Tuesday, December 28, 2010


We haven't started La Befana just yet because the kids have been busy playing and pretending. Lots of pretending. I love it when their imaginations go crazy.

I've been thinking about the way we do things and we are definitely most comfortable as unschoolers. The problem I am having, however, is letting go of what they "should" be doing. I have a list of everything Maeve should know by the end of kindergarten. She knows most of it. But I second guess myself and think about history. Have we covered anything historical? I tried to cover the Mayflower and pilgrims, but it fell on deaf ears. Do I do enough? Should I order curriculum to make sure I'm not leaving anything out? How much does it matter?

It certainly doesn't help that there are oodles of homeschooling blogs, websites and curricula. There are yahoo groups and Facebook groups and groups in the community. Thankfully, I have already found a good group of people and kids so that's one less thing to worry about.

I am confident that everything will fall into place. We will achieve a rhythm. I think I will always be tweaking how we go about things, but that's just how I roll. I am considering adopting a year round sort of school schedule. Three months of learning with a week long break in the middle month. The fourth month we'd have off. The off months would be April, August and December and would allow for putting in the garden, a canning extravaganza and preparing for the holidays. I could also re-evaluate things during the off months and come up with a tweaked plan. Of course this is all slightly funny to me since I plan something and then the kids and I find something more interesting to do. I like to have a plan, but I can't always follow it. Such is the life of a homeschooler, I suppose.

Monday, December 20, 2010


We spent a week learning about penguins and Antarctica. I had planned to cover Antarctica in a day, but the kids had other ideas. Finn adores penguins.

We read lots of penguin books, walked liked penguins, dove for fish in the living room, listened to various penguin sounds on the computer and did a whole lot of penguin pretending. The kids also watched Happy Feet which I thought was a sorry excuse for a movie. The plot was a bit jumpy and convoluted and the ending was weak. Whatever. It was about penguins and made the kids happy.

By the end of the week, Maeve decided to be a killer whale and eat all of the penguins.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Week

This week I plan to have the kids do lap books about the Gingerbread Man. It's one of Finn's favorite books so I'm hoping it'll hold his interest. We'll make gingerbread play dough, gingerbread cookie mixes for gifts and gingerbread cookies (maybe...I'm not a fan of gingerbread). The week after Christmas we're going to talk about the Italian legend of La Befana. Here is a list of the links I'm going to be using:

http://www.tlsbooks.com/dinosaurtally.pdf (not related to Christmas, but Finn will enjoy)

http://printables.scholastic.com/printables/detail/?id=30528 (befana bag puppet)

http://printables.scholastic.com/printables/detail/?id=30526 (Italian kids)

http://printables.scholastic.com/printables/detail/?id=30525&Nty=0&_N=fff&Ntk=Printables_SI&query=la+befana&N=0&No=0&Ntt=la+befana (christmas tree befana)

http://printables.scholastic.com/printables/detail/?id=30524&Nty=0&_N=fff&Ntk=Printables_SI&query=la+befana&N=0&No=0&Ntt=la+befana (christmas in Italy)

http://www.homeschoolshare.com/gingerbread_baby.php (gingerbread lapbook for both kids)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Are you ready for a throwdown?

I love Food Network. The kids and I had just finished watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay when I started making squash soup. I left some leeks and a cutting board on the counter and Maeve came in and decided to make some soup of her own. Her soup contained leeks, lots of salt, water and Italian seasoning. She was so impressed by her recipe that she challenged me to a throwdown. In proper throwdown style, we brought in two unbiased judges (grandparents) to rate our soups on taste, texture and presentation.

I am sad to say that I lost.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This week in the school house

This week and next we are in full force Christmas mode. Most, if not all, of our activities will revolve around Christmas.

Sometimes I have moments of genius. This was one of them. The kids and I watched a few videos about making candy canes and then I decided it would be fun for them to decorate ginger bread houses. Only I hate ginger bread and really had no desire to bake at that moment. So we went to our recycling/craft stash and built houses out of cardboard. I made white frosting and the kids used up a lot of the candy I was never going to let them eat. Somehow quite a bit of the frosting ended up in Finnegan's mouth, but all in all this was a very successful craft. The kids were quiet and busy for at least 20 minutes and they were proud of what they created. Oren pretended to want to help, but was just after the smarties.

Maeve started a lapbook Monday about the Night Before Christmas. She's having fun with it and really enjoys lapbooking.

We made ice cream today. The idea came from a kid magazine called High Five. The directions called for chocolate soy milk (yucko) so I made hot chocolate (2 C milk, 1/4 C sugar, 1/8 C cocoa) and cooled it. We put ice and salt into one plastic bag and then the chocolate mixture into another plastic bag. The chocolate bag went inside the ice bag and the kids shook until their arms got tired. Finn's arms were tired from the very beginning apparently because he had no interest whatsoever in participating. It took about 5 min of shaking to get ice cream. The kids thought it was neat and tasted delicious.

We made a Christmas village out of empty boxes. The kids worked hard to decorate the boxes, but quickly lost interest. The village is sitting in a heap on our dining room table.

I made one batch of Italian cookies and plan to make another one with the my helpers. They are super easy to make and can be shaped into just about anything.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Menu and Grocery list

I've been lazy about menu planning so here is my attempt for the next two weeks. I am also including my grocery list if anyone is curious.

toast and blueberries
leftover mac and cheese
not sure about dinner
*make sandwich bread if time

German apple pancake (if up early enough)
have husband make swiss steak, mashed potatoes, green beans
*make dough

poached eggs and toast
individual pizzas
breakfast: pumpkin waffles, hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, BACON (we will have just gotten our pig)

fruit salad and cheese and crackers, sliced peppers
baked penne with meat sauce, broccoli
*thaw chicken, make pork/beef meatballs and brown in oven

chicken with homemade fries
*bake chicken, make cookies in morning, cook meatballs in sweet and sour sauce

pancakes (use shapes)
sesame noodles with carrots
chicken and noodles (or freezer meal if pooped)
*freezer meal group

German apple pancake
potato soup with kale and bacon
*make sandwich bread

hard boiled eggs with bread/toast
leftovers with fruit
Christmas with husband's family

noodles with diced chicken and Parmesan
pork chops, fried potatoes w/onions, broccoli

breakfast: hashbrowns, eggs

toast and fruit
leftover pizza
pasta with green beans

whatever I want to make
chicken noodle soup
*make sandwich bread, soak beans

cinnamon rolls
leftover soup
beans and rice with homemade tortillas

homemade doughnuts

Grocery list:
apples (88 cents/lb so I will get lots)
green beans (69 cents/lb so I will get lots)
carrots (2 bags)
potatoes (2 bags, unless they are super cheap)
green peppers (3 for $1)
eggs (4 dozen)
butter (depends on price)
milk (3 gallons)
ketchup? (check cupboard)
powdered sugar

