Sunday, August 26, 2012

Back To School

   For the past two years I have ordered Abeka curriculum for my daughter and we have had "school time" in the mornings following a typical school year calendar.  This started when she was two and had a newborn brother.  The newborn took morning naps for the first school year and I was able to focus on my daughter.  The second school year he was a toddler and enjoyed doing puzzles, reading books, and would sometimes join in on the fun of coloring or crafting or singing songs with his big sister.

   She is now four and her brother is two. I have decided to forego buying curriculum this year since the internet has given me plenty of free resources and know-how to put together my own curriculum.  Thank you, all of you bloggers out there!

   We learn throughout the day, but there are some specific things I want to be intentional about teaching them this year.  Here is the skinny of it... By the end of this school year I want my four year old to be a beginning reader and she is super excited about this!  I also want her to be able to recognize #'s 1-20 and count to 100.  She can already write her name and most of the alphabet, but we will be practicing writing.  Year end goals for my two year old include recognizing colors, shapes, letters, and #'s 1-10.  We are going to use the "Letter of the Week" approach and my plan is to share our learning adventure so that other moms may benefit, out-of-town family can know what is going on with us, and in case I have more children I can refer back to these posts later. :)

   Next week I will begin teaching at a Parent's Day Out at a church five minutes from our house.  The kids and I will be going Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00-3:00, so they will be learning in that environment as well.  My four year old's teacher happens to be a certified teacher and plans to help her students get ready for Kindergarten.  I think this will be a good opportunity for all of us.

   Here are some of the things we are doing to learn at home. . . .

We are learning the months of the year and days of the week.  My sister, a 4th grade teacher, taught us the "Days of The Week Song" sung to the tune of "The Adams Family."  I got these free printables from Me and Marie Learning.  This is the laminator I got a few years back and it works well for all of our home projects and schooling needs.

Our changing table has turned into our school supplies table.  The blue and pink plastic containers hold our crayons, markers, etc...  There are some posters, worksheets, and games to help us learn.  I bought the American flag at JoAnn's for .99 to teach the Pledge of Allegiance.  The "Numbers" and "Alphabet" posters were purchased at the Dollar Tree for .50 each and the kids love them.  The "What Season Is It?" poster is about to be replaced with a tree that will hold the letters pictured below.  We will read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom each week and put up a new letter.  At the end of the year, they will all fall off the tree just like the end of the book.

Letters for our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree - idea from Confessions of A Homeschooler

ABC and 123 shared a great idea of having an ABC staircase.  We've played lots of fun games such as racing to a certain letter and singing the ABC song while hopping up and down the stairs.

     I recently read an article about how important it is for kids to play outside so my new goal is to allow them to play outdoors for at least an hour each day.  I also like to read to them at least 30 minutes a day.  We usually go to the library on Tuesdays for preschool story time and get new books each week.  Now that we will be at Parent's Day Out on Tuesdays we may go on Fridays when they also offer story time.  We memorized a verse each week last year that went along with our letter of the week, so we will be reviewing that verse this year and learning a new one.  Last year we used ABC Memory Verse cards I made from I Can Teach My Child.  This year we are using My ABC Memory Verses by Susan Hunt that I recently found at Goodwill - Oh, yes.  It was a good find!  So, here is how I schooled my children this week...

We took popsicles to the park, but instead of playing on the playground we explored God's creation.

Alivia made a bouquet with the dandelions she found by the tennis courts.

Weston enjoyed running up and down the hill from me to the weeping willow tree and back.

and we found some really cool rocks

We went swimming

Letter of the Week: A

We memorize scripture at the breakfast table -
Review verse: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." -Joshua 24:15
Memory verse: "A soft answer turns away wrath." -Proverbs 15:1
  This one has come in quite handy this week while teaching the kids to be kind and love one another. :)

Color the animal alphabet: Alligator - from (2 and 4 yr old)

Alligator "A" craft - from No Time For Flashcards (2 and 4 yr old)

Apple tree craft - from No Time For Flashcards (2 and 4 yr old)

"Apple Poem" (with motions)
Way up high in the apple tree,
Two little apples smiled at me.
I shook that tree as hard as I could,
Down came those apples,
Mmmmmmmm, they were good.

