Summer Fun at Home

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I’ve been wracking my brain trying to plan this summer with my five children.  So far, I’ve just got summer school in the mornings for a few weeks.  But, what about the rest of the summer?  Those long, hot, summer days need to be filled with… filled with… FUN!!  Fun for EVERYONE!  Keep those kids busy, busy, busy, so I don’t lose my mind, mind, mind.  HA!

Let’s create a kick-a$$ summer of fun at home, starting with the backyard!

BUBBLES!!!

Fun with Bubbles!

Kids love bubbles, so that’s what they’re getting!  Lots and lots of bubbles.  Bubble wands, bubble guns, bubble machines, a bubble paradise.  Making your own bubbles makes this activity cost effective.

 Just mix up some water, sugar, and dish soap!  So easy, right?

You can also make your own bubble wands with an old wire coat hanger, or just pick up some cheep plastic ones from your local convenience store or order from Amazon.com

 

WATER!!!!

What is a hot summer without sprinklers, squirt guns, and water balloons?  It’s crap, just absolute crap!  At least that’s what I’m assuming my kids are thinking.  And, I think I’d have to agree.  I’m thinking we’ll get a fun, silly kids sprinkler.  You know, the ones that wiggle around and spray everywhere.  Or, maybe to avoid excessive screaming, we’ll just use the boring predictable one to start.  I’ve also been wanting to try out the water balloons that come in a big bunch and fill up in under 60 seconds, or is it under 30 seconds?  I forget.  I just remember that I saw them at Costco, in a huge box of course.  O, and a water table with bath toys sounds like hours of fun for my youngest boys!

SAND, SAND, SAND!

Kids could spend hours at the beach!  So, why not make them feel like they’re at the beach by getting a sand box or sand table?  Or, to create a portable beach box, just take a big plastic storage bin you’re not using at the moment, fill it with sand and Play-doh toys, a play kitchen set, and any beach sand toys you may have.  You may want to put this somewhere with shade to avoid sunburn, heatstroke, or dehydration during those hours of fun they’re going to have with it.

 

CLOUD WATCHING… IT’S A HORSE!

 

 

 

 

 

MOW THE LAWN, BACK AND FORTH, BACK AND FORTH…

 

MORE IDEAS:

TENT/FORT/PLAY HOUSE for PRETENDING (or HIDING:)

NERF TARGET PRACTICE

CHALK, CHALK, EVERYWHERE!

PLAY SET, SWINGS, SLIDE, CLIMBING FUN!

I will try to add more ideas as the summer unfolds.  For now, I just want to get these ideas out there so that you can plan the rest of your summer.  Have fun in the sun everyone!

 

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Why is Sleep So Important?

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When you have a newborn, a sick child, or you just can’t sleep because your brain won’t turn off, it can be hard getting enough sleep.  But, how much sleep is really enough sleep?  And, how important is sleep really?  Why do we need sleep?  And, what happens when we don’t get enough sleep?

Sleep has been a struggle for me since my first child was born over 9 years ago.  Even after each of my babies started sleeping through the night, it was still hard getting to bed and falling asleep at a decent hour.  So, I’ve been through the effects of sleep deprivation, and it’s really no joke.

Sleep is important.  Not getting the sleep your body needs each night to refresh itself can lead to some serious side-effects.  These are just a few that I’ve experienced.

  1. Loss of Energy:  This, of course, is a given.  If you’re not getting sleep, you’re going to be tired and lack energy.  Depending on the severity of sleep deprivation, it may be difficult to keep moving throughout the day.  Your eyes may feel heavy, as well as the rest of your body at times.
  2. Irritability:  To put it plainly, you’re going to be crabby.  Just like a two year-old who misses a nap, it’s going to be tough keeping your emotions in check.  This can lead to a strain on relationships in addition to feelings of self-hatred and guilt.
  3. Depression:  When you feel tired and crabby all the time, it can be easy to slip into a state of depression.  When you feel depressed, you lose the desire to be social and can isolate yourself from others.  Again, not a good thing for relationships and even worse for your mental health.  This can also lead to a vitamin D deficiency if you’re not getting out of the house.
  4. Weakened Immune System:  That’s right!  Not getting enough sleep can make you sick!  And, everyone knows that being sick can disrupt whatever precious amount of sleep you do get.  So, this can get serious pretty fast if you don’t fix the problem.  No amount of vitamins and/or medicine, as great as those are, will help you out here if you’re not getting that much needed rest.
  5. Loss of Concentration:  Since your body hasn’t been given enough time to rework the wiring in your brain during sleep, you can suffer from what I call a fuzzy brain.  It can be hard concentrating on important tasks when you feel like your head was just stuffed with cotton or you have a few screws loose in there.

