Thursday, March 31, 2011

Let me introduce you

I am quite late at getting my post out today. This is because my children and I were blessed to go help Sister 2 while she is recuperating from a surgery to her abdomen.  She said she was feeling much better than she had been earlier in the week so that's good.

So I've talked about the monkeys, the princess, and KOJ.  And now I've mentioned Sis 1 and sister 2.  But since my extended family tends to be a large part of my life I thought perhaps I should mention them all to get it out of the way.  So I don't have pics for everyone - as least not super current pics but I'll do my best here.

My mom sewing (she does this a lot) and Princess is hanging out in the saucer.
 My Dad and my princess

Mom 2 with of course my princess (what can I say she's a popular baby!)

Sis 1 with Howler monkey
 Sister 2
The brother

Sis 3 - isn't she cute??  She is three weeks younger than Howler monkey.

So that's the parents and the siblings.  That doesn't even touch on KOJ's family.  So Sis 1, and I have the same mom and dad.  Sister 2 has the same mom, and Sis 3 has the same dad.  The Brother is Mom 2's son but our brother none the less.  Have you followed?  I know it gets confusing and we don't look anything alike.  Mostly.

Now try to keep following here.  I have my four kids - the three monkeys and the princess.  And when I was pregnant with each of my children one of my sisters was also pregnant at the same time.  So all of my kids have what I affectionately call their "cousin buddy".  We love to see how much bigger one is than the other or how similar in size they are or how much they look nothing alike but almost always act a LOT alike.  All told I have 7 nieces and nephews.  Sis 1 has four kids - two monkeys and two princesses, Sister 2 has two kids - a monkey and a princess, and Brother has a monkey.  It makes for interesting family get togethers and we don't do big holidays together.  My mom travels to each of our homes in turn on Christmas day to keep things somewhat less than chaotic. 

Still I LOVE having such a large extended family and love what it means for my children to have cousins so close in age to them.  They have no shortage of friends when we do get together and I think that's great.

So that's my family in a nutshell.  Soon I'd love to introduce you to KOJ's family.  Maybe one day next week.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Curriculum give away!

Ya'll as excited as I was about the diaper give away I'm even more excited to blog about this give away.  One of my favorite blogs in the world is having a give away for a US history curriculum.  The mama of the blog has created the curriculum herself.  It is a curriculum that you download and print (or you can get it on disc).  I haven't personally tried/used this particular curriculum but her Letter of the Week curriculum is what I'm using right now and will use again in the fall for preschool and k-4 with Spider and Howler monkey.  I LOVE this curriculum, it's very hands on, the kids never get bored with it.  Every time I pull out one of the activities that I've printed and laminated the kids are thrilled.  So I highly recommend her letter of the week stuff but given the preview she has posted here on her blog Confessions of a Home Schooler.  Go check it out and sign up to win!

Cloth diaper give away

Have I mentioned that I'm one of "those" moms?  Mmhmm, the kind that breastfeeds and uses cloth diapers?  I haven't?  Well now I have.  I do.  Both of those things.  I started using cloth diapers when my oldest monkey turned one and developed an awful rash from a few too many blueberries at his birthday party.  I've tried all sorts of diapers over the years and settled into a one size pocket diaper about two years ago when the youngest monkey was a new baby.  I've really liked them a lot.  I LOVED that I could use them on my then newborn AND his 18 mo old brother by just changing the snap settings.  They have saved us untold amounts of money on the cost of diapering and when the princess was coming along I went ahead and bought her the same type of diapers in a couple of shades of pink and have LOVED those on her as well. 

All that to say that I've recently heard a lot of buzz about a different diaper called Charlie Bananas. You can enter a fantastic giveaway for them at One Smiley Monkey so go ahead and do it!  And hey if you don't need them and you win you could always send them our way for the princess to use!  I've read about this diaper and it looks fantastic.  It's what's called a hybrid diaper.  It can be used with cloth inserts that would then be washed or you can disposable inserts in it for situations when being able to toss the middle part would be more convenient, such as long flights, long days out and about running errands etc.  I don't know that I would use the disposable part very often but they still look like neat diapers.  So click on that link up there and check them out and sign up for the giveaway!

