Thursday, August 30, 2012

Roxy and Rhino

Today, during school, our kitten discovered our dwarf hamster.  While the little hamster does dwell in our home,  he is not one of my favorite pets.  However,  I do feel a little bad for him while Roxy lies in wait for a moment alone to try and get him.  Turns out our little Roxy is a hunter of all that moves: crickets, flies, strings,  balls, FEET!  You name it,  she pounces on it.  
 Checking Rhino out.
She needed a closer view.

If you look really well at the pictures,  you can see where there are a couple parts missing from the cage.  I can only say that Rhino runs so hard on his wheel that he has knocked his whole cage off the shelf, which broke one of the tunnels.  Of course,  we had to fix it with tape!!  Just a little redneck:)  Honestly,  I'm a little surprised he is still alive.  He's knocked himself off the shelf at least twice. Being a rodent and running loose in our house with 2 cats and a dog can't be very safe!!  

Funny though,  this whole thing got me thinking how some days I feel like poor Rhino.  Stuck on a wheel, running my little heart out and getting NOWHERE!!! I spend all day schooling,  cooking, cleaning, and refereeing(sp?)  and at the end of the day the question is still asked what I've done all day.  Of course, I get defensive, because I feel like I've got a lot accomplished,  even if it's not visible to anyone that enters the door.  For a brief moment (and I do mean brief),  I feel for our little Rhino.  I kinda understand!!  He runs and runs and gets nowhere, and that pesky cat is still there.  Fortunately,  I don't have a cat sitting in wait for me!!!  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot

I am ALWAYS on the lookout for quick and easy meal fixes.  I have a lot of mouths to feed,  but not always a lot of time to get the food ready for them.  I have spent a lot of time surfing the web looking for easy crock pot recipes and this is one of my new favorites.  First of all,  it's chicken!!  My entire family likes chicken, so can't go wrong there.  Next,  it's a whole chicken - usually cheaper to buy!!  Finally,  it's so simple!!  Have I mentioned that I LOVE simple??

Here's all you need:
     2 tsp paprika
     1 tsp salt
     1 tsp onion powder
     1 tsp thyme
     1/2 tsp garlic powder
     1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
     1/4 tsp black pepper
     1 onion
     1 large chicken

1. Combine the dried spices in a small bowl.
2. Loosely chop the onion and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker.
3. Remove any giblets from the chicken and then rub the spice mixture all over.  You can put some of the spices inside the cavity or under the skin covering the breasts.
4. Put the prepared chicken in the crock pot on top of the onions, cover it, and turn it to high.  There is no need to add any liquid.

5. Cook for 4-5 hours or until the chicken is falling off the bone.
Well,  once again,  I about forgot to get a final picture!!  I had already started tearing that bird apart when I remembered:)  It was pretty good.  If you wish,  you could probably add some carrots and potatoes about half-way through and dinner is served.  I chose to do some noodles,  green beans, and corn on the stove top.  If you go to the link at the beginning,  there is also a recipe for making homemade stock with the leftover bones.  I will be trying that as well.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Not Back to School Blog Hop Week 4

This is the last week of the "Not" Back to School Blog Hop and the theme is A Day in the Life.  So,  let's take a glimpse into our daily routine.  First,  let me just say that in no way can I be held to this routine, because on any given day,  I have many variables that can throw a wrench into my plans (and often do). We pretty much school year round.  We take various breaks through out the year for holidays,  vacations,  and just some days off!!

Wake-up is usually somewhere between 7:30 and 8:00.  If they aren't up by 8:00,  I go in!!!  Then,  they have an hour to relax,  eat breakfast,  watch a bit of tv,  get dressed,  brush teeth and comb hair. 

We try to start our school day at 9:00am!!  We start with Bible time and prayer, then the schedule is varied for each individual child.  My oldest is doing his school work on the computer,  so he is free to stay in the class or take the laptop to his room.  I just have to keep an eye and make sure he is working and not surfing!!  He has in the past had a little problem with "listening" to the lesson on the  computer, but checking out facebook and other things in another window.  I think I have fixed the problem,  but time will tell, and so will his grades!!!  I can just tell you now that if he is caught repeating this sort of behavior,  he is in BIG trouble!!!

