only are the children learning in the playroom, the living room, the dining room, the laundry room, and everywhere we go but *I* am learning so much too!  I think that for the first time since I was really young I have a genuine excitement about school because of what I can learn!  And our tables and chairs are really just tools we can use to help move that along nicely.

PS: my office is upstairs on our landing.  It's where I keep what we're not currently using for school.  It's a total disaster right now so I did not get pictures of it.  I also did not snap pics of the boys' weekly file boxes.  but they look like the one below and will hold their weeks worth of activities and work.  I have not yet decided where I'm keeping our FIAR stuff organized.

If you've stopped by from the blog hop I'm so happy to have you!  If not please head over to the blog hop here and check out all of the other terrific school room posts this week!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My movie shelf makeover

Ok so we have a totally huge and fantastic built in tv space in our living room.  I like it.  A LOT.  But that shelf above the tv can be hard for me to reach.  I'm short.  It's tall.  See the problem?  So we tried to organize it in a way that I would be able to see and maybe easily get what we wanted to see down.  We have tons of VHS tapes and we actually use them on a pretty regular basis so I don't want to put them in the basement or upstairs even.  But they were a mess.  So now I have a question.  What does this

and this

have in common?

Well I'll tell you my friends.  In a minute.  First you have to read the whole story.

So I read a blog post the other day about creating cheap storage out of the cardboard boxes the kids' diapers come in.  Woot!  So, when I was reading this other blog I thought, gee that's nice, and they turned out cute, but those would NEVER stand up as toy bins in my home.  I closed the blog and moved on with my life.  Until last night.  I was lamenting the complete mess that was our movie shelf and thought "I wish I have some deep bins for that shelf" when WHAM it hit me!  Those bins, on that blog, made out of the boxes!  So I hunted around for some fabric I could use to cover my very own boxes.  Yes, we cloth diaper but they all wear sposies at night, so shoot me.  So we just got a shipment of diapers the other day and I went and found that I had a 2nd box in the laundry room.  I used hot glue to attach the fabric to the boxes, and voila, two deep bins for my movie shelf.  And isn't it amazing???
last night that mess of cords was neatly contained.  Children must have happened this morning. GAH.

So yeah, those bins would never last in the toy room but up there they work great and hold all of our movies and it looks so tidy.  I'm not completely thrilled with the fronts of the boxes, I feel like they need more life, something to make them pop.  I'm open to suggestions!

PS.  I searched for the blog I originally found this box idea on and I have NO idea where it is.  If I find it I will come back and link up to give them credit.  I promise!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Coupon binder how to

A friend of mine knows that I coupon.  She asked me about a binder that she found online.  I told her that while I liked it, I couldn't justify the price of it when it was really just a fancied up version of what I already do.  This post is for her with more details of my binder.  This post is also for anyone reading who wonders why I carry around a 3 ring binder at the grocery store. haha

So I started with a basic 97 cent 3 ring binder from walmart.  It lasted me probably 2yrs maybe 3 before I had to replace it from wear.

Then I added a zipper pouch meant for pencils.  I believe I got this on clearance at walmart for 1.00 and they often go on sale in the back to school sales so be watching!

Then I added these 9 slot page protectors meant for baseball cards.  I found these on amazon for just under 6.00 for a 25pack.  One 25 pack will be plenty (at least in my experience).  So that brings the total cost to just under 10.00.

Then I sorted my coupons into a few general categories to make it slightly easier to find the coupon I'm looking for.  I went with Frozen foods, aisle foods, and cold foods.  I separate non-food coupons into the pink pencil pouch at the front.  I don't use those coupons as often and just finger through them when I think I should have one for a specific something.  I use my food coupons MUCH more regularly and so they are worth the time that it takes to put them in the separate slots.

The front and back of the binder each have a little pocket in them and I keep things like my shopping list and coupons that are expiring on or just after my next shopping trip, or whole inserts I haven't bothered to clip yet.

