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Friday, April 26, 2013

Kids Eat Free (or almost free)- Mishawaka/South Bend/Granger

This of course is not a complete or perfect list, but as many restaurants I could find.  Comment below if you have any restaurants to add or correct so I can share with other families!
I recommend CALLING AHEAD to make sure the restaurant has not changed their policy.

Updated to the best of my knowledge 4/30/15

  • Flat Top Grill in UP Mall- Kids 10 and under eat for free all day, limited to one child per adult entree purchased
  •  TGIFriday’s: —Kids eat free, though offers vary by location.
  • IHOP -Daily- Kids eat for free from 3 -8 pm, limited to one child per adult entree
  • Ponderosa in Town and Country Plaza in Mishawaka- Kids 3 and under eat for 99 cents all day
  • Chick Fil A on Michigan Street in South Bend- Bring in Sunday's church bulletin get a free chicken sandwich when you buy an original chicken sandwich.
  • Main  Street Pub- Kids Eat Free. 2046 S Bend Ave, South Bend, IN 46637
  • Cici’s Pizza: Daily—Kids 3 and under eat free. 
  • Golden CorralKids 10 and under eat free from 5-9 pm. Two kids per adult. Kids 3 and under are always free.
  • Fazolis in Mishawaka on McKinley-99 cents kids meal with purchase of adult meal, 5-8pm
  • Bob Evans - Kids eat free. One child per adult. 12 and under. 4pm-close
  • Famous Dave's- Kids eat free with purchase of adult meal
  • IHOP- Kids eat for free from 3-10 pm, limited to one child per adult entree
  • TGIFriday’s- Kids eat for free all day, limited to two kids per adult. though offers vary by location.
  • PonderosaKids eat free from 4pm to close. You can get up to 2 free kids’ meals with each adult entree purchased. 
  • Beef O Brady's in Granger- Kids eat free 4-8pm with purchase of adult entree. 1 child per adult
  • Main  Street Pub- Kids Eat Free. 2046 S Bend Ave, South Bend, IN 46637
  • Cici’s Pizza: Daily—Kids 3 and under eat free. Ask server for specific details.

  •  Roc’s- Down town Mishawaka.  Kid’s night after 4pm
  •  Legends of Notre Dame -free kids meals on Wednesday nights.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings- 1.99 kids meals 5pm-8pm 12/under dine in only
  • IHOP- Kids eat for free from 3- 10 pm, limited to one child per adult entree
  • Ponderosa - Kids 3 and under eat for 99 cents all day
  • Main  Street Pub- Kids Eat Free. 2046 S Bend Ave, South Bend, IN 46637
  • Cici’s Pizza: Daily—Kids 3 and under eat free. Ask server for specific details.
  • IHOP -Daily- Kids eat for free from 3 -10 pm, limited to one child per adult entree
  • Perkin's Restaurant & Bakery- Kids Eat Free with purchase of adult entree. 4pm-8pm.
  • Ponderosa - Kids 3 and under eat for 99 cents all day
  • Cici’s Pizza: Daily—Kids 3 and under eat free. Ask server for specific details.
  • IHOP -Daily- Kids eat for free from 3 -10 pm, limited to one child per adult entree
  • Ponderosa - Kids 3 and under eat for 99 cents all day
  • Cici’s Pizza: Daily—Kids 3 and under eat free. Ask server for specific details.
  • IHOP -Daily- Kids eat for free from 3 -10 pm, limited to one child per adult entree
  • Steak-n-Shake- Kids Eat Free all day. One free kid's plate per $8 spent.
  • Ponderosa - Kids 3 and under eat for 99 cents all day
  • Cici’s Pizza: Daily—Kids 3 and under eat free. Ask server for specific details.
  • IHOP -Daily- Kids eat for free from 3 -10 pm, limited to one child per adult entree
  • Granite City Food & Brewery- Kids eat free with adult entree purchase. 5pm-close.
  • Steak-n-Shake- Kids Eat Free all day. One free kid's plate per $8 spent.
  • Ponderosa - Kids 3 and under eat for 99 cents all day
  • Main  Street Pub- Kids Eat Free. 2046 S Bend Ave, South Bend, IN 46637
  • Cici’s Pizza: Daily—Kids 3 and under eat free. Ask server for specific details.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bird Beaks and Caterpillar Camouflage

  We used our "beaks" to catch some "caterpillars hiding in the grass". You can do this activity while studying Birds or camouflage.

