Thursday, April 30, 2015

April Goal Recap and May Goals

It's time to do a litltle recap of the goals from April and talk about May.

In April I worked on deep cleaning the dining room and the boys room - wiping down baseboards, cleaning windows and dusting.  Darryl and I worked outside a little and put a new canvas on the boys tree house roof; he and the boys cleaned up all the sticks and stuff in the yard.  I also worked in the garage and got most of it cleaned up including getting rid of a metal shelf that was being held together by rust pieces HA!

We finished up our school year; I planned our weekly things for the summer and have everything in manila folders ready to use.  I am working on ordering school books one book at a time.  Organizing is still in the works of both the stuff we are done with as well as the stuff we are still using.

I didn't touch anything scrapbooking related but my goal is to focus this summer on getting current.  With school done, I can put some stuff away and set up a small scrapbooking area in the dining room so I can work on it daily.  It's important to me to get as current as possible.

We are just about 5 weeks away from our first camping trip.  I have been spending about $10.00 a week to stock up on stuff for camping like snacks and paper products.  I've planned our basic menu for each trip (we eat the same thing almost every time HA) so I can get what we need when it is on sale.  Now I'm working on activities to do while we are camping.  Last year I took some specific things for crafts and fun to kinda break up the day.  Plus we took our Kids Bible and did a lesson on Sunday morning with a little craft. 

I did a few other things but that's the basics.

Here's what is on my radar for May:

My goal is a little different this month.  Instead of specifically focusing on one room, I'm trying to get through all of the rooms and hit the stuff that only gets done once or twice a year like wiping down baseboards and trim, washing windows and going through every drawer, box, bin and container.   This isn't just true for the upstairs but also the downstairs.  As I finish the basic clean up/re-organization in the basement I then need to go back through every bin and clean out. Again.  I do this every few years and I'm always amazed and how much stuff I get rid of when I go through bins.

The focus is again different right now.  First and foremost I have to get our curriculum ordered as quickly as possible.  I'm starting with the core subjects so that I can get lesson plans done.  I learned last year that homeschooling two kids is different than planning lessons for 30 kids :-)  When I taught in a classroom I only planned one week at a time because we never got through the lessons planned.  Teaching at home, we almost always get through our lessons for the week so I can plan the entire year.  :-)   

I will be attending a homeschool conference this month too.  I'm looking forward to learning and to actually being able to handle some curriculum and look through things I've picked out - who knows I might find some fabulous deals too.

I have one main goal this month - to completely put together the graduation album for my nephew.  If I can complete is album by the end of May it will be the first time to ever have it done earlier than the night before it was "due" HA!   I would also like to gear up for my Summer of Scrapbooking by getting my supplies ready!

We'll be camping this month!  So, I have to open the camper, clean it out and pack it for the summer with the basic supplies.  Our first camping trip is literally 10 minutes from home so we'll be able to run home if needed to pick up supplies.

I should say that our Easter was great.  I've made a few notes for next year as reminders for planning but I was really happy with what we did this year.  I need to still make notes/ideas for Christmas and Birthdays now that we are on the downside towards both of those things again!

Just one Thing
I need to rework my list for this to focus on some key things.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What We are Eating - Double Crunch Orange Chicken

Double Crunch Orange Chicken
adapted from  Rock Recipes

A few weeks ago Darryl and I tried out this chicken recipe and we loved it.  Despite the list of ingredients, it's a very simple recipe to put together and, as long as the chicken is thin cut, it cooks up very quickly.  I served this with our favorite Fried Rice.  This recipe is actually in our menu again this week!

