kids

It’s that time again…

Posted on September 25, 2011. Filed under: Daily life, Homeschool, kids | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Yep, back to school.  We actually started back in early August, so we have been at it for about 6 weeks now.  I think we’ve finally gotten our feet under us.  We changed quite a few things this year – the biggest being our start time.  Extra curricular activities have been keeping us out in the evenings more and more, so we gave in and moved bedtime back to 9:45.  Of course that means wake up time gets moved back too (necessary to minimize grumpiness, trust me).  So this year instead of starting school work at 8:30, we are starting at 10.

It isn’t as lackadaisical as it sounds.  We do chores before school starts, and chores have expanded this year.  We now have a mini farm on our property (more about that in another post) so chores include feeding all the animals.  And feeding ourselves, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc.

Anyway, on to curricula!  We added Latin this year, and started a new spelling program as well as a new logic program.  Oh, and another big change – we are using an online math program!  So far everything is going well, and we stuck with a few favorites from last year too so we have some familiar items.  Here’s our list:

  • math – EPGY online
  • spelling – Megawords and Spellquizzer
  • language arts – MCT island level
  • science – living books, Education Exploration, and The Happy Scientist
  • history – Story of the World 4
  • logic – Logic Countdown
  • latin – Songschool Latin and Latin for Children A
  • piano – lessons with dad
  • ag – swine, poultry, and rabbit study guides (borrowed from 4H)
  • pe – karate

We are really enjoying the online aspect of school this year.  EPGY has a great interactive math program.  Spellquizzer gives me the freedom to customize spelling word lists, even to record my own sentences to go with them, without all the games and extras of SpellingCity that were sometimes too distracting for my little guy.  Exploration Education is a series of dvds with experiment pack, so all the lessons are done on the computer, and The Happy Scientist is a website with awesome science videos that we use to supplement lessons (and sometimes just for fun 🙂 )  Our ag study guides were downloaded from the 4H site, so we view them online as well.  It has really helped reduce our paper waste, plus the little guy likes using the computer – his non school screen time is restricted – so he is more enthusiastic about a lot of his lessons this way.

Overall we are really enjoying school so far this year.  As we progress through the year I plan to review the different programs we’re using too, so stay tuned!

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Some Curriculum Changes

Posted on January 15, 2011. Filed under: Daily life, Homeschool, Karate, kids, Money | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The end of 2010 was a time of change for the munchkin and I.  He finished his spelling program and his science program well ahead of schedule (like in 1 semester instead of 2).  At the same time, we slowed down in math to consolidate multiplication and division facts, so we haven’t finished our 1st semester of math yet.  No sweat, he started the school year 2 years ahead of grade level in math, so if he finishes it 1 2/3 years ahead…well, I think he’ll be fine.

So here’s our updated curricula:

  • Math – Singapore Math 3A, followed by flashcards/worksheets/computer games to solidify facts, then moving into 3B when he’s ready
  • Spelling – we have started Megawords 1 and will be learning rules of syllabication, this will probably last us the rest of the year
  • History – still Story of the World 3, no changes there
  • Science – we finished The Elements and are now using living books about chemistry and watching videos from The Happy Scientist website, and in the spring we’re going to do a science project
  • Language Arts – still plugging away with MCT Island level, we find it to be a great program
  • Logic – he finished the Mindbenders logic puzzles book and has moved into a Critical Thinking Academy brain teasers book

He still goes to the public school one day a week for their gifted pull-out class.  And we are still doing piano lessons, martial arts, and painting, and we have added scheduled ‘outside time’ and home ec projects as well.  Home ec has been fun – often we do a cleaning project, but sometimes we cook something, or repair something, or work in the yard or garden…mostly just whatever needs to be done around the house.  I think it is good experience for him to see what is involved with keeping a household running.  As he gets a bit older and has more of an allowance to work with, I plan to add budgeting as part of home ec as well.  Right now he only gets $2 a week for chores; it is hard to budget when he doesn’t even have enough to buy a Happy Meal each week, lol!

 

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Yoplait Splitz Giveaway

Posted on September 14, 2010. Filed under: Coupons, Daily life, Freebies, kids | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Yoplait?  I really do.  Several months ago they teamed up with MyBlogSpark and offered a chance to try Simply Gogurt (Gogurt with no artificial flavors, preservatives, dyes, etc) and it immediately became our first choice for yogurt.  My son and I both love the taste and convenience, and I love that it doesn’t have all the additives, especially aspartame (I’m really not a fan of aspartame).

