Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pinterest Food Reviews - Week 2

Since I have become OBSESSED (more or less) with Pinterest, I decided I could do some good with my new obsession!! So, I plan to do weekly reviews of main dishes, desserts, snacks, candy, etc. on Pinterest. I will always link back to my own Pinterest page so you too can find the recipes and enjoy them along with my family. So, here’s my week 2 reviews:

This recipe was SUPER easy to make and absolutely scrumptious!!! My kids loved it (again, except for the 2-yr old who has decided that his diet should only include pretzels and BBQ chips!). I did make a few changes to the recipe though, so here are my changes & thoughts & some pictures to help explain the directions a little better. Hope this helps!

 *You want to make sure & overlap the crescent rolls like this – so it looks like a nice, pretty sun.
*You will spoon the “stuff” into the middle of the crescent like this.
(TIP: Place the crescent rolls further out on the pan/stone so you have a larger sun than we did. It will make for less “stuff” in each bite, plus it will go further!)

 *It should look something like this when you’re done scooping. YUM!!!!!
*Now you’re going to fold the outside tips towards the middle & press them into the flat-side of the crescent rolls in the center.

*And, when you’re done – VOILA!!!! A nice, pretty, symmetrical crescent ring!

Now just bake & enjoy!!!! mouth is watering just thinking about these!
Here are the changes we made:
**We used cheddar instead of swiss (our kids don’t like swiss cheese).
**We omitted the red peppers (again – for the kids!)
**We used minced onions instead of chopped (yep, you guessed it – for the kids! If I use minced onions, they don’t know they’re in there and the hubster and I get to enjoy the flavor of onions without the drama!!! Hehe)
**We were in a pinch for time, so we used real bacon bits instead of bacon and it was just fine. (Not as healthy I know, but the taste was there.)
**I also used this homemade Italian Dressing dry mix. (Yet another mix to add to my obsession collection!!) I have the dry mix stored in a glass jar in our pantry to use on various recipes. But, then I also have it available if I want it for a salad I whip up or a dip for some veggies! YUM!!!

Again, this was a HUGE hit with the Hubster and my kiddos. We will definitely be adding this to our menu rotation!! Yes, I said menu rotation. I’m still working on it, so when that comes to fruition I will write about it and fill you all in on the glorious-ness that makes my menu planning life so much simpler!

Another recipe we had this past week are these wonderfully delectable Sweet Chicky Nuggets. Oh my are they YUMMY!!!! I’m not the professional on these, the hubster is, but I do know they are WONDERFUL!!!! My kids eat these like they’re going out of style! Seriously, we cook nearly double what the recipe calls for and they are STILL gone in a matter of minutes!
Here are the hubster’s tips:
*cook 4 pounds of chicken tenders (they are easier to dice up & have
LOTS of meat for what you get)
*follow the rest of the directions exactly
*use peanut-oil to fry them in if possible (it doesn’t get mucky & gunky
when you’ve fried as many chunks as you’ll have. In fact, we’ve
used the same oil at least twice in our little fryer and it still looks
good! Regular canola oil gets murky very quickly & just feels heavy.
Peanut oil feels lighter when you’re eating it.)
*Plan ahead so you can really give the chicken a good soak. It really will
make the difference!

The last recipe we tried this week were these Chicken Roll-ups. They were good, but I think we’re going to make some changes next time to see if they can be even better! The hubster and I felt the filling was a little too rich for us. So, next time we plan to actually use 2 cans of 8ct crescent rolls (we only used 1 can (8ct) this time) to help spread out the filling. I also left out the salt and it wasn’t even missed. We also left off the bread crumbs, because I didn’t think my kids would like that part; however, since the 2 yr old isn’t eating anything but pretzels anyway I think I’ll add them back in next time! Overall, this recipe is one I think we’ll keep and tweak until it suits us.

Let me know if you give any of these recipes a try. And as always…your insight, tweaks and tips are welcomed!!

Happy Cooking!!!!

P.S. If you’re not on Pinterest and you’d like an invitation, shoot me an email or leave me a comment and let me know! I’ll be glad to send you an invite so you can join in my obsession too!!! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pinterest Food Reviews

Week 1 of Pinterest Food Reviews
Since I have become OBSESSED (more or less) with Pinterest, I decided I could do some good with my new obsession!! So, I plan to do weekly reviews of main dishes, desserts, snacks, candy, etc. on Pinterest. I will always link back to my own Pinterest page so you too can find the recipes and enjoy them along with my family. So, here’s my week 1 reviews:
I tried two new recipes for our small group last week (they are often my guinea pigs for new recipes – and such good sports too!). First, I made the Chubby Hubby bars. I originally intended to make these as my 4th dessert for Thanksgiving, but since that didn’t happen, I made them for our small group. (You see…it’s a win-win making new things for my small group! 1) If it’s good, they usually eat most of it, so I don’t have the leftovers to tempt me at home and 2) they will be honest with me & I can taste things to see if my kids would actually eat it & not be left with ¾ of a recipe for leftovers they won’t eat!!)
Anyway…the Chubby Hubby bars were SUPER easy to make and oh-so-yummy!!! I followed the recipe exactly and they were WONDERFUL!!! Here are a few tips that I think will make them even better!
1) Be sure you allow the top layer of chocolate to completely harden. It wasn’t completely hardened when we took them to group & they were a bit gooey. We had some leftover & kept those in the fridge overnight and BOY HOWDY were they even better the next day!!
2) I would increase the amount of pretzels you use to 2 cups (at least). They were super-dooper yummy when you got a good bite of the pretzels & chocolate!! I just think there needs to be more, so you can experience that goodness with each bite!!
I’m all about the sweet & salty combo and these absolutely deliver!!! I can’t wait to have an excuse to make them again!!
The 2nd recipe I tried this past week was the Hawaiian Sweet Roll Sammies. I was so excited to make these for our small group. I was able to eat them at a women’s event a couple weeks ago, but honestly wasn’t that impressed with them and I just knew they had to be better than that! So, I decided to make them myself and try them again. And, boy was I right!! They were DE-LI-CIOUS!!!!! And, they were GONE in a matter of minutes! I even had several ask me for the recipe before we left small group! They were super easy to make too! (I say that a lot, don’t I? But it’s true – I promise!)
The only thing I changed was that I used dried, minced onion rather than fresh. It was a short-cut & out of necessity with 4 young children not in cooperating moods that afternoon. I just used 4 TBSP of dried, minced onion per recipe. However, I would recommend using fresh onion if possible! Ours tasted GREAT, but I don’t think the onion was quite strong enough & the mixture didn’t spread as well as hers does in the picture! And, that irritated me – yes, because I’m super silly about things like that. If I see a picture of them I want mine to look just as good (if not better, which is rare)!!
Anyway, those are the two we tried last week and as you can see – they were a complete success!!!! Check back here next Monday for the Bacon-Chicken crescent ring review and more!!
Blessings friends!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Maple-Butter Dressing

Here is the dressing recipe I promised in the last post:

Maple-Butter Dressing


Corn bread (2 per roasting pan)

Loaf of bread (1.5 per pan)

Celery (approx 1.5 stalks)

Onion (approx 1 ½ yellow)

Poultry Seasoning


1 egg

salt & pepper

Turkey drippings (2-3 cups)

Can of broth if necessary


Have cornbread made & dried

Dry out loaf of bread (we broil both the cornbread & white bread to speed up this

process. My grandma leaves it out for a day or more)

Chop celery & onion in a food processor. You want it pretty fine, but not mushy. Then fill a 3qt. pan ½ full of celery, then add onion until ¾ full. Add water until covered. Cook on low for 10 minutes or until tender. Pour over bread & mix. Pour in broth & dripping until desired consistency is reached. Make sure you don't over fill with liquid & make it runny. It needs to still have some consistency to it. Otherwise it will not cook right & come out mushy. YUCK!