Aims of Lesson:
  • To discuss how birds use their beaks 
  • Discuss caterpillars use camouflage to hide from predators
Book Suggestions:
  • If you are focusing on different butterflies and caterpillars then use the book A Butterfly Is Patient. because it's entire inside cover is covered in illustration of different colored caterpillars.
  • If discussing birds the use the book Beaks!
  • Clothespin for each child 
  • Fake grass from Silk Flower Aisle in Dollar Store
  • Multi-colored pipe cleaners cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Glue and crayons
  • paper
  1. Look through some books on caterpillars and see their different colors.   Or look through some bird books and read how birds use beaks.
  2. After teacher "hides" caterpillars in grass, each kids takes turns catching the caterpillars.
  3. Draw the correct camouflage for the caterpillars you find (red flowers for red caterpillars, green caterpillars in grass, etc)

Letting Go~Author Unknown

 A counselor shared this with me a few years back, and it is still very applicable.

To "let go" does not mean to stop caring,
it means I can't do it for someone else.

To "let go" is not to cut myself off,
it's the realization I can't control another.

To "let go" is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.

To "let go" is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To "let go" is not to try to change or blame another,
it's to make the most of myself.

To "let go" is not to care for,
but to care about.

To "let go" is not to fix,
but to be supportive.

To "let go" is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.

To "let go" is not to be in the middle arranging the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their own destinies.

To "let go" is not to be protective,
it's to permit another to face reality.

To "let go" is not to deny,
but to accept.

To "let go" it not to nag, scold or argue,
but instead to search out my own shortcomings, and correct them.

To "let go" is not to adjust everything to my desires
but to take each day as it comes, and cherish myself in it.

To "let go" is not to criticize and regulate anybody
but to try to become what I dream I can be.

To "let go" is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.

To "let go" is to fear less,
and love more

Saturday, April 13, 2013

DIY Raised Garden Bed 4ft x 8ft

We made a 4 x 4 Square Foot Garden Bed
last year and were very successful.  We decided to make a
large second bed for vine vegetable that need a lot more room,
 like zucchini.

Directions for 4 x 8 foot Raised Garden Bed
We decided to do a  raised bed due to lots of roots in our yard.  Check your local recycling center or waste department of your city for free compost to fill the bed.

Materials Needed:
  •  6—8 ft. 2x6’s
  • 1—8 ft. 2x2
  • 2 ½ in. screws
1.      Cut two of the 2x6’s in half to give you four 4 ft. sections and four 8 ft. sections.  You’ll put two on top of each other to form each side (You could user wider stock and less boards, but the 2x6 are much easier to handle and rip with a table saw).
2.      Cut the 2x2 into four 1 ft. sections and one 4 ft. section.
3.      Assemble the box using the 1 ft. 2x2 boards to brace each corner.  Use the 4 ft. 2x2 and some scrap wood to brace the middle of the long side to prevent bowing when the box is filled with soil.
4.      Wrap chicken wire loosely around the base to keep out seed-munching varmints.  I added some scrap rebar driven into the ground near the front corners to reinforce the wire.  It can unwrap to give you access to the garden when needed.

Simple Garden Markers

I have seen a lot of fancy garden markers on Pinterest.  I don't have time or motivation to spend an hour painting rocks for my garden.  So here is my simple, but effective solution....

Materials Needed:
  • Sharpie from your house
  • Rocks in your yard

 1. Use some warm water and wash rocks. Let dry thoroughly.
2. Write on rock.

Yep..that simple:)

Thursday, April 11, 2013


 Camp Food Tips-Pack Smart and Safe

  • Fill empty/clean milk jugs with water and freeze.  This will give you clean-water as they thaw, and double as your cold source in your cooler.
  • Bring about a dozen frozen water bottles and refill with your water jugs throughout the week. Again, clean water source and cold course in cooler, making more room for other foods.
  • Non squish-able bread and snacks. Tortillas and bagels are great for quick & easy wraps and sandwiches, and don't take up tons of room because you don't have to worry about having to pack them on top. Brings apples instead of bananas.
  • Ziplocs are your best friend. Don't bring anything in it's original boxes if you don't have to. Put snack, like goldfish crackers or trail mix, into individual baggies before you leave. This make getting ready for hikes easy, and allows your kids to pick their own snacks easily. 
  • Keep raw foods separate from other foods. Never bring meat or poultry products without a cold source to keep them safe and in water tight packaging. 
  • Freeze all cheese and meat individually in ziplocs before hand . It cuts down on ice/space you need in cooler and you can have "fresh" food the 1st and/ or 2nd night. Ziploc containers take up less space than bulky cardboard boxes,  and you only bring what you need. If you have frozen sausages for breakfast, they will thaw and make the cardboard wet. 

For camp Kitchen Organization and lists- See Family Camping Organization 

Unless you want to spend your entire camping week preparing or cleaning up food then be OK with some repeat and/or easy meals.   You will be happier to have time to hike and explore, than spending all your time cooking.

Day ONE Check in at 2:00pm
You don't want to have anything to complicated the first night.  We are always tired from setting up the tent and the campsite, so simplicity is key. 

