Friday, October 30, 2009

Fun Friday - Inside Picnic

Sometimes when the weather is cold or rainy and we can't go outside we do an indoor picnic in the living room. Our little one especially loves to do this! We think it's a great idea to gather everyone together, get them off the computer, turn off the tv and spend some quality time together.

Just clear the furniture out of the way if you need to and spread a big table cloth or a blanket on the floor. You could make it as fun and festive or sophistocated as you like.

We've done picnics with just munchies and we've done some with a full course dinner. Either way we end up having some great conversations and lots of laughter!

By the way, this picture is not our family. When deciding on this post I realized I didn't have any photos of our picnics so I found this one online here. It looks like this family does indoor picnics, too!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Carving

Ainsley is the only one of the girls that really doesn't mind getting all gooey during pumpkin carving. Mommy certainly doesn't like it! It's become a favorite time for her and Daddy.

Like father, like daughter.... She always wants to be just like Daddy. It's so cute!

Our front porch this year. I sure do need some pretty flowers or something in my flower bed, huh? And some grass would be nice. Used to have some there...

Be safe this Trick-or-Treating season, y'all!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Youth Fall Retreat

I have to brag and say I'm a member of one of the best churches - CrossPointe Church in Valdosta Georgia. The people there are authentic, true believers in Jesus Christ. One of the things I love about this church is its very awesome youth group. Rarely have I seen a youth group as strong as this one.

This past weekend the Youth Pastor, Michael, along with his lovely wife, April, and several youth leaders gathered all the youth together for a Fall Retreat in the woods. It took place at a local Christian-based campground and they spent the weekend in fellowship and worship.

This is a beautiful, old chapel that was moved to the camp ground years ago.

These are the youth leaders....really, just a bunch of big kids! LOL!

This is a gorgeous outdoor sanctuary. The kids didn't use it this weekend - it was a little chilly and rainy, but I thought it was beautiful and wanted to capture it.

Most of the pews in the outdoor sanctuary were donated. This one was in memory of the man whose family the camp is named for, Ben Tygart.

I was lucky enough to be a volunteer for serving these awesome kids their meals, but I wasn't able to attend Sunday morning's activities since I had duties at the church. Several moms who were able to attend to breakfast that morning, however, told the story of an incredible time of worship.

Michael preached about The Lord's Supper and how and why Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. And to press home the message, the pastor and youth leaders, to the surprise of the all kids, washed the feet of every teenager there! From what I heard, it was such an emotional outpouring that soon the teens were reciprocating and washing the feet of their pastor and youth leaders.

Of course, the moms present all gathered back in the kitchen to cry the "ugly" cry!

Here is the pastor's wife, April, taking a moment to pose with my two daughters, Elizabeth and Leah, and Leah's boyfriend, Logan.

And, of course, the girls' dad had to get in on the action. I'm sure Logan was thinking, "This man is nuts!"

And so, this post is dedicated to Pastor Michael and his wife April, to the awesome youth leaders! Thank you so much for what you do for our children. We love you!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

US Naval Academy Jump Rope Girls

If you haven't seen these girls yet, you've GOT to check this out. The video is about 8 minutes long but you'll be very entertained.

I can't imagine the work these young girls put into this! It is truly amazing!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fun Friday

I saw this while doing some research on some fun things to do. I actually had another idea but I'll post that for next week. ;)

My youngest, A, loves to paint. I thought, "What a great way to spend a Friday!"

Gather up any large piece of material you can find - cardboard, butcher paper, fabric - and paints. You might want to make sure they are water based so they clean up easy! Wear old clothes or a paint smock and then just let them go to town!

In my experience this is best done outdoors!

If being outdoors is not an option you could do a smaller version of this inside. Just spread out a bunch of newspaper on the kitchen floor or an old table (we use an old folding table that we set up in the kitchen). As long as she is not flinging the paint across the room I let her have free reign for artistic expression.

It's fun to see what they'll come up with!



