Monday, January 30, 2012

A Typical Day at School

We are a home school family.  We have been a home school family since the day my son was born.  It was something we started thinking about before we even had children and way back then it didn't seem like a possibility.  It just seemed too hard, too time consuming, too much opposition, and way too many other too much stuff (sorry, I was on a roll, there).  Once I had my son and saw his amazing love for learning, I knew that I had started home schooling the day he was born.  Don't we all, if you really think about it?  We are the ones who teach them words, colors, shapes, the alphabet, and so much more long before they actually start "school."  So we decided to officially home school our children.  We, as the parents, want to be the ones to choose what they learn, when they learn it (some subjects in public school come up waaaay too early in my opinion), and be free to add in Biblical studies and make them a part of our daily education.  We want to make sure that our children know that God is our Creator, He is in control, and we will follow Him.

So our school day is pretty typical.  I write out a lesson plan of what we will study and then Buddy Bear gets out his books and gets down to work.  I teach him the new skills we are learning for the day and then he tries them out as he completes his book work.  He works and I am available for questions, more teaching, and encouragement.  At the same time, I am working with Baby Bear and trying to keep her busy so she isn't interrupting Buddy Bear.  As I have previously mentioned, Baby Bear is preschool age and she doesn't necessarily do "book work" every day, but she is still learning through things like coloring books, playing with Lego blocks, reading stories, and just typical play.

Every day we do Bible devotions, penmanship, math, reading, and spelling with Buddy Bear.  He is in third grade, except for spelling where he is at a fourth grade level.  Then after we do the basics, I rotate in our other subjects which are science, health, language arts, grammar, social studies, and history.  He will usually do 2 extra subjects a day.  So this is what the list would look like for today for example...
Bible devotions
Penmanship
Math
Spelling
Reading
Science
Grammar

Then tomorrow the list would look like...
Bible devotions
Penmanship
Math
Spelling
Reading
Health 
Social Studies

We also add in special trips, gym time with other home school families at our church, going to the library, crafts, games, and much more.  There are many things we do around our house which are learning activities  that our children help with and don't realize that they are learning.  My favorite example of that is when we are having a rough school day, we will end the book work early and do some baking.  Buddy Bear and Baby Bear think they are just having fun helping make a tasty treat, but in reality it is a lesson in math, science, reading, and home ec.  We turn a trip to the grocery store into a learning adventure as I ask Buddy to help me figure out the best price on a item, if buying the bigger size is a better option, budgeting, and so much more.  We have our good days where everything goes as planned and school takes a reasonable amount of time and then we have bad days where there interruptions, appointments, or lack of willingness to work take much longer than expected.  We just have to work through those and make the best of it.  It isn't always easy and I haven't always had patience in home schooling, but it is rewarding to watch my children learn and to teach them and I am growing right along with them.  I have become more patient, more flexible, willing to ask for help when I need it, and willing to switch directions when things just aren't going how I thought they would.  Home school isn't for everyone, it isn't always easy or pretty, and it isn't perfect, but it is the decision we made for our children and it is the one we are sticking by.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Make It Monday Linky Party at A World of Crafts

I joined my very first Linky Party this morning.  It is being hosted by A World of Crafts which a really cool blog by Jennifer.  She has lots of tutorials for crafts and sewing, giveaways, and you can find a link to her Etsy shop there.  I am happy to be a part of the Linky Party and I look forward to checking out some of the awesome crafts and recipes in the Make It Monday Linky Party over at A World of Crafts!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Stuffed Pizza Bread

