Saturday, December 18, 2010

mommys struggles and snuggles: Favorite Chicken and Dumplings

mommys struggles and snuggles: Favorite Chicken and Dumplings: "It's getting cooler here in Texas. There are some places in the U.S where you can eat soups and stews year round. Texas is not one of those...."

Favorite Chicken and Dumplings

It's getting cooler here in Texas. There are some places in the U.S where you can eat soups and stews year round. Texas is not one of those. The window for great warm foods is pretty small here otherwise you end up sweating the whole time you are eating. Christmas time is usually a good time to have some wonderful comfort foods, and this is one of my favorites.

One of the best parts about this recipe is that it is super easy, yet really delicious. I am going to put step by step directions along with pictures to make it even easier.

These are the ingredients. Then I will explain some different ways you can fix them.

5 cups of chicken stock
1 whole chicken or at least six breast or thighs
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 Tbs of baking powder
1 TBs Kosher salt
1/2 Tb freshly ground blk pepper
1 cup of heavy cream
2 stalks of celery
1/2 onion
3 carrots
thyme, fresh is best, but I usually use dried about 2Tbs


You can get your chicken several ways. If you do not like to cook whole chickens you can do parts, but the flavor is not as good and you probably really can't get good chicken stock that way. If you choose to do pieces you may have to also do chicken boullion to get all of the required stock. If you choose to do a whole chicken you also have options. The easiest quickest way is to buy a rotisserie chicken. They are already seasoned and cooked. You can bring them home, pick the meat off the bones, have no innards to get rid of, and then boil your carcass to get your stock. If you want to go the more economical route buy your own whole chicken, thaw it, get your innards out, throw in stock pot and boil for several hours under the meat is falling off the bone.
This is how your chicken should look after it has cooked and is ready to be picked off the bone.

Once it is cool enough you can start shredding the meat , being careful to look for little bones that sometimes splinter off during cooking. Also you will have some skin from your chicken, just pick off and throw away. Put all your shredded meat in a bowl and put aside. Then I strain the juice of my chicken stock to get all the filmy stuff out. Measure out your cups of stock. If you still have stock left over do not throw it out! Freeze it to use for soups or other meals. I pour some into ice trays. Once it is frozen I pop the little cubes into a freezer ziplock and can use cubes as needed.

Now you are ready to make your dumplings. Mix together your flour, baking powder,salt, and pepper in a big mixing bowl. Add your heavy cream and mix until thick and sticky. I have never made this recipe that I didn't have to add more cream. It is a really dense dough and does not stick together well.

This is a picture so you can see how it looks. I added probably a half of a cup to a cup more cream then it called for because even with kneading I can not get it to stick together without adding more. Play with it until you get it right. Once it starts sticking together really good, roll it out on a floured surface. Warning: your hands will get a work out kneading this dough, it is thick. You also will use a lot of arm muscle rolling it out. It needs to be no more than about 1/16th of an inch thick. This sounds really thin, but trust me if you roll it out thicker your dumplings will come out of your pot.
Roll them out thin and small, 1 by 1 inch squares. The dumplings are the longest part of the whole process, but also the best.

After this you are going to chop up your celery, carrots, and onion and add them and your thyme to your stock. Reheat over medium heat until boiling. Add your dumplings to boiling stock, cover and simmer for about twenty minutes. Note: if your pot is almost full before you put in your dumplings get a bigger pot. I can't say enough how much the dumplings rise. After this you add your chicken and salt and pepper until hot and then you eat!


Enlisting super heros to help out never hurts!


Your finished product!

 Another great twist on this recipe we have tried is grilling a whole chicken all day to use. It gives the meat a smoky flavor that is really nice, but it does involve more time of course. Vary it up and enjoy. Having a warm bowl of this next to a nice fire is the best way we have found.

Also we have a family of four. This recipe will usually feed all of us with a little bit left over, however you may want to double the recipe if you want left overs to feed everyone the next day or if you have a larger family. This means two whole chickens instead of one so keep in mind the size of your family or how much they eat.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

mommys struggles and snuggles: Our Homestead

mommys struggles and snuggles: Our Homestead: "So my husband has decided that we should pursue the art of being self sufficient, at least more than what we are now. So I will start coveri..."

Our Homestead

So my husband has decided that we should pursue the art of being self sufficient, at least more than what we are now. So I will start covering our attempts at farming on this blog as well because I am sure there will joys and tears with it also and as the whole family will be involved it could prove to be very interesting. We have, in the past done some little things like plant gardens and small scale canning. But, he has decided we need to start raising our own meat, vegetables, and fruit. 2011 is looking very busy!

Our first real thought came after Glenn ran into an old friend who works as a manager at a place where they store things like potatoes and apples in bulk. He told us how the potatoes you buy at the store are normally years old. They spray the potatoes with a gas that is so flamable they cannot spray at night or the fire department thinks there is a fire. They use the gas the prevent the potatoes eyes from forming roots and to make them last longer. Apparently they use this process on a lot of things. I am not a paranoid person, but this grabbed both of our attention. Hmmmm.....and they wonder where cancer comes from. I don't know what kind of gas they use or what chemicals they contain, but anything that alters food that much can't be healthy. Here I thought we could just wash an apple off an it'd be good to eat. So what do you do when they are injected with gases and chemicals to keep them from decomposing?