Add egg & mix well.

Add Poultry Seasoning to taste (start with 2 tsp).

Add Sage to taste.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

To Heat:

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Put in oven uncovered to heat until HOT (approx 45-60 min)

If you premake the dressing: Remove from fridge & heat in oven COVERED for 45-60 min, then UNCOVER and continue to heat until HOT (approx 30-45 min).


Be sure and let me know if you try this recipe! I'd love to hear what you think!!

Thanksgiving food review

When my family said we were all going to get together again this year, I was beyond thrilled!!! First, I haven’t seen my cousins since we were together 2 years ago and I always have fun with them! Second, I was excited to try out some new recipes! Truth be told, I could cook for everyone all the time if I just had the money!! I have really grown to love cooking and I enjoy my time in the kitchen! (Provided I give myself adequate time to prepare everything. Made that mistake more than once, let me tell you!)

Anyway, as I signed up to bring a dessert (or 2 or 3 – because I couldn’t decide), I began searching through my Pinterest board to find some great options. After getting the “approval” of my husband, I set out to make 4 desserts, 2 green bean casseroles, homemade dinner rolls, Ramen noodle salad while my husband made the turkey & dressing. Time ran short and I only got 3 desserts made (I made the other this week for our small group, so its review will be up in a few days). So…here are my reviews on the food we made.

Turkey & Dressing

A couple years ago, my husband found a turkey recipe (Maple-Butter Turkey) he wanted to try. It was A-MA-ZING!!! He found it in a Taste of Home magazine. You can find the recipe here. After trying the turkey, he decided he wanted to make dressing. But, not just any dressing – my grandma’s dressing! (You can imagine the brownie points that earned him!) So, 2 years ago my grandma came over to show him how to make the dressing. I have submitted my recipe to be posted on, but its still awaiting approval. I will post it immediately following this post so you all can have it if you like. When it asks for the drippings & broth – you’ll pour in the Maple Butter drippings, which make it absolutely YUMMY!!!! Our family has requested we bring this dressing on several different occasions! Even if we don’t bring the turkey, they want the dressing. So, we make a small turkey just for the broth & drippings and then we’re able to have TONS of turkey leftovers!! Find some great leftover recipes here.

Pioneer Woman’s No Knead Dinner Rolls

This is only the 3rd time I’ve made these rolls. They are SUPER easy – just time consuming. However, since the rolls take a while to rise, you can do other things in between. Here are a few tips I’ve discovered when making these.

1) If you’re not cooking other things, turn your oven on low (2000) while the dough is rising. It will help it rise quicker (& better, in my opinion).

2) We use a large stock pot to mix our ingredients & it seems to work VERY well for all steps (including the rising process).

3) When mixing in the flour, don’t be afraid to use your hands! GET DIRTY!!! It helps get it really worked in there. Although, its true you don’t have to knead the dough, I find it rises better and makes fluffier rolls if you just use your hands a tiny bit.

4) Absolutely brush some butter on the tops of them when they come out of the oven!!

Pioneer Woman’s Green Bean Casserole

The hubster REALLY liked this casserole. We had a TON of it leftover though. And, here’s why (at least why I think…):

1) we did not cut the green beans – I recommend doing this. The long green beans were a little difficult to spoon out of the pan.

2) It was different – not the “usual” green bean casserole. I know that’s probably a given, but I thought I should write it anyway. Their loss I guess!

3) Also, you don’t have to use the brand of bread crumbs she mentions. I have found them at Aldi’s for waaaay cheaper!! Speaking of bread crumbs – make sure you get them nice and golden brown. Ours were a little whitish & I think that contributed to the skidishness also.

Chocolate Coma Brownies

OH. MY. YUM!!!! These were absolutely DE-LI-CIOUS!!!! Very chocolate-y as you can imagine. In fact, be forewarned that you may go into a chocolate coma just reading the ingredients!! But, seriously, these were ooey-gooey yummy!!! I would make these again! They were super easy too! Don’t be afraid to give ‘em a try!

Creamy Almond Bars

These were/are my absolute FAVORITE dessert of the day!!!! They take a little bit more time to make, seeing as you have to bake the crust for 20 min, then the filling for another 15 – but trust me, if you like Almond flavored things…these are totally worth the wait!!! Here are a few tips:

1) Make sure your crust doesn’t get too done. You want it lightly golden, not brown!!

2) When you bake the filling, make sure it is firm before you take it out. You don’t want it too stiff, but it can’t be runny either. We made this for a 2nd time yesterday & actually had to cook it about 7-8 min longer than suggested. Not sure why, but we just watched it & checked it every couple minutes. The edges were a little bubbly & over-done, but it was/is still YUMMY!!!!

White Chocolate S’mores Gooey Cake bars

These were a HUGE hit!! They were SUPER easy (yes, I keep saying that, but these REALLY are!). A little bit of mixing and some layering and you’ve got it! Of course, if you love White Chocolate and S’mores, you are most definitely going to LOVE these!!! The only thing that’s a little tricky is the layering on the top. Be sure not to push too hard or you’ll squish the marshmallows & make an even BIGGER ooey-gooey mess!

Ramen Noodle Salad

This is by far my most favorite salad (other than just a nice green salad). It’s also SUPER simple and fun to make! You get to take out your anger/frustration by smashing the noodles, plus do a fun science experiment of sorts when you mix sugar, vinegar & oil together!!! Oh my…I’m revealing my nerdiness aren’t I? Anyway, you can find the recipe for the salad here. I prefer the cole slaw recipe, only I use chicken flavor packets/noodles instead of the beef. Also, I don’t heat together the dressing, I just put them in a container that I can shake well and go for it! Also, I’ve never put the carrots in there, but it might add some additional crunchy-ness!!

So, those are my reviews for our Thanksgiving feast. I hope you enjoyed reading and will give some of them a try!!! I would LOVE to hear if you try these too!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?

Are you carrying on any family traditions that used to be your mom or grandma’s responsibility?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Many blessings & Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a very enjoyable, relaxing and memorable Thanksgiving! We sure did!!! This might get a little lengthy, so I apologize in advance. I’ve got a lot to share & I hope you’ll bear with me.