  • Dinner-  Hot Dogs over fire and Buns, apples
  • Snacks/Dessert- Smores

Day TWO-
This is our big fire-cooking food day because our "fresh" food is thawing and we have had time to tend the fire.  Since many campfire meals require hot coal beds instead of flames, you need to allow an hour or two tending the fire before it's time to cook.  We use up our frozen raw food that is thawing this day.

  • Breakfast – Use Gas Camp Grill so you don't have to wake up and build fire-shakeup pancakes,eggs and sausage patties (frozen in Ziploc) with syrup and milk (frozen in water bottles)
  • Lunch- Cheese, spinach & deli meat Quesadillas on Gas Camp Grill and apple sauce cups. You can also bring cooked shredded chicken that already has taco seasoning added (freeze beforehand)
  • Snacks- Apples and Trail Mix
  • Dinner- The fire must be a couple hours old with very hot coals to cook the hobo dinner.  Don't forget heat gloves or oven mittens when handing your pie-irons.
    • Campfire Stew- Frozen ground beef patties (on bottom), washed baby potatoes, baby carrots salt and pepper, dried onions, 2 spoonfuls of Cream of mushroom soup on top.  Cook for at least half hour on HOT coals. You can add other veggies that your family likes, like zucchini. 
    •  Campfire Pies for dessert- buttered white bread with pie filling in between cooked in pie iron. 
Campfire Stew-tastes SOOOO much  better than it looks.  Trust me. 
Campfire Pies with pie filling

This is usually the day we go hiking, bike riding, or swimming at the beacg, so we plan mostly easy and portable meals.

  • Breakfast – Fruit cups and bagels with spray butter (you can toast on fire or gas grill)
  • Lunch- Bagel or Tortilla Wrap Sandwiches with deli turkey and cheese
  • Snacks- Fruit snacks, goldfish, Animal Crackers
  • Dinner- Grilled Cheese and canned Soup (heated on gas grill or over flame)

Day FOUR-Check out at 11:00am-
 Since you will be packing up campsite today, keep it easy and simple.

  • Breakfast- Poptarts and Fruit Punch
  • Snacks-Whatever is left in snack bins
  • Lunch- Deli Meat Bagel Sandwiches with ham and cheese
Use Pie iron to warm up your Poptarts:)

GROCERY LIST-4 Day Camping Meal Plan

  • Eggs (use first morning)
  • Half gallon of milk (you can freeze also)
  • Shredded Cheese (freeze)
  • Frozen cheese slices (enough for at least 3 meals)
  • Empty Half Gallon Milk Jugs, clean & washed.  Filled with water and frozen
  • Sausage patties (frozen in Ziploc) 
  • Hot Dogs  (freeze hot dogs if not using the first night)
  • Frozen ground beef or turkey patties (at least one for each person)
  • Frozen Deli Meats (gets individually wrapped in a variety of meats so you can mix it up)
  • Cooked shredded chicken that already has taco seasoning added (frozen in ziploc)
  • shakeup pancake mix
  • Hershey bars (freeze to avoid melting in heat)
  • Graham Crackers
  • Marshmallows 
  • Syrup
  • Pam Spray (for camp stove)
  • Spray butter (for corn and grilled cheese)
  • Individual Apple Sauce and/or pudding
  • Water bottles (freeze and fill up through week with water from milk jugs)
  • Trail Mix (you can make your own and put in individual Ziploc bags before for easier access for kids while hiking)
  • 1 to 2 cans mushroom soup
  • Ketchup/Mustard
  • Pie filling
  • Lemonade Mix
  • Canned Soup
  • Fruit snacks, goldfish, Animal Crackers (indivudal bags or bag in small snack bags before you leave)
  • Pop-tarts
  • Hot Dog Buns
  • Tortillas
  • white bread
  • Bagels- plain for sandwiches, flavored for breakfast
  • romaine lettuce for sandwiches
  • Apples
  • Washed Baby Potatoes 
  • Baby Carrots
  • salt and pepper
  • Dried minced onions
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil  
  • Pie Irons
  • Camp Stove
  • Fire tongs

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Sunset in the front yard of my small house.

Better a dry crust with Peace and quiet, than a house full of feasting, with strife.  
Proverbs 17:1

 I grew up in a 2,700 square foot home. It had 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, living room, dining room, family room, 2 and half car garage filled with new cars, all new furniture, and a cable TV in every room.  The pantries were filled with name brand foods, and walk-in closets of always new clothes. It was a house of "feasting". But that house of feasting also came with a much strife; filled with arguments over money, expensive addictions, loudness of yelling, discontent, and abuse.  Feasts are not inherently wrong, but there was no gratitude for the feast, only a want for more, newer, better. The effort was put into maintaining the "feast", not in seeking healthy relationships. The good thing about the TV in every room was we were able avoid each other in our havens.

