Thursday, April 16, 2015

Junk Drawer Learning

If there is one thing I love doing the most, it's making art from items that would normally be thrown away, something else I love to do, is to make learning manipulatives! A few simple ingredients that we had around the house and 1 hour of Criminal Minds and I had a Color Spelling Game!
This game is perfect for a literacy center for kids to work on quietly alone or in a group. All you need are:
1. Used File Folder
2. Water Bottle Caps
3. Circle Labels (But you can use a sharpie right on the labels if you want!)
4. Dark Marker
5. Crayons
Once you have gathered all your items, just make up the alphabet on labels or righto on the caps and then add in the extra letters you will need for colors that double letters in their spelling. My game is for color spelling, but once you have the caps made, you can just make multiple file folder games using the same caps! Use your folder as your game mat and add on whatever you need to do and then draw circles or lines, so they know how many letters are in each word!
The caps can be used with the game or alone as an alphabet game or even for use with some spelling list words, to spell names and numbers as well!
Use cardstock or cut down an old file folder to make self checking cards with the correct spelling and the same picture that you used on the game mat. These cards can be used alone or with the game mat.
Pop everything loose into a baggie and staple it to the back of the file folder, now it all stores neatly and together.
Enjoy every minute my friends!

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thinking Thoughts on Thursday...

As I sit here surrounded by maps and guidebooks and train schedules along with flight information, I am realizing how quickly time is passing. We are headed to Philadelphia, New Jersey & New York in September and are very excited but also very exhausted with planning. There is so much we want to do, that there is no way we can squeeze it all in to 1 week. So of course my mind begins to wander and I am all over the place, because of this, today's post will be all over the place with a few topics that are here and there.
Don't have the time or funds for a vacation? How about a staycation?! Head to a local hotel or museum in your town/city and in the lobby they tend to have free brochures all about your area. Put together a fun itinerary for the weekend, exploring new places and if you have extra funds or plan ahead, stay in a local hotel with a pool, to add on the fun of it all! Can't do that? Make a day of fun experiences and then head home and have everyone bunk together in one room for the night watching movies and chatting or a living room sleepover with some fun, family activities!
Thrifty Thursday craft tip is to make an angel out of an old hardcover book, these are a dime a dozen at bag sales and so easy to do! Once you've folded down a triangle of EACH page, just use a hot glue gun to bunch ribbon and glue to the left and right side where the book covers are exposed, these become the angels wings. Do the same at the bottom, so that it defines her dress. Add a styro-ball head and yarn or something similar for hair. Making a triangle pouch up front is perfect for holding a rosary or gift card.
I have a large notebook that I keep with me when I read, along with post-its and pens and highlighters. I like to jot down notes and or quotes that speak to me as I go along and in the case of books where authors feel the need to toss in 100 different characters, then I need to keep track of them somehow. As I read I use the post-it notes to mark areas of the book that I want to look at again or what I think is a pivotal part of the story. Am I the only nerd that reads like this?
Break free & enjoy every minute my friends!

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wordless Wednesday...Kind Of!

Welcome to our busiest season! I am trying so hard to keep up, but it seems to always get the best of me! We were out of town and just got back yesterday. If course I paid the house sitters and made plans for them to come back tomorrow! How on earth can we even get laundry done? Maybe we should just buy all new clothes! 
How was your Easter? It was absolutely fantastic for us! We had 4 stops to make but all worked out well and with great efficiency!
Our sunflowers are growing! Now if only it would warm up to allow us a transplant! I cannot wait to see these continue to blossom. The kids enjoy watering their plants every day and measuring their growth.
I love catching my children playing quietly. I always hear that quiet children are up to no good, but so far I have only found friends playing quietly and unwinding from long mornings!
This morning we are listening to Kingdom Keepers book I on CD. This is a great way to get them to settle in for a day of studying! We love our early and quiet mornings where we break a little from the routine!
Enjoy every minute my friends!

