Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How to road trip without DVDs - Part 1

Ready to Go!
The boys and I have returned from a 9-day, 2,000 mile road trip.  It was so much fun to explore with them and travel with them that I cannot wait to do it again....it could only have been better if hubby had been there.

Our trip required us to return by a specific day, so we decided to leave a few days early to enjoy a leisurely drive to our destination and take in a few field trips to round out our study of early American history from this past school year.

We are one of those "weird" families without a DVD player in our car -- and to be honest, I'm quite content without one.  It didn't even cross my mind to consider a portable one either.  I mean, I grew up on two-week car trips without a DVD and I turned out OK, right?

Don't answer that.

After a bit of internet searching, I discovered the website Mom's Minivan.com.  She has LOADS of great printables to keep your kids entertained for a portion of your trip.

After printing out classics like tic-tac-toe, squares and dots, the license plate game, and an (ingenious) version of paper and pencil Battleship game, I decided to make booklets our of them with my laminator (don't forget some dry erase markers) and new comb-binder.

First, I found some road trip clip art and added some cool lettering to create covers.  I decided that the books would be identical to one another (to keep arguing to a minimum) and that we'd call them The Yellow Book, The Red Book, and (can you guess it?) the White Book.

Creative, huh?

I laminated the covers with The Dot Gae on the backside.  The boys love this game at restaurants.The boys also love tic-tac-toe, and since this can waste a ton of paper, I decided a laminated copy was in order.

No car trip is complete without the license plate game.  Since Levi isn't reading the names of states (yet) I decided to throw in both a map (he's good with knowing where most of the states are!) and the state names list.  This worked very well.  Uisng the map, Levi loved putting a neat dot on the center of each state while Luke was enjoying the fruits of all his hard work this year and was reading the state names from the list.  The boys aren't competitive about this game, so we end up helping each other out.

After all that laminating, I decided to add in a plastic pocket to each book to hold consumables:  scavenger hunt games, road bingo games, and even a cow game:

And, the fortune teller game:

The boys had a great time making and playing with these.  That simple piece of paper occupied them on-and-off for an afternoon of driving.  Next road trip, I'll give them blanks to make their own fortunes (with Magic 8-Ball type answers).

Although the boys didn't use all the activities that I included in The Books, I'm happy to have invested the time I did into making them.  I know we'll add more to them for our next few trips.  I'll probably make one for me so I can play along, too.  

The Road Trip books were only part of the multi-pronged activities we had planned for our trip.  More of our fun to com!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Getting Real

It is really easy to portray the wrong message when blogging. I can choose to only write about what I want to and I can flower it all up any way I want.

But I don't want to do that.

So in the interest of more transparency, I present the following:

1.  I really do not have this parenting thing under control.  Each of my children has an issue or two that we're constantly working on.  Right now, Levi is pushing the envelope with back-talk.   Some days we deal with it well, some days not so much.

2.   I have an issue or two as well {gasp!}.  I struggle with patience sometimes, a low frustration tolerance sometimes, contentment sometimes, self-control sometimes.  OK, I'll be honest:  those fruits of the spirit?
Well, let's just say I'm a work in progress.

3.  One of my goals in homeschooling my children is for them to see God's hand in all of creation -- his order, his plan, and his love  We use some tools which make God readily apparent to us-- and I'm quick to point that out.  But, I must admit that if it isn't easily handed to me, my intentions to seek Him and share Him often get lost in the mundane of life. 

4.  I can handle two or three big responsibilities at a time.  I can educate my kids and prepare 3 squares a day OR I can educate the kids and have a constant supply of clean clothes, sheets, and towels.  But rarely do all three occur in the same week.

5.  Dust is a regular visitor in our home.  I try to remember to kick it out, but I usually forget. I'm thankful we don't hacve allergies here!

6.  I like starting new routines.  It's usually day #2 that is the hard part.

7.  My kids are not homeschool prodigies.  They have academic strengths and weaknesses. The sometimes cry when the have to do their assignments.  I've been known to answer, "Because I said so" to questions about why we have to learn or study something. They don't wake up begging to start school. In fact, Mondays can be very ugly.

So, I've bared a bit of myself for now.  What myths about your homeschool have you inadvertently portrayed?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Secret Blessings

I had a great idea this week, and I actually did something about it.