Made Apple Pie and Apple Butter and ate Apple Jack's cereal

Practice printing the Letter "Aa" - from Kids Learning Station (4 yr old)

Number of the Week: 1

Number 1 coloring page - from Kids Learning Station (2 yr old)

Number 1 worksheet - from Kids Learning Station (4 yr old)

Monkeys are Weston's (2 yr old) favorite and this was a fun way to teach him what #'s 1-5 look like while singing "Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed."  I got these from Doodle Bugs.

     Some websites we like to use are and

     Just today I was encouraged by Livi saying, "you have great stuff for me to do.  I love all of your stuff.  It is awesome!"  I'm not making this up. :)  The plan is to give a weekly update of our learning adventure.

Soul Nourishment #8

     A way for me to share what has been most nourishing to my soul this week. . . .

Praying For Your Children - blog post with great prayers for your children

The Key To Peace And Joy At Home: Embrace The Season - blog post with a good reminder

No Expectations - such a great article by Michelle Duggar!

10 Ways To Be A Happier Mom - by Ann Voskamp

How to Handle (Parent) Temper Tantrums - by Ann Voskamp;  Come on, you know you have them too :)

"...from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." - 2 Timothy 3:15

Supporting Other Mothers Schooling Choices - by Karen Ehman
"Raising kids is a journey full of choices. Prayerfully supporting a friend’s choice is a way to show unconditional love."

Katie Couric's One Regret? Not Having More Children - reminder to enjoy our children and be thankful for them - perspective is likely to change at age 55.

I found out this week that there is a Desiring God (John Piper) app. . . . such a great resource!  Books, Sermons, Conference Messages, Articles, Poems, Biographies, Seminars, Study Guides, Interviews - all at your fingertip!  I've been listening to the 2011 National Conference this week.  It's been a great way to get my focus off of my self and think about how to get the gospel to all people.  How has God called me to be a part of what He is doing to draw men to himself from all over the world?

"Remember that creating a Godly family is more about attitude than schedules." -Susan Hunt

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." -Isaiah 26:3

"The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." -Matthew 20:28

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." -Hebrews 10:21-23

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Homemade Apple Pie


     We were recently given a bunch of apples from a member of our church from his apple tree.  I plan to make some Apple Butter later, but tonight while the husband was cutting the grass and the kids were watching Tom and Jerry I decided to look up a recipe for a homemade apple pie.  I had pinned this one from Jam Hands earlier and had all the ingredients on hand.  I then googled a recipe for a homemade pie crust and decided on this one from Very Best Baking.  The pie was really good so I thought I would share the recipe here.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup Crisco
4 Tbsp cold water

1.  Combine flour and salt in bowl.
2.  Cut in Crisco with pastry blender or two knives.
3.  Add water and blend until mixture holds together.
4.  Shape dough into ball and place on lightly floured surface.
5.  Roll out dough to 1/8 in. thickness and place in pie plate.

5 1/2 cups peeled/cored/sliced apples
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup butter, room temperature

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  In a large bowl, mix apples, lemon juice, both sugars, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Pour into crust.
3.  In a medium bowl, combine topping ingredients with a pastry blender or fork and sprinkle evenly over apple mixture.
4.  Bake for 50 minutes.

This is the hardest part, but worth it!

Just thought you'd like a preview of the inside gooey goodness :)

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

     I've been eating these cookies ever since I began dating my husband 11 1/2 years ago.  His mom is an excellent cook and she got this recipe from a church member while living in AL.  After getting married, I, of course, called one day for the recipe.  This recipe makes about 75 cookies depending on how big you make them, so they are perfect for making for family and friends.  My MIL also freezes some of the dough for later.  They are actually called Aunt Susie's Chocolate Chip Cookies, but no one knows who Aunt Susie is.  :)  Grant Some people have been known to pop about ten of these in their mouth right out of the oven.  Once you've tasted one of these, no other chocolate chip cookie comes close!

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups Crisco

2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs

3 cups oatmeal
12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Stir first 3 ingredients together.
3.  In a large, separate bowl mix the next 3 ingredients and cream well.
4.  Mix the eggs and vanilla and then add to creamed mixture.
5.  Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and beat until well mixed.
6.  Stir in the oatmeal and chocolate chips with large spoon.
7.  Place dough balls on baking sheet and bake first batch for 10 minutes and the rest of the batches for 9 1/2 minutes.  Don't over bake!
8.  Allow to cool on wire rack.  


