Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cheese Muffin Recipe

I mentioned these muffins in a post last week. I'm including the recipe now. These are great eaten by themselves or with a big bowl of chili or taco soup! Really, I think they would be great with just about anything!

Cheese Muffins

1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 t. baking powder

1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup oil

1 cup cheddar cheese

Stir together dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add egg, milk, and oil. Stir just until moistened. Add cheese. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Stretching Without Pushing

I'm a big believer in letting children grow at their own pace. I don't mean physically grow, but emotionally. I don't let my babies cry in someone else's arms just so they will get used to others. I don't put my kids in the church nursery when they are more comfortable being with me. I don't make my kids slide down the slide if they feel it is too scary. It is important to me to let my kids outgrow their fears on their own without being pushed. However, now that the kids are getting older, I'm not afraid to help them stretch beyond their comfort zone.

Gavin recently had the opportunity to join a just-for-fun soccer team for homeschoolers. The idea was intriguing to him, but he was extremely uncomfortable with the fact that Daddy and Mama would not be on the field with him. Brian and I decided that we thought soccer would be good for him, and since we knew the people running the program and we would be on the sidelines the entire time, this could be an opportunity of growth for him.

The activity is running for seven weeks, but we told him he had to try it for three before he could make the decision to not go back. The first week was hard. He was the youngest on the team and he didn't feel comfortable running through the warm-ups and drills alone or even telling the coach his name. Brian was able to step in and assist when needed, and we stayed close by as promised. By week two, Gavin ran onto the field hesitantly, but a few smiles eeked out eventually and he participated in all the drills and talked to the coach. Now there is no doubt that he will complete the whole seven weeks.

On his own, Gavin would not have participated in soccer, but with gentle prodding, he is finding a new love.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What Are You Reading? August Edition

My reading list is pitifully short this month! Between starting our school year and a few projects I've been doing, I haven't been reading much more than the occasional magazine. I have been keeping up with my Bible reading...Revelations.

I've also continued reading to the kids. We are enjoying All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor together. In Before Five in a Row, we are doing Blueberries For Sal by Robert McCloskey and in TruthQuest, we are reading various books on Christopher Columbus.

Now it is your turn! Tell me what you've been enjoying lately! In addition, can anyone share an idea for a book to read aloud to the kids? I keep a running list of good "chapter books" to read with them, but my current list is almost exhausted! We also read LOTS of picture books and are always looking for ideas.

Monday, August 25, 2008

5 Reasons I Love My Farmhouse Table-- #1

Reason #1

There is room for everyone to do their schoolwork!

Friday, August 22, 2008

What's For Lunch?

My boys are content to eat the same things day after day after day... For Gavin, it is cereal for breakfast and a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. For Owen, it is waffles or oatmeal for breakfast and cheese and crackers for lunch. I'm okay with this arrangement because they get much more nutritional variety at dinner.

Maddie, however, is not content with such monotony! She is not a picky eater, but she wants variety in her diet. It can be a challenge to please her palette! (On Sunday, she and her Aunt Kati talked about their similar meal-time dilemma and traded a few ideas.)

Between keeping up with the laundry, being pregnant, and homeschooling, I don't want to take the time to cook elaborate breakfasts and lunches. Here is a list of some easy things I've found to serve. I'm including everything in one list because some items could be eaten at any meal.

boiled eggs
yogurt with fruit
applesauce with cinnamon
cheese muffins (we have a GREAT recipe if anyone is interested), blueberry muffins, or oatmeal buttermilk muffins
scrambled eggs
toast topped w/ thin apple slices, cinnamon, & cheese (warmed in the microwave)
sweet potato biscuits or whole-wheat biscuits
toast w/ peanut butter & banana slices
soft flour tortilla w/ beans, corn, & cheese
(leftover) meatballs sprinkled with Parmesan cheese
English muffin or bagel pizza
leftover spaghetti, soup, or Mexican casserole
peanut butter on crackers
macaroni and cheese
"ants on a log"-- celery sticks with peanut butter & raisins
refried beans w/ sour cream
toasted cheese sandwich
baked potato
rolled up lunch meat and a slice of cheese (w/ no bread)
tortilla chips w/ salsa and cheese

We'd love to have more ideas if you have any to share!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wordless Wednesday-- Best Friends!

They may argue over who gets to hold hands with who, but they really are the best of friends!