Well, Yoplait has given me another reason to love them!  They teamed up with MyBlogSpark again, this time to introduce a new product called Yoplait Splitz.  Splitz come in 3 ice cream like flavors – Strawberry Sundae, Strawberry Banana Split, and Rainbow Sherbet.  Splitz, like Simply Gogurt, have no artificial sweeteners or flavors.  And you can freeze it for an even more ice creamy treat!  They are delicious, and make a much healthy dessert than ice cream, with calcium and Vitamin D, and since they come in yogurt cups they are already sized for perfect portions.

Yoplait and MyBlogSpark sent me a freebie pack with a coupon for a free pack of Splitz, a fleece roll up picnic blanket, and an insulated bag perfect for carrying on picnics!  Of course, I immediately planned a picnic – a foolish endeavor in Florida during the rainy season, lol.  After getting rained out several times, I finally managed an afternoon at the park.  I froze 2 of the Strawberry Sundae Splitz and 2 bottles of water the night before and packed them at the bottom of the insulated cooler bag.  I packed our other snacks and sandwiches on top of that and off I went to the park with my son in tow.  We spent a little over an hour at the park in 90 degree weather before stopping to eat, so the water and yogurt were mostly thawed, but they had kept the fruit and sandwiches nicely chilled.  Plus the cooler bag has so many pockets I was able to fit everything we needed for our picnic in it and still had room to stick my wallet and cell phone in an outside pocket.

Yoplait and MyBlogSpark have also generously offered the same prize pack to one lucky reader, so we’re having a giveaway!  Just leave a comment to enter, and I will choose a winner on Friday.  For everyone else Yoplait is offering a coupon here.

Simply Gogurt is still my favorite yogurt for everyday snacking, but Splitz will be a great option for satisfying the occasional sweet tooth!

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Labor Day, Chex Mix, and Camping, Oh MY!

Posted on September 7, 2010. Filed under: Coupons, Freebies, kids, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Not long ago I got another freebie prize package to try through MyBlogSpark.  This one was Chex Gluten-Free cereal, and it came with a coupon for a free box of Chex cereal, a perfectly sized microwave safe plastic bowl with lid for making Chex mix, a plastic microwave safe measuring cup with lid for measuring and mixing wet ingredients (for the Chex mix, of course), and a handy little recipe book with several Chex Mix recipes.

I have had store bought Chex Mix before (you know, the kind that is premixed and seasoned – it usually has cheese crackers and pretzels and nuts mixed in) and was not too impressed.  It is tasty, but has too much sodium, and a lot of people can’t eat all the ingredients due to allergies or restricted diets.  The idea of homemade Chex Mix is much more appealing to me, because I can customize it to fit any group, or just to fit my family’s preferences.  And there are several varieties of gluten free Chex cereals, so it can work if you have to feed someone with a gluten allergy.

I had intended to make the Chex mix for a picnic, which unfortunately got rained out.  So when I was planning meals and snacks for my fall camping trip with my son I decided to include homemade Chex Mix!  I really liked the look of the apple cinnamon Chex mix recipe, but didn’t have exactly the right ingredients – no dried apples or chopped walnuts.  I did however have dried cranberries and pecans, so we had cranberry cinnamon Chex mix instead.  I packed the Chex mix in the plastic bowl that came in my package and put it in the car for the 3 1/2 hour drive to the campgrounds where we stayed.  There were four of us in the car – me, my son, a friend, and her daughter.  By the time we got to the campsite, the Chex mix was gone!  It must have been a hit!

When I got home from my camping trip I did a little research and found all kinds of recipes that use Chex cereal, especially the gluten free varieties.  You can even make gluten free bread crumbs with it.  (I don’t have to deal with a gluten free diet, thankfully.  I didn’t realize how many everyday food items are off limits to people with gluten allergies, even things like meatloaf because of the breadcrumbs!)

Chex and MyBlogSpark  have also generously offered a prize package to one of my readers!  So the first person to leave a comment (with a way for me to contact you – sorry, anonymous comments don’t count for this) will get the same freebie prize package I got.  I hope you will come back and tell us what kind of Chex mix you made!

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Back to school!

Posted on August 6, 2010. Filed under: Daily life, Homeschool, kids | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

We started our new school year last Monday!  Yes, we started early.  One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we can set our own schedule, and we like to take an extra week off for the little man’s birthday, so we start a week early too.

