Thursday, December 29, 2011

Free Homeschooling Resources

Relinquishing the Connections Academy has me nervous sometimes in making sure my kids are getting what they need from the education I will now be providing for them.  The internet is an amazing resource of free material to use for your kids so today's post will be about links.

I'm not about worksheets.  I think they sucked the life out of my kid's education.  But today, we did some school work.  There were no tears.  My son was so relieved he had time to be a kid.  What a gift.

We'll do a science experiment after lunch, and then a social studies story at bedtime.  Relief.  Joy.  These are many of the words the both of us are experiencing right now.

Anyway, off to free links.

Super Teacher Worksheets offer free worksheets.  Print them out as they are, or just browse and be inspired to write your own for your kids.

Waldorf Curriculum offers a list of free resources. I have sifted through about half of these. Some of them are heavy reading, but read it anyway! It's worth it to your kids.

The Bearth Insititute has a list of free resources and how-to videos. I know I will be checking back here frequently. For more resources, check back. I plan on openly sharing our journey. Now that we're not piled under worksheets and deadlines I am free (and so are my kids) to follow our hearts.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Connections Academy -- A Homeschooler's Review

This passed fall I enrolled my children into a free online school program at the Connections Academy.  This financially was one of our best options for charter school because...well, it's offered in my state for free.

We were very excited to get our boxes of supplies in the mail.  They shipped them quickly and neatly.  We got textbooks, workbooks, art supplies, a jump rope, and even a yoga CD for the kids to do.  I was optimistic and excited to have my kids home again.  We had missed each other tremendously the few weeks they had gone to school at the local public school.

Before I say any more about this program, I need to say this.  This is NOT a homeschool program.  This is a public school program done at home.  The work load my children had to complete each week was so much, we had a hard time keeping up each week.  My son was in their gifted program for third grade, and there were days he worked 9 hours or more and still did not complete his day's work.

I had to take attendance every day, and their teachers had to touch base with them at least once every two weeks.  If structure is what your child needs, and if they are independent workers, this program may work for you.  My children though started to hate school, they complained when it was time to do school work. Piles of worksheets had taken the fun and enjoyment out of learning.

Just this passed week, I have sent in my notice of intent to the state.  I'm pulling them out of their state funded program, and finishing the school year on my own with them.  I've been eyeing the Oak Meadow curriculum for years, and purchased my son's curricula this passed week.  He will finish out his third grade year with a slower pace.  One that enables him to look deeper on his own, and hopefully will give him a love of learning.

For my daughter, I will be trying the Christopherus curricula.  It's a heavy Waldorf inspired curricula.  Hopefully her inner spirit will shine through with creativity and joy, instead of having to do hours of worksheets every day.

I'm relieved and happy with my choices of dropping them out of the Connections Academy.  It wasn't an easy decision to come to.  In the end, I didn't want them to hate learning.  I want them to be lifelong learners.  Before I was their mother, I was a teacher...and if something isn't working as it should, it needs to be fixed.  I would love to hear if anyone has had any experiences like this, or if they've used these curricula before.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

After a troubling fall, I'm slowly returning to myself. I've been missing this blog and the regularity it brought to my life. The menu plans, the bettering of myself.... Being a solo parent has taken so much adjustment. Homeschooling as a solo parent took even more adjusting. We're getting there. I'll be talking more about our progress soon.

Today I'm talking about menu planning, because it's so good for your wallet and your kids. I'm not much of a planner, but I noticed when I took my hiatus from blogging the cost of feeding my family went up. I believe it's because I had stopped giving our menus so much thought. So onward to a new year, hopefully I will remember myself, and what this blog has meant to me over the years. Here's my menu plan. :)

For Christmas yesterday, I roasted a turkey. Some of our initial dinners will be leftovers based on that. :)

Monday: Turkey Pot Pie I'll be doing my own version of this based off this recipe. If it turns out lovely, I will post about what I have done.
Tuesday: Turkey Tetrazzini Something about this just sounds weird, but the picture they provided looks divine, so I'll be giving this a try.
Wednesday: Turkey Stew
Thursday: Leftover Buffet
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Company over...possibly eat out.
Sunday: New Year's Eve...will have to plan yummies!

For more menu plans check out Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

23 Undeniable Truths of Adulthood

I found this on facebook this week.  I felt it was funny and accurate enough to be worth sharing.  Have a great weekend!

1. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and stillnot know what time it is.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you
realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty
sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the
person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at
work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything
productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I
don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks
me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that
I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not
to answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or
Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

17. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

19. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just
nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they

20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team
up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong,
brothers and sisters!