It's Not Just Academics

There is more to our homeschool than just learning how to read and write. There are also certain habits and behaviors I try to teach all of the kids.

1) Respect for others-- When Mom is giving a sibling instructions, that is not the time to butt in to ask a question of your own!

2) Concentration-- This means sticking to the task at hand as opposed to doing one math problem and then stopping to watch your sister color.

3) Sharing-- If your brother needs the blue colored pencil, wait until he is finished instead of insisting you need it to color the sky in your picture.

4) Diligence to finish a task-- When Mom tells you do finish one page of phonics, work at it in a timely fashion until you are done.

5) Joy in others' accomplishments-- When Baby Brother is excited because he is learning his colors, be happy for him even if the skill seems easy to you!

6) Thinking for yourself-- Think about your question and see if you can figure out the answer on your own without asking someone!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Failed Attempt

When I first began my blog, I shared about new ventures into cloth diapering here and here. I realized recently that I never followed up with our results: I gave up!

I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but it just was not working out. I'm not sure if I should have given it more time or dug deeper to find solutions to our problems or what, but I'll use the excuse that I was pregnant and not up to the challenge.

The extra laundry was not a problem because I don't mind laundry. I do it everyday anyway and I actually enjoy folding it. Going out with cloth was much easier than I expected so I didn't really find cloth diapering inconvenient. However, I had a smell issue.

No matter how I washed the diaper covers, no matter what temperature water I used or how I rinsed them, I could not get rid of a stinky, stale odor. The diapers themselves (which actually touch the skin and absorb the...well, the body excretions) smelled fine, but the covers got so bad I couldn't get past the gross factor. Add to that the fact that Owen got a bad diaper rash that we still battle off and on (possibly unrelated?)...and I just called it quits.

Hi, my name is Kristin and I use disposables.

Monday, August 18, 2008

28 Reasons To Be Thankful

Since today is my 28th birthday, I thought I would take a few minutes to list a few things I am thankful for (in no particular order)!

1) Air conditioning.
2) Crab cakes, chocolate cake, homemade icecream, Thrasher's fries, pizza...can you tell I'm pregnant?
3) Clean sheets.
4) The opportunity to stay home with my kids.
5) Having a library only a 10 minute drive away.
6) Becoming a follower of Christ at a young age.
7) Mechanical pencils.
8) My minivan.
9) A husband who is a good friend, companion, provider, listener, father...
10) Friends of like-mind and like-faith.
11) God's Word.
12) Fresh eggs and fresh produce from friends.
13) Four daily bursts of sunshine-- my children!
14) Dutch Blitz and Apples to Apples.
15) Our laptop.
16) My parents who shaped me into who I am today.
17) Target.
18) Fall.
19) Yardsales and consignment shops and hand-me-downs.
20) 2 sisters and 3 sisters-in-law who are friends, not just family.
21) Water.
22) My brother who was my playmate growing up, my confidant as a teenager, and the one who taught my kids the "Beans, beans, the musical fruit" song!
23) My sewing basket and its contents.
24) Roller coasters.
25) My red hair.
26) Daisies.
27) Crushed ice.
28) Chick-fil-A.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Red and Yellow, Black and White

I started teaching my oldest two kids their colors several months before their second birthdays. I began by taking alphabet magnets in two different colors and having them sort them into two containers. It took a few easy lessons and they had the concept down pat.

A few months ago, I began this project with Owen. You know what happened? He had no clue what a color was, but he learned all the letters of the alphabet!! For awhile, I stopped working with him on colors and we fully immersed ourselves in letters and sounds. Just recently I decided to try colors again with a new manipulative.

This time I used colored math chips. I chose two colors and had him sort them into two bowls. He immediately understood the concept and by the next day, he was sorting four colors at a time. He is still very shaky on the names of the colors, but the first steps (understanding the concept of color and learning to sort) have been mastered!

(Another fun way to work on colors is using colored M & Ms! Fun for Mom, too!)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Terrible Twos?

Today is Owen's second birthday! That means we are entering the "terrible twos," right?

I'm not worried. With him being my third child, I've learned that by age two, the toughest part is over. Not that two-year-olds aren't energetic and busy, but if they have been trained to obey from the time they were infants, age two is not a big deal! (I've always found 15-24 months to be much more difficult as it is an intense time of training.) By two, a child is old enough to clearly understand rules and commands, and follow them. So we go into this new year with much excitement and joy...

