Friday, November 28, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 11/28/14

Jake (8½), Alyssa (6½), Zac (5), Tyler (2½)

Happy Friday and Happy Thanksgiving! This week has been very different at our house. I've been having some complications with baby and since we're only 33 weeks along, I've been restricted to the couch and bed all week, trying to keep this baby in for a bit longer. Leighton, the kids, and my parents have helped out so much. It's certainly not an ideal situation, but one of utmost importance. I've said this entire pregnancy that God is teaching me to slow down and that I'm not in control. They are hard lessons for me. Though things have not been going "my" way, we have much to be thankful for and many reasons to Smile. 

1. Jake, last week (oops) when Tyler was spending the night at my parents': "I can hear Tyler coming down the stairs. That's how much I miss him."

2. Zac, who is 19 months younger: "I liked when Alyssa was a baby."

3. Jake: "How do birds talk to each other? On Twitter!"

5. Tyler, trying to stop Alyssa from feeling the baby move so only he could, "No, Lyssa! You ruin it!"

6. Jake: "Why couldn't the farmer talk? Because he was horse!"

7. Zac, because my mom picked Tyler up for the day so I could rest: "Today's your lucky day! Now you can work on organizing the basement more!"

8. Tyler: "Mommy, I want snack."
Me: "What kind of snack?"
Tyler: "Yellow!"

9. The kids wanted to make mini volcanoes, but I couldn't go to the basement to gather the needed supplies. They found everything they needed, set it up, and had so much fun experimenting. 

10. Zac, after being awake for only a little while: "I'm having so much fun today!" 

11. Alyssa: "I'm burning cold."

12. Tyler: "Ty-Ty want someping eat."
Me: "What do you want?"
Tyler: "Um, candy!"
Me: "No."
Tyler: "On crackers?" 

What made you Smile this week?

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 11/21/14

Jake (8½), Alyssa (6½), Zac (5), Tyler (2½)

Happy Friday! This week, Tyler spent the night at my parents' one night which gave the other kids and me an entire day to clean and purge the basement, just in time make room to receive a huge blessing of baby gear and clothes. We had gotten rid of most of our baby stuff, so these things will help immensely.As always, we've had many reasons to Smile.

1. Zac: "Jake, what if I could juggle a gazillion balls? Would you be so proud of me?"

2. Me, reading from a book: "What birds live by your house?"
Jake: "Woodpeckers."
Alyssa: "Robins."
Jake: "Blue jays."
Me: "Sparrows, grackles, mourning doves."
Zac: "Regular birds."

3. Tyler: "This is your horsey."
Me: "Oh, it's mine?"
Tyler: "No, it's mine, actually."


5. Me: "Did you hear me?"
Zac: "Yes, ma'am."
Me: "What did I say?"
Zac: "Uhhh . . . apparently I didn't."

6. Jake: "What time do police officers go to the station? 9:11! Get it? 9-1-1.

7. Alyssa, because Zac wouldn't leave her bedroom: "Pretty please with a cherry, sprinkles, and 2 more cherries on top?"  

8. The 3 older kids, watching out the window, while my mom was buckling in Tyler to head to her house: "I miss Tyler already! Can't he stay here? I'm going to miss him so much!" 

9. Jake, while he was in the basement both playing and helping me organize: "Can I go upstairs and read?"

10. Watching Tyler complete some Thanksgiving block pattern pages by himself.

11. Leighton was sitting next to me on the couch, waiting for a specific part of a demonstration video that he was watching, when the baby started moving all around and I told him to feel. A few seconds later, we looked back to the video and noticed that he had missed the part. I apologized. He said, "I can replay this {pointing to the iPad}; I can't replay that {pointing to my belly}."

12. Zac: "Maybe the baby's going to be a girl . . . because we have enough boys." 

What made you Smile this week?

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 11/14/14

Jake (8½), Alyssa (6½), Zac (5), Tyler (2½)

Happy Friday! This past weekend, Leighton had a birthday and we celebrated Jake's and Zac's birthdays with a party. The kids made sure we set up the chocolate fountain and had plenty of goodies to go along with it. And, of course, our house was over taken with new Lego sets. There were definitely a lot of Smiles.

1. Me: "Why are those clothes shoved in the corner of your room?"
Alyssa: "I put them there for safe keeping."

2. Jake, talking about a LEGO box: "It says not to shoot the missiles at someone's face. It has a picture of a guy like this {makes face}.
Me: "Right, so in other words, don't shoot it at your brothers or sister."
Jake: "Well, not at their face anyway."

3. Zac: "I'm as wise as a bird."

4. Watching the little boys wrestle and laugh.

5. Jake: "You should make arrangements with Gramma to have us stay there so you and Dad can have a break from all of us."
Me: "Oh, you think so?"
Jake: "Yeah, how about you leave us there Friday?"

6. Jake: "In 10 years, I'll be almost 19."

7. Alyssa: "Mom! Jake's not playing fair! I'm cheating for Zac and Jake is helping him, too!"

8. Tyler: "I want more choo-choo trains, downstairs!"
Me: "There are no more trains downstairs. I already brought them all up."
Tyler: "Yes, downstairs! There are plenty! Plenty!"