First, I’d like to say that I’m working on a new routine & blog schedule for the new year. I hope to be able to write more in advance & have a purpose for my posts. I’m finalizing a schedule now & will post it as soon as I’m satisfied with it!

Second, I must apologize for not keeping up with my writings here. Life has been more than crazy around here. My FIL was diagnosed with prostate cancer in October & had surgery the week before Thanksgiving. Praise the LORD they were able to remove the muscle & get the few spots of cancer. It was not in the exterior wall, which means it has NOT spread!! God is GREAT and MERCIFUL!!! The week before his surgery, I had wrist surgery & therefore was unable to write or type for nearly two weeks. It was even difficult to get homeschooling done, but we did it! WHEW!! But, like I mentioned earlier, I have a plan in the works & hope with a more focused goal and vision for my blog that I will be able to keep up with regular posts!

Third, I would like to say that God has once again BLESSED us beyond belief!! We have been without an oven for several months now. The cook-top still worked (thank heavens!), but the heating element had gone out in our “FREE” oven. We didn’t really have the money to pay someone to come look at it & verify that was what it was, so we just prayed about getting a new one. About 4 weeks ago there was a knock at the door & a strange man was standing on my porch. I had never seen him before, but since my hubster was home I thought it was okay to answer. So, I answered the door and here’s how the short convo went:
Me: “Hello.”

Man: “Are you Mrs. so and so?”

Me: “Yes.”

Man: “I was instructed to give this to you in order to bless you and your family.” (hands me an envelope)

Me: “Really? Oh my. Thank you so VERY much!” (I probably sounded like a dork, but I was so shocked that I had no idea what to say.)

Man: “Yes. My wife and I just wanted to bless you all. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” (turns around and walks back to his van & drives off)

Still in shock, I take the envelope back in the house & hand it to my hubster. He slowly opens the envelope (as he is now in shock as well) and starts counting, 1, 2, 3…4…$100 bills!!!! OH. MY. WORD!!!! We for sure thought this was the answer to our prayers and that we would use this money to purchase a new oven. But, we decided it best to pray about how to use this money. So, we did. For weeks!! And, pretty soon it became apparent that our van needed some work. We took it in the week before Thanksgiving & found that it needed about $650 worth of work. (This coming shortly after we just spent $375 fixing something else on it.) UGH!! However, the hubster reminded me that God had already provided the money for this!! What a BLESSING!!!! But, the fact still remained that we had no oven! In fact, we didn’t have one last winter either. (It was the original one in the house & went out. Then, I found one on our local Freecycle chapter & that’s the one that recently went out.) I kept praying, but I just knew I couldn’t go another winter without an oven!! I took up really cooking for our family about a year and a half ago & I have come to really enjoy & LOVE it!! Plus, my kids were not doing well with the fried nuggets & fishsticks. (They get soggy in the microwave & they won’t eat them, so the only way they will eat them is either baked or fried.) Anyway…it was looking rather bleak for a new oven after all these unexpected expenses. However, once again GOD IS GREAT!!! We were provided a BRANDNEW range the day before Thanksgiving!! I was able to finish all my cooking for our big family event in my OWN HOME!!!! What a blessing and JOY that was! (Especially since we went to bed at1:30am!) We broke it in well too!

Fourth, brings me to the “real” reason I’m posting today. THANKSGIVING!!! Our family was blessed to join my Dad’s family & some ‘extended family’ (for lack of a lengthy explanation) at my Aunt & Uncle’s church on Thanksgiving day. I baked long and hard for the event. I was making 3 desserts (I just couldn’t decide on one), 2 batches of PW rolls (about 72 in all), 2 green bean casseroles – the “original” one and Pioneer Woman’s (I made them for my parents since they were both working all week) and my husband made a small turkey so we could make the dressing to take with us to our BIG family gathering! WOW!!!! We were busy! But, what FUN we had! Here are some pictures from the event for you to enjoy!

Air hockey is VERY popular with the kiddos!

This is the why I'm glad we DON'T have stairs in our house! My son thought this was just the BEST!!! However, I'm pretty sure if we had stairs there would be MANY boo-boo's!!

My daughter enjoying a riding toy!

I was able to see a couple of my cousins for the first time in 2 years!!! Our kids had plenty of room to roam and have fun without getting in everyone’s way. It was a wonderful day all the way around! The drive home was especially peaceful as all 4 kids slept and the hubster did too! Lots of time for just me and the LORD!!!! I am truly blessed!

If you stuck around to the end here, be sure to watch for my next post where I’ll review the new recipes we tried on Thanksgiving! I've already started working on it, so I hope to post it tomorrow!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A lesson in worry

A friend of mine just wrote a post about this same subject & it got me thinking about our last couple weeks. You see, hubster’s car died on the way to a meeting at work one Friday. It started just fine in our driveway & then as he stopped at the end of the street it just died. Not stalled – DIED! He called me about 5 minutes after he left and told the glorious – I mean, sad – news. You see my husband got this car the Christmas after he turned 16. I have been nudging him to get rid of the thing for YEARS, but it is sentimental to him and he just can’t seem to part with it. Thus, the reason I try to restrain my JOY when things like this happen. Secretly I hope he will just say it’s not worth fixing, I’ll just get another car. But no…he doesn’t! (I should know better after 8.5 years of marriage, shouldn’t I?) It’s paid for, so that’s a bonus & we’d pay cash for another car, but he just can’t do it. Here’s why it would be good to change vehicles: 1) it’s an itty-bitty Honda Del Sol, 2) I am nearly 6’2” tall, 3) hubster is the only person who can drive it, making some days difficult w/ 4 kids, dr appointments, errands, grocery shopping, etc, 4) only 2 people can fit in it (see also #3) and 5) it stays filthy (or looks that way) because its so stinkin’ small!!! (Did I mention I’m not a fan of this car?) Anyway…back to why I started this post…

After the car died, my grandpa came & tried to jump it with no success. He brought him home & the hubster took our family van to the meeting. When the hubster was finished with his meeting, he dropped the van off in the driveway, walked back to his car & proceeded to push it home – BY HIMSELF!!! (Now do you think he’s crazy about this car??) He even asked for help from the 6yr old to release the parking brake as he pushed it over the lip of our driveway & down the slight slope. My son’s response, “That. Was. Awesome!!” REALLY??? Now we’re passing this unhealthy car-love onto him? UGH!!! Then, hubster laid down to get some more rest before his overnight shift that night. Later that afternoon, after about 3 hours of sleep, my grandparents offered their AAA towing, so we took them up on it. Apparently though, their new policy is to send out the ‘gas truck’ first. Well, after about 30 minutes of him fiddling with it & putting more gas in it (which it didn’t need), he said he would call the tow truck. So we waited some more. Finally, the tow truck arrived and we all piled into the van to follow it to the repair shop. It was around 4:30pm on Friday by this time, so needless to say it had to wait until Monday to be checked. We did not get a call on the repairs until Tuesday & found out what was wrong wouldn’t be too much (thank goodness, cause he’d already replaced the part). Then, he told us it also needed a tune-up. When we had it in for some other repairs 2 yrs ago, he noted that we needed it & we still had not done it, so hubster thought it was a good idea. So the grand total came to $467 & some change. UGH!! What a blow to the budget. We don’t just have that kind of money lying around. But, we realized that the hubster’s semi-annual bonus was coming up the first week of November, so we asked to temporarily borrow the money from his parents so he could still have a car. I went by & paid for the repairs early because I knew we’d never make the 6:00 close time. At 4:30p the shop owner called to inform us that on his “test drive” following the tune-up the car died yet again. SERIOUSLY?? He figured he knew what the problem was but wanted to replace it to be sure & he’d let us know. He called us back around 6:40p that same night and told us it was indeed the part he figured. So, now another $163 out of pocket and we’re back in business.

