Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Days at the Farm

We are enjoying a week at my grandparent's farm. The kids are riding their bikes up and down the lane with wild laughter. We've been riding my cousin's four wheeler ALL over. Add to that hugs and love from grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins!

I'm so thankful that my kids get to know my grandparents and spend time here at the farm. I spent many a day here when I was growing up. Now that I live 8 hours away, I often get 'homesick' for the farm. The land, the mountains, the peaceful calm of the country...all part of God's marvelous creation.

My kids are having so much fun. My hunny and I are enjoying being here too. Tomorrow, my hunny has 'barn cleaning' duty. I'm going to be running an errand for my aunt, then making some freezer meals for them. It's going to be a good day.

I had a wonderful chat with a good friend of mine from back home. We talked about how God desires our heart and practically what that looks like. He wants us to talk to Him and listen to what He has to say to us. We read His Word which is His way of talking to us...listening and being still to hear what He wants to say to us. I struggle with this...being still. Often I find myself stepping back from activities, busyness and life trying to realign myself with what is most important...Him. "Keep the Main thing, the Main thing" I repeat to myself. Recently I've re-evaluated my activities. I've been able to wrap up some commitments and step away from some others. Ahh, that's been freeing. And when someone asks me if I can do something, I've trained myself to say: "Let me check my calendar and I'll call you on _____ day" or "Let me think about that and get back to you." I received this wise advice years ago (which I need to remind myself of again and again). Pray about each opportunity.

Today was a good day. Looking forward to tomorrow.

Edited to add: I found these good posts that talked about what I tried to write about in my last paragraph.
Finding Everyday Grace: Renewed Sparkle
I have to say: taking back my time

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lapbook Workshop

I had the very fun privilege of presenting a lapbook workshop at CHEO yesterday. At this workshop, the first 30 families in the door received a packet and together we built a lapbook. I ended up with over 50 people at the workshop (the overflow received a handout with hints, websites, etc.) A friend and I worked together to show the folks how to put together a lapbook on lapbooking. :)

I thought I'd post the list of websites that I included on the handout for your purusal. It's quite a long list, however there are lots more sites I could have listed. pre-packaged lapbooks for purchase products for sale as well as freebies, also video demonstration of different folds making lapbooks out of poster board instead of file folders 25 page resource with websites, diagrams and photos lots of shape books with or without lines lots of graphic organizers that can be added to your lapbooks lots of links to other lapbook sites free unit studies, lapbooks, etc. free unit studies, lapbooks, lots of free downloadable templates lapbooks and unit studies for purchase, as well as freebies explanations, photos and links Lapbooking 101 step by step instructions, videos, photos, great for beginners photos, lists of resources for different studies, notebooking pages great free file folder games pictures of lapbooks in archived posts free Carson Dellosa clip art free downloadable fonts

Mini Office Resources: scroll down for resources for older children explanation of lapbooks, list of supplies, links to other sites photos and clear instructions for a math mini office

The workshop went well and I had a great time. I was so nervous before it began, however once I started talking my butterflies went away. The audience was welcoming and kind. They had lots of good questions during and had lots of encouraging things to say at the end. My prayer was that they would leave feeling like they could use lapbooking as another tool in their homeschool, and God answered that in abundance. Praise Him!

Another conference highlight was meeting Steve Demme of Math-U-See. He is a kind, friendly, funny guy. His smile is the best! He loves what he does and it shows. He had words of praise for the kids and I as I shared with him our Math-U-See journey. What a neat man!