21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get
dirty, and you can wear them forever.

22. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car
keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on
the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button
from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every

23. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874
and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100
years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homeschooling -- why this time?

Over the summer, I had promised my kids that if I didn't get a teaching job that I would keep them home and home school them.  Mostly because if I freelanced, my work schedule would begin at 3:00 in the afternoon and potentially go late into the evening.

With the economy being what it is, and music being cut in our schools, I didn't even land a phone call from the multitude of counties I applied for.  I was actually pretty shocked.  I'm pretty qualified, and by federal standards, I'm highly qualified to do what I applied for.  Such is life, it wasn't meant to be.  With the connections I had made in Colorado, I landed on my feet.  I found a steady source of private violin and viola students.  I even made a new website for my new growing business.   It flourished.  I'm booked up, and I'm relieved.

With my recent illness however, I decided that even though my work schedule wouldn't be ideal it would be better for the kids to attend school instead of stay home with a broken mom who needed to focus on getting healthy.  I sent them, and I regretted it.  Within weeks, I realized I missed them so much.  There were days I wouldn't see them for over 12 hours.  I'd drop them off at school at 8:15, leave so painfully close to when they'd be home at 3:15 to get to my 4:00 lesson, and teach until 7:30, drive home, and get home about 8:15 again.  Grab them from the neighbors house just to tuck them in bed so they'd have enough sleep to go to school the next day.  It was miserable.  They missed me, and I missed them.

So, I had to think of a quick solution.  In Colorado, they offer many virtual online schools.  Still considered to be public schools I thought this would be an easy option.  I checked out two. The Colorado Calvert Academy and The Colroado Connections Academy. I ended up going with the Connections Academy, and so far like I've seen other people mention it's intense. It's many assignments every day. We're getting the hang of things, and I've made a mental decision to not stress over their deadlines.

Next year, I will be pulling them out of the public school system entirely and homeschooling them myself. So this year, we'll be pulling through this curriculum, while checking out something else for next year. Lots of time to plan.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

I haven't done a Menu Plan is so very long.  I love getting back into the swing of blogging.

Anyway, here's my week:

Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Breakfast

Lunch: Butternut Squash Soup with Parmesan Crips (from Anni Daulter's new book, the Organic Family Cookbook).
Dinner: Spaghetti and Italian Sausage with Salads.

Lunch: Super Crunch Apple Cranberry Tuna Wrap
Dinner: Slow Cooked Curried Chicken with Cauliflower

Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Sandwiches, and leftovers

Lunch: Ham n Cheese Panini with fresh grapes (Another Anni Daulter recipe!)
Dinner: Homemade Pizza

Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Chicken legs and corn on the cob

Lunch: Chicken Sandwiches (from yesterdays leftovers)
Dinner: Roasted Chicken

For more menu plans check out Organizing Junkie!

Why we don't acknowledge Columbus Day...

I'm feeling argumentative today.  It's been more then 10 years ago, sitting in an Africana Studies class at West Virginia University, and Columbus day came and went with out a pause in class.  Some of my classmates were irritated that we didn't get to laze around in our college apartments.  What I always found to be so interesting about this class was it's quest for truth, and my professors ability to point out our "miseducation."  I loved it.  I thrived in this class.  I took no notes, and had over 100% at the end of the semester because I was pulled in to the truth.  Finally a history class that was inspiring.  That Columbus Day was no different.

Much of what we know about Columbus is true.  He sailed to what he hoped would be Asia hoping to discover a safer trade route.  No one knew there was a continent in the way.  And yes, thanks to him the world was forever changed.  This man was not all good though.  When they landed, they were welcomed with hospitality by the indigenous people here.  He said they were so kind and good, that they must be "en Dios" or "of God" and that they would make fantastic slaves.  Anyone who knows the history of chattel slavery in the US knows that Portugal was the leader in this industry at the start.  It was these people they tried to enslave first, but they knew the area too well and escaped easily.  Lusting for slaves, they imported their own slaves from West Africa.  Bringing foreign people, to a foreign land who had no hopes of escaping because they were unfamiliar territory.

It's hard for me to acknowledge this man for his discovery when his legacy is tainted with an entirely new kind of slavery that lasted for hundreds of years.  It's a dark mark on history, and if this man is to be noted for discovery he made, his mistakes should not be covered up.  How else do we learn to be better people?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Growing Garlic

I could dwell on the problems in my life, and sometimes it's incredibly hard not to.  So, my zen is usually out in the garden.  It's the simple moments like this though that bring me joy and help me put everything aside.  I stole a moment the other day when a shipment of garlic arrived.