Having the car fixed took his entire semi-annual bonus check and then some! We definitely had other plans for that money too!! I was so unbelievably frustrated, to say the least. However, I'm going to quote what my mother & grandmothers said, "At least you had the money to fix it!" Which is absolutely true!! The more I thought about why I was upset, I realized it was because I was being selfish. We had not sought God in our decision about the semi-annual bonus usage. We were being selfish. Nothing more - just selfish. I had to do a lot of praying about this because I too was mad. I was mad that we can't get ahead for anything and I was mad that "I" couldn't do what "I" wanted with the money. Shame on me! I am working on my faith and trust in God. Not the wishy-washy faith that I often have, but the complete, full trust – no inhibition – faith that I know my Savior demands of me. It’s difficult - especially when we live in such a monetary-driven society. Its difficult not to worry about money, gas, bills, car repairs or just LIFE in general. But, I rest in the fact that MY Savior knows what I need – even before I do!!

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” –Matthew 6:25-34

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Okay, so by now you've guessed that I'm not great at keeping my promises! Actually, I usually am...but when you have 4 kids and they ALL get sick the same week as you - well, let's just say...LIFE HAPPENS!!! Yes, you read correctly 5 of the 6 people in this house have been sick all week. BLECH!!! It started out as allergies and mine is now in the horrible morning sore throat-getting ready to lose my voice-phase. The oldest is finally getting better (his started first - lucky dog!), while the younger 3 are still struggling with a viral eye infection. My oldest girl also has an ear infection! So, here was the breakdown at the doctors office on Wednesday: 4 kids with allergies (the 2 oldest can take medication, but the 2 younger ones are still too young - BOO!); 3 kids with viral eye infection and 1 with an ear infection! WOW!! Guess I should expect this from time-to-time, but BOY HOWDY has it been crazy around here!!! I'm doing laundry on a Saturday, which rarely happens. But, we're all getting better (I hope) and we're gonna make it!! Next week will pale in comparison to this one!!

I also want to share with you an email I got from a blog I subscribe to. These two links (here and here)will take you straight to the posts. They are GREAT reminders for us Mom's that want to just let things go or get frustrated when LIFE HAPPENS!! I needed both of these today, so I figured there was at least one or two of you that needed them too! ENJOY!!!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Preschool & Young kids unit studies

As you know, we homeschool our oldest child. I have tried to homeschool the 2 yr old, but as of yet I have not figured out how to keep his attention for more than 10 seconds! Oh the challenges of homeschooling!!! One thing we do know, he LOVES his flash cards! That boy would sit and do flash cards all day if I let him! So, most of the time, that's what we do - flash cards. Now, don't get me wrong, he knows how to count to 10 by himself and to 20 with help and he even recognizes most of his letters, so I don't think we're too far behind. But, it would be WONDERFUL if he would just sit nicely at the table with Tyler and do his color papers! haha Guess I'm living in a DREAM WORLD to expect that from an "all-boy" 2 yr old. (But, my dream world is oh so pretty!!)

All that to say, I'm SO EXCITED about this blog I subscribe to!! I really think this week we might turn a corner!! A while back I found a blog that does unit studies & puts the reproducibles on their blog for you to download. YAY!!! I've been storing them up as they re-do them and this week their new one is PUMPKINS!!!! I can't even tell you how excited I was when I opened my email and saw they had just posted the re-vamp of their pumpkin unit! Why am I so excited? Well, we're going to the Pumpkin Patch this Thursday and now I have a unit and some papers to go with our trip!! I think this may be the turning point for lessons with our 2yo. I think we just might need something tangible to make the lessons more fun and "doable" for him. So, yeah...I'm SUPER DUPER OOPER SCHMOOPER excited (as Sid the Science Kid would say)!!!!

Here's the link to the pumpkin blog post at 2 Teaching Mommies. Take some time to look around their site and see what they have. They've got some GREAT unit studies! ENJOY!!!

Look for an update later this week on how this unit & our field trip may (or may not) have changed our schooling!

Next post: Intimacy in Marriage (a review of a study we're involved in at church)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Golden Rule

Okay, so it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. I’ve missed it!! I’ve been so busy around here getting things back on track and getting into a routine with 4 kids, homeschooling, cooking and life! So, here’s my first post back and I hope you enjoy it!! I'm sorry I dropped the ball, but my plan is to post 2-3 times a week regularly. I'm also in the process of reworking and rethinking my blog, so hopefully in the coming weeks you'll see some changes & updates! Now...on to the story...

Monday was NOT a good day in the Breedlove household. About 4pm I was at my wits end & Tyler wasn't letting up. Plus, the other 2 little ones (not Bekah) were just feeding off his attitude & things were REALLY heating up around here! Jacob Breedlove got up from his sleep & I made dinner, only to hear Tyler say, "I don't like Chicken & Rice!! I've NEVER liked it ! It's disgusting!!" This, however, is absolutely NOT true & was the last straw for me. (This has become an almost daily quote, just FYI.) He was sent to his room & told to stay there until one of us came in to talk with him. First, you have to understand that Tyler stays "in" his room, but talks loudly & constantly so you'll come in there quicker. (Still haven't figured out how to remedy that one...) Anyway...all of a sudden he flings open his bedroom door & hollers some things towards the living room (where we were) and then shuts his door again. I was unable to make out the words, so I looked at the hubster & asked him what was said.

He says, "I think our 6yo just quoted the Golden Rule to us!?"

Me: Really?? Are you serious??

Then, we both kinda chuckle.

A few minutes goes by and Tyler comes out again, only this time to the doorway of our hall & more clearly says, "The Golden Rule says, 'Treat others as you want to be treated.' And that's NOT what you're doing here!"

WHAT?!?!?!?!?! Surely my son did NOT quote The Golden Rule (also found in Lev 19:18) to us!! I'm sure my look was a mixture of shock, amazement, astonishment, horror & pride! I couldn't believe my child was speaking to me this way; however, I was proud that he actually knew The Golden Rule.

What happened next? Well, we had to inform him that although The Golden Rule was a good rule to live by with your friends and family, it did NOT apply to your parents and their discipline! He was VERY distraught by this, but after some explanation & why it didn't apply to us he understood.

