Sunday, August 25, 2013

Countdown to Disney! The Grey Stuff...

I'm super excited to say that very soon, our family will be heading back to Disney World!  We're going with some of our very best friends, and can hardly wait.  We've been watching lots of Disney movies, and I'm shopping for clearance and sale items to take on our trip.  Tonight, I began creating a Disney homeschool curriculum for the week prior to our trip.  Once I have the (50 plus) books I requested from our library, I plan on posting more details about the curriculum in case it would help anyone else.

But for tonight, I wanted to share an idea that was inspired by this pin on Pinterest.  The plan was to theme meals to our movies.  That didn't exactly happen tonight (and, I failed to get photos as everything was delicious and promptly inhaled), but the idea was to watch Beauty and the Beast.  (What actually happened is three other movies - but still, it was the thought that counts, right?!).  For dinner, we had American-French-inspired food: croissants with cheese and ham, french fries, and veggies.  For dessert, we made a special treat: the grey stuff ("Try the grey stuff, it's delicious!  Don't believe me? Ask the dishes!").  It was very tasty.  I contacted Lisa at The Disney Diner and was granted permission to share this yummy recipe with you!  Please note: while ours was delicious, we scooped it into cups so it wasn't the prettiest dish - her presentation is gorgeous, and looks like photos I've seen of the grey stuff at Be Our Guest Restaurant at Disney!

So, without further ado - the grey stuff.

Please let me know about your fun countdown to Disney ideas - we're always looking for ideas to make this time even more exciting.  As always, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

One Week In

We're just over a week into homeschool, and so far, we're loving it.  Sonlight's materials have been wonderful - they grab our attention much better than last year's curriculum did.  I've also been checking pinterest for art activities to go along with our History lessons.  We've also figured out a schedule that works really well for us and keeps us on (a very loose) schedule.

Here's a list of the weeks highlights:

As I mentioned, we figured out a schedule, so each day, we know what happens next.  Below is our schedule:
  1. Bible - I feel that it's important to begin every morning in God's word.
  2. History
  3. Art - normally our art projects go along with our history lesson.  Some projects we've done (relating to cave people) include cave painting (we created a dark, cave-like area for them to paint in), bone painting (using a straw to blow paint - they would've used a hollowed out bone), and making a coracle (a type of boat used by the first people).  We also do Spanish during this time.

  4. Reading - their reading selections are the same, so it makes sense to me to do these earlier in the day.
  5. Math - they use different math books and sometimes have to separate to watch their weekly DVD.
  6. Next, we always do lunch.  I try to get them something fun to do, like an educational game or fine motor activity while I make lunch.
  7. An afternoon activity.  This could be physical education, gross motor games, music, an additional art project, or health class.  We've even made desserts on slow days, just so that they have something to do (hey, measuring and planning count as homeschool lessons too!).
  8. Language Arts - they each have a different book, and handwriting lessons.  Sometimes they aren't able to work independently, so I'll have one play with a cash register, educational game, a workbook, or color.
  9. Science - they have the same science curriculum, so it's nice to have them back together at the end of the day.  Also, I love science, so I like keeping it for the end of the day, almost like a treat.
  10. The very last scheduled thing we do each day is a small journal entry about something we've learned.  For example: "I would (or would not) like to be a caveman because ________," or (when learning about emotions in health class) "Something that makes me happy/angry/sad/scared is _________. " This also gives me time to write out the next days activities on our whiteboard.
  11. At the end of the day, sometimes we'll go to the pool (PE!) or play outside, or make dinner. 
So far, school is going really well.  X-Man has had a tantrum nearly everyday which has been completely exhausting (we've decided to go back to gluten-free to see if that helps), but as far as the materials go, we're very pleased thus far.  Little Lou is so excited to have her own school books and has been wonderfully behaved most days.  I plan on keeping this blog updated as the school year continues - so stay tuned.