There's so much garlic that I think if I planted it all I wouldn't have room for anything else, so I'm giving some to some gardener friends to see how they do with it as well.  This is the first time I've grown garlic in Colorado, and I've done little bits in Virginia when I lived there.  This is the biggest haul I've tried, so hopefully it will winter well, and I'll have garlic coming out of my ears next summer.

On a sunny Friday afternoon, I grabbed my girl, and we went planting.  She loves getting out there in the dirt, she always has.  I refreshed my memory on how to grow garlic on some links that I will provide.  I'm no expert at all, just a hobby gardener.

I still have some summer clearing out to do to make more room for garlic.  The garlic will stay in the garden until next July, so I have to choose my space carefully.  The bed we were working in wasn't very successful with anything I planted this year, so I feel like anything is an improvement.  Anyway, here are some links to some bloggers who know more about growing garlic than I do.


2. (Colorado specific!)


Thursday, October 6, 2011

A slow return

It's been a busy summer, and early fall. I'm missing blogging, and I plan on making a slow return. So much has happened over the last few months that I've wanted to share, but I haven't had the time or energy to put into it.

My condition is slowly improving. I have not been given the o.k. to fly yet, so Thanksgiving this year will definitely be done at my home, most likely with out my brother and parents.

I have been canning like mad, and cleaning out my garden for fall preparation.  I'll have to go into the garlic that I"m planting this weekend.  I've also pulled my kids out of school, and will home school them for the rest of the school year.  I'm continuing parenting mostly on my own. My husband is still living in California, while I"m in Colorado.  We don't know when that will end, there is no solution that either one of us can live with right now.

So that's the brief summary of what's been going on.  I call this a slow return, because I"ll have to get back into the habit of posting as often as I can.  Sharing recipes, crafts, canning and green homesteading tidbits.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

My silence...

I apologize to my readers about my recent silence.  I left for vacation at the end of June feeling fantastic, and had posts lined up while I was gone.  When I got back, my health took a turn.  It started with the mother of all sinus infections, and when that cleared up the headaches remained.  They were intense, and covered my entire head, not just my sinus areas.  My vision started to change, and being in front of a computer became a challenge.  I couldn't do it for more then a few minutes at a time until my eyes hurt.

On July 20th, I had had enough.  My eyes hurt, my head hurt.  My first thought was to go to an optometrist. to make sure my eyes were healthy.  They went through their tests, making sure I could see properly, and took pictures of my retina so I didn't have to dilate my eyes.  The doctor then saw me, and told me it really sounded like my symptoms were just leftover from my sinus infection I had the week prior.  Then she opened my retina photos.  She looked at them for a moment, and the color drained from her face.  "Oh Kim," was all she could say.  When she finally composed herself, (somewhat) she showed me the pictures of my eyes and compared them to normal eyes.  My optic nerves were swollen.  Optic nerves rarely swell for any other reason except if there is "surplus matter" in the brain pushing on them.  Aka...a brain tumor.  This lady cried on me, seriously.   She connected me with her primary care physician, she said I needed to see another doctor right away.  So, she called and made me the appointment, and I went over there to see him.

This doctor was more professional.  He said it could be a number of things, a virus to a brain tumor.  He scheduled the MRI immediately so we could cross off the deadly things off the list.  This was when my girlfriends started showing up.  Luckily I have two who are nurses.  Bless them.  One showed up at 2:30 with me at the PCP, and the other met us at the Digital Imaging place.  After being shell shocked in an MRI thing (those things are LOUD!), and chatting with my girlfriends my doctor calls.  Like, 20 minutes after I was done, which freaked me out.  I said to my friends, this is too quick, I must be dying.  But I wasn't.  There was no tumor, no clot.  Nothing.

In the end, I have been diagnosed with a chronic illness called Benign Intracranial Hypertension also known as Pseudotumor Cerebri.  It's rare.  I may never know anyone else with this condition in my life.  You might not ever know anyone with this in your life.  That's how rare it is.  I had more of a chance of having a tumor, then I did having random pressure in my head.

I'm on some medication that's supposed to help, and it is.  So hopefully I can get caught back up on sharing pictures of my vacations with you.  For now it's day by day, some days I'm well enough to sit at the computer, some days I'm not.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Putting it all back together...part 3

This is the third installment of my personal journey for the last year and a half. If you're just starting, I suggest you start from the beginning.

