Saturday, June 28, 2014

Random Thoughts This Morning

This morning I have found myself pondering lots of important things like....

1.  If you give a kid a mud puddle he/she will jump in it until the puddle is all splashed out and empty.

2.  Bees are buzzzzzzzzy all of the time.  Rain or shine they are at work!  Fascinating.

3.  I used to read 2 or 3 books a week.  I am down to 2 or 3 pages a night before the ol' eyelids slam shut....parenting tires a girl out!

4.  Strawberries, sour cream, and brown sugar are one of the most incredible taste sensations out there.

5.  I ordered caterpillars for our butterfly kit and the day they were received my daughter's caterpillar, ,caught in our very own backyard, turned itself into a chrysalis....a bit ironic I thought!

6.  I am ridiculously excited about the new series Girl Meets World.  It premiered last night and my daughter and I have a popcorn/ice cream date scheduled tonight to watch it.  Last summer we watched Boy Meets World and loved it.

7.  My daughter has caught the same slug 3 different times....3 different times it has escaped and then been found.  Everytime the slug is rediscovered I imagine it is screaming "Noooooooo" as it is being put back into it's habitat.  Don't feel too sorry for Spot the slug has a habitat set up that I envy!

8.  This morning I am having left over chile rellenos for breakfast.  I LOVE LEFTOVERS for breakfast!

9.  I am channeling Annie and singing "The sun will come out tomorrow......"  Really.....the sun will come out tomorrow....right?  I am feeling a little soggy!

10.  A child's project involving flour in cake pans requires intense supervision.  Otherwise clouds of said flour will erupt all over the house and footprints comprised of flour will be found on the couch.  Ask me how I know this! :)

And that is it. I am thunk out for the day....Happy Saturday everyone!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Chicken In The Freezer

We decided to raise hens for eggs three years ago and I haven't regretted the decision for a second.  We loved our girls and they were amazing egg layers.  Our hens were getting older and their egg production was starting to decline so this year we decided to get new chicks.  We live in a small town on a large lot but how many chickens we are allowed to keep is ordained by the city. We can only have so many chickens.  For this reason we decided to put our older hens in the freezer as crock pet hens, and start off fresh with our new chicks.

Our older hens were treated like the little rulers of the roost that they were.  Treats in the form of garden weeds and kitchen scraps were hand delivered every day.  They had lots of room to run, scratch, dig, and play.  They were given excellent chicken food and their water was always kept fresh and plentiful.  Our girls had great lives, but at the end of the day they were raised for their eggs and meat.  I am sad and already miss the ladies (though the new chicks keep us hopping) but AM happy that I know exactly how well they were treated and what went into their bodies.  I know the meat provided by one of our chickens will be healthy and ethical.  As I don't plan to give up eating chicken, I am glad that some of the chicken we consume came directly from our little backyard "farm".

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Birth Of A Chicken Coop...... Alternatively Titled....... My Husband Rocks! I Think I'll Keep Him.


Helping Dad
Last week was a busy one for our family.  We put hens in the freezer (our first time butchering chickens) and built a chicken coop.....or I should say my husband......with help from our son......built a chicken coop.  A lot of thought went into this coop.  We purchased a chicken coop kit a few years ago and it worked great, but this year we purchased more chicks so we need a bigger coop.  Things like laying boxes, easy cleaning accessibility, roosts, and where to put the food and water were all things that needed to be considered.  My husband drew up a blue print and he and my son went to work.  I love how it turned out!  It is a two story coop with SO much room for our new girls.  Cleaning and gathering eggs is easy and changing the food and water is a breeze.  Thanks hon!
Interior Shot

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Paint Chip Chore Charts

5 people living in a 1000 sq foot home means being vigilant chore wise or our home will be overtaken by unopened mail, toys, and crafts. I do not claim to be a housekeeping saint by any means, but I do like a relatively clean and clutter free house (not including my to do boxes....those are overflowing and very cluttery!  They don't count , do they?)  My kids are ages 9, 5, and 4.  They are old enough to do chores and honestly they help me out a LOT.

