Friday, October 31, 2008

Astronaut Costumes

To finish off the space theme that we have going on here, we decided to make space girl costumes. I thought it would be pretty easy to find some ideas on line, but alas, I didn't like the few ideas I found. So...I figured I could make them up myself.

We hit the local Goodwill for some old clothes that I thought might take the spray paint pretty well. Took them in to make them fit the girls and then...sprayed them with lots of shiny metallic silver. (Good thing Chuck is here to do all the spraying, I got a finger cramp after one can of spray paint). I saved some soda bottles for their air-packs and finished them off with air tubes. The helmets were really giving me troubles. Chuck came up with the idea of covering their bike helmets with foil. Add a few "patches" and girl to the rescue.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Is it me???

Do I give off some kind of crazy magnetic vibe that causes compasses not work? Have you ever heard of this? Here's the deal...we use compasses for letterboxing and it has been hard for us to find a reliable compass. My mom had gotten the girls each one and we have used those but they haven't always worked. I thought maybe that had gotten to close to some kind of magnet or something. You know when you are pointing it, let's say East and it says North. So one day we were near a Gander store and I figured I could get a descent one there, it is a outdoorsy type of store. So I spent 10 bucks and got one (I know you are thinking way to splurge Cris, hey...I didn't choose the $2.99 one). On the way home I noticed it seemed funky. And we tried it out several place and it still wasn't consistent. So I have carted this compass around in our car for probably 4 months waiting to get back to that area (about an hour from our place) and exchange it for one that works.

I brought it in and told the lady that it didn't always work and she graciously let us exchange it for a different brand. I hunted all around and found one that seemed to point North. Did the exchange and headed home. You guessed it. It doesn't work either. Is it me? Is it the car? Is it the area we live in? Are we too close to some crazy power lines? Is it the cell phone to close to it? What is the deal? Any ideas? I am beginning to think it is me. I must give off some powerful magnetic vibe that I am unaware of. Maybe that is why Chuck is still attracted to me after all these years.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Space Lapbook

We finished our lapbooks today that we have working on for several weeks. Lapbooking was totally new to me until I met my friend Tiffany. She inspired me to try something new and I am glad we did. The idea is to take some kind of board (on this one we used file folders glued to each others ~ you can also use poster boards). Then you make little mini books and attach them to the boards. I use Dinah Zike's Big Book of Books for mini book ideas.

Our science curriculum tells us to take notes, record definitions and draw pictures that goes along with what we learn each day. Instead of doing that, we made little books each day.
As for all the pictures, sorry they are fuzzy and not clear.
Here you can see the constellations book, Galileo time line, and other misc. mini books. Notice the phases of the moon pull down book.

We also made a glossary with all the vocabulary words and a star pocket with a little star game we made up.

We decided to make a little book (all the orange and green ones) for each of the planets. After I read to them from the books that we are studying, they came up with bullet points that they remembered about the planets. The long yellow book is the planets in order with a picture of it on the inside.

This red mini book was a chart of the planets and the speed of rotation and orbits. Tristen coined the phrase E years/days/hours (for Earth years/days/hours). The orange one was just for fun - a prediction of the future of space.

Today we finished with space travel and different galaxy shapes. Notice how these books open up to neat shapes.

One of the things that I like about lapbooking is the kids want to keep looking back through what they have made. And it is another opportunity to "review" what they have learned.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Let me start off by saying, this post has nothing to do with moving. I wanted to make that clear right from the beginning. All though we did have an open house on Sunday and we had 3 families come through and there has been a lot of interest lately, we are still waiting on God for a contract.

So what else would you wait one more year for??? School. I wanted to encourage anyone out there who is toying with the idea of waiting an extra year before starting their child in kindergarten. Homeschool or public or private school, just a like. I am a huge advocate for waiting that extra year.