Got any questions about cloth diapering?  You can feel free to ask and I'll answer any that I'm able to.  I will say that one benefit of the cloth diaper is it gave Spider monkey a behind and now that he has potty trained himself his pants nearly always fall off!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

this and that

This will be completely random, matter very little to you all in the reading audience, but will be enhanced by a few more fun pictures of my monkeys and princess.

1 - KOJ and I enjoyed the evening watching High School Musical 3.  I LOVE these movies and I watched the other two on netflix instant watch two or so weeks ago so I've been itching to see this one again.  We both enjoyed it and enjoyed analyzing it afterward.  We can really be such geeks.

Howler monkey has a fantastic sense of fashion.

2 - we moved the "office" portion of our living room upstairs and brought the futon couch downstairs.  I will now be able to go upstairs to have some quiet alone time for bible study, lesson planning, and just plain escape.  I do live in a jungle of monkeys after all.

Squirrel monkey - I know ya'll didn't see him as a baby but he is just looking so grown up here it kills me.
3 - Princess stood alone Sunday night.  She is 8 mo old and while two of her brothers were walking by now I much prefer she follow in the footsteps (pun intended) of her other brother who waited until just before his first birthday to walk.  But I can't help but be super proud that she stood all by herself with no support at all for a space of time - short space of time - but a space of time none the less.

Spider monkey - he was so proud of his potato head

4 - It is sunny outside!  I love it.  But I don't think when I walk out the door to load up for our playdate today that it will be as warm as I'm wanting it to be.  Oh well I shall be thankful for the sun regardless.
KOJ and Princess - aren't they cute together?  I think so.  I love watching him with his daughter.

And in closing today may you all have a great Tuesday!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Muffin tin Monday - our first attempt!

Now that I'm active in the blogging world I got to do something that has seemed so fun to me for a long time now.  Serve my kids lunch in a muffin tin!  I think I served way too much food though see what you think!

This is just one muffin tin.  I made the same thing for each of the monkeys.  Princess had a jar of squash.  In the tin from back to front and left to right is: ranch dip, fruit loops, celery stick, cheese cubes, banana slices, cucumber slices, honey mustard, broccoli, carrot sticks, chocolate chips (not a normal lunch item but I added it for fun), ketchup, and hot dogs.

Spider monkey looks on in awe!

the one on the left in the fantastically clashing outfit is Howler monkey and on the right is Squirrel monkey.  They all thought that this was a pretty fun way to eat lunch.  Two things about this picture - yes two of my monkeys are still in their pj's.  We often eat lunch in our pj's, sometimes we even eat supper in our pj's.  Why create more laundry?  We're only being green after all. And the second thing - we did not clean up after finishing our school activities before moving along to lunch so you may see this picture again in the school week recap on Saturday.

 They all dug in and ate pretty well.  I should mention though that I don't generally have a hard time getting my children to eat.  So this is really just for fun and to mix things up for ME as much as for them and not a ploy to trick them into eating things because really they'd eat everything in that tin even if it was on a regular plate in normal shapes.

This is not a picture from today but one day last week.  She was eating peas and chicken nugget pieces I think.  Whatever she was eating she was pretty happy about it.  This is Princess, just to clarify.  And she does have a diaper on, I generally don't feed my baby in a state of complete nakedness.  In fact I rarely feed my baby in a state of diaper only-ness either but I guess that was just what she had on at the moment.

One more picture of Princess, my foot, and Howler in the background.  Isn't she adorable?  For that matter so is he!

The muffin tin meal idea originated here.  I have linked up to the carnival over there and if you want to see lots of other great ideas for muffin tin meals check it out.  And tune in next Monday for our Very Hungry Caterpillar muffin tin meal!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This week at school

This week at school we talked and learned about the letter G.

I LOVE teaching the kids.  Being the one who gets to watch their eyes light up at fun activities, the one who gets to watch the bulb of understanding go on just never gets old.  I'm a very relaxed, hands on, experience teaches type of teacher.  This style doesn't work for some but for us, at this stage in our lives it works.