So this started the thoughts. Then Glenn started picking up some homesteading magazines with articles about how to grow your own meat and milk and his brain has not shut down since. Well, we have ten acres and I guess it is time to use it a little more wisely.

Last week we made our first purchase.....Wilbur.....sorry could not resist. My kids are thrilled because he is friendly. Every day Brylee wants to go out and feed the pig and boss him around......something else she is very good at. She has no idea that after the first he will be one of many animals to support her healthy little diet. We will also attempt to raise chickens for meat and eggs, and cows for milk and meat.


Nothin like a corn fed hog!

Farmers in Training

So this is just the beginning of our attempts to be more self sufficient. We will see how it goes.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

mommys struggles and snuggles: Concerning pregnancy, birth, and crankiness.

mommys struggles and snuggles: Concerning pregnancy, birth, and crankiness.: "I find myself with twenty-four days to go until my due date......yes Christmas Day. I have had an easy pregnancy so far, much like my other ..."

Concerning pregnancy, birth, and crankiness.

I find myself with twenty-four days to go until my due date......yes Christmas Day. I have had an easy pregnancy so far, much like my other two, despite keeping up with two kids, five and two. I have managed to keep up with homeschooling and my house work and most of my daily activities. However, I find myself struggling as of late. I have not slowed down and now my body is starting to protest. It comes in the form of being cranky, and mostly being cranky with my kids. I actually feel relieved when my husband is here because he is pretty good about jumping right in and helping with the kids. Sometimes that means helping me get them rounded up for the night or sometimes just having a second person keeping an eye on them so I can get some things done.

Things that would normally irritate me seem so much bigger and I know it is because I am not slowing down. Why is that so hard for me to do? Part of is because I know I have limited time left and I still feel like I have so much to do. By the time school is finished and basic house cleaning is done it still looks like a tornado has hit. My five year old is pretty good about cleaning up his own messes when you tell him to, but is not the fastest in the world. Of course with a two year old you do a lot of the cleaning and they help. Have I pointed out that bending over makes me even crankier? Then you still have dinner and baths and bedtime. I have not even gotten to anything extra......like the babies room. Today I went in the room one time to look at what else I needed to do in there. I never got the chance to even walk back there again. I started to try my hand at a rosemary wreath, and the kids got in a big fight. I had to quit. Why am I trying to arrange rosemary on a wreath while the kids are getting hungry and tired? It was a stupid plan and one that ended up with screaming all the way around.

One thing I am pleased about is that, along with help from a friend, I was able to get Brylee moved into her new room. It is not finished, I still have decorating to do, but she is in there and making the transition quite well. I was amazed that the day we got all her things moved in she wanted to take a nap in her new room, and has never looked back. Her naps have been fuss free and night time as well. I am truly blessed there, and am more convinced than ever that getting your kids into a sleep schedule early on is a major bonus later. I have two very active kids, and yet both have transitioned from crib to bed and new rooms without losing sleep or routine. I can't believe that is luck, I have to believe that is due to being one thing that I have been very dilligent and consistent about from the beginning.

I am going to try to force myself to just relax a bit, take time to play with my kids, take time to sip my hot tea or sit outside for a few minutes. I think I am getting cranky because I am not allowing myself any down time. It's not even that I don't have time to myself. Time to myself is nice, but I am not even allowing myself to relax. I go from one task to another to another. Some days I really want to get outside, but the house is a mess and I want it to get be clean and inviting when Glenn gets home. So instead of relaxing outside for thirty minutes, I spend that time folding clothes, picking things up off the floor, and on and on. What's more frustrating is that tomorrow the messes and clothes will be there again and so it feels like you do all this work and there is nothing to show for it. No wonder I am cranky! So, starting tomorrow, I am going to try to slow down, do a few more things besides work, actually play with the kids, and see if I am in a better mood.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

There is so much stuff going on right now I don't even know where to begin. I'll just go down the list and see where it goes.

Homeschooling: This has been an interesting journey. It has gone smoother than I expected, but there are still days that are challenging. Bodie really likes all his subjects. In reading we had gotten a book called Teach Your Child to Read in One Hundred Easy Lessons. We actually got that before he started preschool because he was so interested in letters and sounds. When I put him in preschool I quit working in it because I did not want to overwhelm him. We were a little more than halfway through it when school started so he only has eight more lessons in that. It has been a really good book. He is reading full pages and even starting to put expression into some of the sentences when he grasps the humor. Yesterday, he wanted to do two lessons. The story was about an old man who couldn't hear and he kept misunderstanding what everyone was saying. The first lesson was part one of the story and he thought it was so funny that he wanted to do the next one also. It is funny to me to watch him pick up on the humor. Math is something he is good at, but has sometimes wanted to skip. I think he gets bored because the worksheets are somewhat repetitive. I may have to incorporate some of those concepts in a more fun way. Science is still his favorite, and he has actually gotten to where he likes handwriting too, although I think it's just because he likes the coloring sheet on the back! The language we do is both writing and verbal. I really like the verbal part because it has him retelling a story, or making one up about a certain thing, or putting things into sequence. I don't think it is his favorite, but mommy likes it. This past week I also found a group around here that does an enrichment club. There are probably twenty kids and the ones that want to get up and do some kind of presentation. A lot of the kids do lapbooks on a subject they are interested in, but some recite poems, or do show n tell. It is mostly about exposing them to speaking in front of people. Next month, if we are able to go, Bodie plans to do a presentation on combines. I am looking forward to that!