I am a mom who had to make that choice for her own child. In fact, Tally's birthday is on the cut off for entering kindergarten. She did, in fact attend kindergarten in a private school. When she started, we had been encouraged to push her ahead and start her in first grade. Let me back up and share that we had started her in kindergarten when we were in California and she attended for about 2 months before we moved (end of the school year). I had already taught her to read and she was a strong reader. That alone was the schools reason that she should be put in first grade at age 5.

It was a hard decision and after much thought and prayer, we decided to pull her out of that first grade class and put her in the kindergarten class. It was one of the best decisions we have ever made. I knew I would have second guessed that decision to keep her ahead every year if we had chosen otherwise. I started thinking that she would start her senior year at 16 (that is so young). I realised that children need a chance to mature and at the beginning is one of the best times to do that.

One of the best examples I heard was a train. Imagine your child is that "young" student and really struggling to keep up with the class. She is trying to run to catch that last caboose on the train. Just wait. Another train will come along and she will be riding on the engine and leading the rest of the "cars".

I am not sure I have ever heard a parent say they wished that had pushed their child ahead. Although, I have heard many say they wished they had waited that extra year. On a note of encouragement, the younger grades are easier to make this kind of a change. The older they get, the harder it may be to make that change. One more quick note, waiting that extra year isn't only for boys. Though it may be more common. Most "young" boys would really benefit that extra year to mature. But we are living proof that it can benefit girls too. Tally is still a strong reader. She quickly grasps most things I teach her. Like I said before, it really was the right decision for us.

Better late than early.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

If I could tell by the first snip that it was a mistake, then why did I keep cutting?

I was trying to get myself ready to head out tonight with the girls to go to a fall party. For some reason, one thing after another the whole thing turned out to be a bit of a fiasco. Every few minutes the girls kept coming in the bathroom and asking if it was time to go. That didn't help with how the prep time was going. Let me run through a few frustrating moments that led to "the mistake".

I had taken a shower earlier in the day and had just gotten around to drying my hair (something that I often leave for later). To be quite honest about my hair, I have pretty much hated it since we moved here (a.k.a. the tropics). I have hunted for any product that would make it smooth instead of fuzzy but even with much product and the use of the flat iron, most times I end up putting it up anyway. But for some reason tonight, the humidity was in full swing around here and it just wasn't workin'.

I had opened the windows earlier in the week and we have actually enjoyed a slight cool down, and for some reason, the bathroom is the hottest room in the whole house. I probably should have closed the windows and turned the air back on, but the frugal gal that I am, was embracing the all natural cooling instead. The whole time I was getting ready, I felt like everything I did was a total flop.

Outfit - flop. (Well to be completely honest I was wearing my only jeans {I am a bit of a minimalist} that I had pulled from the dirty laundry basket and they were slightly moist from the Fabreeze spray that I thought might just make them seem fresh and clean).

Makeup - flop. I was so hot, I had a hard time putting on makeup because my face was so sweaty. I have never sweated as much as I do here. It is really hard to get ready when everything seems to melt off of your face.

Hair - total flop. After trying all my tricks, I realized that my bangs were just driving me crazy. I have always had very clumpy bangs. Not all spread out and wispy. Nope. Mine are clumpy. And with the humidity, they tend to have an odd cowlick (you know...that is a really gross name for it). So I dug around and found my thinning shears. I know you are all thinking right now...don't cut your hair when you are already frustrated. I know better. But I did it anyway. And from the first snip, I knew it wasn't right. But I kept cutting to try and fix it. And's just say my bangs scary short and oddly choppy.

I will have to wait as they grow out from my mistake. They look terrible. And there will be no picture. Ugh! Note to time...put down the scissors and step away from the mirror.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Man...sometimes I REALLY love homeschooling

We have been studying space for science for a few weeks (part of our Noeo science program). This has been the girls favorite thing to study so far. There are times I wonder how much of what I teach actually stays with the kids...and it was demonstrated to me as I was making lunch one day.