The other three older kids start with handwriting, spelling, and reading.  These subjects they can do without any instruction and allows me to work with Mini-Me for a little while.  Then,  when I get Mini-Me squared away and working on multiple worksheets,  I do Science and History with the older girls while,  Mr Gamer does Math on the computer.  After that round,  we take a little break, get a little snack,  and do a few chores around the house. The chores usually involve laundry, dishes, and trash!!! 

Once back from a break,  Princess 1 does some math on the computer with A Teaching Textbook and Princess 2 gets started on English.  After a little instruction,  both of the Princesses can work on their own while Mr Gamer and I do his English, Science and History.  Then, the Princesses switch and I believe that covers it!!

Now,  here's my disclaimer!!  I also have a 16 month old running around in the midst of all of this. That means that sometimes our break goes long, I have to stop and change a stinky diaper,  there are froot loops dumped all over the floor,  or any number of things can happen. 

We do try our best to have everything done by 1pm,  but more often than not,  we are finishing stuff up after lunch.  After their school work is finished,  they have some chores they have to do, then they are free until time to eat.   Our evenings are currently spent running to football practice on Mon, Tues, and Thur,  church on Wed,  and Friday is usually a church activity or something else. I've said it before,  and I'll say it again, "There just aren't enough hours in the day!!". 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Roasted Potatoes

Ever have one of those recipes you just "fix"? No measuring,  no thought  to it,  you just put everything together and move on.  This is one of those for me, they're so simple.  However,  I did measure everything out once and here's what you  need (for a family of 8 or course):
         8-10 red potatoes
         1/4 cup olive oil
         1/2 tbsp garlic salt
         1/2 tsp onion powder
         1 tsp parsley flakes
         1/2 tsp salt
         1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the potatoes into bite-size cubes (you can peel the potatoes if you like,  we prefer them with the skin on). Place them in a roasting pan.  Add all the other ingredients and stir them up until all the potatoes are coated.  I put the lid on my roasting pan and shake them up, gets them good and coated and it's fun!!!  You of course can tweak the ingredients to your liking,  I usually don't even measure,  I just throw it all in there.  I can honestly say,  I've never messed these up (of course there's always next time).  Place in the oven.  Take a big spoon or spatula and stir them up every 15 minutes for 45 minutes (or until soft, all ovens vary).  Serve with a nice big steak, grilled chicken, pork chops,  or burgers and hotdogs; whatever you want, they pretty much go with anything. 
 Before the shaking
After the shaking,  I add a little bit of butter; because everything is better with butter..

I'm not sure what happened to the final picture, I know I took one.  You'll just have to trust that they look delicious.  I often take them to church functions, family functions, and whenever we have company.  They are just that easy and fail safe,  you can not and will not mess these up.   

Friday, August 24, 2012

Favorite Thing Friday Blog Hop 8/24/12

 It's my first favorite thing Friday Blog Hop,  and soooo many favorite things to choose from.  I'm going to go with,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
our backyard pool!!!!!  We live in the south,  and it can get down right hot on these August summer days.  So,  our favorite thing right now is to open the back door, run, and jump into the pool.  

So very thankful to have this luxury in our own backyard!!  It's not in ground,  it's not fancy,  it's not even very big,  but it's water, it's cool,  and I don't have to get in a car and go anywhere!!

Excited to join in the Favorite Friday Blog Hop and find some new blogs to follow and hopefully some new followers here.  Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!!! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Simply Samuel

I don't know why it seems this baby is into SOOOO much more than the others!  Maybe, it's because there are so many other things I'm focused on?  Maybe, he watches the older kiddos and does the whole copy cat routine?  OR MAYBE,  I'm just OLD??  I'll go with the I'm just old thought. 

Here are just a couple of examples of what this child gets into on an average day:
  In sissy's desk with New Testament Bible in one hand and school papers in the other!!
 Can I get a little higher on this desk??
 Note: different desk,and now he's completely up on top!!  Little mountain goat!! LOL
 My personal favorite,  caught him pulling out the baby wipes one by one.  Of course when I said his name, he just  proceeded to grin from ear to ear.  When the camera was spotted ,"CHEESE"!!!  Love that boy!!  

