Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Our favorite games

My boys really enjoy games - especially Nate.  I thought I would share some of our favorite games for all of you!

 We first played Pictureka while visited my brother and sister-in-law in South Carolina.  Nate fell in love with this game.  When we were leaving, my sister-in-law gave it to him and he was thrilled.  I will admit that when we have a game night, I always love it when this game comes out!  It's a great version of "I spy" and really, truly, fun! 
 Blokus is a game Josh got for his birthday.  It was recommended on another blog and got great reviews.  I ordered it and hoped for the best.  The boys love it and learned it quickly.  I love this game because they are able to teach other people - they taught our little friends who come over how to play and they took it to their Grandparents and taught their Grandma how to play too!  It goes really quick - and lets admit it folks, no one likes a game that lasts hours with kids! 
 I'll be honest, this is not my favorite game BUT the boys love it.  Josh asked for this for Christmas about 4 years ago I believe.  It is a true Chess game but one side has images on the board to help with moving and you use cards that tell you which piece to move and how to move it.  It's a great way to learn the game.  I just don't enjoy it because 1) I don't like Chess and 2) it does take a while to finish a game! 
 This was another birthday game!  It had been on my list for a few years as a fun game to get and I finally picked it up for Josh.  It's fun, active, and easy to play.  It also goes fast.  The balls are similar to ping pong balls - I thought they would be hard or something and was surprised at how easy they bounce into the squares. 
This is another game from my Sister-in-Law and is fabulous for preschool/Kinders!  It's a simple matching bingo style game.  My boys will still pull this one out just fun. 

Nate pick this game up at our AWANA fair last year.  He loves cup stacking and this game didn't disappoint.  The cups are small which makes the "race" more interesting as you try to stack your cups in the order shown on the cards and be the first to hit the bell.  It is a stressful game HA!  But just so much fun! 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Origami Week 1

As I started working on my plans for Origami, I was a little stumped on week one.  I wanted it to be easy enough to have kids not get lost but still have the project be fun.  Well, I really under planned and we ended up with quite a bit of time.  That's ok, it's our third hour and kids are tired and hungry! My helpers (I have two of them but only have 6 kids - 2 who were gone week 1!) didn't necessarily help either - they got caught up  making projects from the book.  On one hand it was fine but they also made some things that I had planned for a future week - like paper airplanes - and then had kids making them as extra stuff.  Uuugg!  I felt a little disorganized this week too so I need to do better on that for future weeks!

Anyway, on this first week, I handed out their supplies and then we made the very first two shapes - a cat and and dog.  They got to add faces to their animals with googly eyes.  Then, we used water colors to paint a background scene to add their animals too. 

As I'm typing this, I realized that I left the finish products at Friday School so I can't take photos of them!  

Once we finished the projects and cleaned up, I read this book about The Paper Crane.  It was an easy read with interesting pictures.  

The rest of the hour, the students could practice making other items from their book.  

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Our Week in Photos #3

We worked this week on finishing up our semester, had two "ice days" and started Friday School just to name a few things in our week.  Now, here's our week in photos

 We started out our week with haircuts.  I love that our stylist now washes the boys hair too.  She said that they are "Now big enough for the bowl".  They absolutely love this !! 
 The boys and I went for a walk on Monday night . . this is what we all felt like after our 20 minutes of "brisk walking" HA!  
 On Tuesday I had a board meeting - this was the "board kids" practicing our new song. 

 Tuesday and Wednesday were "ice days"  Our friends were with us both days as school was canceled.  There was lots of train circles, video games, and, well, ice! 

 Thursday brought the Homeschool Library activity.  They learned about Antartica - Snow shoe races, a snow storm experiment, and making snowballs with q-tips and styrofoam balls. 

 They still love to ride "Sandy" at Meijer . . .I'm not sure how much longer this will be fun! 

Finally, we ended our week with Friday School :-) 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Weekly Menu

Do you know what I've noticed?  Grocery prices went up as of January 1st.  Our milk went from $1.89 to $2.49 a gallon; Toilet paper packages went from $5.99 to $7.99 and Koolaid packs went from $0.20 to $0.25 a pack.  That's just to name a few.  Now I might actually really need to become an Aldi shopper just to make up the difference!!  Uuugg.  It's just crazy how expensive things are getting at the store.

On to other things.  A few weeks ago the boys asked when they could go stay with my mom for a few days. After looking at the calendar, I figured out that this coming week would be perfect since they had a few days off from school.  That means I limit my cooking :-)  

Friday - The plan is to take the boys to my moms so dinner will be on the road or with her which ever works out better. 

