Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Baking Anyone??

I have fallen in love with the blog
I discovered her a few weeks ago
and have been pretty much obsessed ever since.
This lady has got her act together!
And her site is a great place to start for new
homeschoolers with young kids!
I am not copying -
well, I guess I kinda am...
but like I said -
she is a great resource 
and a great place to start!!

She does monthly meal plans
weekly lesson plans
created her own curriculum for 
preschoolers and K4
(both of which I plan on purchasing).
She has figured this thing out!

I used to be pretty good at meal planning.
When we lived in NC, I would STOCK
my freezer UP when meats 
would go on super sales
at our local grocery store.
Due to the competition between
5 grocery store chains
(not including the 2 mega stores that sold EVERYTHING)
every day prices were a little high but the sales 
were AWESOME!

So I always had meat in the freezer to use.
Then we get down here in good 'ole Texas
and there is basically ONE
grocery store chain!
YEP
ONE!
Then there are the 2 mega stores too.
So there really is NO competition
like there was in NC.
So my buying stuff super cheap and stocking up days 
are kinda over.
Instead, I am attempting to
plan and purchase for 2 weeks at a time.
We will see how that goes.
I am headed in the right direction and 
have planned out meals and snacks for the 
next two weeks.

I wasn't really giving the kids snacks like they 
think they need.  
So I have been inspired by 
Confessions of a Homeschooler...
and
we are baking!

We would be doing a little anyways.
But when I put things on paper
and on a calendar.
It is easier to stick to!

Last week we made & decorated 
Christmas cookies
while my folks were here.
(will have more about that on another post)

Today
After we put the babies down for naps
- yes "we" - the boys put Ms. Priss in her bed
I put the baby in his bed - 
we made


Christmas-y Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

1) Dump




2) Pat



3) Bake


4) Cut


5) Devour!

(six thumbs up!)

Then we started decorating our annual gingerbread house.




I helped/supervised for a while...
then went and worked on something else.

This is what happens when you leave 2 boys
with 3 bags of icing!!
Can you tell that these are supposed to be
the sides of a gingerbread house??


Can't wait to see what the completed house looks like tomorrow!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Budget Woes

During my research
I am discovering that this 
homeschooling thing
ain't cheap!!

You can do it cheap
You can do it pretty much as cheap 
as you want to...
HOWEVER
I want/need
some structure
and accountability.

And there is a
TON 
of stuff
out there!!
I have found 
some different vendors
that have different
pieces parts 
or subjects.
Then there are the 
"all in one" 
type curriculums.
Some of these can run you 
$800+ per year
per child!

Um, no thanks!

There are very highly 
recommended programs
and resources 
that seem reasonably priced
until you add
all the pieces of the
"program"
together.
Then you remember,
that it is just for
ONE subject!!

Again
HOWEVER...
I have multiple children
and we are starting rather young with 
my oldest...
SO...
assuming we like doing this
homeschooling thing
we can reuse the same resources
over and over
just having to purchase 
"student manuals"
(or the consumable part of the resource).

So far I am looking at:

Math - Saxon
Reading & Spelling - All About Reading/All About Spelling
Science - The Young Scientists Club

And as I add all this stuff up...
I feel like we will QUICKLY 
approach that $800+
per student 
per year
number.
UGH!

Hopefully,
I can figure out a way to 
do this on the 
relatively 
inexpensive...
BUT
I will NOT
sacrifice 
the kids
education.

So we will see what we wind up with.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Signs of Progress...

Today my parents left and headed back to NC.  
We had them for 4 whole days and 5 whole nights.
Now how long is it going to take
to undo all the spoilage??  
Don't care...
Its worth it!  
(It will get undone just in time for the other
grandma to arrive and do it all over again! - HA HA!)

While mom and dad were here
they helped me purchase 
to continue to work on 
putting together our work area
for the kids school.

Here is what it looks like in place...



Now we have to find nice chairs to go with the desks the boys got for Christmas
last year from Grammy.  And they will FINALLY
be using them for their intended purpose!!

