Monday, October 25, 2010

My Secret Weapon: Wilton

There is so much online that no one can know everything that is out there.  But here is another thing that I love.  I love it because, with this site, I can give my nut allergic sons something like what others take for granted . . . an awesome professional tasting birthday cake!

Remember Wilton, the company that sells all of the wonderful cake and muffin pans?  Well, like most companies these days they have a website, and part of it is devoted to recipes!  Mmm, yummm!

While I can’t generally go to a bakery and just order a cake for my children for their birthdays (unless it's one of the few nut-free bakeries), I know I can go to Wilton's recipe page and find just the recipe that I want.  I can adjust the ingredients to suit their allergy (ie. use vanilla extract in place of almond extract) And I know that it will even just as good as any bakery cake, probably even better.

All of the cake, cookie, cupcake, dessert, filling, and icing recipes you could want, all in one place.  After trying one of their recipes, you'll never want to buy a can of frosting or a box cake again!

And if you need ideas for decorating your cake, brownies, etc.  they have that too!  Click here for ideas for decorating your favorite baking projects.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Excitement Of Learning

9-2-2010 11-49-37 AM_0167I found a lid on a pot that my son had been using to boil water for tea.  Why did he use a lid?  Flashback to our earlier science lesson about Venus . . .

We are using Apologia's "Exploring Creation With Astronomy" for our science textbook this year, and in our study about Venus it talks about the thick atmosphere of clouds being like a lid on a pot of boiling water.  The lid keeps the heat in the pot (and the water boils faster).  The atmosphere on Venus keeps it hot all day and night.

Remembering that, my son wanted his tea water to boil faster so he put a lid on the pan while he heated the water.  He was heating tea water and performing a science experiment at the same time! 

Isn’t homeschooling great?  I love the fact that I know exactly what he is learning, and we can use that to make connections between “school time” and “regular family time”.  We congratulated him on his experiment, and hopefully another lesson was forever cemented in his mind. 

Hmm . . . I wonder which awesome Apologia science book we’ll decide to use next school year? Winking smile

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Yes, I’d Like The Garment Of Praise Please

The following two verses have come to me as the “Verse of the Day” from Bible Gateway the today and yesterday.  I have been receiving a verse everyday for awhile now but these two are especially timely.  I’ll tell you why they mean so much below each verse below.

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

I want to believe this so bad right now.  With the chaos of life swirling around me, I need for this to be true.  And the beautiful part of this is it is.  The problem isn’t that it isn’t true, the problem is that for a time I became caught up in the chaos, and took my eyes off the blessing.  Instead of delighting in all that the Lord has blessed us with, I let myself stay in frustration over what isn’t going well right now. 
Our school year is going well, and we have everything we need to have an abundant school experience this year.  Grammy blesses us with the means to provide some of our extracurricular activities.  We are healthy (for the most part), our children have clothes to wear (in abundance thanks to hand-me-downs), and food to eat.  We have a beautiful 60 year old house with beautiful original woodwork to live in, and we can pay all of our bills.  We have a beautiful little family, and a wonderful group of friends.
But a couple of people have been upset with me lately over petty things, the house needs so much work, and our house organization is . . . not working right now.  My husband still does not have steady work, and the unemployment is not going to go on forever.  The job situation is bleak and I’m sick of not having money.  Why am I focusing on this?!  Where is my delight?  He is taking care of us!  And this is where today’s “Verse of the Day” comes in . . .

Psalm 51:12
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

I’ve had so much joy in the past, and now I find myself getting bogged down.  That’s just where Satan wants me.  Why do I let him do that to me?!  Argggg!!

I was talking to a spirit led friend of mine the other day.  She told me about the importance of positive affirmation in the face of adversity.  When we are negative in our statements about what is happening in our life, we let Satan steal our joy.  It burns us out physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

“I'm Trading My Sorrows” as Darrell Evans says in his song.  I am making a conscience decision to believe that God will bring my husband steady work.  He will continue to provide for us.  I will focus on doing what I can do to better organize our home, and continue to enjoy this wonderful homeschooling journey that we are on.  We will enjoy the blessing of living where we are living until God moves us.  I will try to bless my husband, and others that bless me in so many ways.  And I will serve those I can in the ways that God provides for me to do so.  I will be grateful for what God has provided for us, instead of focusing on what we don’t have.