Also, just as a heads up, I am no longer comfortable with posting many photos of my children on this blog.  So most photos that you see of them are going to be poor quality, or of the side of them, but probably not a portrait.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bzzagent Review - Special K Nourish Bars

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a campaign for Special K Nourish bars.  Below is my review:

I do not typically purchase Special K products.  To me, the brand makes me think of diet food, and I'm not a fan of diet food.  So, I'm glad I had the opportunity to try something that I normally wouldn't.

As part of this campaign, I received three Nourish bars: cranberry almond, lemon twist, and dark chocolate nut delight. They are convenient (in individual servings), and are a decent size.

Of these three, I tried the lemon twist first because I thought that I would like this flavor the most; I was wrong.  I did not care for this at all.  I thought the texture was good, but the taste was terrible.  To me, it tasted very artificial, and the smell was almost cleaning-product-like.  I couldn't finish this bar.

The next flavor was the dark chocolate nut delight.  I don't normally like chocolate flavored things as they taste fake (or diet-food-like) to me.  The nourish bar was an exception for me!  I thought it was very good.  The chocolate was good, not artificial flavored.  I couldn't really taste the nut part, but it was good.  I would possibly buy these in the future.

The last flavor I tried was the cranberry almond.  I liked these too, though the aftertaste wasn't great.  The bar was very sticky and stuck quite a bit to my teeth.  I felt that there was a good amount of cranberry and almonds, and I would consider purchasing these again as well. 

All in all, the nourish bars were okay.  I won't be replacing my current granola bars with these, but if the price is right, I may purchase them in the future.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bzzagent Review - Special K Nourish Hot Cereal

Recently I had the opportunity to review Special K Nourish Hot Cereal.  Below is my review: 

Special K isn't a brand I typically purchase.  To me, lower calories = lower taste; that's why I'm so glad that I was picked for this campaign.  I love that Nourish isn't just oatmeal; it's a hot breakfast cereal made up of oats, barley, and quinoa.  Unfortunately, the barley does make this cereal have gluten which will keep some people from purchasing this cereal.

The cereal is easy to make.  All you have to do is peel the lid halfway back, add hot water, then close the lid for three minutes.  I like that there's a fill line in the cup which makes it easy to measure the right amount.  Due to the convenience, I feel that this would be a great option for people in offices who need quick breakfasts.  I stay at home during the day, but I did really like the ease. 

The first one I made was the maple brown sugar crunch.  I was very excited to try this flavor as I thought it would be the best one.  I made it as directed, then walked out of the room for a minute.  When I returned, the bowl was empty, and my four year old daughter was happily licking the spoon.  She inhaled it.  I asked her how she liked it, and she gave it two thumbs up. She tends to be picky, so this is a win!

The next flavor I made was the cinnamon raisin pecan.  This was very good.  There was a bit more pecan flavor than what I normally like.  I liked the texture of the hot cereal, and I thought that both the pecans and raisins were a good addition. 

The last flavor we tried was the cranberry almond.  Out of the two flavors that I was able to try, this one was definitely my favorite.  I thought that for the serving size of cereal, that there was just the right amount of almonds and cranberries. 

The only reason that I gave this four stars instead of five is that the raisin pecan flavor could use some improvement (in comparison to the cranberry almond flavor).  I do think that the serving size could be a little bigger as it wasn't completely filling (I'm used to a bigger serving). 

All in all, Special K Nourish is delish.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Small Reminders of a Big Love

Earlier this year, I mentioned that we started a budget.  Basically, we want to be better stewards of the money we are blessed with, and a budget has done that for us.  It has also helped make expenses more predictable and has actually given me a freedom that I didn't have.  I know it sounds backwards to say that establishing a budget would actually give us more options, but it has. We have a set amount that we spend each week on 'other' expenses, such as clothing, entertainment, dinner out, and other non-grocery items.  Before, we didn't have this budgeted, so anytime I spent any money on non-grocery items, I felt a little guilty.

Another way that it has given me freedom, is that now I don't feel bad about saying "no" to things.  Since we do have a budget, sometimes things come up that we just don't do.  We pick what our priorities are, and we stick with them.  I know that if an expense comes up that is beyond our 'other' budget, that we are taking away from our food budget, and it's really easy to say no to something when it would involve taking food away from your children.  I've had to become more assertive, which has been difficult, but also liberating.

