Thursday, January 31, 2013

Homeschooling-- a few things we do around here!

Hey all!  I haven't posted a homeschool post in a while.  Don't fret!  We have been doing school here.  Still love it!  I wanted to share with a you a few activities that we have done around here in the past few months.  The nice thing about homeschooling is that it doesn't require you to buy any extras.  You can use what you already have around the house....sometimes just a piece of computer paper and a crayon can get the job done.  A dry erase marker is always fun for the little ones instead of just using a pencil.  You don't have to spend a lot of money on extras to teach the basics!

Easton is pretty easy to please when it comes to school.
He is working on writing his numbers so I used a piece of computer paper-- lightly wrote the numbers and made some outlined numbers.  He traced these!  Easy peasy!

 I found a set of alphabet stamps at Target for $1.00 (during back to school days).  I write words down and Easton stamps the words out.
 I use little wooden hearts that have numbers on them...he matches them to the numbers on the board.
We played a game where each kid took turns drawing a card and whatever number was on that card they received that many cubes.  The person who reached 100 first won!  You don't have to have counting can use pennies, pieces of paper...whatever you have a lot of...especially if you are playing against 3 kiddos!

I put a price tag on our morning snacks.  I gave each child 25 pennies.  They had to use their problem solving skills to figure out how many cookies etc they could purchase....or did they want to go for the gusto and just get one larger item.  We have done this several times...and it is always a hit!
You don't need fancy smanchy store bought charts...I made my own verb chart and the girls brainstormed the verbs.

Sometimes it is OK to not do a page in a workbook.  I made up a paragraph and the girls took turns circling the verbs.

 I made little flash cards with several adjectives and the girls went around finding objects that matched their word.
You can't see what is on the slips of paper because they are turned over, but Jocelyn wrote the girls' new Spanish words and we cut them out so they could play a matching game.  Their goal was to match the English word with the Spanish word.

 They then took the Spanish cards and matched them up to objects around the room....if you look closely you will see the word "leer" which means "to read" in English.  Jocelyn put it on their Spanish book.  Katelyn thought my new phone cover was "bonita" which means "pretty" in English.  I have to agree!

 Well that is all I have for now!   Be creative! Use what you have around the house and go from there!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sweat and snot solution! Handana review!

My name is Julie and I have a runny nose issue when I run.  Not sure if I am alone on this.  But no matter how cold or hot it is outside...or even on the nose runs!  Fun times!

Since I started running I have carried a kleenex.  Sometimes I put it in my sleeve.  I have wiped my snot on my shirt...please don't gasp...I am sure you have done the same as well in a pinch.  Ok, maybe not.  I have tried carrying a bandana...lost it on mile 1 on an 8 mile run.  No fun!  Back to the sleeve I go.

But then I found out about the Handana!  It serves the purpose of a bandana but you wear it on your hand. You can use both sides of your hand to wipe sweat (or snot in my case) while leaving your hands completely free!

I will be honest with took me a few miles to get used to it on my first run.  I was having other clothing issues as well...way overdressed.  But after my 2nd and 3rd run, I have to say I believe I now have my snot issue under control.  Can't wait to use it this summer when the sweat starts to roll!  It is made of a supplex wick-­‐away material that feels like cotton.  You can use your palm, front hand, and even the side!

Handana was created by Katie Niemeyer from Austin, Texas.  I love supporting small business ventures!  Her touching story about what inspired handana is featured on her facebook page, as well as her website.

There are several colors to choose from! 

Handana is available for purchase at and you can follow her on twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

**I received one handana for free to review on my blog.  The opinions are my own and I was not compensated for an honest review.** 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Girls' bedroom make-over complete!!!

Sometimes I get these crazy ideas in my head....well not sometimes...I pretty much always have crazy ideas in my head...but anyways...I had this crazy idea to paint the girls' room.  I wanted to do something fun.  I wanted to scrap their nursery was originally painted for Katelyn when she was a baby.  So I headed to the local hardware store...with not a clue as to what I was going to do.  Sean nixed my idea of stripes...saying it would look like a circus had come to town.  Unfortunately, once I looked at the color samples at the store...I decided to go against what my husband said...sorry Sean...I know we should listen to our husbands...but I truly felt that he was wrong....and he was! 

The before pictures were an after thought.  But you get the idea.  I have never really liked the green.


