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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Homemade Resurrection Eggs~EASTER

Young children are very concrete learner, and usually need something they can see or touch to fully understand a concept. Resurrection eggs are one of the  concrete ways we can share the story of Jesus' death and resurrection with our children.  Resurrection eggs can be purchased, but you can also make your own using items around your home.

To make your own resurrection eggs, you will need an ordinary egg carton and a dozen plastic eggs, a Bible, and the items listed below. 

Share about Jesus using one egg at a time. Explain in your own words (and ask your children) what each item symbolizes and read the verses from the Bible. Older children may read the verse.

 Eventually, even young children can tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection with the help of the symbols found in the eggs.  You may  print out below scriptures, or cut apart the below  scriptures into small strips and put them inside the egg

Homemade Resurrection Eggs
Egg #1 Oyster cracker (or crusty bread) 
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Matthew 26:26 

Egg #2 Silver coins
Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.  Matthew 26:14-16 

Egg #3 Purple cloth 
They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,
Matthew 27:28 

Egg #4 Thorns 
and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head.  Matthew 27:29 

Egg #5 Rope 
Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Mark 15:15 

Egg #6 Cross 
Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). John 19:16-17 

Egg #7 Nail 
There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18 

Egg #8 Sign that says, “This is the king of theJews.” 
There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews. Luke 23:38 

Egg #9 Sponge (with vinegar) 
Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. Matthew 27:48 

Egg #10 Cloves or spices  or cotton ball with essential oil
Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. Luke 23:56 

Egg #11 Rock 
Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.  Matthew 27:59-60 

Egg #12 EMPTY
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:55-56 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Homeschool Valentine's Day

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:12

Heart Toss Game 
I made a small Valentines Toss with Dixie cups taped to the bottom of a box (from Aldi), and pom-poms (from dollar store).   You can make it harder by awarding different points for each cup.

We also used this as another opportunity to extend a math concept from My Father's World, using tally marks. Each child got a turn to throw 3 pom poms, each pom pom that went in was a point. First one to 50 won the game. Or you can play multiple short games, first one to 10 wins.

Many of the activities involve some math (tally marks, symmetry), but since since we were learning counting to 100 in Kindergarten, used printable "Hearts 100 Square".The same site had many other Valentine printable for all ages.

Sign Language Valentine's Card 
The valentine below is example of the valentines we made for Grandparents.  Trace their hand, then look up how to say "I Love you" in ASL.

Mail letters to loved ones,
 include a trip to Post Office
Earlier in the week we made valentines for cousins and grandparents.  We used it as an opportunity to learn about our address, addressing a letter, and using post office. Make a mini field trip, and allow your children to purchase the stamps and put in the mail slot.

Symmetry Heart Art

Fold paper in half, and draw half of a heart.  Have children cut them out, then use those hearts to make art. I made a few examples for my kids to get their creative juices flowing.
*For older children, they can draw the half of the heart before cutting.
*For younger children, cut the hearts out for them, but do it front of them to demonstrate the symmetry of the fold.

Easter as a Family
Beaks and Camouflage Lesson
Animal Tracks Lesson Plan 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Meal Planning that saves you Time and Money

My monthly grocery and toiletries budget for a family of four is $325 a month with no coupons and no shopping sales. 

I actually feed them on about $250 because that whole $325 money includes toiletries; like paper towels, tissue paper, and shampoo. I exactly know how much we spend because we use DaveRamsey’s cash envelopes, no credit cards or debit cards for groceries. My husband gets paid twice a month, so I plan about two weeks of meals at a time.

You will see it repeated a couple of times, but the key to our budget is meal planning.  I am not always consistent in exactly  how or what I plan; my meals plans are scribbled on a white board and not fancy at all.  But the key is I PLAN, and then I STICK TO IT. 

1.  Check what you already have!
 The biggest waster of money is food thrown away! Go through your cupboards, freezer, and fridge and see if you have main ingredients like pastas and meats.  If you have 10 cans of beans, then start looking up bean recipes.  If you have fresh spinach that need to be eaten before it goes bad, use it up in Minestrone Soup or Spinach Lasagna.

This may sound strange, but I almost never shop grocery sales.  I have found that I save more money by sticking to meal plan and eating leftovers, no matter what is on sale or not. For example, the meatballs may be more expensive than chicken that week, but if you have every other ingredient for three meatball meals but only 1 chicken meal, then buy the meatballs.  You can save $1  pound on a sale meat, but if you don't plan your meals for the week and end up eating out with money you don't have, you just lost $20+.

I also have a running list on the fridge of items as they run out.  Too many trips tot he store means you will buy things you don't need, so get it while you are there the first time.

