Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Making New Friends!

When I started my blog, I had no idea anyone would read it other than my mom. I certainly didn't expect to find so many other blogs to read and find such great stuff from. Definitely the last thing on my mind was that I would meet new people "in real life" to be friends. I have met two great ladies from blogging, and I have to tell you it has been a blessing both times!

I started reading The Snail's Trail during the 5 Minutes for Mom blog party. She is a homeschooling mom with SO many fun ideas! We figured out a couple of weeks ago that we are town neighbors! So, today we were able to get together at the park with our kids and meet and talk about homeschooling and all sorts of other things. It was so much fun!

Mary Helen did most of the photography, but here are our pictures from the day!

Aren't Kari's kids just the cutest?! Our kids got along famously well, as did the moms! It's just amazing how similar our lives are - both trained (her) or almost-trained (me) school teachers who are now homeschooling. Big Snail and Mary Helen are just a month apart in age, as are Little Snail and Anna!

Being just 20 minutes apart, we will be able to get together for play dates and field trips for a long time!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Keeping My Head Above Water

On Thursday, Anna had her tonsils and adnoids removed. We came home on Friday, and have been trying to keep her hydrated enough to stay out of the hospital enough. We've also let her get by with things we don't normally let her get away with. It's already coming back to get us. She has been horribly grumpy and whiny.

So, today is the day I am going to try to take back my house. Yesteday, I abandoned all responsibilities and the girls and I went to my grandparents house all day. Then, I took fast food to Joel in the field, and I came home and put the girls to bed. But, today, we are going to get back on schedule. If. It. Kills. Us. (and I think it might).

Mary Helen has been acting out some, and I think it's a mix of being on the go and off schedule so much. Anna's been getting the best of my attention, and Joel has been working late nights. I noticed a great difference in Mary Helen's behavior in the weeks on the schedule, so if for no other reason, we are going back for her.

I hope to have some interesting things to post about soon, but for now, I am just trying to keep my head above water.

For a great read on setting the tone in your home, head over to We Are THAT Family and see what Kristen had to say today.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Road Trip!

Finally, here are some pictures I took last weekend when I went to visit Elise.

I've never been one to snap pictures of myself, but I figured I would just for fun. . . so here I am headed out!

Look at that long, straight road!

Would you want your legal business handled by the Law Dog?
This is a charming little coffee house in a small town on the way. I didn't stop here this time, but Joel and I ate lunch here on our way to the mountains for our anniversary. It was just as charming on the inside, and yummy to boot!

This is where I did eat:

I would like to stop here. I'm not sure of the story of this beautiful place, but they give tours. I'd love to stop. May be Elise and I can meet up and make it a field trip!
This is an abandoned antique store in a stretch of several antique stores that I would love to stop in. If you look closely, you'll see some metal porch chairs that I was tempted to stop and ask someone about. I really want some of them! Hopefully next time I'm up Elise's way, I will have time to stop and peruse!

Now, if you want to see what we did when I was up there, head on over to Elise's blog and check out her craft room transformation!

When she comes down here (hopefully sooner than later) we are going to transform my playroom!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How I organize for school

This year, my daughter and I are doing My Father's World. Mary Helen is four, and "should" be in pre-k. We tried out a couple of pre-k curriculums, but none of them were a good fit. Then we took a few months off from school, and I decided to go ahead and buy the My Father's World Kindergarten curriculum. I had planned to use it anyways for kindergarten. We began in March and plan to use it through May or June of 2010, then start her with first grade.

Anywho. . . I wanted to share some pictures of how we set up and do school around here.

This is her school bag. It normally is home to a pencil as well. Keeping all the supplies in this bag is a lifesaver since Mary Helen love all things crafty. These items are only for school time. We have had too many frustrating days looking for scissors, glues sticks, and crayons!

An action shot!

These canvas bins house our craft sticks that we use for counting sticks and our picture cards for each letter. The jar with the white lid has our number cards for math. The green basket has our counting sticks.
Our magnet letters. The letters on the left are letters we've studied.
Shot of the whole area. I hang our badges to the left of the chalkboard and keep the week's truth written on the chalkboard.
I keep all our unit stuff organized in file folders. I write a general plan on the outside of the folder so I don't forget anything.

