Interesting Pages You should look at

Monday, June 30, 2014

Homemade ice pack

With active, accident prone children, we use a lot of ice packs.  Lunch, sprained ankles, snacks, sprained fingers, sports injuries, bumps to the head.....  You get the point.  You can never have too many ice packs.  I tied frozen peas - once.  They got lost under a bed.  Never again.

Ice packs are expensive.  Then they break and that chemical stuff is all over your child, the bed, the sofa, the lunch....  Ewww

I saw this on Pinterest and decided to give it a try.

What you need:

Portion size zip lock bags (or jewelry bags will work, look by the beads at Walmart.)
Sandwich size zip locks

Make sure your bags are good quality

The photo has a bottle of alcohol because the original post said to use it.  I did for a few bags, but when the first one leaked (in a lunch box) and made my daughters apple taste like alcohol, I have never used it again.  I have had no regrets not using it either.

Simply put the sponge in the small 'portion size' bag and fill with water

Just for leaking purposes, I also put it in a larger bag.

Now put them in the freezer. I love these.  They stay cold for the same amount of time as a 'regular' ice pack, they are soft as soon as they defrost a bit, and they are colorful.

If ever I need a sponge, there is one in the freezer.  No waste!  This is a great way to stock up on sponges :)


All ice packs make a mess.  It's usually condensation.  The biggest (and only) downfall I have seen from these is that the baggie leaks after a while.  My solution:

Yup.  Duct tape.  It fixes everything.  I still double bag as well.  Not using alcohol, I don't worry about leaks - it's just water.  No chemicals from a store bought ice pack.  I have been very thankful to have these on hand.  More than once.  I can freely hand one of these to a child who has been injured and not worry about getting my expensive ice pack back.  I will continue to make these!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ping pong ball blow


Rainy days, visitors, celebrations, impromptu visits by friends, extra time after a study session, or just wanting something different to do.......    We always need a simple game to play.  This is not only simple to play, but it took less than 5 minutes to make. 

What you need to make this:

A piece of wood (I used a 1x4, but most any scrap piece of wood will work)
Ping pong balls (check the dollar store!)
Something to blow air (check the dollar store!)
These are the washers I used.  I found them at Home Depot for about $1

Baby Girl wanted to paint the wood blue.  I had some paint, so she had fun.  Then we spaced the washers evenly. I had just enough room for 6 washers.  I didn't want them too close together.  I attached the washers with simple super glue.

Put the ping pong balls on top and you are done.  It took longer to find washers than to make the game.

We had some of these water squirters left from last year.  I bought two more at the dollar store.  They produce just enough air to blow the ping pong ball off.

The girls had a blast with this.  Now I will have ping pong balls all over the play room, but at least six of them have a home now :)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Milk shakes

One of the shows that my grandmother enjoys watching is 'The Chew.'  It's one of the few that I can handle listening to - most of the time.  I don't understand why every single show on tv has to talk about sex at some point.

Anyhow - back to the milkshakes.  This particular segment had Carla Hall mixing different things up in milkshakes.  Hmmm.  She likes to do a lot with left overs.  I love remaking left overs.  One of my biggest pet peeves is wasted food.  On the show she used birthday cake.  It's not birthday season at our house right now, but I do have a pumpkin pie.  Yummy.  So as soon as I got home I got busy.

A few cups of ice cream into the blender......

Add some milk so it's not too thick....

Now the pie.  I put in about a quarter of the pie to start with.  Crust and all.

The kids heard the blender.  There are no more photos.  The milk shakes disappeared.  I ended up making more, and using the rest of the pie.  

Family Verdict:  Win!  Make it again!  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Adventures in Adoption - Placement week 1

This last week has been an adventure.  If I hadn't had a few posts already scheduled to post, there would be nothing.  That's ok.  My life has been full of emotion and change lately.

I won't even try to put in every detail, but I will give you an overview of the last week.