This is our third year homeschooling – I can hardly believe it!  We still haven’t added Latin to our curriculum (Latin is a must for any well-rounded classical education) but we did add a precursor to logic in the form of Mindbenders puzzles from the critical thinking company.  So far they are a hit.  Actually, he liked the look of them so much that he started working his way through the book over the summer.  I’m going to have to move up to the next book soon!  Anyway, for any interested parties here is our list for this year:

  • math – Singapore Math 3A and 3B
  • language arts – MCT Island level
  • spelling – Spelling City
  • science – The Elements, plus classes at the Florida Aquarium
  • history – Story of the World 3
  • music – piano lessons
  • art – painting lessons and art history
  • logic – Mindbenders logic puzzles
  • foreign language – still looking for an affordable Spanish teacher
  • PE – karate (and maybe swim team in the spring)

I have my excel spreadsheet with our schedule broken down by day, with the assignments all laid out to finish on time by the end of the year.  Of course, a lot can happen in the next 9 months – that is why I use a spreadsheet instead of a pen and paper, it is so much easier to adjust.  But back to that benefit of homeschooling – we adjust our schedule to life, rather than trying to adjust life to fit a schedule.

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Pillsbury Chocolate Chunk Fudge Brownies

Posted on July 6, 2010. Filed under: Coupons, Daily life, Freebies, kids | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

They sound crazy decadent, don’t they?  Well, they are!  These ready-to-eat brownies are part of another package from MyBlogSpark, this time teaming up with Pillsbury.  The package came with a cake/brownie storage container, a cake decorating kit, 2 types of frosting – chocolate and cream cheese.  There was also a $25 gift card for Sam’s Club, which is the only place to get the brownies!  I was all in a panic at first, because I’m not a Sam’s Club member, and I don’t live near a Sam’s Club.  But we went to visit my godmother for the 4th (BTW — Happy 4th of July!!!!), and lo and behold, she is a member!  So before we came home today I stopped by her local Sam’s Club and got the brownies.  Here’s a pic of the package:

The brownies are $7.98 and have 42 servings to the package, so they are a pretty good deal.  Especially when you consider that most brownie mixes cost around $3.00 and only make 12-18 brownies!

Once we got them home we all took turns trying out the cake decorating kit.  My hubby made the border, and I did the rest, while my son directed the proceedings and ate any excess frosting.  So it wouldn’t make a mess, of course.  😛  Here is a picture of the finished product:

My first attempt at decorating a cake. Ever.

I think my son summed it up best when he said “Mommy, you have to practice a lot before you can do a cake challenge!”  Did I mention he watches a lot of Food Network?

Despite my lack of cake decorating skills, the brownies tasted marvelous.  They were moist and fudgy and rich, and every bite had at least one chocolate chunk.  With make-at-home brownie mixes I always add extra chocolate chips or chunks to make them richer.  Store bought brownies are never chocolatey enough for me – but these were!  Thanks to Pillsbury and MyBlogSpark for giving me the chance to try these!

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Free GoGurt!

Posted on July 2, 2010. Filed under: Coupons, Freebies, kids, Money | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Yup, another freebie from MyBlogSpark!  This time they teamed up with Yoplait to give offer a free trial of Simply…GoGurt.  They actually sent me the package some time ago, but y’all know I am super frugal so I waited until the GoGurt was buy one, get one free at Publix (my favorite grocery store).  That way I was able to get 2 free boxes with one free product coupon.

So my son tried the Simply…GoGurt yesterday.  He loves it!  I had to institute a rule that he can only have one a day, or he would have eaten them all.  It is quite convenient too – it comes in tubes, like the plastic tubes of icy pops, you know, the ones that are basically frozen juice mixed with sugar water a food coloring.  Simply…GoGurt is definitely healthier, and just as easy to transport.  It can be frozen too, to make your own frozen yogurt treats for a hot summer afternoon.

Remember, the Simply…GoGurt is a different product than the regular GoGurt.  It is made with milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST/rBGH (hormones), no aspartame or other artificial sweeteners, and no corn syrup, high fructose or otherwise.  It uses vegetable juice to add coloring instead of artificial dyes.

Yoplait is offering coupons for readers who want to try Simply…GoGurt.  Click through and get your coupons here.

We will be keeping this one in stock at our house.  😉

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Cascade Challenge

Posted on May 16, 2010. Filed under: Coupons, Daily life, Freebies, kids, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I got another great freebie through MyBlogSpark!  This time MyBlogSpark has teamed up with P&G to send out a freebie pack as part of the new Cascade Complete challenge.  I got a big box from UPS, with some great goodies – it was like Christmas!  A new baking dish complete with lid for easy storage of leftovers, an information pack about the new product and the challenge, a couple of recipes to try, and of course some Cascade Complete samples and coupons.  The directions for the challenge are to bake something ooey and gooey in the baking dish, let it sit at least 24 hours, and put it in the dishwasher with no scrubbing.  The idea is to show that Cascade Complete can take out even the toughest baked on messes.