My folders in a cute magazine rack I got at a yard sale :)

Mary Helen's school folder. I wrote her name the way she should write it. She tends to only use capital letters or make cutesy letters, which is fine by me anytime except school time. There's also a chart with numbers, shapes, colors, etc. on it taped on the front.

Inside she keeps her calendar and 100 chart on the right and her weekly work goes on the left. Days of the week are taped in here.

I can't say enough good things about MFW so far. We are enjoying it. I love that I can get by with 20 minutes a day if I choose to, or I can extend things out as long as I'd like.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Look what I just won!

I can't believe I won a giveaway! This is a first for me, and it's just wonderful! Jamie at BusyBizzB made this adorable tag blankie. It is just in time for a sweet baby that a couple at our church just had!

If you haven't met Jaime yet, you should head on over. Her blog is pretty new, but she has some great stuff over there! She is very talented, and has a fun etsy shop.

Don't you just love being in a community of bloggers?!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy Sunday!

I'm just doing a few minutes of blog-jogging before I dress for church. It's been a great weekend! Friday afternoon I flew over to Elise's Nest Sweet Nest! We shopped at the best stores ever - an antique mall, Hobby Lobby, and Good Will! Talk about hospitality~she knew her guest and treated her right!

I'll post more details about all our fun, but you can read about what we did at her blog!

Sorry for all the exclamation points, but they all seemed to fit!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Springtime is in the air!

div>One last thing I got on after Easter clearance was these tulip muffin tins. I wanted to get two of them, and I sure couldn't drop $9 each for them. I snagged them for 50% off. I probably could have waited them out and may be they would have gone for less; but we do muffin tin lunches a couple times a month, and we can always bake in them. Which is what we did yesterday. Twice!

I made our muffin breakfast in them yesterday morning, then this is what we did in the afternoon:

sorry, no particular order here :) ~ this is the girls mixing the icing with food coloring in ziplock bags...

Here are the yummy cupcakes fresh out of the oven (we mixed them with food coloring right in the tin). I shaved the tops off so that they would sit flat, and I reserved the puffy tops to make a mini trifle (truffle or trifle?).

Don't worry, we aren't sending these off to anyone. . . so you don't have to worry about that finger licking!
Anna's masterpieces:

Mary Helen's masterpieces:

I also saved what was left of the icing to use on sugar cookies next week!

What a fun afternoon!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

After Easter Sale Goodies!

I stopped in Walgreens on Tuesday afternoon. I was hoping to get some Peeps to put up for a couple of weeks until we start studying about nests. I have seen some great crafts and recipes, and want the little chicks to put in some yummy nests.

Anyways, of course they had all their Easter stuff marked down. Mostly 50%, some 75%. We don't "do" the Easter bunny, so I hadn't really looked at all the stuff they put out just for the holiday. I got SO much good stuff! I also hit up the Walmart clearance aisle yesterday. Take a look at what I got!

Egg Dye kits. Now it's a good enough deal to have less than half price kits for next year, but it gets better!

These are the cups that hold the dye from one of the kits (I bought 2 of each since I've got two girls). These cups can be used for sorting, painting, etc all year long!

Fun cups for drinking or for storing stuff (think how cute they could be with scrapbook paper, and used to hold art supplies on a lazy susan!)

These grow capsule things. They are cheap little things that I normally would never buy, but I am putting them in my emergency bag for the vacations we've got coming up (one with just us, and two with Joel's family that will include up to 7 children under 5!) Fifty cents is a small price to pay for 15 minutes of entertainment!

These stickers came in the other egg dye kit. I am going to put them in their travel play kits (I'll show them once I get them put together)

Coloring books - 75cents each!

Princess puzzles $1.74! (regular $6.99)
Disney princess sticker coloring crafts (got two at $1.74 each!)
And another $1.74 princess item - a board game! All the princess stuff will go on vacations, hidden until we need them. If my some miracle we don't have to use them, we will save them for Christmas :)
Cute little sippy cups just for the fun of it!