Tally had gotten out the fraction magnet puzzle and put them all over the fridge. Then when Tissy came in the kitchen, she noticed that there were 9 circles. She proceeded to make them represent the 9 planets in our solar system. (**notice the poll on the side bar ~ this is for the girls**).

She took her time choosing the colors that seemed to fit certain planets best. She even included some moons, and Jupiter's red spot and Saturn's rings.
I asked her what all the small squares were for..."That is the asteroid belt that separates the inner and outer planets Mom." Of course, how did I not know that??? Now this is all to say, that Tissy went from not being able to name the planets (Tally ended up teaching her), to this fun kitchen demonstration. We have been working on a lap book with all the info that they have learned and I will have to post that when they are done with it. But all in all, it is moments like this that I am so glad that we homeschool.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Homemade Crayons

I got this idea from my friend Debi who watched my girls last week. They had such a nice time there and I was so impressed that the girls did some crafts while they were there. They made crayons out of broken pieces. We gave it a try tonight and it worked pretty well.

We pealed and broke the crayons and put them in muffin cups (I would have used double cup liners next time or better yet, foil muffin liners). We melted them in the 325 oven for 5-8 min. and let them cool for a few hours. ( would link to Debi's post on this but I think her blog is private ~ hers turned out really cute).

I think these would be great for little fingers (pre-school age). The colors are so pretty. And, a great way to use up old broken crayons.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reasons for fresh milled grain

I get a newsletter in my email box that comes from a company called the Urban Homemaker (I always loved the name of that company). As I was reading the most recent newsletter, I was reminded of the importance of milling my own grain.

One of the points in this particular letter mentions the cost of milling and bread. I wanted to share a few lines from the letter from Marilyn Moll ~

" Recently, I calculated the cost of making Marilyn’s Famous Whole Wheat Bread. My cost came in at just over a dollar even at the higher cost of grain. There is probably less than 25 cents worth of grain in each commercial loaf of bread. Today, a 1 1/2 pound loaf of whole grain costs at least $4.00."

The fact is, grain has really increased in price. I am sure your grocery bill reflects that. Any of the grain based products are so pricey. A large box of Wheat Thins is about $5. A descent loaf of bread is hard to find for less than $3.50. I noticed that english muffins were over $3 this week. That all really adds up. All of that motivates me to get my mill out and make my own bread.

As for the health benefits of fresh milled, we are the living proof that eating better, does keep the doctor away (no offense Permission to Mother). My girls were often sick and so was I. Since we have changed our diet, our sick visits to the doctor have almost completely stopped. In the past 3 years, I think we have been the healthiest we have ever been. Tally doesn't have to take medication for asthma anymore and Tristen's sinuses don't seem to be an issue like they were. Not to mention my cholesterol going down 30 points. Here is some more info from the newsletter I got.

"Whole grain bread offers significant nutritional benefits because it contains at least 26 naturally occurring vitamins and minerals along with good quality fiber and wheat germ oil missing from commercial breads. The grain refining process removes the bran, and the wheat germ oil and most of the nutritional value. White refined flour has four B-vitamins left in it which are not in the original proportions. That's It!

Consuming white flour product is like being robbed. Your body needs nutrient dense foods and refined flour baked goods are devoid of health enhancing nutrition.

Your body needs nutrient dense foods for good health. The term “nutrient dense” refers to foods that naturally contain a high spectrum of vitamins, and minerals. Spending our family’s precious grocery dollars on items that are largely manufactured and processed from inferior ingredients is associated with a number of common degenerative diseases, such as hemorrhoids, constipation, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and allergies which are associated with low fiber diets along with the consumption of refined and processed foods."

I just wanted to share a little from that newsletter. I hope you are encouraged to do the best you can for making food for your family. I am encouraged that I am setting the pace of eating for my kids for their life. Recently, I bought a loaf of bread from the store (for convenience) and neither of the girls would eat it. They said it just wasn't as good as my homemade bread. What a great compliment.

Update: Click here to see how we mill the wheat.