As I posted earlier this week, I love to cook.  I love cooking my family's favorites, I love trying new recipes from websites, blogs, magazines, and cookbooks, I love recreating delicious meals that we have had at restaurants or even at friends' houses, and I love coming up with my own recipes.  A lot of times the ideas for my own recipes start as something I have seen on TV or online or wherever and then I play with the idea in my head until the recipe comes together just right.  So the other day I was watching Rachael Ray's daytime TV show and they were showing these amazing looking Pull-Apart Bread recipes created by her staff.  One of the staff members created a bread bowl pizza dip that made even Buddy Bear stop playing and watch the segment.  That got my brain rolling.  If I just had a nice loaf of Italian or French bread I could create something.  I have really been craving pizza lately and so ingredients just started running through my head.  So the next day I was given a loaf of bread, it wasn't exactly the Italian bread I was thinking of but it kept the wheels turning of how I could make a recipe with it.  Now I must give you 2 warnings before you read any further and no skipping ahead to the pictures....

Warning 1:  When I am cooking I tend to just eyeball it when measuring so the measurements for some ingredients may be a little goofy.  (*I do not eyeball it when baking, baking is a science that I have not mastered well enough to just eyeball yet so I must measure.)
Warning 2:  This recipe was delicious.  Buddy Bear stood drooling over the oven begging the bread to finish quicker and Baby Bear who is a take it or leave it kind of pizza girl didn't hesitate to eat, so I know it was pretty good.  Also Buddy Bear had seconds and demanded we make this again soon.  Yea, me!!!

CJ's Stuffed Pizza Bread
This recipe was created according to what my family enjoys on pizza, you could swap out the ingredients for whatever you enjoy on your pizza.
1 Medium Onion Sliced
1 lb. Hot Sausage
1 1/2 cups Pizza Sauce
1 - 5oz pkg. Pepperoni
Green Olives cut in half
1 - 8oz brick of Mozzarella cheese
1 Loaf of Italian Bread
Parmesan Cheese
Olive oil or cooking spray

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Cook the sausage and onions together breaking apart the sausage into pieces.

3.  While the sausage and onions are cooking, cut the bread in half.  Once the bread is cut in half, scoop out the insides of the bread using a spoon (or a knife if you are not clumsy like me).  Place both halves of the bread and the scooped out parts (even the crumbs) on a cookie sheet and brush with a little bit of Olive Oil or spray with cooking spray.  Then place the cookie sheet in the oven for few minutes (just keep an eye on it) to just barely brown the bread so it doesn't get soggy when you put your filling in.
4.  Meanwhile, cut up the pepperoni (you could also use sliced pepperoni and not cut it up) and olives and set aside.  
5.  Get the bread out of the oven it is probably ready :)
6.  After the sausage is browned, turn the stove off and add in the pepperoni, olives, and pizza sauce and stir.
7.  Grate the mozzarella cheese.
8.  Place half of the mozzarella cheese in the pan with the other ingredients and stir.
9.  Shake in a generous amount of Parmesan cheese and stir.
10.  Scoop the pizza filling into the bread, you will have some left over.

11.  Wondering what to do with the bread crumbs and scooped out part - throw it into a small casserole dish and cover the bottom with the bread.
12.  Use the leftover filling and place it on top of the bread in the casserole dish.  
13.  Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese over the stuffed bread and casserole dish to cover.

14.  Put it in the oven and bake until cheese is melted (and browned just a little if you are like me).  Be careful because the longer you leave it in, the crunchier the bread will get and if you leave it in too long, you won't be able to bite through the bread without breaking a tooth.  


Try not to bite into the stuffed pizza bread the second it comes out of the oven, which is really, really hard, but I don't want you to scald your mouth.  It is worth the couple of minutes wait and it is still delicious in 2 minutes so that it cools just a little.  :)  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!  The best part is after eating the bread we were all stuffed so much that the casserole will be today's lunch.  I love it when you get 2 meals out of 1.