I devised a paint chip chore chart system that seems to work very well for our  kids.  They have learned (or are learning) their chores and have gotten quite good at them.  Needless to say this takes a little off of my plate which I am thankful for.  Here is how it works:  each child gets a paint chip made up of several shades of their favorite color.  In each shade of the paint chip I write one or two chores until the paint chip is filled up.  My oldest daughter, at age 9,  has the most chores and my 4 and 5 year olds have less.  I adjust periodically and switch chores around between the kids. There are also daily things like picking up toys and putting dirty clothes in the hamper that are expected, but aren't included on the charts.   My goal is that everyone knows how to do all of the chores necessary to run a home.  I want to send my kids out into the world knowing how to cook, do dishes, run a washing machine, etc.  This chore system works well for us because it is visual, uncomplicated,  and easy to change as necessary.

I think chores are important because it teaches kids how a household is run.  It gives the kids a sense of confidence when they have mastered a chore, and honestly having some of the daily load taken off of my and my husband's shoulders is much appreciated.  We stress that our home is a place that takes a team to take care of it.  Each chore that the kids do is important and completing that chore successfully means a lot to the household running smoothly.  Kids enjoy being an important cog in the wheel of household maintenance.....even if they don't feel it or admit it at the time.  They may grumble at times, but it is worth it to follow through and keep the chore chain gang going.....even if it is sometimes easier to do everything myself!  Kids will appreciate it sooner rather than later.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Taming The Laundry Monster For Good

Laundry is not my favorite task....specifically folding laundry is not my favorite thing to do.  It is usually last on my to do list and I have been known to have 4 loads at a time waiting to be folded. However, now that I have 5 people in my family and my husband is no longer doing a job that requires a uniform (which was professionally dry cleaned), I know I need to work a little harder on laundry before it OVERTAKES my life.

I am trying the following strategies:

1.  Wash a load every day.  Dry a load every day.  Fold a load every day.---it takes minutes to start a load and switch the load into the dryer.  The task of folding laundry takes a little longer but folding one load takes significantly less time than folding 4 or 5 loads.

2.  Enlist your kids' help.---Kids as young as 4 or 5 are excellent folders and can put their own clothes away.  Younger kids can sort socks, fold washcloths, etc.  Put your kids to work taming the laundry monster with you.  They are great company and many hands make light work!

3.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.---This popular phrase applies to laundry too!  Does any child NEED 45 items of clothing?  That is how many shirts I counted in my sons drawer.  I reduced the amount he had (donate or pass down outgrown clothes to your own younger kids or friends with younger children, sell at a consignment store, etc.)  This helps in two ways...less clothes to launder and now it is far easier for clothes to be put away.  The drawer opens and closes a lot easier!

I am sure I will slip at times and end up with several loads of laundry to fold, but I am going to do my best to keep things on track laundry wise!  I would love to hear other tips for keeping laundry on track!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tub Fun Tuesday-Foam Shapes In The Bathtub

Today's idea involves a package of craft foam, some scissors, and a little creativity.  My tub fun idea today is all about making foam shapes that your child can wet and then hang on the bath or shower wall.  My favorite things to make are clothing outfits (pants and shirts, skirts and blouses, dresses) and flowers/landscape scenes.  However, the possibilities are endless....ABC's, numbers, shapes, rainbows......Your kids can hang the shapes on the tub wall and then use bath tub crayons to complete their wall art.  You don't have to be an artist to create these fun foam scenes either.  Kids have fun regardless of your Picasso quotient.  Older children enjoy creating their own shapes as well.  It is also fun to hang your foam shapes on windows.  I can see this being a fun activity for my preschoolers when it is nasty outside!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Use Up Those Easter Jelly Beans With Jelly Bean Math

All kids need to learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.  Knowing these skills is essential for moving on to higher math, and these basic math skills will be used daily for their entire lives.  However, some kids find learning math to be a chore rather than a fun learning experience.  I have one of those kids so I am always on the lookout for ways to make learning math appealing, and when I came across using jelly beans for math equations I was sold.  Jelly beans are tasty, economical, and usually plentiful after Easter.  This makes using jelly beans fun for kids and practical for their teachers.   I am including links to pages that have great jelly bean ideas for beginning math problems. Thank you to the blogs Feels Like Home and Kids Activities Blog for some great ideas.   Enjoy!