Saturday - Darryl and I are eating out :-) 

Sunday - either eating out or eating in but I'm not cooking :-) 

Monday - We'll grab something easy - like Taco Bell - just so I don't have to cook HA! 

Tuesday - Teriyaki Chicken Legs, Amish Noodles, and Green Beans

Wednesday - Super simple - Mac and Cheese for Nate and Pizza for Josh :-) 

Thursday - Spaghetti Pie, Garlic Bread and Green Beans

Thursday, January 17, 2019

What I'm Reading

Since we are midway through the month I thought I'd share what I'm reading.  I talked earlier this week about my book club book and my book study book but this will include other books I've finished this month as well as what I'm reading right now.

 My mom and I had the opportunity to hear Beverly Lewis speak at a book signing last fall.  I picked up this book at that time and just haven't had a chance to read it yet.  I'm looking forward to reading it! 
 This is one of the books that I started in a book study years and years ago but never finished it.  I just never seemed to have the time to really read it and apply it.  Since I focus so much on not letting anyone steal my joy, I wanted to get back to this book so I could understand the importance of being positive with my kids too. 
 I love Liz Curtis Higgs.  I also love the story of Ruth.  Put those two together and I'm hoping this is a homerun! 
 This is my next book club book.  I've started reading it already and it has my full attention.  

As an Amazon Prime Member, I usually get one free "new release" book each month.  In January they gave out two!  I picked the two above.  Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are not - but they are free so that's ok!  These are downloaded on my kindle ready to read!

Since we are already half way through the month, I'm not sure how much I'll get read but these are my January goal :-)  We are considering switching from Cable TV to Hulu and I've already learned with the trial of Hulu that it's not as easy to watch TV without cable . . so maybe I'll read more ;-) 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Holiday Planning Binder

Several years ago I decided that I needed to start writing things done related to holidays because I never remember everything I want to remember!

Well, last year I was determined to do it and never did so . . . at Thanksgiving I did it.  I just started writing down notes.  Everything from our menu, to what worked or didn't worked and even a reminder that we always go see a movie the day after Thanksgiving.

Christmas included lots of info from reminders of things for the kids Christmas program to when to the boys annual PJ's.  I think it is so much easier to write things down while it is happening as reminders for next year.  Here's a small sample from my Holiday Planner for Christmas.  As you can see, it's just a simple list of ideas - nothing fancy.  I really call it my "brain"

Christmas Program at Church
·         Saturday practice begin the first Saturday in November.
·         Program is normally the first Sunday after Thanksgiving
·         If the boys need “Toga’s” (sheets) they can’t use what they used in the past (twin sheets); either purchase fabric or get Double Bed Sheets
·         Need to take a snack for after the Program
Christmas Cards
·         Take some very specific photos for our cards – go somewhere if I don’t have professional photos done by Barb.  (Meaning, go to somewhere pretty and take great photos of the boys and one of all of us together
·         Pick out and order our photo cards in November (or have them ready and order them on sale – also remember that I can design a college card like I did in 2018 for a lot less money
·         Write our letter
·         Address and mail them all by the first week of December

o   Find out all address updates EARLY!

I also made simple notes for New Years Eve/New Years Day.  Nothing fancy but just reminders of what we did and ate and a few ideas for future years.  (Granted by the time New Years comes around, I'm usually tired of planning HA!)

Next on my list is planning for Valentine's Day.  I try to keep it simple but some of the items on the list will include:
1) Letting the boys pick out what Valentine's they want to make and get the supplies EARLY.
2) Making our Valentine's box for our Co-op party
3) Planning our meal (We usually have Spaghetti!)
4) What small gifts to pick up for the boys - the key is small.  :-)

You get the idea, I'm sure. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Book Study - It's not Supposed to be This Way

Over the years, I've joined quite a few different book studies and, if I'm honest, most of them (maybe all of them) I've never finished.  I get a chapter or two behind and never catch back up.  This time around a friend of mine decided to do a book study on this book and I decided to join her facebook group and see if I can actually finish strong!

This book caught my attention because I think, for the most part, many of us find ourselves in a place where we realize that the plans we had for our life are not turning out the way we, well, planned.  In reality, that's to be expected because none of us know what curve balls will be thrown into our plans through the years but, how do we respond to those changes is what really defines us.  I'll be honest, I'm not a huge Lysa Terkeurst fan but decided to put that aside and instead look for what I can learn from what she has walked through the past few years.

