Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blue Yonder's April Book of Days

The Book of Days

Wow, I just purchased this ebook - it is absolutely delightful!

It's chock-ful of things to do for the month of April, from learning about butterflies and cherry blossoms to making shoofly pies.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Making Your Home a Haven - Bedtime

This week's Making Your Home a Haven challenge is to come up with a good bedtime for yourself - and then resolve to be in bed by that time every night this week...oh, this one is SO timely for me.

I could go on and on about how I intend to get to bed at a reasonable time every night, and then end up getting to bed at an unreasonable time every night :), but I won't.

I could write about how each morning I wish I had gone to bed earlier the night before and then resolve that "tonight, I will get to bed earlier!" - but somehow forget that declaration by the time nightfall arrives...but I won't bore you with those details.

I'm just gonna choose a bedtime and be done with it. Ok, my new bedtime is 10pm. I will be in bed by 10pm each night - and the lights will be out by 10:30pm each night (this girl's gotta read just a wee bit each night).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

MenuPlan ~ March 29 thru April 4

Wow! I can't believe that the month of March ends this week! I guess I'd better get moving on preparing a plan for April's meals.

I've found that planning for a month of meals makes my weekly meal planning go so much more smoothly. For my monthly meal plan, I usually choose about 25-28 meals that I plan to make that month (some meals I prepare more than once, like homemade pizza). Then each week (usually Saturday) I do a weekly meal plan for the following week. Since I've already made a monthly meal plan, this usually takes less than 15 minutes.

Now on to the weekly plan ~ I really need to get to the grocery store to stock up on some fresh fruits & veggies, and some dairy products; otherwise we're still eating from our stash of meat in the freezer and making use of what's already in the pantry.

Breakfasts ~ Whole Wheat Breakfast Cake, baked oatmeal, french toast (from the freezer), pancakes (from the freezer), breakfast cookies, cereal

Lunches ~ cheese quesadillas, pb&j sandwiches, snacky lunch, grilled cheese sandwiches, cheesy brown rice, pizza bread
Dinners ~ Spaghetti Pie or Lasagna, Sloppy Joes, black beans w/ brown rice & cheese, Cheddar Broccoli Soup & homemade bread, homemade pizza, Beefy Enchiladas

Now, I must add a disclaimer. I almost never follow my menu plans exactly. There are many times when I have written the same meal for many weeks in a row - because I never got around to making it. I like having a plan, and I usually cook many items from the plan, but sometimes I like to change it up in the middle of the week :)

For more menu plans, head over to OrgJunkie

Friday, March 27, 2009

Finer Things ~ Flowers from her daddy

My husband began a tradition a few years ago, he presents our daughter with flowers on her birthday.

She recently celebrated her fifth birthday. When her daddy walked in the door with a large bouquet of flowers on her "birthday day" her face lit up and she immediately asked "who are the flowers for Daddy?" He replied, "they're for you!"

She is a true "girly girl" ~ she loves tea parties, ballerinas, and dressing up. And she loves it when her Daddy brings her flowers.

This is the first bouquet of flowers he brought her, on her 2nd birthday.

A Daddy who makes his little girl feel special by bringing her flowers, definitely a finer thing.

Stop by Amy's blog to read about more finer things.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another Perspective

I let my 7-year old borrow the camera for a few minutes
so he could show me what he created during quiet time.

When his sister stopped by, she brought some of her friends.

The building continued...

Uh oh, he's got that look in his eyes, I'm not sure that the buildings will survive this one :)

Spring Nature Study Plans

I've been trying to plan some seasonal science things to do in our homeschool. Since Spring is officially here, it won't be long until we (hopefully) resume one of our favorite breakfast activities - we love to open the sliding glass door while we eat and listen to the birds that hang out in the field behind our house.

At our recent trip to Cabela's, dh was very generous and used one of his giftcards to purchase a really cool Birdsong Identiflyer for us. I was delighted to find out that the current Outdoor Hour Challenge over at Handbook of Nature Study is about birds - yipee! So I spent some time printing out some of the coloring pages that were linked to in the post - and I think we're ready to start our study.