Sneak peak of after:
And then there was the carpet.  Make me want to throw-up green. Who on earth would put green carpet down?  I have no clue.  The original owners also had purple walls in their living. Bad color choice.  Anyways, Sean and I have been talking about getting new carpet in the kids' room, hallway and up the main stairs for quiet some time...and we finally took the plunge.  So glad we did.  What a difference it has made!! 

Here are some after pictures of the kids' rooms.

The girls no longer wanted to bunk.  I am ok with that.  Even though it eats up a majority of their room...but they have a toy room attached to their bedroom via a it is all good.  The fun part about this arrangement is Jocelyn's bed is still pretty high off the ground so they made a little doll village underneath her bed. 
We had to move their dresser to a different wall.  Sean made a little rack for the girls' to hang their AG doll clothes on.  Pinterest idea!! Woohoo!  I also purchased a fun alarm clock for them.
The girls painted some art work.

and we hung them...along with an 8 x 10 of the girls and some pretty 3D flower mirrors from Target! 

This is Katelyn's bed.  I updated their photo collage.

 Their closet seems to be a work in progress.  But here is one view of their clothes.
 and another view.
and Sean found this on my consignment page...a lock box.  The boys are not to be we got this so the girls could double lock their stuff.  I bought a smaller one at Target for the toothpaste.

This room will be clean for approximately 2 minutes.

Gotta show off my boys rooms too!  Look how nice the new carpet looks!

Eventually the boys will get the girls' bunk and we will get pretty beds for the girls...but they are so not ready for bunks.  Dangerous! 
I turned a little bookshelf that was once in their closet, on its side and put their alarm clock on it.
 and another shot of the other side of their room.  Notice their room is almost bare.  They have toys....but things either get taken apart...moved for step ladders....or their room is almost bare.  They are busy.busy.busy little boys!

and this will be clean for 1 second.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

90 day challenge!

Picture from Pinterest
 This has been on my mind lately...and I am finally doing something about it...reading the Bible...from Genesis-Revelation.  As the kids are learning more and more in school...and asking me more and more questions...I am realizing I am not prepared to answer some of these questions.  Granted I am not going to memorize the Bible by reading it in it's entirety, but I will have a leg up:)  I know many people rely on just going to church and listening to what their preacher/pastor (or whatever you call the man preaching up front) is saying.  But let me tell are so missing out.  I am only through the first 30 chapters of Genesis and I have learned quiet a bit...that I am sure I have heard before...but do not remember.

This program takes only 90 days with 2 free days.  On our Facebook page I have posted several things such as a schedule and where you can go to purchase a Bible..  I will also try to post each days reading right when I wake up.

So join isn't too late (you get two freebie days)!  I have 4 little ones that I homeschool and am gearing up to train for a half-marathon.  If I can find surely can too!

There are also many aps out there that will read the Bible to you!  My mom is legally blind and is listening to the Bible.  I know there are 3 other gals listening to it as well!

To join our Facebook group for more info:  HERE

(you will have to ask to join...but I will accept whoever wants to join)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Good Form Running Clinic!

I attended a Good Form Running Clinic at a local running store last night.  I was for sure that I wasn't running right and so I wanted them to help me figure this running thing out.  I was a bit nervous, because I wasn't sure what to expect and I was pretty sure I would be the "one" in the group that was doing it all wrong.

We started off by going outside and having them videotape everyone run one by one down the block.  Another gal said they usually have you run 3-5 we were pretty lucky:)  We ran the first time in our shoes and then the second time in just our socks. 

After they videotaped us, we learned the 4 key things to keep in mind while running.   The class was taught by the store owner, a local chiropractor (who is a runner and specializes in running injuries) and another avid runner/running store employee.

Here are the steps:  (there are actually more than 4...because there are several steps within each category)

1.  Good posture:  First you stand tall.  Point your toes forward.  Your toes should be forward at all times.  Not out to the side.  Not pointed in. 

Reach to the sky and reset your posture several times during your run.

 Keep your head looking forward instead of down. 

Your arms should remain in a 90 degree angle and when you move them back and forth they should form a triangle from your back to your elbow.  Not sure if that makes sense as I type it, but you don't want your arms flailing all around.

Your hands should be in the position as if you are running with an ice cream cone.  No tight knuckles..pretend you are holding a delicate cone and don't want to break it.  Your thumbs should be placed on top of your hand in this position.

2.  Midfoot:  they say this is key in order to prevent injuries in your legs, feet, knees, and basically every where in your body. 