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week of Dec 6th

Here's what we're doing this week:

visiting friends
Christmas craft: making a hula hoop wreath

Math: read the story of Penny on the computer, name/review the coins and put in order, make a bank
Geography: Australia
Phonics: review the short vowel u and move on to ch, the and sh
Christmas craft: reindeer clay pots
Science: sense of taste, label parts of taste on the tongue

Math: read birth of a coin on the computer
Geography: Africa
Phonics: ch, th and sh
Christmas craft: Buckeye bags
Science: blindfolded taste test

Math: coins for candy on the computer
Geography: Europe
Phonics: ch, th and sh
Christmas craft: shaped soap
Science: put different foods into sweet, sour, bitter or salty groups, taste examples of each and then cut out pics in magazine to sort (I might cut out the pics so the kids don't get too distracted)

This week's links:

http://www.amazingmoms.com/htm/gifts_kids_make2-6.htm (special box and shaped soap)
http://www.usmint.gov/kids/cartoons/birthOfACoin/ (Wed)
http://library.thinkquest.org/3750/taste/taste.html (parts of tongue)
http://www.beaconlearningcenter.com/WebLessons/CoinsForCandy/money001.htm (Thurs)

Another awesome link worth sharing:

Easy and Inexpensive Heating Pad

If you don't have a 70 lb black lab sleeping on your bed, you may suffer from cold feet. Have no fear! I have a solution. A wonderful, warm solution.

Rice bags!

We bought a $15 bag of rice from Costco and I used 100% cotton flannel baby blankets that I've collected throughout the years.  I sewed two pieces of flannel together (leaving an opening of course), filled it half full of rice and voila! I like to heat mine in the microwave for 3 minutes.

I feel silly getting so excited about a bag of rice, but it warms me up better than my husband. The warming possibilities are endless:
*lap warmer
*heating pad for menstrual cramps
*relieve back pain
*put on chest for plugged milk duct
*use on face for sinus pressure or to help with drainage
*warm up your baby's bed (or your bed) before sleeping
*warm up cold car seat
*put on child's lap if taking a walk
*use after coming in from playing in the snow

Here is where I got the idea.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lots of food, little money: pasta

I love pasta. Amen.

2 lbs ground beef or 1 lb of beef and 1 lb ground pork
2-3 C bread or cracker crumbs
4 eggs
1/2 C grated Parmesan (Romano is good too)
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic salt

Mix and form into balls. Place on baking sheet and bake at 400 for 20-25 min or until the tops are brown and they looked cooked. Place in sauce and cook until you are hungry. The longer, the better. I like to cook them on high in my crock pots for about 3 hours and then turn to low for another 3 hours. If I am pressed for time, I cook them in a pot on the stove for 2-3 hours.

2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp basil
1 grated carrot
1/2 C finely chopped kale or chard
parsley if you have it
2 tsp minced garlic
tomato sauce (If I have fresh tomato sauce, I use it. However, it seems we canned too much salsa and not enough sauce this year so I used a giant tomato sauce can from Costco.)

Meatballs freeze great and are great eaten on homemade rolls or buns. I like to use leftover sauce for pizza or I freeze it and use it for a quick lunch.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Squash Soup

I found this recipe in Taste of Home magazine.

3 sliced leeks (white part only)
4 chopped carrots
5 Tbsp butter
3 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cubed (I used pureed winter squash)
6 C chicken broth
3 peeled and sliced zucchinis (I omitted because I didn't have any on hand)
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 C half and half (I used whole milk instead of cream)
1/2 C milk

Saute leeks and carrots in butter. Add squash, broth, zucchini, salt, thyme and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30-35 min or until veggies are tender. Puree in blender or food processor. Stir in cream and/or milk and heat through. I like to add cooked barley.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Coconut Cream Pie and Crust

Double Pie Crust

2 C flour
1/4 C butter
2 heaping spoonfuls of lard (maybe around 1/4 C)
6 Tbsp cold water

Mix together with your mixer or if you're really motivated do it by hand. Either way, it'll be delicious. You will only use half of this for a coconut cream pie. Save the other half for pot pies. Or roll out, cut up and toss in cinnamon and sugar and bake.

Coconut Cream Pie

3 C milk
1/4 C cornstarch
3/4 C sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 C coconut

In a heavy saucepan, mix together milk, cornstarch and sugar. In a separate container, whisk together 4 egg yolks. Ladle some of the hot milk mixture into the yolks. Add it to the saucepan. Bring to a boil for 2 min. Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla and coconut. Pour into pie crust and bake for 35 min. I think my pie was in for 45 min. Cool in the fridge for 3-6 hours and top with whipped cream.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday 11/22

Today we started learning about pictographs, our sense of sight and the continents. Finn's theme this week is G is for gummy bears and gumballs. I have decided to include Finn in all of the stuff for Maeve (if he's interested) and vice versa.

We started off by reviewing all of the letters we've covered so far. We played a game where we said "I went to the grocery store and I bought a ___" We started with the letter a. By the time we got to g, the kids were having fun with the game and said they went to the grocery store to buy a Giganotosaurus (a therapod, by the way).

Then we moved on to our science experiment. We made predictions on what will happen when gummy bears are placed in a cup of water overnight. We measured the length and width of the bears and traced them. Finn predicted the bears will sink. Maeve predicted that they'll get smaller and squishy. I predict the kids will want to eat the gummy bears for breakfast.

I found a site that did a lesson on picture graphs. The kids really liked it and were excited to graph. We made a list of eye colors (Maeve also included red and white, although surprisingly no one in our family has those eye colors) and Maeve put tally marks next to each color to correspond with everyone in our extended family. Tomorrow she will color in the eyes we printed off and graph them on the wall.

We talked about our sense of sight. We collected lots of color samples from Lowe's, grouped them by color and put them in order from darkest to lightest. I was going to have them walk around with their eyes closed, but they were nutso today and I didn't want to add fuel to the fire.

I showed the kids a map of the world. I had Maeve point to the biggest and smallest continents and the continent we live on. We also did the continent clap, which Finnegan loved and asked to do five times.

