Sunday, August 23, 2015

Santa isn't real.......

Today I was sitting in the car with my 4 year old son and nephew as we waited for my husband and daughter to finish up registering for a youth bowling league.  In a low, soft voice from the backseat, all of the sudden, I hear, "Santa isn't real......."  What!  What do you mean Santa isn't real?  My 4 year old son just told me Santa, yes, the Santa Claus, St. Nicholas himself was not a real person.  I'm not gonna lie, there was a small part of me that wanted to cry!  How could this little person not think Santa is real?  I asked him why he would think or say something like that.....did someone tell him the big secret?  I sat there as he explained that he just knew this, and how I really bought him the cool Play-Doh set that Santa supposedly bought him.  I spent the rest of the ride home pondering just what I would respond with.  Would I give him the "Santa lives in all of us" speech that I had to give my 10 year old, or would I plea with him that there is a Santa, and that he's wrong?  As I sit here planning out our week of homeschooling, my son climbs up next to me to chat.  He looks at me (with his big beautiful hazel eyes), and asks, "Is Santa really real"?  I responded, "Do you believe there is a Santa"?  "Yes I do mommy.  I think he's just super magic, and that he just knew what I wanted from Wal-Mart."  Crisis averted!    So, for the time being, the magic of Santa lives on in our humble household.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Erasable Tracing Binder

I was on Facebook the other day, and one of the moms in my homeschooling group posted about these erasable sleeves she picked up at her local Target.  So I went to my Target to pick a couple up......and they didn't have any!  So this morning, my son, who just recently started working on his letters and tracing them, wanted to do some worksheets.  Like most people, I don't have the money to spend on countless workbooks, or printing a vast amount of worksheets!  I need something he can use over and over again!  I ran in the bedroom, grabbed an extra binder, and placed one of his worksheets inside the cover.......and BAM......our own erasable "sleeve" with a built in lap desk!  I handed him a dry erase marker, and sent him on his way.  Naturally he enjoyed being able to write and then erase (because that's so much cooler, right?). 

Inside his new binder, I added folders to organize his worksheets.  I labeled them tracing (for shapes and lines), letters, and numbers.  Now all of his worksheets are neatly organized in one portable binder that he can trace on all day!

Now I only have to print out one set of my Alphabet Tracing Worksheets for him to use!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Oven Baked "Fried" Green Tomatoes

I am sucker for good comfort food!  Fried chicken, mac and cheese, and fried green tomatoes are some of my favorites.  As delicious as these foods are, they aren't exactly the best options for know.....since I want to eat healthier, and drop a few pounds (or a lot).  So, alas, I have found myself trying different methods of cooking my favorite foods, so that they are healthier for me, and my family........without sacrificing any flavor.  To start off my journey for a healthier lifestyle, I have to start with my favorite, fried green tomatoes.  I searched Pinterest for ideas on how to make them healthier, and naturally, skipping the frying and opting for baking seems to be the best way to save the calories without giving up the flavor.  When I fry my tomatoes, I coat them in corn meal.  Since that wouldn't be a great option for baking, I grabbed the panko instead (I've seen recipes that call for ground flax seed, but I think panko would give the best flavor).  I made these today for lunch, and the flavor is so much like my original version (with all of it's oily goodness).  I can now feel good about eating fried green tomatoes!

Oven Baked "Fried" Green Tomatoes

4 green tomatoes
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp. ranch dressing mix (I used Hidden Valley)
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
Milk Mixture:
1 egg
1/8 cup whole milk (or buttermilk)
3 tsp. Sriracha

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Combine the ingredients for the milk mixture in one bowl, and the breading mixture in another.  Slice your green tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices.  Cover the tomato slices in the milk mixture, and then cover them with the breading mixture.  Place the tomato slices onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes on one side, flip, and then bake for 10 minutes on the other side.  Once finished, I enjoy them with some sriracha or Louisiana hot sauce.

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  Stay tuned as I attempt to enjoy healthier versions of my favorite foods!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Printable Planner

What I find completely frustrating is that when I go to look for a planner that meets my needs, they are all pricey!  As I started putting together curriculum for our homeschool year, I decided to get creative, and create a printable planner that is fun, and easy to use!  Along with some of the other things I created to help out my kids, I added my planner to my Teachers Pay Teachers storefront.  I am seriously loving this site!  Even if you aren't a teacher, or you don't homeschool.......there are still lots of neat things for purchase (or....even!

While you are checking out TBT, don't forget to check out my weekly planner, alphabet tracing worksheets, and my cupcake clip-art!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Saving Money and Making Money

Yep, I made that!
Being a stay at home mom can be a financial strain at times.  However, it's something I wouldn't trade for the world.  Staying at home with my two kids has allowed me to homeschool and put more focus into my home and family.  Every family is different, and for mine, this is what works.  I like to pride myself on being a pretty frugal gal, but there are times I wish there was just a little extra income somewhere.  A few years ago, I got into doing a wide variety of rewards sites.  Some of them had very little reward, while others were so incredibly easy.  After trial and error, I narrowed it down to three sites that have helped me earn the most, instaGCSwagbucksBing Rewards.  All three of these sites are incredibly easy to use, and have earned me a lot of free Amazon gift cards!