Unfortunately, I'm not perfect.  I've miscalculated our amount spent, which has (more than once or twice) resulted in needing to take away from what we normally put into savings.  Also, more than once, it's allowed us the opportunity to see how God constantly provides.  I'm going to list a few things that have happened just since April.
  • When X went gluten-free, we had to buy some new baking flours.  They flours and rising agents were quite a bit more than I had anticipated ($20 for xanthan gum and gf flour).  It just so happened that X-Man (for the first time in months) needed a prescription filled for his eczema.  It also just so happened that I had a $20 cash-back coupon for the pharmacy, so the unanticipated charges were covered - we met our budget within a dollar that week.
  • A few weeks ago, I went over budget by two dollars.  When we got home, Ben received a survey in the mail with two dollars in it. Goosebumps.
  • Earlier this week, we had some extra expenses.  We had only $25 dollars left in our budget (food plus other) by Tuesday.  I wanted to go to the fair with my sister, and out to a fancy restaurant with one of my very good friends for her 30th birthday, but we knew we wouldn't be able to do both.  Well, Tuesday evening, I had paypal funds of $90 become available for an ebay sale I had made.  Entrees at the restaurant are around $20, so this was the perfect amount for all four of us to go to dinner (we ended up making it a date night, but still - awesome!).  Then, on Wednesday, a day before we would go to the fair, I received a check in the mail for $44 from our bank.  This was plenty for the fair! 
I know some people will say these are coincidences, but I don't buy that.  I believe that God takes care of His children by giving them small reminders of His big love.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bzzagent Review: Lysol Power & Free Multi-Purpose Cleaner

Recently I had the opportunity to review Lysol Power and Free Multi-Purpose Cleaner as part of a BzzCampaign.  My review is below:

I love the idea of Lysol Power & Free cleaners.  Tough cleaners that kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, without all the typical harshness of regular cleaners.  The products are easy to find in the cleaning aisle, though, they don't make it obvious on the bottle which scent you are buying; there's a small spot on the bottom right that tells you which scent it is. 

In the past, I have purchased the multi-purpose cleaner spray in Oxygen Splash.  I hate this scent (in the spray form).  It doesn't smell clean to me.  Now, this could be because I'm used to the strong fumes of other cleaners.  It does clean well and gets the job done.

For this campaign, I received a bottle of the multi-purpose cleaner in citrus sparkle zest, and the wipes in oxygen splash.

The citrus sparkle spray cleans well.  And the scent is good.  It's very light, but pleasant.  I will likely replace my current kitchen cleaner (also a Lysol brand) with this cleaner in this scent. 

The wipes also clean very well.  They're not as abrasive as Chlorox wipes; the wipe itself is soft and foams as you scrub with it.  The oxygen splash scent in the wipe is much different than the scent in the spray.  As a wipe, it almost smells like pine.  I don't think the scent is bad, (it's much better than the same scent in the spray form!) but it is taking some getting used to.  If these cost less than other brands, I will happily switch to Lysol Power and Free Multi-Purpose cleaning wipes.

All in all, these are great products.  I like that there aren't fumes, that the price is good, they're easy to find, and most importantly, that they get the job done. 

Thanks Lysol for a great product!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

New Design!

Something needed to change with this blog.  I didn't like that once you visited my blog, that there was no way to search for specific blog posts, so, after some work (that took way longer than it should have), there is now a search box! 

Also, check out the new tabs above this post - now you can click on one of the tabs to be directed to all the blog posts that fit under that specific category.  So, if you're here because you found our blog on a clubfoot support group, you can just check out our posts about clubfoot, or, if you are a homeschooling parent, you could just check out the posts under the homeschool tab.  I think it makes so much sense this way. 

I'm not gonna lie, I'm pretty stinkin' excited about these new changes (maybe more than I should be).  I also changed the background to my blog, which may or may not change again in the next few days.  Hopefully this new format makes it easier to navigate - please let me know what you think of the changes.  I'd also love to hear if you have any additional suggestions.