Happy Birthday, BoBo!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Before Five in a Row

Jenny asked me to share a little more about the Before Five in a Row book that I'm doing with my younger kids.

This book was given to me free when Gavin was four and Maddie was two. Since the recommended age range is ages 2-4, we thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a try!

The concept is simple. Choose a book from the book list-- no need to go in order. (The list includes some well known favorites such as Goodnight Moon, Caps For Sale, and Blueberries For Sal and others not so well known like Yellow Ball and Angus Lost.) Next choose from the list of activities. This is flexible as well since there are SO MANY to choose from. You can even make up activities yourself because the point is to get the kids to remember the book! When I did Before Five in a Row with Gavin and Maddie, I had more time to do extensive activities. With this go-round, I'm also homeschooling a first grader, so we're choosing simpler activities.

Last week, we chose We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. We did things things like point to the different animals on the pages, growl like a bear, make a cave under the coffee table, and perform the actions like the people in the book (wading through a river, walking through a snowstorm...).

We really love this program because it is so simple (and inexpensive). It is great prep for future homeschoolers, but also a fun thing for non-homeschoolers to try! Keep in mind that little ones don't need lots of formal instruction. Just reading to them, talking to them, doing puzzles, cooking together, blowing bubbles, playing outside-- all of these are things that prepare them for more formal learning when the time is right.

Monday, August 11, 2008

"The Belly"

In response to Lu's comment,
here is "the belly" from about 3 weeks ago at 27 weeks pregnant! :-)

Seven Years

August 11, 2001

Today Brian and I celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary! We were married on a hot and rainy Saturday exactly one week before I turned 21!

We have had some hard times-- the loss of a parent, the loss of a baby, the loss of a job...and also some wonderful times-- four children (the one in the tummy counts!), an amazing job opportunity, and unforgetable family memories.

I am so thankful for my husband. He is a gem! I look forward to many, many more years by his side!
I love you, Brian.

August 2, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008


I've been asked whether it was a hardest going from zero to one child...or from one to two... or from two to three. In my experience, nothing even compares to the difficulty of transitioning from having no children to having a little baby that 100 percent depends on you for everything!

When Gavin came along, I thought I was prepared. My youngest sister was born when I was twenty and still living at home so I was experienced with babies and taking care of them. However, I was not experienced in having my own baby. It was overwhelming to me to not be able to cook or do laundry when it needed to be done. It was overwhelming to be woken at night and not know when I could go back to sleep. It was overwhelming to nurse every hour on the hour!

I found out I was pregnant with #2 (Maddie) when Gavin was 11 months old. I was afraid of what it would mean to have two under two! But you know what? While I certainly had more work, it was infinitely easier. The same when Owen came along two years later. My workload increased, but it was not overwhelming because I had done it all before.

I try to remember that God will not give me more than I can handle so with each new blessing that comes along, He gives me the strength and the patience and the skills to tackle the challenge.

How about you? What was the hardest (or easiest) transition for you in motherhood?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Keeping the Young Ones Busy

It is a challenge to keep the younger children busy and occupied during Gavin's school time. The best solution I've come up with is not to simply "keep them busy" but to involve them, too!

Maddie is four and mature enough to sit and do work at the table with us. This year she will be beginning the Get Ready For the Code series. This is a series of 3 fun workbooks that teaches letter sounds. (The best part is, once the work is done, there are lots of little line drawings to color in!) She will also continue working through a fun little workbook we got last year from Rod and Staff called Counting With Numbers. Her "school bag" is also filled with sewing cards, a small coloring book, pencils, etc. When it is time to move away from table time into reading time (history) , Maddie comes along with us. Her comprehension level is well beyond that of a four-year-old so she keeps up and learns just as much Gavin.

Owen (almost 2) is a bit more of a challenge. Last year, he chose school time as cry time! Some days he would sit on my lap and cry through an entire school day. This year, he is older and has benefited from another year of being trained to listen and sit still. I've given him his own "school bag" this year. I put in a pack of jumbo crayons in a zipper pouch so he can clean up on his own. I also included a sketch pad and a set of alphabet cards for him to occupy himself.

Very informally, I am starting Before Five in a Row with the two little ones this year. All you do is read a picture book 5 days in a row and talk about it or do a short activity! So simple! I don't know if we'll do this every week. I'm also not sure whether we will do this during Gavin's table time or some other time of the day.