My kiddos sure keep me awake and busy during the day!!  Now,  if they would just let me sleep at night,  all would be good!!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Not Back to School Blog Hop Week 3

The theme for this week is the students.  I have 5 this year, a little overwhelming I admit!!  Fortunately,  Mini-Me is still only 3 right now and is not really required to be schooled. Therefore,   her lessons are very simple, but they keep her involved in the routine.  Let's get started cause this could be a long post. 
This is Mr Helper. He is 14 and starting 9th grade. I did not use a picture taken during school, because I can't get one!!  He is in FULL teenager mode and anytime I get a camera out,  he hides or does something silly.  His name says it all, he is my helper!  He will do anything I ask (except let me take a picture) and usually without complaining (at least out loud).  He is great with the younger kiddos and gives me a break when I need it.  He is NOT a big fan of math,  but loves History. 
Next is Mr Gamer.  He is my "learner".  He is 12 and in the 7th grade.  He loves video games, legos, and building/putting things together.  His favorite subject is Science.  He likes for it to be quiet while he works,  which is a little difficult at times with 5 students, a baby, a dog, and two cats running around the house, but we do try.
Meet Princess 1, she is 10 years old and in 5th grade.  She is what I would call my most challenging student.  She is very smart,  but does not particularly like sitting at a desk for any length of time.  She's always telling me she just can't be still.  She loves to read about animals.  She loves to write stories and draw pictures.  Her favorite subject is Science.  She LOVES Science!!!
Introducing Princess 2, she is 8 years old and in the 3rd grade.  She is usually the only one excited about school starting.  She loves to learn and can't pick just one favorite subject.  So, her top choices would be reading, science, and math.
This is Mini-Me.  She is almost 4 years old and we are using some K4 curriculum I had from the others.  She has always wanted to be involved in our school day and I often had to print her coloring pages and other things to keep her occupied.  I'm hoping this year will be a lot of fun for her.  She is super excited to have her own desk, crayons, scissors, and glue to work with!!

Now that I've introduced all my students,  I  must also introduce the "distraction".  Baby Samuel is always right in the midst of the school day.  We often find him climbing on the empty desk, dumping someone's crayons out,  bringing toys into the middle of the room, and just generally being ornery. He is very into giving kisses right now and saying cheese whenever he sees a camera.  Here is a perfect example of what he brings to our day........

This is our sixth year of homeschooling and ,while at times challenging, it has been a wonderful journey.  I love seeing the light bulb come on when they finally get something they've been struggling with. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Daily Assignment Folders

As I have mentioned before,  I still work part-time while homeschooling.  I work every other weekend and one day per week.  On my weekend off,  we do school work on Saturday (UGH, inserted by my children), but on the other week,  I have to make assignments that the children can do with minimal assistance.  I've been toying with various things,  and have come up with an assignment folder. 
This picture is a little hard to see,  but I put their names on them and then a few school stickers. Then, I turned them loose with the rest of the stickers (on the back of course) and here is our assignment folders. 

What I've decided to do is put extra practice worksheets from whatever we're working on through the week, Then,on the day I work,  they complete their worksheets.  This allows us to not lose a day of school and gives them extra practice in their subjects. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Not Back to School Blog Hop Week 2

This week's blog hop features the school rooms.  While I am so thankful to have a designated room for schooling,  during our remodel,  we used the dining room table,  living room floor,  or whatever space was available at the time.  We currently use one of the upstairs bedrooms for our classroom.  For an average family, it would probably be the perfect size.  For my family of 8,  it is a little crunched at times.  However,  we make it work!!

This is the view from the door.  The four older kids sit at the desks and Mini-Me is currently using the tv stand for her area to work/play.  
Our library area has a variety of things to read/do.  We have tons of other books, but not the space to keep them all out,  so we have to rotate what is on the shelves.

In case you didn't notice the hamster cage on top of the library shelf,  here is a close up.  This is Rhino,  our dwarf hamster.  He is our classroom pet and one of the classroom responsibilities of the children.  
 This is my desk and the computer area for now.  We're hoping to get a separate computer area downstairs in the tv room.
Of course we also have to have an area for Baby Samuel to entertain himself,  otherwise he is roaming the hose on his own.  That's just not safe considering what all he gets in to.  

This year,  I'm hoping to change the colors of those drab white walls,  I have a couple of things I want to add to the classroom, and a closet that needs cleaned out so we can put the library in there (much more room).  But,  this is what it is looking like right now. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Are You Willing to Carry Your Corner?