Pregnancy: Third time around is a charm....at least that is what I hear. It is hard for me to believe that if I go to fourty weeks (I haven't with the other two) I have only six more weeks left. Throwing a newborn on top of all this may prove to be exciting. I just have got to remind myself to rest. I am probably going to take a week or two off school at that time......if Bodie will let me. We will prob curl up in bed and read and write some, but not so formal for a couple of weeks. I have really been feeling it lately. My body is crankier it seems this time around, age getting to me I guess. She is really active too, moving and kicking all the time, so much for hoping for a laid back kid. LOL

Brylee's room: Another project we have going is trying to get Brylee's room finished. It has really been work becasue we are moving into what was our office/store room. There has been a lot to muddle through and we are still not finished yet. Have not even started on the babies room yet because Bry is still in there. All I know is that I am doing pink and brown in there. I have not been able to get any more creative because I can't picture anything with bry still in there. So these next few weeks those are two big goals I have.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

mommys struggles and snuggles: Girl's Day Out

mommys struggles and snuggles: Girl's Day Out: "Last week Bodie started a P.E program. It is once a week from one to four. They do all kinds of sports, there are lots of kids, and I really..."

Girl's Day Out

Last week Bodie started a P.E program. It is once a week from one to four. They do all kinds of sports, there are lots of kids, and I really like the coaches. I am thrilled that he has to work as a team with other kids and that he has to take direction from someone other than me for a while. However, one of my favorite parts about this is that it is a drop off program.

Not only do I think that he needs that time to learn under someone else, but it has turned into a chance for Brylee and I to have girl time.

When Bodie was going to preschool we didn't really have that time between driving and naps  This place is located a good fourty minutes away from the house so I am not going to go home, which means I have to find things to do. Luckily, it is in an area where there are quite a few fun places to go and I can also get errands run at the same time.

Today was our first real mommy daughter time because the first time I took Bodie to his P.E class, I stuck around for about half the time to just see how things are run. This time we dropped him off and ran. She hardly has me to herself ever so I think it is just as much fun for her. Today we went to Hobby Lobby and picked out stickers for her potty chart, she found herself a really cute lunch box with Abby from Sesame street on it, and then we went shoe shopping for her Halloween outfit. It was nice to just go and get her some litle things and make her feel spoiled. So much of the time it is all about Bodie just because of school. She also spends a lot of time doing things he does just because she looks up to him and wants to play with him. It was so much fun seeing what ideas she had when there no other influences.

My favorite part of today was just being able to look at what she wanted to look at, and being able to enjoy her sweet personality all by itself.

I am really glad I have this opportunity to have some one on one with her before the baby gets here. I can tell she really enjoyed it too. She was so cute showing Glenn all her stickers and shoes when he got home. She even offered him a princess sticker when he went potty! He declined of course, but it was funny.

Monday, October 25, 2010

mommys struggles and snuggles: Today was one of those days I wasn't too sure whet...

mommys struggles and snuggles: Today was one of those days I wasn't too sure whet...: "Today was one of those days I wasn't too sure whether to look forward to or hide from. Amazing how a few hours in the morning can set the to..."
Today was one of those days I wasn't too sure whether to look forward to or hide from. Amazing how a few hours in the morning can set the tone for the day.

I got up this morning knowing that I had to go to town ( that sounds like such a journey, it is about 25 minutes one way so not that bad) and that I would be better off going early. Go in early, get finished, and get home right? If I go in later it is a lot harder because Brylee gets up from her nap around two and by the time I get back it is a rush to get stalls cleaned, horses fed, dinner on, and all that fun evening stuff. So I decided the morning run would be best.

That is when the drama started. As soon as Bodie realized that school would not start as usual at 9:00, his whole world came crashing in on him. Like I said a few hours can set the whole tone.

He cried, not just a little whining, but full out laying across the bed sobbing.

Now I am not a very emotional person, so sometimes it is very hard for me to know how to respond to his emotions. I'll be honest, the first thought that runs through my head is how much I want to laugh at the theatrics of it all. And I do smile....LOUDLY inside my head. ( I do that a lot) My second thought is ok this is pretty normal for this age, and then another thought,........isn't it? Third thought.......how long do I let this go on before I tell him that's enough? 

I honestly don't know the answers to those last questions, although a friend assured me she has dealt with many such days, which at least made me feel like it must be fairly normal. But, I still wonder what is the best way to react to such an outburst? 

I tried to explain to him that we were still going to do school, it was just a delay. Explaining really was a waste of energy. There was no way that was going to comfort him. 

In the end I let him cry his eyes out, the tears subsided......eventually and we were able to load up in the car. Before we pulled out of the driveway, I said a prayer out loud about disappointment and how sometimes when our plans get changed for the day, it can end up being a better day than we thought it would. ( see, Lee, I was listening Sunday) Mostly, I think I was praying for myself that I would not pull my hair out from all the drama, although I did not specifically say that, just a small mention of attitudes getting better.