I will put on “a garment of praise, instead of a spirit of despair" as Isaiah 61 says. 

Thank you Lord for my family and friends. Please help them to know the same blessing and joy that they bring me.  Please give us all “a garment of praise, instead of a spirit of despair” and help us to focus on your blessing so that you may restore the joy that only you can give, especially in the tough times.  Amen

Friday, October 15, 2010

25% Off Any Lapbook Project Pack At In The Hands Of A Child


25% Off Any Lapbook Project Pack

Use Coupon Code: HandsOnLearning (case sensitive)

This Offer Expires November 1st, 2010

In The Hands Of A Child is a wonderful company.  They produce many wonderful lapbooks!  Almost literally every subject that you can think of is covered in one (or more) of their lapbooks.  Each lapbook is a versatile wealth of cross curricular fun and learning for kids of many age groups (each lapbook is designated for a particular age range).  And if you’ve never gone through putting together a lapbook you’ll be happy to know that each one comes with photos as an example of what it might look like after it is completed.  Also, sign up for their e-mail updates or check their site for the free lapbook that they offer bi-annually.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This Year's Great Symbolic Butterfly Migration

Here is our class paper butterfly.

I love Journey North for Kids!  I know that I've mentioned them before.  This site is chock full of information, scientific study, videos, printable books, etc.  all about migration and seasonal change.

In that spirit, every fall they have a symbolic butterfly migration alongside the travel and migration of the Monarch's to their winter home in Mexico. 

While we were involved in this last year as well, I really like the way that they organized it this year even better.  Instead of each student making a paper butterfly, there is one sent per class.  The new design of the butterfly being mounted to the folder leaves lots of room for self expression and creativity inside the folder.

The butterfly is mounted on the outside of a folder.  The inside is reserved for information about you class (which for us, is also our family).

They suggest putting information, pictures, and their form letter inside to tell the students in Mexico about your class.  Since we home school we told them about our home school class.  I used this free translation website to translate what we wanted to say into the Spanish language (and dialect) that they would understand. 

After completing our butterfly and preparing the envelope and return envelopes as outlined on Journey North's Symbolic Butterfly Migration website I went to the post office to send it to the Journey North offices where they will process all of the butterflies and then send them on to Mexico.  While there is no cost to be involved in this symbolic migration, they gladly accept any donations offered to help them educate the kids, and study the butterflies.

There the teachers and scientists will teach the school children about the Monarchs and how to protect them and care for their wintering sites.  The class will display our butterfly, and be able to write to us if they choose.  I can also check the Journey North site to see which school received our butterfly.

The students will care for our paper butterfly, as they do for the real butterflies, all winter.  And in the spring our paper butterfly will travel back north with the real butterflies and "land" in one of the schools that sent one out in the fall.  Last year we received a paper butterfly back, with Milkweed seeds, and information about the people working to teach the children about the butterflies and the butterflies themselves.

While yesterday was the postmark date for this year (I mentioned this program in earlier posts), I wanted you to know just how wonderful this  program was "first hand".  Hopefully you will consider it next fall, and in the meantime, use the wonderful resources they offer in their website!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tag, You’re It!

Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum has tagged me in this fun game.  She has asked 8 people 8 questions. I get to answer her questions here and then tag 8 (I only follow 5 blogs other than hers, so I'll tag 5) people and ask them my own questions. If I didn't tag you feel free to play anyway!! Just go ahead and leave a comment with your blog. I'll add it to the original post.

Here are the questions I am suppose to answer:

What do you think of hot dogs?
We don’t eat them all the time, but when we do we buy the all beef hotdogs.  Hey, I’ve seen the movie “The Great Outdoors” with John Candy, and I know what the others are made of ;)

Are you waiting for something?
Yes.  We have just officially been living on unemployment for a year now.  I really hate that, but I know that when God’s timing is right this will pass.  He’s got it handled, and I have to trust Him.

If you would go back in time, how far would you go?
The early 1920s sound like such a romantic time, but really I’d be happy seeing what it’s like to live with the Amish.  According to friends and family, we are already partly Amish as it is in that we are trying to live a simpler life.