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Little Chores

So, even with a total of five kids, I was wondering when I should start making my 4-year old do chores. Thinking back, I remembered that I had started teaching my boys (who are now 21 and 22) how to do their own laundry at age 8. This was when they were old enough to reach the knobs on the washer and dryer without using a stool. <<>>

I didn't want to overburden A (the 4-year old) with too many chores to start out with. I could always overburden later, right? (just kidding!) I remembered seeing a tv show about a homeschool family with more kids the me (not the Duggars) and how the mom used charts to organize everything they did, including the chores for each child. <<>>

With A, I knew I couldn't just give her a chart to follow. She needed to feel like she was doing something important. So, I went to our local teacher supply store and bought a laminated chort chart.

I listed three things that she has to do everyday: Make her bed, brush her teeth, and pick up her toys. I chose these three things because 1) I want her to have a sense of ownership with her own room - hence the bed making, 2) sometimes she forgets to brush her teeth and with everything else going on around here I forget to tell her to do it, and 3) she ALWAYS has toys scattered around the house and her room tends to look like a tornado hit it!
I also added one more chore to three days of the week: Shake out bathroom rugs (I figured this was something fairly easy she could do), bring her laundry basket to the laundry room on her day for laundry (I don't make her actually do it yet!), and straighten the movies on the shelf. I think this will get her used to doing "house" chores like her sisters do.
So far, for her first three days it's working out great. After she does her chore she comes and puts a check mark next to that chore. And she's EXCITED about doing it!

She even asked me yesterday why there were no chores listed on Sunday! Of course, I told her that Sunday was God's day and we would just concentrate on Him alone that day.

If I'd known she would be so amenable to doing chores I'd have started at age 2!


Fall Treats

While doing a search for some fall recipes I came across these and they looked and sounded so yummy I wanted to share!

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie

(Who doesn't like apple butter???)


1 cup apple butter
1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
3 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine apple butter, pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices in a bowl. Stir in eggs. Gradually add milk and mix well. Pour into pie shell. Bake for about 40 minutes or until set.

Cook's Notes:
-If the crust begins to burn, place tin foil around the crust and lower the temperature of the oven.
-A tasty topping for this pie is praline pecans.

Pumpkin Waffles with Maple Walnut Apples


1 cup cake flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup melted shortening (transfat-free)
1 large egg
1 large egg white

2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 crisp apples, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup toasted walnuts


Special equipment: standard 4 x 4-inch waffle iron

For the waffles: Preheat a waffle iron to medium heat.
Whisk the flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, spice and salt together in a large bowl.
Beat together the milk, pumpkin, melted butter, and melted shortening, egg and egg white, in a large measuring cup. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Whisk together to make a slightly lumpy batter.

For the topping: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the apples and let cook until slightly browned, but still crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the maple syrup and walnuts and toss to coat.

Pour and spread about 1 cup batter into the waffle iron. Cover and cook until crisp and a rich golden brown, about 7 minutes. (Try to resist the temptation to open the waffle iron too soon. Steam will puff out of the iron while the waffles cook, when this stops the waffle is cooked.) Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve hot with the apples.
Halloween Treats: Saw this short video clip on Food Network (dot) com and thought these were cute.
These receipes came from They have some really great ideas for the holidays!

Homeschool 101 - College Bound

Several months ago I started a second blog - Homeschool 101 - and had really great intentions for it! I wanted to introduce homeschool families to other homeschool families, educate people about homeschooling, provide tips and networking, and other stuff. Much to my chagrin - although I shouldn't have been surprised - I couldn't keep up with both of my blogs and everything else I had going on. So, I recently decided that instead of getting rid of Homeschool 101 altogether, I would incorporate it into this one. What a novel idea, I know!

So, each Tuesday I will have something related to Homeschool 101 and I hope it will be a help to all you homeschoolers out there. I'm constantly getting questions about this or that from new or prospective homeschool families.