We did several (bad) exercises and then they helped us find our midfoot. 

To find your midfoot they suggested to march in place.  You shouldn't be running on your toes and you shouldn't be running on your heals.  Midfoot is exactly how it sounds...your mid-foot.

3.  Cadence:  This is confusing to me so I am still trying to figure it out.  I need to figure out how to change my stride without changing my form.  My form was pretty much spot on, but they said I need to work on my cadence.  Cadence is your stride per minute.   They said to aim for a cadence of 180.  This  will take time.  To measure your cadence count the number of right foot strikes for 20 seconds and multiply by 6.  Our teachers suggested to keep track of your cadence during 1-2 runs per week and for only a minute or two to see where you are at.  There are different devices you can use like a beeping metronome or songs on where you can download songs with certain beats in line with certain cadence goals.

Run light and avoid pounding.  When I head out today...I am going to start listening to my steps.  I think I may be pounding....not sure though.

4.  Lean:  Lean from your ankles without bending at your waist.  In order for use to figure out where our lean was they had us stand on our heels and then sway forward to where our toes start to grab the ground.  This is your lean.  It should be pretty slight. 

Some other tips:
-- Run barefoot indoors or outdoors for 20 meters right before you start your run.  This will put more tune into your body's mechanics.  Not sure how well I will abide by this tip...I know some people swear by running barefoot...not thinking that is me.
--March in place prior to your run with your ankles flexed, landing on midfoot to help reinforce a proper mid-foot strike.
--Reset your posture throughout your run and work on it when you aren't running.
--Practice one new skill at a time.  They suggested cadence first.
--Video tape yourself.  They used a program called Coaches Eye on their i-pad.  It was really cool because they could slow down our runs so we could really see how we were stepping, leaning...etc.
--Do strength building exercises...after the clinic I spoke with the store owner and she suggested this to me as well.  I knew this...and have been working on my leg strength.  I was not blessed with pretty, lean, strong legs.  So this is something that I feel...and know I am dragging along in my runs! 

So that sums it up.  If you have a chance to attend a local Good Form Running clinic in your is definitely worth it.  Many of the people who were at the clinic were analyzed at using a bad running form...and guess what seemed to be injured all of the time.  I am not saying that by following these tips you will be completely injury free...but it is worth a try.

Here is the website for Good Running Form.  Some great visuals for the visual learner.  One of the handouts we received is on their front page.  They also have a Facebook page.

If you have any questions in person...let me know.  I am not an expert...I am simply regurgitating information from the trainers:) 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A little bit of advice....

The kids building their version of the Washington Monument
 I homeschooling our kids.  Love it.  If you have followed my blog for some time now, you probably have already gathered that. 

I have received a lot of advice about homeschooling in general.  I have also given a lot of advice.  I am not an expert.   I still consider myself a newbie. I don't think anyone is really an "expert" when it comes to homeschooling....because all of our kids are different...even within one family.  In our family we could potentially have 4 different learning styles and have to switch curriculum with every child. 

A question was posed from the Teach Them Diligently conference coordinators this past week...What was the best piece of advice you have received in regards to homeschooling?

For my purposes I copied and pasted everyone's I have them in writing....before it sinks further down on their facebook feed!  Hopefully this advice will encourage other families that are starting this adventure or possible in their 20th year of this adventure!

(initials of the posters are noted)

