12.19.2013

Homeschooling in Ohio

So it's official that I'm a terrible blogger but I want to take a minute and tell you about something that is near and dear to my heart.

It is no surprise that homeschooling is and will continue to come under attack as our school systems continue to decline. I read today that nationally, homeschoolers are making up about 4% of school age children. This is up tremendously in the last 5 years. Why does this matter? Well, the main reason is that once we reach 6%, statistically we start making huge impacts in public school numbers. I fully expect us to reach this number in the very near future.

In the mean time, a bill has come to my attention called "Teddy's Law". It has been proposed by Ohio Senator Capri Cafaro. Now, Ohio is generally a homeschool friendly state. We have to register our children every year and either have a certified teacher evaluation or take a state certified assessment test. None of which I mind at all. In fact, like everything, accountability is good.

Teddy's Law, however, crosses the line. Taken from the case of a little boy named Teddy who was in the public school system. Concerns were raised to CPS that this little boy was being abused. They were raised by the school system, they were raised by friends, they were raised by neighbors. Teddy was removed from the public school system and "homeschooled" to avoid additional concerns. Their homeschool application was denied. But, Teddy was not returned to school. Ultimately, Teddy was beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend.

Now Senator Cafaro has proposed a bill that would require all homeschool families to undergo an investigation by CPS before they are issued approval to homeschool. Seriously?!

Now, my heart truly goes out to the grandparents and family of Teddy, but how does this come back on homeschoolers?! I mean really. Let's think about this logically. CPS doesn't do their job. They completely disregard notice after notice of child abuse, there is no follow up when the child is denied a homeschool application but doesn't return to school,  and yet we find it logical to dump tens of thousands of Ohio homeschool families into this system to approve or deny their applications? Really. It seriously makes my blood boil.

Now, will this bill pass? Most likely not. As a matter of fact, what will probably come out of it is the complete incompetence of CPS. Hopefully, it will cause our government to look into fixing the system (CPS) instead of bypassing our fundamental rights as parents... but a seriously doubt that as well. It is much easier to cover their butts than actually clean them.

So, why am I on this rant? Because I know a lot of you are homeschoolers. And I know a lot of you who aren't are smart enough to see that this is clearly a violation of our rights. Please, contact Senator Cafaro. Even if you are not in Ohio. Force her to start looking at the real source of the problem rather than using homeschool families to cover up a huge mistake by CPS. I thank you in advance.

You can find her here:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Senator-Capri-S-Cafaro/279952678729649
http://www.ohiosenate.gov/cafaro

And for kicks and giggles, read one of my favorite blogs. This guy kicks butt:
http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/12/18/politician-lets-treat-all-homeschool-parents-like-felony-child-abusers/



11.21.2013

Painted Kitchen Table Redo

For the 3 years we have lived in this house, I have been looking for the "perfect" kitchen table. Our kitchen space is small and I didn't want it to feel overcrowded in that area because we spend most of our time there and the open family room that attaches to it. 


After Owen was born and we converted the loft into the big boys room, I had to get creative with my schoolroom area. So my kitchen table priorities changed. I definitely didn't want to spend a ton of money on a table because as a school table it would be very used. However, since it did sit in the middle of our home, I wanted it to be pretty. Lol.



I began searching Craigslist and the paper for a used table I could redo. One day, when a friend of mine was over at the house, I mentioned that I was looking for something for that space. She had an old table in her basement she had been trying to get rid of and sent me pictures of it. The next day I had my husband loading it in the back of the truck. When he got it home he said it was the ugliest table he had ever seen and wouldn't even bring it inside because he said it was absolutely NOT going in our kitchen. But that has never stopped me before! I had a vision!



Here is what it looked like before:



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You guys know I'm horrible at taking pictures of the steps so I totally apologize in advance.

First, I removed the padded cushions from the chairs. Mine just screwed on from the bottom.

