Friday, May 25, 2012

I need a vacation!

When I say "vacation" I don't mean some lovely resort or destination.  Nor do I mean days or weeks free of responsibilities (though that could be nice).  On the contrary, I'm finding that the vacation I'm dreaming of is a few weeks at home reading to my little ones, playing games with my kids, working on projects, school planning for next year and de-cluttering at a slower pace setting aside some of our regular duties.

I think I'm dreaming of finally settling into our home.  We've got a few down weeks here, so I think I'm going to take that vacation now.  I'll be back in a couple of weeks with new posts and even some giveaways!

In the mean time...

What is your idea of a great vacation?

What are you doing this summer?

Done with School?

Any projects you've got going?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Links I love

I liked this one by Michelle Duggar on expectations.  I know my expectations get in the way of enjoying what I have, I really need to work on giving these up to God and living the wonderful life that He has given me.

This one on A Mother's rights is great, it is short and sweet but makes a great point.

Do you desire to live a radical life for Christ? My Wife, A real radical is a good read.

Starch, a mom's traveling companion has some good advice not just for packing up your clothes for a trip, but for helping your clothes look their best in general.  I use starch regularly too, and find that it makes our clothes look so much better too.

I liked this post on Essential Medicines for Travel.  Best of all?  Its all natural!

Should we limit Children?  This post is wonderfully written and filled with wisdom.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Summer breakfast for the HOT weather

It is getting HOT here.  I would rather not turn on the oven or stove unless I really need to.  I'm working on figuring out meals for the hot weather as we get used to this new climate.  Breakfasts were easy to figure out; smoothies.  Sometimes we will have hardboiled eggs or left over coffee cake as well, mostly its just smoothies with some nuts and veggies on the side.

Our smoothies are never exactly the same but here are some things we put in ours to give you some ideas.

Bananas- Our commissary sells the older or bruised bananas very inexpensively.  I'll buy bags of these and either use them right away or stick them in the freezer to use later.

Greens- It can be hard to get enough veggies and greens into kids, smoothies are an easy way to pack in a bunch.  We like to use spinach, this can be frozen too if you are not using it fast enough.

Make it smoother- I've found that by adding avacado, coconut milk, or coconut oil that our smoothies end up with a smoother consistency which we all seem to like.  This is also a simple way to get some healthy fats into this breakfast.

 Fruit or berries- to all of the above listed ingredients we add whatever fruits or berries we have on hand.  We like pineapple for a tropical flavor.  Mixed berries and blueberries seem to be the favorites around here, I tend to buy the big frozen bags at costco.  Sometimes I'll throw in some apples or oranges too.

Honey- if the smoothies are in need of some sweetener we use raw local honey.

Water- I add a bit of water to thin this out.

We have a vitamix that we use to make our smoothies, which I love.  It does a great job with our smoothies, making them a nice smooth consisitancy without chunks.



I got some special toddler smoothie cups for our little girls.  They do better drinking their smoothies from straws.  Strong straws were needed for this job and I wanted the cups to be spill proof.  I'm sure there are many options out there, but I ended up getting these.  I like that they are simple and fairly easy to clean.  The straw does not come out of the lid, which means it does not get lost.  We've had these for over seven months and they have been getting quite a bit of use.  I'm happy with how they have been holding up so far and my girls like them too!


 

What are your favorite hot weather breakfasts?  If you do smoothies too, what are your favorite ingredients/recipes?  I'd love some more ideas.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Child Training Bible

Be sure to check out my current giveaway!
I saw this Child Training Bible a few weeks ago and thought it looked very interesting.  I showed it to my husband and he agreed that it would be good for our family, and he ordered it for us.

I've been enjoying putting it together.  I've loved going through each category, looking up the verses, reading them, highlighting them, and then putting in the sticky tab.  I've done some of it on my own after the kids have been in bed, but I've really enjoyed working on it WITH the kids.  The little ones have enjoyed handing me the highlighters and tabs that I need.


We use the Bible in training and teaching our children already, but I like that this makes it so much easier to use with the key and tabs laid out so nicely.  I also like that we can easily adapt this for our family, adding in additional verses that we use with extra tabs.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sugar scrubs and a giveaway!

Congratulations to Crystal! Comment #5 was chosen by random number generator as the winner for this giveaway!

My friend Stacy K over at A Delightful Home wrote an e-book called Simple Scrubs to Make and Give full of great recipes. She sent me a copy and I've enjoyed looking through the recipes, making up some scrubs, and using them!

The first scrub we tried was the basic sugar scrub. My 11 year old daughter mixed it up; it was easy to make and called for ingredients we normally have in our home. We both gave it a try and I gave a jar to my mom too. We've all enjoyed using it.


The second scrub I tried was the Lavender Vanilla sugar scrub. It took me about 10 minutes to gather the ingredients, measure them out, mix, and transfer to a jar...all with a baby on my hip! Yea, these are so easy. I loved how this one smells and after using it my skin feels smooth and moisturized without feeling oily.



I also made up the Chocolate, coffee, and Lemon-lime sugar scrubs and gave them to family. I loved that most of the ingredients are ones I have in our home anyways, which make these fairly inexpensive to make up and can be done on a whim. I did order some essential oils I don't normally keep around to make the lime sugar scrub, and I'm glad I did.