We've just finished Chapter One and I can honestly say that I already like it.  Does everything apply to me and my life?  No, but I think in a book study, you can glean what does impact you and use that to learn and grow from.  Plus I enjoy reading what others in our group are learning as well.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Book Club Book - The Two Family House

After several months of missing for miscellaneous reasons, I finally made it back to my book club yesterday!  I think I've been meeting with this group of friends for 2-3 years and we've read a lot of books, enjoyed a lot of coffee and probably spent more time just chatting then we ever have talking about a book!  I will admit, I've read a great variety books - many of which I would have never picked on my own so it's been a great way to get exposure to new authors and different styles of writing.

The book we discussed this time was "The Two Family House" and it was a really good read.  It's the story of two families, brothers, who live in one else.  In a cold, snowy evening, both wives (sister-in-laws) each have a baby in the same apartment, at the same time.  In a split second, through a silent agreement, they make a decision that will ultimately determine the course of their relationship and families.  The story unfolds and tells the tale of each woman and, really, how their lives are impacted by that decision.  This story was a quick read but it was one that I couldn't put down (for real - I started reading it at bedtime and didn't stop until I was done HA!) 

"The Home for Unwanted Girls" is the book we read for December.  It was another great read and is based on true events.  It's really quite eye opening as you read about these orphans who were used for experimental testing and treated as less then human. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday Worship- Living Hope

This is another song that I recently heard while driving and I just loved that it was easy to sing along with and has such great words!  Music speaks to my soul.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Our Week in Photos #2

I really focused on trying to get photos this week to share!  Here's our week in review!

 We started our week saying goodbye to our tree.  I love the lights but, in order to get ready for school to start, it had to go :-( 
 Both boys helped undecorate it - but Nate posed for me. 
 Almost done.  This year, I had to take it down on a day Darryl was home because our tree was BIG!  I loved it!  The last few years we've gotten trees that were shorter than me so I could drag them out. Not this year!  It took two of us.  I'm also soooo thankful I bought a tree bag - what a huge mess saver!  
 Josh asked me if I thought he could squeeze in here . . .I said no.  He proved me wrong. 
 Finally back to AWANA.  We missed some weeks due to having one car and then it was Christmas break.  
 The cats favorite place - laying on anybody.  He really loves Josh. 
 Nate's favorite place - under his blanket on the couch HA! 
 What's this?  On Thursday my great nephew and niece came to spend the day with us.  It's easy to forget how many toys a toddler can get out in one day!  They were great fun though and we always enjoy having them spend the day with us. 
We had a full week of school as we try to wrap up the semester.  Josh had to take his MAP tests this week. These are tests the boys take 3 times a year.  Neither one loves them and I don't really either but it is one of those requirements so we just do it.  

So, that's our week!  

Friday, January 11, 2019

Weekly Menu

Last weeks menu didn't go as planned but we did eat well every night.  I just seemed to have slightly different twists on the daily menu in order to use up some food we had in the fridge/freezer.  We also ate out a couple of times which is totally out of "character" for us but . . .we were celebrating finally having a second car HA!

Here's our plan for the upcoming week.  I'm more focused this week on trying to stick to the plan so we will see how it goes!

Friday - Today is grocery shopping day and laundry day so between the two, dinner needs to be easy.  I love the idea of pot pies for the adults and chicken nuggets for the kids. 

Saturday - Lemon BBQ Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Corn, and Biscuits

Sunday - Ravioli, Green Beans and Garlic Bread

Monday - Sweet and Sour Meatballs, rice,  and green beans

Tuesday - Meatball Soup and Yeast Rolls

Wednesday - This is AWANA night and Darryl usually has practice so there will be one of two options - leftovers or something easy at home OR Taco Bell :-)

Thursday - Baked Tariyaki Chicken, Amish Butter Noodles and Broccoli

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Co-Op Class Description and Plan - Oragami

This semester I am teaching a class on Origami at our Homeschool Co-Op.  I'm not really sure how I came to the idea of teaching this other than after teaching Michigan History last semester (which, honestly, I did not enjoy) I wanted to teach a class that didn't require, well, real teaching.  In this class we are totally going to focus on creating fun projects.  My basic overview is to have 1-2 simple origami folding projects each week which we will then turn into a fun displays.  For example, we will fold fish/whales and create a 3-d piece of art showing them in an ocean or we will fold flowers, put them on stems (straws) and then display them in some vases.  There is also a wreath I plan to try as well as making a "Dragon Eye".