I am too lazy right now to find links, but if you ask I will post them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This Week's Menu

Monday: Chicken parmesan with rigatoni and steamed broccoli
Tuesday: out
Wednesday: Sweet and sour meatballs with brown rice, snap peas
Thursday: Butternut squash soup with rolls (I will probably be the only one to eat this)
Friday: BBQ pork on homemade buns, green beans, homemade fries
Saturday: pork chops and I'm not sure of sides
Sunday: breakfast, pancakes, hash browns and eggs

Snacks: pumpkin muffins, strawberry scones and oat bars

Sweet and Sour sauce (I always double the sauce, but I never double the sugar)
3/4 C sugar
1/3 C vinegar
2/3 C water
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp ketchup
1/4 C soy sauce
2 Tbsp cornstarch

Meatballs (for 2 lbs of ground beef)
one chopped onion
one sleeve of crackers (I used Ritz because it's what I had)
two eggs
I bake my meatballs for 20 min or so in the oven and then put them into the crock pot with the sauce. I cook them on high for about 3 hours and then set it to low for another 2-3 hours. Cook time depends on how soon I remember I'm making meatballs for dinner.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Week of Nov 15th

I think this is the third or forth week of being very organized and planning out our week before it happens. Maeve has enjoyed more structure, but she wants to do whatever Finn is doing. I'm doing a letter a week with Finnegan and focusing on a weekly theme. This week we're doing F is for fish and Maeve told me that she loves fish and then whined about not doing the same thing. To compromise, I think I'll stick with how I'm doing things for her, but incorporate some of Finn's activities into her work. I also think I'll do structured stuff with them for three weeks out of the month. We are unschoolers at heart and I want to allow plenty of time to explore interests, although this is funny to me because we only "do school" for about an hour and a half a day. The rest of the day is spent exploring, playing, cleaning, cooking and going places. Anyway, overall my new system seems to be working for everyone.

Maeve is a reading fool. She breezed through short vowels "a" and "e" and we're working on "i" this week. She has been taking the time to sound out words and has read several Bob books this week. She is also reading her Progressive Phonics pages. She is gaining confidence in herself and I am proud of her.

Last week in science we covered skin and muscles. We're learning about touch and sight this week. We made these with stuff the kids collected from the yard and watched what happened to our skin when we gave ourselves goosebumps. Maeve also wanted to do a ladybug lapbook and was supposed to work on it during one of her quiet times, but I think it's buried somewhere on her bedroom floor.

Math is not Maeve's strongest subject. She is more concerned about making her numbers look rock stylish than doing any actual work. I've been having her practice writing her numbers and was happy to see that she took the initiative to write several numbers on the marker board. All numbers were written with very fancy scrolls. I love that kid. Maeve is great at graphing, making tally marks, patterning, etc. She is really interested in using a calculator so I think that's going to be how I sneak in addition and subtraction.

Finn is awesome at numbers. He can do addition in his head and can name numbers up to 100. He's on a bowling league and tells me his score after every turn. His brain is wired completely different from Maeve's and it's interesting to see. Maeve is very artsy and concerned about how things look (like her fancy number scrolls), whereas Finn is much more mathematical. Everything he does must be evenly spaced, lined up and perfect. Finn does not like coloring or painting, although he recently painted several salt dough ornaments. Generally, if it involves mess, Maeve is all over it and Finn opts out.

Oren is all over the place. We've started doing most of our work while he's taking his nap and this is working well. Oren accidentally did a somersault off of a stool yesterday and he thought it was awesome and tried to replicate it. Oren dances when I sing him lullabies at night and thoroughly enjoys being a stinker. He tackles his brother, chases his sister and kisses the dog. He wraps his arms around my neck and snuggles into me and for a second it makes me almost forget that he peed all over the books.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Best Caramel Popcorn EVER

14 C popped popcorn (I pop mine in lard on the stove)
3/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C butter
1/4 C corn syrup
1/4 C molasses
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger (I omitted this because I'm not a fan of ginger)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix butter, sugar, corn syrup, molasses, salt and cinnamon in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil without stirring for 5 min. I didn't follow this part of the directions. I stirred and let it boil for maybe 3 min. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Pour over popped pop corn, mix well and spread onto a pan or cooking sheet. I did not grease the cookie sheet. The original directions said to bake for 1 hour and stir every 10 min. The popcorn was taunting me from inside the oven so I baked it for 25 min and stirred it twice. It turned out fine, came right off the pan, and was crunchy and delicious. Store in an air tight container if you don't eat all of it like we did.

I found this recipe in the latest issue of Taste of Home magazine.

Friday, November 5, 2010

This Week in Learning

 This week we learned about the heart and brain. We made blood (I didn't want to use red food coloring so I heated frozen strawberries and strained them) and saw what it looks like when blood goes through a vein or artery. We also took an egg and attempted to protect it like our skull protects our brain. Maeve was super excited about this and sewed a little pouch for her egg. Unfortunately, she found out that a soft layer of fabric isn't enough to protect an egg from injury.

I traced the bodies of the kids and taped the paper to the wall. As we study the various body systems, I'll have the kids fill them in on their bodies.

We also talked about positional and ordinal numbers. Maeve and I made place ribbons and Finn matched the ribbons to the numbers on the card. I wasn't sure if either kid knew all of the ordinal numbers, but they had no problems and said first, second, third, etc without my help. Maeve was most excited about the puffy paint.

This week Maeve also continued to work on the short vowel "a". She was able to read through several pages and read complete sentence on her own so I think we can move on to the next vowel. She was super embarrassed about reading, but I was really proud of her!

We also read books (some online) and the kids played Starfall and Poisson Rouge. Finn loves Poisson Rouge and I like that each game is like its own puzzle. It's really a great website and I highly recommend it for the 3-5 age group.

Learning Space Redo

This space stopped working for us because Oren was constantly in everyone's stuff. He still is, but now I can distract him easier and hold his attention with something else.

I started by taking apart the wooden easel and putting the dry erase and chalk boards from it on the wall. Oren can easily reach both boards and spends a great deal of time markering. His chalk privileges were taken away because he was eating the chalk.

Then I had my dear husband hang two shelves. The shelf just above the marker board holds all of our supplies. I painted tobacco tins with chalkboard paint so that we can easily change out the label if we need to use them for something else. I love chalkboard paint and had to restrain myself from using it on every surface in my house. Maeve and I are constantly using things and misplacing them so I hope this helps us keep tract of our stuff.

My husband also put a shelf that is just as wide but a bit deeper even with the tops of the windows. This shelf will hold all of the various school books that I collect and I'm hoping that one day soon I will have everything organized by subject.

I used the chalk and marker trays of the easel as book holders. My kids like being able to look at their books and even Oren has been interested in reading. I plan to change the books every week and will coordinate them with whatever we are studying. Yes, the walls are still two colors. Someday I will finish painting over the blue. I do love that color of green.

I moved Oren's table and workboxes. He doesn't care about either unless the chairs are pulled out far enough to allow him room to climb on the table.

I organized the closet too, although you aren't lucky enough to see it. The bottom shelf is for Oren  aged learning toys (blocks, ball pounder things, dominos, puzzles), next up is a shelf of games, then preschool/school aged puzzles and manipulatives, then my craft stuff and extra supplies and the top shelf is for adult games.

 Finn's workbox is now next to his work station. He doesn't care. He uses his workboxes to hold important things like golf balls. All of the various papers (construction, white, envelopes, notecards, notebooks) are in the wooden square thing. On top of that is a math activity.