What pulls you out of a bad mood?
My friends, especially my home school friends.

What book is nearest you right now? If you have more than one list them all..unless of course it is a bookshelf. In that case just limit it at 10.
The Bible, and “Anne of Ingleside” by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Exercise or diet?
Exercise by walking mostly, and eat whole grains and fruits and veggies.  No dieting here. 

Has God spoken to you lately? If so, do you wish to share?
He speaks to me all the time.  He has most recently spoke to me through a devotion the other day and through the article “Taking Responsibility” that I posted the other day.  But He speaks through His word, dreams, visions, audibly as so on as well.  It sounds crazy until you experience it, and then it’s just plain cool!

When showering, do you start the water and then get in, or get in then start the water? and part b...Do you sing in the shower?
I start the water first and then get in.  I do sing in the shower at times, but mostly I use the alone time to talk with God.

 Now for the questions I will ask 8 others to answer..and I will answer them myself.

What did you originally want to be when you “grew up”, and how has that changed?
I’ve always known that I wanted to be a wife and mother.  Other than that I don’t know that I have ever pinpointed a specific “career goal”.

Morning person or night owl?
Night owl definitely, but I feel better when I force myself to go to sleep earlier.  It’s a love/hate kinda thing.

How many children did you think that you would have?  How many do you have?
I was thinking 3 or 4.  I have three.  Wouldn’t mind having four if I could skip the whole pregnancy thing ;)

What was your first car?
Ford Festiva-  It was what my dad called “a pregnant roller skate”.

What is the greatest dream that you hope to achieve some day?
I would love to be a full-time RVer and home school across the country.

Do you home school?  If so, had you always planned to?
I home school, but the answer to the second part of the question is in my profile.

What one activity do you love the most?
I love being outside hanging out with my family.

How old were you when you met your hubby? How did you meet him?
19 years old.  I was running a photo machine, and he was the technician that came in to fix the machine when it needed it.'re it!
Hembree Family 
Little Miss Momma 
Notes From A Mama 
Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

What Do You Do?

What do you do,

When the world falls apart,

When you can’t help a friend,

Out of the breaking of their heart?


What do you do,

When you can’t help them heal,

And you can’t take away,

All the feelings they feel?


What do you do,

For the ones that you love,

When God is the only one,

That can help them rise above?


You pray and you listen,

And you try to understand,

And you leave them all,

In the palm of His hand.

    -S. G. (aka The Social Homeschooler) Copyright 2010


Lord we are all fighting a battle.  Some are struggling financially.  Some are struggling with family issues.  Some are struggling with health and other issues.  Let them all know that they are loved and help them to feel your peace.  Amen

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fast And Fun Treats

As I’ve mentioned before, we do not have a lot of money these days.  To be creative and frugal is to make sure that my kids don’t feel like the jingle in my pocket is as small as I know it is.  My mother-in-law actually complimented my husband and I once on the ways that we find to help our kids not to “miss out on things”.  She’s a good woman.  She appreciates me.  She’s in her 70s.  That might come in handy for her later . . . wink, wink LOL ;)  Actually she’s a feisty woman, and I love her, but I digress . . .
I love it when I can look in the pantry and just whip up a surprise for my family as a special treat.  It amazes me how much time and money is wasted on premade treats.  There are so many easy treats to be made that taste so much better.  Here are a few of our favorites. 

Why buy hot cocoa mix?  Do you have Hershey’s baking cocoa, water, milk, sugar, vanilla, and a little salt?  Why not try Hershey's hot cocoa recipe?  It tastes so good, and it’s not that much harder than making cocoa from a mix.  Too hard?  If you follow the recipe for a single cup of cocoa (it’s listed as a variation of the recipe I linked to), well, it can’t be much easier than that. 

Want chocolate milk? 
-Put 2 tbsp. each of baking cocoa and sugar in a mug. 
-Add a dash of salt.  Mix well. 
-Add just enough boiling water to make a thick chocolate syrup.  (Stop here and you have syrup for ice cream, etc.) 
-Add 1 cup of milk, and mix well.  That’s it.  And Hershey’s has a dark chocolate baking cocoa too ;) 
Oh, and their recipes for chocolate cake and frosting on the baking cocoa container are soooo good!