Then, I used this AMAZING primer called Zinsser.
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That's right people! NO SANDING! As a matter of fact, I was so lazy with this project that I actually bought the spray paint version. Now, in hind sight, I really wish I had painted the primer on the top instead of spraying it on. I think it would have just covered better and I wouldn't have had to put on 4 coats of black paint. So keep that in mind. The chairs worked beautifully. Especially since I didn't have to paint in all those creases and crevices.

Next, I used my go-to-no-fail paint from Sherwin Williams - All Surface Enamel. The cream color is color matched to my trim so I apologize that I can't give you that. The top is just a plain ole black. Now, this will put you back about $21 a QUART, but it is soooooo very worth it. This stuff is essential for a smooth finish.

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I used foam rollers and brushes to put the paint on. Slowly get lighter and lighter with your strokes so that you get as close to that "sprayed" look as possible. 

The chairs took 2 coats of cream and top ultimately took 4 coats of black. The black did get a bit tricky getting it to lay as flat as I liked it and that's the reason I kept piling it on. Make sure your paint is as evenly coated as possible - not too thick or thin. 

Finally, I recovered the chairs in some beautiful black and cream fabric I got from Hobby Lobby. 

Here's the finished product!

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I absolutely love how it turned out! Next project... matching the bar stools! :-)



11.14.2013

Adoption ~ The Other Gift of Life

Jarrod and I have always talked about how amazing it would be to adopt a child one day. In this stage of life, I feel my heart start to race and my head spin when I think of adding another child to our already crazy home. But then I see the faces and hear the stories of such precious little one's that are left on doorsteps, that lay unattended to in orphanage cribs, that are undernourished because of a lack of care or funds and that have no idea what it is like to feel truly loved. My heart breaks that even ONE of these children would ever suffer. Would ever go hungry. Would never feel love. And I feel this tugging. This need to fill a gap. And it's a big calling. 

One of my best friends from south Georgia has made the decision to adopt one of these precious babies. And that child is going to be so blessed to be apart of their home. Mark and Meg have 4 children of their own. Mason is the same age as Jayden, Vivian is the same age as Evan, and they have 3 year old twins Grace and Ethan. They are some of the most amazing people I have ever met and I am so blessed to have been able to be a part of their lives for the 4 years we lived down there. 

So the purpose behind this post? Obviously, adoption has its costs and its challenges. I am asking all of my readers to please support Mark and Meg in prayer as well as any financial gifts you feel led to. They need to raise $33,000 to bring their new little one home! They have come up with some awesome ideas to raise money, from garage sales to Amazon affiliate links that give a percentage back to them when you shop. Meg has also set up a blog so you can follow along in their process. Please go follow them and be an encouragement as they journey in this path. 

Thank you!



11.11.2013

Owen Jarrod ~ 10 Months

How in the world is my baby boy 10 months old!


I remember this time last year so well. Getting ready to start celebrating the holidays. Being pregnant and having to wear a maternity coat for the first time. Trying to shop for Christmas and having no energy while spending 3 days a week at the doctor's office for non-stress testing and ultrasounds. Worrying so much about my little guy I was hardly able to enjoy any minute of being pregnant.


And now here we are.

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He's grown so much this month! Not that he doesn't every month but this month has just seemed monumental. He's into everything. I mean everything. Cabinets, bookshelves, the desk, the kids toys, my purse... really anything that he can find within his reach.

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And let me tell you, there are some days when having older kids is so helpful but the days that you pick up a gazillion miniature rubber band from these flipping friendship bracelets are not on my favorite list. I don't think I've ever had a child that put so much stuff in their mouth. It makes me paranoid and a germophobe.

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Overall, we are all still crazy about our little guy. He is so happy and brings so much joy to our lives. The boys still run to get him out of the bed every time he whimpers. They beg for kisses and make Owen laugh constantly. I love watching them interact and couldn't be more blessed to have such an awesome crew.

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Happy 10 months baby boy!