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body

 

 

So, how do we combat against sleep deprivation?  First, I think we need to look at the underlying causes.  The reason for my sleep deprivation may be different from yours and everyone else, but here are a few of the main ones.

crying_baby

  1. Stress/Anxiety:  This is a big one and it can come in all different forms.  What it really comes down to, though, is how your mind/body is handling life and everything it throws at you.  This was the main one for me this past year, since there are many things in my life I have little or no control over right now.
  2. Responsibilities:  Sometimes it’s a sick child that needs tending to, or maybe it’s a project that needs to be completed.  Whatever it is, you’re responsible for it/them and you’re losing sleep as a result of that responsibility.
  3. Caffeine/Sugar:  How’s your diet?  When you’re feeling tired, it’s easy to reach for that extra cup of coffee and eat whatever is quick and easy.  This is another one I struggle with.  I love a hot cup of coffee with flavored creamer in the morning and I’m not very good at preparing healthy meals in advance.  Still working on this one.
  4. Disorder/Sickness:  Maybe it’s just a stuffy nose keeping you up or maybe it’s a little more complicated than that.  Getting uninterrupted sleep when there’s a battle going on in your body can seem impossible at times.

Now, think about what is keeping you up at night.  Is there anything you can do about it?

Yes!  There is hope! Take Your Pick.

  1. Take a vacation to relieve stress
  2. Write in a journal or pray to empty your brain before going to sleep
  3. Drink soothing tea like chamomile
  4. Cut back on caffeine and sugar and eat a well balanced diet
  5. Sticking to a routine can help everyone in your household sleep better
  6. The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night
  7. Cut back on screen time by limiting T.V and computer usage
  8. Get your heart rate up every day and make it fun!
  9. Get out of the house and into the sunshine
  10. See your doctor for more options

 

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Eating Healthy With Kids

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I have to confess, I most certainly have a sweet tooth and would be content to eat nothing but a bowl of ice cream for dinner.  But, ever since I had my first baby seven years ago, I’ve been struggling to be a good role model for my kids when it comes to eating healthy.  I may look like I have my eating under control, but even thin people struggle with the foods they eat.

We have everything at our finger tips here in the USA and in many other places around the world.  Just around the corner is a McDonalds, Culvers, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Dominos, and Dairy Queen!  I’m sure I’ve missed a few more fast food places in that list, but I’m sure you know how I’m feeling.  We all have to drive past those places on our way to school, work, the store, and even at the most vulnerable time when we’re all hungry after church on Sundays!  Am I right?  The kids never fail to ask if we could just stop for a while at McDonalds or get some ice cream at Dairy Queen.  The kid inside all of us would love to do that very thing every day.  But, we know exactly what that would lead to and we don’t want to go down that path.  Not only would our belts and budgets be busted, we would also experience the quantity and quality of life God has blessed us with diminishing with every cheeseburger and blizzard we buy.

There is a verse in scripture I was recently given a new perspective on.  Some parents take this verse to mean that if we teach our children about Christ, they will eventually believe and be saved.  I don’t, however, believe this verse has anything to do with salvation.

The verse is Proverbs 22:6 ESV

Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

I’m sure you’re asking “What does that have to do with healthy eating?”  I’m getting there!  You’ll just have to bare with me, ok?