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Wordless Wednesday...Not Really

Field trip to the police station ends with my daughter in handcuffs! 
Bag of books sale at the library! 
A reading club WITH snacks? Yup, he's loving it!

Cross country practice ended with an egg run in honor of Easter! 
My little seamstress enjoyed her tween sewing club and making a treat pouch! 
Loving every minute of watching this big hearted boy of mine grow up!
Enjoy every minute my friends!

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Menu Plan Monday...On Thursday!

Yeah, Yeah,Yeah...I know the day is all wrong, but like I said before, I have to catch up!
Seeing as how the week is pretty much over for us, I'm sharing what we had!
Monday: Fundraiser for 4H, so we had pizza and salad and other fun goodies!
Tuesday: Ham, Green Beans & Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes with Spinach & Baby Greens Salad
Wednesday: Buffalo Chicken Bake over pasta with seasoned potato wedges and served with tomato and cucumber slices.
Thursday: Our Housesitters have arrived and we are headed out for the Holiday weekend! Tonight we wait in line for our favorite author Ridley Pearson. We will be eating with friends after that!
Friday: Good Friday! Out to dinner as we are out of town and same with Saturday!
Sunday: Happy Easter! We are doing brunch with the family and then hanging out at the zoo! Brunch is usually far too filling and we skip dinner with just a late dessert to top off the day!
Buffalo Chicken Recipe:
1. Dice up your chicken breasts into whatever size you want and then put in a glass dish and cover with buffalo sauce to marinate overnight. 

2. When it's time to cook, set oven to 350* and then toss your chicken into a baking dish with sauce and then add more so that all the chicken is covered. Top with shredded cheese (We used colby jack) and pop into the oven for 35-40 minutes.

3. Wash and cut up your potato wedges (8 large potatoes) and melt 1/2 stick of butter with garlic and parsley + any other seasonings you would like. Pour butter mixture over potato wedges and toss. Place in baking dish and also at 350 for 35-40 minutes (Check for crispness)

4. While that is in the oven get your pasta water ready to begin a boil at about 15 minutes to cooking time.

5. Chop scallions to top the wedges and the chicken bake.

6. Make salad of your choice, we ate all the celery and carrot sticks for snack today, so we had to go with tomato and cucumber slices.

7. Your pasta and all the oven goodies should finish at the same time. Turn off the oven and leave your potatoes to crisp up as you finish with the chicken bake.

8. Get a large bowl to serve out of that will also allow you to mix in. Toss in some of the pasta, then some of the chicken, some of the pasta, some of the chicken. Continue to layer but make sure it's only the chicken going in, NOT the sauce.

9. With what is left of the sauce, add in flour a little at a time to make a thicker sauce to pour over the entire bowl that you have layered. Begin to mix it all together and then top with scallions!