For the chicken
  • 4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp ground thyme
  • 2 tsp ground sage
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • canola oil for frying
To make the egg wash
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp water
For the Orange Sauce
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 3 cups orange juice
  • finely grated zest of one small orange
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chili flakes or 2 tsp crushed chili paste ( more or less to taste, use ¼ of this amount if you don’t like spicy sauces)
  • 1½ to 2 rounded tbsp corn starch
  • ¼ cup water
To prepare the chicken
  1. Place the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and using a meat mallet, pound the meat to an even ½ inch thickness. Alternatively, you can slice the breasts by placing them flat on a cutting board and using a very sharp knife to slice them into halves horizontally.
  2. Sift together the flour, salt, black pepper, ground ginger, nutmeg, thyme, sage paprika and cayenne pepper. NOTE: This flour and spice dredge mix is sufficient for two batches of this chicken recipe. You can store the leftover mix in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for the next time you make this recipe...and there will be a next time.
  3. Make an egg wash by whisking together the eggs and water.
  4. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then dip the meat in the flour and spice mixture. Dip the breast into the eggwash and then a final time into the flour and spice mix, pressing the mix into the meat to get good contact.
  5. Heat a skillet on the stove with about a half inch of canola oil covering the bottom. You will want to carefully regulate the temperature here so that the chicken does not brown too quickly. The thinness of the breast meat practically guarantees that it will be fully cooked by the time the outside is browned. I find just below medium heat works well. I use a burner setting of about 4½ out of 10 on the dial and fry them gently for about 4 or 5 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.
  6. Drain on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before dipping the cooked breasts into the Honey Garlic Sauce. Serve with noodles or rice.
To make the orange sauce
  1. Begin by adding the garlic and oil to a medium saucepan over medium low heat.
  2. Sauté for a couple of minutes until the garlic is softened but not browned, then add the remaining ingredients except the water and corn starch.
  3. Simmer together slowly for about 20 minutes or until the volume has reduced by about half. Skim off any film that may come to the surface.
  4. Mix together the corn starch and water.
  5. Pour slowly into the saucepan stirring constantly to thicken the sauce to a glaze-like consistency. You can use a little more or less cornstarch mixture to bring it to the consistency you want. Boil for only another minute and remove from the heat.
  6. Coat the chicken breasts with the sauce before serving. Serve with rice or noodles.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Teaching Tuesday - A Breather

Image result for end of the school year

We are taking this week completely off from all things school.  Our "summer plan" begins next week with science, art, and review.

Monday, April 27, 2015

It's My Birthday!

Image result for Happy Birthday

That's all today :-)  I'm spending the day reading, enjoying my family and eating some cake!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Things my Kids Say

* Josh and Nate were recently discussing the future and these are some conversations we overheard.

Josh:  Nate, when we grow up lets live in our house.
Nate: Why?
Josh: Because if we moved I wouldn't know how to get back home and I would always get lost.

Nate: I'm going to be a pilot when I grow up.
Josh:  And I'm going to drive behind the plane so I can pick Nate up when he lands.  He night be tired and need to go home.

Josh:  Nate, lets live together when we get big.  Wherever you go, there I will go also. (Yes, he really said that!!)

I think that the boys are truly best friends.

* Nate crawled into bed with me on a Saturday morning, looked at me and said, "Mom, you are the best mom ever.  I'm so glad that dad picked you"  What a great way to start the day!

* Nate:  "Ok, guys, lets take a break and get some refreshments."

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Family Fun - AWANA Games

In March, Josh was able to participate in the AWANA games with Sparks through our Church.  This brought back some great memories for me because I, many, many years ago, played in the Sparks games too. 

 We arrived at the school for the games and Josh picked up his team t-shirt.  Nate was hoping he would get to play too but all of the kids signed up to play showed up so he was a little bummed. 
 My little "Sparkie" ready to play games!

 Two boys being super silly.  About this time, Darryl, Nate and I were going to head to the gym to get seats but Josh got really scared.  I felt so bad for him as big crocodile tears started falling.  It was a brand new situation and he was very overwhelmed so I stayed with him until they were ready to head to the gym. 
 The whole team! 
 Josh is the last kid - this is when they were entering the gym. Both sets of Grandparents came to watch so that was fun too.

 The very first game was the Sparky Crawl where the kids have to crawl across the gym on their hands and knees.
 The bean bag game - Josh did a great job carrying that bean bag on his head.

 In this game, you have to run around the circle and then toss the bean bag from your line to the center and knock down the pin  . . Josh knocked the pin down on the first try.  It was awesome!

 Ok, this is called "Train" and it was Josh's least favorite game during practice because he was in the middle and would fall down.  So, when his leader put him in the front, I kinda was thinking this would be a fail.
 BUT, it was the complete opposite.  Because he was in the front, he ran with all of his might and brought his team to an almost victory!  It was awesome!