I linked up to a Make It Monday Linky Party here,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

10 Things About Me

I've been posting blogs about the events in our life, but I haven't told too much about myself yet.  So I figured today I would tell you 10 things about myself so you could get to know the person behind the blog.  Eventually I will tell you about the other family members too, but for today it's all about me.  :)

  1. Cooking/Baking - I love to cook and bake!  I love to show my family how much I love them by making them their favorite meal, baking their birthday cakes, or just baking a treat for no reason at all.  I have a lot of cookbooks, belong to a lot of recipe websites and follow many cooking or baking blogs (see my blog roll).  I am always looking for new recipes and looking to improve my baking and cake decorating skills
  2. Crafting - I love crafts!  My favorite craft to work on is scrap booking.  I have been a scrapper for about 14 years.  I love playing with paper, pictures, and embellishments.  Other crafts that I do are cross stitch, crochet, stamping, and a little bit of beading.  I have tried many other crafts and like them too, but I have to limit myself since there are a bazillion crafts out there.  The bottom line is I love working with crafts and always have some sort of project going.
  3. Reading - I love to read!  The Bible, books, magazines....I love to read!
  4. Games - I love games!  I love to play all kinds of games - board games, card games, word games, and even some video games.  I have always loved playing games even when I am losing.  I think for me it is just about spending time with others and having fun.  
  5. Coffee - I never really cared for coffee until I got married.  Then somewhere over the years of marriage and after many gatherings where I was the only one not drinking coffee, I caved.  I started drinking coffee.  I am still in the minority of my hubby's family as I am one of the few that has to have flavored creamer, but they did win overall as I have a pretty severe coffee addiction.  I also love froufrou coffees like mochas and lattes that you get at those big name coffeehouse chain stores.  I even have my own little personal espresso maker so that I can make my own at home.  I love coffee, specialty coffees, flavored coffees, coffee candy....are you getting the picture?
  6. Fingernails - I never use to paint my fingernails because I thought it made my fingers look short and stubby like little sausages.  Then last year through my coupons I was able to get nail polish for free or next to nothing.  There is only so many times you can change your toenail color so on a whim I painted my fingernails.  It took a little while to get used to, but now every so often I paint my nails.  They don't look so bad after all.
  7. Bible - I start my day with reading my Bible.  If for some reason I end up getting up late or don't get to read my Bible first thing in the morning, my day is just off and doesn't go well until I get to read in the Word.  
  8. Sweets - I love candy, desserts, and sweets.  This is what lead to my baking.  I couldn't afford to always go out and get something sweet so I had to learn to bake it myself.  I have always loved candy and sweets.  They are tasty, come in pretty colors, have so much variety, and a little goes a long way.
  9. Pictures - I love pictures!  I love taking pictures (although I am an amateur), looking at pictures, working with pictures, and the stories pictures tell.  I always notice pictures wherever we go which is funny to me because we have had some blank walls in our house since we moved here (6 years ago).  Last year and this year I have been working on deciding what goes on those blank walls and getting some pictures up.  I don't know what the hold up was, but pictures have been going up as I find the perfect spot for them.  
  10. 40 - I have hesitated on this last one.  It is very personal, but if I am going to have a blog and put my life out there for you to read, I guess sometimes I have to get a little personal.  This year I decided to get my life in order and stop wasting time.  As part of this, I have set a very big goal of losing 40 pounds.  I am losing the weight for me so that I can be healthier and I can be a better example to my children.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pancakes

A favorite breakfast food here at our house are pancakes.  Almost everyday Baby Bear and I have the same conversation...

Me:  What do you want for breakfast today?
Baby:  Pantakes
Me:  Other than pancakes
Baby:  Bacon with pantakes?
Me:  Maybe tomorrow....
Selfish I know.  I should make them pancakes more often especially since they are so easy to make.  I just don't make them every day because it is time consuming to stand at the stove flipping pancakes.  So I usually triple the batch of batter which leaves me with plenty of leftovers for the kids for the next few mornings.