This week's the topic is: Homeschooling & College

I got a call a couple of days ago from the University of North Carolina - Greensboro. Since I'm listed as the president and founder of the South Georgia Homeschool Association I tend to get calls like this from time to time. But it just proved to me that colleges are LOOKING for homeschoolers. In order to find my contact information, this college had to search homeschooling sites. They were looking for us!

Why? In their words, they look for homeschoolers because they know we tend to be very self-disciplined and independent learners by the time we reach high school.

So - as a homeschooler How Do You Get Into College?

1. Keep good records. There are several good ways to do this.

  • Use a software program like Homeschool Tracker, Homeschool Easy Records, etc.

  • Keep a binder with tabs for Subjects, Reading Logs, Activity Logs, Extra Curricular Activities. A good source for forms is Donna Young.

  • Create your own tracking system using Excel or Word.

We have done all of these methods. It just depends on what you think works best for your family. If you would rather just input information using a computer use a software program. These also help you create your own lesson plans.

Keep in mind that each of these methods takes times and planning. But in the long run, when your child is ready to take that step toward college you'll be prepared!

2. Keep a Portfolio. Many universities like to see the work the child has done. Keep samples of writing and other work done by the student. Here are a few ideas of things to put in the portfolio:

  • Samples of work
  • Copies of Attendance reports

  • Reading Logs

  • Logs for Outside Activities, Clubs, etc.


Here's an article about keeping Electronic Portfolios.

3. Standardized Tests. Many universities will require a student to have the SAT or ACT. It's best to try to take the test in the spring of their Junior year. This will provide them time to work on weak areas. Then, the student can retest in the fall of their senior year.

Many times a student can choose a 2-year community or technical college to start with and they won't be required to have an SAT or ACT. Most times all that will be required is that the student take the college's entrance exam (like the Compass test) like all other students. (Three of my five children either have or will do this at our local technical college)

Here's a great article by The HomeScholar about taking the SATs.

4. Check Your College. The best way to discover what colleges want from a homeschool student is to contact the college of your choice. Different colleges have different policies regarding homeschool students so it's best to find out first hand what they require.

And in case you're wondering which colleges accept homeschool students, here's a list for you! You may be surprised.

Colleges that accept homeschool students

Please let me know what you're questions or concerns are regarding homeschooling, especially if you're new to it or just considering it. I'll have a different topic each week, so check back often!

If you have questions on the current topic please email me and I'll be happy to try to answer them!



Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Twirl Factor

Oh, the joys of being a girl.

Ainsley loves to twirl and even better than twirling.... twirling with a twirly skirt. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fun Friday

I thought this little craft was so cute. I found it on this website. It doesn't list all of the instructions but it looks pretty easy to me. The kit came from Oriental Trading. I don't think you actually need to use the kit unless you're like me sometimes and don't want to have to search for the materials. But, I have to admit, occassionally it's fun to do that. Ainsley likes to pick out her own materials at times.

By the way, if you haven't been to the Oriental Trading website - you . should . go!! There are a ton of great things on there for a bargain - you know, we homeschoolers love a great bargain!

Here's the product list for the Scarecrow Craft:

Product: Wood Craftstick Scarecrow Banner Craft Kit

Category: Fun Fall Crafts

KidsAge: preschool, kindergarten, elementary: grade 1 - grade 6
(for searching on Oriental Trading)

A fun craft to make with kids out of craft sticks and craft foam. Mr. Scarecrow can warmly greet your guests if hung on your door!

Supplies needed (substitutes may be used):

Craft sticks
Googly eyes
Hat pattern
Flower pattern
Mouth pattern
Nose pattern
Yellow ribbon
Brown craft foam
Orange craft foam
Yellow craft foam
Blue craft foam
Permanent Marker

The kit comes with complete instructions, of course, but I know so many of you wouldn't need them - you're just creative like that! - and you could come up with your own super-cool patterns!

Here are some other cute craft kits I found at Oriental Trading.

Thought this one was adorable! It's made out of wood and can be decorated however your heart desires!

Happy crafting, y'all!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Perry Georgia State Fair

We went to the State Fair in Perry Georgia this past weekend -look who we met! This is my husband's favorite police officer. ;) There's something to be said for small town policing, I can tell you. It's too bad we don't have more Mayberrys these days.