When you see the word “train” in scripture, very often it is used when speaking of war.  Soldiers were trained for battle so they would have the best chance of survival.  Although in most cases we are not training our children for a real physical battle, the Bible talks about another type of battle.  James 4 addresses the war within us that wages each and every day.  It is a war of “passions.”

We need to be training our children to face these passions at an early age and overcome them.  We all know that it is much easier to develop good habits when we’re young than to try breaking bad habits when we are older.  I believe that is at the root of that verse.  If we train our children to eat healthy and develop other good habits, they will not depart from those good habits when they are older.

eating

We should be establishing these good habits to ensure a bright future for our children and their children.  Not only are we at war within ourselves, we are also at war as a nation.  Our country is fighting obesity, diabetes, depression, and so many more conditions that are fueled by the foods we eat and our lack of physical activity.  If we fight against these bad habits now, our children are less likely to struggle as we do.

Throughout my childhood, and now into my adulthood, I have struggled with a sugar/carb addiction.  I never established good eating habits and I am now paying for it.  While in high school, I used to eat Fruity Pebbles for breakfast and come home after school to devour a few scoops of my favorite ice cream or get a blizzard at Dairy Queen after Tennis practice.  Sugar was my reward for almost everything.  It was my reward for waking up in the morning!  And, don’t even get me started on my birthday favorites.  Ok, I’ll get me started.  My birthday included French Toast (made with Wonder Bread) piled high with butter and powdered sugar, Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese for lunch, and Pizza for dinner.  And, don’t forget the birthday cake made out of Oreos and Cool Whip!

You may be asking, “How are you not overweight?”  Well, the answer is very simple really.  I never ate large portions.  I would eat throughout the day in small portions.  This kept my metabolism up.  To this day, I still have a hard time finishing an entire meal.  It’s just not natural for me.

Although I may have my weight under control, my emotions have been taken on a rollercoaster.  When I eat nothing but carbs and sugar, I become very irritable and sometimes depressed.  My emotions are all over the place and I have a hard time focusing on tasks.  Being a Mom of four young children already keeps my emotions on high alert and keeps me from completing tasks.  I certainly don’t need to be feeding my frustrations with “crabby calories.”  Eating donuts in the morning for breakfast might be fun while you’re eating them, but just wait a little while after that and you’ll be more likely to snap at little Timmy for spilling his milk again.

 

It’s important to find a way to kick your sugar/carb cravings.

 

Teaching our children good manners, healthy eating, cleanliness, and self control at an early age will ensure a life of good habits and can even give them a better chance of survival in this world we live in.  A rude, unhealthy slob with no self control will not survive and thrive the way we want our children to.

 

Breaking Bad Habits

If you are one of the many people that struggle with a sugar addiction or you’re just looking for ways to change your families eating habits, here are a few simple steps you can take to become healthier.

Step 1:  Education

Get Educated!  Sit down as a family and watch a documentary on food and how it affects your health.  You can find some good videos at http://www.documentarystream.com/category/health/food/.  After you discover the facts as a family, discuss your findings.  Then, find some healthy recipes for meals you would all enjoy.

Step 2: Find Healthy Alternatives

Before you go on a rampage and throw out all of your favorite treats, you’ll want to take it one step at a time.  First, try replacing those treats with a healthier version of them.  I know these may cost more, but you are paying to keep the nutrients that your body uses to properly process the sugars.