Later, though, I was reflecting on the days events and realized it really isn't that different for me. The only difference is that I am not five with my emotions on my sleeves. Yet, I honestly can't say I handle my disappointments that much better. No, I don't throw myself on the bed and cry my eyes out. I don't stomp my feet and scream.  Maybe I would feel better if I did. I get sullen and quiet, or I get short with my kids. Sometimes when my day gets messed up, I feel rushed and gripe at the kids because they aren't moving as fast as I think they should. My plans get rearranged and I don't find myself praying to God asking to find the good in the day. I find myself being irritated, frustrated, impatient. It really isn't all that different except in the end after all his crying, he probably felt better. Indeed, he had a pretty good day. Where as I think for myself I would have felt worse because I probably would have said or done things that did not make anyone feel better. In the end I have to conclude that kids have a way of showing our weaknesses to us even when they aren't trying to.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Experiments

Homemade volcano
Erupted a little faster than we planned....
Too fast.... he wanted to make another right away......better buy a fifty lb bag of flour to keep up with all these experiments.
We learned about fossils and how make our own.
Fossils turn into spear making.
Bry and Bodie doing some art work
Sister getting in on learning, but would rather learn about flowers than making spears.

Gettin In The Groove

Four weeks into school and I feel like we are really in to the groove of things. So far the process has gone smoother than I thought it would. It has been a challenge for Brylee, but she has started figuring it out as well. We still have our good and bad days there.

Bodie has fallen into the routine quite well, even gets upset sometimes if the order is changed.(like today I had a doctor appt so we did school after we returned) We had one day where he got frustrated and told me he did not like homeschool any more, but he got over it and moved on.

I have to admit I am enjoying the whole process. Yes, there are times that are frustrating as there would be no matter where he went. However, it is also a lot of fun to watch him learn and work through things he has a hard time with. I try very hard to allow him to get frustrated and to work through that.

Also, I have discovered that he is a little bit of a pefectionist. ( I am not so sometimes it is hard to relate) For instance, one day he was struggling with getting a letter written right. I had him watch me do it. (he already had written examples) It was all he could do to allow me to even show him and then he would not let me leave that example on his paper because this was "his work" Instead of taking it as a contribution to his row of letters and letting it be one less letter to write, he insisted I erase it so he could do it over. In some ways this is a great attribute, but it could also get him in trouble too. I want him to have the desire to do his best work, but I also want him to accept help when it is needed. I don't want him to get where he refuses help so much that when he really needs it no one is willing to help. It is a fine line and an interesting problem.

He gets to do lots of great experiments and I knew he would love that as he is very hands on, but I have been fairly surprised at how well he does sitting down and completing worksheets. Sometimes, I sit with him sometimes I don't depending on what it is. There are times that he takes longer to complete tasks then I think he should, but it may be my own impatience. Today, he was really getting distracted with his reading.....losing his place and not paying attention. I was getting irritated. Afterwards, I had two thoughts. One, he is reading a couple of paragraphs at a time with some big words in there. I should not be frustrated with him about that because truly it is great that he is reading right now period. Secondly, there is no reason we can't reread the same story tomorrow since he struggled. I am not under any kind of pressure to rush through this and don't want to make the mistake of making him feel that way either. At this point there is nothing that he hates to do and I do not want to make it that way either. Handwriting was a struggle at first because it is not very exciting, but because he is such a kid that thrives on routine, he has fallen in line with that as well.

Over all I am excited and feel that he is too and that makes it worth it for me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What Do I Do With All These Leftovers?

So today I was trying to figure out what to fix for supper, lamenting over all the left overs in our fridge, and knowing that none of it really sounded good to me.  I suddenly remembered that I have a freezer.

I cook a lot really. Yes, sometimes we have hamburger helper, sometimes Glenn cooks, but over all I try to fix supper on a regular basis. I even have this great cookbook I got from Flylady.net called Saving Dinner. The problem is that all the recipes are for six people. That doesn't sound like all that much, but we usually have tons of food left over. 

Let's face it you can only eat the same meal so many days in a row before tiring of it so we have a lot of wasted food. Today I was looking at all this spaghetti I made the other day and thinking if we don't eat this soon it is going to be wasted.

Now why haven't I already frozen that? I have no idea. If I was better about freezing things then I would have more choices when I needed something fast to fix. Duh.

I don't write this blog so people can realize how slow I am really. I write it so if there are other people who struggle with the same things, they can realize they are not alone!!!

So if there is anyone out there reading this that has great tips on best freezer containers or ways to freeze foods please send tips! I should have been all ears when my mom tried to teach me these things, but believe me I am all ears now!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

mommys struggles and snuggles: One More Way To Get More Organized

mommys struggles and snuggles: One More Way To Get More Organized: "Feeling kind of mellow tonight, probably just tired as I have been up late every night lately. I am trying to get our office (which has serv..."

One More Way To Get More Organized

Feeling kind of mellow tonight, probably just tired as I have been up late every night lately. I am trying to get our office (which has served as a storage room for quite sometime) cleared out so I can move Brylee in there a few months before her baby sister arrives. It has been a slow process. Why is it the more stuff you uncover the more crap you realize you have?

I don't know why for sure, but it really has been the last several years that I realized the importance of going through all of our stuff on a regular basis and throwing it out. Especially after Brylee came it became a priority because we have limited space.