Monday we started out the week with Gumballs.  I bought gumballs from the bulk section of our local store and gave each child a scoop of them to sort out by color.  I then graphed the colors with each child individually and asked them questions about the least, the most, any that had the same amounts etc.  Howler did a great job coloring in the parameters that I outlined for him after he counted his gumballs.  Squirrel graphed his all on his own without any help from me at all.  I was very impressed. Spider mostly just ate way too many gumballs and I finally had to take them away.  I gave him a lacing card shaped like a gumball machine in exchange.

Before sorting, counting, and graphing the gumballs we did some cutting practice and the kids cut out paper gumballs and glued them into gumball machine shapes.  Howler's cutting skills are really improving while Spider has a ways to go. lol

Tuesday and Wednesday we didn't do any formal schooling but on Thursday we sat together and listed out some other things that started with the letter G.  We also talk about the weather and what day of the week it is in regular intervals throughout the week.

Friday we did something else that starts with G.  Garden.  We planted seeds to begin our garden for the year.  The kids had a ton of fun.  We used a kit from walmart where you add water to the little pieces of soil and they expand and then you plant the seeds in them and wait for them to grow.  We had a few empty rows left over so I plan to go get some seeds for another veggie or two.  Right now we have planted two kinds of tomatoes and cucumbers.

Also on Fridays we go to story time at the library and the kids love it and we all love getting out of the house regularly and being around other kids.

Sorry but I was so involved in the school activities this week that I neglected to take any eye catching photos for the blog but I'll try to do better next week as we discuss Quilts and the letter Q.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A few favorite things

A few of my favorite things on the internet this week.

1. $100.00 Holiday - I read about this idea on a blog earlier this week and it just reached out and grabbed a hold of me.  I read about it here at The Saved Quarter.  You can read about her success with this idea last year here at The Saved Quarter $100.00 holiday 2010.  I'm so excited to give this a try for this years holiday season.  I'm keeping my eyes open for good deals at groupon and living social and also entering any giveaway I come across.

2. Swagbucks.  Swagbucks is a free search engine that allows you to earn swagbucks for random searches and in several other ways.  They have tons of great prizes that you can redeem your swagbucks for and it is completely free.  Sign up today following the link if you haven't already!  I've been averaging one 5.00 amazon gift card a month on swagbucks which totals out to a free 60.00 a year!  Totally worth it. 

3. This post at one of my favorite blogs.  Very encouraging for me and posted at just the right time.  This was something I really needed to hear this week.  I can also personally vouch for her letter of the week printables.  We LOVE them.  The monkeys have a blast taking turns with the different activities.

A few favorite things in real life this week:

Squirrel monkey today while watching a dvd about airplanes says "hang gliding is so easy!" Like he has any real idea about hang gliding.  He cracks me up.  He thinks he is the authority on everything.

Spider monkey this morning just randomly decided to eat a little packet of bbq sauce leftover from a trip to McDonalds a couple of weeks ago.  Yummy he says.  I also love the way he says "going going mommy?" when he wants to know where we're going.

Howler monkey is so laid back that I cannot get him to commit to a particular theme for his gifts or cake for his upcoming May birthday!  I know that no matter what I end up doing for him he will love and appreciate and that's great but sometimes I wish he had specific desires like Squirrel to make it easier for me.  I hate making decisions.

My favorite kid story from the week:

Squirrel and Howler were playing with these.  The bellies open up and a sleeping bag pulls out.  The sleeping bags are completely detached from ours.

I hear them talking back and forth about the babies, having babies etc.

Next thing I know Howler is running through the living room in a circle with his giant dog and tells me that she's having babies and they're going to the hospital.  Back into the playroom he zooms.

Next thing I hear is Howler rejoicing to Princess that the babies were born!  He was just so happy and clapping his hands.  I was hysterical.

Squirrel had baby bears.

All around successful, all natural (as natural as a pillow animal can get I suppose) deliveries and healthy babies.

What are your favorite things this week?  Favorite kid stories?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sally Clarkson give away

I wanted to share this awesome give away with my few blog readers.  Sally Clarkson is giving away a copy of any one of her four books to two people.  Head on over to her blog here: to check it out and enter to win.