 10 Healthy Alternatives to Kids Favorites

  1. Replace fruit snacks and gummy bears with dried fruit or Fruit Roll-Ups Simply Fruit Rolls
  2. Replace refined sugar with date sugar, a whole food sweetener made by simply grinding up dates.  Date sugar can be used to replace white sugar or brown sugar in most baked goods and it tastes just as sweet!   Check out my recipe for date brownies!
  3. Replace chocolate with carob chips or powder.  Read about the benefits of carob at http://amazinghealth.com/AH-health-carob-chocolate-methylxanthines
  4. Replace ice cream and yogurt with unsweetened fruit smoothies.  Try the recipe book Green Smoothie Recipes & other Healthy Smoothie Recipes to get you started.  Or, just come up with your own smoothie recipes and have fun with the kids!
  5. Replace regular peanut butter with Natural or Organic Peanut Butter with NO Sugar.
  6. Replace Pancake Syrup with 100% Pure Maple Syrup
  7. Replace Jams and Jellies with 100% Fruit Preserves
  8. Have designated “snack” times throughout the day to avoid hungry tummies and over eating at meal time.  Great snacks include fruit, string cheese, carrots, and dried fruit and nut mixes.  Read about the benefits of Snacking.
  9. Try to have your children help or just be in the kitchen with you while you are making dinner.  They will be more likely to eat what you’re making if they can participate somehow in the meal preparation.  And, maybe they’ll learn something!
  10. Instead of delivery or frozen pizzas, try making your own!  My family and I love socca pizza and it’s really easy to make.  We got our recipe from the Simply Sugar and Gluten Free Recipe Book.

 

Step 3:  Drink More Water!!

Drinking more water will help you stay hydrated and keep you from over eating.  Sometimes your body just needs water, not a bar of chocolate!

Step 4:  Stay Active

For some reason, this is the hardest thing to do for most people.  As a mom, I get tired just watching my kids jump around.  It also doesn’t help when your body is being dragged down by junk food.  The first week I cut out refined sugar, I felt horrible!  I didn’t want to do anything or talk to anyone.  All I wanted to do was focus on getting through the week without putting a spoon full of ice cream in my mouth!  But, once I got past the first week, I found that I had much more energy.  Not only that, I also felt less irritable and had a clear head.

Once I got my energy back, I started to force myself to exercise.  I couldn’t understand why it was still so hard for me since I had the energy to get through the workouts now.  Suddenly, it dawned on me!  Exercise can be fun!  I just had to find an activity that I loved doing.  I tried going for a run and nearly died of boredom.  I know I love tennis, but now it’s the middle of winter.  I also don’t have the time to go to a fitness center or join any yoga or zumba classes.  So, I had to think of something I could do at home while taking care of my four kids.

One day, I finally found the ear buds/headphones I had been looking for.  I plugged them into my iPod and started dancing around the house as I did laundry, vacuumed, picked up toys and clothes, etc.  Not only did this give me a great workout, it made me happy!  The kids found it amusing and I’m sure they noticed that Mommy was in a better mood.  I had finally found something active that I loved to do… dancing!

Step 5:  Treat Yourself!

While you may have gotten rid of all the junk food in your house, there are still those temptations outside of the house.  Once you’ve cleansed your body and gotten into a clear state of mind, you most likely won’t crave the junk anymore.  But, don’t fool yourself!  Those memories of sinking your teeth into a gooey glazed donut will not fade as quickly as you hope.  You can still treat yourself once a week without giving in to your addiction once again.  You’ll find the less you eat the sugar and carb filled treats, the easier it is to pass them up and only have them once in a while.

It’s important to teach our children that cake and ice cream are for special occasions.  They shouldn’t be something you keep in the house to eat after every meal.  Once that has been established, you and your children will begin to enjoy the healthy treats.  Your interest in different flavors will grow, and life will be that much more exciting!

 

 

 

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Save on Diapers, Entertainment, and More + Free Shipping

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I spent almost the entire day searching for the best deal on diapers.  Right now, my two youngest are in diapers.  So, we could really benefit from getting the best deal on diapers possible.  I didn’t want to find just any one-time deal.  I wanted to find the lowest price per diaper, and I wanted to get free shipping.  And, by ordering online, we will also be saving time and money on gas.

As I started my search, I found the obvious choice.  I didn’t even have to finish the chart I started!

 

Incomplete Diaper Price Chart

In the end, I signed up for Amazon Prime with Amazon Mom.  Amazon Prime includes free instant video and music , a 5% discount on products including diapers, free shipping, and a free Kindle book each month.  So, instead of keeping our Netflix account open for about $8.50/month, we can get the same thing through Amazon Prime for $6.50.  This gives us a discount on entertainment, select products including diapers, AND we get free shipping!  Plus, signing up for Amazon Mom/Family is totally free and gives you an additional 20% off diapers!