I also gathered up a pile of bird books that we already own, including a number of bird field guides, The Burgess Bird Book for Children, and Take a Backyard Bird Walk .

Now all we need is the return of our bird friends! Oh, and a bit warmer weather would be nice too ~ our chilly mornings haven't been too conducive to opening the sliding glass door just yet :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A really cool gadget

While we were at Cabela's this past weekend, we came across this really cool Birdsong Identiflyer. I have seen this in different catalogs and thought that it looked very interesting but I wasn't quite sure how well it would work. I was so excited to finally get my hands on one and get a chance to play around with it.

Basically, you insert a credit card sized birdsong card into the indentiflyer, and you can playback a digitally recorded bird song. Our Identiflyer came with two birdsong cards, Yardbirds 1 and Yardbirds 2. We also picked up an Eastern Yardbirds card. The kids and I had a blast playing all the songs (each card contains 10 birdsongs) on our car ride home.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cabela's Fun

This past weekend, we decided to surprise the kids with a daytrip to Cabela's. There is a huge Cabela's store about 2 hours north of us. If you've never been to a Cabela's store, you may wonder why this would be considered an exciting daytrip. Well, just check out some of the pictures from our day and I think you'll see...

By the way, these are not live animals, but they are real - and they are amazing!

I love that most of the animals were labeled with their particular species name - I'm thinking this could be counted as a homeschool field trip :)

The little spots all over this bear's head are supposed to be bees, there's a bee hive just above him, I guess he got a bit too close.

If you look closely, you'll see that there are real, live fish in this pond.

I think it's safe to say that the kids loved our little surprise.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Menu Plan ~ March 22-28

This week I'm planning meals that make use of what I have on hand already. I plan to head out to the grocery store to stock up on fresh fruit and a few basics, but that's about it.

Last week, the kids and I headed to a local farm and stocked up on beef, so we do have a bit more beef in the menu this week - it does feel good to have a full freezer again.

Breakfasts ~ french toast, overnight whole wheat breakfast cake*, pancakes, amish baked oatmeal*, cinnamon rolls, cereal & yogurt
*Both the baked oatmeal, and ww breakfast cake are prepared the night before & kept in the fridge. I love that all I do in the morning is preheat the oven and then add the prepared pans - and they are both so YUMMY!

Lunches ~ tortilla pizzas, grilled cheese, pb&j sandwiches, snacky lunch (pretzels, cheese, fruit), tuna fish sandwiches, cheese 'n chips (basically tortilla chips topped with melted cheddar cheese)

Dinners ~ Cracker Casserole (named by my kids:) ), Baked Macaroni & Cheese, Chili (leftover from weekend), Beefy Enchiladas, Pizza Bread, Baked Ziti, Sloppy Joes

For more menu plans, check out OrgJunkie!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

Welcome to my little place at the Ultimate Blog Party 2009!

Who Am I?

I am a former teacher "wanna-be" turned newbie homeschool mom.
I am a mama to three little ones (who are growing up too fast!).
I am a wife to one hard working and long commute drivin' husband.
I am an imperfect Christian woman who truly desires to become the wife, mom & friend that God has called me to be.

What do I blog about?

As my blog description states, "my favorite days are when we are simply at home" - and that is my blog in a nutshell. I blog about my simple days at home.

And even though we spend lots of time at home, my days are anything but boring. As a homeschooling mom with three kiddos, my days are filled with: cooking, cleaning, reading, schooling, laughing, crying, loving, and so much more.

On this blog, you'll find posts about:

what's on our bookshelves

I'm definitely heading back over to the Ultimate Blog Party - I can't wait meet some "new-to-me" bloggers!

Oh, and be sure to check out the prizes that they're offering over at the party ~ I'd love to win the $30 CBD GiftCard from A High and Noble Calling 'cause it's the season for restocking my homeschool shelves. The $25 Amazon GiftCard from Just Say These Words could buy lots of books too! And the $25 Shutterfly GiftCard from Sandwichink.com would sure come in handy, I'm in the process of making a photobook for my daughter.
But if my top three are already taken, I'd love these prizes (in order of preference):
#19, #21, #22, #71, #26, USC #15, USC #56, USC #79

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Finer Things - Overheard

This little one singing "Holy, Holy, Holy". This is the hymn that we've been learning and singing together during our family worship times. His little voice singing this precious song just warms my heart!
This post was originally published in February 2009.
For more finer things, visit Finer Things Friday.