Obviously a question nobody will understand until I give a little background.  Our pastor is out of town and we had a guest speaker at church tonight.  That speaker so happens to be a friend of hubbies and his wife is a dear friend of mine.  I must say that until tonight I had never heard a complete message from Pastor Tim.  I was either at work or in the nursery with a baby.  So,  I was so thrilled to be able to sit through the message, with the exception of a potty trip with Mini-Me.

The text was from Luke 5:18-26 where the man with the palsy is lowered through the roof to get to Jesus.  In my life I had heard many messages from this passage and heard the story multiple times in Sunday School,  but I do not recall it in this manner.  My focus/remembrance is on the men who carried the man with palsy to Jesus.  The illustration he gave was to have his son carried around on a mat by 4 boys/men in the church.  The point??  Well,  how focused are we (Christians) on getting the helpless and hopeless to Jesus?  How much effort do I put into helping get people to Jesus?  Keeping in mind always that it isn't anything that I do that would get anyone saved,  but I can be the light, the lead,  the help someone needs to get there.  I can sow the seed and Jesus will do the rest.  All I have to do is carry my corner.   Sadly,  for me the answer to ALL of those questions would have to be NOT ENOUGH!!

I have all kinds of excuses - I'm too shy,  I don't run into that many people,  I just don't know what to say, etc.,etc.,........................  I could go on.  I do struggle with being a witness,  not because I'm ashamed of my faith,  but because most times,  I just truly don't know what to say or how to say what I want.   BUT, with God's help and lots of prayer, I want to carry my corner. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Not too Chunky Salsa

I LOVE Mexican cuisine.  It is one of my favorite places to eat and I've been trying a lot of different recipes to try and recreate those flavors at home.  One of our favorites is their chips and salsa,  but the salsa we buy in the jars doesn't even come close.  So,  I went on a search and here's what I found; The Pioneer Woman has the perfect recipe.

I broke out the food processor and got to work.  I was so busy and impatient for the final result,  I didn't take any pictures of the process,  but if you go to The Pioneer Woman blog,  she shows step-by-step instructions.

Here's what you need:
     1 can whole canned tomatoes
     2 cans Rotel tomatoes and chilles (I used mild)
     1/4 cup chopped onion
     1 fresh jalepeno pepper
            (the Pioneers Woman's recipe calls for the whole pepper, I did not use the seeds & membrane)
     1/4 tsp salt
     1/4 tsp sugar
     1 glove garlic,  minced
     1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
     1/4 tsp ground cumin
      lime juice (half if large lime,  whole if small lime)

Throw it all in the food processor and pulse 7-8 times for chunky salsa.  I don't particularly care for the chunky style,  so I pulsed 6-7 more times.  Here is what I ended up with:
  DELICIOUS!!  It had enough kick for me and hubby,  but not enough that the kiddos wouldn't eat it.  They are HUGE chips and salsa fans.  This will be created over and over again at our house.  I must note that this recipe makes a LARGE batch.  I took some to another family at church and still had this entire bowl left over.  We will be eating a lot of chips and salsa this week!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Peanut butter, Chocolate Chip Muffins

My girls were wanting chocolate for breakfast, so chocolate chip muffins are pretty close right?  Turns out I didn't have enough chocolate chips, so we improvised and ended up with some delicious muffins.  Here's all you need:

           3 c. flour
           1 c. sugar
           1 1/2 T baking powder
           1/2 tsp salt
           1 1/2 c chocolate and peanut butter chips
           1/2 c. butter, melted and cooled
           1/4 c vegetable oil
           3 eggs
           1 1/2 c milk
           2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare two muffin pans.  This recipe will make in between 1 1/2 - 2 dozen regular size muffins.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk together until well mixed.  Then, stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips.