I was optimistic and excited to move to Colorado. Within a few days of getting here, I was googling churches to hopefully find a supportive social network. I knew for my own mental sanity, I needed that.

A few days after I moved out here though, my property manager called me and told me that the deposit check our tenants used to move in with bounced. She had made vital, basic mistake. Instead of insisting on a cashier's check, she took a regular check from them, and didn't wait for it to clear before allowing them to move in. This woman was the most well known property manager in my little town, and she made this basic mistake. Unbelievable. Virginia law says you must give them 30 days to make things right once they've established residency. In other words, once they move in you can't kick them out until you follow legal procedure. So had she waited for the check to at least clear, we could have told them to suck it.

I told her to start the eviction process immediately. I wasn't playing games with con artists. These people begged, pleaded, and lied. The woman said her dad had died, that she needed serious surgery, along with many other things. Turns out, the number for the previous apartment she had given was not the right number, her dad wasn't dead and actually helped her move out. Of the three months it took to get them out, I received one check for $1000, which didn't even cover one months rent. My property manager sued her for me and the woman now owes me around $4000 for the time she was in my house.  I'll never see a penny of it, and for all I know this disgusting individual is still out there conning people who are trying to scrape by honestly and with integrity.  Once the eviction was over and she was gone, I promptly fired my property manager.

All my hard work of getting that house together was a waste of time.  She ruined carpets, and left the yard a mess.  She even had a moving van in the driveway, and DESTROYED it.  What a slap in the face.  It's hard for me to believe that there are people out there that will kick someone while they're down.  Her name is Ruth Baker, and she's in Virginia.  Beware anyone who wants to rent a house out.  She is a con artist, extraordinaire.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

#8 Recycling your cellphone

This is a repost, but well worth having the information out there. I'm slowly continuing my 101 project, this being the 8th installment.

I saw this image here which I included below. As confusing as a lot of this green stuff can be, I think the need to recycle things is simplified well here. The image speaks for itself.

Here are a few places to consider when you are getting rid of your old cell phone.

1. Cellphones for Soldiers.
2. Recycle my Phone
3. Call to recycle will take cell phones and batteries.
4. Recellular has a way that you can get paid to recycle.

the environmental impact of cellphones The Environmental Impact of Cell Phones

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Good Home Co. -- Dryer Sheets

I was asked by Jennifer over at Blue Sky Communications to review one of The Good Home Co.'s product.  I gladly accepted, and they sent me a package of lavender scented dryer sheets.  The company was started by a woman (love!) whose specialty apparently is with fragrances.  I loved this lavender.  It didn't smell fake, or "purfumey."   It was pleasant and relaxing, as it should be.

I've used the sheets in the dryer of course, but I've also tried them in my linen closet and even in my suitcase while traveling.  The scent is strong enough to keep my clothes fresh while traveling, and it seems to last quite a long time this way.  I like the strength of the scent when it comes to laundry.  My sheets smell comforting when I put fresh linens on the bed.  Yet the fragrance is light enough that my son doesn't have to complain of "smelling like a girl."  

I have to admit though, the main downside of this product is the price.  $14.00 for 40 dryer sheets.  These are definitely a high end product that has no room in my budget.  That's too bad. If the price doesn't deter you, I would recommend this product.  It does what it says.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Popcorn - A healthier way

My kids and I love popcorn.  It can be a healthy cheap snack.  We all know movie popcorn is super bad for you with all the salt and oils they put on the popcorn, but what lot's of people don't know is that microwave popcorn isn't a good alternative.

Popcorn bags have lots of chemicals in them, one being perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). When the bag is heated up in the microwave PFOA can leach into your popcorn.  PFOA's are "part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA," says Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group. 

As for the butter flavor, that is typically from a chemical called diacetyl.  This chemical is thought to cause lung cancer in factory workers.

So what do you do instead?  The stovetop is one option, another is an air popper.  Mine is almost 10 years old now, and it recently died.  With no budget, I looked to my microwave for answers.  I'm green on a budget, remember?  Whole Foods has these little paper bags right next to their check out.  I grab a few on my way out just for popcorn.

I put about a half a cup of organic popcorn kernels in the bag and set it for 3 minutes and thirty seconds.  I have enough popcorn for the kiddos and I to have a yummy afternoon snack.

Melt some pure organic butter, and some sea salt and you have a divine snack.  Get creative, add some herbs like dill, or oregano to the mix.  Sugar and cinnamon make a good mix too.  The possibilities are endless.  All with the healthful twist of knowing what your eating.