Baby Bear woke up today asking for pancakes today just like normal.  Since it is Saturday and I had already planned a lazy kind of day, I said okay.  We got out my trust ol' Betty Crocker cookbook and flipped it page 49.  Page 49 is well worn from many years of making pancakes.  On a side note, my Betty Crocker cookbook has been a wonderful friend to me for the past 13 (soon to be 14) years as I received it as a wedding shower present.  Back to my original thoughts...Buddy Bear began collecting ingredients and Baby Bear helped out when she was able to.  I was excited to try out this to mix my batter to see if the pancakes came out fluffier...


So we poured all the ingredients in the mixing bowl and let the mixer do the mixing.  Then I had a great idea that I am sure someone else figured out long before me, but I figured it out today.  Instead of using a small measuring cup to put my batter in the frying pan like I normally do, I decided to put my batter in a decorator's bottle.  I normally keep chocolate syrup in the bottle to squeeze out over mochas, but I figured squeezing the batter out of the bottle would equal similar size pancakes and a little less mess.  So I used my funnel to fill the bottle and cut the top just a little bigger.  Guess what?  It worked perfectly.  All of my pancakes turned out roughly the same size which were the perfect size for my kids' appetites, it took me less time to cook the triple batch (uniform size = uniform cooking time), and the pancakes turned out pretty (I am a foodie at heart and need my food to look pretty).  I also learned, but need practice, that you could use the bottle to make shapes out of the batter...guess who will be making some heart shaped pancakes for Valentine's Day?  So while I normally dread making pancakes, I am actually looking forward to making some extra for freezing this week.  Then when Baby Bear requests her pantakes for breakfast, I can oblige.

Cooking pancakes, attempting shapes , my batter bottle being filled in the background.
The Kenmore Stand Mixer in the picture in this post was a Christmas gift from my very loving hubby.  I am in no way associated with Kenmore or advertising for Kenmore.  The picture just happens to have the brand name in it.  I also do not represent Betty Crocker but do love my cookbook.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Out of the Mouth of Babes

My hubby and I are very blessed to be able to teach a Sunday School class at our church.  Our class is the 4 year old children and they are a lot of fun.  You never know what they are going to say, do, or come up with.  Last Sunday, our story was about Noah and the Ark.  It was all about how Noah obeyed God and followed all of His directions.  Noah obeyed God no matter what, even when people thought he was crazy to do so.  Since Noah obeyed God and did exactly as He said, God protected Noah and his family inside the ark.  God kept His promises to Noah because Noah was faithful and followed God.  So I kept making the point that Noah obeyed God and because of it God was with Noah in the ark.  After I finished the story, I started asking questions to my 4 year olds to make sure they understood the story and that they understood that God was with Noah.  Again let me stress here, that my class is full of children who are 4 and you never, ever know what they are going to say.  So I asked them what was so special about being inside the ark hoping that they would answer that God was protecting Noah and his family because they obeyed Him.  Instead of getting that answer, one of the sweet little boys in my class turned to me and said, "You were there?"  All I could do was laugh and say um, not exactly, I am not over 2,000 years old, but if I was I would look pretty good for being so old.  I gave them the answer I was looking for and we started our craft for the lesson. Oh, how I love my 4 year old Sunday School class and now I know I look good for being over 2,000.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Library

The library is a place that I love, Love, LOVE!!!  We live in an area where we are blessed with multiple libraries and one card gets you a membership at all of them so you can borrow items (with different restrictions for each library) of many kinds...books, magazines, DVDs, Cd's, play-aways, books on CD and much more.  The libraries around us offer many different programs for children, adults, and families.  I am sure that there is so much offered by our local libraries that I don't even have a clue about half of the things they offer, but I do know I love going to the library.  I love walking into the quiet and just looking through the collections.  I love seeing the new items shelved near the older items that have been checked out over and over.  I love having so much information in one place.  I love that I can talk to a librarian and he or she knows exactly where to find what I am looking for.  I love the rows of books.  I love that the library is so inviting and has so much to offer.  I could get lost in there for hours and not mind all the time I lost at all.  