These look GREAT!  
I am getting so excited about this!!

So the workboxes are in place...
now we start implementing them!!
(hopefully sooner than later)

Monday, December 5, 2011

We are getting there...

We made the decision to homeschool shortly after 
we arrived in Texas in
mid October...

So we are quickly approaching 
mid December
and I am still struggling
with a curriculum.

We started out
using
**Time4Learning**
(www.time4learning.com)

It is a GREAT starter and basic
on-line program...
BUT
we need more...
I have enjoyed it, 
the boys enjoy it,
miss priss enjoys it...
and 
I plan on 
starting little miss
on it soon.
(since she begs for school)

It keeps up with their 
progress & success
too!
So I can show daddy 
where we are in the year and
that we are actually 
learning and accomplishing 
something!
HA!

I have spent a TON of time
picking brains
at homeschool groups
when I meet other moms.

And have fallen in LOVE with
another blog...
where I learned about
"workboxes".

I had already come up with something similar
I was going to put different activities:
legos
a craft
puzzles
worksheets (in a folder)
stuff like that
in a plastic bin that each of the kids
would use through out the week.
Anytime we had downtime...
go to the box and do something in the box.

THEN...
I found this workbox system.
It requires 
planning
and 
organization
(both of which are lacking right now
BUT
I am working on it)

Unfortunately, 
we can't just run out and buy all
this awesome stuff...
so I find ideas
then do my best to implement them
on a shoe-string budget!

So right now I am trying to find 
two - 10 drawer carts
to use for our workboxes.

So we are getting there...
I have tons of ideas...
I have joined yahoo groups...
And follow a few blogs...

But implementing all of these 
GREAT ideas...

We are getting there...



**As a member of Time4Learning, I have been asked to review their online education program and share my experiences. While I was compensated, this review was not written or edited by Time4Learning and my opinion is entirely my own. Write your own curriculum review or learn how to use their curriculum for homeschoolafter school study or summer learning.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Texas Sized Thanksgiving!


Our first Thanksgiving in Texas was pretty low key.
We hosted my father-in-law and new step-mother-in-law
at our house.
We introduced them to 
southern green bean casserole
and 
sweet potato casserole.
They were both shocked at how good
those two items were!

We had 2 turkeys...
one smoked
and
one deep fried.

We have been eating leftovers!
The hubby is still ok with the 
plain 'ole turkey...
but I will soon 
have to start repurposing
this turkey!

One idea around my house growing up
was turkey salad.
My husband LOVES
turkey/chicken salad
made with 
smoked
turkey/chicken.

My little sis suggested 
kind of turkey salad...
might have to add 
a little franks red hot!

I also plan on making 
Tortilla Soup!
YUM!!!

We are planning on getting our tree 
this weekend.
We will be driving to a little farm
just east of Austin.

Its not the NC Mountains...
but my husband said it would have to do...
he was NOT hoofing it to the
NC Mountains
to cut down our tree this year.
We have been cutting our own tree
down each year since
our oldest was born...
and we even made it to the NC Mountains a few 
times...
what an experience!
A few years ago,
it was actually snowing
while we were picking out our tree.
Makes me smile and cry all at the same time.
What beautiful memory!

My husband braved the chaos
at Wal-Mart on Thursday night.
I braved the laptop
and the chaos with 
websites crashing.
But we are NOT
Black Friday lovers.
That was a first and last for us!

I hope you and yours had a
wonderful and relaxing
and THANKFUL
Thanksgiving.


The norm is to say what you are thankful for
on Thanksgiving...

This year - 
I am thankful for the opportunities that God
has presented to our family
and thankful that He gave us the courage
to see where these opportunities might take us
even if it is all the way to Texas!



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wedding Weekend!!!

About nine months ago,
my father-in-law informed us that he was getting remarried!
And knowing that we were planning to come to 
Texas for a visit sometime this year,
he inquired about our schedules
(well the kids year-round school schedule)
in order to plan the wedding at a time
we could make it down.
(Its nice to be that loved!)