I guess I am a slow learner, but I am slowly getting there. About two weeks ago I started having Bodie do ten minute cleanups in his room every day. All along I would just tell him to clean his room and it would take forever. I realized saying clean your room is kind of vague and overwhelming for a five year old. So I started setting the timer for ten minutes. I could tell if he had really been cleaning or just playing around. If it was hardly any cleaner, he would get another ten minutes. That really got his attention and he started going fast when I would set the timer. In ten minutes if he is really cleaning he can usually get most of his room finished. When I first started doing this he would whine and complain that he didn't want to clean up, but once it became the routine he has fallen in line pretty quickly. I do not expect perfection and we save the deep cleaning for Saturdays. On Saturdays I do have him clean under his bed and his train table......deep cleaning. I help him and we sweep and shake out his rugs and stuff.  This past Saturday he said," Momma there is hardly anything under my bed!" All I thought is why haven't I thought of this before?

The same thing goes for me. I feel like I am chasing my tail sometimes though. That is when I really started getting rid of stuff.....just hauling boxes off to the caring place. If we don't wear it, use it, or play with it then bye bye. I can't even hope to organize or do ten minute clean ups without clearing out the clutter. So with every box I haul off I feel a little closer to achieving my goal......maintaining a house with a little less mess.

Friday, September 3, 2010

mommys struggles and snuggles: Bodie's First Day

mommys struggles and snuggles: Bodie's First Day: "Bodie's official first day of school happened today, Sept 2nd. We got his books on the 1st and had a great time going through everything. He..."

Bodie's First Day

Bodie's official first day of school happened today, Sept 2nd. We got his books on the 1st and had a great time going through everything. He was very excited about one of  his science books because it has a section on tornados, and also loved his encyclopedia. It's got great picture of a lot of things that fascinate him, including, his favorite, a combine.





 


I stayed up late to go through the material, get my instructor guides in order, get my schedule lined out, and read all the notes and tips provided. It really is a lot of info to go through, and I was very impressed with the way they have things organized.



So, having most everything laid out ahead of time, we started today. I have to admit at the end of the day, I am really tired so I am feeling like he probably was as well. We made it through with only a few minor bumps, and I really think after a few days of getting used to how things are lined out it will run even smoother. Well, one can hope anyway.



I saved things like science (that is his favorite) and handwriting( the least exciting) and math for when Brylee was asleep so he had less distractions. Also, the science has a lot of fun links you can look up for extra information on the topic and that is also easier done when she naps.

                                                                   Bodie's   First    Day

When do I nap? Good question.....never, which is why I have to get off here before it gets any later and I find myself face down on my keyboard keys.

Monday, August 30, 2010

mommys struggles and snuggles: WHAT WE DO WHEN IT WONT STOP RAINING

mommys struggles and snuggles: WHAT WE DO WHEN IT WONT STOP RAINING: "WHAT WE DO AROUND HERE FOR FUN ISNOT YOUR ORDINARY FUN: BUILDING A RETAINING WALL TO DIVERT THE WATER SURE BEA..."

mommys struggles and snuggles: I Must Be Crazy

mommys struggles and snuggles: I Must Be Crazy: "Suddenly she sees herself as others might possibly view her, ' She must be crazy.' and she thinks to herself, ' yeah, probably but it might ..."

mommys struggles and snuggles: Days

mommys struggles and snuggles: Days: "So excited because Bodie's school stuff is coming in any day. For about the last week we have been doing a normal school routine. Honestly t..."

Days

So excited because Bodie's school stuff is coming in any day. For about the last week we have been doing a normal school routine. Honestly this is more for Brylee than Bodie. I was not about to start our first week of real school without having her be used to having to entertain herself some. In doing this I realized how little she is ever expected to sit in one place for more than a few minutes. We have been starting out with circle time where I read out loud a short story. I am only expecting her to sit in my lap for about ten minutes right now, but you would think I was killing her.( I really don't get this as I read to her every night and don't encounter a problem) The first five minutes really is her crying and wrestling to get down, and it is just crazy to me that she can not sit for that length of time.

Bodie goes along with just about anything I have planned with very little fussing so far. Of course at this point mostly everything we are doing involves active work. He is a little slower with the worksheets I have printed off for him from the net, but has been good to complete them with very little assistence on my part other than explaining the directions.

One of the things I am looking forward to with his curriculum is not having to come up with so many ideas on my own. It makes my brain tired. On the samples of the teacher's guide that come with his stuff are multiple choices of things you can do that tie in with what you are studying. There are activities listed, books listed, and sometimes field trip ideas. Hopefully I am not being too optimistic, but am kind of looking forward to that. Also, I am excited to just have the planner so week by week is scheduled out (Ii can change it up or vary it as needed) so I know exactly what I need to have ready ect. Right now everyday I just come up with ideas for both Bodie and Brylee. Because of the age difference there is only so much they can do together, which means coming up with totally different ideas for both of them every day. Did I say my brain is tired? Thankfully I have found some really great websites that have lots of toddler activities. However, since they don't have a huge attention span at two, I have to have several things on hand at a time so she does not create her own fun. In truth getting the activity set up and cleaning it up after, is not any more work than it would be if she makes her own fun. Ahhhh, but it is clean up that I am prepared for ahead of time so that makes it better.