Once the final calculations were done on size 3 diapers, it came to 0.17/Huggies Diaper, 0.17/Pampers Diaper, and an amazing 0.13/LUVS Diaper!  Deals on Chemical Free diapers included 0.23/Seventh Generation Diaper, 0.23/Huggies Pure & Natural Diaper, and 0.24/Earth’s Best Diaper. *Prices are subject to change.

So, you just pick your preferred diaper brand and sign up to get a box shipped to you every month or every 2 months depending on the quantity in each box of diapers.  I was surprised how easy it was.

 

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What is a “Me Day?”

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Candace Me DayOur family just loves the cartoon “Phineas and Pherb.”  If you have never seen it, you have got to give it a chance.  This past weekend, I was thinking about one of the episodes where Candice is determined to give herself a “Me Day.”  Most of her summer days are spent trying to “bust her brothers” as they are building or doing something crazy and amazing.  But, this day was different.  While watching this particular episode with my kids, I began to imagine myself as Candice.  She looked so comfortable and relaxed in her robe and slippers just zoned out in front of the TV.  Why couldn’t I have a day like that?  A day where I could just turn myself completely off.  A day with no responsibilities and no parental obligations.  A day that I could call a “Me Day?”

Then, I realized that I’m not a cartoon.  I am no longer a teenage girl with a long summer break.  Nor am I a robot that can just be switched on and off.  I am a wife and a lover, a mother and a teacher, a sister and a friend.  I am a child of God, an intelligent human being, a lover of all that is good.  I am a blogger, an inspirational book reader, a gluten-free baker and cook.  I am a movie critic, a ballerina at heart, a quiet yet quirky soul.  I am a seeker of truth, an often overwhelmed thinker, a half-done homemaker.  I am Me!

So, what IS a “Me Day?”

To me, a “Me Day” is a day in which I am truly myself.  A day that is filled with everything and everyone that I love.  When I get to the end of a “Me Day,” I have the feeling of calm confidence and accomplishment.  I will have gotten up early to take a shower and make a large breakfast (something I did not do today!)  I will have spent time in quiet prayer and devotion before my oldest heads off to school.  I will have spent time playing with my children, connecting with friends and family, and writing notes of encouragement to my husband.  I will have danced to at least one song.  I will have eaten balanced meals and taken a walk to the park with my children.  I will have spent time teaching my children something new and written an inspiring blog post.  In the evening, I will have made a healthy and delicious meal for dinner.  After dinner, my husband would have taken over the parenting for the day while I get out of the house.  At the end of the day, I am in bed by 9pm for time with my husband.  By 10:30pm, we have talked about our day and spent time praying and preparing for the next day.  That would be my “Me Day.”

DepressionMost of my days, however, I would not call “Me Days.”  Most of my days start out with me throwing on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt or sweatshirt.  I get out the cereal for everyone to eat and quickly read through a Bible verse.  I rush through my morning, fill the dishwasher, and start folding laundry.  My 5 yr old and 2 yr old watch educational television while I take care of the baby.  Once the baby goes down for a nap, I plop on the couch to watch TV with my kids.  After a morning inside, we eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and take naps.  Since I have not eaten healthy food or had any exercise so far, my energy level is low and I don’t feel like doing much.  I sit down at my computer and have nothing to blog about, so I spend an hour or two watching a show on Hulu or browsing the web.  The kids get up from naps and I’ve hit another low point.  With the kids energy levels at their highest and my energy level at it’s lowest, this causes tension.  I rush to get laundry and dishes put away before it’s time to start dinner.  Since I didn’t spend any time thinking about dinner, I only have enough time to make something simple and high in carbohydrates.  My husband comes home with no desire to take on the mess he sees and quickly heads for the couch after grabbing a couple bites of pasta.  Since the kids have had no outlet for their energy, we spend the evening trying to relax while yelling for the kids to stop jumping around.  We rush to get them in bed and calm them down.  Exhaustion sets in and we both fall asleep by 9:30pm before saying a word to each other.