Maeve's work area and my work area are the same. A bit more organized, but the same nonetheless. And if you are wondering, our learning space is never this clean. It will be trashed as soon as everyone is awake and moving tomorrow.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I am in the process of reorganizing our learning space (aka my office) and reorganizing the way I plan Maeve's lessons. Maeve needs a bit more structure than I've been giving her so I'll be doing more classical style learning stuff with her. Stay tuned for pictures of our new space and a layout of our lessons.

I also may go crazy and change the layout of this blog. I don't like having two blogs to update (Homemade Home is my other blog) so I want to find a layout that will combine homemaking and homeschooling.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Grocery List

We spent $120 on groceries for the next two weeks. We usually spend a bit less, but we went to the store too close to lunch time.

Here was my list:
fruit (apples, grapes, peaches, bananas)
potatoes (20 lbs)
tomato sauce
lasagna noodles
thin spaghetti
sour cream
tortillas (I prefer homemade but I'm out of good lard)
ice cream
red wine
tater tots (we rarely buy these, but I wanted grease)
chocolate chips

Friday, October 15, 2010

How to Eat on a Budget: Meat and Gardening

We buy beef and pork that has been raised locally. We do this for two reasons: it's cheaper in the long run and better for our family. I also think it's wonderful to support local farmers and know exactly where my food is coming from. I love being able to go out to the freezer, pull out any kind of meat and not have to worry about paying for meat at the grocery store. This helps tremendously when I make meals for the freezer or cook for a lot of people.

Gardening is another way we supplement what we buy at the store. We have had a garden for several years and learn something new each year. I already have a plan in mind for next year. I love having a garden and my kids love having a garden. I have no idea if our sugar snap peas were successful this year because every time I saw my daughter outside she had a mouthful of peas. I think we had a lot, but none of them ever made it into the house or onto the table. I plan my spring/summer/fall meals according to what we have harvested from our garden.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to Eat on a Budget: Grocery Shopping, Part 2

Once you get good at menu planning and shopping for what's on sale, you can branch out a bit and go to a local farmer's market. You can find all sorts of fresh, locally grown produce at a farmer's market. You can meet local producers and make a lot of connections on where to find other products you may need.

This Week 10/11

Maeve is stuck on dinosaurs so we've been working on a dinosaur lap book this week. We've been exploring a lot outside and yesterday Maeve decided to decorate the house for a Tampon Festival. That's right, a Tampon Festival. She cut up enough confetti to fill a bucket and she and Finn threw it all over the living room. I was told they were practicing for the festival. I'm not certain was happens at a Tampon Festival, but it did involve opening all of the tampons they found under the bathroom sink. Maeve said that everyone will receive two tampons and we will throw them up into the air at midnight.

Maeve found some fabric she loved at the fabric store and turned it into a purse. She did all of the sewing by hand with her tapestry needle and embroidery floss. She was very proud of her purse and said that it had great rock style. Maeve has great rock style when she wears the purse. Heck, Maeve has great rock style when she doesn't wear the purse.

Finn has been mastering a Wii game. He obsesses for awhile and will probably move on to something else by the end of next week. When he bowled last Saturday, he was able to tell me his score throughout the game. I didn't realize he knew his numbers that well. I was impressed. He absorbs everything.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to Eat on a Budget: Grocery Shopping, Part 1

Gather the ad of your favorite local grocery store. What's on sale this week? Is it anything use regularly use? Yes? Then buy as many as your budget will allow for the week. For example, let's say that butter is on sale for $1. That is cheap and can freeze so buy 10. If you do that every time one of your staples is on sale, you will eventually reach a point when you will be able to wait to buy that item until it is on sale again. Another example is we buy tubs of Electrosol dishwasher detergent from Costco (I tried making my own for awhile and hated it). We know that if we buy two tubs when they are on sale they will last long enough to get us to the next time it's on sale.

Another thing to look for at the grocery store is the in season fruits and vegetables which will always be cheaper. Not sure of what is in season? Let Google help you.

The lesson? Pay attention to the ads. I am not a coupon clipper because the coupons that come with the Sunday paper are all for products I don't buy. I don't clean with chemicals and I don't regularly buy processed foods. If you buy that stuff and pay attention to what is on sale, I am certain you will save even more money at the grocery store. As it is, we usually spend around $100 every two weeks for a family of five.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to Eat on a Budget: Planning the Menu

Look at what you have in your fridge, cupboards and freezer. What meat do you have? What grains? Vegetables? Fruits? What staples do you need?

I spend the least at the store when I am completely organized and plan every meal of the day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I look at what I already have, what we like to eat, and what kinds of dishes I have the most ingredients to make. For example, if I have ground beef and tomato sauce I can make spaghetti and meatballs or chili and all I need to buy at the store is pasta or beans. I always try to make meals that have a meat, vegetable and a starch. We usually eat fruit for snacks. I also try to make certain that I have fresh fruit for the kids to eat and frozen fruit in case we run out of fresh before I can get groceries again. I only shop every two weeks and try not to go to the store between trips or I end up spending too much.

You can find an example of my menu here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How to Eat on a Budget: Stocking the Pantry

Nourishing my family with good food is one of my priorities. Doing it on a budget is another. The first part of eating like kings, but within a budget, is how to stock your pantry. Here's what I always keep in the cupboard (or freezer):

coconut oil
olive oil
sesame oil
rice vinegar
balsamic vinegar
white wine
red wine
soy sauce
apple cider vinegar
chicken broth
black beans
lard (although I'm out right now)
maple syrup
chocolate chips
powdered sugar (I didn't say it was all going to be healthy. I like frosting.)
baking soda
baking powder
white vinegar
brown sugar
tomato sauce

I know that my list is probably very different from someone else's list, but if you're new to budgeting for groceries this is a good start. Just pay attention to the things you use the most and always make sure you have them in the cupboard. Once you stock up on your basics, you can fill in according to what is one sale.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

German Apple (or blueberry) Pancake

For the batter:
1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 C milk
2 or 3 Tbsp melted butter or coconut oil

Sprinkle 1/4 C sugar into a cast iron skillet. Place apple slices or blueberries on top of sugar and sprinkle with another 1/4 C sugar. Place on cook top and when the sugar is bubbling, add the batter. Bake @ 425 for 15 min, turn the oven down to 375 and bake for another 15 minutes. Try not to eat the entire pan.

Buff Orpingtons

These lovely fellows gave their lives to fill our bellies.

This was our first experience wrangling roosters and culling? butchering? I'm not sure of the correct term in chicken speak. Anyway, they were headless.