Friday and Saturday were a lot of hurry up and wait.   I had the big kids stay in the house so these nervous little ones wouldn't be overwhelmed.  Finally the children arrive.   Crying.  Hysterically.  Hmm.  This never crossed my mind.  Why would these children be excited to see me?  They have no reason to even like me right now.  Wow.  I've been so wrapped up in my excitement I didn't consider this.  I knew there would be some anxiety and worry, but this I did not plan for.  I quickly call out the big kids and tell the little ones that there are legos and barbies in the big play room.  That at least gets them in the house and distracted while the adults remove their belongings from the car.  Everything is in large trash bags.  That made me sad.

It only took a few minutes (20 maybe) for the children to calm down.  We walked around the house and showed them all the rooms.  I didn't want to go over rules right now - there is plenty of time for that later.  I did, however, mention the no boys in girls rooms and vise versa rule.

By 1 we are at the pool.  I was able to find clothes to swim in since neither one had a swim suit. These kids have so much energy!  We live close enough to walk, so we burned off energy that way.  We only stayed about an hour.  The little one (5yo) was hungry.

We walked back to the house, eating cereal bars the entire way.  He was no longer hungry.

Big Boy had been invited to a friends house.  I wasn't sure if we would be able to make it, because I wasn't sure if the kids would be able to handle going to another house and socializing.  I figured we would go.  They seemed to be doing fine.

I am so glad we went!  The kids all rode horses and ponies, played with bunnies and chickens, looked for chicken eggs, played in the yard, rode bikes, ate crawfish and met people who were so sweet and loving.  By the time we left everyone was exhausted, mosquito bitten, and ready for bed.  After quick showers all of us fell asleep quickly.

Sunday - Only church today.  No banjo and no Awana.  Church was fun and the children loved it.  Afterward we had a quick trip to Boy Scouts to post flags.  I wasn't sure if neaps were needed, so we just went home and played.

Monday - Wednesday - Are you ready for vu-vu-vu-vbs!?  Yes!  What a fun way to start the week with a new family.  Both kids loved the fun and excitement offered at vbs.  Little M (7yo girl) is now asking a lot of questions about Jesus, His death, and the Bible.  Little T (5 yo boy) asked to pray for me one night.  He said "Thank you for these beautiful people.  And these beautiful pets.  Amen."  It's a start.  I know it makes God smile.

Thursday - I won't (don't know if I can) go into the details of the battle with cps already, but the kids had a family visit today.

Friday - More vbs!  Since Big Boy, Big Girl and I all worked we all were served lunch after vbs today.  What a blessing.  The church provided lunch for all 6 of us.  This not only took stress off me to rush home and make something before a much needed nap, it also gave the kids more time with their friends.  I'm not sure if it is vbs or their age, but these 2 take great naps!

Saturday - another busy day.  Big Girl was dropped off at church for a car wash, then the rest of us went to the mall for a rare treat.  Big Boy is going to Africa, I wanted to stop and get him his favorite meal on the way.  We also had time to wander around for about 20 minutes.  After getting to the church (an hour early - I put the wrong time in my calendar) we played in one of the big grassy areas and watched turtles and bugs in the pond.  Once Big Boy was on his way, we picked up Big Girl and played with some of the other big kids that were still at the church.  After a great nap (I'm talking 2-3 hour naps!) we went for a nice long walk in the new wagon to pass out invites for the hot dog party.  The little ones loved racing to houses to tape up invites :)

This has been a great (mostly) first week.  One thing hubby and I noticed was that in all the training we were taught what to do with bad behavior.  Kids that have been abused and will take out their emotions in a negative and unacceptable way.  I know those kids are out there.  I have met some.  I have heard stories of some of them as well.  But what about the good kids?  The ones that are so desperate to be wanted, loved, and accepted they will go out of their way to please you?  What about the kids that instantly bond with you?  The ones that are calling you mommy and daddy within hours?  None of the classes will prepare you for that.

Honestly, I don't feel like any of the classes prepared me (cpr and first aid don't count!).  The extra hours of work, the extra dishes, potty training (it's been 8 years since I have tried to potty train!), the extra voices calling 'mommy' when you are on the phone.  What I do know, is that God will qualify me since He has called me!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tie Dye cake

For her 12th birthday my Big Girl wanted a tie dye cake.  I was wandering around the baking section of the grocery store when I happened upon this:

I will never buy it again.