Getting the most from PaperBackSwap

I've been a member of PBSwap for over a year now. Over time I have found some ways to get the most from my PBSwap membership.

Set up a wishlist and include all the books that you are wishing for, you may be surprised which books are eventually listed by other members. For instance, I just received Family Math from another PBSwap member. I had this book on my wishlist for over a year. This book usually sells for over $20 and I obtained it for one PBSwap credit! Believe me, I did the "Happy Dance" when this book arrived in the mail :)

Check out the PBSwap discussion forums. Many members post deals on these forums - like 2-for-1 and 3-for-1 deals; I've even seen some 5-for-1 deals! There are forums for homeschoolers, writers, teachers, caregivers, and many more.

Recycle your mailing envelopes. I am always careful when I open the packages that I receive from other PBSwap members, and I am usually able to re-use these envelopes when I mail out my books - just tape the PBSwap mailing label over the previous label, tape the package up and you're good to go!

For more frugal ideas, visit Frugal Friday.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Bookshelf

This past weekend I removed many of the winter books that were currently on the kids' bookshelf and replaced them with some "springier" reads. I know, "springier" is not a word, but it fits :)

I put a massive amount of spring books on hold through our library's online catalog (I love the internet!). As these come in, I will add them to our shelves.

I also searched for some St. Patrick's Day books, but there were not that many to choose from. I did find one in my own stash that I had snagged from library sale last year: St. Patrick's Day in the Morning by Eve Bunting.

On the second shelf are some leftover winter books about "sugaring time", I plan on cleaning these out in a week or two. Our favorite one is Sugar Snow - all of my kids love the First Little House Books.

On the third shelf are some Easter selections that we own: The Legend of the Easter Egg, The Story of the Resurrection Eggs, and The Parable of the Lily.

On the bottom shelf are some springtime picture books: Lost in the Woods and Springtime. I'll be adding more springtime books to this shelf as we go through the season. I have a whole pile of them waiting on my bookshelf.

This bookshelf is attached to our living room wall. I try to rotate the selections in here every few weeks. I love the fact that the fronts of the books are displayed ~ if I put a book on this shelf, I can pretty much guarantee that the kids will choose to read it (or ask me to read it).

I also cleaned out our magazine basket. Last year, I sorted all of our children's magazines by season: December, January and February for Winter; March, April and May for Spring, etc. My plan is to keep magazines that match our current season in the magazine basket. The kids haven't seen them for a year, so they are like new to them. Some of the magazine titles included in our basket are Clubhouse Jr., High Five, and Chirp.

As you can see, the magazine basket is not only for magazines. It is also a catchall for other books - right now it has a couple Rod & Staff Little Jewel books and other favorites.

I also sat down and laid out a very basic plan for the next few months of school - our main curriculum comes from Ambleside Online's Year One Reading List, but I like to add in some extra science read-alouds (mostly picture books) and also some history & holiday read-alouds. But that post will have to wait for another day :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Menu Plan ~ March 15-21

I was very pleased with how last week's menu plan worked out. I was not sure that I would be able to pull off having dinner prepared before leaving for swim lessons, but I was pleasantly surprised!

Hopefully, I can make it work again this week - it was SO NICE to walk in the door at 6:30pm and sit down to a homecooked family dinner 10 minutes later (instead of picking up drive-thru food on the way home).

