Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Free Fun at Loews Kids Clinic!

With such a large brood and growing I am always looking for low cost or free entertainment and activities for the kids. This weekend we tried out our local Loews for their Kids Clinic.This weeks theme was Toy Story. So they got to build a model of the car RC from Toy Story. They loved it although I ended up totally building the project for my 2yr old son. He hammered a little at the start and that was it for him. He spent the rest of the time picking up dropped nails and wood pieces from under the table. My hubby rotated between the other 3 kids helping them out when needed as well. My 4yr old girl did pretty good. I was very impressed by her skills. My oldest(9yr old) figured it all out on her own. What a big girl she is becoming. My oldest son(6yr old) did a good job to. He required minimal help as well. 

To sign up for the clinic all you need to do is go to the website and select the one you are interested in. You enter your kids names and print out the safety waiver. Then you just show up on your day prepared for about 30-45mins worth of woodworking. They were suppose to receive an apron and a pair of safety goggles but this particular location was out and promised to have them in next time. The children did receive a participation certificate and an iron on badge that said Toy Story RC to put on their aprons once they receive them. So that was a nice added bonus as well. We have attended the Clinics at Home Depot in the past. They have theirs on the first Saturday of he Month so sometimes we miss it. But Loews Clinics are more frequent so their are more opportunities for me and the kids to attend. All in all it was good for a free activity. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

My 1st Coupon Haul in 8months!

I started getting into coupons a little over 3yrs ago. My husband actually presented the idea to me after we watched a marathon on TLC of Extreme Couponing. He was like I bet you could do that. I kinda chuckled it off at first but later on I began to research the idea to see just how these folks on the show were saving so much money on groceries. I of course immediately went to good ole YouTube and found dozens and dozens of videos of everyday folks just like me who were explaining step by step how to save money at the checkout. I discovered the easiest way to match up the coupons with the ads was to use a match up site/ blog. That is when I found Southern Savers.

 She post all the deals for the stores in my region. So I started small. I just planned for one store with a few items. I didn't start out with any coupons from the Sunday circular cause I hadn't start collecting them yet. Instead I did what I did on this shopping trip here. I just only went for deals with Printable Coupons. For those who don't know the same way a manufacturer puts out coupons in your Sunday paper in those booklets called Smart Source(SS), Red Plum(RP), and Proctor and Gamble(P&G) they also have coupons available on the web. These coupons you can mostly find on the products webpages,  liking them on Facebook, or through the online version of the Sunday Circulars(i.e. www.smartsource.com, etc...)

I successfully saved my family 50- 90% on our grocery bill each trip for almost two years straight. I amassed a pretty decent stockpile of food and even managed to feed us through a serious financial hurdle for a nine month period when my husband was off on workman's comp and we only have 60% of his usual income. Couponing sustained us and keep my children's bellies fed. Now even though coupons turned out to be a blessing to our family it also had its drawbacks. I spent hours on the computer search for deals, lining them up. planning my trips, clipping my coupons, organizing my binder, etc.. It quickly became an obsession for me. I have an OCD like personality so it doesn't take much for something like this to take over my time. Well with a family of 6 I finally had to reel it in and call it quits for a while. I got burned out too. I backed off initially with the intent to start back but at a more more moderate controlled pace. Well life happened and months went by.  Now after a 8month break I am back in the saddle so to speak.

This time I am going for more of the Couponing light than the Extreme side of things. I am taking the techniques I learned in the past and pairing them down to a minimum to save some on each trip instead of chasing zero totals. Here is a peak at my first time back. We tried out Public grocery store. I paid aprox. $63.00 and saved about $46.00. Not bad that was almost half off and I only spent about 15- 20mins tops preparing for the trip compared to my good ole days when it would have been about a 2hr process or longer. So I say all this to show you can save money with coupons with or without taking it to the extreme.

Bagel Pizza: Quick and Easy Lunch with the Kids!