Click here to see the recipe post.

good morning

I find I can enjoy a special treat when I am trying to "clean out my fridge". I was trying to use up this whipped cream. And, is a lot cheaper than going out for coffee.

To be honest, my favorite coffee treat is to mix 2 kinds of General Foods International Coffee (the sugar free one and a regular one). I know, I know...I am sure it is horrible for me, but such a special treat. (I figure all my homemade fresh ground wheat bread and tortillas make up for it.)

Hope your morning is starting off great.

Monday, October 20, 2008

encouraging quote

I heard this really neat quote today that I wanted to share.

Life is to look better behind you than in front of you ~
Because it has your footprint.

Now if that doesn't inspire you, I am not sure what will.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A prayer for your family

I found this on another blog (a friend of mine from college) and I wanted to encourage you to click the link. Maybe even print it out and keep it somewhere to remind you to pray for your family.


I have just started a new book with the girls called, Lord Teach Me To Pray. It has been great so far and I look forward to sharing about it. I use the Precepts for kids books with my girls to teach them how to study God's word.

It has been neat to see our prayer life increase as we grow to be more like Him.

UPDATE: Prayer Calendar for Praying for our Children ~ HERE

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

It has been such a blessing of a week. Having Chuck home for a whole week has been such a treat. We just love having him home. He has always worked long hours and often traveled for his job. So to have him home for a whole week is so unusual. Maybe even a first.

As he prepares to drive back to work (about an 11 hour drive) the girls are getting teary and sad. Well, we all are. But I want to put a positive spin on it. And give tribute to this wonderful Daddy that he is.
Notice Chuck is on the invitation pillow (HERE).

Chuck is, as I type, telling the girls ridiculous stories. He comes up with these off the top of his head. He takes the time to snuggle up with them one at a time and capture that special moment as they are getting ready to fall asleep. I love listening to him tell these stories. Often Tally is laughing so loud and cracking up. Tissy, on the other hand, will say "that's funny Dada". Tonight is another saga of his made up Stacy J stories (just imagine Junie B. Jones). He is so creative.

We just finished playing Pictionary as a family. Now that the girls are older, they are really good players. They always want to be on Daddy's team (he is a fantastic "drawer"). It is so fun to watch Chuck draw. His details are fantastic.

Chuck is truly a very gifted person. Just about everything he does is amazing. Creative, thoughtful, personal, sensitive. He is such a hard worker and has always worked so hard for our family. Today, Chuck found out that he has been nominated for an Emmy again this year. (Last year he won 2 HERE). I am so proud of him and so grateful that he followed God's leading and desired to use those talents for His kingdom. So as he heads back I know that more than anything, he longs to be home with us. There are many men that wouldn't want to come home, and I am so thankful that this is where he wishes to be.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Take a closer look

I've always thought that I was pretty good at being observant. I was reminded just this week, to stop and take a closer look at life. Tristen spotted something that I must have walked past a hundred times and missed it. So just for fun I thought I would post some pictures to see how observant you are. I have always loved those puzzles in kids magazines that challenged you to spot the differences. So DON'T scroll down to see the second set of pictures. No cheating here.

Here is an odd assortment of our life in pictures this past week.
Like I ODD assortment of pictures. So here are the ones that I want to point something out in. Take a closer look.

Tally got new glasses. Her prescription almost doubled in the last year. Can we say "growth spurt".
This is what I have been walking past. Tissy spotted a tortoise living in our garden bed. And I noticed his little toad friend. They use their camouflage really well. You wouldn't normally spot them.

Last but not least...I am lementing the loss of a stone tray. It cracked yesterday. If you are a pampered chef fan, you will understand. I was just enjoying the seasoned look of my tray and thinking it was just getting to the point where I like it. And...I spotted the crack. Let me take a moment for greiving the loss of the stone. OK, that is all for my odd little post here. Just a hodge podge of pictures. Some of them do require a closer look.