We had a pretty busy day today. We did circle time, which involved reading and learning poetry, we did science......planting a few things in the garden and transplanting some plants, then he drew a picture in his journel and wrote a sentence about it, he finished a math worksheet we'd been working on, watched a video, had some play time, make pom pom bugs, and did his reading lesson. He also had some time filling different containers with water and playing with that. By late this afternoon he and Brylee were playing outside and he got all weepy on me. I had asked them both if they wanted some bubbles. Bodie said no and Brylee decided she did. I noticed him crying after a bit and asked him what was wrong. ( he is not a crier) That's when he told me that he really had wanted to play with bubbles. After he quit crying I asked him if he wanted to play with them. He said yes and went outside......only for me to discover tears pouring out once more. When I asked him what was wrong he said he didn't know he just couldn't stop crying. Bizarre, he has never done that. I asked him if he was tired he said yes and wanted to get in the tub. So, I am not sure if I wore him out mentally or exactly what the deal was. I will take note of this and see if more of this behavior follows. 

Well, it will probably be me or Brylee tomorrow. As long as we take turns and don't do it all on the same day........

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Prep is Everything

Here we are a few weeks away from starting school. We will officially start on Sept 1st. Wow! The amount of information out there and ideas are overwhelming and helpful at the same time. I have a folder I am keeping all school related stuff in. Primarily I have been looking to find ways to keep Bry entertained and busy so we can get things accomplished. I have been impressed with what I have found and now have a much better plan in place.

I have not been doing the whole school routine yet, but have been taking it in steps. Today I laid out my plastic tablecloth on the floor and had Bry making noodle bracelets and putting pom poms from one container to another. When she got tired of that she cleaned it up and I put her in her high chair with washable markers and paper. Mean while Bodie did some other things I wanted him to work on. He was able to stay on task and she was not into things I did not want her to be in.

I actually find it easier to have things set up for her to do rather than her making her own fun. It does mean a lot of research on websites for ideas, and it still means clean up no changing that. However, it is contained clean up and all clean up that I have prepared for. 

I am realizing that I make things so much harder for myself when I let them direct themselves. The times that Bodie is most difficult is when I do not have something planned and he just makes his own fun. Lately with 102 temps outside and our outside activity so limited it is a challenge to keep him busy. Yet, consistently if I have a project for him to do he can and will focus. If I don't, I have him running laps around the furniture and jumping off couches. The difference is amazing.

So while it may a lot of prep to keep their minds busy, it is so much easier than what I get if I don't.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Must Be Crazy

Suddenly she sees herself as others might possibly view her, " She must be crazy." and she thinks to herself, " yeah, probably but it might possibly be a little fun on the way."

So, I'm due to have my third child on Christmas day, I thought I was done, but somebody has other plans. I'm sad to say I cried at first, the selfish reaction of one who frequently forgets that God is running this show called my life.

I wasn't sure how I was ever going to be able to handle having another child, was afraid of further losing my identity, or what I perceived my identity to be.

To further up the stakes I have decided to homeschool my son starting the end of this month and knew that I would be beginning that with a toddler and soon after a newborn......and just where was my identity again?

So many fears and doubts crowd your head as a parent anyway and then as a new homeschool parent too that I felt fearful, doubtful, and stressed.

Yet somehow I now have a peace about the whole thing....

I CAN DO THIS!

And it's not because I'm so prepared, even though I have researched and studied. I have covered topics on styles of homeschooling, organization tips, tips on keeping a toddler busy while teaching your older kids, and state requirements. I have printed, written, catagorized, and aquired more info than I can probably sort through in a school year. I have heard both sides and concerns of the issues at hand.

And it's not because I am a glutton for punishment, even though some probably think so. (though there are likely to be days when I feel like that)

And it's not because I'm religious......even though I am a follower of Christ.

It's because, today, I believe this is the best choice for my son's education.

Does this mean I may not change my mind in the future? Absolutely not. This is right for today. Circumstances may change in the future. I reserve the right to decide year by year according to my children, their strengths and weaknesses, according to my strengths and weaknesses.

Some of my weaknesses are already being challenged and exposed and I believe that will bring growth.

I don't think it will be a cake walk. Having a newborn brings its own set of challenges. But, where I felt fear before, now I feel determination and I feel peace....at least today.

There will be people who think I'm crazy, (sssh don't tell anyone it's true) and people who think it's great. I won't get it all right no matter what I do and so I aspire to do the best I can as a parent and teacher and recognize that there will be times that I fail miserably at both as every parent does.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

WHAT WE DO WHEN IT WONT STOP RAINING

WHAT WE DO AROUND HERE FOR FUN IS
NOT YOUR ORDINARY FUN:














BUILDING A RETAINING WALL TO DIVERT THE WATER


















SURE BEATS STAYING INSIDE!                                                                                                                                                         






IN THE END.....A GIRL HAS TO FIND SOMETHING TO WASH HER HANDS IN.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Feeding Time