Fast forward to today. We were doing our Bible time during school & as I read through our curriculum (see what it is here), I was humbled and yet, amazed. Humbled, that once again I knew for certain, God had lead me to this EXACT Bible curriculum and amazed that it was exactly what we needed right now! I don’t know why I continue to be amazed, He’s never done anything less, but still…I am in AWE of Him!!

As we sat down for our Bible time, I began to read aloud today’s portion of the lesson. We’ve been studying about God’s truth & how He is the ONLY one who is truthful ALL the time and therefore the ONLY one we can trust ALL the time. So, today’s lesson began by asking some rhetorical questions: “How will you respond to the truth the God shows you? Will you choose to build your life on the Rock and follow Him? Or will you choose to turn away from Him and disobey?” Then, it expounded on the last question and the discussion led exactly where “I” needed it to. It discussed how parents set specific rules for their household and how each child must choose to obey or disobey. Choosing the latter will result in consequences, for example: a form of discipline and/or loss of certain privileges. Since we’re dealing with defiance issues right now, Tyler is experiencing first-hand both discipline & the loss of certain privileges. It went on to explain that God, our Father, does the same thing when we disobey His rules and that He does it because He loves us (Hebrews 12:6) and that He “disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness” (v. 10).

It then continued on by saying how we should obey – “cheerfully and willingly.” And, when we obey cheerfully and willingly there is peace in the home and with your parents (and God) AND you will “enjoy the trust and blessings of your mother and father. Likewise, obedience to God and His Word is an important element of God’s plan for your life and His design for creation. It is through your obedience to Him that He releases His blessings and fulfills His promises in your life.” Then, it gave us a practical & biblical definition of Obedience: “The act of doing what I am told with a willing and loving heart.”

As I began to have Tyler recite this over and over and over (as to drill it into his head & heart), I began thinking about my own obedience. How often do I obey with a willing and loving heart? Am I daily demonstrating this attitude for my children? Frankly, I didn’t want to answer that question – because I already knew I wouldn’t like the reality of it. I don’t always have a willing and loving heart or attitude as we often call it. So, as Tyler and I began talking about the practical application of a willing and loving heart, I began to think about what it would look like in my own life. Isn’t it funny how we think we’re going to have this GREAT time of teaching and God turns it around on us!! WOW!! What a humbling and sobering experience it was. What a blessing it is to know that MY GOD cares so much for me that He is willing to go to such lengths for me. He’ll even use my child’s curriculum to get His point across.

Blessings to you today as you seek to serve and obey Him with a willing and loving heart!!!

(All quotations were taken from “Who is God? And Can I really know Him?” by John Hay and David Webb, Apologia press. Lesson 2, pages 47-48.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Our new arrival

Many of you may have already heard, but for those who have not I would like to introduce you to our newest blessing.
Meet Rebekah Jayne.
She was born on Thursday, August 18th, 2011
10lbs 4oz 21 inches long

She is absolutely beautiful and we are so blessed by her!! We are adjusting to life with 4 kids (three under age 3) nicely. So far, she seems a little more laid back than the others - which is a really good thing!! I can't wait to see her personality develop and watch her grow into who God wants her to be. But, right now...I'm just blessed to be able to hold her, snuggle her and love on her.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Living like Martha...unfortunately

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers

This week I’ve had a rough time. Let me explain a little bit. Yesterday I hit 34 weeks in my pregnancy. Its 106 outside – DAILY!! My knee, lower back & hip are still very painful (and at times unbearable) from my wreck 4 weeks ago. Laundry & housework are piling up. AND…we’re trying to get ready for a baby in 5 weeks! I’ve been feeling very sorry for myself these past few weeks, as I’m not able to do most things to the best of my ability. My family’s eating habits have suffered due to my pains & lack of motivation when in such pain. I usually have a very strict schedule that I stick to for laundry & meals, but since the accident that has just gone by the wayside, which I dislike VERY MUCH! Oh…I wouldn’t want to forget to mention I’ve been fighting a summer cold (which are the worst in my opinion) for about 3 ½ weeks! UGH!!! There are days that I just want to give up, lie around on the couch & just forget everything. However, I know that’s not what I’m supposed to do.

I have 3 precious kids (and no, I’m not partial!!) that need me and even want me to be with them! It doesn’t matter that Mommy hurts or is feeling sorry for herself – they crave my attention!! In a lot of ways they are what keep me going every day. I LOVE waking up to their beautiful smiling faces – even if it’s at 6:45am!! Lately my 2 yr old has come bouncing out of his room all smiles!! He comes running to me in the living room and gives me the biggest, BEST hug he can give!! What a JOY!! I’ve found it difficult to get up in the mornings these past weeks for various reasons (pregnancy insomnia at 2am, restless babies throughout the night, etc.), but this morning when my 6 yr old (okay, that’s the first time I’ve typed that out and I must say it looks weird! I have a SIX year old!! WOW!!) came into my room at 6:50am I was ready to get up. I was ready to face the day and get started. So, I did just that. I got up and got with it. So far this morning (its 9:50am here) I have unloaded & reloaded the dishwasher (its now finished running, so I need to unload it again and I’ll be caught up on dishes – YAY!!); done 2 loads of laundry & my 3rd is about to go in the washer and I’ve taken my 6 yr old (okay, still weird…) to his Robotics class at our local community college (with all 3 kids dressed & ready for the day too!). Am I tired, yes! Am I exhausted, a little. But, I must say it feels really good to be motivated – even if it’s for a short time due to my limitations these days.

So for those of you who’ve made it this far may be wondering how this fits into the “Gratituesday” category. Well, let me tell you the things I am grateful for. I’m grateful that my kids were not injured in the accident 4 weeks ago (I will blog about this later, but haven’t been able to just yet). I’m grateful my house & car have working A/C!! I’m grateful I’m here to see my kids daily and watch them learn and grow!! I’m grateful we have laundry & dishes to do – it means we are blessed to have food & daily meals and enough clothes to wear!! I’m grateful my LORD has blessed me with 3 precious children and a 4th one coming in August. They may be work, but their smiles, giggles & unconditional love keeps me going!! My attitude reminds me of Martha’s. She was so focused on the tasks at hand rather than on what was important. Too often I find myself caught up in the “daily-grind” of Mommy-hood that I loose sight of what’s really important – my LORD and Savior, my husband & our relationship and my kids – just spending time with them. So, that’s my new daily goal – make those 3 a priority and worry about the “work” later!!

I hope you have had a GREAT Tuesday!!!! Mine is winding down finally, (yes, it’s taken me all day to finish this post. I guess that’s what happens w/ 3 young kids.) and I’m filled with JOY!!! I pray you are too! Blessings!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Year-Round v 9-month schooling

Some of you may have questions about 9-month school years vs. year-round schooling. I know I did when I first thought about homeschooling. Several years ago, in fact, my aunt was teaching a public school that was year-round. I thought they were absolutely CRAZY!!!! There was no “summer vacation” for the kids, parents or teachers. However, as the year progressed and we talked about how she liked it, things began to make more sense. She noticed that with only 3-4 weeks off at a time, the kids retained SO MUCH MORE information and really started to excel in their school work. It was impressive to say the least (she worked at a low-income school w/ very difficult family situations). That has stuck with me and really played a HUGE part in my decision over this year to convert to year-round schooling. So, here’s some of the reasons and how we’re going to do year-round at our house.