I often tuck my spiral notebook in the front with my meal plan and lists on it (not in a pocket, just kinda laying in there).  I am considering adding another pencil pouch for my scissors and a small calculator.  I also like the idea of adding a couple of regular sheet protectors to keep my sale ads in.  So I will probably do that as well.  I hope this is helpful to someone out there.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I heard a great teaching last Sunday (this weeks was good too but last weeks is still on my mind) about discipleship.  His point was to explain to us how to disciple others but really it made me want to BE a better disciple myself.  After all how can I disciple others (namely the monkeys and princess) if I myself am not being a very good disciple of Jesus? 

Here's a hint:  I CAN'T!

So now it's been on my mind a lot this week.  I was able to do a few things this week that aren't necessarily my favorite things but remembering the definition of disciple I felt that I needed to do them.  There are lots of other areas though that I still need improvement.  Vast improvement.

Straight from my sermon notes (which were happily laying on the floor (where they do NOT belong of course) here next to the computer chair):

What is a disciple?
1 - Lives for Jesus instead of self  Luke 14:27
2 - Loves Jesus more than anyone  Luke 14:26
3 - Loves Jesus more than anything  Luke 14:33
4 - Love others how Jesus did!  John 13:24
5 - Loves to do what Jesus said  John 8:31-32 (of course this means you need to know what Jesus said and so reading and meditating on the word of God regularly is important for this step)
6 - Bears much fruit  John 15:8 - two types of fruit bearing here - A) the fruit of the spirit found in Galatians and B) making disciples - because this is something that Jesus said to do see #5

And a recap of the fruit of the spirit here:

 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5: 22-23

I feel that I should highlight Galatians 5:19-21 too:
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Oh how sad I am that so many in the latter part take place in our home so often and so few of the first part do.

This year as we start our new school year I'm feeling a need for change in how we do things around here.  I'm feeling a need for a closer and more real walk with God.  One that is real and exciting and talked about with great regularity.  I'm praying for such as we go into a new week and a new school year.  I don't want God to be something we learn about at church and mostly ignore the rest of the time.  I want the fruits to be more common in my home than the acts of the flesh.  I want to BE a disciple so that I can disciple my precious children.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's journal

I'm always looking for new things to post about so I don't begin to sound like a broken record here on my blog and today I came across this link up that looked fun!

In my life this week…
  This week the kids and I have had just a relaxing week here at home for the most part.  Yesterday we went to the store for a few things and then I took the boys to the huge sled hill at one of our local parks where they ran up and down for a while.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

   Tomorrow I'm planning to take another family trip to the library in the morning, and in the evening we're meal hosting BIHN - it's a local homeless outreach network thing.  Our church sponsors the people once every three months and we (including the kids) meal host - have dinner with our guests one night that week.  It's a good reminder to us the adults and the kids that we should be thankful for what we have because some people are truly in a place where they don't have their own roof over their head. 

Questions/thoughts I have…
   This has nothing to do with homeschooling really but I've been pondering the idea that we're supposed to love God first and most.  That we have to trust our children to him.  I've seen so many fellow moms online esp that have lost children/babies and it makes it hard for me to trust God to love my children as much as I do even though I intellectually know that He loves them FAR more!
Things I’m working on…
    I'm working on getting our playroom cleaned back up and I'm working on finishing the organization of our school stuff.  I HAVE to find a way to organize all of our stuff and I'm still not quite there yet.  So that is my big project this coming week.
I’m reading…
  I have a few books out from the library right now.  I'm not dug into any of them yet though I started the first chapter of two of themThey are all part of series' which is my favorite reading.  I like to watch the character's relationships grow and change and such.  One is the Hannah Swensen Series, one is the Savannah Reid series, and one is the Aunt Dimity series and they are all murder mystery books.  Shocked?  I love murder mysteries, it's what I watch on tv, it's what I read in books.  Don't know why, it's ingrained in me.
I’m cooking…
 Amazingly I'm not cooking anything.  I will cook chili for supper later tonight.  I haven't been in the mood to cook this week which is unusual for me.
I’m grateful for…
 My family, the opportunity to school my children at home and watch them learn, and for friends.
I’m praying for…
 These friends as they are journeying through the adoption process.  Check out their blogs and add your prayers if you feel so inclined:
Subtracting by Adding 
Rily Sily Family

Both families are or will be hosting various fundraisers to bring their new additions home so feel free to check the blogs out regularly and again I know that all of our prayers are super appreciated and as I've mentioned in a previous post I feel very strongly about adoption.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
  A video - I MUST share it again: 

A link - found this today and it's going to be a great resource for us as I had already planned to use the boys' awana verses for their bible study in school this year!