10. ENJOY!
Enjoy your weekend my friends!!

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sunday School Post #9

Okay, it's not quite Sunday, but I have a lot of posts to make up and I don't want to skip them or else it will just keep piling up! The other 8 posts in this series can be found HERE! Is anyone else out there an office supply addict? I can't help it, they suck me in and no matter how many pens and pencils I have, I want more!! Binders are my latest addiction and I love organizing them with tabs and folders and all that good stuff, but what better way to dress one up than with beautiful pictures! Once my kids finish a Seton Homeschool book, we don't throw it away, we recycle!! I cut out the photos and keep them in a file folder for using in binders, laminating and or framing. A great and beautiful way to upcycle! Another thing we collect, are Holy Cards and Prayer cards. Autumn keeps hers in baseball card sheets when they are related to her Little Flowers group, but the others we love to put on book rings to make them portable and easy to keep track of!
This week the Little Flowers studied St. Catherine of Siena and what better way to pay homage to her than to plant sunflowers?! The girls decorated their little 'pots', then we stuck in a biodegradeable planter and put the seeds right in! One week later and LOOK! They are made to be transplanted right into the ground as is, when removed from their 'pot'. 
Our St. Catherine of Siena binder page had a 3D sunflower, quote, picture and Memory Verse #1, I like to keep it simple, so that the girls have a chance to finish it while in the meeting and listening to stories of the Saint we are studying that day.
Autumn completed all 10 tasks and earned her first badge for FAITH! She is so excited and just wants to wear her sash EVERYWHERE! I had her sash embroidered and it looks so cute!
Type of the memory verses, laminate them and place them in a book ring to make it easy for the girls to study on their own and to keep them portable.
A great way for kids to keep track of a saint or subject they are learning about is to have them take notes in their book! Construction paper, index cards and some photos for coloring make it fun to learn!
Books of the Bible bookmarks are a great way to help your kids learn the books and at the same time keep pages marked in their own unique way! I printed them out, they colored them and then I laminated them! Get your own HERE!
It was finally time to upgrade my daughter's Bible! She has had a children's one for so long and has been wanting my wedding day Bible (Shown on the right) but I am not quite ready to pass that on it was time to look and find! I am so glad I took the time to really make a decision with this, because we fell in LOVE with the same one and we knew that this was it. The Catholic Youth Bible is a GREAT choice for teens, tweens and any kids that have outgrown the children ones. 
We are just about done with the Love Dare, in fact it all ends tomorrow for us and I cannot stress enough how awesome it has been! Have you done it yet?
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87 Years of Wisdom

"I learn something new every day", this is a quote I grew up hearing often and then it was quickly followed by "I'm xx years old and I'm still learning!" My grandfather just turned 87 on Saturday and we all spent the day with him have a fantastic time. We heard stories for the millionth time, heard new tales and even laughed until we cried, sang until our throats were sore and ate until we thought we may slip into a food coma. It's not every day that we get to dine with a legend and yes, I truly think my grandfather is one.
9 Things About My Grandfather:
1.~ He ALWAYS has a Jalapeno in his pocket...ALWAYS.
2.~ He left home at the age of 12, so his family would have more food.
3. ~ He was headed for Minnesota on a freight train, when he was beat with a club out of a hay bale and kicked off the train in Chicago, that's how our family ended up here.
4. ~ He showed up as a guest to a friend's wedding, when a groomsman got sick, they grabbed him to accompany the extra girl...that ended up being my grandma.
5. ~ He is ALWAYS in a suit...ALWAYS...
6. ~ He can barely get in or out of his sportscar, but he is still driving around in one that he trades in every few years for another.
7.~ He packed lettuce, picked cotton, drove semis back and forth over the border, drove tractors for farmers and collected bottles for people making their own liquor in basements, all before he was 14.
8. ~ The only family photo he has with both of his parents and all his brothers and sisters was taken in his living room....with his mother in her coffin, dead.
9. ~ He is amazing. 
Enjoy every minute my friends!

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Field Trip Friday

Friday brought with it the excitement of a field trip and the simple fact that it was Friday! Our Homeschool Group (The Rockford Homeschoolers) was meeting up at the ComEd Discovery Lab and I have to admit that this one ranks up there as one of our top field trips! A great big thank you to Field Trip Factory for making this one happen!

This field trip was chock full of information, laughter and so much more. The kids had many hands on experiences, which was perfect for visual learners and kids that just want to get up and learn!

Linemen from ComEd came out and showed the kids what their job entails and with that had many kids in the palm of their hands! They climbed poles, answered questions and let us all take a look at their gear. 
Their training facilities are so large that it allowed us many places to explore and learn about. 
Not only do they have indoor facilities but plenty of outdoor sections as well. There seemed to be no place that was off limits to the kids as long as they were with the tour guide!

We even got to see a training class in session, which showed the kids that not only were they in a field trip facility but a working school as well!
Enjoy every minute my friends!

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