Friday, April 25, 2014

Thar's Gold In Them Thar Hills.....OK Sandbox!

I had some "gems" (floral arrangement beads) and "gold" (rocks from our yard that we spray painted gold) left over from a library program.  I decided to add them to our sandbox and let the kids discover the treasure while they were playing.  They loved panning for gold in the sandbox and the two youngest each gathered quite a collection.  After a while, my oldest daughter asked her younger siblings if they wanted to play store and purchase some items that she had available (rocks, leaves, sticks, etc.) They said YES!  This proves to me that even
imitation money can burn a hole in your pocket and further proves to me that my oldest is going to be in sales some how, some way,  some day!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cloud Dough

Cloud dough is silky, moldable, and all ages find it fun to play with.  You can make pretend cakes, build castles, play with toy figurines in it, make a snow village out of it, and I could go on and on as the pretend play is limitless.  Two ingredients make up this recipe so it couldn't be simpler to create!  You can make an edible version for younger children that may still be putting things in their mouths....just replace the baby oil with vegetable oil.   Thank you to my friend Sherri for sharing this recipe from Happy Hooligans with me.  My oldest daughter made this recipe yesterday as part of her "real life" school work and my two youngest played with it non stop for a good hour.  Very fun!  Here is the link to find the recipe.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Felt Pictures...A Quiet Activity Perfect For Little Hands!

I am always on the look out for quiet and fun activities for my little guy.  I made felt pictures for him when he was one and was desperate for something (anything lol) to quietly keep his attention at church.  At the time, these felt pictures were way to advanced for him and he wanted nothing to do with them.  Fast forward 3 years and he loves them.  He pulled them out of my church bag the other day and started to play with them.  He was so excited to be able to put the pictures together himself with no help from anyone.  I have 3 sets made (a snowman, a Christmas tree, and a turkey) but I am making more now that I see how much he likes them.  I am guessing our 5 year old will like them as well!

Making these felt pictures is simple.  You need one piece of felt that will be your base (a piece that is about 8 1/2 x 11) and pieces of felt in different colors that you cut out to form shapes for your pictures.  For my snowman felt picture, I simply cut out 3 circles of white felt and laid them on a blue background.  I cut out white cloud shapes.  Then I added arms made out of brown felt, and a green tree.  For my Christmas tree, I cut out a large green triangle, a small rectangle out of brown, and several small circles out of a variety of colors for decorations.  I then cut out a yellow star for the top of my tree.  I laid all of these on piece of blue felt.  For my turkey, I cut several feather shapes out of a variety of colors, a larger brown circle for the body, and a smaller brown circle for the head.  Then I cut out a yellow beak, a red waddle, and yellow legs.  I laid all of these down on a tan piece of felt.

These pictures are great for hand/eye work and really inspire creativity.  Kids will come up with lots of different ways that the pictures can be put together.  They are quiet activities that will keep a little one's attention at church or at restaurants.  I am not sure what my next felt pictures will be....but I will be making more soon.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chicken Birthday Party

My oldest daughter's 9th birthday was last weekend.  We do birthdays big around here and this year my daughter chose to throw a chicken themed birthday party.   This little girl has kept me hopping with the various themes she has chosen over the years.  We have done dinosaurs, butterflies, rubber duckies, horses, stuffed animals, and a Huss (her name for her blankie) themed party.  Truthfully, planning her parties always brings me a lot of joy and stretches my creative spirit.  I love celebrating the day of her birth with a party that characterizes her individual spirit.  This year's chicken themed party was a lot of fun to plan.  Below are the favor bags, treats, games, and decorations we used.


1.  We decided to make a paper plate chicken face banner to hang on the mantle above our woodstove.  This project was very easy and ended up looking very cute.  We used white and yellow dessert plates, drew on eyes with a sharpie and taped on orange construction paper triangles for beaks and red construction paper for combs.  We taped these chicken faces along with yellow crepe paper to our mantle and voila'  our party's decorative focal point was born.