9. I hit 31 weeks of pregnancy. Down to single digits!

10. Alyssa: "Pink in my favorite color, but purple is my emergency favorite color."

11. Alyssa: "Thirty-one is old, guys."
Me: "You do realize that both your parents are 32, right?"
Alyssa: "Mhhmm."

12. Me: "Are you going to be a good boy in your class tonight?"
Tyler: "Ummmmm . . . mmmm . . . mmmmmm . . . uummm . . . huh?"

13. Alyssa, listening to the southerners singing with a twang at our church: "Mommy, are they like cowboys or something?"  

What made you Smile this week?

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Countdown to Thanksgiving

We have loved using The Heroes and Heroines of the Past curriculum, so I was very excited to review Amy Puetz's book Countdown to Thanksgiving.

Amy Puetz, owner of Golden Prairie Press, publishes books that show history at its best and from a Christian worldview. It is her desire to "bring encouraging, uplifting, family friendly resources to Christan families and individuals." Audio books, cook books, books specifically for boys or girls, costume books for various time periods, curricula, and more--there's something for everyone. Most of the resources are e-books or digital downloads, but there are some options for printed books, as well.

Countdown to Thanksgiving is an 88-page book that is meant to help you create wonderful memories as your family grows closer together while learning about being thankful. The book is broken into daily sections that include a story and activity like a song, craft, game, recipe, skit and more. The lessons take about 30-45 to complete, so they can easily be added into the day. I love that most of the stories were written in the 1800s and early 1900s. My kids love listening to stories, and I try to incorporate older literature into our learning. This book is perfect for that.

I have greatly enjoyed reading through this book and have already learned things myself, like a pound of butter cost $0.20 in 1903, the pilgrims actually wore brightly colored clothing as opposed to the typically shown black and white, and the Farmer in the Dell game originated in 1916. 

Countdown to Thanksgiving can be used with any age group, but is recommended for ages 6-14. The PDF copy can be purchased for $17 and contains color illustrations. This is a great resource and one that I see us incorporating into our schooling every November. 

The countdown begins today, so make sure to grab your copy now!

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this e-book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any other way.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Crock Pot Granola

My mom first made this granola recipe back in February and had me try it. It was so good that I got the recipe from her and made it a couple days later.

We've been making it ever since.

Leighton keeps a jar of it at work and eats it by the handful. The kids like it with milk. I mix mine with Greek yogurt.

It's great eaten as a snack or as a meal, because it's healthy and filling. Oh, and delicious.

And as a bonus? It's so much cheaper than buying it from the store. And did I mention that it's easy to make?

Honestly, if you like granola, you need to give this one a try!

Crock Pot Granola
5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds (I pulse mine in the food processor a bit, because we don't like large pieces.)
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ground flax seed (optional)
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup coconut oil 
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup raisins or craisins

1. Lightly grease the crock-pot with oil. Add the oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, salt, and ground flax seed, if using.
2. In a large measuring cup or small glass bowl, combine the honey, coconut oil, peanut butter, cinnamon, and vanilla. Microwave for one minute, stir and microwave an additional 30 seconds, as needed, to melt everything and allow it to combine smoothly. (Can also be melted on the stove in a small saucepan.)
3. Pour the liquids over the oats in the crockpot and stir well to thoroughly coat. Place the lid on the crockpot, leaving it slightly vented. Cook on HIGH for about 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
4. Stir in the dried fruit right at the end. Spread the granola across a large baking sheet and let it cool before transferring to an airtight container. It fills a half-gallon mason jar.

Recipe adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen.
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Friday, November 7, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 11/7/14

Jake (8½), Alyssa (6½), Zac (5), Tyler (2½)

Happy Friday! It's been a great week at our house. Zac celebrated his 5th birthday and we got to spend the day alone together doing fun things. Also, I spent a lot of time this week doing some odds and ends cleaning, like reorganizing the hall closet, washing the utensil drawer, cleaning the microwave, and a lot more. I wouldn't consider it nesting just yet, more like renewed energy and health. Big Smiles for feeling better!  

1. Tyler, pointing to the M in the Meijer sign: "Mama, wook! I find a big W."

2. Me: "Hey there, cool dude!"
Tyler: "I not cool dude. I Ty-Ty."

3. Zac:"The ABCs have every single letter in them."

4. Zac:, looking at the clock "What is eight zero zero?"
Me: "8:00."
Zac, a minute later: "What is eight zero one?"
Me: "8:01."
Zac, a minute later: "What is eight zero two?"
Me: "8:02."
Zac, a minute later: "I know what eight zero three is: 8:03! I'm so smart."

5. Alyssa, after dinner: "Thank you for letting me wash the table for you!"

6. We got 2 pet turtles: Hide & Seek.

7. Leighton: "Do you want some?"
Tyler: "Oh, yes, I want some! What is it?"

8. Computer Game: "Que linda!"
Me: "Do you know what linda means?"
Alyssa: "No."
Me: "It means beautiful. And did you know that Grandma's name is Linda? That means that Grandma is beautiful."
Jake: "And she is!"