What's your favorite flavor?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Putting it all back together...part 2

It's a complicated story as to why my life is the way it is right now. This is only the second installment, but if you'd like to start from the beginning you can find it here.

When I left Virginia, my husband had already gone to Colorado.  He'd found us an apartment and had to start work the first of June.  I didn't leave until almost two weeks later.  I was annoyed.  He left and I felt abandoned because I had to get the house fixed up on my own.  He even took my tools (der der).  I relied heavily on my church to help me get my house in order.  How I love and miss those people.  With money being so tight though, I had to do all the work myself.  The cleaning, carpet steaming, painting.  I managed to find a plumber and people who were handier then me.  For two weeks I worked myself daily to the point of exhaustion.  I cried, but I pushed on.  When that was all done, I packed up my van, and made the first stretch of the drive alone.  I went from the suburbs of Washington, D.C. to Dayton, Ohio to meet my husband at my in-laws.

We spent the night there, and then continued on our trip.  The second day we made it to Kansas, and managed to find a hotel just on the other side of the Missouri/Kansas line.  On the third day, it was the most boring drive ever.  Kansas is a boring, flat state.  I remarked repeatedly how weird it was to be where there was nothing.  No trees, no mountains...just flat grassland.  The goal was to make it to our new place today, and we had about a 9 hour drive in front of us.  We made it though, and seeing the Rockies for the first time was breathtaking.

Getting to Colorado, I was optimistic.  I was beginning a new chapter of my life, one that I hoped would be better then the previous ones before.  That I'd find my comfortable rhythm of life again.  The hubs and I had some work to do with that, our marriage had taken a hit with the last year of unemployment and now the move.  I looked for a church, and I looked for a marriage counselor.

To be continued....

Friday, June 24, 2011

Garden Pool

What a brilliant idea. This is what I'm talking about. Low budget, and thinking outside the box. Reusing and recycling at it's best.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Great American Backyard Campout

This Saturday evening marks the Great American Backyard Campout. I wish that the kids and I could make a bigger deal of this event, but sadly we'll be on the other side of the country visiting my parents that weekend. Perhaps if my parents are up to it, we may camp out in the backyard, but since we won't be in our home turf, we can't commit.

This worthy event is a fundraiser for the National Wildlife Federation.  Definitely an organization I can stand behind.  If you're going camping this coming up weekend, or any time soon here are a few tips from the experts at REI.

Before an Overnight Trip:

·         Practice camping at home: If your kids are outdoor newbies, pitch a tent in the backyard or even inside your home. Let them hang out in it and sleep in it so they become comfortable with a new sleeping environment.
·         Take a trial run: Before your overnighter, try a family day outing at a close-to-home park. Spend a half-day or so at a lakeshore or park and see how your kids react to extended outdoor excursions.
·         Take notes: Write down reminders for future trips: "Pack more sunscreen." "Bring long pants." "Leave bongos home."

Preparing for a Trip:

·         Be enthusiastic: Why should kids get fired-up about an outdoor adventure if you're not?
·         Involve your kids: Make trip planning a family affair. Ask kids for ideas of possible things to do or see at your destination. Take their input seriously.
·         Kids as packers: Give children the responsibility to pack their own gear at home (using a list you've created). A parent should double-check a child's packing job before leaving home.
·         Keeping kids (somewhat) organized: Have your kids pack every personal item in a duffel bag and encourage them to always return those items to that duffel. ("Mom, where's my paddleball set?" "Look in your duffel, dear.") Each child's duffel should be a different color for easy identification.
·         Favorite toys: Let kids bring some of their favorite playthings so the campsite doesn't feel entirely foreign to them. Need ideas for new toys? View our suggestions later in this article.
·         Friends are valuable: It can be fun for kids to camp with another family that has kids. Your kids may get bored with adults after a while. With playmates, they could be happily occupied for days.
·         Bring bikes: Bikes are handy in a campground, so consider bringing a few along. If it's a long way from your campsite to the beach or play area, it's faster (and more fun) to use a bike instead of walking or firing up your vehicle. Bikes keep kids entertained, too.
·         Check fire restrictions: Planning on a campfire? Before you leave home, make some calls to determine if campfires are permitted at your chosen campground. If not, make sure everyone in the family knows in advance. There's no bigger disappointment to a kid who has packed all the s'more fixings than to discover that a burn ban is in effect.

