Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fun Sensory Boxes for Kids Using Rice

One of the challenges as a homeschooler is how to keep the younger ones busy when you have to sit down with your older child to do age specific activities.  My 3 year old is really great about listening (for the most part) but lets face it how long do you really expect a 3 year old to sit while you are drilling multiplication tables?To solve this I use several activities to keep my 3 and 4 year old children busy.  One of them is a tactile rice box.

It is so easy to make and the kids love it.  They absolutely look forward to it.  I only bring it out on Friday's just so they don't get tired of playing with it (also so I am not sweeping up rice everyday).  Basically I purchased small shoe box size plastic containers from Walmart.  Then I filled them with white rice.  Next I took some letters and buried them in the box.  Each box has a different set of letters.  I write the letters on the lid of the box and the challenge is to find all your letters then run to mom and tell me what sound those letters make.  After that is over the kids just use plastic spoons and other containers to dig around in the box.  This will literally entertain them for an hour.  So if you are looking for something to distract your little ones while helping them with their fine motor skills this is a perfect activity.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Christa's Hot Cocoa Mix

Thanks to my good friend Christa my kids and I enjoy making this very simple hot cocoa mix.  This is so simple to make even the youngest member of your family can help - just as long as they can hold a spoon :-)


3 cups dry milk powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups cocoa
1 cup non dairy creamer (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together.  After done mix in a hot cup of milk (if you left out the dairy creamer which we normally do) or mix in with hot water.

Store in an airtight container.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Teaching Moon Phases With Oreo Cookies - Apologia Exploring Creation With Astronomy

I absolutely love Apologia's Young Explorer series and plan to use it throughout my children's education as their science curriculum.  The thing I like about Apologia is that it really digs deep into each subject and presents all science in light of God's glory.  This year we are using Apologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy.
Apologia's Young Explorer Series
All year we have learned about the planets, stars, and how the heaven's declare God's glory.  Chapter 6 is a study of our moon.  Just for fun I decided to help the children remember all the phases of the moon by using Oreo cookies.  Below is an outline of the activity:

What you will need:
A pack of Oreo Cookies -we like the double stuffed :-)
A small plastic knife or Popsicle stick for younger children
Paper Plates
A picture showing all 8 phases of the moon for reference

1. First we took one side off of each cookie and ate them (yum-yum).  This left us with a cookie with the cream on it.
2. Then based off of the 8 phases we attempted to scrape off the cream to coincide with the appropriate stage. This is where you get cookie casualties because if your hand is heavy you can break your cookie in half.  Try explaining that to a 3 year old that just wants to keep breaking his cookies.
3. Then have everyone draw the earth in the middle of the plate.
4. After preparing each phase we placed them in order around the paper plate.
5. Then we used squeezable frosting to "glue" the cookie moons around the plate
6. After each moon was glued my oldest proceeded to write the name of each phase above, below, or to the side of each moon.
7. I verbally discussed the significance of what we had done with the 3 and 4 year old children.

Together we discussed how the moon appears to change shape in our sky.  However, the moon itself never disappears but only reflects the light from our sun based upon it's position.  This was a fun activity and after sharing our project with Dad once he came home we proceeded to eat our project after dinner :-)

There are many websites that have this experiment.  Below are just a few:
Paper Plate Education
Science Bob
Learning Encounters

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Inspiring Tuesdays - Quotes That Inspire Us to Live Better

How much stuff do you own that causes you more grief than joy?  Think about it and take a good look around.  Does having stuff make you feel more secure, happy, prosperous, or accepted?  Do you find yourself spending all of your energy taking care of stuff that you really don't need?  And is it just material stuff?  What about relationships, guilt, and bad habits.  Today's quote challenges us to look at our lives and take stock of what really makes us happy and what causes us more grief to maintain.

It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.
- Charles Spurgeon

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mouthwatering Homemade Biscuits

My family loves biscuits.  I usually make a batch at least twice a week and they are gone just as soon as I make them.  Below is a quick and easy recipe you can use that I am sure your family will love.

2 cups of Hudson Cream Flour (self-rising flour)
about 1/3 cup and 2 tsps of coconut oil (not liquid but put it in the fridge so it gets a little solid but not hard)
2 teaspoons of white granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
3/4 to 1 cup of evaporated milk
2 - 3 tablespoons of canola oil

My daughter is the biscuit expert.  She actually makes biscuits better than I do most of the time :-)

They may not be the prettiest biscuit but they sure are good.

1. Blend the coconut oil, sugar, salt, and flour with a hand held pastry blender
2. Add the milk and mix
3. Flour a surface and kneed the dough about 3 to four times
4. Pour the canola oil on the surface of your pan
5. Pinch off about 2 to 3 tablespoons of dough (may be sticky but that's ok)
6. Roll dough around in the canola oil until l all sides are coated
7. Place coated dough on the pan and move on to the next piece to repeat the same process
8. Place biscuits kind of close to each other so sides don't burn.
9. Cook for about 10 minutes at 420 deg F in your oven
10. Enjoy

Thursday, May 3, 2012

10 Things I Do to Save Money

First of all I would like to start this post by saying this is not a frugal living blog.  There are hundreds of good frugal living blogs out there.  I will name a few of my favorites throughout this post.  So here we go -  10 things I do in order to save money:

1.  I cut my dryer sheets in half - Half a dryer sheet works just as good as a whole one so a box of 40 will become a box of 80.