And totally off the subject...Chuck and I saw Fireproof yesterday (thanks to Debi for watching the girls). It was really quite good. I am offering anyone to watch there kids so any local friends want to go as a couple. Thanks again Debi, let me return the favor. =)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eating out

In this time of economic crisis in our country I am sure we are all doing things to cut down on the cost of living. In the midst of our own family transition, we have really cut out extra spending. Everything from not driving unless it is necessary, to not buying anything extra.

One of the first things that we cut out to save money was not eating out. We were never a family that ate out all that often. Though there were times that we would be out running errands and pick up some "fast food". Or we might eat out as a family once on the weekends as a treat. Even if we were careful and didn't order drinks or ate off the dollar menu, it still added up. And to think...we are a small family and my kids aren't big eaters.

Now, we can easily go for weeks between eating out at a restaurant. We did dine out for Chuck's birthday last month and it was great. But if I plan ahead, I can pack our food for the car if we are out on the town. And it takes just as long to make lunch after church as it does to wait for a table at a restaurant.

So, I am often do you eat out? I am especially curious of those larger families. I am sure it is very pricey to eat out. If I had to guess, before we cut back on this part of our budget, we were eating out about 1-2 times a week. Now it is more like once a month. I have been saving my tutoring money to treat the family every once in awhile.

So, how often do you eat out? And what does it tend to cost?

Monday, October 13, 2008

I forgot -

- how much I laugh when Chuck is around. I think it is good for my soul. Truly...he is funny. Somehow I just don't laugh out loud when he is gone, it's just not the same.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What a GREAT surprise!!!

Chuck showed up this afternoon as a HUGE surprise. He said he got special permission to work from home for a week so he can be here with us. He got up at 4:00 am and drove home. What a wonderful treat. Can I just say, how much I love this guy!!!

OK, here is my special "local" request. I thought it would be such a treat to go out on a date and see Fireproof this week (maybe even grab a quick bite). Any local takers on my sweet little ones for a few hours???

Friday, October 10, 2008

Favorite kid toys

I like this idea of posts about my favorites. I wanted to share some of our favorite kid toys. Though we have down sized and gotten rid of some of our toys, these are some of the girls all time favorites. (This is for you Ginny)

These are Calico Critters. We have looked at these in specialty toy shops for over a year and hadn't gotten any (they are pretty pricey). The girls had some spending money on a trip and each got a "family" of Calico Critters. We don't have the doll style houses, so they set up house in their wooden tree house (last years Christmas gift ~ another favorite).

You will notice most of our favorite toys encourage imaginary play. These Calico Critter remind me of one of our favorite kid videos (I only have it on VHS, which doesn't do me any good since I don't have a player anymore) called Brambly Hedge. That is by far, one of the BEST kid videos.

These are what we call Felt Friends (actual name Felt Kids ~ hard to find a link that has them in stock). A good friend of ours (hi Mommy G) got us hooked on these back in California. They also tend to be pricey, but you can find them on sale at places like TJ Maxx. I love to pick these up when I find them inexpensively and give them as birthday gifts. Great for taking to church or meetings when your kids need to play quietly. The board has a plastic pouch that attaches with the felt pieces inside. We have a good collection now. It is fun to act out stories on the story boards (I included the back of one that show some more themes ~ not just girly themes).

As the kids have gotten older, we have started sorting toys in bins. One of our favorite bins is our music bin. I often have my eye out for interactive toys on sale. Once the dollar store had great wooden instruments. They were great and we stocked up. Our music bin is often pulled out for a march around they yard for a parade, or lately the girls love playing the lap harp.

This is our vet station. Ordered it from a catalog and it has been a big hit. They take care of lots of injured animals and even hook them up to the IV. Love the X-ray part and it even lights up. Does require some batteries (we have never had to replace them in the 3 years we have had this).