The wedding was scheduled for 
November 19th (our fall trackout)

Then for those of you following...
things changed in our house
and we wound up
MOVING 
to Texas.

So needless to say - 
we were definitely here
for the wedding.

The festivities started Friday
and didn't stop
til Monday night
when the last guests finally went home.

My sweet sister agreed to 
fly in for the wedding
to help us out.
She came in Friday night
we did the "girl thing"
Saturday morning
Me
my sister
my daughter...

We got our toes done and went shopping.
It was nice.
Then home to 
QUICKLY 
get everyone all dressed up.

I got the kids matching outfits
that are going to double as their 
Christmas picture
and
Christmas Mass
outfits. 

One child at the wedding actually referred
to us as
"the red twin family"
HA!

(not the best focused picture - but you get the idea)

The kids were AMAZING
considering they had to sit at a table most of the night.
I will admit that we had some 
electronic help with the boys behavior
and boredom!


My daughter was the hit of the wedding
(besides the bride and groom, of course)
She LOVED dancing and stayed on the dance floor
the whole evening
wearing mommy & daddy out!
(I have no idea what Jackson is doing...)

My husband's grandpa
had a 
"dance-floor-side" seat
and he thoroughly 
enjoyed watching
his 
"tiny dancer" 
all night. 
My sister was AMAZING
and 
took the kids home
so my husband and I could
stay and enjoy 
connecting/reconnecting
with his family.

When I came back in after helping 
my sister get the kids in the car,
I sat down beside Grandpa 
and asked if he needed anything.
His only response...
"my dancer".

AWE!!!

I got to practice my spanish and re-met 
all the Texas cousins.
It was nice,
very nice!
And we had a great time...


It was nice of them to throw such a great
"welcome to Texas" 
event for us!  
HA!

(There were more pictures taken,
I will try to upload them as I receive them.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

What's New??

So what's new in this household??
Not a lot...
we are getting into somewhat of a routine.
I haven't totally developed a schedule yet.
The kids & I are enjoying 
Homeschooling.
It affords us the opportunity to do 
different things throughout the week.
We attend a weekly PE class.
We go to the children's museum for "science"
about once every other week.
We go to the library about once a week.
We are planning a trip to the zoo next week.
I am still researching and figuring this thing out as we go...
Its amazing how little time is really needed for this though.
Most of the time spent in schools on these subjects
 is teaching to 24 students
making sure everyone understands.
When you only have 1 student...
the lessons are
a LOT
quicker!

Between researching homeschooling stuff.
Doing homeschooling.
Attempting to organize
the house
and our finances...
(just got Quicken and I have to manually enter 
8 months worth of financial information! - UGH!!)
Keeping up with my household chores
(including blowing up a vacuum!!)
yes - you read that right...
we have had the same vacuum for close
to 10 years 
and it has been fine...
no complaints really
that is until yesterday...
I started vacuuming...
got one good swipe in
and then it made a funny noise
then came to a complete
STOP 
and started 
SMOKING!!
Smoke literally started billowing 
out of my vacuum!
And stinking up the house...
not exactly sure what happened.
But needless to say - 
I will be looking for a new one
during Black Friday!
(among other things)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy (belated) Halloween!

Yes
I am a little behind!
I have been struggling getting pictures from 
my phone
to the computer.
I tried downloading them to google docs,
sending them to myself via e-mai,
having Joey send them to me...
then FINALLY 
dug the USB cable
out of our
"cable bin"
and connected my 
stinking phone directly
to my computer!

Why hadn't I done that before?
Couldn't find the cable!

So that will hopefully not happen again,
and I should be able to update
WITH pictures
more easily!

With the move, Halloween was
kinda put on the back burner...
luckily they sell costumes here
in Texas!  
We took the kids to the typical
kids costume stores:
Target
Wal-Mart
Party City

R thought he wanted to be something gross and scary
Like those ghoulish things that scared him silly at SeaWorld?
Yep - like those...
That is until we went to SeaWorld and he saw all those things...
So he went with a Vampire.