My hunny and I enjoyed being together for the day and our kids had a wonderful time with good friends of ours. Thank You God for a great day!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bike Adventure

Before I tell you about my most recent bike adventure, I need to confess a few things:
  1. I have a helmet and a bike...that does not make me a biker.
  2. I am working hard to build endurance and get in shape, but people, it's a slow process. My body, especially, my legs are rebelling each step of the way.
  3. I grew up in the country--really the sticks--no cars, no traffic, no pedestrians--you get the idea. So, I'm a little nervous driving on the side of the road when cars are whizzing past me.
  4. I've stopped eating sugar and white flour. Tomorrow will be 3 weeks! As the brain fog is lifting, I think I can do more than I really can. Enter bike adventure........
My Hunny said that he wanted to go to the library to drop off some items and we needed to go to Walmart and pick up some items. I said, "Hey let's ride our bikes!" I do NOT know how many miles it is, but I'm going to figure it up and then you'll know why this was a CRAZY idea! [remember #1, #2, and #3 above!] Off we went with our helmets securely fastened and my tail light brightly flashing. They don't call me "Safety Hannah" for nothing. :) Up and down hills, across highways, into town we went. My legs were calling me bad names the whole time. I tried to quiet them, to no avail. It began to get darker and my night vision isn't all that good (see why it was a crazy idea??) At some point, between panting breaths I said to my Hunny, "Who's hair-brained idea was this anyway??" Wisely, he did not offer an answer. I tried to tell my legs that we were being green, they weren't listening.

We made it to the library and deposited the items into the book drop and continued on and on and on. Up one particularly monstrous hill (take my word for it!) I heard my hunny encouraging me..."You can do it, almost there; pretend our kids are at the top of the hill." I'm sorry kids, as my bike started to roll in reverse, I thought it was time to get off and walk. To my credit, I kept walking even though my legs were still calling me bad names and kept trying to make me sit down.

Finally I saw the luminescence of the Walmart sign, oh happy moment. I staggered off my bike and stalked off into Walmart only to be called back by Hunny to take off my helmet. I'm sure I was a lovely site--who cares at 10 p.m.?? He waited outside with our bikes because we don't have locks for our bikes. Me and jelly legs went in and got the few items we needed. My mind raced to try to think of who I could call at that hour who would come pick me up and end this crazy shananigan. No one. I exited with a box of Cascade (do you know how much that neither, Hunny carried it in his back pack!) and the other things and off we went, headed for home. I had to walk up another hill but at least I was moving toward home. The whole time I was riding I kept praying that I wouldn't fall, crash or otherwise harm myself. I'm glad to say, I didn't! And somewhere near home, I realized that my legs weren't talking bad to me anymore; they could have been numb, but at least they were quietly doing what I needed them to do.

This afternoon, my sweet, sweet man called to tell me he loved me and that he loved our bike adventure. It was the most fun he'd had in a while. That made it all worth it. I've tried to convey the love to my legs; they still are miffed and aren't buying it. They will get used to it. I wonder where I'll want to ride to tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Routine

I've been working on a summer routine. It's coming along, but still have some to do. I really need it to be easy to implement and enforce.

I decided not to make hard and fast times for things because:
  1. it's summer and I want the flexibility to pick up and go to the water park or library, etc. and
  2. in the past when I have assigned specific times for things, we would get discouraged if we were off schedule.
This is more of a outline of what I'd like to accomplish each day. I don't want the summer to fly by and leave me wondering what we did for 3 months. I have some summer reading I want to do aloud as well as goals for each of the kids for keeping their minds engaged.

Now I'm working on a chore chart with pictures for my two younger ones. I'm still trying to figure out how I want to do it. Chore charts will help my kids to remember what they need to do and will take out the 'nag' factor. :) I'll post a picture of that when I get it done. Hopefully later today.

For more Works for Me Wednesday Ideas, visit We are That Family.

Catch up Links

I'm working on all sorts of projects and haven't had much brain power left over for blogging. On top of that, we've all been fighting off sinus yuckiddy yuck.

Anyway, here's some links you'll want to check out:
The Crafty Classroom is having a giveaway... A gift certificate from Oh So Girly!

I've been checking out all the cool stuff Kate over at Centsational Girl is doing. She is a DIY-er to beat all DIY-ers, in my opinion. I've got to keep my blog/home envy in check when I read her. :)

Another good find, is Book of Virtues unit's big, but it looks good--notebooking sheets, lapbooking pieces and lesson plans. I'm going to do this with my kids. You will receive the link through (be patient they are on vacation). I occassionally read Pamela's blog (the mom who created this study), but was alerted to the finished study by homeschoolfreebieoftheday and feel obligated to link to it this way.