First and foremost, one of my biggest reasons for converting us to year-round is the structure and consistency it provides in our family and daily routines. Tyler (as well as my other two) is a VERY routine child. He wants to know what’s coming and when, how long it will take, etc. We still have rough days, especially on Monday’s after a lax weekend, but he’s doing better. He knows that Monday – Friday are school days and he has papers and reading to do. Sometimes they get done in the morning and other times we do them when the babies are taking afternoon naps. Either way, he knows what’s expected of him. Some days our chores come first & other days school does. It kinda depends on the babies in our house too. For instance, today my babies were extremely fussy & M did not take her morning nap. So, we are doing school this afternoon. I’ve learned to be more flexible in this area, because frankly I was going CRAZY trying to make everyone fit where they couldn’t. It works for us! Some families are more structured and rigid in their daily routines and I applaud you!! I think as our family grows that will be become more and more necessary. So, we’ll see how this evolves over time.

Another reason we’ve decided to do year-round schooling is the fact that we can pretty much take off from Thanksgiving until January with no adverse effects!! This past Christmas season I began a seasonal candy making business. I was WAY busier than I thought I would be and I already have people asking if I’m going to make it again this year!! I may have to “up my game” and figure out some more recipes to add to our list!! I thoroughly enjoyed making the candy, but with all the mess in our kitchen & the constant flow of orders it was pretty much impossible for this “nearly single” momma to fit school in too! Plus, we were way ahead of anything required for Kindergarten, so I didn’t figure there was any harm in it.

I also like that we can take a “vacation” whenever we want!! We are NOT restricted to just the summer months, which are extremely difficult for my husband to take off at work. He works for a large company right now, but even with the number of people that work his same shift & can fill in there are limitations. Another reason I like taking “whenever vacations” is that the summer months are SO VERY HOT around here that we would rather go during the Spring or Fall when the weather is “less extreme” and more mild temperatures.

And, the last reason is that we are expecting baby #4 in August. Specifically, August 11th is my tentative c-section date. If we followed the local school calendar, we would be in school for about a week and then off for probably close to three!! That would not be good for our family or for the 5yo. This way, we’ll officially finish Kindergarten in May and have a week or two break before we officially begin First Grade. (Okay, writing that out makes me kinda sad! I will have a First Grader!!!)

Okay, before you think I’m a CRUEL parent by making my kid do school all summer long, let me tell you it’s not gonna be that bad!!! I promise!! For the past several years I’ve volunteered at a Music Camp that the church we attend puts on. They’ve done it for quite a few years and it has grown tremendously. We used to do one HUGE camp and now we’ve had to split it into two camps! Last year was our first year to do that and we had a GREAT turnout & wonderful feedback. (If you really want to know more about it, just ask me!) Anyway…the kids and I will be at both weeks of Music Camp this year (one in June & one in July), so that will break things up a bit. We will NOT do school during those 2 weeks. This momma will be completely worn out by the time we get home & eat lunch each day. (Remember, I will be 7 & 8 months pregnant at this point!!)

We are also enrolling him in a couple College for Kids classes at our local Community College. A couple are math related and a couple are science related. I’m super excited about him getting this opportunity to expand his “knowledge” of those subjects and possibly getting a different outlook on them. I’m also hoping it will “spark” some interest in him with Math. He is so quick to “get” math that he gets bored very easily. One of the classes is called “Hands-on Math” and I hope he really enjoys it!! So, he will have a break from the “normal” routine for at least 2 weeks each month, even if it’s only a couple hours a day. We will most likely do the other subjects not covered at his class so we don't fall too far behind, but it will be “light” work (a few worksheets, nothing major).

Another way I “lighten” the load is by doing school work 5 days a week. I know with most year-round homeschoolers they only do 4 days a week, but like I mentioned earlier routine is KEY in this house! Plus, he does not like a lot of paperwork, so rather than piling it all into 4 days, I spread out our lessons and thus, our paperwork. It seems to work well for us.

So, there ya have it!!! Year-round schooling in the Breedlove household!! Hope it gives you some ideas and ways to make homeschooling work for you and your family!

Happy Schooling!!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Becoming a "real" homemaker!!

I hope you don't take my title the wrong way. I am just realizing for myself that simply doing the laundry & getting food out to eat was not enough for me. I want to be more. I want to be the Mom that cooks from scratch & teaches her daughter how. I want to be the Mom that can manage a house full of kids, laundry, dishes, cooking and manage to stay "sane" at the end of the day. (That last one may take a while, just so you know!) So, here's the start of my journey...

I have recently begun seriously baking & making things from scratch. You can ask anyone who knows me well and they will say they are honestly shocked at some of the things I’m making! You see, I have a few things that absolutely make me squeamish. I mean, they make me shutter to the point that I couldn’t handle touching them or handling them to even cook. It really put a damper and HUGE restriction on what I could make. One of those things is RAW meat!!!! I CANNOT STAND IT!!!! In fact, my aversion is so bad that at a Pamepered Chef/Homemade Gourmet party I hosted a while back I could barely touch the meat in the baggie that I was preparing for the freezer! I mean, I didn’t even have to touch the meat itself, but I could feel the squishy-ness of it and that just completely turned my stomach! UGH!!! So, now fast-forward about 1 ½ years and here we are. I have touched raw chicken (today in fact – not for the first time, but again), I still have not touched hamburger meat or ground turkey, but…we’re working up to it! (maybe) I have made several roasts where I’ve had to marinate them myself and so, I would say I’m quite proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished!! It may not seem like much to you, but trust me – IT IS!!!

In a previous post I mentioned how I use various charts in my house to help make things run smoother (in theory, of course). One of them is the Meal Plan chart for our week. I have since revised it to a monthly Meal Plan sheet/calendar, because my 5yo would constantly complain that he did NOT like whatever I was making & he’s never had it before. This monthly chart gives me the ability to look back & say, “Well, 2 weeks ago we had this exact same thing and you LOVED it!!!” Then, he would argue that he didn’t remember eating it and maybe that was a night his Mimi took him out! REALLY?! Where do they get these things? So, now when he eats something, we write on that date that he either liked it or loved it!! It’s working GREAT to detour his negativity at dinner time. Things are going so much smoother now!! (NOTE: This is the same calendar that I put our monthly activities on & post on the fridge for everyone to see - not that they look, cause they still ask, but at least it's there!)

So, now on with what else I’ve made/baked. I’ve found many crock-pot recipes that I enjoy and I will share those soon. When we didn’t have a working oven, I started searching for things we liked to eat, but in a crock-pot recipe. I found a TON of things you can make in a slow cooker that are easy, quick & so much less hassle than getting the entire kitchen dirty! I love them!!! But, I must say, I have thoroughly enjoyed having an oven again. I’ve baked BBQ chicken (yes, I touched it & basted it myself), homemade pizza pockets (find the recipe I use here at Heavenly Homemakers), homemade bread and MORE!!!