Normally, after a day like that, it is hard to recover.  I quickly realize that turning myself off like that only makes me feel worse.  It does not refresh the body or the soul when you have a day like that.  In fact, being unhealthy, tired, and overwhelmed can lead to depression.  Not what I’m going for!

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10

We were not created to work ourselves into the ground.  Nor were we created to sit around and do nothing all day.  God has created us to “do good works.”  Those good works generally involve being a servant to others.  If we are not serving others on a daily basis, then we are not being who God has created us to be.  That is how I see it.  If I’m not being who God created me to be, then I’m not being ME!  How can I have a “Me Day” when I’m not being who God has called ME to be?

Now, I have never asked my readers a real question before, and I’m not sure If anyone is even going to read this.  But, I’d like to know.  What does your “Me Day” look like?  Try to picture a day where you’d feel the most like yourself.  I would LOVE to encourage you to be who God has created you to be!

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Public School or Home School?

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Abigail and Eliza
2nd Gr and K-4

We’ve had a lot going on these past couple weeks.  It all started when my husband and I finally went on a long overdue date, thanks to our wonderfully gracious Mothers who offered to watch the kids for a few hours.  We were able to talk through many things that have been looming over our heads during the summer months.  One topic in particular was the topic of this year’s homeschooling curriculum.  I had been asking him for weeks to help me get things set in stone for our 7 year old to start 3rd Grade Math and 2nd Grade Reading, Writing, Science, and so on.  We had gone through most of her 2nd Grade workbooks last year, but we were interrupted by my husband’s new job and our newborn baby boy, Timmy.

My husband had been able to help with homeschooling up until March of this year when he started his job as a web developer for a new company and was no longer able to work from home twice a week.  I had especially been needing help since our baby boy, Timmy, was born in December of last year.  Plus, I’m not always on top of things when he’s not there cheering us on.  So, needless to say, we were feeling a bit overwhelmed by the upcoming 2012-2013 school year.  Our heads just weren’t in the game like they should be.

Our conversation began over a couple of mocha shakes around 7pm.  We knew it was going to be a long night, so coffee sounded like a good choice at the time.  We began talking about what our schedules were going to look like for the Fall Season.  My husband talked about his desire to improve his health and activity level and I expressed the same desire.  We talked about the time we would need to focus on that and added that into the schedule.  Then, we began discussing our spiritual health.  We both would be signing up for our separate small groups in addition to our Sunday morning meetings with another couple at our church.  These things were all added to the schedule. Add in the date nights and grocery shopping trips every week and we had a full schedule to say the least.  Plus, my husband decided then and there that he would be signing up for a History course at our area technical college!  Well, that would mean that he would be maxed out for time.

After taking a few good sips of our mocha shakes, we came to the topic of education for our children.  Since being married, we had always thought that homeschooling would be a great adventure and superior to any public school education.

Some things we thought homeschooling would offer:

  • Flexibility with schedule and curriculum
  • A closer relationship with our children
  • A faith-based alternative to public school curriculum
  • The ability to advance our children as we see fit
  • Giving our children one-on-one teaching
  • Allowing our children to take part in daily activities and chores
  • A superior education and learning experience

What we’ve now discovered that homeschooling offers (in addition to those listed above):

  • An often stressful environment for parents with many small children
  • Distractions are everywhere!
  • Organization is a MUST!
  • Learning can take place at any time, not just during the day
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  Having Mom in your face every day doesn’t.
  • “… with many advisors they succeed” Proverbs 15:22.  Having more than one teacher is a good thing!
  • A superior education and learning experience may be hindered at home

After discussing our findings from the previous homeschooling year, we trudged on to our options for the upcoming school year.  It was already mid-August!  What could be done?  We reflected on our public school experience and the statistics for the schools in our area.  We knew that our children would be in good hands if we were to enroll them in the public elementary school close to our home.  Our county schools are known for educational excellence.  If we were living in the city, we would not even have considered enrolling them in a public school.  But, we love the county we live in and know many of the people in it.

