Wednesday, July 31, 2013

School is starting soon!

Wow!  Where has summer gone?  We will be starting back to school in 2 1/2 weeks!  I am ready for a "real" routine...but definitely going to miss our summer activities.  Maybe the summer weather will stick around a little later this year, so we can squeeze in some extra things on top of school?:) 

In the homeschooling community there is always a lot of talk about what curriculum you are using.  I have a link posted on my main page with all of the curriculum that we are planning on using for this upcoming school year.

Will we get through it all?  Probably not.  Will I add to it?  Most likely.  Will I delete things from our list?  Always.

Do we just stick to books and workbooks?  Absolutely not! These books are just guides as to what we are doing.  If you know me...I have no clue at this time what we will be doing each week.  I tend to come up with activities at the last minute...that is just how I roll.

Here is a quick little summary of what our beginning of the school year curriculum looks like for our girls...I write a separate post for the boys:

***Please note EVERY child learns at a different pace.  Some faster, some slower.  This is just where our kids are at right now***

Katelyn (1st Grade) & Jocelyn (3rd Grade):

The girls will pretty much be doing the exact same thing as each other.  With the exception of Math and some Language Arts.


Jocelyn completed half of this book last year.  I pulled her off of it in January and we worked on multiplication fun!  She will hopefully be finishing it this semester.
Katelyn will be starting it. 

I really like Teaching Textbooks with the exception of the multiplication unit.   That is their big flaw...and reps from the company even admit it. 

Language Arts:

Jocelyn will be doing grade 3 & Katelyn grade 1.

I will be teaching them the same concept and then their work will be a bit different.  I love Evan Moor  workbooks!  So user friendly and straight to the point!

Non-Fiction Writing: Grade 2 by Evan Moor

I am excited to be trying out the non-fiction writing book this year.  I got in on a really great deal online!  Last year I just gave the girls random writing topics.  This year I plan on having a bit more structure.  Can't wait to start this!

Jocelyn used Bob Jones last year and we both really liked it.  Katelyn did her 1st and 2nd grade spelling with another publisher...(just because I had something else on hand)...but they will be doing the same thing next year.  My plan is to video-tape me doing each lesson and they will watch it on the Ipad.  I will give them the pretest on video and their assignments.  They can then watch it again for the final weekly test.  


I picked up this at a homeschool conference.  We started it a bit last year and I am really excited to continue it throughout this year.  We plan on doing Science 2-3 times a week.  This book covers Life, Earth, Physical Sciences, Natural Resources, and Technology.


I am really excited to be starting this for the first year.   We will be doing it three times per week.


The girls and I are REALLY excited to be doing this Art program.  We did our first DVD over the summer!  I plan on doing Art at least once a week.  You can read about our first DVD:  HERE!

If you have ever shopped for know that there are a million choices out there!  These are what we have chosen that best suites our family!  

I am linked up at:  Raising Arrows


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Winner & horses!

We have a winner for The Rusted Chain $25 gift certificate!!  My husband selected #41 using the winner is Linda Petteys!!  Congratulations Linda and thank you for entering!

I think there was quiet a bit of confusion on how to enter...I realized a lot of my friends are not used to commenting on hopefully it will be easier for the next giveaway!  I had a few companies respond at the same time to team up for a giveaway, so these next few weeks will be full of fun!!  So stay tuned on Thursday for a feature on a small business in Florida!!  

It is birthday season around here!  It seems like 90% of the conversations with my girls in July and early August revolve around their birthdays.  It drives me crazy...but they are kids and apparently turning another age is pretty exciting!  They always have quiet the list of things they want to do for their birthdays. 

Jocelyn reminded me a few weeks ago that it has been 2 WHOLE years since she has ridden a horse.  Two whole years.  Such a shame.  I hope you sense my sarcasm.  She loves horses, but there is a pretty good chance that we will never have a horse around here.  I looked into maybe taking her on a trail ride at a local state park.  The boys aren't old enough to go and Jocelyn isn't old enough to go on the trail ride by child neglect issues where at hand.  So I put a question out to my facebook friends to see if anyone had any recommendations as to where I could take the girls to ride around on a horse for a bit....and I got quiet a few recommendations....and then my friend Jill said...Hey come here!  She just got a horse a few weeks ago and has had a pony for a while now.  So we went!!

I was a little nervous that we would be sweating bullets because we were having quiet a warm spell, but it was a very, very pleasant morning when we went.

The girls were extremely excited when we got there...and their excitement didn't dwindle when we left.  They had such a good time at Jill's.  Thank you Jill for your hospitality!!

Jill had them brush the horses
 and spray glitter on them...even though they were both males...but they didn't seem to mind...

 Katelyn riding around!
 The girls going around the poles!
 Jocelyn getting ready to ride the pony!
 Wes all ready to go in his cowboy boots!
 Easton taking a ride around!
 Weston taking his turn!
 Such a fun, fun morning!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Rusted Chain handstamped jewelry giveaway!!