Feeding time at our place is no ordinary undertaking. We have four horses, three of which are ours, two big labs, and multiple barn cats. The whole feeding routine is kind of complicated right now because we are attempting to get something green, other than four foot tall weeds to grow in our front pasture area. So feeding involves a lot of walking because we have to go to the back pasture to get the two that come up at night. When the four wheeler is working it goes pretty fast. I turn waters on, zoom out and make sure the hoses are all connected, grab one horse, lead him up by four wheeler, and let the other walk up on her own ( she is old and goes straight to her stall.) However, right now the four wheeler is dead so this means a lot of walking time. Average dry walking time is pretty quick, I can move right fast with the right motivation. But, lets forward to this week in Texas where the rain has been fairly noticable as of late. There I am in my lovely camo waders (it isn't pretty but cuts down on the messy) wading, quite literally through four feet scratchy weeds, sweltering heat, one cat that refuses to get more than a couple of feet in front of me and is also well known for plopping down right in your path, and a couple of large dogs darting in and out of the weeds. All considered I can still make fairly good time slipping and sliding my way there. Now add one little tiny girl who is desperate to help you feed to the mix. She carries the scoop with feed in it. She will not let you put it in the bucket you carry, she does not want you to help her in any way, she trips through the weeds and  spills feed out of her scoop, but refuses to move on until she has picked up what she has spilled. At last we are back on track but I have to frequently stop on the way so she can catch up. Right when you are satisfied that she is almost caught up she sees a grasshopped and more feed spills as she tries to get a good look. At last we make it to the back pasture where the other two horses stay out for the night. She insists on dumping the feed herself. The reward for doing all that work? Getting to sit on the horses back for just a few moments while she eats her food is all it takes......oh yea and knowing that momma will feel sorry for you and carry you all the way back to the house.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Walk Across The Desert Can Get You Bit By Sharks

Life has a way of being funny even if you aren't aiming for funny. Sometimes things happen that don't seem so funny at the time and then looking back later you see the humor. Sometimes I don't really see the humor, but others around me think it's a hoot. Infact, I had a friend tell me the other day that I really need to write down the things that happen to me on a day to day basis. Frankly, I don't think my life is interesting enough for a daily dialogue. However, I do realize that I have more than my fair share of "odd" happenings.
 For instance, one day last week, a friend and client of mine came out to ride her horse (she keeps him at our place) She had just been out three days earlier to ride. When we grabbed her saddle I noticed a little web on it. I really didn't think much of it, I mean it was in a barn. Suddenly there were spiders crawling out of her saddle all over the place. Now, I may be a country girl, but I am not big on bugs. One spider that came out went back in the saddle kind of under the fleece and horn. So now we are trying to figure out how to get the spider out and make sure there aren't more before we put it on the horse. Our only thought was to grab a bottle of fly spray and spray it down in there. We did and sure enough out comes that spider and another one. Finally we had managed to rid the saddle of spiders, but not without covering ourselves and the saddle with flyspray. Really I thought I don't know anyone else who has had something so dumb happen. The thing of it is I have stuff like this happen all the time. My old boss used to say I could be walking across the desert and get bit by a shark.......you know I'm starting to think he might be on to something.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Let Spilled Be Spilled Milk

Today I went to my bible study I go to every Wed. It's a woman's bible study and really covers every single topic that you could think of that relates to women and the different struggles they face. It's all about the bondage we put ourselves into and how much more free we would be if we let go of some of the things that keep us from enjoying freedom in Christ. The bondage today was time. I know this is a big thing for me and a lot of women. You only have to look at my earlier post to see I am trying to find ways to stretch the hours I have. I actually feel guilty taking the time to write this because I could be folding a load of laundry, or watering the garden, or sweeping the floor.We, as women, put so much pressure on ourselves that it is no wonder we can't ever find quiet time.
As I was running out of the house to get to my bible study on time and rushing the kids, I thought I am yelling at my kids so I can make it on time to learn how to be more Christ-like. If only I can apply that in my everyday life it would make a difference. I don't have to have anything miraculous happen, I just want to be able to remember in the heat of the moment how to respond in a better way. We get so wrapped up that every day inconveniences become emergencies. I see that response in me a lot. I wanna let go and enjoy these tender years some and not get worked up over the small things........let spilled milk be spilled milk.  

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Organization Is The Key.

Often times it takes doing things the hard way before you learn. Some of you, who are organized by nature, may wonder why this is such a revelation. This is written for those of you who are not naturally organized and are learning every day how much it pays to be so.

 I, for one, am tired of running around in circles and being stressed by trying to keep up with it all. If you are not a naturally born organized person you try adding a few kids to the mix and see if you don't lose your mind. I have seen people with large families who run like a well oiled machine, and large families who don't. In comparing the two, it is the families who are organized that operate the greatest.

I have a long ways to go in getting organized, but one of the biggest things I can do right now is to be a better manager of my time. The other day I was giving my eighteen month old a bath. She likes to play for a bit after her bath. Since leaving her in the bathroom by herself is not an option, I found myself sitting on the toilet and feeling like I was wasting time. One day while sitting there I looked around and saw how terribly messy my bathroom is. It truly is one of the messiest rooms because most people don't see it so I don't clean it as often. I decided from now on while waiting I was going to make it a habit of cleaning or picking up something as I waited. Suddenly, on a consistent basis my bathroom is looking much better.

Why has this not crossed my mind before? Being neat does not come natural for me. This is such a small thing that requires no more than about fifteen minutes. However, when you are spending fifteen minutes in an area on a consistent basis, it is amazing how much cleaner the place becomes.

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day, who also has really young kids, and is not naturally neat. Both of us have the same problem. We clean all day, feel like we never stop working, yet the house does not look clean. She said to me that she starts all these things, but rarely finishes them. I realized that is the same thing I do. All day long I work, but I do not follow through or finish the job very well. I may wash clothes all day, but then they lay on the bed waiting to be put away or folded. At the end of the night when I am ready to fall into bed, there is the mountainous pile of clothes. By this time of night I just move them all unfolded over to my little table. In the morning I start washing again, adding to my already huge problem. I have started forcing myself to fold and put away the ones I get out of the dryer. If you actually turn on the timer, it takes less than ten minutes to fold and put away. It is silly that I can not stick to something for fifteen minutes at a time.