There is nothing really wrong with it.  It was yummy and pretty and easy to do.  However, a plain white cake mix and food coloring would have saved me $4!

Step one:  Make the batter for a white cake

Step two:  Transfer one cup of batter into a bowl.  Do this for however many colors you want.  If you want a cake with 6 colors, get 6 bowls and put equal amounts of batter into the bowls.

Step three:  Layer the batter.  Start with a color (I used blue), then put the next color right on top - in the middle.  Repeat until all the batter is gone.

A quick Pinterest or Google search will show you that there is no "wrong" way to do this.  You can layers the colors (above), you can dollop (right), or you can layer and swirl (below).  

The important thing is  - DON'T MIX!  Once the cake is decorated, you won't see the color again until it is cut.

I used all the batter.  It's not as pretty as the last photo, but it will be swirly and 'tie dyed' when cut.

It has been cooked and cooled

Sliced for icing.  Big Girl thought it looked so cool!  That's all that matters to this momma.

All the girls thought this was so pretty.  I'm just glad my girl had a great birthday party

Friday, June 20, 2014

Mini apple pie

Need a quick snack for company?  Here is a pretty healthy one that I haven't had anyone turn down yet.


Pumpkin Pie Spice
Crescent Rolls
Apples (or apple pie filling - then you can leave out the spice)

Roll out your crescent dough into individual triangles.  Sprinkle plenty of apple pie spice  on top.  If you are pressed for time and ingredients, cinnamon sugar is a terrific substitute.

Add one apple slice (slice your apple into 8 relatively equal slices)

Now just roll like you would with a regular crescent roll.

Place on a cookie sheet with the seam side down.

  They are still good cold, but nothing like hot out of the oven. These don't last long in my house.  

Serve with cold ice cream.  My fave!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Adventures in Adoption - A placement!!

I can't believe it!  A placement!?  Us?  Wow!

Tuesday - We just got back from Tucson yesterday.  We made sure to get back by today for several reasons. One of those reasons was because we have a yearly training with Arrow for adoption.  A mom's work is never done. The truck is still not cleaned out and we are already back on our normal schedule - no time for sleeping in.

Hubby and I get to class about 10 minutes early.  That is hard to do in Houston traffic.  As we are sitting in class the instructor talks about a current case where they are in need of emergency placement for a sibling group.  Since I don't know what I can say about them, just know that their story is sad.  They are little and not feeling loved.

Sometimes God talks to us when we least expect it.  You just have to keep the line of communication open.  Tonight He was talking to Hubby and I both.  As the instructor was talking about these two children we knew that these were our kids.  After class we talk to the instructor about these kids and tell her we are interested.

Thursday - We go back for part 2 of the class.  The instructor lets us know that she is working on getting the kids to us.  There are a lot of people involved in making the decision.  I'm just excited that something is finally happening.  I get an email late in the day.  We are looking at either a Friday night or Saturday drop off.  We are all hoping for a Friday drop off so the kids can join us for a VBS carnival.  I will get more info as my caseworker gets the info.

Friday - The morning comes and goes.  Finally I get an email late Friday afternoon - maybe 3ish.  The placement will be Saturday.  Oh well.  We will do something fun on Saturday.  11pm Friday night.  I get a call from cps.  They need my address and want to let me know that the children will be brought over at 10:30 tomorrow morning.  Oy.  1) why is cps calling and not my agency 2) it's 11:00 at night!

Saturday - it's the big day.  Big Boy is going to church to pack supplies for a mission trip.  However, the kids are to be brought over right in the middle of that.  Praise God we have great friends who can help.  He always provides.  The girls and I continue to make the house welcoming for the children.  I'm not sure who is more excited, myself, Big Girl or Baby Girl....

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Bean Burritos

I really do NOT like refried beans.  I love Mexican food, but not refried beans.  I suppose it's because I know how much fat is in there.  That, and when you open a can it is full of squishy dog food looking, rotten smelling, stuff that barely resembles beans.