J wanted to be a ninja again.
First, he was a ninja 2 years ago and I keep all of their
costumes in a "costume bin" in the 
bottom of their closet...
so if he wanted to be a ninja, he could
dig the old costume out!
Second, I wasn't digging that idea,
cause we do calendars 
(thanks to my sisters for the idea YEARS ago)
of the kids each year for the aunts & grands & godparents.
So I didn't want the same kid in the same costume.  :)
So we finally caved and let him be a different ninja.

A was hung up on being a witch.
Not really sure where the idea came from, but whatever.
So she kept talking about a witch at 2 different stores.
At Party City, they have pictures
of all the costumes 
lining the wall from floor to ceiling
divided by age group and gender.
There were 2 little witch costumes at her
eye level and this little tiny girl
turns to her big ole daddy
and grasping her hands 
looks up at him 
and says
"Please, please, please"
A-DOR-A-BLE!

(but where the heck did she get that from?!!?)

So the next question, did it work?
Yes, it did.
Daddy said she could have it.
Then he picked her up
and she became eye level 
with a Hello Kitty costume.
And my almost 3 year old daughter is
OBSESSED
with 
"my kitty"
(as she refers to it).
So she squealed with delight and 
just started exclaiming
"my kitty, my kitty".

(this child starts hollering 
"my kitty, my kitty"
ANYTIME we see ANYTHING
Hello Kitty 
in the store -
including items on other little girls!)

So the witch idea QUICKLY 
rode out the window on its broom!

She got her Hello Kitty costume.

The kids all chimed in and helped pick out 
a little costume for 
Tony Cruz...

I present you with...

Halloween!

(here are 3 of the 10 pictures we took)


(this is the only one in focus with all 4 kids looking 
toward the camera!) 


The Haul! 



HAPPY (belated) HALLOWEEN!!



Weekend of Fun!

I think we are slowly getting used to our new life.
We are all enjoying the new work hours 
for daddy.
For as long as we have been working,
I think the earliest my husband
has been home from work on a 
daily basis 
was when he worked for 
the government and we lived
about 15 min from his office.
We would see him about 5:30pm
Since he has gotten used to getting up and into the office
before 7am (owning your own business will do that to you)...
he kept the hours going here.
When we owned our business back in NC,
he would be out of the house by 6:30am
and we wouldn't see him 
until 6:30pm.
That is 12 hours!
And to us - that wasn't a whole lot of fun.
He kept with the early to work mindset here...
but now he gets home around 3:30pm!
None of us are quite sure how to act!  
HA!
Because of these awesome hours...
we are able to do things in the afternoons
after daddy gets home.
School is done,
naps are done,
no homework...

So we decided to take a little time to do some fun stuff
as a family this past weekend.
(Weekend before Halloween)

Friday
 Daddy got home around 1:30pm
We had some errands to run, but loaded up the kids
and headed out to SeaWorld!
SeaWorld San Antonio is only about 15 minutes 
from our door!
And my father-in-law, purchased us season tickets
as a "welcome to Texas"
gift.
So we ventured out to SeaWorld on Friday afternoon.
SeaWorld apparently does the holidays up right!
There is something called "Howl-O-Scream"
at SeaWorld.
They had the whole park
decked out in 
pumpkins,
jack-o-lanters,
ghouls,
and 
other 
Halloween creatures.

We had a great time, until we ventured into the
"Scare Zone".
And discovered that the 
ghouls and goblins
come out in force
in the Scare Zone
after 6pm!

I was VERY impressed
with the production 
that this park put on for 
Halloween!

My children -
not so much!

Taking a 7 yo, 5 yo, 2 1/2 yo and 1 yo 
through a "haunted" theme park...
not the best idea.
My oldest two boys were crawling up 
UNDER 
me and my husband.
The little ones were pretty clueless
but not the bigger ones.

I was worried that we would have 
both of them staring us down 
in the middle of the night
begging to crawl into our 
bed...
surprisingly we made it through the night
with no extra bodies in there!