This class requires some basic supplies that each student will need.

The two items above are what will be used in the class.  

Josh actually got this kit for his birthday over a year ago.  He is taking my class so I'm hoping it will spark an interest in it! 
(all of these items are available on Amazon)

I will also be supplementing with some other supplies such as 8x8 scrapbooking paper for the wreath so the students can have patterned paper for that project.  Plus there will be "practice paper" which is just white typing paper cut to size.  I only have 6 students with two helpers besides myself so they should be able to accomplish what is needed with the help provided. 

I plan on sharing weekly/bi-weekly what projects we complete (and the success/failure of each one as well HA!)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Our Favorite Recipes - Stuffed Shells!

I love sharing new recipes I try but I decided I would also share some of our favorites.  Some I may have shared before but many will be "new".  I used to link recipes up so you could easily find them in the "archives" but over the last few years I got a little lazy with that feature - hopefully I can get back into the habit :-)  That also helps when I'm posting the menu - when I'm really on top of things I can provide links within my menu.

I haven't figured out how to post a "print recipe" option so I just try to post them in a way that you can easily "copy and paste" the recipe and print it that way.

Quite a few years ago, before we had kids, we used to go on vacation HA!  One year, while we were in Tennessee, we made a drive to South Carolina to see some friends.  For dinner, she made Stuffed Shells with Ricotta Cheese and they were amazing.  Once we got home, I went on a recipe search and found the perfect recipe.  It's been a long standing family favorite forever.  It's super easy, fairly inexpensive, and I love that I can put it all together in advance (like on a Saturday) and then cook it later (throw it in the oven right after church and dinner is ready in about 40 minutes).  I have no idea where I found the recipe since it has been so many years but I'm pretty sure that it is pretty standard this dish.

2 dozen large pasta shells
2 teaspoons salt
24 ounces part skim ricotta cheese *
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs, Italian seasoned
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 egg, slightly beaten
Pasta sauce (jarred or homemade)
Mozzarella Cheese

Cook the shells in boiling, salted water, following the package directions.  Drain and rinse with cool water.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl combine the ricotta cheese, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley and egg; mix until well blended.

Cover the bottom of of a 9x13 baking dish with a thin layer of sauce.  Carefully spoon cheese mixture into shells; arrange shells, open side down, in the tomato sauce in the pan.  Pour the rest of the sauce over the shells. Cover with Mozzarella cheese and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and cook for 10-15 more minutes or until cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.

* I usually buy the smaller container - I think it is 16 ounces - but keep the rest of the ingredients the same and it tastes fine.  It makes a slight smaller batch and I put the shells in a 9x9 pan instead.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Our Christmas Eve Gifts

I've learned through the years the often the best gift ideas come from other blogs - tried and true gift ideas from other parents and the gifts they have given their kids!  So, I thought I would start sharing some gift ideas and, when Christmas returns next year I will try to remember to post these ideas once again!

Christmas Eve - I have always tended to over think these really creative ideas for Christmas Eve gifts and, honestly, they don't go as well as I hoped they would.  For example, one year, the boys got a book called "The Monstore" and each a set of supplies to make puppets. I thought it was awesome . .. the boys, not so much HA!
 (In all fairness, this did become a favorite bedtime story book!  )
(These puppets are actually super cool - my boys just weren't into them.  I would recommend them to someone with kids that love to be creative with toys like this! ) 

This year, I decided to keep it a little more simple.  Naturally, I picked up some new PJ's for them.  I found them the week of Thanksgiving at our local Meijer when they had them on sale for "buy 1 get 1 half off" which made them super affordable. (Not to mention, they didn't ring up correctly but, when I explained it to the cashier, she was so fed up with the sales not being in the system correctly, she gave me an additional 25% off of the 15% already given so I got them for a steal!) I then got them each a set of Pokemon cards because they both love Pokemon and then I found these awesome logic games.

They can both be found on Amazon and in Meijer -- my boys had fun with them both.  Each game comes with cards.  The cards show what colored cat/dogs to use in the puzzle and the area they need to fit.  Using logic, you solve the puzzle.  Don't worry, there are also answer keys!  The Dog Pile game seemed to be a little harder and Nate and I did have to look at the first clue to figure it out but then Nate was able to complete several others without help.  Both of these puzzle games are great for quiet play and are small enough for easy transport anywhere.

These games were a perfect hit.  Both of the boys played with the game they got after opening it and they enjoyed the game!  Yeah!