I am enjoying becoming the homemaker God wants me to be. I hope to continue sharing with you all about my journey on this path. I will work on posting some of the slow cooker recipes I’ve found that are our favorites. Keep watching!!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Curriculum choices for Little T

Okay, as promised I am giving you the limited curriculum choices for our 2yo. Curriculum for the 2yo, you may ask. YES!!! Start them as early as possible!! The more they soak up now, they better off they will be later! That’s my philosophy anyway. They are sponges in these first precious years of life. So, give them all you can!! Go for it!!

Now, let me clarify a few things. We will most likely have a set aside time for his “schooling,” but with him still taking naps it may fluctuate from day to day. Just wanted you to know that we don’t have a perfect household and we’ll go with the flow around here (as much as this momma can stand anyway)! ;) So, here is what we’ve chosen:

Book work - As I mentioned in my previous post, Tyler went to a fantastic preschool starting at the age of 1. He did great when he actually started curriculum at 2yrs old. So, we’re going with what they use this year to see how it works. We are going to use the A Beka Two Year Old curriculum. They work on numbers and coloring for this age, which could prove challenging enough with little T. He wants to “color” when bubba’s doing his work, but it is VERY short lived – so we shall see how this goes! Anyway…specifically we are going to use Numbers and Skills with Button Bear and Learning Numbers with Button Bear.

Flash Cards - Now, A Beka does have flash cards that you can also get to use, but we already have some, so we’re going to stick with those. I recommend having several different kinds of flash cards to use. First, I recommend number flash cards. These will only reinforce what you’re teaching in their book work time. Second, I recommend have just letter or alphabet cards. I use these. Personally, I don’t like the ones with pictures on them as I think that can be confusing for kids. I would choose ones that are just Letters. Now, where the words and/or pictures come in are the Sight Words cards. I use these. I love the ones we have (we found them at a garage sale - SCORE!!). They have a word with the picture on the front and then just the word on the back. We have already started using them with little T. We are currently working on just naming the pictures. Then, eventually they will begin to recognize the word along with it and finally they will be able to recognize the word by itself. I LOVE that!!!

Big Skills for Little Hands series – These are GREAT!!! I’m hoping to get at least the I Can Color! for Toddlers book this year. We’ll see how that one goes before we progress to the others. There are 4 total in Toddler series: I Can Color!, I Can Cut!, I Can Paste! and I Can Trace! I am thinking that for this year we’ll work in the I Can Color! book for extra practice and mix it with our A Beka Curriculum. I will probably do I Can Paste! next, but will wait until he’s closer to 3 to attempt that fiasco in the making!!

Videos & TV shows – First, let me say that TV time in our house is very limited. And, second, we are extremely picky about what the kids can watch. Now, that being said, we will use a variety of videos/tv shows in our curriculum that will actually suit both of our boys. We watch a LOT of PBS in our house and so some of those shows are played throughout the day as well. Some of our favorites are Signing Time (my new favorite!!), Word World, Sesame Street (little T especially likes Elmo), Super Why, Sid the Science Kid, Between the Lions and The Cat in the Hat knows a lot about that. There are a few others that I allow Tyler to watch, but as I’ve already mentioned it is limited. We do own some videos that they watch, but again they are PBS shows on video! We have several Elmo videos, which little T especially likes. They teach many different things and then we talk about some of those teachings with Tyler (since he’s older & able to comprehend the “moral of the story” things). We also have a Sid the Science Kid video and a couple Bob the Builder ones. I am not a huge fan of Bob the Builder (mainly because I can’t stand the theme song), but I must say Tyler and I have had some great conversations about sharing, selfishness and stubbornness from them – so I guess they’re not all that bad. We also have a variety of Biblical videos, but I will discuss those in another post. (Just didn’t want you to think we we’re not teaching our little about the Bible – WE ARE!!!)

We will also do music time for both boys, but again that will be in another post. I have so many things to say about that subject, so I will stop here! ;)

So, there ya have it!! Our choices for the 2 yr old are complete. I am optimistic about this year (we’ll begin in June officially – again, I’ll discuss why in another posting). If you’re thinking about starting up some teaching at home, I hope this helps you with your choices. Feel free to comment or make other suggestions! I’m not the expert by any means. These are just what we’ve chosen to do that will work best for us! There are so many options out there!!! Just start exploring and go!

Many Blessings!!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

First Grade curriculum choices

I don't know how many of you will actually care what we chose, but I wanted to put it out there for you just in case. Even if it helps just one or two on their decisions, its totally worth it!! It's been a very LONG and difficult process to make these decisions. Mostly because Tyler is advanced in several subjects (math & reading) and in others we'll just be starting for the first time as he enters 1st grade (okay, now that I type that out I'm a little sad and amazed that my oldest is entering 1st grade! WOW!!!). So, as much as I'd like to go with a single curriculum (for ease on me & planning purposes), it’s much more cost effective for me to use several different ones. There are so many options out there, which only contribute to my confusion & stress level when trying to choose the “BEST” curriculum for us. But, nevertheless, I made it through and I’m pleased with our choices.

Now, I have included links to each of them. Most of them I am getting from Timberdoodle for several reasons. 1) they have flat rate shipping of $4.75, no matter the size of order! 2) they are offering FREE shipping on orders over $120 (which could likely be me this time!) 3) you earn “Doodle Dollar” points, which help you with future purchases!! WIN-WIN!!!

I must also say that I decided on several of these based on recommendations from a friend of mine, Crystal. You can follow her blog (she’s much better at posting than I am) here. She is on several different curriculum review groups & does quite a few reading reviews. She has been a GREAT resource to me this year and I’m grateful she has more time than to do some of the research I could not. However…I didn’t choose the same things she did just because we’re friends. I thought they were GREAT choices & would be a great and natural fit for us this year. (I will write some of my observations about our first year of schooling in another post.) So, without further ado, here are our choices!

Handwriting – This year has been a real struggle for us in the area of handwriting. Since he attended a GREAT preschool program, he came into K already knowing how to write his first & last name, the entire alphabet along with their sounds, some blends, counting 1-100 and MORE!!! When I began researching school curriculum last year, frankly I didn’t know where to start. So, I just went with a book & quickly realized that one was not for us. Then, I just moved on to printing things from the internet to get him writing. We soon realized he HATED writing!! He complains about it daily. So, this year I set out to find something that would give him purpose. He needs to have a reason to write what he’s writing. Which is why I am absolutely in LOVE with the A Reason for Writing series!!! We don’t need to do the K book, so we’re starting with book A/1st grade. Not only are they reasonably priced, the Teacher’s guide is too & works for all 6 grades!!! WOO HOO!!!! (I know this is getting long, but trust me it’s worth it!) The reason I love this series is because it incorporates Scripture with their weekly handwriting lessons! Then, they give them something practical to do with it. It’s wonderful!!! You can find a sample lesson here. Check it out!!!