2.  Plan your meals and ingredients.
 Use the mental & physical list you made of the ingredients you already have, and plan your meals. 

 Because meat/protein is usually your most expensive ingredient, I make my plan by what meat. I do not plan by the day of the week,  I just  make a list of all the meals I have ingredients for (or will buy ingredients for), then pick what sounds good to me that day.   I try to plan in one meatless meal a week to cut cost.

While I don't shop meat sales, I do buy 2-3 packages meats at a time and put them in a freezer.  If it on sale, I buy 3-4 packages.

This is what my meal plan looks like in real life.  Two white boards on the front of my fridge and dry erase markers. It may not be Pinterest-pretty but it is effective. I just wipe meals off the list as we eat them. 
  Menu Plan Ideas by Meat/Protein 
Cooked ground turkey or ground beef:
Spaghetti with meat sauce and salad
Sloppy Joe's and potato wedges
Tacos or taco salad (salads if you have leftover lettuce from spaghetti night)
Three bean Turkey Chili ( with hot dogs 
Meatloaf (make 3, freeze 2) mashed potatoes, green beans
Sherperd's Pie (with mashed potato leftovers)

Shredded Cooked Chicken (I cook mine in a crock-pot and freeze in ziploc bags):
Chicken Alfredo and Salad
Chicken and Noodles 
Scheuzan Chicken Noodle Toss (page 79 Dinner on Dime Cookbook)
Chicken, steamed broccoli, and Rice
Chicken and Bows – make two and freeze one (page 150 Dinner on a Dime Cookbook)
Chicken Quesadillas
Chicken soft tacos with corn 

Frozen meatballs (I buy 2 or three bags when on sale at Meijer):
Hawaiians Meatballs and Rice
Meatball Minestrone Soup
Spaghetti and Meatballs
BBQ Meatballs
Meatball Ziti  (make 2 and freeze 1)

Meatless- I try to plan in one “vegetarian” meal a week to cut cost:
Noodles Florentine with Spinach (page 171 in dinner on a Dime Cookbook)
Spaghetti with no meat in sauce
Egg casserole and fruit on side
Vegetarian Minestrone Soup with beans
Potato Soup and cornbread
Broccoli and Cheese Soup (
Macaroni and Cheese and broccoli (
Cheese bagel pizzas and carrot sticks

Crock-pot Pork Chops with mashed Potatoes
BBQ on Grill with asparagus 

Ground Italian Sausage
Lasagna (make 3 and freeze 2)
Spinach Rolls
Homemade Pizza
Egg and Sausage Casserole
English Muffins with sausage and cheese and fruit side

Roast (venison when we have it)
Roast with potatoes and carrots
Shredded BBQ sandwiches with corn and fries
Roast and vegetable Soup
Beef and Noodles with Mashed Potaoes and Green Beans

Kielbasa Sausage
In crockpot with potatoes and green beans
Fried with brown sugar, mashed potatoes and vegetable
Baked in olive oil, with crispy potato chips and garlic roasted green beans

3. Make your Shopping List.
Making your shopping list is an art. For a more detailed look at how to make a shopping list that saves you money see another post.  My shopping list is a little different than my ingredients list.  You make you ingredients list while you make you meals list. Your shopping list is made after you have made your meal plan, it is how and where you will shop.

Make Your List By Where It's Located in the Store.
Now this may seem strange, but I promise it will save you time and money! Before I started this I would settle for not buying an essential ingredient or impulse something not on my list when I have spent an hour in the store and I am too tired to walk all the way back to the dairy with a full cart because I forgot one dairy item.   Like I said before,  too many trips to the store means you will buy things you don't need, so get it while you are there the first time.

  • Meats
  • Dairy/Refrigerated
  • Dry/Non perishables/snacks (DO NOT FORGET SNACKS & EASY LUNCH ON YOUR LIST!)
  • Bread
  • Produce
  • Misc/ Toiletries / Pharmacy
List by Store
To be honest, about 90% of what we eat comes from Aldi's, but there are some things at different stores that are just better price (like ground turkey from Sams') Every few months I will shop Aldi's, then run across the street to Sam's for shampoo & enough ground turkey to put in freezer for a few months.
Know what store have what deals, and buy extra to freeze when you are there so that next month you don't have to go to two different stores.
  • Aldi's-great prices on bread, milk, bread, new organic line, and boxed items (cereal, crackers, etc)
  • Meijer- I sometimes get produce here when Aldi's is limited
  • Bread Outlet- Bread and pasta.  I only shop here once every few months and throw everything that we will not eat that week in our freezer.
  • Sam's- Good prices on frozen foods, name brand toiletries, diapers, cheese, milk, and ground turkey (to see tips on how to buy in bulk and save money see another post)

4. Use Leftovers
Keep a running list of what leftovers that are in your fridge (see picture above with meal planning), and put them into clear individual lunch size containers immediately following your meals. My husband take leftovers for lunch almost everyday, and he says he appreciates the list on the door and the fact that he can just grab and go. 