A few years ago, Sean asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  We just had our 4th baby and I was done with having babies for a while.  I was content with four and so was Sean.  So I asked for a handstamped necklace with all of the kiddos names on it.  Almost every time I wear the necklace I receive some sort of compliment on it. 
Beki Hastings began making custom jewelry back in 2003 in rural Kansas.  Her business soon turned into The Rusted Chain.  She not only sells custom made handstamped necklaces like mine, but also sells bracelets, earrings, necklaces for gals and guys.  She has a wide variety of items available in her online store and will ship worldwide!

Beki doesn't do all the work herself now.  Her company stays busy handstamping (by hand) all of the letters featured on her jewelry items.  Every piece is truly one of a kind since they are not using machines.

As I was browsing through her online catalog, I have my eyes on several other items.  There is just so many cute items to choose from!

From this "blessed" necklace::
 or another "blessed" necklace with a heart stamped through the middle.
From one of many selection of elegant handmade earrings!
 Got a cowgirl in your life?
 Wouldn't this necklace look stunning on you?
I love this one for all my photography friends out there!
Or what about this simple bracelet with a heart accent?

 How would you like to own your very own item from The Rusted Chain?  Well today is your lucky day!  

Beki, so graciously gave me a $25 dollar gift certificate to give to one of my readers!!!!  I warn you though, you will have a VERY difficult time deciding what to spend this certificate on, so if you can't handle the stress then close this browser now!

This contest will end on Monday, July 29th at 9:00PM (CST).  The winner will be selected by my husband using  The winner will be notified by e-mail and will be announced on my facebook page and blog.  If the winner does not return my notification e-mail within 72 hours a new winner will be selected.

You can enter several ways and receive multiple entries:

1.  (Mandatory entry)  "like" both my Giggles and Gumballs facebook page AND The Rusted Chain facebook page.  Leave a comment under this post telling me that you did so.  Make sure you include your name and e-mail.

2.  Extra entry (not in any particular order):  Follow Me and The Rusted Chain on Twitter.  Leave a comment under this post telling me that you did so.  Make sure you include your name and e-mail.

3.  Extra entry:  Browse through the products on The Rusted Chains website and comment what item you would select if you won the gift certificate.  Obviously you can change your mind after you win...but just dream a little.  Leave a comment with your choice below.  Make sure you include your name and e-mail.

4.  Follow me on Pinterest.  Leave a comment under this post telling me that you did so.  Make sure you include your name and e-mail.

5.  Share this post on Facebook!  Leave a comment under this post telling me that you did so.  Make sure you include your name and e-mail.

**If you can not figure out how to comment on this post...please, please, please e-mail me at:  julie (at) smcgee (dot) net and I can manually put in your comments for you.**

Let me know if you have any questions!

I have linked up:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The answer is YES!!

Apparently I don't post enough photos of my hubs on facebook or this blog.  He works during the day, so he misses out on most of our adventures. 

Last weekend, my parents took all four kiddos camping with them.  That meant...we were kid-less for a few days!  Woot!  I enjoyed a few longer runs.  A massage.  Shopping.  Lunches with Sean. Sean taught me how to drive our boat. I got quite a bit done around the house.  Sean went golfing for a work thing and went biking.  We watched a few movies.  It was really lovely to have a quiet house...even though I missed our kids like crazy. 

Oh biking...that is what this post is about.

If you know my hubs...and have seen him in person lately....have you noticed anything a bit different about him?  He is a bit slimmer and his jeans sizes have gotten a little smaller!!  I posted this pic on facebook from our weekend alone:
and from this picture I had at least 4 friends ask if Sean had lost weight.  They can tell in his face....well the answer is YES! 

His goal is to be around the size he was before we got married and hopefully what he was back in high school. 

So what is doing?  Biking.  A lot.  Eating right.  Counting calories.  He rides everyday during his lunch break around 15-18 miles.  In the heat.  He takes longer rides on the weekends...sometimes 50-60 miles.  He has been super dedicated to make this change...and I am so proud of him. 

Our grocery bill has gone down significantly.  I rarely cook for him anymore.  I kind of miss that, but he eats pretty much a little bit of pasta for the carbs or an omelet.  He is pretty careful to make sure he is burning way more than he is consuming food wise. 

He has a ways to go, but he is on the right if I can follow suit and get back to my pre-wedding weight...working on it!!

Love him.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Katelyn Rose turns 6!!

I can not believe my baby girl is 6 already!  She was born on this day 6 years ago weighing in at 7 lbs 11 ounces.  Our smallest baby by over a lb!  She is full of spunk and is always putting on a show with her fabulous dance moves and poses!  She is a sweet, sweet little girl and we have enjoyed watching her grow up!

Love her to pieces!

 My baby Katelyn Rose:)
 Posing by her cake...waiting to head to Omaha for her friends party!
 We invited a few friends to come to my parents house to play for a few hours.  No brothers or sister were allowed!  Just friends!  All of the girls had a great time!
 We had pizza for dinner!
They put on a fashion show!
Same group from 2 years ago...minus Easton and Jocelyn!
They sang and danced!
and enjoyed cake!

Happy Birthday!!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Can not wait to river rafting again AND a great offer for you to go too!!!