Unfortunately,
I didn't think to take any pictures
of the ghouls and goblins...

I did, however, get a shot of daddy
taking three of the kids on a ride.


T.C. enjoying
"The Monster Mash"



I am going to try and flip it but
was to anxious to share...


Saturday 
we went to
the library
to paint sugar skulls
for
Dia de los Muertos.









Sunday
After the rest of our "stuff"
arrived from North Carolina and was unloaded...
we traveled about 30 minutes south of San Antonio
to a little town called Devine, Texas
to visit
Devine Acres Farm.
I am a LOVER of
Hillridge Farms in Youngsville, NC.
I absolutely enjoy
taking the kids there every year...
I was hoping that this place would be similar.
Not so much.
It was nice
but unfortunately
it has pretty big shoes to fill
and it left me a tad
disappointed.

But we had fun anyways
and 
got to scope out potential 
Christmas Trees
on their farm!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

TORCH

Ever since we decided to give this 
homeschooling thing
a shot...
I have been eager 
to get in touch with some other
homeschool moms.
Last week, 
I sent out a few e-mails to different groups 
trying to get info on their next meetings
hoping we could attend.

It just so happened that two different groups
had a meeting type thing
today - at the same time
but at two different locations.
Understandably.
I decided to hit one and then 
hoped that the other would still 
be going and we could hit the
tail end of the second.

The first turned out to be a 
park play-date
we were one of the two 
families that showed up...
the other family,
was the organizer!
So that turned out to be a huge
disappointment.

We cut our 
park playtime short
and headed off to the second one,
hoping it was still going.
It was!  We got there a little late
but it turned out to get almost
perfect timing!

It was a WONDERFUL group!
I am so excited and 
it was uplifting
to see all those homeschool families there!
I spoke with quite a few moms
some that had kids younger than mine
that were homeschooling
(so they were newbies too)...
and I spoke with a couple of moms
who have been homeschooling for 15 years!
And they are still a part of this group!
I definitely think this is going to be a good fit.
And can't wait to get 
involved
and
 some ideas 
and 
encouragement
and 
support
on this endeavor.

Its also odd not feeling like I am the only one with a large family!
I don't feel like we are that big of a family
and when we were at this meeting...
we weren't!
It was great!

I am so happy to have found TORCH!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Two-Fer...

Since I am so behind...
I figured I would give you a 
2 for 1 today!  
Aren't you excited?!?!


So we had been here a few days and I had decided that I was going to
keep the kids out of school for a few weeks
and do some fun stuff.
We are used to a year round school schedule
and the kids were due for a break in a few weeks.
So I figured we could do our break now...
and go and visit the zoo
and the children's museum 
during the non-peak season
(while everyone else was in school)

BUT
was constantly threatening the kids
when they got unruly 
that I was going to send them back to school 
the next day!

Then we went down to the neighborhood school
to get the required information
to sign them up.
While there,
I didn't get this 
warm fuzzy -
"I want to send my kids to school here"
feeling...
I got a ton of pressure from the front office staff
about why I needed to enroll my kids THAT DAY
and get them to school the next day.  STAT!
And just in time for them to teach
my 5 yo and 7 yo
how to
"Say No to Drugs"!
Um, excuse me, what??
My kids have NO IDEA about "drugs"
and personally I would like to keep it that way for a little bit longer.
They are my kids and last I checked my opinion 
is really the only one that matters
as to their schooling 
(well daddy's too).
So this along with LOTS of other 
little things that had presented themselves
previously:
like us considering homeschooling before R started school 2 years ago
Rico telling me he doesn't like school multiple times
he was bored at school
the list goes on...

SOOOO...
with all of these "things" presenting themselves to us
AND
the fact that we had just moved
and it was as good of an opportunity as any...
we have decided to take the leap into 
HOMESCHOOLING!!!

ACK!
We have only been at it for a little over a week,
but so far the kids seem to enjoy it
and they have told me so a few times.