At the Campground:

·         Exude a positive vibe: Family-camping rule No. 1: Be prepared to cope with inconvenience. Everything is in a different place. The bathroom is no longer down the hall, it's 6 campsites down the path. As an adult, you must lead by example with an upbeat, can-do attitude.
·         Organize: Establish fixed locations for important items. "The forks and spoons are in the blue tub." "Flashlights are in the green stuff sack."
·         Then stay organized: Remind everyone to always return items to their established locations so others can find them. If you're especially industrious, create a reference list of where-to-find-it locations. Tape it some place obvious.
·         Keep everyone oriented: Help kids memorize the number of your campsite or point out landmarks ("We're 4 sites from the amphitheater") to help them remember its location.
·         Make kids feel important: Kids like to feel important and involved. Assign them some meaningful camp chores, such as gathering firewood or collecting water from the pump. Recognize their contributions with praise or a treat (or both).
·         Be safe: Make sure your kids always carry a whistle (teach them to blow it if they become separated from you) and have easy access to a flashlight or headlamp. Attach a lanyard to both the whistle and light and tie them to one of the child's belt loops.
·         Wildlife: Ask park rangers about wildlife activity in the area you are visiting. As the adult, you need to take the lead and understand any precautions necessary (such as proper food storage or how to react during an up-close encounter) for safely coexisting with wildlife. Educate your children about the importance of not feeding wild animals (it negatively alters their food-gathering patterns) and treating wildlife with respect and caution so everyone stays safe.

When Outdoors, Be Outdoors:

·         Make the most of nature: Look for wildlife. Check out bugs. Examine rocks. Identify birds, flowers, clouds, constellations. Lead kids on a rock scramble. Show interest in things that interest them. Bring a field guide to help you identify and learn about the things they find.
·         Be active, stay loose: Try to keep your kids active without following a regimented schedule. If they're entertained by skipping rocks on the water, give them time to perfect the multiple-skip fling.
·         Attend ranger talks: If you're camping at a state or national park, attend the ranger's evening talk. Ask staff if the park offers a junior-naturalist program or other kid-focused activities.
·         Geocaching: A GPS-guided treasure hunt engages kids physically and mentally. Check our link to geocaching to see if any caches are hidden in the area you'll be visiting.
·         Share time together: "Hey, mom, remember when we saw that deer?" Great memories are one of the great payoffs of a camping trip. Come home with the sort of stories that can only be created outdoors. Shakespeare must have been camping when he wrote, "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."

When Outdoors, Be Outdoors:

·         Make the most of nature: Look for wildlife. Check out bugs. Examine rocks. Identify birds, flowers, clouds, constellations. Lead kids on a rock scramble. Show interest in things that interest them. Bring a field guide to help you identify and learn about the things they find.
·         Be active, stay loose: Try to keep your kids active without following a regimented schedule. If they're entertained by skipping rocks on the water, give them time to perfect the multiple-skip fling.
·         Attend ranger talks: If you're camping at a state or national park, attend the ranger's evening talk. Ask staff if the park offers a junior-naturalist program or other kid-focused activities.
·         Geocaching: A GPS-guided treasure hunt engages kids physically and mentally. Check our link to geocaching to see if any caches are hidden in the area you'll be visiting.
·         Share time together: "Hey, mom, remember when we saw that deer?" Great memories are one of the great payoffs of a camping trip. Come home with the sort of stories that can only be created outdoors. Shakespeare must have been camping when he wrote, "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."

Fun Stuff You Can Bring:

·         Paddleball set: At one of our photo shoots, the kids accompanying our crew couldn't put this game down.
·         Marshallow launcher: Traditionally you toast them. Now you can shoot them at one other, too. Imagine: The common marshmallow, transformed into a summertime snowball.
·         Animal-shaped flashlights: Leapin' lizards! Sharks, orcas and toucans, too.
·         Kits, discs and flying toys: If it flies, it's probably a heap of fun. Our faves include lighted discs and Djubi balls.
·         Make ice cream: Have some low-tech fun (with delicious results) with a boot-around plastic ball from Camper's Dream.
·         Stream Machine: Camping in warm weather? If you can tolerate a little flying water, this is a kid's ultimate way to cool off.
·         The glowing, multicolor flying disc: Whoa . . . it's psychedelic, man. Illuminated with LEDs, this disc changes colors while you play.
·         Foot bags: So simple, so entertaining.
·         Educational games: What? You haven't played "Pass the Pigs" or "Why Knot?" Well, why not?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

This week, I'm getting ready to go to Virginia. My parents graciously bought me plane tickets home for the kids and I, and they are even flying me to California to visit my husband. I have the best parents ever.