This last one is a big favorite. Our wooden toys. They seem to be coming back into fashion. I have noticed them in so many stores. When ever little ones come to our house this seems to be the toy of choice. Tissy loves tea sets and has a little collection. Again, I love how these kinds of toys encourage creative play. I like the collection from . Melissa and Doug. (they also carry a great line of puppets)

Oh, one more...the doll wardrobe. Picked it up after Christmas sale at Target and the girls put their AG doll clothes in it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Gatekeeper

This post has been on my heart for awhile and I wanted to share some thoughts about gatekeeping. I just read a friends blog that prompted me to write this post now. With another move in our future, I fully understand the trials of being new in a town. New to a church, homeschool group, neighborhood, group of friends, school...what ever it may be. Just new. The concept of a gatekeeper is to be the one when someone new comes into a group and to meet them at the gate. Let them in. Take them under your wing and introduce them around. Help them find new stores, doctors and friends. Show them the ropes. Take them under your wing and do what you can to make their transition smooth. Include them in parties. Ask to meet for coffee or lunch after school or church. Bring them a meal when they are moving in or offer to help. They may have no one else to lean on. In a sense, make room on your "friend plate" for someone new.

If you look around there are new people everywhere. All looking for that friendly face in the crowd to make them feel welcome. We all remember how it feels to be new. Even if you have been in the same town for years, can't you at least imagine the feeling. Loneliness. Isolated. Unfamiliar. You, then, are the perfect gatekeeper. Step out of your comfort zone and reach out to that new person. You don't have to be their best friend, or even hit it off great. Just meet them at the door and introduce them to someone. Carve time out of your busy schedule and be willing to be used. To serve someone else.

It seems our busy society doesn't lend itself to reaching out. Soccer practice, working out at the Y, running to the bank, getting the books back to the understand. But let me encourage you to have eyes to see how you can be a gatekeeper in your circle. Encourage your kids to do the same. Just imagine what a blessing it will be to another family.

Just reach out and open the gate.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Back in the Zone

Just got back from taking Chuck to the airport. It had been almost 5 week since he had come home last. A little too long in my opinion. But it is amazing how you get into a zone. The zone of taking care of the house by yourself. Not letting your guard down. Being strong. As I have said many, many times...I am determined to find the positive things in my life. This morning I am thankful that we live less than an hour from the airport. I am thankful that we adjust fairly quickly to either having Daddy home or living else where (I know that sounds awful ~ but you got to do what you got to do). I almost enter a zone of determination. And this morning...I am back in the zone. Making the best of a hard situation.

I have never in my life relied on God more. The incredible unmeasurable grace to get through this season of life. My time in the Word has never been better. I have just started the newest study from Precepts and I am learning so much in Isaiah. I am thankful for this trial that we have gone through. It has made me more of who I NEEDED to be. Clinging to the truth and filling my life with the right things.

This next leg of the journey is only 3 1/2 weeks for Chuck to be gone. Still waiting on God to sell our home. Though, we are grateful that we are getting showings. Lately it has been once a week (not bad for a slow market). It really was a good weekend together. We are such a blessed family.

Update: It has been a terrible school morning...tears and frustration. We are getting thrown back into our trial...ugh. I think I may need a nap today.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Oh how I love FALL

I love just about everything about it. It must be my favorite season. I love the colors. I love the crisp air. I love having the windows open. I love needing a sweatshirt in the evening. I love pumpkin cheesecake. I love apple picking and making pies. I love cinnamon donuts and apple cider. It is great to have pumpkin spice candles and cinnamon brooms from Publix and that wonderful homey smell wafting through the house.

Going for a walk in the woods and looking for pine cones. Making plans for the holidays. Pouring over recipes for a crock-pot meal or thinking ahead for Thanksgiving dinner. Carmel apples for an afternoon snack. Hot cocoa and a book on the porch in the late afternoon sun. Seeing pumpkin stands and farms with scarecrows and bales of hay. Mums in the garden. I can't get enough of the trees as they change from green to golden yellows and bright reds. Even raking them and letting the kids jump in them...

Love it all. Oh, how I had wished that we would be up in our new town for fall...but God has other plans. I am so truly thankful for all that this fall brings us...just where we are.