I fondly remember going to the library with my mom and brother as a child.  I remember we would go on her off day and spend what seemed like a short amount of time there, but in reality I am sure hours passed for us there.  I remember going in and my mom showing us where the kids section was.  Then we would pick out stacks of books and curl up in their bean bag chairs and read while my mom went over and picked out books for her.  I remember getting my first library card.  It was a paper card with my name on it surrounding a little metal piece that they punched in a machine before I checked out and then they stamped the due date on the card in the back of the book.  I thought I was so smart just because I had my own library card and I guess I was with so many books and so much knowledge surrounding me in the library.  

I have always had a library card since then and never really realized how much power and knowledge it holds.  You can access so much information with one little card.  So it is natural that I take my kids to the library and I hope to instill my love of this place in them.  It isn't just a place we go for free movies and music, it is a place to go to build our imagination through reading, gain knowledge through searching for the perfect book on a subject and reading it, and just for a fun program or two.  So why is the library on my brain today?  Today was the first day of Preschool Story Time for Baby Bear.  She was excited to go and it reminded me of when Buddy Bear was in Story Time and how much he loved it.  Baby Bear loved Story Time and she sat quietly, listening to the librarian read.  She interacted when called on and waited patiently for the instructions for her craft project.  As Buddy Bear worked on school at a table nearby, I looked up and saw him as a toddler again for a split second and remembered how much he loved story time and how he listened to the stories and waited patiently for craft instructions.  That made me remember my trips to the library as a little girl and how much I loved the time we spent there.  I hope that my kids will be as fond of the library (and books) as I am and that when they are older they will cherish the memories of our trips to the library like I cherish my library memories and they will still enjoy getting lost in the rows of books like they do now.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cincinnati Pictures

Polar Bear at the Cincinnati Zoo














This little guy at the zoo couldn't stay still!