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11.08.2013

I Would Like to Interrupt This Blogging Silence...With a Giveaway!

So, it's no secret that blogging has been pushed a little further back on my screen of things to do lately. I have a million posts in my head that hopefully will be up next week but in the mean time, I want to share with you one of my favorite toys. 


Playmobil was probably on the back end of my toy years as a child. However, that never stopped me from sitting on the floor and playing with them for hours. No joke. Seriously, this stuff is the coolest. Before Playmobil was ever popular in the states, we found it on one of our trips to England. We brought a set home and then later found some specialty stores here in the states that carried them. Now, I love that you can find them just about anywhere!



They became a collection item that has lasted for quite a while. It was one of the first toys I bought Jayden - even though he couldn't play with them for a while. I can not begin to tell you how many sets we have today. Boxes full. 



So, when CoynePR contacted me about reviewing the new PopStars! Stage, I was all over it. I think I was even more excited than the kids to get this thing. And let me tell you, it didn't disappoint! 


This MP3-compatible set allows young pop stars to belt out their favorite lyrics, drum up awesome beats, and wow crowds with radical guitar solos. Just hook up an MP3 player with the enclosed cable and choose your favorite chart topper. My music loving kids were in heaven. I mean check out this video!





AND! Playmobil has been so sweet to offer one of our readers a Popstars! Stage of your own! The set includes four figures, stage with flashing lights, drum set, two guitars with guitar stands, microphones, two preloaded tunes, built-in speakers, and other accessories. A $39.99 Value!


Plus! If your ready to rock on, PLAYMOBIL is launching an epic “Battle of the PLAYMOBIL PopStars!” contest where fans can vote for their favorite PLAYMOBIL PopStars! group.  After voting, participants can also submit an applause-worthy name for the band they voted for. Two contestants who submit names that really “rock” will be chosen to receive a $500 shopping spree on www.playmobil.us.

  
Contest Details:
·         Contest will run from October 1st- November 15th 2013
·         To enter, fans can visit popstars.playmobil.com
·         For contest details, rules, and complete list of prizes, visit http://bit.ly/1bljm7K

The PLAYMOBIL products, information and two gift packs have been provided by PLAYMOBIL.



9.27.2013

Customizable Daily Schedule

As flexible as homeschooling is, we do try and keep a daily schedule. I have been meaning to get one printed out for the boys as I feel like they are old enough to keep up with their own schedule now. Plus, I think it builds discipline. I'm sure we won't always get to math right at 9 am. And that's ok. But it keeps us focused and accountable for the time we have. 

After spending a unreasonable amount of time looking at printable schedules on Pinterest, I decided to take the best parts of the one's I liked and make my own. This is what I came up with:



I slid this schedule into a page protector and keep a dry erase marker close so I can make notes for special things like guitar lessons or just little happy notes. I also change the date and then the boys can check off the work as they go. 

I'm so looking forward to seeing how this simplifies our day! Instead of them having to ask what to do next, it's all written out for them. 

I created this file in PowerPoint and would love to share it. It's completely customizable. You can get the file HERE. You will need to download it in order to make changes yourself. 

Happy scheduling!


9.26.2013

School: Week 4 and Packing Lunches + A Giveaway!

I seriously can't believe that we are already in our 4th week of school! I just can not tell you how happy I have been with our new classes! The kids have made some great new friends, I have much less preparation, and they love what their learning!

So one thing that I didn't expect to take so much time was packing lunches. I mean really, you mom's who pack lunches every.single.day are my hero's. 

I did find some really nice containers at Target that have top and bottom compartments for sandwiches and chips, fruit, veggies or whatever.

Last week, our lunches had a special surprise thanks to Del-Monte! 


Their new Fruit Burst Squeezers are the bomb! We got to try out the Blueberry and Apple Cinnamon flavors. Even Owen was a fan!