Our conclusion?  Add “start 2nd grade at the local elementary school” on to the schedule for our 7 yr old and call it a night!

The weeks following our date night were busy to say the least.  My days have been filled with paper work, e-mails, and phone calls to the school.  I was able to get my 7 yr old, Abigail, enrolled in 2nd grade and couldn’t be happier about our decision.  Everyone at the school has been very helpful and Abigail is super duper excited to start school next week!  I will still be homeschooling my soon-to-be 5 yr old (on Sept. 7th) since I couldn’t get her enrolled in Kindergarten for this year.  She is sad, but I know she will work extra hard this year to prepare for Kindergarten next year.  She may even be able to skip right to 1st grade!  Not sure she’ll want to, though.

We’re all excited for Fall and look forward to a year filled with learning and growing!

 

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Finding the Time

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Too Busy Poem

I often struggle with time management.  I try to sit down every night and write a schedule out for the next day.  But, unfortunately, many nights I go to bed feeling overwhelmed.  And so, the next day I scramble to get things done.  I don’t think about slowing down to read to my 4 yr old or listen to one of my 7 yr olds jokes that make absolutely no sense.  I do not think about slowing down to interpret my 2 yr olds babbling.  And, why would I even need to stop and make funny faces for my 8 month old when he has three older siblings that will happily accommodate him AND add singing and dancing for an extra laugh?

Kids

Timmy, Abigail, Ethan, and Eliza

Those things all seem to take a back seat to the laundry and dishes, the bills and financial planning, and the meal planning and grocery shopping.  Sometimes I wish I had more time.  But, after really thinking about it, would it really make a difference?  Probably not.  I would still feel overwhelmed and race through the day like I’m running a marathon.  I do know this, though.  I NEED to find the time to just enjoy life.  I NEED to build a relationship with each of my children.  And, I NEED to do it NOW.  This verse comes to mind: James 4:17, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

No more excuses.  And you know what?  I bet the laundry and dishes will still get done somehow.  The bills will get paid and our future will be secure (in the Will of God.)  And, our family will still have breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.  If not, at least we will have love for each other and a clear conscience before God.  Who says you can’t live on love… and PB&J sandwiches?

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Gluten Free Banana Bread Pancakes

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No Gluten/Wheat

No Refined Sugar

All-natural ingredients

Good to the last bite!

 

Gluten Free Banana Bread Pancakes

Gluten Free Banana Bread Pancakes

Gluten Free Banana Bread Pancakes

1/2 c. Buttermilk (powder)

2 c. gluten free all-purpose flour (usually a combination of rice flour and starches)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 cups water (more water for thin pancakes and less for thicker)

2 mashed bananas

1 tsp lemon juice

1/4 c. coconut oil/vegetable oil

2 eggs

 

Blend dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients.  Mix well and scoop onto 375 degree skillet.  Turn over when bubbles start to form.  When done, serve with sliced banana and 100% all-natural maple syrup.

Yummy!  My kids LOVED these and so did I.

Healthy Kids Banana Pancakes

Gluten Free Banana Bread Pancakes

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10 Best Apps for Homeschooling: Early Education (Pre-K, K5, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, and 3rd Grade)

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The iPad and iPod have been instrumental in educating our young daughters. They use the iPad almost every day to learn and play. Our oldest daughter, who is 7 now, has been using the iPad and iPod for homeschooling since she was 3. Our youngest daughter, now 4 yrs old, also uses the iPad and iPod for homeschooling. I’ve found that my oldest daughter has excelled through this type of interactive learning. She has a very “hands on” personality and enjoys learning more when she can interact with it. On the other hand, my youngest daughter has been doing well with, and enjoying, her workbooks. But, she has also come to love the educational apps we have gotten for her on the iPad and iPod. Every day there are new, fun children’s educational apps introduced for the iPad and the iPod/iPhone.

