Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fall Decor Display

Have I told y'all about how I'm basically a DIY FAIL at every attempt? Well, I FINALLY did it... I created something I'm proud to call my own! You see, I had the hay left from our fall photo session and all of the pumpkins... so I just needed a couple of small additions to make it special.

I bought two more of the $1 plastic pumpkins from the grocery store - they have these everywhere. I cut the handle off of them. If I had it to do all over again, I would have cut the tops off of them before I painted them -- but if you do it this way -- cut just below where the handles fit into the pumpkin.

I cut mine after they were painted, but I bought a can of shiny antiqued nickle or silver spray paint at Lowe's. They also had bronze and several other colors that looked like iron and other metals.

I put them out in our yard on a piece of cardboard, and sprayed them down twice, let them dry and then flipped them over and sprayed the top and inside as best I could.  

This is a close up of the first pumpkin in progress.

Here are both of them after the first coating on the bottom side of the pumpkin. Remember I cut mine after this point and it took us trial and error to find the exact amount to cut off -- it took us 3 cuts on the first one, but I made it just to where the potted flower would fit inside the pumpkin. That way I can take them out and move them after the season is over -- or when I eventually kill them -- throw them out. A green thumb, I am not. 

Here is my final display all set up.

A close up of one of the finished pumpkin planters.

Of course this was ridiculously easy -- and it didn't take much active time -- mostly time for the different coats of paint to dry. After Halloween, I will turn them around until it's time to put up the Christmas decorations! 

Let me know if you decide to make one of your own, and send pictures of what you get set up.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Our Homeschool: 1st Grade

James & Tyler started their 1st Grade journey on August 8, 2016 - and truly when I tell you all of the stress I had over it was really for no reason at all. Something clicked with these two over the summer, and this year has been going relatively well. We've had some blips, but overall -- I feel like we are really making good progress this year!

We started off the year with our new curriculum, and a plan -- and I couldn't be more pleased with how we are staying on track!

We chose to use LIFEPAC by Alpha Omega as our curriculum, which is the same as we used last year for Kindergarten. (if you're interested -- you can look in the box at the bottom of that link and there are sample pages for each of the subjects and teacher guides) Most likely we will use the same for our 2nd Grade Year, and then we will change to the online Monarch Program (by the same publisher) for 3rd grade on.

We are doing all 5 subjects: Bible, Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies everyday. I worried about this while I was planning, thinking that it would be too much for them each day, but we're doing about 2 pages of each subject each day -- with the Unit Tests being on their own day -- I try to keep it manageable for the boys though -- so I only do 1 page of math if it's heavy on the actual math problems -- but it's just trial and error, knowing when your kids will start to push back.

About 30 school days ago, I added a couple of extra skill building things starting with this book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. To make sure that they are both learning this information - I sit with them individually at the beginning of our school day to work through 1 lesson a day on this. I can really feel like it's catching on more than when I tried it last year, and I'm so glad I pulled this back out!

I've also added in the Reading Eggs/Math Seeds program, which is for kids ages 3 to 13. They seem to be responding better to this than they did with ABCMouse -- I liked ABCMouse, but they complained every time I asked them to work on it. It's got a similar set up, in that they are working on a learning map -- so I have them work through 1 section of the map in both subjects each day. There is an assessment test that the kids can work through to get them to the correct level. Tyler is farther ahead in math and reading than James is -- but they have both raised their estimated reading age by a whole year -- and hopefully by the end of the school year they'll be on level or ahead of the game.

In addition to this:

  •  I try to get them outside or doing something active everyday for 30 minutes
  • We have co-op twice a month with varying themes of lesson topics
  • We hope to be starting a homeschool Boy Scout and Girl Scout troop soon
  • We do a few field trips as well
  • Once we finish the 100 Reading Lessons -- we will start working heavily on our handwriting -- which needs a lot of work!
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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Co-op: Mock Election

Last Wednesday, we had our regular co-op meeting with our friends, and we had a really good time. We took individual photos of each of the kids and a group photo of all of the kids. I'm only sharing my kids -- but look at these two handsome boys! I love them fiercely -- but BOY can they push my buttons!

We meet twice a month for co-op, and soon we will be starting to meet the other 2 weeks of the month to do scouting.

Anyway, this time we met and talked about the election process. We didn't get into politics at all -- just that there is a president and people run to be elected. We let the rest of that fall on the parents to educate their own kids as they see fit.

We did have a ballot for the kids to vote - they voted for their favorite cookie and snack. We had Oreos and Chocolate Chip Cookies as the choices for the cookie voting -- Oreos won in a landslide.