 Josh got pulled to play with another church during a game because they didn't have a enough players. 
This picture makes me laugh - look at that face!  The girl behind him had to hug him and Josh is like me, we don't like to be touched by strangers HA!  He endured it though and did a great job following instructions for the game.

After the game we headed to Smashburger with the Grandparents for lunch and then walked to Krsipy Kreme for donuts.  It really was an awesome day!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Weekly Menu - The one with my birthday. Oh, and May starts

After I posted the menu last week, we decided that we would grill out several times instead of eating out . . .then it turned winter again.  We did eat out once but otherwise, I just turned our "grilling" nights into winter meals using what was on hand.  We enjoyed some stuffed shells and sloppy joes so life was good.

This next week includes my birthday and yes, May really does start.  Hard to believe.

Saturday - Our normal plan is to eat out or order in.

Sunday - Sunday is a little up in the air at the moment.  If we are home, we'll grill some steaks and have the fixin's (potatoes, veggies and garlic bread) If we aren't home, we'll obviously grab something out.

Monday - It's my birthday!  I like to plan some things that I can make ahead (like on Sunday) and/or Darryl cooks.  I love having Darryl grill Hamburgs.  This year I'm craving Arby's curly fries and cheese sauce - both of which you can now get in the grocery store!  Plus, my favorite salad that no one really likes but me - Strawberry Pretzal Salad.  Yum!  And the birthday dessert?  Mini Cupcakes . .. store bought . .but they are awesome :-)

Tuesday - Double Crunch Orange Chicken, Fried Rice, and Biscuits  This is a meal that Darryl and I had a few weeks ago and we really like it alot.  Plus, it is SUPER easy and quick!

Wednesday - Grilled Chicken or pork (depends on what is on the best sale).  This time of year, or summer in general, sides are boring.  For real.  I think I'll do some roasted veggies like mushrooms and green beans and maybe buttered noodles.

Thursday - Greek Chicken with Veggie Couscous and biscuits.  I've never made couscous so I figured this would be a good time to try it and maybe make those above mentioned sides . .. not so boring!

Friday - Tacos!  It's been a few weeks since we've had tacos :-)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Few Random Articles

Periodically I come across a few articles that I enjoy and like to share.

The first one is one that my dad posted recently on his Facebook Page from Christian Mom Thoughts concerning elementary Sunday School.
 5 Changes Elementary Sunday Schools Need to Make…ASAP

Ironically, I had just had a discussion with my husband about an area in church that I feel like is failing.   Guess what it was?  The Children's area!  What is always pushed is to have a great youth pastor and a great youth program.  Don't get me wrong, focusing on the youth is a great thing but I think in doing so, it is often at the cost of the Elementary programs.  Personally, I think if a church would focus more on their Children's ministry - the ages from about 3years to 6th grade, the youth program would grow itself.  Think about it.  If the children's programs are grounded and teaching those kids how to live the Bible and not just Bible stories; and if those programs bring in fun activities that reinforce those truths and well, are just fun; and if those programs involve the parents in various ways I believe several things will happen.  One, the church will grow.  Parents that involve their children in church and, therefore are involved, will attend.  It is harder to drop off a 3 year old for church than it is to drop off a 15 year old.  Two, the youth group will be "home grown" - a vast majority of children who have loved being involved in that well planned children's program will be excited  to move up to the next level.  There are so many things that those elementary kids can learn and be grounded in before they ever reach the youth group which would in turn, make for a stronger youth group and teenagers who might actually love church :-)  But, that's just my opinion :-)

On a separate note, a friend of mine posted this article from Dallas Moms Blog concerning changing your wardrobe.
Hater's gonna hate.

I've never had a huge wardrobe but I like the ideas the author talks about and also the numbers she gives for what you really need.  I'm really posting this more as a reference for the future for myself as anything else :-)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Teaching Tuesday - The end of a school year and summer plans

With a very anti-climatic end, we finished our school year.  I taught in a classroom for 7 years and the end of the year was always such a huge deal with countdowns and wrap-ups; class trips and field day.  Homeschool?  Well, we just finish up our books and play more.  I think that in future years, I do want to attempt to play a year end trip - something fun to look forward to during the last few (boring) weeks of school to keep us all motivated.  I do still need to get a year end photo of each of the boys but this week, they are having fun at their grandparents house so the photo will have to wait just a few more days. 