My husband took care of the dirty, bloody work and I had the pleasure of plucking feathers. I dipped the birds into a turkey fryer full of boiling water and went to town. If you know anything about me, you know that this was a very big deal for me. I do not touch gross things like worms, frogs, lizards, etc. I pretend to be brave in front of my kids because I don't want to look like a wimp. And, more importantly, I don't want them to tease me and send me screaming into a corner. That's why we have frogs because they are not a big deal....right....RIGHT?

So the roosters are delicious. The end.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday

An Update in Pictures

Painting her barn

Finn had just knocked down the people and trees

Exploring a monument at the Capitol
"Can we climb on this?" Again, at the Capitol
"How does this thing tell time?" 
They discovered floating buckeyes which lead us on a hunt for the tree.
Beautiful roosters that are now in our freezer.
Learning to sew
Toured an airport and got to "drive" the plane
Berkshire pigs being raised on pasture
Our dinosaur world made of recyclables and homemade playdough

Comparing money
Dinosaur timeline

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Last Week of September

What happened to September??

We sort of took last week off from doing anything formal. Not that we do much formal learning anyway, but my husband was home all week so we did absolutely nothing and did it as a family. It was lovely.

We started this week with a trip to the library. We usually go to the library on Mondays. The kids are done learning about dinosaurs, reptiles and amphibians and done studying animal habitats. They haven't expressed an interest in anything particular so we're going to learn about our wonderful state. Maeve is also interested in learning how to sew so we brought home crafting books too.

Today the kids labeled a map of our state and Maeve wrote down the biggest cities and located them. We talked about the state flower, rock, tree, bird, flag and motto and the kids colored various pages relating to all of it. I read a lot of interesting facts, but I think all the kids heard was "wah, wah wah.." Ah well.

Tomorrow we are going to visit a very hands on learning center about the history of our state. Thursday Maeve has art class and Friday I think we'll try to get to the state museum. Depending on the interest level, I might have the kids do lap books.

I've been a lot more relaxed lately about learning. I've been going with the flow and planning according to what the kinds are interested in at the time. I think it's working well, although there are some days that the kids require a bit more structure than I've planned for that day. This is definitely a learning process for all of us, but we're having fun and the kids are retaining information which is really my only goal for the year.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bedtime Bags

 This was a two part project and the kids had a lot of fun.

First, I cut an old pillowcase in half and cut all but one of the seams. I watered down acrylic paints and let my kids paint their piece of fabric.

After the paint was dry, I lined the bag and added a pocket to the front. I still need to make a handle.

This bedtime bag will be at home on my son's bedroom door knob. The pocket is for the bedtime book of his choosing and the bag will hold his pajamas. This will be wrapped and given to him for Christmas. Unfortunately, he already found the almost completed bag and was really excited about it. I'm hoping he forgets about it and will be just as excited when he sees it filled with new books and pajamas.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What We've Been Doing

The weather is cooler (finally!!) so we've been spending a lot of time outside. We've been bull frogging which consists of walking to the pond by our house, getting out a small bucket and toy fishing pole, spotting bull frogs and sticking the fishing pole in the water to see if a frog will bite it. Of course we don't have a real hook or a container for the frog so I am always happy to say "oops, he got away again". 

We have been on several walks collecting various things that remind us of fall. The kids have gathered a lot of seeds, a pumpkin, a squash, pine cones and a basket full of acorns. They put all of their found objects on our seasonal shelf and enjoy touching everything throughout the day. 

I cut up a white sheet and diluted acrylic paint so the kids could paint on the pieces of fabric. Some of the pieces were turned into skirts and some of the pieces were made into bedtime bags. The bedtime bags have a pocket on the front, handles and will be filled with new pjs and books and be given to the kids for Christmas. Finn actually got into this painting project and worked very hard on his fabric. I can't wait to have him see his completed bag. 

We've been studying reptiles and learning about various habitats. We've covered every reptile except the turtle. We've played Go Fish using reptile cards I printed on card stock. We made a dinosaur timeline and a dinosaur play dough village. We created a habitat for our new lizard and have learned about what he eats. Maeve noticed that Lizard Lemon shed his skin today and that was neat to have seen. 

Finn has loved playing games lately. We've played Sorry several times, have done puzzles (he did at least half of a 100 piece puzzle by himself!), played Go Fish with regular cards and have played some other games that I can't recall this moment. 

Oren has been Oren. He has learned how quickly the dog will take food out of his hand when it's offered, how many pieces of dog food he can shove into his mouth before I notice, how high he can climb before it's not funny anymore and that even if he holds his breath and turns purple I'm still not going to pick him up when I have a scalding hot pan in my hand. On the flip side, he has also learned that I will always come to his rescue, I know what he means when he says "ma" very seriously and that I love him enough to attack him with kisses several times a day. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Technical Difficulties

My beloved laptop has been out of commission for the last two weeks. The cord died and the computer battery is useless. My new cord should arrive sometime soon so I'm hoping to get caught up. I tried very hard to justify a new Macbook, but responsibility won and I settled for a new cord.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chicken and Noodles

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday.

Chicken and noodles is a favorite around here. It's not the healthiest thing, but it is comfort for the soul. And tasty.

For the stock:
I put a whole chicken in a stock pot or dutch oven, fill will water, cover and bake for about three hours. I take the meat off the bone and then put the bones and skin back into the pot, fill with water and bake for another three hours. This usually produces 6+ quarts of broth.

For the noodles:
Generally speaking, I use one egg per person. We love leftovers so I always use seven eggs for my family of 5 (one nursling). Crack your eggs into a large bowl or mixer bowl. I use my Kitchen Aid for this, however, it is completely uneccessary. Add flour until you can't add anymore. Plop dough onto floured surface. Continue to mix in flour until you can't add anymore. Now it's time to roll.

Roll dough into desired thickness. I like thin noodles so I usually divide my dough in half and roll out one half at a time. When the dough has been rolled out, roll it up like you would with cinnamon rolls. Cut and unroll. Add to boiling broth and cook for 20 minutes. Or you can place uncooked noodles on a cookie sheet and freeze them. When frozen put in a freezer bag and save for soup, beef and noodles, chicken and noodles, etc.

Rolled out dough. This is only two eggs and is very thin. 
Dough rolled cinnamon style and ready for cutting.
This is everyone's favorite part of noodle making.

This is chicken and noodle soup. Yum. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


The beauty of homeschooling is that there are days when we can just go with the flow. My evenings lately have been filled with a teething baby and children who stay up way past their bedtime.

We have most definitely been doing things and learning, but I have slacked a bit on filling up the work boxes. We started our week by playing all day with friends. Today we went to the library and read several books together. Maeve used her very own library card for the first time and Finn picked out some books and a frog puppet named Fred. We read a few dinosaur books, Maeve started making her own dinosaur book and the kids and I created a dinosaur wonderland using recycled stuff, foil and homemade play dough. It was awesome and even Finn got into it.