We have visited the library twice for storytime for the babies.
We have become members of the local children's museum
which they ALL loved!
And it has science experiments every week!


 Bubble kids...


 A gave it a couple of tries...

 Then big brother had to help out a little...

The aquarium kept them entertained for about 30 seconds!

 Yes, my boys are milking a fake cow...

 Then there's the miniature grocery store...
the kids could have spent HOURS in here.
They had short shelves (seen in the background)
stocked with real (yet empty) items!
Miniature shopping carts,
and even working cash register computers!
It recognized the items as the kids scanned them...
they had a BLAST here - 
I have other pictures, but they were really blurry
(due to the pitiful camera on my phone).

Then we moved on to the science experiments...
First, we made
"Glow in the Dark Slime"


Then we played with
"Disappearing Ghost Balls"
(or something like that)
these clear balls disappeared in a cup of water
VERY NEAT!


Then there was 
"Ghost Bubbles"



Then T.C. got to enjoy the ball room!



Phew - I am tired just thinking about that day!!

We have had an extremely busy weekend too - 
I can't wait to tell you about that -
but won't bore you with a 
3-fer!!




Forgotten Detail from Road Trip...

So after our Texas shaped waffles...we piled back in the suburban and headed south again...

-New info starts here-

We got about 9 minutes down the road before someone had to potty...
imagine that!
Luckily we thought ahead and put a little potty
in the car for Alexis so we didn't have to stop every time she thought she had to pee.
Needless to say - it wasn't her we were stopping for.
We stopped at a rest stop just out side of Temple, TX
and it was a VERY nice and well built
rest stop complete with a nice playground.
So even though we had only been in the car
for 9 minutes...
we took a 30 min break!
But 
all 4 of the kids (and the Nana) 
enjoyed it!







Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Road Trip!!!

What does a suburban look like stuffed to the RIM with necessities for a move 
half way across the country?? 
A 22 hour venture??


And yep - we got it closed!  And could even partially see out the back!!

So we finally got on the road around 2pm on Wednesday, Oct 12th.  
We made it as far as Asheville the first night.
We stopped before we were really ready, 
but I am kinda glad we did, 
cause I-40 through the mountains
was both beautiful and white knuckling!
There aren't too many vehicles on the road that intimidate me
in that big ole beast...
 BUT
being squeezed between a 6' tall concrete wall and a semi...
I am intimidated!  

BUT - we did get a few good pics on the way...



Day 2:
We made it all the way through Tennessee but it was 
dreary and rainy and we didn't stop...we made it all the way to
Little Rock, Arkansas.
I loved seeing all the green along the highway in Tennessee.

Here is the only picture worthy of posting of our venture through 
Tennessee...

(This should be a advertisement for Britax! - ha!)

After a day in the car, we decided to stop in Dallas
and do some sightseeing...
So because I love my oldest son,
who has been brainwashed by his father...

We visited Cowboys Stadium!
And even got to walk on the field!!






Needless to say - it was pretty overwhelming!
We can't wait to go back and take Daddy...
I actually got to call him while standing on the star...
Pretty neat experience!

We also went to a park nearby and
burned off some energy.




 (Who knew you could fit two little ones in the same swing?)

We got back on the road headed south toward San Antonio
on Friday evening about 7pm, we still had about 5 hours 
ahead of us - but we were ready to get there...
however, we had not idea what exactly
we would be arriving to...
no bed for A nor Nana,
was there coffee in the house?
breakfast?

So instead of sticking it out 
and making it all the way into San Antonio
we stopped in Temple, Texas...
where is Temple, Texas?  About 3 hours north of
San Antonio!  

And how did we definitely know we were
in Texas?


The Texas shaped waffle iron at our hotel,
of course!

So after our Texas shaped waffles...
we piled back in the suburban and 
headed south again...

We finally arrived, 
almost exactly 4 days
after we started...
Saturday, October 16th
right around noon.
(noon CST made it 1pm EST)

And in case anyone needed reminding
why we made this venture...






He's worth it!