They are perfect for packing in lunches and don't have to be refrigerated until after they are opened! I'm sold. They also come in several delicious flavors including Pear-Mango, Blueberry, Apple Cinnamon, Mixed Berry and Strawberry!

Del-Monte also wants to give one lucky reader a gift pack of your own!

The gift pack will include:
  • Two boxes of Fruit Burst Squeezers™ (one Fruit + Veggies 4-pack and one Simply Fruit 4-pack)
  • One Del Monte lunchbox
  • One orange-shaped eco-friendly shopping tote
  • One strawberry-shaped eco-friendly shopping tote
  • One Del Monte magnetic frame
Enter for your chance to win here:


The Del Monte product, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by Del Monte.




9.25.2013

Fall Recipes ~ Pumpkin Bars

There are very few things I don't like about fall.
Warm days and cool nights. Open windows and fresh air. Leaves changing. Football and light jackets. But I really, really, really like fall food. Pumpkin everything. From bagels, to cream cheese, coffee creamer to yummy pumpkin deserts. 

Insert these delicious pumpkin bars.



I'm telling you, these things are amazing. And they will be made and devoured in my home no less than 50 times during this fall season.

So, here's the recipe so you can make some pumpkin goodness of your own.

  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 cup Oil
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 16 oz can of pumpkin
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt


Mix together and spread into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until firm and golden brown. 

While that is baking, mix up some icing.

  • 3 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butter (melted)
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar


Mix until smooth and spread over cooled bars. Cut into squares and serve.

Happy fall, y'all!

9.13.2013

Avery Turns 4!

It is so hard to believe that my little princess is 4!

We celebrated her birthday with a small, family party on Sunday. She had a blast and chose a Minnie Mouse Bow-tique theme. Surprise, surprise. :-)

My parents weren't able to make it up so I video'd her opening their gift. It was hilarious:  photo IMG_4775_zps1d5e0cf5.jpg

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Happy Birthday, my sweet little girl! We love you!

9.12.2013

Back to School ~ The Late Edition

Yes, yes, I know school has been in session for at least 2, if not 3 or 4 weeks for some people. But I'm behind so let's just leave it at that. Haha


At the last minute we made the decision to go with the Classical Conversations program for the year. I couldn't be happier. The kids are LOVING it and although the initial preparation was something from another world, I am too.


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I have found several sites that have amazing ideas to incorporate with each weeks lessons. If you follow my School Room board on Pinterest you will see it splattered with a lot of these. But I have to say that Brandy from Half-A-Hundred Acre Wood is the bomb dot com. I mean, seriously. This girl has it together.

So our first week of school board looked like this:

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The subject highlights were:

Math ~ Skip counting 1's and 2's. Since the boys have already mastered these we didn't spend much time on them. But thing singing was fun. :-)

Language ~ The 8 Parts of Speech: noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, conjunction, interjection, proposition, adjective. They only had to memorize the names this week. We will delve into the meanings as the year goes on.

Science ~ The 7 Types of Biomes: Grasslands, Deserts, Scrublands, Tundra, Deciduous Forests, Coniferous Forests, and Tropical Rain Forest. We watched YouTube videos of each of the biomes and wrote fact cards. Jayden's class presentation this week was on his favorite biome and he chose the Tropical Rain Forest. We also build biomes on Mine Craft because that was awesome.

Geography ~ We studied the 7 continents and 4 oceans. The boys did continent and ocean puzzles found here. They had races labeling the continents and oceans printable from here. And they drew blog continents on paper and white boards for location practice.

Art ~ We learned the five basic shapes. Circles, Dots, Straight Lines, Angled Lines, Curved Lines. This was also pretty basic so we didn't spend a ton of time on it.

Timeline ~ We memorized the first timeline marks of the Ancient World, Age of Ancient Empires (creation to circa 450 ad), Creation and the Fall, The Flood and the Tower of Babel, Mesopotamia and Sumer, Egyptians, Indus River Valley Civilization, Minoans and Mycenaeans

History ~ We studied Charlemagne and the Franks. The boys colored this picture while we read about him. We also found some Power Point productions here.