So, this is what I've been up to over the last week.

 This is our "new" wall.  I am so horrible at remembering to take "before" photos before I start taking stuff down :-(  We've had two posters on our wall for about two years - an simple ABC poster and a simple # poster.  Well, the boys needed better pictures showing but the upper and lower case letters and just a new look at numbers so I found these over at Confessions of a Homeschooler which is great since they coincide with the curriculum I used with the boys for preschool so the pictures are familiar.

 I also have added minutes to our clock.  So, it's not 100% perfect because we need to move some pictures that are currently on the wall but for now it works.  The numbers are free over at Teachers Pay Teachers.
 The other big thing that I'm working on is putting together our entire summer plan.  Originally I was trying to find all free worksheets for review but, then I found a couple of fabulous review packets at Teachers Pay Teachers (which I will link up to a little later) that gave me every single thing I needed for the entire summer.  Added to that I found a whole set of free sight word practice sheets to use and I had everything I needed for our review portion.  Finally, each month will have a very loose theme based on science and art.  For example, May our theme will be plants.  We will learn about them, do some crafts, and do some science (like plant our garden!) My goal is to have our entire summer planned and in those file folders that are peeking out from under those stacks of papers in the photo above by mid-May. 

Right now, my summer plan is pretty simple. 
Monday:  The free day - nothing planned for Mondays.  This will allow me time to put everything together after busy weekends and, if I get super daring, I may go grocery shopping on Mondays with the kids.  (I'll probably do it one week and never again HA)
Tuesday - Art - I like to do art projects early in the week so if something needs to dry to get sent home, it has time to do so and still leave my house by Friday. 
Wednesday and Thursday - Review days.  We will do "school work".  Review worksheets and phonics.  The plan is just to have about 30-45 minutes of work
Friday - Science and/or field trips.  Fridays are great days for science experiments outside and/or to take a field trip.  We are all ready for the weekend so taking time out to do something fun related to learning is always good. 

This schedule may or may not change - I just want to have a routine so the boys know what to expect each day.  Most of their summer days will be spent playing though :-)
Finally, we've been working on learning to tie shoes.  I have wanted to get this book for a long time but it is very hard to find and therefore, even used, it was often selling for $60.00 (seriously!).  I finally found it for $12.00 and snapped it up!  We have discovered that Darryl has to work with them on this though . . .because I tie shoes backwards  . . .I'm lefthanded!  We were trying to follow the pictures in the book and I got so confused HA! 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Weekly Menu - The one without kids (yep!)

So, my mother-in-law has been wanting to take the boys for a few days and the timing just worked out for her to take them this coming week.  Darryl and I always enjoy some "fine" eating while the boys are gone and this coming week is no exception.

Saturday - This is Darryl's night to "cook" - so that just means that we eat out or order in :-)

Sunday - We are taking the boys to my in-laws after church.  I'm assuming we'll be eating lunch at their house.  For dinner, we are going to pick up some good steaks and enjoy our first grilled meal.  I have a couple of salad recipes I want to try so maybe I'll make up a new Pasta Salad Recipe to go with it along with some crusty bread.

Monday - Tonight we'll eat out - something local since I also have choir practice but even heading to Applebees for 1/2 price burgers is a treat :-)

Tuesday - Tonight we will head out to a favorite - either our favorite Mexican place or, if we feel daring, we'll try the highly recommended Italian place right next door to the Mexican place!

Wednesday - My parents are coming over today to attend something for the boys - but the boys will be coming with my in-laws.  I'm thinking about just doing sandwich fixin's and salads.

Thursday - Last week I did not make a meal - the Pork in the crock pot so the plan is to make that tonight along with rice and a veggie and, of course, rolls.

Friday - Tonight is the AWANA Carnival.  We'll be playing and eating at church! 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A new Book Study

I've started another Book Study through  I enjoy book studies because, well, I enjoy books!

In this study, we are going through the book What Happens When Women Walk in Faith.

I'm really working on staying current with this study, as I often get behind, so this week I'm working on reading the first 4 chapters and following along with the information posted on the blog. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What We Are Eating - Seven Layer Salad

Seven Layer Salad
 adapted from . . .Me! 