Well, I made a batch for a potluck I was going to.  I say I made them, but really I opened a few cans and heated up the mess inside.  I could barely handle the smell.

My thought - If I don't like this stuff, then why am I bringing it?  I did an internet search and found a lot of ideas.  I had already been to the store 2 times today and I was NOT going to go back a third time.  Besides, I only had an hour left before I had to leave.  I had to make do with what was on hand.

What I ended up doing was this:

In a crock pot mix 2 cans refried beans
1-2 cups velveeta cheese
1/2 can rotel
2 packets taco seasoning
1/2 cup diced onion

They didn't taste too bad.  Not my favorite, but definitely a TON better than what came out of the can.  Now, what do I do with the left overs?  There's not a lot, but enough that I really don't want to be wasteful.

My oldest daughter has a thing for burritos right now.  I simply put that brown mess on a tortilla, add a few sides, and call it dinner.  I love quick dinners!

This won't be my go to on a busy night, but now I know what to do with the 3 cans of refried beans in the pantry.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Home School General Curriculum Info

Disclamer:  I have been working on this for several months, it is a work in progress.  I want to go ahead and post it, but let you know that it will always be a work in progress - much like our children and spouses.   If you have something to add (or spot an error) please email me.  Then check back often to see any updates :)

After home schooling for 5 years, I am so glad that I am not living in the 80's - or any time before then!  Without help from the internet, I don't know what I would do!

As more families leave the structured setting of a traditional classroom, the need for free homeschooling resources continues to increase. More programs are being added and created everyday, so getting started is becoming easier than ever before. I know that when I first started out, I had no clue what I was doing, spent too much money, and had little to no help.  In the 21st century there is a plethora of information.  So much so, that I have recruited help from other moms to compile this list.  I cannot guarantee that all of these links will work when you click on them, but they did when I posted this.  I will continue to update this site and elaborate on the descriptions as I learn more about each site, and find more.  In the mean time, enjoy the fruits of my labor :)

General Curriculum:

K¹² - Free (private school option available)
All subjects are offered - grades K-12
Offers outstanding, highly effective curriculum that enables mastery of core concepts and skills for all kinds of minds. The minds that are superbly gifted--or that are gifted in some areas and struggling in others. The minds that need to use hands to learn on some days, and eyes or ears on others. The minds that move faster or slower than average. The minds that are connected to bodies that need to run off steam periodically, or that are medically unable to attend a physical school. All kinds of minds, not just the best and brightest—not just the ones that are easy to teach in a classroom.  K¹² offers free classes, but you must have attended public school the year that you want to use K¹², or the prior year.  The only loop hole I have found - enroll your children in public school for a week, then take them out and enroll in K¹².  Not a fan, but it is an option.

Connections Academy  -  Free (private school option available)
All subjects offered - Grades 3-13
Offers free, public schooling for grades K - 12. They are fully accredited with state-certified teachers who guide the program. Upon enrolling, each child receives all text books and materials free-of-charge. Parents are actively involved in the program as Learning Coaches, and work closely with the teachers to provide a unique and individualized lesson plan for each child. To help children socialize, the program has activities, clubs and field trips.Connections Academy also offers an online private schooling option for a fee.
  Connections Academy is very similar to K12, in the fact that you must have attended public school the year you want to enroll - this is a new Texas state law as of 2011 (if I remember correctly)

College Plus -$3000 the first year
Many degrees offered - they specifically advertise: Accounting, Anthropology, Biology, Communications, Computer Information Systems, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Economics, English, Entrepreneurship, Finance, General Management, History, Human Resources/Org. Mgmnt.,  Humanities, Information Technology, International Business, International Studies, Journalism, Liberal Studies, Marketing, Mathematics, Music, Natural Science/Math, Organizational Leadership, Political Science, Pre-Med, Psychology, Social Sciences
I am still learning a lot about this one, but have friends who have children using this particular program.  I like any idea that will get my children through college for a fraction (ANY fraction of the price).  Distance learning is gaining popularity across the US, growing by almost 20% each year. College Plus students use a unique system to earn their bachelor's degree through a blend of CLEP and other exams, online classes, and onsite courses, depending on what their major requires.
Every CollegePlus student is guided by a degree coach that walks them through their entire degree process. This coach is knowledgeable in study skills, CLEP exams, and navigating the distance learning college the student will graduate from. College Plus consists of three phases that just about every student goes through before graduating: study skills and life preparation first, then credit by exam (CLEP and DSST), and finally online courses.