For the snack voting -- we had the choice of popcorn, chips, or pretzels -- we had a close tie vote between popcorn and chips -- so we were able to talk about run off voting.

They came in and made their own voter registration cards -- which we then laminated. From there they went over to sign in at the voting booth. We had a sign in sheet for them to sign and they had to show their card. 

After the signed in, we had them go over to the voting booth to cast their ballot. 

James was so excited to be voting.

After they voted, we had a special ribbon made for them that said "Voted" they were super cute! Sadly these are the only pics I have of the ribbons... but they were adorable and hand made by one of the other Moms.

I found another picture of the ribbon later that I was able to zoom in on -- but the original ones made me laugh - so I left them too.

The kids have a great time getting together, and hopefully they leave with a little bit of new knowledge. This was our third meeting because our second one got canceled due to 1/2 of us being sick.

Over the weekend, I'm going to post some updates on our other meetings and what we talked about.

Next month, we're going to talk about Native Americans, Pilgrims, and Thanksgiving.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - 10/24/16

This week I planned based on what I had on hand for the most part. We are at the end of the month and our grocery budget is limited -- so I am using up some freezer meals as best I can and adding in a few things that we had around.

Monday - Mexican Lime Chicken Soup
Tuesday - Mediterranean Chicken, Roasted Broccoli, and Long Grain & Wild Rice
Wednesday - Paula Deen's Goulash
Thursday - Pollo Asado, Squash, Spanish Rice
Friday - Citrus Marinated Chicken, Salad, Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Saturday - Out for a Birthday Party
Sunday - Chicken Noodle Casserole

I'll post recipes as we decide if they are good or not -- for my Citrus Chicken -- it's super easy, put the chicken in a bag and add the juice from 1 lemon (2 if small), 1 lime (2 if small), and 1 naval orange, and a couple of cloves of garlic... let it sit in the marinade for 4-6 hours before cooking. I use that for 1-2 chicken breasts... so double up if you're making more.

Since Halloween is Monday -- I'm skipping the usual weekend pizza meal this week... and we'll have pizza on Monday night.

Additionally -- how many of you guys are doing or have done Whole 30? I'm thinking about it, but I need to read more about it. Is it something you just do for 30 days and then stop -- or is it a lifestyle that you can keep up long term?
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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Turkey on the Table

Lately, I've noticed my kids are just totally ungrateful for the blessings that they have in their lives. I know this isn't an uncommon phenomenon in our culture, but I really want them to be thankful for all that we have - so I'm working on a strategy to help them see that they have it pretty darn good. In school, we've been talking about praying for others and being thankful for the things that we have.

With November coming up -- I remembered something I saw last year, by the time I saw it though - they were sold out of their inventory.

This is directly from their website:

Did you know that gratitude is a learned behavior? Turkey on the Table® is a book & activity that encourages the whole family to express and display their gratitude.  Our goal is to turn thankfulness into a daily routine.  As parents, we want to instill values in our children that help them understand and appreciate all of life’s blessings. Cultivating a grateful heart helps create a happy child!
Not only will your family experience the benefits of being thankful, you will also experience the joy of giving, knowing that 10 meals will be provided to someone in need with each Turkey on the Table® sold. To date, over 102,000 meals have been donated by Turkey on the Table® through our partnership with Feeding America® .

I absolutely love that they've combined the program with giving back to give meals to those in need. I can't imagine a better learning lesson than to talk to the kids about how some people don't know where their next meal will come from. I've looked into taking them to pack lunches for school kids that can't provide their own - it's a sack lunch program for needy children in our area - but they aren't old enough yet to go help with packing them.

So, we're going to try this - I love that when it comes time to do it again - you can just get new feathers from them in all sorts of different styles. We will start it on November 1st, and go until the end of the month. I'll read them the book in school on November 1st, and set him out on the kitchen table -- then we will add to him every night when they're having dinner. It'll be our new family tradition, and it doesn't hurt that the turkey is super cute!

I can't wait to see what sorts of things that they answer because I'm not going to let them use the same answer everyday like they've done before -- in order to get a feather it has to be something new to add. I haven't opened the box yet to preview the story, but I'm sure that it will be great too.

I would encourage y'all to get one for yourselves -- you've got a week and a day before it's time to get started -- so order TODAY, and share in the journey with us!

Leave a comment below if you've used Turkey on the Table already -- or if you're planning to start it this year!

I also have been loving my personal hair color that I get from eSalon - I took a survey that told the colorist some things about my coloring and skin tone, and sent them a photo of myself so that they could custom mix my color for me. They auto-ship it to me every 12 weeks... and all I have to do is take the time to put it on. Easy peasy!
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