In another bowl, combine the butter, vegetable oil, eggs, milk and vanilla.  Mix well, then add to the flour mixture.  Mix together until moist.  Fill the muffin tins and bake for 15-18 minutes.  Using the toothpick test,  when the toothpick comes out clean, they are done!  Let cool and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Binky Battle

I have 6 kids,  5 of which took a binky. I thought it would be an easier battle than the thumb.  I still have baby Samuel that uses a binky, and that's all I SHOULD have.  I thought we had Mini-Me over this stage,  but I'm constantly taking baby Samuel's binkies from her.  They even had different styles hoping that this did not happen.  I don't know how to break it at this point.  I have tried the binky fairy, exchanging it for something else,  flat out punishment when I catch her with one,  but she still snatches them.  She even hides them so that when I take one, she knows exactly where another one is.  I struggle to find baby Samuel one at sleep times, because she has them all hidden.  What to do,  what to do?? 
 Yep, she smuggled another one!  I didn't even realize she had it until I had arrived at our destination and pulled out the camera to take pictures of the boys football team.  It was immediately taken away without drama, as usual, but she'll still snatch another one before the night is over.  The battle continues............. 
This one I knew he had,  but guess who had it by the time we got home from practice???  UGH!!!!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Not Back To School Blog Hop 2012 - Week 1

This is my 5th year homeschooling and my first year participating in the Not Back To School Blog Hop.  I wish I could say I was an expert on homeschooling (with 4 years under my belt) , but the truth is,  every year is an experiment!!  It seems that every year,  I've added a student and with that adds new challenges.  This year,  I'm up to 5 students.  I'm starting Mini-Me in K4.  We won't be terribly serious about her lessons,  but I think it's important to get her involved and seeing how it will work.

One of my biggest challenges each year is the curriculum.  I try to find things that we can do together in order to save time,  but our age ranges are so vast that is is pretty much impossible now.  So,  I have tried to get the older kids more independent and doing their own thing.  One of our new experiments this year is with Mr Helper.  We are enrolling him in Abeka Academy.  They will keep his grades and records therefore I do not have to worry about his credits and transcript.

The other children will be using unit studies for handwriting found at Curr I also like to supplement their standard work with unit studies from there as well. In the past,  I have used Simple Schooling unit studies found there for Science and History.  You can find something for all age ranges and they provide a lot of hands on activities perfect for my younger children.

Last year,  I found the  Easy Grammar textbooks for English.  I can honestly say English is one subject I just do NOT like to teach.  However, I love this set because of the method of teaching.  It starts with learning and removing prepositions and prepositional phrases (something my children always struggle with) which leaves the sentence simple and easy to learn the other parts of speech.  I do supplement with some units from BJU English in teaching writing, only because I already have them. I will be looking for something different for next year though.

I will be sticking with  BJU math, for financial reasons, since I already have all of those textbooks and teachers materials.  Math is something most of my children have picked up rather easily, Mr. Helper being the exception.  So,  for this year,  I'm just going to stick with what we know.

Another one of my experiments this year is with Christian Light Publications unit studies for Science and History.  A fellow homeschooler in my church has been using them for the past two years and highly recommended them.  I am going to try them for time reasons.  The past two years,  I have compiled my own unit studies and workbooks which is very time consuming.  I will let you know how I like them.

Reading is completed by utilizing our public library and the unit studies I find.  I think that pretty much covers it, except for spelling which again I will stick with BJU since I already have the books. 

Mini-Me will simply be doing worksheets I have saved over the years from my other children.  It's more of a get her involved and started year.  I am not going to be super stressed over what she does.

I think that covers everybody - Mr Helper -  8th grade, Mr Gamer - 7th grade, Princess 1  -5th grade, Princess 2 - 3rd grade, and Mini-Me -  K4.  It's going to be a BUSY year AGAIN. 

I would love any recommendations or suggestions from your school day.  What things do you do to make your school days easier?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Back to Weight Watchers

It's official!!  I have once again paid money to join a weight loss program.  I tried it on my own with no accountability and I have NO will power!! However, if I pay money for something,  I'm going to see it through,  I dislike spending money for nothing!!  It's hard when EVERYONE around me is eating what they want, and asking me to make cookies, cupcakes, and yummy desserts!!  NOT FAIR!!!!

But enough with the pity party.  I have a LOT of weight to loose after all these years of having babies and keeping the weight.  I really dislike those women who come out of the hospital after having a baby in their normal clothes.  UGH!!!!

One of the reasons I like weight watchers is because I can still eat my everyday food as long as it's in my point range.  I also like the fact that they encourage me to set small goals, reach that one, and then move on.  They don't focus on the "big" numbers, because obviously that gets discouraging.  So, my first goal is 10 pounds.  I can do that.  I'm trying to decide on whether to document my progress on this blog or start another one linked to weight watchers.  I can barely keep up with this one!  We'll see...... any thoughts, suggestions??