Time for learning  $19.95 a month
Subjects: Language, reading, math, science, social studies - Grades PK-8
The Time4Learning curriculum gives preschool to eighth graders who are homeschooled the independence they crave, as they progress at their own pace. The program also helps kids who are homeschooled advance, by teaching with individualized learning paths that assure skill mastery.This program is for anyone in home school, summer school, or wants after school advancement.

K12 Homeschool Online-
A Christian-based program, K-12 Free Homeschool provides a core curriculum, tuition free. Once a student is enrolled into the program they receive:
  • Interactive CD-ROMs
  • Textbooks
  • Workbooks
  • Audio programs
  • Video programs
  • Homeschool activities online and offline
  • Software for grading
  • Software for record keeping
  • A complete curriculum with more than 140 Bible-based courses
    Parents are asked to pay a small shipping and handling fee for the materials.
    A flexible program, the course content of K-12 Free Homeschool is adjusted based on the needs of each child. Parents can mix the grade levels of the subject materials according to the level of the child in each subject area.
    The school offers optional fee-based upgrades which include:
  • Unlimited assistance by a homeschool teacher
  • Elective courses
  • Creation of a portfolio

Ambleside Online -
The free curriculum provided by Ambleside Online follows the methods used by Charlotte Mason in her correspondence and private schools.Parents receive access to the curriculum guides, book lists and online books for their grade level, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, and a weekly schedule following a 36-week school year. Adherence to the schedule is optional as it is intended as a helpful resource for pacing the amount of reading a student must do. Parents do not need to register or notify Ambleside Online that they are using the material on the website. Joining the email list provides access to support; however, it is not mandatory. The program does not include a math program, a foreign language program or a preschool phonics program.
Available resources include studies in the following areas:
  • Bible study
  • Picture study - art appreciation
  • Folk songs and hymns
  • Composer study - classical music appreciation
  • Nature study - science
  • Study of the lives of Plutarch and Shakespeare
  • History
  • Geography

Free World U -  
Offers curriculum for grades preschool through 12. The program uses accelerated learning methods that are faster than conventional methods, and offers a rolling enrollment, meaning children can join at any time during the year.
Information is given via flashcards in small facts that students can mark as correct or incorrect and sort into learned and unlearned categories. More than 20,000 flashcards are available on the site with additional content added frequently.
Students can use the flashcards and projects on their own or enroll in the accredited program which includes project learning, student assessments for individualized lesson plans and socialization.

Abacus -
The Abacus Educational Service, in association with the Excellence in Education Academy, provides free online classes and a virtual classroom for homeschoolers everywhere. This collaborative effort is an online educational experiment in response to the need for online homeschooling facilities. Abacus Educational Service uses the famous course management system, Moodle. Homeschooling parents download the Moodle user guide and add themselves as a teacher. They are then ready to share their expertise in an area.
Fee-based online homeschool courses are also offered by Abacus Educational Service.

Learning by Grace

Jubilee Academy

Head of the class - allows you to customize your child's curriculum by mixing grade levels and multimedia presentations. The curriculum is for preschool through grade 8 and includes worksheets, videos and interactive programs for all levels and subjects. Options include:
  • Videos of art projects and music
  • Worksheets
  • Coloring pages
  • Foreign languages
  • Strategies for customizing the plan to your child's level and ability
All content is free and can be used collectively or as a supplement to other homeschooling programs.


Splashes from the River is a DVD and online streaming site for English, grammar and essay courses. While these programs are paid, the site also offers a free online spelling course from grades 6 to 8. The course consists of 30 lessons, each with approximately 20 new words and several exercises to incorporate them into vocabulary and learn the proper spelling of each one.