The kids and I also eat leftovers and simple sandwiches for lunch everyday.

Dinner Buffet
Once every few weeks we have "dinner buffet".  This is a fancy way to say we all eat leftovers. We call it a buffet to make it sound fun and the kids get to choose their leftovers.  They may eat tacos while I eat leftover sloppy joes, and my husband gets a bowl of chili. :)

Thanks for reading to this never ending post and I hope this helps someone who may be starting out in meal planning! 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Trundle Beds into Bunk beds

When the twins turned three and half we had to admit they were too big for their toddler beds.  The problem was they were also too little for bunk beds, and their room was too small for two twin beds.  Thankfully not only does my father in law mill beautiful wood from his land, my very talented mother in law is a carpenter who turns that wood into beautiful furniture.  She made a trundle bed for the twins that would covert into two twin beds when we moved into a "bigger' house.  She came up the below bed that the boys loved!

Transforming Trundle into Bunk Beds
Two years later, and God has clearly told us we will be living in our "starter' home for many more years.   While we love the trundled beds, my five and half year olds are in need of more floor space to play in their room without having to push in the heavy trundle bed.  The twins are also big enough that they want their own space, and with the trundle bed one of them always had his bed hidden during the day.

My talented husband undertook the project of turning the trundle beds into  bunk beds.  His basic plan was actually turning the top bunk into a loft bed, then putting the trundle underneath. Since the boys have a fan in their room we tried to keep the loft a little lower than conventional bunk beds.

We kept with the sycamore (light) and walnut (dark) look of my mother in law's original beds.  Jon extended the legs of the top bed with thee walnut planks that the foot fit into nicely

Jon designed the railing and ladder with the same alternating wood colors my mother in law originally choose-sycamore (light) and walnut (dark). We decided instead of staining, that we would polyurethane the wood to keep the natural colors.  We did the same with the original bed.  The Poly is also durable to stand up to twin boys.

Here are all the pieces after they have two coats of poly, waiting in my kitchen to be built into a bunk bed!

Jon designed the loft to have a small frame around the bottom that the trundle would easily fit into without screws and could be removed if in the future we want to use it as a trundle again. It also makes the loft more like a bunkbed than a loft.

The ladder is one of my favorite parts of this whole build.  I am very proud of Jon's woodworking skills and design int this ladder.  the dark and light combo looks great! 

Jon added hooks instead of screwing it permanently into the bed so that if we ever move and want to move the ladder to another side of the bed then we can.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey Tea for Sore Throat

Homemade health

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a natural bacteria killer,and effective in treating bacterial infections in the body. It's other proven health benefits include digestion aid, weight loss, and heart health.

 While I know it is good for me, I do not like the taste of apple cider vinegar.  That is why I am so  thankful when to have found such a recipe to get the antioxidants of unfiltered organic ACV in my system without the yuckiness of swallowing straight vinegar. 

If you follow this recipe, you does not taste the vinegar, it tastes much more like a slightly spiced warm honey drink.

Honey and Apple Cider Vinegar "Tea" (no actual tea included)
  • 1 TBSP ACV (I recommend Bragg's Organic ACV with 'mother')
  •  2 to 3 TBSP of Honey (I use 3)
  • 1 cup of of almost boiling water , hot enough to melt honey (about the rest of mug)
  1. Pour cold ACV and honey into bottom of mug. 
  2. Pour boiling water over  cold  ACV and honey and stir.  The order is important, it will not taste the same if you put water in first or try to boil the ACV.
  3. Drink slowly and repeat two to three times a day. 
Variations for flu:  You may add drop of lemon essential oil or half a lemon, and cinnamon stick to enhance flavor.  I learned the hard way that with strep throat, the lemon and cinnamon can irritate your throat if it's too raw.

Apple Cider Vinegar Gargle Mix
If you want a even more very effective use of Apple cider Vinegar for Sore Throat, then use the gargle mix recipe below. My friend told me about this and it really did lessen the pain in my throat very quickly.  This is very effective, but also very very potent vinegar taste.  If you buy the ACV with the mother in it (I recommend Bragg's ACV), it has less of a vinegar taste, and more kin to apple cider.

Do not drink ACV straight, the acidity could harm your tooth enamel or lining of your esophagus.
  • 1 TBSP ACV (cold)
  • 1 TBSP warm water
  1. Mix together and gargle, the swallow.  
  2. Repeat every hour or two for a few days or as needed.