So with baby #5 coming closer and closer I have been trying to find easy ways to take the meal planning burden off myself. Well one fast lunch that even the kids can make themselves is Bagel Pizza. I have even tried it on french bread as well. All you need is bread, sauce, toppings, and cheese. It couldn't be any simpler. Here are my kids having fun assembling their bagels.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Stovetop Rice Pudding Breakfast!

I just wanted to share a very basic recipe that you could make quickly in the mornings for a hot breakfast. Its very frugal and food storage friendly at that. I used all pantry items. My kids love it. It kinda breaks up the monotony of the daily oatmeal. And just to mention its a gluten free friendly meal as well.

So here is what I used:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           1 pot Cooked Rice(You can use brown rice or even quinoa will work.)
1 can of Coconut Milk 14oz ( you can sub this with Almond milk, Evaporated Milk, or Regular Milk)
1/2 cup Raisins
1-2 tsp of Cinnamon
1/3 cup Maple Syrup

This works really well with left over rice.

 If you had a pot of rice left over from the night before you can use it up by adding these ingredients till heated on the stove. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pintrest Inspired Plastic Drawer Redo!!

So I am finally getting around to actually doing some of the many projects I have pinned on my Pintrest boards. Today I took a stab at redoing this plastic drawer dresser I got from Goodwill the other day for about $4.00. I washed it clean and used ducktape to get this nice look for my kids homeschool room. Here is the pin that inspired me right here: http://pinterest.com/pin/505880970613850525/  So let me go head and show the results.
So this is what I started with
My daughter(9yr old) and I pulled out the drawers and washed them in the sink and I sprayed the frame down and wiped it cleaned. 

I started with the top but I had to go over it in some spots once I added the pattern tape. 

Here is the finished top. 

Front View

Side view A

Side View B

I have some other redos coming up as well from that same thrift store haul. I will share as I complete my projects. All I want to say is Pintrest is the greatest. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Announcing Homeschool Vlog Hop 2013- 2014!!!!

I have decided to try something different. Instead of doing the traditional Blog Hop for the coming Homeschool Year I decided to put a call out to all Homeschool Vloggers like myself and see if anyone is interested in participating in a Vlog Hop! I am so excited to see how it turns out. For those of you who do not Vlog but want to participate via Blog just go ahead and jump on with the rest of us with the same topics each week. I will try and create so sort of listing for others to find your post as well. So let me know in the comments if you are going to participate via blog only.  Here are the details of the Hop for those who are interested along with the announcement video.

 We will be posting a video per week for six weeks starting the week of July 22nd. You can post the video anytime during that topics scheduled week. You can record them all at once and save them to post for that assigned week or do them as the week approaches. Its totally up to you. I would like a heads up that your video has been posted so I can add its link to the description box of my videos. Thanks in advance to all participants. This should be fun. Here are the topics and dates as followed:

Week of July 22nd- Introduction( How many children do you homeschool? How long have you been homeschooling?, What is your homeschooling method/ philosophy?, What are you looking forward to this coming school year?) 
Week of July 29th- Homeschool Room Tour( Show us your school room, space, corner, nook, area, etc...)
Week of Aug 5th- Curriculum Picks( What books, materials, online resources, classes, et... are you using for the year.) 
Week of Aug 12th- Planners or Binders( How do you map out your school year, are you a binder or notebook person, checklist, fly by the seat of your pants type of person, etc...) 
Week of Aug 19th- Extra curricular, Sports, Outside Classes, etc...( Will your children be doing Band, , Chess club, Science Club, Violin, Soccer, Baseball, Dance, Gymnastics, COOP Classes, Virtual Courses, Public School Classes, etc..) 
Week of Aug 26th- 1st Day Back to Homeschool Traditions/ Ideas/ Day in a Life( Do you guys have any back to homeschool traditions? Are you starting any this year? Or you can share a day in the life of your new homeschool year instead.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Return to the Lost Art of Homemaking

I didn't realize it at the time I initially became a stay at home mom that my upbringing had a profound influence on molding what my image of homemaking was. I grew up with a single working mother who during my early years left me in the care of my ubber traditional Southern grandparents. Even on my visits to my Dad's house I was always around my grandmother on that side who I seriously liken to the Black June Cleaver.