Latin ~ We memorized the first conjugation endings, present tense.

Jayden is also in the Essentials group so he is delving into writing a little more. He learned how to keyword outline and wrote a paragraph on The Middle Ages. Although we studied nouns last year, he was refreshed on how to pick out a common and proper noun and how to include quality adjectives in his papers.

So needless to say, there was a lot to learn. I am so proud of the hard work the boys put into week 1. We can't wait to start week 2!


8.23.2013

I'm Back!

Where have I been? Well, here, mostly. Here at home. Running through the chaos of this time of year. School schedules, school shopping, football practice, cheer practice, games, life, life, life. 

But really, we went on vacation in Destin, which was not nearly as relaxing as I had hoped it would be. And drove 15 hours home with a grumpy, screaming 7 month old who just happened to be running a fever. 12 hours later we were sitting in the emergency room of Children's Hospital. The diagnosis: meningitis. We were immediately admitted to the hospital. Immediately, Owen was started on IV antibiotics and the mirage of tests began. Finally, 48 hours later, test after test, a spinal tap, blood work and swabs, we were happy to be told that it was the viral strand of meningitis. We were able to go home and watch our baby from here. So, I've just taken off. Taken off the time, taken full attention of my baby and taken the last few weeks to just settle in. For all of you who follow me on Twitter, I can't say thank you enough for all your prayers.

There is nothing like an attack on your kids to make you re-evaluate, re-prioritize and realize what is truly most important. And that is them. That is these precious babies that God has given me. And not that I have ever forgotten that but sometimes it just needs to be refreshed. Because truly when everything else is gone. My husband and my babies are #1. 

So on a lighter note! Today we're celebrating Evan! Happy birthday to this sweet little man! 



My comedian. He has the biggest heart of anyone I've ever seen. He's always happy. Always go-with-the-flow and such an amazing addition to our family. He's the first to tell me how beautiful I look when I'm dressed up and the first to ask for kisses every night. I love this boy to pieces. Can't believe 8 years has flown by since you entered our lives! We love you, Evan!


7.25.2013

These Days...

I woke up this morning at the bright and early time of 5:30 am. Rolled over to my precious little infant who only slept half the night and who was smiling ear to ear and chatting away to try and get my attention. A little annoyed, I picked him up and walked downstairs. Half-heartily made my coffee so I could keep my eyes open the rest of the day, and started answering emails to get a head start on work. Owen, on the other hand, wasn't having it. He wanted Mommy, and he wanted my full and undivided attention.

And that has been most of our day. I've gotten a little work in, a few Avery Lane posts up and fed the other kids at least once. Avery is still in her pajamas and Jayden has successfully moved his entire room to the *unfinished* basement because he and Evan can't stop arguing over who is suppose to be quiet in their room. And today I've just smiled. Soaked it in and enjoyed the chaos.

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Sure, there are still days when I wonder what it would be like to wake up, drop my kids off at daycare and sit in my office... in silence. To have an adult conversation or even a reason to dress in something other than sport shorts. To come home to a relatively clean house, since no one has been there all day, and not mix my piles of work with my piles of laundry. To look at the checking account and see all the extra money I could have if I had only kept my day job. And let's not forget the days that I want to take them all to the fire station. Bid them goodbye and hope they try and find me when they are grown and have overcome their emotional scars of being given away. 

But today, I'm reminded that these are the best days of my life. I get to see my babies growing up in front of me and I'm so thankful to be here for every minute of it. To see every smile and hear every giggle. To give all the hugs and kisses I can stand and even break up the fights. I look into the eyes of my 7 month old and then my 10 year old and I'm reminded of how fast it really does go. That in less than 10 years from now, I will, more than likely, have two less children in my home. That my baby will be almost 11 and that my little girl will be a teenager. 

And I decide that these are truly the days worth living for. 



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