I take on projects that are too big. The other day it was so pretty outside I was itching to get out there and work. Rather than set my timer for fifteen or twenty minutes, I just went to work. I decided to weed all the thistles in my back yard. I went to work and weeded for an hour an a half. ( had no idea that much time went by as my daughter was sleeping and my son was happily digging in the dirt as well) Suddenly, I realized I had thirty minutes before I needed to leave to give some horseback lessons. I flew around trying to gather snacks for my kids, get my daughter up and shoes on, and get out the door to make it on time. Two hours later, when my husband came home, he surely wondered what had happened. The back yard looked like an armadillo had been digging all over, with weeds strewn every where, inside the dishes were all over the counter because I  had not cleaned up our lunch dishes before I went outside, there was stuff flung all over the living room as I had been racing through the house gathering things to take, and piles of unfolded laundry on our bed. Does this sound familiar? I had truly worked hard all day, but if anyone had walked into our house it would look like chaos.

From now on I have to make myself set the timer. If I had pulled weeds for fifteen minutes, I would have also had time to wash and put away the dirty dishes, fold the laundry, get the kids ready and not been rushed. The house would have looked neat and I would not have been all stressed out and yelling at the kids to hurry out the door.

I can look at these patterns of behavior and see that if I were more organized my day would feel and look more productive. It doesn't take special containers or gadgets ( although those might help too) but simply following through and finishing one thing at a time.....little by little.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Enjoy Your Kid Moments

Today started out like an ordinary Monday. My son after sleeping for twelve hours woke up horribly grouchy. First, he wanted cereal for breakfast, then he wanted left over pancakes. After I heated the left over pancakes he started crying because he wanted cereal. Momma  doesn't play that way so he ended up having neither. So we both started out the morning grumpy. How is it, I thought, that he can sleep for twelve hours and wake up grumpy? 
 My next thought is do I want to stay home all day and try to come up with ideas for entertainment so I don't have to hear myself saying "No leave that alone, quit that, stop being mean to sister". No I decided I did not have the energy for that so we loaded up his bicycle and his sister and away we went in search of something cheap and fun.
 We ended up at a little park that has quite an area of sidewalk where he could practice riding his bike. It also had a little playground too. I thought on a holiday we might encounter some other kids, but we had the place to ourselves.
 We had a blast. He got lots of practice riding his bike, I got lots of power walking in to keep up. My daughter got some super fast stroller time. We also had a great time on the playground. Once we got back home everyone was tired, but in much better moods. So enjoy your kid time because it changes from minute to minute. Try to remember next time your kid is having a hard moment that it will be over before you can blink. As for me I am going to try to remember that next time I feel my blood pressure rise........maybe counting to ten does work.  P.S. He ate a super big lunch!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Children Who Struggle To Pay Attention and What You Can Do To Help Them

Does your child have trouble paying attention? Do you find yourself repeating directions over and over?Do you hear teachers saying your child has difficulty staying on task or following directions? 
Being the mother of a very active four year old boy, I have heard and witnessed this behavior.
   First, I do believe that this is normal behavior,especially for boys. I am not stressing out about this. However, if there are things I can do to help my son learn to pay attention it will save myself and his teachers some frustration.
  Here are some fun ideas you can do at home that will improve listening skills. I found a cool website that had a lot of games to play with your kids. We modified it a little to work on listening skills.

Make A Trail of Shoes-

The game involves you using a laundry basket and all family members shoes.( you don't have to use all just some) You make a trail out of shoes and then gather them one pair at a time and put them in the basket. You can count how many pairs there are or gather them by color. We actually got a piece of paper and made a chart. Each family member had a certain color and we made marks for how many shoes each family member had. At the end we would see who had the most. Now here comes the paying attention part. When I explained the game to my son he got so excited that he would not be listening. First he started just grabbing shoes and throwing them in the basket.......wanting to get to the end of the trail to see where it went. I had to direct him to slow down and chart each pair of shoes on the chart. This meant he had to take time to look at the color of each person and mark the chart with the appropriate color. It was all he could do to slow down long enough to make those marks. I also told him from the beginning that he has to make sure he took the laundry basket with him as he moved. He would get so excited he would move on without it. I would say what did you forget? The first few times he would look around until finally he remembered to move it along with him. It was fun to watch him process. 

Picnic Time

This was another really fun thing for us to practice his listening skills. We had an indoor picnic because the weather was so nasty. he was in charge of setting things out. I was very specific with my directions. I had him get out four pieces of bread. It took him a while to get the bread open and by the time he did in his excitement he had forgotten how many pieces I told him. Rather than just tell him I would have him think real hard. He remembered on his own. I asked him to put the bread one the counter when he was finished with it. He tried to put it in the pantry. I stopped him and asked him if that was where I had asked him to put it. He had to think before he finally remembered. Every time I explained why it was important to listen so you could follow directions. I had him set the tablecloth a certain way and put the food a certain way. I wasn't trying to drive him crazy, just get him to listen to what I would say. If he got it right at the first I would praise him for using his listening ears. He never got frustrated because he was so excited about the activity and it was a lot of fun for me as well. 
   In the future we will doing a lot of these type activities to help with his listening ears. I'll post on here if I start noticing whether his attention and listening skills have improved.

 

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