     Earlier this year we took some to our neighbors for a Valentine's Day treat. :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Baked Tacos

     My husband REALLY likes Mexican food!  I saw this recipe on Pinterest this week and decided to give it a try.  Here is what others are saying about this dish :)

Grant:  "This is seriously good!"
Alivia (4 yrs):  "Man this is good!  I wish I could cook like you!"
Weston (2 yrs):  Do you like your taco?  "Mmm Hmm.  I'm really happy!"

     So, there you have it, folks.  We had tomatoes, lettuce, and sour cream to top it off and mexican rice as a side.  I made some minute brown rice and added butter and a little taco seasoning.  Thank you, Blog Chef for the baked taco idea!

2 lbs ground beef
3/4 cup frozen chopped onion
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp corn starch
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (16 oz) can refried beans
2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
24 hard taco shells
   optional toppings: shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Brown the ground beef in a skillet over med-high heat with the onions.
3.  In a small bowl, mix the chili powder, corn starch, garlic powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, and cayenne pepper. 
4.  When meat is brown, pour off grease and mix in the prepared taco seasoning mixture, refried beans, and tomato sauce.  
5.  Spoon mixture into taco shells and place in 2 - 9x13 baking dishes, standing up. Sprinkle cheese over meat in shells.
6.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Add additional toppings and serve.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Soul Nourishment #7

     The last few weeks I've been listening to some incredible teaching from the Connecting Church and Home Conference that was held at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY back in August, 2011.  I've listened to several of the sessions and plan to hear all of them.  Here's the link. . . . Connecting Church and Home Conference  You will find sessions from this conference on page 6, which I have linked to here, and page 7.  Under each title of the different sessions you can see the event name and speaker.  While listening to them I take notes on my iPhone (because I'm either in my car or walking around the neighborhood) and I wanted to share some quotes that I typed out to ponder on later.  I didn't always put who said it, but you can find that out by listening to them yourself.  Good stuff!

"Preparation for parenting would be better than the getting pushed in the pool to learn how to swim approach."

"Parenting totally transforms your spiritual life and understanding of God as father and you as child/sinner." - especially when they start talking :)

"Budget for everything but babies - babies are wealth." - Candace Watters

"Think through the gospel implications of your fertility."

"God has given all children a soul that is eternal."

"Spiritual discipleship is about a church family with generational mentorship."

"Parents are the primary faith trainers - only 7% of families do anything outside of going to church to teach faith."

     I've also been reading Your Home A Place of Grace by Susan Hunt, and although I don't agree with all of her Presbyterian theology it has been a great book.  Here are some of the quotes I have found most thought provoking this week . . . .

"Doing family God's way is not the easy way.  It's downright hard.  In fact, it's war.  It's a holy war for the soul of the family.  Soldiering is not for the slothful.  Advancing Christendom family by family is for those ablaze with passion for God's glory.  It is the way of denial of self.  It is the way of service." - Susan Hunt

"As we sit at home and walk along the way, our conversations should be 'full of grace, seasoned with salt' (Colossians 4:6).  We will hear our words and the tone of our speech come from the mouths of our children.  The way you speak to a child is the way he/she will speak to a younger sibling.  Do they hear the language of faith?  Do they speak of the mercy and the love of Jesus?  Are they polite and gentle of speech?  Listen to you children to hear yourself." - Susan Hunt

Prayer for children:
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." -Ephesians 3:14-19

"If children begin to comprehend the expanse of God's love, they will be compelled to live for His glory." - Susan Hunt

"It is more about the life parents live before children than the rules we force them to keep." - Susan Hunt

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." - Psalm 103:13-14

A to Z Prayers For Your Child - free printable (in our playroom)

Prayers For My Children - free printable calendar (in our laundry room)

"Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD... 'We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you'... So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around." - 2 Chronicles 20:3,12,30

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit." -Psalm 51:10,12

Dear Stay-at-Home Mom - a great blog post for stay-at-home moms

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Poppy Seed Chicken

   This is a favorite recipe in so many homes.  A few months back I searched for this recipe and ended up trying the one found on The Girl Who Ate Everything.  I changed a few things for our family and now we have a new favorite recipe to share.  Enjoy!


5 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 cup sour cream
2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 stacks of Ritz crackers, crushed
1/2 cup melted butter
1 Tbsp poppy seeds


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Put cooked, cut up chicken in a 9x13 baking dish.
3.  Stir together the condensed soup and sour cream.  Add the next four ingredients and stir.  Pour over chicken.
4.  Stir together the crushed crackers, poppy seeds, and melted butter.  Sprinkle over the soup mixture.
5.  Bake for 30 minutes.