Foodwise, I'm trying to use what we have in the house so there isn't any rotting food in the house when I get back. So here's to using what you've got. :)

Monday: Speghetti and hot sausage meatballs.
Tuesday: Leftover Chicken and roasted mushrooms.
Wednesday: Beans and Rice
Thursday: Sandwhiches
Friday: Airplane food...yuck.

Have a great week everyone.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Putting it all back together...

A year and a half ago, my life had been easy and simple.  I freelanced as a musician, and my husband had a job that he had had for about eight years.  We had two healthy kids, and we had a comfortable rhythm to life.  November 13th, 2009 my husband called me on his way home from work.  He had been laid off.  I was sitting on my bed in our room when I received the phone call.  My world as I knew it had been shattered.  Dramatic, eh?

I cried. I cried hard.  For the next few months, I managed his severance check with my measly earnings as a musician.  I juggled, I cried, and I started selling things I didn't need anymore.  He was depressed, and it took him a few months to pull himself back up and look for a job.  In late May, after a few devastating "No's" he managed to land a good job in Colorado.  Our financial situation though sucked.  The house we lived in wasn't worth what we paid for it, or what we owed on it thanks to the housing bubble burst.  I met with a property manager, and with her help we came up with a rent that was comparible with the market.  Sadly, it didn't cover my mortgage.  I fixed up the house the best I could and drove to Colorado.  It was an adventure,  starting over in a new place.  I didn't know anyone.  My property manager had found someone to move in, so it was looking like our brief stint with unemployment and serious money issues was coming to a close.  But sadly, it wasn't....

To be continued....

Friday, June 17, 2011

Urban Homesteading

First off, let me apologize for posting such a long video. If you're short on time, move the video to 2:30, and he finally stops walking backwards to his house and starts showing you his garden.

Some of the things I love about the video, is that he is actually using his space well. He's growing melons on a vine, which I have done with a lot of success. I will say though, he's dumped some serious money into his garden. Those kinds of trellises, and raised beds..I"m sure that costed a lot. Anyway, what do you think of the video?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Garden Update

No drama in the garden.  I think that's why I like gardening so much.  It's not really a peaceful process I suppose, but it is to the onlooker.  There is always the battle for balance, but it's a quiet one.  No drama.  Here are a few photos from the garden this week.

This is the only hybrid plant in the entire garden.  It's a Husky Red Cherry, and it's the first of my tomatoes to bear fruit. I'm hoping to add these to salads within a week or two.

Speaking of salad, my lettuce bolted this week.  I'm thinking it still gets cool enough at night that I may try to grow some more.  It gets pretty hot in the day though, which is why I"m thinking it bolted.  This was some seriously yummy lettuce, so I may try to harvest the seeds once the flowers wilt and dry.

The blueberries scream of possibilities.  They've stopped flowering and are just now starting to grow blueberries.  I'm hoping they will grow slowly, and not need any picking while I'm away traveling.  I'm thinking by the looks of things they'll still be growing while we're gone.

Here's a shot of the entire garden.  I'm not sure yet if this mid-afternoon shade you see is going to interfere with the growing.  One thought is that my veggies will be shielded from the most brutal sunlight of the day.  It's full sun from about 9:00am to 1:00pm, then again at around 3:30 until about 6:00 when the sun goes behind the house.  My Romas in the back left are in cages, however the brandywines that I started from seed in April are still tiny little things.  I worry that they'll never catch up at this point and be productive. 

I think the seed cups I planted them in didn't have enough dirt, and their roots couldn't go down deep enough to make them strong.  Lesson learned, don't skimp on the dirt.

On a side note, I"m so interested in seeing what people are doing with their gardens, I"m debating on doing a garden link up.  What can I say, I"m a geek for plants.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Potatoes Au Gratin

For dinner last night, I put cheap in action. I found this recipe and it was perfect. I already had some potatoes that I bought last week, so all I had to buy was some cheese. I picked some spring onions from the back garden to add for flavor, and added some sausage from last weekends leftovers for a yummy kid pleasing dinner. My son said it was potato cheese heaven, it was so delicious. I had to force them to save enough for lunch the next day. This recipe probably wouldn't have had any leftover though if hubs had been here with us.

When trying to tighten the belt loop, I've found it's best to skip the meat.  Organic in my house is a must, I refuse to expose my children to toxins to save money.  Having meat once or twice a week is healthy, good for the environment and good for your pocket book.  No one's saying you have to have health food, because this is certainly not it.  I will say, I'm glad I have a garden.  I squeaked out one amazing salad to eat with this dinner.