Sunday afternoon Maeve decided that she wanted to sell all of the cherry tomatoes she had collected throughout the weekend. She carefully wrapped the tomatoes in Halloween napkins and taped the tops closed. We also wrapped up brownies that had just come out of the oven. Maeve decided to sell each brownie or cherry tomato bundle for 25 cents. She made a sign and we set up shop in the front yard. Maeve completely ignored her first customer because she didn't want to talk to a stranger. We talked about how to operate a business and by the end of her business venture she was telling "Brownies, cherry tomatoes, 25 cents a piece" to each person and car that passed. She was very proud of the money she earned and I was proud of her enthusiasm.

Finn has really been into playing games. He is constantly getting into our game closet and asking to play something. I love it, although he needs to work on putting away the pieces of the games instead of leaving them all over the office floor.

Oren has been teething and eating crap off of the floor. And killing me with his curls and gapped teeth.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Not Back to School!

Today we celebrated not going back to school with a bunch of other homeschoolers. I always look forward to this time of the year because all of our favorite spots are no longer crowded. We can take time to explore without being trampled by a group of summer camp kids. It's nice.

I have started to hear a bit of criticism about not sending my sweet girl to school to be with other kids. I've heard that it's a shame to keep her at home instead of with her peers. Well, I suppose it would be a shame if all we did was stay home and "do school". Homeschooling is nothing like going to school. We don't spend hours a day in a classroom. Our lessons might take 10 minutes or they might take an hour. We might scrap the lesson altogether so we can hunt for tadpoles or splash in puddles. If my kids need to burn off some energy, we don't have to wait for recess. Maeve and Finn have many opportunities to play and learn with other kids. We go to park day every week with other homeschoolers and meet often with friends. Maeve will attend an art class. Finn will be in a bowling league. They are properly socialized and have the ability to interact with people of all ages.

Homeschooling is not just school at home. It's a lifestyle. I am lucky to be part of this journey with our children and am excited to see what they will amaze me with tomorrow.

Monday, August 23, 2010


C is for caterpillar and clock.

Maeve selected a worksheet this morning that had her writing the letter "c" on lined paper. She was complaining about writing and I told her that practice makes perfect. Her response was "practice makes poop". That was the last thing she took out of her work boxes. She did, however, write several lists (as usual) and told me that writing is her thing. I explained that she would be able to write anything if she knew how to read. She agreed to read books with me as long as the words I point out for her to read aren't too big. Maeve and Finn did a lot of pretending today and Maeve now refers to her tree frogs as her "amphibians". We also talked more about clocks and time and Maeve worked on writing numbers. She still has trouble writing numbers correctly and most of them end up backwards.

Finn worked on some fine motor skills today. I gave him a paper punch, a green construction paper leaf and told him to punch out the spots that the caterpillar ate. He loved this activity and demonstrated a great deal of patience working with the paper punch. He also built a lego car and a tower with big mega or duplo blocks and played a file folder game.

Oren was trouble. I need to figure out more things that will keep him busy and stationary. He's very curious and wants to do everything that Maeve and Finn do. Unfortunately, this leads to several fights and headbutts throughout the day between Oren and Finnegan. Oren has stuff in his work boxes, but since the work boxes actually belong to him they are of little interest.

Yesterday wasn't technically a school day, but the kids needed some structure so we learned the parts of a clock, the difference between analog and digital and how to tell time by the hour. Maeve already knew how to tell time by the hour and I have no idea if Finn was paying attention. I also decided yesterday that we'll learn about time until they (by "they" I mostly mean Maeve) either figure it out or completely lose interest.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Can Much?

We've been doing a lot of canning lately. I think we have around:
40 pints of salsa
40 pints of green beans
8 quarts of tomato sauce
6 pints of peaches
10 4 oz jars of plum preserves
6 half pints of peach butter
7 pints of chili

I've also been busy restocking my freezer with chicken stock and broth. I'm not going to bother canning any stock right now because we go through it quickly. I would have like to have made more peach butter, but my kids are crazy for peaches and eat five or more in one sitting. My first batch of plum preserves was a little more like plum candy (oops, need to work on the gelling point), but I used some of it in the middle of homemade doughnuts this morning and it was a hit with the kids. I think I'll also use it in a sort of plum turnover too.

In addition to our beast of a pressure cooker, we were given a 6 quart pressure cooker. I am very intimidated by pressure cookers (my husband cans the low acid stuff), but put on my big girl pants and used it to cook a pot roast. The result was better than Christmas! Actually, I said it was better than the birth of my children, but it was an unbelievably tender roast. The pot roast went from frozen to fork tender in 40 minutes. Not to sound like an infomercial, but that pressure cooker will completely transform the way I cook for my family. I can be lazy forgetful and not thaw anything and still have it on the table by 6!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mid Week

The weather has been lovely here this week so bowling has taken a back burner.

Yesterday Finn sorted his bowling pins by size and then by color. I also had him put his bowling balls in order from smallest to biggest. He spent a great deal of time organizing and matching cards from a memory game. Maeve and I worked on venn diagrams for the different types of bowling, but I guess that activity was lame because she didn't want to finish it.

Today we did no organized learning. We went to a park with a beach and lake and the kids really enjoyed feeling the sand between their toes. They followed an outdoor maze and animal tracks and we guessed which animals belonged to which tracks. We ran around our backyard, picked vegetables and Maeve tried her very first (and second) plum.

This week we have taken a few walks to the pond by our house and have attempted to catch fish and tadpoles. Maeve tied a bucket to the end of a toy fishing pole and is determined to catch something. She even used a rubber worm from the Bass Pro Shop as bait. I've tried explaining how to properly catch fish, but she's so excited about her rigged up fishing pole that I am indulging her. I love seeing the anticipation as she pulls her bucket of water and algae out of the water. She has told several people that she was so close to catching a fish.

Finn and Oren enjoy feeding and watching the ducks. Oren quacks anytime someone says "duck".

Monday, August 16, 2010

B is for Bowling

Do you know how hard it is to find bowling stuff online? Or bowling books? Impossible.

We started today by making Bs using card stock bowling pins and bowling balls. The kids colored every single bowling coloring page I gave them and we talked about the three different types of bowling: ten pin, candlepin and duckpin. I showed them where candlepin and duckpin bowling originated on the map and we used a paper towel roll to see what a candlepin probably looks like.

Then I numbered circles (bowling pin markers) and had the kids look at a chart and put the circles in the correct place on the floor. Finn put his bowling pins on the numbers and bowled for a better part of the day.

We followed all of this up by going bowling. They both learned how to correctly hold the ball and which fingers go in the holes.

Oren was a maniac at the bowling place and crawled at lighting speed between the lanes, balls and chairs.  Can you see his disgusting feet?