The weather was great for a fair. Hot and muggy! We actually expected it to be overcast but, alas, no, not for us.

This was a sign I just had to get a shot of. It was displayed proudly outside the bungee jump contraption that my four year old daughter JUST.HAD.TO.DO!! See pic below....

Here's a cute shot of one of my other daughters and her boyfriend who went with us. He won her this big bear that she named "Jeff" and later won her a little green frog, too. How sweet and mushy is that?!

And, here's me with the 4-year old again.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Value of Friends

I have another subject that I'm going to post on today, but this topic really came to my attention this weekend and I felt a need to express it.

For the past couple of weeks I've had some medical issues I've been dealing with. I ended up in the emergency room on Saturday. Without going into all the details, which is not what this post is about, I was reminded of what fantastic people I have surrounding me. It brings me to tears to think that God has given these people into my life and that they each have a purpose there. It is still so amazing to me when I have a moment of clarity and see His hand on a situation and all the people He touches and brings together for a specific purpose.

So, to my friends who were there for me these last few days, thank you from the bottom of my heart....


and I don't want to leave out a new special person who has added his prayers along with his mother's, Logan - my daughter's sweet new boyfriend.

I am so blessed beyond measure to have all of you in my life. What a true gift from God! - even you Jeanne! ;)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fun Friday

Every Friday is going to be.....can you guess...... Yep, Fun Friday! I have to admit this is not only for your benefit but for mine as well. It forces me to find fun things for my kids to do. Not that we don't do fun things...I'm talking things that normally wouldn't come to my mind. (I'm usually so busy that not much comes to mind at all!) I mean, it's not like we sit in our chairs day in and day out and stare at our books but we could use a little extra creativity in our week, y'know?

While doing some searching I came across this great idea!

Time Capsules

We've all heard of them. Here's some ideas on how to put one together.

1. Get a sturdy, fairly large piece of Tupperware or other container with a tight-fitting lid and a bunch of Ziploc bags for the individual items. The container should be about twice the size of a shoebox, or a little larger. If you like, you can get smaller containers for each child, so they can have their own private time capsules inside the big one.

2. What to put in it: Here are some tips:

-Don't put anything in that you're going to need, want or miss in the next ten or twenty years.

-Make it personal. People a hundred years from now will be curious about who you were and how you lived.

-If you're putting in paper, make sure that it's acid-free -- or spray it with paper antacid (you can get it at hobby stores).

-Don't count on being able to use CDs, CD-ROMs, floppies, audio and videotape cassettes and the like when you open the capsule; standards for that kind of thing change quickly.

-If you're going to use recordings, try to get them on as many different media as possible.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Photographs

  • Awards

  • Stories and drawings by the kids

  • Report cards (most kids will be pretty glad to see them go)

  • Buy 10 shares of stock in a corporation and put the certificates in the capsule

  • A list of predictions from each child, for the future in general and their future in particular

  • A description of and by each kid

  • A letter to the people who find it

  • A letter describing your lives for the past year or so

  • Anything small of sentimental value

  • Favorite toys, dolls and stuffed animals (but make sure they won't be too missed)

  • Postcards to the future from the past

How do you pack it? Put everything in its own individual Ziploc and squeeze out all the air. Arrange in the capsule snugly, but don't cram it in. Try to fold papers as little as possible. Label all photographs with a pencil, or better yet write captions on a separate sheet of paper and just number the pictures with a pencil.

Be sure to include a list of what's in the box. Include descriptions, the more complete, the better: **Don't forget today's date!**

Restaurant supply stores sell little packs of silica gel to control humidity. Get some and throw a few in (but be careful, because they're very poisonous).

Put the lid on and tie or tape it shut. Using an indelible marker, label the outside with your names, current address, phone numbers, email addresses and any other contact info you can think of. If someone else finds it, you want to make it easy for them to find you.