This salad is a family favorite - for the first several years Darryl and I were married, this is what I was asked to bring to every one of his family gatherings!  It's such a simple salad yet the flavors blend together so well while it hangs out in the fridge for 24 hours.  I'll list my original recipe below and than follow it with some substitutions that I often use.

1 small head lettuce, torn in bite size pieces
½ cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 – 10 oz. pkg. frozen peas, thawed but not cooked
Mix together:
2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
Layer on top of dressing:
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Crumbled bacon
Layer in given order, cover or wrap tightly.  Refrigerate for 24 hours

1. I almost always leave the peas off this salad.  I personally don't really care for peas and have found that people either love them or hate them . .. so why put them in? 

2. I love adding hard boiled egg to this salad - it makes a nice "blt" concept. 

3. Cauliflower is another optoin to add as a veggie. 


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Teach It Tuesday - Spring Break

We took a totally 100% unplanned spring break this past week.  I had totally planned to do school but, well, that did not happen.  We were all fighting various kinds of colds which made wanting to do school work . . well, not fun.  We were lacking sleep (ok, I was) due to several nights of coughing and several nights of thunderstorms which meant I had kids up multiple times during the night. 

And by taking a spring break - I mean we took one from everything.  I read  . . alot :-)  We had several dreary, rainy days so I even introduced the boys to Anne of Green Gables :-)

On that note, I'll be back with a more exciting stuff next week.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Make It Monday - Legos

When we put the bunkbed in the boys room, one of my big projects was organizing their Legos in a way that was easy to keep up and, well, as inexpensive as possible.  I had done tons of research and found some fabulous ideas but so often they involved spending $$ and I really didn't feel like having to budget and wait to get them organized! 

 The very first thing that I did was sort all of the "normal" Legos by color.  This really didn't take too long and I just picked up simple $1.00 plastic shoe boxes at Walmart.  Nate actually helped me to sort these which was nice. 
 Then, I took a file box that I already had on hand and sorted all of their maps by # and put them in numerical order with a basic description on the file folder.  The boys often like to take apart projects and rebuild them so being able to find the maps are very important. 
 This part of the project I'm not totally happy with yet but I used the three drawer bin to sort out the Lego People, the teeny tiny pieces and the pieces that I knew went to specific projects.  The drawers are too full which is why I don't like it.  I need to work on sorting this out more and maybe getting a different set of drawers.  This photo was taken before I had finished sorting but now, that table, is completely cleared off and ready for Lego Building.
Finally, I needed to sort their finished and/or in process progess.  I found some great bins that are long and not too deep - perfect for all of those lose pieces while working on a project.  I then used those same shoeboxes I mentioned earlier to store their completed projects.  I would like to pick up more of those long bins because they stack very well but those run about $3.00-$4.00 a piece so I'll pick a few up at a time. 

I love that I now have a process in place so as the boys get more projects, I can plan ahead and already have bins for building. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

family FUn - Metro Beach

 On March 22nd, we headed out for our annual trip to Metro Beach where Darryl and I got engaged many years ago.  This year, the weather was pretty nice - we didn't freeze to death :-)  The boys love walking on all of the walls all around the park.  We headed out fairly early so that we could stop and pick up a rental car.  Our truck went into the shop a couple days prior to our planned trip (something we were NOT planning for but leaking transmission fluid is not a good thing!); we decided instead of taking Darryl's car, we would rent a vehicle for the day and it was wonderful.  Nothing better than driving an almost brand new car with lots of bells and whistles!  Our first stop once we are in town is National Coney Island for lunch.  I love their Hani Sandwich and Chili Cheese Fries.  Once done with lunch we headed to the beach :-)

 Nate enjoyed posing for me. 

 Joshua exploring every single wall no matter how high!
 When we got engaged, we took a photo in this same spot and have gotten one every year since . .. jus tnow we have kids!
 Another tradition, Darryl doing a chin-up (or attempting . . . .)

 The boys love being able to play at the playground. 
 Our rental car :-) 

We also always take a photo of our rings :-) 

From the park our next stop is Morely's Candy Factory.  This stop gets more fun each year because the boys love to pick out a few favorites.  Then, this year, we decided to take in a movie.  We got to see Paddington and it is our new favorite movie! 

It was a great day as a family :-)