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Rest of the Week

Day 2 was another good day. Finn wasn't very interested in much, but did get out his flash cards again. He did a few and then threw them all over the floor. We read his High Five for kids magazine and he did a great job finding the hidden objects. Finn also discovered a hole in the sink and filled it with wet toilet paper. I made him use tongs to get it out and explained why it's not a good idea to fill up holes with wet toilet paper. I am certain I will be repeating this lesson with Oren.

*Unfortunately, I repeated the lesson a few hours later. Finn thought it was awesome to pull wet toilet paper out of the sink with tongs.

Maeve sat down to work immediately upon waking. We finished her alligator lapbook and she made an alligator card that turned out really cute. She drew a picture of an apple tree and wrote "appl tee". We read more books about alligators.

We met some friends at the Science Center after lunch. The kids made rockets, built an arch and explored.

We practiced math and number recognition today by playing a really fun game. I printed off the numbers 1-10 on cardstock and then threw the pages on the floor. I started by telling Finn to jump on number whatever and started Maeve off with easy addition. She eventually started doing the problems in her head. I introduced adding three numbers together and also introduced subtraction. Finn was able to add too and was able to count on his fingers without skipping numbers.

Oren got to ride in the cozy coupe today and shop lifted a nectarine at the grocery store. We actually did pay for the nectarine, but we didn't notice that he had grabbed it until he had already taken a few bites. He was incredibly proud of his conquer.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Our Learning Space

This is our learning space, aka the office. It is the room that gets used the most and trashed the fastest. The picture above is Maeve's work space and her work boxes. 
This is a picture of Finn's work space. We found the table for free at an elementary school. The boys' work boxes are on the left and the wooden cubes on the table house all of the various types of papers. My sewing junk is on the top and I'm hoping I'll find a better spot for it sometime soon. 

Our book shelves hold library books and other educational books. The top of the book cases hold a math Montessori type game and two Melissa and Doug pattern and letter activities. The bottom shelves are full of distractions for Oren.

Not pictured is my desk. The kids use the computer. My sewing stuff takes up half of my desk shelving and work books and other school related stuff takes up the other half. And yes, the office is two colors. I will eventually finish painting it green. The office has 9' ceilings though so I'm not in much of a hurry to finish.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Baking 101

This is Maeve's cake. She measured, scooped, mixed and frosted. She was very proud of her creation and anytime she had a piece she would playfully ask who made such a terrific cake. 

First Day of School

Today didn't go entirely as planned, but that's usually the way of life with kids.

Our school day started last night when Finn wouldn't settle and go to sleep. He came downstairs with me and went right to his work box and grabbed a package of flash cards. I hadn't realized that he was so excited to start school. I sat down with him and we worked together on finding what was the same and what was different about each flash card. He also played a game where he rolled a die and then put the corresponding number of circles in the correct spot.

Maeve woke up bright and early as usual and got started right away. She didn't want to read her short vowel "a" book, but we read four books about alligators, she started her alligator lap book, we read a lot about the top 10 biggest dinosaurs, discussed why we can't have seals as pets, she did a short vowel "a" worksheet, she drew, colored and cut out several apples and went crazy drawing flowers. Maeve was very proud of herself when she wrote a lowercase "a".

Finn colored a blue apple (that was HUGE for him and a lot of hard work) and did a cute finger play about a worm eating an apple. He put apples in order from smallest to biggest and we read his new favorite book, Alligator Boy. Finn and I read The Bad Bag from the Progressive Phonics series and he was able to read some of the words on his own. Maeve looked over his shoulder the entire time and helped him sound out some of the words. We also played hot potato with an apple, but when Finn was stuck with the apple twice in a row, he was done playing.

Oren was Oren. He attempted to grab everything off of the tables and got in Finn's way as much as possible. He worked very hard putting clothes pins into any available hole and was excited when I brought in a table just for him. I also made him a marker jar like the ones Maeve and Finn have and Oren had fun taking the markers out, eating them and then putting them back into the container.

One thing I think I will do differently is to have an overall theme for the week, but then focus our work on certain subjects everyday. For instance, Monday might be focused on science, Tuesday is reading and writing, Wednesday is math, etc. I think that will allow us to do a lot more fun, hands-on stuff.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I'm not what you call this sort of activity, but my boys love it. Oren will spend several minutes taking the clothes pin out of the bucket and putting them into the canning jar. He will also take the clothes pins and stick them in toys, our change jar and any other hole he can find. 

Finnegan and Oren also love to put the dominos (sometimes they are tickets or money) into the wipes container. Dominos are great for counting and they make a really neat sound when they bang together. Oren can usually be found with a domino sticking out of his mouth or a domino in his hand while he looks for an appropriate hole.

Peach Butter

This is my first attempt at canning. I've always been worried about botulism and killing my family so I usually leave the canning to my husband. That way if we all get sick, I know who to blame. 
I am very proud of my peach butter. All of the lids are sealed and I followed the directions to a "t", which is no easy feat for me. I tend to look at directions and then change several things to make it better. 
I soaked the peaches in water and lemon juice for a bit because my youngest had an afternoon meltdown and canning had to be put on hold. I saved the peach water, boiled the discarded skins and trimmings, added some sugar and was left with a delicious peach juice. I made it even better by adding   some mint. 
We have yet to eat some of the canned peach butter, but I am almost confident that it won't make us sick. If you don't hear from me in awhile you can probably assume we ate the butter and it didn't go over so well. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Frog Castle

Kale and Chard

I grew kale for the first time two years ago and had no idea what to do with it. I have come a long way since then and thought I'd share what I do with kale and Swiss chard.

I blanch the kale and chard and stick it in a freezer bag. After the leaves have frozen, I grab a pint sized canning jar and pound the frozen bag of greens. I add them to ground beef, soups, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce and potatoes and veggies of all kinds.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I Should be Planning

Maeve decided that school will start on August 11th and has been diligently doing her homework. I haven't had the heart to tell her that homework is assigned and done after the start of school. I have most of her first week planned out, but need to fill in the blanks a bit. We will do school Monday through Thursday and my goal is to do our more organized stuff right after breakfast.  Most of what I'm doing with Maeve is kid interest driven. She made a list of things she wants to learn about and I plan to have her make a lot of lap books. She is a lot like me and loves to fill things out and do worksheets.

Finnegan wants to start school on August 20th. I'm going to do a letter each week for him. He already knows his alphabet, but he needs to work on writing his letters. We'll tap into his crafty side (or see if he has one) and read a lot.

We'll see how this goes. As I am typing this, I'm realizing there is probably no way I can really separate lessons for Maeve and Finnegan. I should probably focus on a letter a week sort of theme for the both of them, but incorporate more stuff for just Maeve. Like "A" is for alligator and we will learn about their habitat, food, place of origin, etc. and then visit them at the zoo. Maeve will do a lap book and Finn will pretend to listen while he's shooting his guns at the wall.