These phenomenal women reared children, ran house, cooked, cleaned, ironed, mended, and more. They even managed to do an extensive amount of community work. They did everything from church bake sales, fundraiser dinners, Christmas toy and clothing drives, visiting the sick and shut in, to just being a friend over the phone when someone needed an ear. I mean they don't make women like them anymore. Their is a picture in the Bible next to Proverbs 31 and they are in it.

The thing is something happened between their generation and my parents generation that changed the course of homemaking profoundly. Homemaking was no longer a cherished art. Women were encouraged to take on more and more pursuits outside of the home. There began to be a shift in viewing the housewife as a loving and dedicated mother to being a suppressed, oppressed, lazy, uneducated, naive, woman. So by the time I was coming up it was expected that a woman would pursue a career outside the home.

Girls from my generation were not taught the fine art of homemaking skills cause it was assumed we wouldn't need that sort of thing once we becoming, business women, doctors, lawyers, etc... Now of course we did have our weekly chores and household responsibilities like cleaning and cooking and laundry but the wisdom was not being passed down with the responsibilities. I had no insight as to the true running of the home. It was always on the shallow. I had no insight as to how my grandmother budgeted, planned meals, selected household items and whatnot.

After the birth of my 1st child I was in college full time and worked 2 part time jobs. I was juggling so much stuff with little reward. My daughter was in daycare. She was hitting milestones and I wasn't their to see it. The baby sitter got to witness all the joy that was suppose to be for me. I eventually gave up school and pursued work full time. Of course this means to my peers I was some sort of failure for not having my degree and choosing to raise my child the best way I could instead. They had pity in their eyes for me when they talked about upcoming registration or graduation parties. But for me I could care less about that. I was burdened down with serious mommy guilt. How could I be the best at my job and be the best mom all at the same time especially if I am only seeing my child for a few hours everyday and on my off days? Eventually I got married and it was around the time my oldest was 2 1/2yrs old I became pregnant with my 2nd child. I was sick out of this world with pregnancy symptoms. I struggled everyday to get out of bed and go to work and came home with little left for my new husband and my toddler. I so wish I could be one of those stay at home moms like on TV and movies. But I didn't dare ask my husband for fear of coming off selfish or lazy. I just keep on with the routine till one day I woke up looking and feeling awful. My hubby had to take me to the hospital for another round of IV fluids. It was that day I realized just how much this man was made for me. He turned to me and said " You don't want to go back to work do you?". Before I got a chance to respond he said " I don't think you should have to go back. I want you stay home from now on." I was so excited and so scared all at the same time. What if he changes his mind? What if I am no good at being a homemaker then he will regret telling me to stay home when I could have been "contributing" to the household. What are my friends and family going to say? They already think I'm weird( I ate a vegan diet and breastfed my daughter past 6 months of age.). So that is when my journey began.

The first year was a disaster of me having to get over the guilt of not contributing to the household financially. I just was unsure of the value of my new role. Its funny cause just two generations ago folks thought that a Stay at Home Mother was great matriarch. I felt more like the bottom of the totem pole. It was also hard trying to figure out how to balance out being a mother of two. Its funny now that I am expecting baby #5 I think adding a new baby is a piece of cake. But in the beginning it was the most overwhelming feeling ever. It was around the time that I was totally drowning in juggling kids and household duties that the internet became my greatest tool. Thank God I was born during the age of information. The internet refreshed and renewed and equipped me to take on the task of recovering the lost art of homemaking. I found blogs, articles, websites, and videos explaining step by step how to do everything from setting up a homemaking binder, to managing the children's schedules, to how to make your own laundry soap. It was as if someone had taken my grandmother's wisdom and posted it online. lol!

I am now on year 7 of my Stay at Home Mom Homemaking Journey and I still have more to learn and figure out. But now I think I have gotten to a point where I want to give back to the BlogWorld  that helped me find my way. It's pay it forward time. So this blog will be my contribution to all the new or seasoned homemakers out their who need some encouragement or new ideas. Come and join me. Lets return to the lost art of homemaking together.