So here's the plan:

Breakfasts ~ french toast, breakfast cookies, toast, amish baked oatmeal, cereal & yogurt, pancakes (from the freezer)

Lunches ~ grilled cheese, pb& j sandwiches, snacky lunch, Cheesy Brown Rice, tortilla pizzas

Dinners ~ Three Cheese Pasta Casserole, Rodeo Chicken Sandwiches, Cheesy Brown Rice & vegies, Chili, Pizza Bread, Cracker Casserole

For more menu plans, head over to $5 Dinners!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fun for all three

Sometimes it's hard to come up with an activity that all three of my kids can enjoy. The 2-year old loves to play with cars and trucks, but not the same way as the 7-year old. The 7-year old and the 5-year old love to build with legos and the 2-year old loves to take their creations apart.
But when I pull out the playdough, all three come running - and they can play together happily - at least long enough for me to get dinner prepared - to me that's definitely a finer thing!
For more finer things, be sure to visit Amy's Blog!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Better Than Box Cake

We just celebrated my daughter's 5th birthday. She requested plain yellow cake with "white frosting with dots" (translated funfetti frosting) ~ I planned on purchasing a yellow cake mix at my weekly trip to the grocery store - they're always on sale. But no sale this week, and I just couldn't bring myself to pay almost 2 bucks for a cake mix.

When I got home I did what I always do when faced with finding a good recipe, I hit the internet. My search for "homemade yellow cake" yielded this recipe that only required ingredients that I already had on hand, was extremely easy, and according to my husband "better than box cake". It can't get any better than that, can it?

For more Frugal Friday posts, head over to Life As Mom!

Our New Thermometer

Before having children, I didn't really think too much about thermometers. I think we may have had a basic digital one stowed away in the medicine cabinet, but I can't recall ever pulling it out to use it.

However, when we brought our first child home from hospital, taking an accurate temperature became much more important to us. All the books advised that the rectal temperature was the most accurate way to obtain a newborn's temperature - so that's what we did.

But what do you do when your children get older and rectal temperatures are a bit, um, harder to obtain? (for us, this was when they graduated from diapers) Taking an accurate oral temperature (mouth) is not so easy when you're dealing with a preschooler. And ditto for obtaining underarm temperature readings.

Thankfully, in the midst of the latest round of sickness that went through our home, my husband came across this thermometer. He purchased it on his way home from work - and we tried it out immediately. It is so simple to use, and the kids even think it's kind of fun.

In fact, this thermometer is so easy to use, you may just become addicted - ask me how I know :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thank You PaperbackSwap

Originally uploaded by threedc4me
Look what came in the mail - courtesy of PaperbackSwap! This book has been on my wishlist for well over a year - I was delighted when I received a message stating that it had been listed on PBSwap. I love this site!

Looking for Spring!

When I went out to get the mail earlier this week, I noticed these blooms popping up.
Spring is surely on its way!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Menu Plan ~ March 8-14

We're gearing up for a busy week around here. My daughter will be celebrating her 5th birthday on Tuesday, so she got to choose her favorite dinner.

In addition, the two older kids are beginning swimming lessons on Tuesday evening (indoor pool, of course!). We have to be at the pool by 5:30pm on Tuesday & Thursday evenings, which means we need to leave home by 5:00pm at the latest! I would love to have dinner prepared so that all I have to do is re-heat in the oven for about 10 minutes when we get home - we'll see how it goes.

Breakfasts ~ Overnight Whole Wheat Breakfast Cake, french toast, pancakes, Amish Baked Oatmeal, cereal & yogurt, toast

Lunches ~ doctored spaghetti noodles, leftover homemade pizza, quesadillas, pb&j sandwiches, grilled cheese, snacky lunch (crackers, cheese, fruit)

Dinners ~ homemade pizza, egg casserole & fruit salad, Tortilla chips w/ taco meat & cheese (dd's choice), Chicken and Gravy over noodles, Broccoli Cheddar Soup & homemade bread, Pizza Bread & carrot sticks, Baked Ziti

For lots more menu plans, visit OrgJunkie!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Photobooks to the Rescue!

I love pulling out my oldest son's scrapbooks. As I flip through the pages, I recall special memories and fun times that we had.

By the time my daughter came along we had invested in a digital camera - needless to say, she did not suffer from the "less pictures of the 2nd child" syndrome. However, I wasn't so good at actually scrapbooking the pictures - that would take more time and creativity than I could muster with two little ones.

And poor baby number three, not as many pictures and nary a homemade scrapbook!

I did have good intentions with my sweet 3rd child. I had even purchased a complete (and completely ADORABLE) scrapbook kit - album, matching pages, stickers - the works! But after he reached his first birthday and I still had not produced even one page, I loaded it up with my "things to consign" stash - and I headed to my favorite photobook site.