I went through the scope and sequence stuff for kindergarten and it seems Maeve is about half way through it. In addition to working at home, the kids will do tumbling and I'm hoping Maeve will get into a home school art class that is held once a week and join a local Clover Kids group.

I'm very unschooly in my approach it's been challenging for me to sit down and write out plans. Things we'll do for certain:
-read from The Real Mother Goose, Aesop's Fables, Hans Christen Andersen, E.B. White
-science experiments
-nature walks
-Progressive Phonics
-lap books
-a letter a week for our letter tree
-cook and bake
-lots of crafts

We are all excited and looking forward to learning together.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Planning Lessons

I made a rough outline of lessons for the first 10 weeks and have started to make more detailed plans for week one. I am so excited to teach and learn with my kids. I will share our weekly plans as I finish them, but they might be incredibly boring for people to read. I am very paper/pile oriented so I'm not sure how that's going to translate to blogging. I have a lot of various workbooks, Mailbox magazines and worksheets that I plan to use and we will be making weekly trips to the library. I found some shelf space for just library books so that we can keep them all in one place and stop getting late fees because of the stray book that got left under the couch.

Kid Kits

I was cleaning my sewing shelves and found an idea list from last Christmas. I thought it would be fun to create various kits for the kids. I made them each a doctor kit and it went over as well as a box of rocks. Actually, a box of rocks would have been better. Anyway, here were some of my other ideas:

Lunch kit in homemade bag (felt food)
-bag of chips
-chocolate chip cookies
-cheese and crackers
-various fruits

Sticker kit
-book for stickers
-stickers (obviously)

Mail kit
-mail bag
-note cards
-address labels
*this could all easily be made with felt and a bit of Velcro

Cleaning kit
-squirt bottles

Hygiene kit
-toothbrush holder
-toothbrushes (my kids LOVE toothbrushes)
-small comb
-small mirror
-little bar of soap

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Week in Review

This week Maeve and I created a frog castle, complete with a moat, fish, bushes and frog puppets. The castle is made from cardboard and the playmate is felt. We also made a frog bed and chairs and gave them a fire place for their castle. I read the kids the Frog Prince and we acted it out with the finger puppets. I see more play mats in our future.

Maeve has been writing like crazy. She makes the same list over and over and has been working on perfecting numbers. She has started sounding out words and spends most of her quiet time writing and drawing. I love seeing her drawings and her interpretation of words. Today she attempted to write "hungry, hungry herbivore, Tank, triceratops". Her version was "hugre, hugre, hbvor, Tac, tcatop".

Finnegan loves computer games. Poisson Rouge is one of his favorite sites and he is great at figuring out the puzzles and how to play the games. He is able to manipulate the computer without asking for help. Finn is also really knows his numbers.

As soon as I am finished planning our first week of school, we will get started. We were all sick last week so I'm a bit behind, but I have a rough sketch of the first 10 weeks. I don't plan to use a curriculum. I use and will continue to use Progressive Phonics for reading and we'll read Aesop's Fables, Hans Christian Andersen, E.B. White and other classic and traditional stories. Time and measurement will be the first two math things we learn about and I plan to teach them geography starting with the continents. Everything else, at least for right now, will be covered via life. We are always talking and learning about science, art and history. We'll do a lot of experiments and nature walks this fall.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waste Not, Want Not

I love to re-purpose fabrics and materials. I plan to have a 100% homemade Christmas this year and would like to reuse and re-purpose as much as possible.

One of my best finds recently (and by "finds" I mean I found it buried in my laundry room) was a no longer in use canvas laundry sorter. I'm going to use the canvas to make quiet books for the boys and a topsy turvy doll for my daughter. Other things I am re-purposing or have re-purposed include:

Old dress shirts into dresses (removed pockets will be used in the quiet books)
Pillow cases into dresses, skirts and wall organizers
Yard sale sheets will be dyed and turned into tents and skirts
Old jeans will be taken apart and used for quiet books, a car play mat and a skirt
Flannel baby blankets will be turned into diapers, bags, pillows
Old t-shirts can be used for braided rugs, pj pants, skirts, diapers, baby balls
Terry cloth robe turned into cloth baby wipes or used in place of toilet paper
Fleece robe or sweat shirts turned into winter hats and mittens
Wool sweaters turned into longies, shorties (I've seen a quilt made from wool sweaters and it was awesome. It's on my "someday" to-do list.)

What do you re-purpose? Want to share it with more than just me? Visit A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa and join the Simple Lives Thursdays blog hop.

Monday, July 26, 2010


We didn't do a whole lot today because we have a nasty virus in the house and I wanted to get caught up on laundry before the sickness reaches the kids. I also spent a great part of my day spraying vinegar everywhere.

We read two dinosaur books and Maeve copied pictures of eight dinosaurs from the computer. She then colored them in, wrote the name of the dino on the top of the page and put them in clear page protectors. Finn colored in some dinosaurs, but was more interested in just holding his special triceratops, Tink.

Maeve picked tomatoes, basil, parsley, sage and kale to use in pizza sauce. She also picked mint for making tea. She took all of the mint leaves off the stem and put them in a pot of water. That inspired her to pick more herbs and kale. She put it all in a strainer, brought it to the table and offered everyone some of her food. She explained that since we were all triceratops we were herbivores and only ate plants for dinner. Finn is very good at following his sister's directions and took out a huge basil leaf and ate it with a smile.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Today Maeve was a Palaeobatrachus. Maeve has been obsessed with frogs since Hopper, the tree frog, jumped into our lives. She and a friend recently discovered a bullfrog so Maeve is in full frog mode. She has gathered all of her frog stuffed animals, makes frog nests and makes her brother carry around all of his frogs.

We read a book today about the life cycle of frogs. We also read a book about fossils and another book about the different kinds of dinosaurs. She asked a lot of questions about the Apatosaurus and we talked about the differences between omnivores and carnivores.

Maeve kept calling herself a halaeobatrachus even though I made several attempts to correct her. Finally she decided to look the word up on the computer and discovered that I was right. I was proud of resourcefulness and ability to admit she had been wrong.

Schooly Stuff

I think I'm going to do some reorganizing around here. I want to make this blog a place where I can record homeschool related stuff and a place where I jot down funny stuff about the kids that I want to remember. I started a blog called Homemade Home and that's where you'll find everything related to cooking, sewing, gardening and homemaking.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Christmas Sewing

My goal this year is to have a 100% homemade Christmas. I know it might seem a bit early to start thinking about Christmas, but I'm a mom to three kids, 5 and under.

Here's my working list:

5 year old daughter:
Princess and the Pea play set
Pillow case/sheet skirts or maybe more patchwork skirts

3 year old son:
Car play mat
Big checker board
Pjs and lounge pants

1 year old son:
No clue.
Maybe a touch book using fabric scraps

All three kids:

Female relatives:
Recipe book with my favorite recipes