What is some of your favorite cheap meals?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cheap Eats

I did the budget this morning. It was...depressing. We are $3000 short this month. Yes, you read that right...three grand. My husband has a good job, we live in a modest house. The problem is, he lives in a studio apartment in another state to do his good job. He supports two households, and even his respectable paycheck can't manage. My freelancing doesn't pull in the money to cover the rest. I can only hope that insurance companies and rent checks pull through. What a complicated mess...

If we stayed within budget, our budget allows for only $600 for food, gas and any other extras. Super tight...and it seems impossible. So, enough wallowing in my own misery. Here's my cheap eats for the week. I've been in tight situations before so let's see how I can stretch the buck this week.

Monday: Cheesy Potatoes with leftover sausage.
Tuesday: Rice and Bean Tortillas with home made salsa.
Wednesday: Baked Chicken and Macaroni Salad
Thursday: Leftover (beans, rice, and chicken tortillas with guac)
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Potluck Party
Sunday: Leftovers

With what I have in the house, I should be able to feed my family this week for under $50. Scary times.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

School is what?

Yesterday was the last day of school for my kids, and a few weeks ago we had a discussion about how they thought the school year went.  They both said they had a good time, and met lots of interesting people.  On the flip side, I noticed how many bad words they both picked up, and the meaning of the middle finger, etc.

My son had spent a year at home with me during first grade.  We tried homeschooling, and I felt that it was a very successful year.  We stayed home for many reasons, but the biggest one was my dissatisfaction in the public schools in the county we lived in.  I've taught in public schools, and I knew the blame wasn't with the teachers.  It was higher up then that.  It was a small county with a small budget, and it wasn't flexible enough to deal with children who didn't fit in the "main stream."

So back to this discussion I had with my kids.  I asked them if they wanted to go back to the school next year, or if they wanted to study at home.  They both instantly said, HOME!  I reminded my son that it was hard at home, and it wouldn't be any easier then school, and that's when they both said the sweetest thing.  They missed me...

So, I began looking for an easy course for penmanship.  Both of them could work on their handwriting, and of course one of my biggest challenges is finding homeschooling material that isn't Christian based.  I get and respect that many people keep their kids home to allow Christ to be in their child's education, but we're not Christian, so it's difficult finding material that is "Christ free."

So I stumbled across Donna Young's Penmanship Lessons. She even has a secular one that uses George Washington's Rules of Civility instead of bible verses. This I can handle. Best of all it's free. I love free.  Free is made of win.  I like winning.

In the end, if I don't get a job teaching, it's likely I'll keep them home.  I will however need to substitute teach I think if I don't find a job.  So I"m not really sure if keeping them home will ever be an option.  The hubs doesn't make enough money to support us completely, so I have to earn money somehow.  Until then though, I can keep them busy and learning all summer long.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Growing Herbs: Jaime Oliver

I have been a long time fan of Jaime Oliver. He has huge dreams that I hope come to fruition. Have a fantastic weekend!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Recycled seed container

I have the gardening bug, like two fold because I really didn't get to garden last summer.  Lots of my spring posts are going to be how to stretch your buck in the garden.  I've been inspired by Gayla Trail the author of Grow Great Grub, and You Grow Girl.  I bought her book Grow Great Grub last year just for the eye candy, and now I'm putting some of her ideas and practices to use.

One of my weaknesses is the veggie dumplings from Whole Foods. This is the container said dumplings come in.  Perfect for lettuce because of it's shallow root system.  It would also be good for some herbs, or sprouts.  If you have one of those pop out herb windows in your kitchen, you could probably grow fresh spring lettuce all year long.

First things first, you need to cut holes in the bottom of your container for proper drainage.  Simple enough, a sharp knife, or scissors will do. Next fill it with some potting mix, or a seed starting mix. I used a blend of mesclun for my spring lettuce.  I love the variety, and to me variety means something will pop up, guaranteed.  It's just yummy too.

Keep it moist for a few weeks in your spring weather.  The seeds like chilled nights, and don't do too well when it gets super hot.  The Colorado weather right now is perfect for them because it still dips into the 40's and 50's at night.  Sometimes even the 30's.

In a few weeks you should have sprouts, and in about a month they should be ready for you to eat.  I did this container two weeks ago, and the sprouts are what I'm looking at today.  Two more weeks, and we should have our own home grown lettuce.  I have plenty of these containers too, so if I wanted to do another round of them, I could.  Then I could constantly have fresh lettuce to munch on.


Related Posts with Thumbnails