 Sean and I had a great honeymoon in Colorado-- 9 years ago.  We camped, we hiked, we fly fished.  But one activity that we really, really enjoy was rafting down the Arkansas River.  That was by far the best experience that we have had on a vacation.  The rush of adrenaline as we are going through the rough waves is something that you can never forget.  The beautiful scenery.  It was amazing!!  

Here is a picture of us!  We are in the front.  
Our goal is to make it back there soon...and hopefully take the kids when they get a bit older.  Soooo....I am excited to share this offer with you!!!!!

My Readers Save 15% Off TRIP WITH RIVER RUNNERS - us promo code: DISCOVERCO at or Call 800-723-8987

Looking for something fun to do with friends or the whole family? White water rafting down the Arkansas River is a good place to start! River Runners offers half day trips, full day trips , ¾ day trips, and various adventure packages out of both our Buena Vista rafting location and our Canon City rafting location. This summer we are offering a special 15% off discount by using the promo code: DISCOVERCO. Don’t wait! 

This is a great deal to raft down Colorado’s Premiere River – The Arkansas River!

Beginner/intermediate trips are great for families or beginners and offer a fun, wild time down class III rapid sections of the Arkansas River. The advanced portions of the river are great for adventure seekers who want to have fun and paddle hard. The advanced sections offer class IV and class V rapids. All full day trips include a riverside deli-style lunch that will allow you to take in the beautiful views of the Arkansas River and the various canyons that River Runners rafts through. The half-day trips are great to pair with a Zip-Line Package, Horseback riding package or other adventure packages! We offer various start times for trips out of both locations, which allows for flexible scheduling for your entire group.

Whitewater Rafting down the Arkansas River offers groups with a fun and fast vacation option. Overnight trips allow you to get out for the weekend and enjoy what this amazing River has to offer. If you love adventure and being outside, this is the trip you have been waiting for. The above average snow pack this past winter has allowed for continuously rising water levels that will carry us well into the 2013 season. Don’t miss out on this adventure; call us today!

Summer 2013 Rafting Special!

15% off Discount on any trip down the Arkansas River with River Runners!* with the promo code: DISCOVERCO or call 800-723-8987 to book today!

  • Beginner/Intermediate: Browns Canyon in Buena Vista and Bighorn Sheep Canyon in Canon City.
  • Advanced: The Numbers in Buena Vista and The Royal Gorge in Canon City.

Book now for a great summer adventure! Spots going fast!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Barbie cake tutorial!

One of my favorite things to do for our kids for their birthdays is to make a special cake for them.  I usually ask them what kind of cake they would like and then we scour the internet for ideas. Yes buying a store bought cake is probably cheaper, but this is something special between the kids and I.

This year Katelyn is turning 6 and she decided on a Barbie cake.  I had never tried this type of cake before, but I was up for the challenge. 

Here are the steps that I used to make this cake come to life:

1.  I whipped up two cake mixes and baked them in a shallow 2 Qt glass pyrex bowl and 2- nine inch cake pans.  I could have used a special pyrex bowl that is deeper, however I didn't want to spend the money.  I could have borrowed, but realized I could just what I have here.  After they cooled, I wrapped them in plastic wrap, foil, and then froze them.

2.   The night before I was ready to decorate the cake, I cut out the middle hole. Cakes are much easier to cut when they are frozen.   I had to use the Barbie for measurements.  I realized that my cake stacked was too shallow for our Barbie.  Who knew Barbie was so tall? So obviously I was a little off and could have used another 2- nine inch cakes stacked.  I didn't have time to do that, so I topped the cake off with an upside down styrofoam bowl.

3.  I let the cake defrost for a little bit and put a coat of frosting on it.  I even frosted the bowl.
4.  For my fondant I used a coupon for:  Duff Fondant from Michael's.  Usually this stuff is expensive, but by the time I added up the cost it would take to buy the ingredients for home made fondant, my time, AND the chances were pretty good that I would screw up my own coupon was starting to look really appealing.  I bought a container that was 32 oz  and it was plenty to cover my stacked cake. 

You might be asking why I frosted the cake?  It gives it a base layer so my fondant would stick.  Plus fondant isn't the tastiest, so if someone doesn't like fondant, they can peel it back and enjoy the frosting underneath.

I spread a light coat of powdered sugar out and rolled out the fondant.  After it was pretty thin, I carefully placed it over the cake, cut around the cake, and then cut out the middle.

5.  I wrapped the Barbie in plastic wrap to protect her:)

6.  I then decorated away.  I didn't like the fact that the Barbie's plastic top was light pink.  It didn't quiet go with the bright pink fondant, so I covered her front with topping.  I left her back bare because of her hair.
 You can be creative with decorating.  Fondant is really easy to decorate with different piping tips. 

I then got done decorated and thought...oh shoot.  Where am I going to put the candles?  So I made a little "6" out of rice crispy treats and whoola we have a place for candles!

My husband said that he thinks that this is my best cake yet...99% of my other ones usually don't turn out.  But hey...the kids are always impressed!!

Katelyn's reactive was priceless.  She LOVED it!  Makes me happy!  I hope her friends enjoy it as well!