Another family treat is cinnamon rolls, but why add any more dyes and preservatives then you have to.  Remember the pizza dough balls that I mentioned buying?  I don’t just use them for pizza, oh no! 
-Just stretch a ball of pizza dough into a giant rectangle.
-Spread a thin layer of butter over dough.
-Next sprinkle on a thin layer of flour, brown sugar, (and maybe even apple sauce if you have it). 
-Sprinkle a little cinnamon. 
-Starting at the short end, roll the dough into a tight tube.  Take a pizza cutter and cut the tube into slices.  Flip the slices on their sides on a greased cookie sheet, and bake about 10 minutes at 450 degrees (watch and adjust this if necessary). 
-For glaze just mix a little melted butter (about 2 tbsp.) and powdered sugar until you form a thick paste.  Add a splash of milk and about 1 tsp. of vanilla.  Mix well.  When it’s the right consistency, you are done!

They taste so much better than store bought!
Maybe some day I’ll add pictures so that I can really make your mouth water ;) 

But till next time . . . God Bless!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Taking Responsibility"

I just read a very interesting article at a website called "Know Resolve" that I thought that I'd share with all of you.  Many people are hurting and struggling these days.  While our greatest hope comes from God, I still found the article "Taking Responsibility" to be hopeful and enlightening.

This article is not in any way directly about thoughts of suicide or depression, but if you know someone struggling through these things, Know Resolve is a good website to look at.  I have struggled through depression, and have walked alongside friends struggling through this debilitating disease.  I have also known those that have attempted or committed suicide.  Don't let those around you suffer unnoticed.  Don't let someone you know and love become a victim of suicide.

Monday, October 4, 2010

When Fluff Isn’t Enough

Have you ever taken a really fluffy dog or cat and either bathed them or given them a haircut?  It’s amazing.  They look so big with their fur, but you realize that they are really very small, for all their fluff.
We recently viewed a series of history videos from a popular company.  I was so excited.  This was going to be good, and it was a complete series of much of our country’s history.  But like the illustration above I was surprised at the amount of actual history content compared to the “fluff”.  Fancy camera angles and computer animation do not make a history curriculum, or even a supplemental history video great.  Give it to me in an entertaining way, yes, but more facts and less fluff please.
I wanted something different for my kids.  That is why I absolutely LOVE the Drive Thru History series!  Dave Stotts is hilarious as the host of this series of history videos.  But beyond entertainment there is a solid foundation of research done in order to present the WHOLE story.  Faith was important to the founders of our country, and that has not been sanitized out of this curriculum.  All videos in the series of both US and ancient history are a DVD-rom with a printable discussion guide (ancient history) or curriculum (US history) on the DVD-rom.  The videos are very entertaining.  There are fancy camera angles, and computer animation.  But with this series, there is so much more.  And when Dave talks about something he is on location, and full of energy, and a vibrant history.  The curriculum is for Middle School and higher.  But our elementary school aged kids, and our whole family actually, loves these videos. Click here to view samples of what Drive Thru History has to offer.
There is also something on my wish list, although I haven’t been able to order it yet.  For at least the past couple years, Homeschool Buyers Co-op has been able to offer a deal on Electronic Fieldtrips by Colonial Williamsburg.  According to the HBC website purchase of the fieldtrips includes not only the scheduled live fieldtrips, but also live Q&A sessions with historians, among many other things.  Click here to go to Colonial Williamsburg's website and scroll down to “View a sample episode” to watch a pre-recorded clip of what to expect if you order the fieldtrips. 
Happy Monday, and God Bless ;)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Someone Hurt My Friend Today (This Is Not About Any One In Particular)

Someone hurt my friend today,

Though I’m not sure why,

They made a tear run down her cheek,

That made me want to cry.


Someone said something,

That made her problems seem too small,

Or much bigger than they should have been,

They said something they shouldn’t have said at all.


Someone accused her of being something she’s not,

Or told her she should be more,

They did something to crush her tender heart,

They slammed a wounded door.

        - S. G.  (aka The Social Homeschooler), Copyright 2010


The tender heart of a woman was not meant to be trampled on.  Bless a friend today!

Lord, may all those who are hurting in the world know that they are cared about by you and others around them.  Amen