Geography Tyler has always enjoyed going places. He always wants to know the names of streets, cities, highways, etc. A couple years ago, while riding in my parent’s car, he noticed the polar directions were on their display. He began asking what they stood for. My dad told him about North, South, East & West and then they began naming what direction they were going each time they turned. This continued when he got in our car, which did not have a display. Amazingly he was still correct! So, I knew this year we needed something to help him read maps, know his directions, etc. I began looking at a series by Evan-Moor. The Beginning Geography is what I saw and I immediately loved it! But, as this year progressed I realized that might be a little too simple for him & he would get bored too quickly. So, we’ve decided to move up to Daily Geography. We’re also going to get the Beginner’s World Atlas, so he can begin seeing where things are in the world. I like this series because the maps are reproducible!!! That’s a homeschoolers dream! I’m so excited to get started on this series with him. You can also check out sample lessons for Beginning Geography here & Daily Geography here.

Science – this is Tyler’s absolute FAVORITE subject!!! Mine – not so much! ;) But, we do what interests our kids, right?! All I know is that when it comes to dissecting things – he’s on his own! (Or I’ll find him a tutor! LOL) We did a few things this year in science, however, we both need more guidance and I think this series is going to give us just that. He has been very interested in space, stars, astronomy-type things this year and wants to know more than I can give him. So, we’re going with Apologia’s The Young Explorer Series, Exploring Creation with Astronomy. We’ll also use the accompanying Junior notebooking journal (coming this summer). My friend Crystal is also going to use this for her oldest and I thought maybe I should really look into it. I have seen them at our local Christian bookstore and browsed through them, but didn’t really think much of it until I saw she also liked it. That gave me more motivation & confidence in my original thought/choice. I showed him this series and I thought he was going to come unglued he was so excited!! My parents & grandparents both have telescopes – so he is pumped and ready (and so am I)!!!!

Math – Okay, so this was my MOST difficult decision. Tyler has always liked numbers. Before we even started homeschooling last August, he was adding things in his head & sorting things into groups to add them (& essentially multiply them too). I was amazed and knew that if we could teach him how to do it on paper he’d just take off. And, well…I was right!! He picked up addition in no time & then we moved onto subtraction, which took a little longer. However, he’s got it now. So, I didn’t know what else to do but move on to First grade work. So, we’ve done money, double-digit addition & now he’s working on fractions! ARE YOU SERIOUS?! I had no idea what to do with him in this subject. I absolutely LOVE that he’s picking it up so fast, don’t get me wrong, but AAAAHHHH!!!! So, I had gotten the last half of a book from someone to use. He’s just flying through it, but he absolutely loves the lessons (we actually do 2 a day). So, we’re going to continue on with that series. I think by the time we start “First Grade” we will be in book 2, but nonetheless we are going with it. So, the name of our choice is Horizons Math.

History – Okay…I take it back. THIS was my MOST difficult decision. But, not for the same reasons as math. Simply put…I don’t like history – or at least it was my least favorite subject in school. I have been absolutely dreading the day when I had to pick a history curriculum. I looked into several different ones and was not impressed. Frankly, some of them covered waaaaay too much material in my opinion for a first grader. As I researched, I realized that my schooling just covered the “highlights” from history, which I vaguely remember. I want my child to know and understand things that went on in history. I also want to teach it from a Christian perspective. I think the Mystery of History does both!! I’m so excited about this series!!! (Again, a recommendation from Crystal!) Check out sample lessons here on their website. Right now, they are having a sale on the curriculum and its actually cheaper than Timberdoodle. So, when I’m ready to purchase our curriculum, you better believe I’m gonna buy it where its cheapest! ;)

Reading – Well, as I’ve mentioned before, Tyler has become an avid reader (for a Kindergartner anyway). Once we learned our blends & how they fit together with vowel sounds, etc. he took off and has been reading ever since. I will admit, I cried the first time he read an entire sentence by himself! ;) I was so proud! Last summer I had purchased several A Beka readers at a garage sale and I really liked how they built upon each lesson. It worked so well for him. He’s now reading his 8th first grade reader!! He loves them (despite what he tells me most days). He thinks he’s ready for a chapter book, but he wants his first one to be The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe!! WOW!!! Quite ambitious for a first grader, don’t ya think?! After he read 2 pages, I talked him out of it for now. His attention span isn’t quite there, so we’re going to continue on with the A Beka first grade readers that we have and then move into the second grade readers. I think by the middle of First Grade he might be ready for his chapter book again, but for now we’re going to stick with short, simple stories!

Bible – I will be honest. I have avoided buying Bible curriculum because I thought we could just do it ourselves. I mean, my husband and I both graduated from a Bible college – so we should be able to do it, right?! WRONG!!! I mean, we could do so much, but I have just felt like he needed more. We’ve started morning devotionals for him, where he reads from his Bible (on his own) and then reads the accompanying story and we talk about it. Find what we use here. But, I just feel we need to have something a little more structured/school-like for him to really get it. So, we’ve chosen Apologia’s (yes, I love them) What we believe series, book 1 Who is God and can I really know Him? for this year. I’m so excited that it also has an accompanying journal & coloring book, should we choose to use it (which we probably won’t because he’s not big into coloring). The journal & coloring book are not available just yet, but they are coming soon. I love that they are teaching kids from a Biblical Worldview!! This is exactly what we’ve wanted for him and I can’t wait to get started!

Foreign Language – Okay, so now you probably think I’m crazy!!! Well, I just might be! HAHA!! I saw this series when I was browsing on Timberdoodle and I left it up as a joke for my husband. I thought he would think I was absolutely NUTS for wanting to teach a 5-6yr old Greek. However, just the opposite happened!! He loves it!!! In fact, he and I are going to join in the fun and take it too!!! This is a 3 yr series and he thinks it will be so beneficial for us (adults) in our Bible study time and for our son (and others as they get older) as they grow in God’s Word. I can honestly say I’m a little nervous, yet excited that we’re going on this journey together. I like that this series allows you to buy extra workbooks so we can each have our own!!!

Grammar helps - I have also thought about using a couple of musical helps for us in this area. Learning parts of speech & such can be tricky and difficult to remember, so I've been thinking about using one of two items. The first is called Intelli-tunes by Sing & Learn. The other is Grammar Songs also by Sing & Learn. From what I can read, Intelli-tunes is basic grammar words & like an intro into it and Grammar Songs is when they are actually learning more about their functions and even ready to diagram. I'm still researching these two products, so I will let you know what I decide.

Okay, so that’s it!!! Whew!!! Those are our choices for First Grade. If you’re homschooling now or even thinking about it, I hope this helps you get started on your journey. If not, you’re probably not still reading this! LOL Don’t worry…I’m not offended!! I do have curriculum picked out for Tucker too, but since this post is already so long, I will put it in another one (hopefully later today).

Thanks for sticking with me through this post and Happy Schooling!!!