Yes, this clip art is for sale!
In regards to selling items, there are several ways to earn an extra buck or two.  In the past, I have made headbands and tutus to sell.  While I do enjoy making these items, getting quality supplies can  be costly, and it is time consuming.  However, the reward is great!  You can easily double your investment.  However, if you are going to make items to sell, make sure they are quality.  You wouldn't want to make a poorly made item, and then slap your name on it.  My daughter and her friend made tile coasters to sell at craft shows last year.  They were cheap to make, and so much fun to customize!  Since I started homeschooling this year, finding low cost and free curriculum was at the top of my list.  However, finding good quality worksheets and study guides that meet what we are learning.....that has been a challenge.  I have resorted to making my own!  I am able to take what I create for my own children, and sell them for a low cost on Teachers Pay Teachers.  This has allowed me to turn around and purchase worksheets that I am in need of, while supplying more of a variety to others.  I have also started making my own clip art to use as well.

Every so often, when I find the energy, I go through all of our belongings and have a garage sale, or sell the kid's clothing at a Just Between Friends sale.  Another way I have helped to create an income for our home is to sell my services (get your mind out of the gutter folks!).  Babysitting, cleaning homes, yard work, tutoring, music lessons.......these are all things that are simple, and can help you to generate funds for your home.

At one point (when I worked full time), I was an Avon rep.  I enjoyed it very much, but I didn't have the time to invest into building a client base.  Right now, I am looking into possibly becoming a direct sales rep once again.  Direct sales can be so much fun and rewarding, even if you aren't the sales person.  You can seek out sales reps, and ask to host a party.  Most of these companies offer free product to you when you host a party, and reach a certain level in sales.  It's a fun way to hang out with your friends, and earn free goodies!  I am still learning ways to help out any way I can, while still trying to teach and maintain our home.  What are some ways you have helped earn an income?

Last year, we took our family on our first family vacation ever!  We spent six days driving from our home in Missouri, all the way to South Carolina!  We made lots of stops along the way, and many memories.  However, none of it would have been possible if not for my frugal planning.  I hit up Groupon to check out if there was any deals for restaurants, hotels, or activities.  We were able to take a private charter to go shelling on an island for about half the cost it would have normally cost us!  We also used to help us find great deals on hotels where we were staying!

Want to get quality razors without the high price delivered to your door?  Sign up for the Dollar Shave Club!

Make sure to check out my post on how I am challenging my family to save money!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Homeschool: Pre-Colonial U.S. History

To start out our homeschooling year, my 5th grader and I are starting at the beginning.  It's amazing just how little she knew from her 6 years of traditional schooling, about how our country was formed.  Our school year will be spent developing our nation, so to speak.  We have started out with the Bering Straight Theory, and have moved on to European exploration and colonization.  As I flipped through the history curriculum, I was amazed at how little detail was given, and how some of the most important events were left out completely.  I mean, can you honestly expect our kids to believe that Columbus found America.....and that's where it all started.  Eventually they'll begin to ask more complicated, if Columbus founded America, then why were there people here already?  Does this go against most of what is traditionally taught in public schools, possibly, but at least my daughter will know that there is more than what we are told as young children.  We came up with a pre-colonial timeline to help pin-point the more important events for the development of our country.  I'm still working on trying to take what the history curriculum I purchased has to offer, but expand on that a bit further.  Wish us luck!

Make sure to check out my nouns worksheets and alphabet tracing worksheets as well!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"Stroke" of Luck

Wow, I feel so bad, neglecting my little blog for so long, but we've been very busy lately.  This June, my dad suffered his second stroke.  Luckily, the impact of this stroke was very minor......because of my daughter.  Last year, after my father-in-law suffered a stroke, my daughter set out to find out why this not only happened to her Papa (my father-in-law), but her Grandpa (my dad) almost 2 years earlier.  She decided that would be her science fair project.  She worked on this project from September until April of this year (almost 8 months!).  However, when she went to ask her teacher for aid on finalizing her project, she was told it was a bad project idea, and she should start over with a new one.......keep in mind, this was in month before the science fair, and almost 7 months into her research.  My determined child, in so many words, said "screw her, I'm not giving up.......I don't need her help anyways" (at this time, we were on the fence about homeschooling, and this helped us greatly in our decision).  Fast forward to June, my dad is suffering his 2nd stroke......and wouldn't luck have it, my daughter, who has since become a pro in the science of strokes, was able to notice the signs of a stroke almost immediately.  We called for help, and the hospital was able to administer the clot busting medicine in record time (and this is a hospital that specializes in strokes).  A month later, we begin to receive phone calls from several media outlets.......the hospital was so impressed, they contacted some local news outlets who covered my daughter's story.......and then that caught the eye of national news outlets, like Fox & Friends!  Yep, my kid did it......she made it onto national TV (her big goal in life).......just for doing the right thing.

What the news doesn't cover, is that since then, my dad has suffered his 3rd stroke, which he is currently in rehab for.  The effects were more harsh this time around, but he is doing well.  However, trying to talk a 62 year old Marine vet into some sort of lifestyle and dietary change is like dressing my 4 year old son in all white, and expecting him to not get dirty!

If you notice someone might be having a stroke, it is imperative that you call 9-11 immediately.  Time means everything when it comes to a stroke.