 

I love to make my own beauty products and special gifts for family and friends. I like knowing what is going into the product and what is going onto my skin. Stacy's book is well written explaining everything from the whys and hows to where to get the ingredients (most are easily accesible and may already be in your home) making it so easy to make my own scrubs.

Stacy is going to giveaway a copy of her e-book to one of my readers, and she is also offering a discount on her e-book; the discount code is happyday and I believe it is good through the end of this month.

To win a copy of Simple Scrubs to make and Give book I'll give you a few ways to enter. Please leave a comment for each entry and make sure I'll be able to contact you either through your blog or by leaving an e-mail address.

1. Follow this blog through Google Friend Connect

2. Tell me your favorite beauty/hygiene/medicinal product that you make or would like to make

3. Go over to A Delightful Home and take a look around. Tell me something you found over there that caught your eye.

4. Follow A Delightful Home on Facebook

 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Large family traveling

In the last few years we've started traveling more.  Most of our travels have included at least 5 children, and on up to 7 now.  Some would think that with so many kids we would stick closer to home, but we've found the opposite to be true.  As our kids get older there are things we want to see and do with them before they head out on their own, this is the time to do those things and we enjoy doing them with all of our kids (no matter the age!).  There are some things that we do to make these travels go smoother.  Just a little thought and planning goes a long way.

We drive everywhere we go as a family these days.  Flying just costs too much and then we generally need to rent a van on the other end which is also very expensive.  Driving also gives us some flexibility. Here are some of the things we do to make it work for us.

Eating on the road- We often bring our own food to eat on the road instead of stopping for fast food and other junk.  Some shallow storage baskets can make nice trays. We bring foods that don't make big messes.


    Breakfast- would tend to be things like sausage balls, bagels, and fruit (like bananas or grapes).

   Lunch- would be things like sandwiches or cheese and crackers and some sort of fruit or veggies (apples and carrots are good).

  Dinner- We do tend to have dinner out on the road, but we've also had a crockpot going while driving at times.  It has been nice to have a simple, healthy, homemade meal when we stop.  Just make sure you are prepared with dishes, and serving utensils and a way to clean out your crockpot (I've used a hotel bathtub before, it worked out just fine).

Overnight stays along they way-  Our trips tend to have a destination that we pack for, but there are also overnight stops along they way getting there.  Who wants to pull all of that luggage in for one night?  We generally only need PJ's, clean socks and undies as well as our toiletries (I have everyone wear the same clothes while on the road, they really don't get dirty just sitting).  I'm able to get all of that into two small suitcases (one for boys, one for girls) as well as our toiletry bag.  That greatly reduces the amount of things we bring in and the potential for mess and disorganizing all of my hard work in packing for the trip.  That also means less time unloading and loading up again.

 



Packing for the large family- Packing for our crew is fairly easy.  I like to have my family coordinate while traveling so that we are easily recognized as a group and I can spot my kids.  This is a safety thing more than anything else, though it is nice to know everyone will also look good as we are out and about drawing attention for being such a large group.  I pack according to those outfits.  All clothes intended to be worn at the same time are in the same one (or two) piles in the suitcase, I just have to pull them out and I know I've got all I need.  Socks and underwear are put in plastic zipper bags, one per person, and their names are on them.  Everything I need is easily at my finger tips, I know all I need really did get packed, and it reduces the amount of luggage we are bringing (right now our family of nine needs 2 large suitcases and a separate one for Daddy for a one week stay).


 


These are just some of the things I do to make traveling easier for us.  Maybe I'll post more after we've done some more summer traveling?  In the mean time.... Do you have any great travel tips?  Any thoughts or questions about large family traveling?

Friday, May 4, 2012

MOTH/Scheduling update (keeping our large family/homeschool on track

I shared here that we had been going through a rough patch and what we were doing to get back on track.  I thought I'd update how things are going and what seemed to work for us.

Something I had learned from past attempts at scheduling was to be realistic.  One can put all sorts of wonderful plans down on paper, and it can look REALLY good....but would it truly work for your family?  Being realistic about what I planned not just for our family as a whole, but for individual children really helped out.  Remembering that while a job/activity should only take x-minutes so-and-so really needs y-minutes.

I used Schedule Breeze which made customizing for each day very easy.  While some may choose to have just one chart they go by I found that having the details of each day on its own chart really helped me, and the kids, stay on track.  We hung the charts in the dining room, this is a central location in our home so everyone could easily check the charts regularly as they were going to and from their activities.


Consistency is huge.  I think that combining the above tips with the consistency we've been better able to stick to this schedule.  While we do not want to become slaves to our schedule resisting the temptation to get side tracked on other things is very important.

I also made sure I planned things into our days that the kids looked forward to (and me too!).  Things that I knew they wanted to do (and we wanted them to do) but it had just been hard to find the time for.  This made us all much more excited about our days and more likely to WANT to stick to our schedule.

I'll be continuing to pray that God would open my eyes to what He wants us to be doing.  I'll also be asking my husband for input and suggestions as he sees what we are and are not accomplishing or is seeing character issues.  I'll also be revisiting our schedule regularly (maybe every 6 months or so?)