Notepads, stickers, and mini puzzles ~ for the travel kits!

What fun! I can't believe all the stuff I got that really isn't all that Easter"ish"! I hope there will be some good boredome busters!

Next week sometime I'll show you the other things I've collected to keep the kiddos entertained on vacation!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mama King from 4 Crazy Kings has tagged me in 8 Is Enough. This was HARD!

8 Things I am Looking Forward to:
1. Going to see Elise this weekend!!
2. Taking our first ever family vacation with just the four of us (and our babysitter LOL)
3. Another weekend with just me and the Dairy King!
4. Eat chocolate everyday and not gain weight!
5. Having all my sewing and crafting stuff organized (almost there!)
6. Homeschool Convention (about 2 weeks!)
7. Mary Helen being able to read
8. Having my own craft room (I can dream, right?!)

8 Things I did Yesterday:
1. Went to Sonic Happy Hour (Every Tuesday!)
2. Ate fish stew for the first time in nearly 10 years.
3. Got fun stuff at Walgreens after Easter sale!
4. Held a newborn baby
5. Laundry
6. Spent 2 hours all by myself (Got to love that babysitter!)
7. Wore flip flops!
8. Put my make up on in the car (at 3pm)

8 Things I Wish I Could Do:
1. Read and follow a pattern.
2. Sew and craft while I blog jog!
3. Have time to clean, homeschool, organize, craft, and garden all while having time to read and spend time with the family :)
4. Take another cruise!
5. Sleep every night. (insomnia....)
6. Get to meet a lot of the wonderful bloggers I follow :)
7. Open an etsy shop
8. Decide how to decorate our playroom.

8 Shows I Watch:
I'm not sure I watch 8 shows!
1. Grey's Anatomy
2. Jon and Kate Plus 8 (when I get the chance)
3. 18 Kids and Counting (when I get the chance)
4. Other than that I sit on my laptop while my sweet husband watches Law and Order and Cops (rolls eyes LOL)

Now I'm supposed to tag 8 people to do this. . .so here goes
1. Elise at Nest Sweet Nest ~ Now my "real life" friend!
2. Katie at A Listmaker's Life
3. Janna at Happiness is a Journey ~ My friend I met through the swap!
4. Sarah at I Blame My Mother
5. Jenny at Our Nifty Notebook ~ I've just recently found this Jenny, but she's got great stuff!
6. Hillary at The Other Mama

Spring Swap Goodies!

I'm sorry it took me so long to get this up, Janna!

I had a wonderful swap partner for the Spring Swap hosted by Whitney! You should go check out Janna's blog ~ she has lost over 100 pounds and has blogged about her experience. This girl is an inspiration (I'm typing on the treadmill!)! She recently met her goal on the Weight Watchers program, which I am also doing.

I was nice enough not to send her my favorite spring dessert recipe or my favorite Easter candy (Cadbury eggs, I only had ONE this season ~ yay for self control!)

Anyways, here are the goodies:

All sorts of spring goodies - a little wire chair candle holder, bucket, flower hang-y thing (my girls tried to claim that!), aloe fuzzy socks, a blue cross, pink and brown (love it!) note pad set, a spiral notebook with the neates tear out cards with an H on them, a reusable shopping bag in it's own nifty pouch, a letter H decoration ~ can you believe all the goodies?!

But she didn't stop there ~ she included stuff for my girls!! these adorable sun dresses, and they each got a butterfly, stuffed bunny, and hair clips. (Mary Helen had already taken hers and put them in her room so they didn't get to get in the picture).

Thanks so much, Janna! We love it all!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our Schedule

I mentioned that our family has begun a schedule. It is a life saver! I even get a full hour of rest time without any argument! Here is ours, and I'll explain it. Make sure that your schedule works for you. Make sure there is enough flexibility that you have time to go to the grocery store and the park!

Hopefully you can just click on that to see it bigger. The green column is me, pink is older dd, and purple is younger dd (by the way everything in our house that can be pink or purple is, and the girls know who is pink and who is purple).