We believe that the use of tablets, such as the iPad, in schools and for education will increase exponentially as our children get older. We would be doing them a disservice if we did not teach them the latest technology. The iPad and the iPod have ushered in a new form of homeschooling. It’s a form of homeschooling that is more efficient and more fun! As a parent, I’m always looking for the best ways to educate my children. With the iPad, I feel confident I’ve found the best tool for teaching my children at home.

 

Eliza with the iPad

My 4 yr old with the iPad

10 Quality Educational Apps We Use for Home Schooling and for Fun

  1. TeachMe: Toddler, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade
    These educational apps are by far my favorite homeschooling apps for the iPad and iPod!  They’re only $0.99 each and my children love them!  They are fun, educational, and super easy to navigate.  You can also change settings and add/delete users quickly.  I love that I can just hand the iPad or iPod to my girls and they can navigate through each app easily with little to no help from me.  I can not say enough good things about these apps.  They are wonderful!
  2. PBS Kids Video
    This is the best free app for early educational videos on the iPad and the iPod.  I love that my 2 and 4 yr old can watch Curious George, Sesame Street/Elmo, and Cat in the Hat for free without being subjected to advertisements.  We also have Netflix, but I would rather have them watching only educational videos.  PBS Kids Video is easy to navigate and I feel comfortable letting them use the app unsupervised.  My 7 yr old also likes this app.  She watches Arthur, Word Girl, and some of the other educational shows on PBS Kids Video for iPad and iPod.
  3. BrainPop Jr and BrainPop
    The BrainPop Jr and BrainPop Featured Movie are free educational video apps that add just a little extra knowledge to our weekly routine.  These apps offer 1 free video and quiz each week, but you can upgrade at any time in order to view more videos and take the quizzes that go with them.  (WARNING:  The videos available through this app may teach the theory of evolution and may need to be monitored by young earth creationist parents and others apposed to the theory of evolution.)
  4. Kids Reading Comprehension: Level 1 and Level 2
    These reading comprehension apps are a great choice for any child that is ready to read on their own.  My 7 yr old has gone through Level 1 and is now going through Level 2.  I love these apps because they aren’t only teaching reading comprehension.  Each Level is filled with short, educational reads that contain photos and illustrations.
  5. Monkey Preschool Apps
    Monkey Preschool Lunchbox and Monkey Math School Sunshine are great apps for 3 and 4 yr olds.  My 4 yr old daughter has lots of fun just playing with them.  The fact that they are educational is just a bonus.  The 99 cent price tag is great too!
  6. ABC Pocket Phonics
    When it comes to learning how to read and write, this app is a great option.  It is great for that extra practice time that is often needed, but not always wanted by you know who.  My girls never had a problem sitting down with this app and using the “magic pen” with the iPad.  It’s a great addition to our Reading/Writing time and a welcome tool for homeschooling.  The full version of this app is $2.99 and well worth it.  A great find!
  7. Stack the States and Stack the Countries
    If you’re looking to get your youngster started on geography, then these are a great way to get them excited about it.  These geography apps for kids are colorful, cute, and fun.  Stack the States is only $0.99 and you can get Stack the Countries for just a dollar more.
  8. Telling Time
    A wonderfully customizable teaching tool for learning how to tell time.  I can start my youngest homeschooler out with the simple hourly and half past analog recognition.  After those are mastered, I’ll just switch on the quarter past analog recognition and move forward from there.  A very clean and comfortable app.  Love it!  $0.99 for an app you can grow with.  The developer has many other apps I would like to try soon.  If you’d like to check them out, the website is www.grasshopperapps.com.
  9. MindSnacks: Learn French, German, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and English
    After going through a French immersion week, my 7 yr old was delighted with these free language apps.  Although the first level is the only free part, it’s enough for a beginner to start off with.  We may choose to upgrade once she has the counting down.
  10. Nth Fusion Apps
    The app that my daughter is using right now is the Geometry 4 Kids app.  It teaches geometry basics in a clear and easily understandable manor.  I’m excited to try out all of the other early education apps by this developer.  I will definitely be getting the Book Report app and the Body Organs app.

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