The National Repository of Online Courses offers several free programs for high school students and for AP and honor students. Classes include algebra, physics, history, calculus and biology. Each class includes a syllabus, unit work and class extras. has free math and phonics, as well as math, phonics and grammar games and online lessons. Programs include:
  • Science
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Math
  • Phonics and Grammar
Quizzes, games and themes are also available. The program is aimed at Pre-K through Middle School.

Heart of Wisdom - a guide to choosing resources for your homeschool classroom. The guide is based on the Heart of Wisdom teaching approach.

School Express - offers free thematic units and eWorkbooks.

Adam Smith Academy - this classical education website offers many free podcasts and online movies for homeschooled students.

Lesson Pathways offers many of the same subjects that Time4Learning offers for grades pre-kindergarten through five. You'll find lessons on language arts, math, science and history. They also offer reading and phonics for kindergarten through second grade. You can use complete curriculum outlines or choose from particular subject areas and unit studies. The site is supported by advertising and donations.

Bitesize is a British website offering free interactive lessons in math and reading. However, the grade levels in the UK are named differently than they are in the United States. You may have to spend a little time initially figuring out where your child falls in the British system. Once you've decided where to place your student, allow your child to view the animated lesson and game. Once the lesson is completed, print a worksheet that goes along with the topic and have your child complete the worksheet.

NeoK12 offers online videos, lessons and games to help homeschool students learn about a wide variety of topics. Lessons can be found for English, math, science, social studies, geography, history, music lessons, sports lessons and arts and crafts. You won't find a lot of worksheets, so you may want to use this site more as a reinforcement of concepts being learned through your curriculum. If you do choose to use NeoK12 as a  complete solution, you'll find quizzes on the site that are sorted by topics.

Homeschool Share is a site full of moms who have generously shared their resources and ideas. The site is definitely geared towards those who lapbook, notebook or do unit studies. However, if that is your cup of tea, you will find a bounty of foldables, as well as whole-language type resources that help your child write about what he's learned. It definitely has a Charlotte Mason feel, so if you're looking for worksheets that look more like what your child would get at school, you won't find it here. However, the site is especially ideal for little ones who are into making their own books. That's not to say that big ones who lapbook or notebook won't find ample resources here as well.

edHelper is neither geared specifically towards homeschoolers nor teachers, but rather features numerous worksheets in just about every topic imaginable. EdHelper is popular with homeschoolers because it offers high school level worksheets, and the site features an easy-to-use format. There is a subscription level to the site which allows you access to more worksheets as well as the ability to create your own. With that said, there are literally thousands of worksheets available at the free level.

SchoolExpress is another site that is ideal for those who use a traditional approach to education and are looking for some reinforcement in certain topics. Again, like most sites of this nature, there are subscription options. However, they still boast about 16,000 worksheets that are available for free in a variety of subject areas.

Holt McDougal has Holt online learning and Class Zone, both of which allow you to access various activities including worksheets. The catch is, of course, that you have to purchase the book, but the worksheets are incredibly well-done. Likewise, Saxon publishers have math worksheets that correlate to the lessons in the textbooks, as well as extra activities to reinforce ideas and general mathematical awareness.

LearningPage, is a good source for free teaching materials that you can use in place of more traditional, fee-based online or book-and-paper homeschool courses.
To download courses at the Learning Page, a parent must register with the site. Membership is free. You can browse through lesson plans, activity sheets and themed workbooks according to your child's grade level and interests. You and your child can choose from a variety of themes and archived pages devoted to making learning an enjoyable experience.
Super Teacher Worksheets
Worksheets by Grade Level
Lesson Plans and Printables

BrainPop is relatively new when it comes to homeschooling curriculum. BrainPop was devised by a doctor with the goal of making difficult concepts easy for young students. They are a subscription based service, however, there is plenty there to take advantage of for free.

MIT Open Courseware is for those parents who are looking for help with high school and college courses. All courses are free and there isn't instructor guidance. . .but these are real MIT courses.

Homeschool Central

Old Fashioned Education

Homeschooling in the blue grass

Successful Homeschooling

 Mercury Online

Smart Tutor