Ah, it was so nice to just sit down at the computer, upload my pictures and drop and drag them into place. A couple hours later I had a photobook of his first year. A few more clicks and that book was on its way to me. No agonizing over which sketch to use (they have pre-selected layouts to choose from). No need to lug all of my supplies out (all I needed was my computer).

I know, it's not the same as creating a book of memories with my own hands, and I admit, I do prefer the homemade pages that I created for my older children. But at this season of my life this option fits the bill. I get a tangible book filled with memories of my childrens early years.

And guess what, my kids love flipping through these books just as much as they enjoy the scrapbooks that I spent many hours putting together.

Who knows, maybe someday I'll have the time and creative energy to do more paper scrapbooking. But for now, I'm sticking with my photobooks.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Breakfast is in the freezer

I was very inspired by the Hot Breakfast Challenge that The Happy Housewife hosted last month. One of the things that makes it possible for me to actually serve a hot breakfast is the fact that my freezer is now stocked with some of our favorite hot breakfasts.

When I opened the freezer this morning, I got to choose between breakfast cookies, whole wheat pancakes, and french toast - I chose breakfast cookies. Then, I simply took the cookies out of the freezer and popped them into the toaster oven. A few minutes later we had a hot breakfast on our plates!

Stocking my freezer with these breakfast items was actually very simple. Last week on our baking night, we made a batch of breakfast cookies. I kept about a dozen cookies out for enjoying right away and put the rest into freezer bags (about 8 cookies in each bag). Then, over the weekend, I made pancakes for breakfast - since I already had the griddle out, I doubled the recipe - some of the pancakes went straight into our bellies and the rest were stowed in the freezer. And yesterday I made a double batch of french toast - this produced a hot, yummy breakfast for my family and two bags of french toast for the freezer.

Now if I can only keep up this momentum!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Menu Plan ~ Week of 3/1

I just picked up some BOGO bread (whole wheat pototo bread) at the grocery store - we've recently rediscovered how easy it is to whip up some french toast (and all three kiddos love it) - I can't wait to make a double batch this week so we can put some in the freezer.

I also stocked up on some BOGO cheese - they'll definitely come in handy this week.

Here's the plan:

Breakfast ~ Amish Baked Oatmeal (Yummy! - thanks for linking to this recipe Amy!)
Lunch ~ Leftovers
Dinner ~ Chili, cornbread

Breakfasts ~ French Toast, Breakfast Cookies (in the freezer), pancakes, whole wheat breakfast cake, cereal & yogurt, toast
Lunches ~ grilled cheese, tortilla pizzas, pb&j sandwiches, spaghetti noodles w/parm cheese, snacky lunch (crackers, cheese, fruit), cheese n chips

Monday ~ Cheesy Chicken Vermicelli
Tuesday ~ Mexican Black Bean Rice Bowls
Wednesday ~ Sloppy Joes
Thursday ~ Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Friday ~ Pizza Bread
Saturday ~ Chicken Pot Pie
Sunday ~ Chicken and Gravy

For lots more menu plans - head over to OrgJunkie!

March Meals

Here is the list of meals that I plan to serve at some point this month.


Whole Wheat Breakfast Cake
Cinnamon Rolls
Amish Baked Oatmeal
Cranberry Orange Muffins
Morning Muffins
Breakfast Cookies
French Toast


Bacon , Egg and Cheese Biscuits
Chicken Paprikash
BBQ Beef & Bean Cornbread Casserole
Pizza Bread
Mexican Black Bean Rice Bowls
Rodeo Chicken Sandwiches
Mexican Chicken Skillet
Meatloaf Cups

Cracker Casserole
Homemade Pizza x2
Sloppy Joes
Three Cheese Pasta
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
Cheesy Chicken Vermicelli
Creamy Corn Chowder
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Spinach Brown Rice & Cheese Casserole
Spaghetti Pie
Cheesy Beef and Rice
Beefy Enchiladas
Chicken and Gravy

Lots of these recipes come from my new favorite recipe blog - Cooking During Stolen Moments. I can't wait to try these new recipes out on my family.

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