9. Jake: "Why couldn't Winter go outside to play? . . . Because he had a cold!"

10. Me: "Three days until a birthday party."
Jake: "Yes, presents! More Legos!!!"
Me: "What makes you so sure you're getting Legos?"
Jake, confused: "Why wouldn't someone get me Legos? Legos are my life!"

11 Alyssa: "Everyone knows that you need good books."

12. Tyler, before breakfast: "Ty-Ty wants someping to eat."
Me: "You do? What do you want? Some yogurt?"
Tyler: "No, jewybeans." (jellybeans)

What made you Smile this week?

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

If He Had Not Come

It is hard to believe that the Christmas season will soon be here. This is such a special time of year and definitely one of my favorites. The kids and I sat down and talked about all the things we love about it: the decorations, the music, the food, spending time with family, and, of course, the presents. But the most important thing--the reason we even celebrate the holiday--and the first point that the kiddos mentioned that they love is celebrating the birth of Jesus. God sent his Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. It is because of His birth that we enjoy all those other special things. While reviewing the book If He Had Not Come we also learned about what other things we enjoy because of His birth, or rather, how life would be different if He had not come.

The book was originally published in 1938 by Nan F. Weeks. Not much else is known about her except that she was a teacher and children's author. David Nicholson, also a teacher, first hard the story in church. The message impacted him so much that he mad it a tradition to read it to his own family each and every Christmas. Now, he's reintroducing this beloved story to a new generation with hopes of encouraging others to take its thought-provoking message to heart.

Christmas Book Review

If He Had Not Come begins on Christmas Eve and contains all the magic of it. Before heading to bed in anticipation of the coming day, Bobby and his father sat down for their daily Bible reading. Bobby eventually fell asleep, thinking about some of the words they read spoken by Jesus, "If I had not come."

If He had not come. What sad, life-changing words.

How would life be if He, Jesus, had not come? Throughout the story, Bobby discovers the answer to that. Instead of waking to the joy of presents under the tree, he found an undecorated house. Instead of the town being quiet and at home celebrating God's Gift with their families, he found the stores and businesses full of rude, gruff people. Instead of the church, hospital, and children's home he found empty lots. Over and over again, he saw the words "If I had not come." If Jesus had not come, Bobby learned that the world would be a coldhearted, dark place.

He was thrilled when he awoke from his dream and thanked God that He did come.

The story has a powerful message and is a great starting place for a discussion with your kids about the true meaning of Christmas. Not only does this large hardback book have classic illustrations throughout the entire book, it's also got pages of extras in the back for further study. After I read the story to the kids, we read through the questions and discussed them together. What do you think . . . Why did . . . Put yourself . . . Imagine . . . The questions are not simple ones with definite answers, but rather open-ended ones where you really have to think. I love questions like these because they give me a glimpse of what's going on in those precious minds of my little ones. 

There are also many questions with definitive answers that can be found by looking up the appropriate Bible references. The entire salvation message is written in the book, as well. My kids enjoyed the activity. As they drew Christmas trees, I explained why it's symbolic. They learned why we use a tree, what the star represents, what the lights remind us of, and why we give presents.  

My kids and I enjoyed If He Had Not Come ($18.95) and will add it to our Christmas reading every year. Not only is it a great reminder of why we celebrate the day, but the suggested activities (best for ages 6+) at the end really make it a learning experience.

If you'd like to see what other families thought of this book, you can read more reviews on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

Crew Disclaimer
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Wordless Wednesday 11/5/14

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Every Thursday, my friend Karen from Tots and Me hosts Throwback Thursday Blog-Style. When she first started it, I thought it was a great idea. It's so fun looking back through old posts, seeing older pictures of the kids and remembering some activities that we've done. It's also a good way to connect with other bloggers. 

This past week, she personally shared a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I knew immediately that I wanted to try them. We make pumpkin cookies every fall and coat them with a simple icing. We've made them so many times that I thought for sure that the recipe was here on the blog. I was shocked to discover that they're not and will remedy that eventually. And though I had been craving our pumpkin cookies the last couple weeks, the idea of adding chocolate to the pumpkin goodness instead of the vanilla icing on top was very appealing. I grabbed some butter out of the fridge to start softening. As soon as the schoolwork was done for the day, we got to baking.

Oh, let me tell you, these cookies did not disappoint! As with any cookie, we had to taste them just minutes out of the oven. Soft cake-like texture, gooey melted chocolate chips, and a hint of pumpkiny flavor. It's a good thing we made 5-6 dozen, because these kids of mine were inhaling them. I'm sure they would have gobbled down nearly all of them that first day had I let them. 

Yeah, they're that good. These are cookies that we'll be making again.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
5 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
3 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Cream the butter and sugar. Add pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla and mix well.
3. Slowly add in the flour mixture until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Drop dough onto baking sheet. (I used my large cookie scoop, about 2 tablespoons.) Bake at 350* for 14-18 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.    

Recipe adapted from Tots and Me.

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