The genesis of the idea came a few months ago, before we stopped school for the summer. I remember telling Dave about it, then I apparently forgot about it until this week. Perhaps it was an Adventures in Odyssey episode that brought the idea back to the front of my brain. Thank you, God, for putting whatever-it-was in front of me to jog my memory.

Just a warning: this wasn't a rocked science idea.  Don't get you expectations too inflated.

Here goes:  One of the four of us (Daddy was at work) would draw a piece of paper with an X on it.  The X Person would then be responsible for secretly blessing another family member during the week.  Ideas to bless that person were to do one of their chores secretly, help the person spontaneously, do something for them...... The boys liked the idea (who doesn't like a secret?), and paper slips were made.

In typical 5-year-old fashion, Levi yelled out, "I got the X!"  about 3 nanoseconds after looking at his piece of paper and right as I was saying, "Now remember, don't tell us if you go the X."

So today, with only one day left to bless a family member, Luke reminded Levi about his secret mission.  Levi huddled with me and said -- as if reading my mind -- "You know what I'm going to do?"  His eyes are about the size of half-dollars.  I'm going to make Ben's bed for him!"  Right on buddy, I think. He got the idea.  Totally got it.

A few minutes later, he came downstairs, barely able to contain his excitement.  "Mom, I even made Luke's bed, too!"

I wanted to squeeze the stuffing out of him!

We're home from soccer and The Monsters are finally quiet (Luke scored a goal tonight, so Daddy had to make good on his promise of ice cream) and not one thing was said by Ben or Luke about their beds.  And that is okay.  Because my purpose in doing this wasn't for recognition by the blessee (not a word, I know) or even recognition from Dave or I.  The purpose in doing this was to experience the inner joy that comes from doing something nice for someone, just for the heck of it. 

As it turns out, I'm really glad Levi blew it and told everyone that he was the blesser for the week.  And, I'm glad I was able to see all Levi's joy from blessing his brothers.  Even though it didn't work out as I had planned, it worked out the way God had planned.

God is good all the time, and all the time...God is good.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nuts! Our Menu Plan

Starting on Tuesday the 5th, Dave and I are going to be cuttin' out the carbs.  We're going Primal!

This winter, Dave and I watched a Netflix documentary called Fat Head (the link takes you to the  website for the movie).   We really liked the movie, and it made sense to Dave (who has read way more about nutrition and what we should and should not be eating than I have).  A little more reading and a couple more web searches and we ended up at Primal Blueprint's webpage. In short, we're going to be eating in a hunter/ gather way - meat, nuts, berries, veggies and fruits.

We ate in a primal manner this spring for a short season, and really enjoyed some positive health benefits:  Dave lost some unneeded pounds and I discovered that by cutting out the carbs during most all my meals, I have a lot more energy during the day!  No more falling asleep while reading aloud to the kids!

We got off track for a couple months, but we're both ready to make more consistent changes to our eating habits.  Two weeks ago I received Primal Blueprint: Quick and Easy Meals from Amazon:

[By the way, this recipe book might interest you if you are gluten-free, grain-free, and/or dairy-free.  I like that most of the recipes are not just making a meal for 1 or 2 -- there are often 4-6 servings for each recipe.]
My consistent problem when we're trying to eat healthy is that I just don't want to make the time to spend a couple hours a night in the kitchen cooking and cleaning up.  I've done that before, and I don't want a repeat!  Finding this recipe book will hopefully be a blessing to us.  Recipe prep and cooking is 30 minutes or less, and the recipes sound delicious.  Here's a few that we're going to try this week:

  • Dill and Caper Salmon Burgers for dinner
  • Aromatic whole grilled chicken [this should be interesting.  I get to learn how to spatchcock]
  • Nutty Blueberry protein balls for a snack or quick breakfast
  • Crustless quiche for breakfast
  • Portobello mushrooms suffed with egg and spinach for breakfast.
For now, we're not going to mess with the kids' intake of carbs too much.  I've already started limiting their carbs for snacks and asked them to eat more fruits, veggies, and protein.   We still have far too many carbohydrate snacks in the house (crackers and pretzels).   Right now, it is about getting Mom and Dad healthier and being better examples.  They will be sharing some of our dinners with us.

I foresee the biggest challenge for Dave and I at breakfast -- we have to get rid of carbs such as toast, pancakes and cereal.

I'll let you know how it goes.

So, what's something new you are going to try cooking this week?