2.  We also decided to make chickens out of balloons.  We blew up yellow balloons and drew eyes on them with a sharpie, taped our construction paper beaks and combs on and added construction paper feet to the bottom of each balloon.  Then, we taped the balloon chickens above our wood stove and along our living room window sills.


1.  We used brown paper lunch sacks and cut them down to about half size, then we drew on eyes and glued on our construction paper beaks and combs.  We filled them with plush rubber chickens,  chicken bouncy balls, candy corn, and baby chicks.


1.  Hatch The Egg:  We (and by we I mean my hubby) blew up white balloons and filled them with cute chicken domino markers and chicken/egg bracelets.

2.  Egg Toss:  We hard boiled eggs obtained from our backyard chickens and used those for the toss.  Some of the kids were amazed by the different colors and size of the different eggs. 

3.  Search For The Favor Bags:  We used candy corns to create a trail that led from our driveway to the kids' play house where the party favor bags were hidden. 

4.  Feeding Clover To Our Backyard Chickens:  My daughter took her friends down and showed them how to pick clover and feed it to our hens.  The kids loved this!


1.  Brownie Bird Nests:   Make your brownie batter (from scratch or use a boxed mix).  Scoop the batter into well greased muffin tins and bake.  Cool the brownies in the pan for about 5 minutes.  Then take them out and gently press the middles down to make bird nest shapes.  After the brownies have cooled completely add jelly bean eggs.

2.  Donut Hole Chicks:  Coat donut holes with melted frosting and roll in yellow tinted coconut (combine  yellow gel food coloring in a plastic bag with shredded coconut and knead until the coconut is the desired yellow).  Dip mini chocolate chips into frosting and "glue" onto the donut holes for chick eyes, cut up orange jelly beans and do the same "gluing" procedure to add as beaks. 

This was a fun party to plan and my daughter, her siblings, and friends really enjoyed themselves!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Random Thoughts

As I go about my day, random thoughts flow in and out and today in celebration of the first day of Spring (WooHoo!), I thought I would share a few. Disclaimer:  These thoughts may or may not have anything to do with Spring!

1.  No matter how unsettled or grumpy I may feel,  seeing my little boy kick and spin his way across our living room always makes me smile.  He can make me laugh out loud when he says things like "Stand back everyone, I am training to be a ninja!"

2.  It is sunny, now it is cloudy, oooh sunny again, and..............cloudy!  I could do this all day LONG since I live on the Central Oregon Coast.  And uh-hum it is now Spring. 

3.  I should be folding the two loads of clothes on our bed (placed there so they get FOLDED before I can get into said bed), or sweeping the floors, or changing sheets on the  kids' beds, or making a dozen bracelets for my daughter's birthday party game, or getting library books ready to return, or......but no, I am writing this post about random thoughts because I would much rather be writing than doing any of the above! :)  The other stuff will all get always does!

4.  My oldest daughter is about to turn nine and I am amazed at how often she says something to me that really makes me stop and think!  When did she get so grown up and articulate????!?!?! 

5.  My seed order shipped today, my seed order shipped today, my seed order shipped today.....can't wait to plant!!!

6.  Wait!  My little girl is about to turn 9 which means she is halfway to 18 which means we are halfway through her growing up years here at home which means this mommy could potentially be a bit teary eyed for a minute!

7.  My daughter just proclaimed that a spider we saw on a walk was CUTE!!!  How can a daughter of mine think anything belonging to the arachnid species is cute!?!?!  One thing for sure, I have grown to know and even appreciate more about creepy crawlies in the last several years than I ever thought possible.  Thanks kids!

8.  How does my husband go to sleep the minute his head hits the pillow.  I need to learn how to do that! 

9.  I am really enjoying my daughter's Story of the World history curriculum.  Today if the weather holds we get to make a brick! 

10.  OK now I am laughing because of how excited I am to do a science experiment that involves us making a brick!  It is like I am in 3rd grade all over again!

Happy Spring everyone!