Even though it sounds like we do a lot, we really only spend about 2 hours a day in formal school time. Of course, we also do lots learning activities like reading, taking walks, playing, and watching nature throughout the day. It is easy to learn without even knowing it!

Monday, August 4, 2008

It's That Time Already!

Today is our first day back at school! We've chosen to have our homeschool run from August to December then take off the whole month of January. (Due to the nature of Brian's job, he is off the first two months of the year so we like to take off and spend some quality time with him.) We are back to school from February to May. I'm not sure how it will all go with having a new baby in the house in October. We'll probably take a short amount of time off, and then give ourselves a few more weeks to ease back into the swing of things.

This year, Gavin will be in first grade! As promised, I'm sharing with you what we are planning to do this year. These are only our core subjects. I'll take another post to share what we do for art, music, nature study, and poetry, etc.

Bible-- We plan to continue using Bible Pictures to Color by Rod and Staff (a Mennonite company) to guide our Bible reading. Each page has a simple picture to color and a Bible passage reference. We started this last year so we plan to pick up where we left off. Their prices are SO reasonable, I bought Maddie a copy to color this year, too. We also plan to continue My ABC Bible Verses by Susan Hunt. This book includes a verse to memorize for each letter of the alphabet.

History-- We will be using TruthQuest History: American History For Young Students I. This program has you reading books (not a textbook!) chronologically through American history. It begins with the Vikings and continues on through Columbus, Colonial life, and the American Revolution. I love that there is an immense book list to choose from so you are bound to find something your library offers that fits your interest, comprehension level, and style.

Math-- Gavin will be starting Making Math Meaningful Level 2. He completed the Level K book last year. It lays such a foundation for math principles that by the end of the year, he took off and conquered so many math concepts on his own that we are skipping the Level 1 book and going straight into Level 2.

Phonics and Handwriting-- Gavin will be starting the Explode the Code series. I also plan to have him continue making the alphabet book he started last year. Each double-page spread concentrates on one letter. On the "D" page, for example, he has written a neat row of the letter in both uppercase and lowercase. Then he has drawn a picture of a dinosaur and copied a scripture that starts with D.

Table time (Bible, math, and phonics) should last about an hour and then we'll allow 30-60 minutes for reading (history).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Winner of the Bookmark Giveaway

The winner of the random drawing for the Four Seasons Bookmarks is...
Comment #3, cdziuba!
Congratulations! I will be contacting you by e-mail.

If for some reason, he/she does not claim the prize,
I will announce another winner mid-week!

Friday, August 1, 2008

"See Owen Run!"

Owen is a big boy. He was my smallest at birth by far-- 7 pounds, 12 ounces-- but he was 2 1/2 weeks early. By 2 weeks, he was over 9 pounds, and he didn't stop. He was well over 20 pounds by 5 months! After his first birthday, he slowed down and grew taller instead of wider, but his feet have maintained their baby chubbiness. It makes it super hard to find shoes for him.

For summer, we bought him two pairs of shoes. The first was a pair of sandals. We found a basic pair at Target. To get the Velcro closed enough to keep the shoe on his foot, the top of his foot is squished! If you loosen it to make it more comfortable, the sandal falls off his foot! His second pair of shoes is a play pair for the pool or beach. We bought him a pair in his size at Old Navy and couldn't even get them on because his foot was too chunky. We found another pair at Target that we settled on, but they are a struggle to squeeze on!

So we were in a dilemma for fall. I heard about a company called
See Kai Run that makes shoes just for kids with feet like Owen's. In fact, their website says these shoes "accommodate even the chubbiest little feet." I wrote to the company and asked them to donate a pair for me to review on my blog...and they did!

The box arrived one evening and a few days later, we put the shoes to the test. Owen immediately took to them. After easily slipping over his little toes (something that has never happened), he looked down at his feet and said, "Boo-ful." One evening he found the shoebox and said, "Mama, put shoes on." When he took off the lid and noticed it was empty, he put his whole face in the box and said, "All gone!" Now if I send him to find his shoes, he inevitably brings these to me!

I love how flexible the soles are. They are rubber and sturdy, but yet bend easily for toddler movement. The shoe itself is made of soft leather. (Am I the only one who loves to inhale that wonderful scent?!) We are totally sold on these shoes. The only negative I could find is the price. Moms shopping for multiple kids may find these out of price range.

With my next baby due in October, I was excited to learn that See Kai Run is coming out with a line of booties for babies 0-18 months this month called Smaller.
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