A sleeping Black Bear at the zoo
 
Parmesan Cheese at Jungle Jim's

Fun at Jungle Jim's

Barrels of Pickles at Jungle Jim's

Friday, January 13, 2012

Our Week in Review

We had the opportunity this week to take a little trip with my hubby.  He had to go to Cincinnati on business and we were lucky enough to be able to go with him.  It is very nice to have a flexible schedule that allows us to do things like this.  It is one of the many benefits of homeschooling.  Our school goes with us and our kids learn on the go while in new cities.  Of course, Buddy Bear (my son), was not excited that he would be doing school in the hotel room during the day, he thought it should be a VACATION from school, but I am pretty sure we just had Christmas break.  Baby Bear was excited to be working on school again as she is just doing preschool and has went through phases of officially doing school work and not realizing she was doing school work.  So off we went on our adventure.  The trip to Cincinnati was uneventful, other than our GPS truly has a mind of her own and seems to love sending us down back roads.  So after a long car ride and checking into our hotel room it was time to wind down for the night.  On Tuesday, hubby was off to work and it was time for us to do school.  Buddy Bear did really well at finding a place to work and getting school done while I bounced back and forth between helping him, teaching Baby Bear, and working on my own Bible Devotions. The morning was pretty uneventful and very productive.  Later that afternoon, my hubby came back to the hotel and it was beautiful outside (in the 50's in January) so we decided to check out the Cincinnati Zoo.  They are having Penguin Days and admission is 1/2 off which is nice because a lot of the animals were not out even though it was a warmer day.  The zoo is beautiful and has a lot of really cool animals.  This is definitely a zoo worth going to and one that we want to hit again in the summer when all of the animals will be out.  After our zoo adventures we spent some time driving around Cincinnati since most of us had not been there before. We tried driving across the bridge to Kentucky, but with rush hour bumper to bumper traffic and two kids it just didn't seem like a very good idea.  Guess we will save that adventure for a different trip.  We got some food and then went to check out Jungle Jim's.  Oh My Goodness!!!!  This awesome International Market was this foodie and home cook's dream.  I couldn't even begin to take in all the awesomeness of this place.  It was  everything I have ever dreamed of in a grocery store and so much more.  They had food from countries all around the world.  They had health food, junk food, a bakery, a deli, a butcher shop, a seafood shop, barrels of pickles, an olive bar, cheese from every where, and oh so much more.  I could have spent an entire day in there looking around and I will definitely go back there...many times.  Then we went back to the hotel for some swimming.  The second day started much like the first.  We had breakfast and got to work on school.  After lunch, my hubby came and picked us up so we could drop him back off at his client's and we could go do some running.  We went to Ikea.  Wow!  Again I was in awe of a store.  I have never been to an Ikea store, the closest one to us is over 2 hours away, but I have always wanted to go and check it out.  Ikea was fun and there is so much there, I will definitely go back especially when my hubby can go too.  It was reasonably priced and everything for your home is in one place, what more could a girl ask for?  Then we went in search for some things my hubby needed.  We ended up looking in the Bass Pro Shop store.  I have never been in one before...okay I am realizing, I lead a sheltered life....I have never been much of a shopper, more of a looker, but apparently I have never been in a lot of stores which could be because we live in a small town and all of the bigger stores we need are in the surrounding towns, I guess they just don't have the really, big stores.  Anyway, the Bass Pro Shop was really neat.  We loved how rustic it was and seeing all the nature scenes.  It was pretty cool and fun to just look around.  That night after my hubby got done with work, late, we headed out for dinner.  We didn't end up anywhere fancy, but we decided we needed to try Cincinnati chili and ended up at Gold Star Chili.  It was pretty tasty and the Cincinnati chili gets a thumbs up from this family who loves chili and has tried it almost every place we have visited.  Yesterday we headed home.  I think we drove through just about every weather condition an upcoming snow storm can bring - THICK fog, rain, sleet, snow, clear conditions.  The trip home was again pretty uneventful and of course our GPS decided to take us on some back roads, but I guess she figures we need to see more country side.  That pretty much sums up our week.  It was fun and we got to see a new city.  I hope we get to go back and explore it some more.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I Let It Go

On New Year's Eve I took a big step.  I made the final decision, one that had been on my mind for awhile.  I knew what I needed to do.  I had thought of doing it before.  I was convicted about it time and time again.  On 12/31/11 I took a giant leap and I closed my Facebook account.  I know to some it seems like an absolutely crazy decision, but it was something that I really needed to do.  I had known for awhile that FB was taking up way too much of my time and I was way to dependent upon it.  I found myself checking it repeatedly throughout the day for updates, playing games, checking out my favorite deal blogs, and just to escape for a minute.  What I figured out was that I was missing out on real life by being so attached to a computer and by relying on status updates to get my information instead of calling my friends and family directly.  I wasn't getting things done around my house, I wasn't playing with my kids as much I should be, and I was just wasting time that is valuable.  In the days since getting rid of my Facebook account, I have found that I really don't miss it.  I am just annoyed at the amount of time I wasted on there.  I am amazed at all the things I have been able to get done in my day because I am not checking the computer all day.  I realized that real relationships are so much more important that virtual friendships.  I am so happy that I made the decision to quit Facebook and I have no intention of going back to it.  I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and friends, being more productive in my home, and enjoying life not attached to a computer.  Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Welcome

Welcome to our blog.  This is where I will be posting about our life and the events happening in it.  You never know what you will get as my mind rambles from thought to thought.  We are a pretty simple family, just trying to live our normal, ordinary, everyday life while serving the God we love.  We home school, garden, cook, bake, play games, love movies, attend church, read, study the Bible, and so much more.  Out of these things are sure to come stories to share, successes and flops to relate to, things to learn from, and maybe some insight or words of wisdom, you just never know.   Come and join us as we start a new year and have many new adventures.