Homeschool Creations - awana printables

So I'm done for today.  Head over and check out some of the other fabulous journal blogs today.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

So excited about school!

Why am I so excited about school?  Let me tell you.

I'm looking forward to getting into a routine with the children.  I've been working hard to get things in order and organized to hopefully help my organizational, procrastination inclined self be able to keep up through the year without stress!  I've been working on getting our chore charts ready and look forward to implementing them when we start school in two weeks.  I'm planning for them to be a part of our "school" day.

I'm looking forward to the fun themes and all the fun books and activities each new theme will open up for us.  We're going to have a GREAT year!

I'm looking forward to starting back up with our muffin tin Mondays.  I'll be starting our muffin tin Mondays back up with the start of school!  So excited to see what ideas I can find to put in our tins this year.

School with the kids is just exciting to me.  I love watching them learn.  I love watching them figure things out.  I love trying to answer their questions and I'm super appreciative that this day and age when we have internet I can answer just about any question with a few keystrokes on the computer. 

Some of my favorite homeschool resources (and ones that look awesome but I haven't tried yet):

Confessions of a homeschooler's Letter of the week
Moffattgirls Ready2Read - free printable phonics program for early readers
reading eggs - this one costs a fee but we tried it out on a one month free trial and we really enjoyed it.  This is something I would consider doing for Howler depending on how well he picks up reading.

IXL math - this was one we tried a one month paid subscription on to give it a try.  It was ok.  I did not invest in a longer term subscription for a few reasons.  1 - it wasn't something I remembered to let the boys do on a daily basis.  2 - I wanted a set math curriculum that I knew was teaching things in some sort of methodical order and not hodge podge based on whatever the kids clicked on.  But the website allows you to do 20 practice questions each day for free so something to consider for fun or extra pracitice.

I'm low on math stuff as it's not something that I've come across often online. 

My kids also enjoy playing the games on and Disney junior.  Beware though I've often found one of them watching videos when they're supposed to be playing the educational games.  Just so you know. lol

Are you excited about school starting?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's "NOT" back to school time

We are starting school in two weeks!  AHH!  I only have two more weeks.  Two more weeks to finish organizing and to do my planning and to do whatever it is I think I need to get done before we start school.

I shared my curriculum choices a few months ago when I was actually buying curriculum but lets have a refresher here.  I feel like I'm missing something (I generally do - feel this way) but lets see:

Squirrel will be doing 1st grade with the following "mommy" boxed curriculum:

All about Spelling
Math Mammoth
First language lessons
Handwriting practice with weekly awana verses
Reading practice - reading to Spider while I work with Howler

Howler will be doing k-4 with:
LOTW for phonics
Ordinary parents guide to teaching reading
Handwriting without tears
math games and general play with math manipulatives

Howler being that he's kinda tagged along with Squirrel for a while now has a VERY firm knowledge of the letters and their sounds already.  So we will see how he takes to learning to read.  I've never formally taught anyone to read before.  Squirrel picked it up on his own using leapfrog videos and  So I can only hope that Howler and I do well together on this journey.  There certainly isn't going to be an extreme amount of pressure from me.  I just feel like this is the next step for him and I don't want to hold him back if he CAN go forward.

Spider monkey my "little" guy who will be three in November will tag along with a lot of the activities that Howler will do but I'm also going to have a few bins for him with his own "activities" so that he can be busy and occupied and learning at his own level.

As for Princess we just hope and pray that she either plays quietly while we work or that she cooperates with naps.

For our group curriculum in the afternoons we'll be using Five in A Row.  This will encompass our geography, social studies, history, art, some math, science, and language arts also.  I'm very excited about this!  I can't wait to see where this will spark the boys' interests to go this year!

I'm linking up here at the Not back to school blog hop so check it out!

Not Back to School Blog Hop