Thursday, April 23, 2015

Updates, Information and News...

Thursday is upon us and I must say that this week did go by quickly! I am sure many of you heard about those tornadoes in Northern IL two weeks ago, well those all happened in and around the area I live in. We were blessed enough to be in the library at the time and I have never been more impresssed with a group of people, than I was with the librarians there. My children were of course scared but they settled them down with chocolate chip cookies, books and even played board games with them!
My kids were on the local news media pages, when they donated their own money to the tornado victims. I was so proud when they came to me and asked if I would drive them to donate their money.
My kids have their first race this weekend and have been training like mad. My youngest son is not crying here, he is mad because the sun was in his eyes and we were taking photos when they should have been getting stretched out for their timed run. They are all so excited and I am just so happy to see that they have found something that they enjoy and can all do together.
My middle son has been impressing me more and more with his robots. He is in the process of trying to figure out how to work one into his science fair project and while thinking, he likes to tinker. While he was working blindly, he managed to make a robot that picked up and lifted a bottle of water and moved it to another place and then put it down and released it. It was so cool to watch him program it as he tested where he wanted to to be picked up and where he wanted it to go. I love how much he enjoys creating.
I've been gathering new nature guides and the ones we have owned for awhile and put together a outdoor explorers basket. I will photograph the entire thing for next weeks post, after we use them tomorrow on our nature hike. I like keeping things in groups, so that they get used more often!
Get out there and enjoy every minute of RIGHT NOW!
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Dinner Is Cold...

Hello mothers out there, this one is for you! We have been overwhelmed with activities, field trips,classes and so much more all culminating right now. It has been exhausting for everyone involved but kids tend to be able to bounce back so much quicker. My body wants an extra hour in the day to sleep but that extra hour could be spent catching up with everything else that is going on around the house.
Why is it that when we sit down to dinner, I am the last one to sit? Someone needs something and I jump up, as though I were a yo-yo...they know what they need, they all know where to get it, but for some reason it's okay, I can do it. Sometimes I eat standing in the kitchen because I don't get a minute to sit. By the time I finally sit down to enjoy my meal, it's cold and most everyone is done and chatting away. I love those moments after dinner, that I usually push my plate away and laugh and talk with food long forgotten.
There is nothing I wouldn't do for these 3 and my husband. They want to try something, join something or learn something and we are all doing it with them or cheering them on. It means work done in cars, lines, waiting rooms and libraries but they think of it as an adventure. I look at it as living in my car! Sometimes we are gone from early in the morning until dinner time and even though it makes for long days, they are loving every minute and laughing and learning...what more could a mother want? Everything I have to get done for school and around the house will keep my husband up until the wee hours of the night, but it's all worth it.
I broke my glasses the other day and my husband offered to take me to replace them straight away...instead I put on my emergency pair with so many scratches they are a mess and I told him I would go later...I know I won't go, I know I will make excuses and want to spend the money on something else for the kids. Why do we do that? Why do we put aside what we need and sometimes want, for kids that already have more than enough? Because that is our job. I was at my parents house last weekend and my mother made dinner, she served everyone around the table and ate while standing at the stove. I didn't even notice until I was done was so good. I asked what she used in her dinner and my dad stood up straight away and pulled out all the spices and supplies and packed them in a cooler for us to take, even though it was all brand new! My husband loved a new Disney watch my dad has just ordered and he promptly took it off and gifted it to him and would not take no for an answer...he said he had too many as it was. We surprised my parents by stopping by, because we had been in the area and they were on their way out. My mother to a meeting with friends and my father to see my grandfather, instead we all went to a movie. Why do we do what we do? Because we can, because we WANT to, because we love our children and want them to know that. I do what I do, because it's all I know. I have parents that went to college in the evening hours on opposite days, so that they could be home with their family. I have parents that worked 2 jobs so that we would always have what we wanted and needed. I have parents that sacrificed their own happiness to raise me in a way where I never thought I was different from any one else. They walked a fine line financially and I never knew. They have since done so well for themselves that they only want to give and share but it's amazing how much we don't notice as children and it's because we don't want our children to notice. We want them to be happy...I better go, my lunch has been waiting on the counter and is getting cold.
Enjoy every minute my friends!
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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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