I can personally vouch for Mission of  Motherhood.  I haven't read through it all but about halfway and what I've read so far is fantastic.  It is encouraging and inspiring and very spot on biblicaly which is very important to me personally.  So head on over and sign up to win!

Thankful Thursday

I'll be real with you all.  As I woke this morning to a cooing Princess my blury eyes and incoherent mind wanted to just roll over and go back to sleep.  Mostly because that cooing princess was basically up all night until about 4:45am.  And 8:30 was far too early for her to expect me to be ready to rise and shine. 

I have found that generally when I don't get enough sleep I'm cranky.  I'm just not a good person to be around.  I want to whine and stomp my feet and go back to bed for a nap.  I don't feel thankful for much of anything.  But today I'm turning a corner.  I'm going to BE thankful for things even if I don't FEEL it.  So today here are ten things I can BE thankful for.

1. The princess - even though she's been waking a lot at night I know this too shall pass and one day I will once again be well rested and wondering how my princess got to be such a big girl.

2. The Monkeys - even though they sometimes make me want to scream and pull out my hair they are so very entertaining and it is such a blessing getting to watch them grow, learn, and play together.

3. The KOJ - even though he gets grumpy from Princess waking us so much at night he pulls it together and goes to work to provide for us and he's an amazing dad to both the princess and the monkeys.

4. My new dishwasher - because we're running out of bowls again and I don't have to stand at the sink and wash them today in my super exhausted state.

5. Oversupply of clothes - because missing a day of laundry won't mean that my kids have to go naked tomorrow.

6. God's grace - because even though I'm cranky and impatient His grace will swoop in and sustain me.

7. Netflix - because on days like today, when brain simply won't function, I can put on educational shows for my kiddos and not feel too guilty about it.

8. our home - this home is just such a blessing to us.  Even though we rent it really feels like a home we can be in for a long time.

9. The sun - even though the temps are still colder than I'd like seeing the sun shining certainly helps lift the spirit.

10. My sister - she always has great suggestions - even if most of them won't work for one reason or another.   Still the advice and thoughts are appreciated!

And there, that wasn't even hard after all.  It's all in the attitude most days.  Today I choose to have a thankful attitude (can someone please remind me of this come 5pm when I'm trying to cook with four kids underfoot?)

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What's for Dinner?

This week our meal plan consists of some favorites and some new dishes.  We started the week with corned beef and cabbage in the slow cooker on Sunday.  It was an excellent day for a slow cooker meal.  It turned out great.  This was the first time I’ve ever made corned beef at all and KOJ said it reminded him of his mom.  I took it as a high compliment.

Monday we had chili.  Now usually KOJ makes the chili for two reasons.  Reason one is that I hate opening all the cans involved in chili making.  Reason number two he has the seasoning amounts memorized and I do not, as evidenced by my foray into chili making this week.  I put in too much cocoa.  WAY too much. It called for 1tsp and I put in 2tbsp.  I had to add more diced tomatoes to thin it back out and more chili powder to spice it back up.  Oops. 

Tuesday we had stir-fry.  It turned out fine but it wasn’t the frozen stir-fry mix I usually use and I think we prefer the one we usually have so I’ll go back to that the next time we have it.  Generally speaking this is a meal the kids will scarf down.  Not so much tonight.  Oh well.

Wednesday we’re having meatloaf!  I think I’m going to put it in the slow cooker so it’s just done.  Wednesday nights call for easy meals that I don’t have to do a lot of time and prep on because Squirrel and Howler go with KOJ to awana at church and leave around the time I usually serve dinner on other nights.  I’ll serve either mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes with the meatloaf.

On the docket for the rest of the week is Chicken Tetrazzini, Ground turkey enchilada pie, and crusted honey mustard chicken.

I didn’t have much exposure growing up to eating fresh vegetables but try to serve either fresh or frozen veggies with each meal.  I’d love tips on or recipes for making tasty and healthy vegetable side dishes so if you have one please share in the comments section and I’ll blog about them when I try them out.