Lastly, I love writing...the actual process of lettering and I love finding new fonts (free ones, that is). Urban Fonts has a ton of free downloadable fonts for your lettering pleasure.

Alrighty, gotta get moving!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Littles...

My kids have been saying some really funny things and I've been posting them on Facebook, but forgetting to post them here!

Here's two recently:
Trenton and Daddy were talking about thunder and where it comes from.
Daddy: "The sky."
Trenton: "The sky?"
Daddy: "Yes, the sky."
Trenton: "I think God is stomping up there."

Last night Bethany was waxing eloquent about estimation--what it means and even gave examples of it.
Me: "Who is your teacher...she must be great!?"
Bethany: "Cyber-Chase." (which is a PBS kids show)

thanks Bethany...glad I asked.

The Biggest Clean-up

okay, the biggest clean up until the next time! :D I'm not sure pictures will even be able to accurately portray the amount of stuff in this room. We had piles of un-filed school papers, unorganized crayons, colored pencils, etc. and a bunch of other stuff. I took "I'm an Organizing Junkie's" advice and took everything out of the room--not everything...the electronics, the fixtures and the books on the big bookcases (not pictured), but most everything else. Major pile-up on the kitchen table!!

After that, I was done...didn't want to do anymore...wanted to flee the scene! But my go-getter daughter Marissa wouldn't let me do that (thanks, Marissa!). We worked for probably 8 hours sorting, throwing, filing and giving away books, papers, etc. We organized until we nearly dropped. We kept in mind our goal:: a clean room in which we could work on the computer, play with toys and find materials we need. It was worth the effort (she says after a nice shower and a good night's sleep!).

These last two pictures show the almost completed room (I'm not showing you the filing cabinet which frightens me and makes me shake). We took 2 large bags of recycling, 3 grocery sized bags of magazines for recycling, and 2 medium sized boxes of stuff for Goodwill.

Ahh, the feeling of success--Marissa is on the computer waiting to chat with a friend and Bethany is stalling at bedtime. :)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Projects, projects, projects

**NOTE: updates in blue**
I've started several projects and I'm having a great time. Here are links to where I got some of my ideas...
  • Baby Burp Cloth--we are making these today for two baby showers. The cloths are washed, dried and waiting to be ironed...then the sewing will begin. Here is one finished gift. The burp cloths were not too hard, even for a struggling sew-er as myself. I'm still working on the other ones. Some of those will be pink. These were made for a baby shower where the parents are waiting to find out the gender. I love the brown, blue, green dots.

  • Ribbon Wrapped Container--containers for the gifts to go in. I have to make a quick run to the Dollar Tree to see if I can find containers like this. Okay, so I didn't find a container with holes all the way around it. However I found the above container and it worked.
  • Strawberry Fruit Leather--from our abundance of strawberries. The fruit leather is outside drying (from the comments I figured out that I could buy a new window screen and keep it for this purpose.) It's very humid out today; I sure hope it will dry. Fruit leather---uh, um---didn't work out so well. I think it didn't have enough ventilation because the stuff fermented!! In less than 24 joke. And the smell was STRONG. Anyway, it's now in the trash. If I was going to make a hobby out of making fruit leather (which I'm not) I'd have to find or make some sort of drying rack so the leather could breath through the top and bottom. Mine was on a cookie sheet with a screen over top to protect from bugs and dirt. I suppose I could also try drying in the oven...but I was trying to be green and all. Oh, well, you win some, you lose some and some are rained out (like my shutter on).
  • Painting the vinyl shutters--I've wanted to do this since we first moved into our home SIX years ago. Nothing like jumping right on a project. I washed them, scrubbed them, primed them and painted them once. Today, they will receive their second coat and hopefully my Hunny will hang them up this evening. I will post pictures later on today--hopefully. No pictures of the finished shutters today because I didn't get the second coat on. It was SO humid and threatening rain, so I stayed inside today sewing burp cloths and eating strawberry fruit leather---JUST KIDDING-- that stuff smelled nasty. All of that was my eventful day! Wonder what tomorrow holds??
If you've clicked on any of the links above, you will realize that I have a new blog love...Make and Takes. The step by step instructions and photos are fabulous. The low-cost projects are fun and functional. I have found a few other blogs that I'm enjoying; I'll save those for another day. What?? I've got to keep you coming back somehow! :)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Once upon a time...