2. I don't buy shampoo - Ok before you say yuck she doesn't wash her hair my hair IS very clean.  I typically use apple cider vinegar, baking soda, or conditioner (called co-washing) to wash my hair.  Here is a link that talks about using vinegar for your hair.  Trust me you will notice your hair has less tangles and will actually have more shine.
How to Clean Your Hair Without Shampoo - from Simple Mom
I have only blown dried and straightened my daughter's hair probably less than 5 times her whole life but here you can see her hair is long and healthy.  I use no chemicals, wash mostly with apple cider vinegar, and moisturize with olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, and vegetable glycerin.

3. I don't buy expensive cleaners.  Typically you can clean just as good with a mixture of white vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia.  True you may not have all the good fragrances  but you will get things clean.  There are lots of sites that teach you how to make your own cleaners.
Non-Toxic Home Cleaning by eartheasy

4. I use coupons and buy store brands.  Very rarely will I pay full price unless I absolutely have to.  There are countless blogs that talk about couponing.  Also, there are different methods used to organize your coupons.  Typically I use the method described by  She has a great tutorial video on her website.  However, I absolutely love  Her website is wonderful for learning how to just live wisely.  She has everything up there from tips on blogging, coupon deals, to how to live debt free.  Also, I enjoy

5. I get hand me downs, shop at Goodwill, and love yard sales.  Hey it may not be new but it's new to me :-)
I typically won't buy any home decor full price.  Most decorations I get come from yard sales or goodwill.  Also, this is a great way to buy things for kids.  Let's face it kids grow out of things quick.  You can save a lot of money by buying used items.

Rug I purchased for my Den for $15.00 at a Yard Sale.  It was in good condition

6. I go to consignment shops or frequent consignment sales.  You can get a lot of name brands such as Ann Taylor, Talbots, etc... at consignments sales.  Also, there are many children's consignment shops that you can purchase equipment, toys, and all types of baby gear.  I got one of my son's pack and plays for just $15.00 at a consignment sale!  When you are done you can also sell it back to them :-)

7. I buy whole chicken fryers.  A whole chicken is wonderful.  Why pay extra just to have someone cut up a chicken for you?  If you don't know how to do it go on YouTube and learn how.  You can make more than one meal from a whole chicken.  You can boil it with vegetables to make a delicious broth that you can in turn use in other recipes.  Typically you will find (at least in my area) these less than $1.00/lb.

8. I buy on Ebay, Amazon, and other retailers.  If you are buying electronics, or cell phone accessories, refrigerator filters, and many household items at the store well stop!  You can often find these things significantly cheaper online.

9. Quit cable and ditch your land line phone.  Really can you actually watch 500 channels?  Do you get adequate cell phone service in your home?  We no longer pay for cable which is a huge cost saver. Ok I must confess we do have Netflix but this is still a lot cheaper than cable.  Also, we have not had your typical phone service for probably over 10 years.  We started out using Vonage.  Then we switched over to Magic Jack, and now we just basically use our cell phones.  I figure why pay for two phone services when you only need one.

10. I make most of my food homemade and we limit eating out.  This is also healthier.  I will admit initially this can be overwhelming but after you master a recipe you can basically do it with your eyes closed.  Some of my pet peeves are people that buy pancake mix (you are paying for overpriced flour), buying granola (do you realize how easy it is to make your own and how cheap a huge container of oats are?), and buying a boat load of frozen dinners (you can make your own - I will have a later post about freezer cooking).  These are just a few but you can save a lot of money by just doing stuff on your own in the kitchen.

I hope you have enjoyed this post.  I will probably do a part 2 to this at a later date.  Please feel free to add to the list and tell me what you do to save money.  There are countless ideas out there.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Inspiring Tuesdays - Quotes that Challenge Us to Live Better - Kari Jobe

I have had a bit of an break with blogging just because of life.  Life comes in with so many demands and expectations.  Before you know it you are feeling overwhelmed and that's when a lot of negative emotions tend to bubble up.  So many times in my tiredness and frustration I have had to apologize to my children or husband for snapping at them.  These are moments we have to take a time out and realize that even in our weaknesses God is with us.  I have felt incredibly weak for some time.  Feelings of condemnation and accusation have been surrounding me more than feelings of approval.  However, while in quite time this morning I listened to a Kari Jobe song that really hit home.  Today is not much of a quote but I want to highlight a lyric in her song "You Are For Me".  So often we feel God is not with us because of how we act or things we do.  However, this is contrary to his character.  His utmost desire is to be with us and he delights in us.  I love the following verse from Zephaniah that sums up his delight in us:

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.   - Zephaniah 3:17

In no uncertain terms God has pour out his love to fill our hearts (Romans 5:5).  During these valleys of accusation I pray I can remember that.  Below is the part of Kari's song I want to highlight today:

So faithful. So constant.
So loving and so true.
So powerful in all You do.
You fill me. You see me.
You know my every move
and You love for me to sing to You.

I know that You are for me.

I know that You are for me.

I know that You will never, 
forsake me in my weaknesses

I know that You have come now,
even if to write upon my heart.
To remind me who You are.

So patient, So gracious,
So merciful and true…
So wonderful in all You do.
You know me. You see me.
You know my every move.
You love for me to sing to You

Lord, I know that You are for me.
I know that You are for me.
I know that You will never, 
forsake me in my weaknesses.
I know that You have come now,
even if to write upon my heart.

To remind me that
I know that You are for me.
I know that You are for me.
I know that You will never, 
forsake me in my weaknesses.
I know that You have come now,
even if to write upon my heart.
To remind me who You are.

I know that You are for me.
I know that You are for me.
I know that You will never,
forsake me in my weaknesses.
I know that You will come now,
even if to write upon my heart.
To remind me of who You are.