  • Enjoy learning with your child. It will be over all too soon. TH
  • Homeschool with blinders on. Keep you eye on the goal and not on what everyone else is doing or not doing.(the goal is to please God)  LP
  • Use the time to redeem your own education as you learn along side them.  AK
  • Relax!  CD
  • Less is more.  DA
  • Relax . . . seek the Lord in all things concerning your child and the learning journey you are on together!  RP
  • Psalm 121 AW
  • Don’t let the curriculum rule you, you rule the curriculum.  JY
  • Try not to stress and ENJOY the journey!  AR
  • Home school is not regular school... Your pace, your rules, your style... Do what works for you and your kids so they become life-long learners seeking God.  TR
  • Keep it simple and enjoy your children.  SJ
  • That I couldn't do it without His grace, but that His grace was readily available to me.  TH
  • Get together with moms that love being with their children. It’s contagious.  ND
  • Sometimes it will be hard and that is okay. Just keep going.  JC
  • The dusting can wait.  AB
  • "Even if all they do all day is read, they are getting a better quality education than the public school provides."  EW
  • Hang in there--it will be better tomorrow.  SW
  • #1. Just because you start a curriculum, doesn't mean you have to finish it if it's not working for you. #2. We homeschool so our children can hear the Gospel every day.  SS
  • One size doesn't fit all.  AW
  • There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers. GG
  • Don't try to recreate school at home. It is different and should look different.  SG
  • What works for one family won't necessarily work for yours and what works for one kid won't necessarily work for the others!  TC
  • Do what works for your family. Also, try not to get into too much discussion with other moms about what they're doing. Although it can be helpful at times, it can also lead to us trying to do what someone else is doing and may eventually wear you down. Trust God for how He wants YOU to teach YOUR own kids.  LS
  • Pray that God will give you a vision, a purpose for your family. And then when the days get tough- and they will get tough- be reminded of that vision, that purpose. And remember that we are in a spiritual warfare - put on the whole armor of God! DD
  • Relax. Don't push. Relationship is more important that any schoolwork.  CM
  • First, pray! Enjoy the time with my kiddos. God's word first and when a curriculum isn't working, it's ok to find a new one that works.  MG

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

For more information on the Teach Me Diligently on their FB page (linked above)....I will be there!!! Can't wait!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Talk about yummy!

These last few weeks have been pretty good in the kitchen for our family!  It helps when I sit down and make a grocery we don't just eat the same ole' thing around here.  My husband doesn't like mush, so the typical casserole is out.  He is definitely a meat and potato kind of guy.  So a lot of times I will show him a recipe to ask him if it is of interest....sometimes I surprise I did with these recipes.  I worry like crazy when it is something new...but guess what they all recipes two thumbs up!!

Pinterest has been a huge help for me.  Why aren't you on Pinterest yet?  All of these recipes I found on Pinterest.  The pictures are NOT mine and I will note where I got them.  Click on the titles for the links to the recipes.

1.  Alfredo grilled chicken pizza.
Picture from Six Sisters
I am not a fan of alfredo sauce.  It pretty much makes me throw up in my mouth a little.  However my family is and I was going to be a trooper.  I left out the green peppers...and!  It was a HUGE hit for us!

2.  Chicken Tacos

My mouth waters when I think about this meal.  Luckily there were plenty of leftovers and I had both lunch & dinner for mwaw for the next day!:)  My husband and oldest LOVED this as well.  My husband started naming off other recipes where this chicken taco mix would work in.  Can't wait to make it again.  I used a jar of chunky salsa with black beans and corn...for Target.

3.  Cream cheese chili
Picture from Six Sisters Stuff
I was a bit worried that this would not go over well.  It is probably classified under the "mush" category.  I served it was tortilla chips...and all I can say is WOW!  Anything easy peasy is for me!

4.  Peanut Butter Eclair
Picture from Plain Chicken
A few friends suggested that I make these for church....melt in your mouth...can I eat the entire dish??  So easy!

5.  Vanilla Eclair
Picture from the Country
Another variation-- easier than the previous one and oh so yummy as well!

6.  M & M cookies
Picture from Damdelicious
I made this on a whim one day...and I could have eaten all 24 of them...I didn't...don't worry.  But between Sean and I we probably ate over 1/2...left a few for the kids and Weston helped himself to a few during his normal morning rummaging through the cabinets.  These were amazing!

Hope you get a chance to try one of these!!!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Jocelyn's baptism!

If you are a Facebook friend...I am sure I have overwhelmed you with Jocelyn's baptism.  Pictures....invites to come...videos...It is kind of a big deal for us that our first has gotten baptized.  I announced it:  HERE

So here is a recap of the morning!

(Thanks Reece for photographing it!!)

Sean spoke a bit about Jocelyn.  No he isn't ordained...or an official pastor.  We don't have titles at our church.  I have gotten a lot of questions about Sean baptizing her.  The Bible says nothing about who can baptize someone else except  that it only shows people that are believers baptizing others. 
Then Jocelyn shared her testimony.
Then Sean baptized her:)

and here is the video.  I can hear it pretty well on my phone...but I don't think it transferred very well.
Translation:  Sean was talking about how this was a big deal for us since she is our she has a profession of faith for a few years now, has matured in her faith, and has asked to be baptized.  
Jocelyn says:  That she believes that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again.

Pretty exciting stuff!

Thanks to my aunt Nan and parents for attending!!