I was a senior in high school! Incredulously, I'm sitting here thinking about how today, 20 years ago, I graduated from high school.

Just to say...could my glasses be any bigger? I know, I know, it was the style, so let's move on. 8)

God has been amazingly faithful, loving and compassionate to me over the years. I've grown to know Him and love Him as my Father. He has protected me from myself and forgiven my sins (continually). He's shown me justice, mercy and grace abundantly. And although the long lasting consequences of past sins remain, He has made all work together for good; a blessing words cannot describe.

20 years have past since my high school graduation...20 years of learning, growing, loving and living. My prayer for the next 20 years, should He tarry, "Guide me with Your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny (Psalm 73:24)."

Strawberry Goodness

Yesterday we went strawberry picking! We had a great time and the strawberries are THE BEST we've ever tasted. We came home and made freezer jam...lots and lots of jam. I'm also going to try this fruit leather.
Jennifer over at Life is Not a Cereal had this recent post all about strawberries! I'm going to check out some of her links and really grow this strawberry topic! :) The strawberry freezer pops are definitely on my list of recipes to try.

I'm so thankful for the memories that I am making with my family. We truly had a good time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Summer Fun Ideas

Treehouse my hunny is building in the backyard.
This weekend it will be getting side rails and a slide! :)

The theme for Works for Me Wednesday is "Mom, I'm Bored"--and how to avoid hearing these three words in your house. My dad used to say, "Boredom comes from within" and while as a kid I didn't like to hear that, the saying stuck with me. And, it is true. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines boredom as : the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest. Interestingly enough, my kids rarely say they are bored. I don't say that from atop a high place, be assured. I think it may be because we homeschool and they are used to being home. When they have free time from school work, they play, read, listen to music etc. I realized one day when my 7 year old declared she was bored, it was because I hadn't had the family on any kind of schedule or routine.

So, how do we direct our children so that they do not become weary and restless through lack of interest? The biggest way is to develop a daily routine that includes chores, learning and play and then STICK TO IT! (That last part was for me...I'm so tend to make great plans and fall short on the follow-through.)

Each family member has chores according to his/her ages and abilities. Each day of the week has a bigger chore that we only do once or twice a week (examples: dusting, deep cleaning each room). Be consistent with your daily and weekly chores and the house will stay in good order.

Some ideas for summer learning are library reading programs, reading biographies, comparing a book to its movie counterpart and visiting museums. Library reading programs are great because they are free and the children are working toward their own personal best--not competing against others. Reading biographies as family read-alouds or silent reading are a good way for our children to see life in action. Dave and Neta Jackson have written several volumes of short biographies. Choose a book to read that has been made into a movie, for example Because of Winn Dixie. Read the book aloud, then watch the movie. Discuss with your kids the differences between the two. Visiting museums can open doors to further learning and great discussion. Find local museums and go!

Of course there are loads of ideas of things to do for fun--bigger, more expensive ideas may have their place during your summer, however for the most part, your children will be playing at home or at the neighborhood park. Summer is a good time to do art projects like painting or playdough because they can be done outside on a picnic table or vinyl tablecloth spread on the ground. Don't forget the impromtu picnics and water balloon fights. :)

Make your daily routine doable and flexible. A few closing thoughts: nip bad attitudes in the bud, pray with your kids for a good summer, and realize that you are NOT the entertainment committee. Give them perameters and let them use their imagination and creativity. Most of all, have fun with your kids. One more tip, is actually from last week's WFMW, host Kristen wisely said to leave while your kids are still having fun. I have thought of this advice several times this week. Even when we are at home playing for free time...I need to switch gears BEFORE bedlam breaks out. So remember that little gem and have a great summer.

Check out We are THAT Family for more Summer Ideas.