Last night I made my Mexican Pasta Bake – definitely an ooey and gooey treat – and currently the baking dish is in the fridge with the leftovers in it.  We plan to eat them for lunch today, and then I will let the baking dish sit on the counter (lid on of course – I don’t want to attract bugs) overnight.  I will wash it along with a regular load of dishes, pre-rinsed as usual.  Then I will post the results.  So stay tuned!

And for anyone who is interested, here is my recipe for the Mexican Pasta Bake:

Cook 1 whole package of whole wheat pasta according to package directions.  (You don’t have to use whole wheat, but it is better for you, more filing, and I like the taste.)

Brown 1lb ground beef (you can cook onions and garlic in with it if you choose).  Drain, then add in 1 can of Rotel with juices (any flavor is fine, I used mild last night for my little guy), 1 drained can of beans (again, your choice – I used red beans, but kidney or black beans would also be great), 1 small drained can sliced black olives, and 1 cup frozen corn.  Season with chili powder and adobo, to taste.  If you have any salsa in the fridge, add 1/2 cup of that also.  Mix and heat over medium-low heat until bubbly.  Add 8oz cubed Velveeta cheese, stirring until melted.  Mix in the drained pasta.  Chop a small sprig of fresh cilantro and stir into mixture.

Spoon mixture into baking dish and top with shredded cheese (again, anything goes – I like colby jack, but cheddar, monterey, pepper jack, or even one of those mexican blends would be great).  Set oven to broil and heat dish until cheese is melted and bubbly.

This dish tastes a lot like Hamburger Helper, but is WAY healthier with the added veggies.  Plus you get to control the sodium, and you don’t have to wonder just how long that box was sitting in some warehouse before it made it to the grocery and then to you.

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Another freebie through MyBlogSpark

Posted on January 27, 2010. Filed under: Freebies, kids | Tags: , , , |

This one is from MyBlogSpark and General Mills.  It seems General Mills is trying to cahgne their reputation when it comes to kid’s cereals.  To that end, they have reduced the sugar and upped the vitamins in their four main offerings:  Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Trix, and Lucky Charms.  And of course all Big G cereals have at least 8 grams of whole grain.  General Mills kindly sent me 4 free product coupons, of which I have so far only used one.  We usually don’t eat sugary cereals, but I decided to give these new, improved varieities a try.

My son was so excited to get to bring home one of the kid varieties he almost couldn’t choose, but he finally settled on Cocoa Puffs.  He ate less than one bowl.  Go figure, he doesn’t like them!  I guess the early training shows, and he is just not accustomed to eating cereal that tastes like candy.  I’m not complaining.  We did try Fruity Cheerios too, since I know he likes regular and Honey Nut Cheerios, but with the same result.  I think I am going to give it one more shot to use up my coupons with Cinnamon Toast Crunch (I have been told it is not as sweet), before I congratulate myself on having implanted at least one healthy eating habit into my 6 year old and move on.

For those of you who have normal children who want the sweet stuff, while I still wouldn’t recommend it as a daily thing, this new healthification effort from General Mills does make it ok to indulge them sometimes.

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More Adventures in Homeschooling

Posted on September 6, 2009. Filed under: Daily life, Homeschool, Karate, kids | Tags: , , , , |

We have been back to school for a full month now, and so far things are going pretty well.  We are learning about the Middle Ages in history, Earth and Space in science, parts of speech and such in grammar, phonics rules in spelling, italic style handwriting (we finished basic italic this past week and are ready to start cursive!), and multiple column addition and subtraction in math.  We are also about to start a very basic introduction to multiplication and division, which is very exciting!  On top of that, coop classes with our homeschool group are starting in a few weeks and I am going to be leading the geography class.  We aren’t sure what Jonathon is going to be taking yet as we are still waiting for the final schedule of classes, but we should know soon, I hope.  Oh, and we are trying to sign up together for a class on basic art techniques at the local technical school.  They have short (usually 6-12 weeks) classes geared for adults who want to continue their education without committing to a degree or certification program, and the professors tend to be pretty flexible, so hopefully they will allow us to take the class together.  Jonathon is still taking karate – he is now a green belt –  and is signed up to start tball in a few weeks.  Needless to say, doing all this in addition to my 2 part time jobs has kept me pretty busy!  But I think we are set up for a good year, and I’m looking forward to learning so many new things together.

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