If you bury it, make sure it's deep enough not to be disturbed by floods, dogs and the like, and that it's far from trees and other potentially large vegetation with deep roots. Three or four feet is good enough for the depth of the hole.

DON'T bury it on land that isn't yours. For one thing, the land could be sold or developed over the years. For another, it's illegal.

I have used these ideas from iVillage and changed the wording a bit. To see the original article go here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pumpkin Seed Mosaic

I came across this while searching for pumpkin related themes and thought this was a great idea for those pumpkin seeds! Usually, in our family we roast them and eat them but not all of us are partial to this pasttime. So, maybe we'll try this after carving our pumpkins this year.

Make your own mosaic ... Don't throw those pumpkin seeds away! Roast a few and paint the rest for a spectacular work of art.

What You Need:

Pumpkin Seeds (clean)
Tempera paint (dark colors)
Paint brush
Shallow container
Thick paper (poster board)
Wax paper or newspaper

What You Do:

Choose a few paint colors.

Put the seeds into a shallow dish, squirt some paint on the seeds and mix the paint around until all seeds are covered in paint. Do this for as many colors as you need.

Spread the seeds out on wax paper (or newspaper) and let dry.

While you are waiting for the seeds to dry, you can draw a picture onto some poster paper. Some ideas include masks, fish or wild designs.

Try to keep it simple, remember, you will be "coloring in" with seeds.

When the seeds are dry, they can be arranged and glued onto the poster paper in the appropriate areas.

***If you are feeling really adventurous, try using plaster instead of glue to create the mosaics.

Work quickly as plaster has a very quick set time. Also, never pour plaster down the sink. Wait for it to dry and throw it in the garbage.

***You can always use dried beans, lentils, popcorn or other types of seeds for this project ... you don't need to use pumpkin seeds. In fact, if you use dried beans, you can leave them in their natural colorful state (black eyed peas, red kidney beans etc).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How God Carves a Pumpkin, A Family Activity

Written by Lori at Heart of the Matter

With cooler breezes ushering in, autumn hues surrounding us, and shorter days, it’s clear that FALL has arrived! With this incredible season comes the bountiful harvest and fields filled with PUMPKINS!

One of our favorite FALL activities has been carving a pumpkin with a lovely and HAPPY face. Several years ago a friend of mine shared an incredible family activity that we have adapted for our family. It’s proven to be a FABULOUS BIBLE STUDY, even for the tiniest carvers. It’s a great way to share some wonderful passages while engaging in a FUN, family activity! Why not pop some popcorn, throw in some candy corn, invite a few friends from church and make it a tradition!

How God carves a pumpkin

Create a pumpkin. Make it big, little, short, tall fat or skinny. No matter which, it will be a WONDERFUL pumpkin.
“Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being? Isaiah 66:2

Harvest the pumpkin when it’s fully ready.
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Hold the pumpkin gently as you cleanse the dirt outside, washing all the dirt away.
“Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sin. Acts 22:16

Make an opening at the top, Search into the dark cavity for anything that needs to be removed.
“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind to reward according to conduct and deeds. Jeremiah 17:10

Remove all the stringy pulp and slime, and clean out the entire cavity.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God.” Psalm 51:10

Give that pumpkin a big set of eyes so that he may see all the good around him.
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.” Luke 10:23

Carve a nice nose so that he can take in the wonderful scents of the world.
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart.” Proverbs 27:9

Carve a great big SMILE so that he can bring JOY to anyone who sees him.
“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart of others.” Proverbs 15:30

Make the pumpkin glow all over with a little white light inside.
“God said, “let light shine out of the darkness,” and made His light shine in our hearts.
2Corinthians 4:6

Rejoice in the “NEW” pumpkin that has been created and given new life.
“Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me, I have found my lost sheep.” Luke 15:6

Place the pumpkin in the perfect spot so that the light will guide others.
“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise the Father in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Lifecycle of a Pumpkin

We're doing our first lapbook on Cinderella. Here is Ainsley learning guessed it...pumpkins!

We found this unit study on Enjoy!