I start with my quiet time and computer time. My girls have been trained to know that they are to interrupt me minimally during this time. I have milk in a containter in the fridge that Mary Helen can easily work herself. She is in charge of fixing hers and Anna's milk. None of us are morning people, so it works well for us to leave each other alone for the most part. It's 8:23, and Anna's still sleeping. When she wakes up she will have her milk and park in front of the tv while she wakes up. I'm sure I'm poisoning my kids with all the Dora and Curious George.

At 9, we all have breakfast together and I read a story out of our children's Bible.

After breakfast, Mary Helen does her chores. She needs very little direction or help from me, thanks to the chore chart (see a few posts down for those).

During school, I spend about 30 minutes on lessons with Mary Helen, then she does workboxes on her own. I am in and out of the kitchen where she works to answer questions and guide her through. It rarely takes her until 12 to complete her work. When she finishes, she is allowed to have free time. Anna has activities in her own workboxes that she can do, but she usually chooses not to. She's only 2, and I'm not ready to push those things. I usually only change her activites out once a week unless it is a coloring sheet that she has completed.

During lunch, we all sit together again and I read a few stories to them.

Quiet time is the best time of the day! I set our timer for one hour and they are in different rooms. The rule is that they must stay on the bed, can only play with what's in their bag, and they must be quiet. Last week, they each napped about twice. I napped about everyday :).

Our activity time varies each day. Lots of days it is a craft, sometimes we will bake together, and other days we may go for a walk, blow bubbles, or some other outside activity. The idea is that I will be spending this time with them. This is really the trick to getting quiet time to work...they have something to look forward to.

During their free time, they can be in the playroom or outside, doing pretty much whatever they want (within our rules of course).

Now, that's a lot of words! If you have any questions, I'd be glad to try to answer them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Our Easter Weekend

Here are a few pictures of the girls enjoying the Easter celebration at church and at our house after church yesterday.

I don't know what's going on with my computer and camera communication, but I've only got the patience to do two pictures this morning!

I decided Friday to get them little buckets and paint them to use for their Easter baskets. Mary Helen's has butterflies and Anna's has bumble bees. I hope they will come in handy for something else besides Easter baskets!

I am going to try to get back on later to post a copy of our schedule. We are starting week two today, and hopefully it will continue to work well.

I hope that you all had a wonderful Easter and celebrated God's gift to us. I am so grateful that I have God's forgiveness for the sins I commit. Jesus paid that price for me and for you. Have you accepted his gift so that you know where you will spend eternity?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Our Week In Review

I have to tell y'all, I put our family on a schedule that started Monday. It has drastically cut into my computer time, but my family is thriving on it! One day next week perhaps I'll share the schedule with you. The best thing about it is I am more intentional about spending more time with the girls. The most fun thing is that every afternoon, we have an activity together after our quiet time. Some days we do a craft, some times we may go for a walk or bike ride, and other days we may play a game or go to the park.

Here are some hilights from this week:

On Monday, we made paper plate bunnies like this.

On Tuesday, we made paper bag clown puppets. I found the template here.

On Wednesday, we melted down old crayons to make new, fun crayons. We used beach themed candy molds, and plan to give some to each of the girls' cousins when we have our big family beach trip in May. Here are some pictures from that day.

Then, yesterday, I spent the day shopping in the big city with my grandma, and left a small activity with the babysitter. I had them decorate plain white bags that were going to be used for a special surprise later. Joel has started planting season, so he has some late nights for a while. I read this idea at Homespun Heart and knew my girls would love it. . .

I put them in the guest room to get their pajamas on and play with a puzzle while I got everything ready, then I took them outside to this:

That's our car with all our blankets! We had a drive in movie night. Mary Helen was beside herself with excitement! We curled up together and watch the Barbie Swan Lake movie on our portable dvd player. Their bags that they decorated were filled with popcorn and I found some adorable cow cups on clearance at Target. We had a blast!

Today we are going to try to make sidewalk chalk eggs like I found at Skip to My Lou, and tomorrow we are going to dye Easter Eggs.

Go check out Kid Friendly Friday at I Blame Mom for even more fun ideas, and link up with your own!