My current home is 910 square feet.  It has 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, and a garage too small to park either of our cars. Our table in the eat-in kitchen and living room couch  are just big enough to fit my husband and I with our two school aged sons, as long as we don't mind knocking our elbows every once in a while.   We all learn patience as we share a bathroom.  We learn closeness as we cuddle together for family movie night in front of the 15 year old TV.  We are not exactly quiet, but it is the good loud of shared laughter. I smile as I hear the boys playing together in their shared bedroom that is connected to the living room. It is not perfect, we get each other's nerves like any family, but we seek to always love each other the best we can.  There is a peace in the gratitude.  To the world's standard of luxury, we may a "dry crust", but we have more than enough.  I would not trade my  peaceful "dry crust" for the strife-filled"feasting" grew up in anything for in this world.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Animal Study- Animal Tracks

Getting my kids excited to learn about animals isn't really that hard.  But way to get them Super excited to pretend to be ANIMAL DETECTIVES.  This lesson can be used from K-3rd grade (see variations during book)

Lesson Introduction
Show pictures of tracks on the computer or in books.  I had some prints of tracks I had found by a pond on a walk at my in-laws house.  Ask the kids to guess what types of animals  they think left the tracks, and tell them they will know by the end of the class.

Picture Book  
"Wild tracks! : A Guide to Nature's Footprints" by Jim Arnosky  
  • Younger Children- Focus more on the track pages and talk about sizes and shapes.
  • Older Children-You can extend the lesson by going into the differences Canine vs. Feline tracks.

Use play-dough, plastic forks and spoons to recreate animals tracks on the worksheet.

Free Printable  

A Focus on Easter

Parenting "Fail" Lead to Refocus
In 2012,  as we left for early carry-in breakfast at church, I asked the boys what they knew about Easter in the van.  One of my sons replied, "I think it's something with candy and a bunny."

  Even though they were only five, I felt like this was a HUGE  parenting fail for me.  Now of course at their age, they were not ready for the more gruesome details of the passion, but I was shocked how little focus I had put on this most important holiday. I had outsourced all their Easter education to the children's church hour, which was wrong on so many levels.

Reason For The Season- Manger versus Cross
The manger is much less intimidating than the cross.
My son's comment put a spotlight on the fact that that just a few months before I had spent endless hours preparing for Christmas, but not even a full hour preparing them for the reason for Easter, our salvation.

As I stepped back, I was convicted that I had three tubs of Christmas decorations, but not one of Easter decor. In December we remind ourselves to see the true "reason for the season" for Christmas, but somehow I let it get lost in the spring beauty of new flowers, plans for gardens, and candy eggs.  I think this is a very intentional scheme of the enemy because the manger is less intimating that the cross.

I tried this week to focus as much, if not more, onto Easter as I did on Christmas. Every night our bedtime bedtime reading is a Bible Reading. Younger children might need to color on one of the Holy Week coloring pages while you read.

 It was rejuvenating for ALL of us as we focused our attention on our Savior. All the other busyness of life faded away as I stared with all intent on the perfection of the Cross and the fulfillment of so many Old Testament prophecies.

Easter Week 
Through Bible Study Fellowship, I was challenged to read straight from Scripture to my kids, instead of all of the kid's books about Easter.  Don't get me wrong, they are all great books, but I do not want to underestimate the Holy Spirit's ability to interpret the Word for my kids.  When our children's only source of the pretty Easter story are picture books, they tend to think of it as a pretend picture story, instead of God's true Word.  Kids can make amazing pictures in their head, READ TO THEM FROM THE WORD. Below are some of the ways we really focused on the beautiful act of love Jesus did for us during this most precious week.

No "Bible Voice"
I was convicted not to use my "Bible/Teacher Voice" when reading the Easter story.  If you don't know what this is, you have not been in a  preschool class recently.  It is a bit higher pitched than my normal voice, and sing-song, and the voice I use when reading pretend stories or picture books.  It just felt wrong and disingenuous, and conveyed the wrong message to my kids.

Easter Week Family Bible Reading 
Free Printable Easter Holy Week Bible Reading Plan and Coloring Pages

    The Week BEFORE Holy Week
     Jesus prediction about his death.    Read Matthew 20:17-19

    Holy Week
    Palm Sunday- Jesus enters Jerusalem with shouts of Hosanna.  Hosanna means "Save us!"
    • Read Zechariah 9:9
    • Read Luke 19:28-40
    Holy Monday- Jesus shows his authority by cleansing  the Temple.  The Jewish Leaders were not able about this show of power.
    • Read Isaiah 56:1-8
    • Read Luke 19:41-48
    Holy Tuesday- The Temple leaders challenge Jesus with theological debates. Theology is the study of God and religion.
    • Read Psalm 118:19-27
    • Read Luke 20
    Spy Wednesday- Jesus continues his teaching, which further upsets Jewish Leaders.  Jesus allows a woman to anoint him with really expensive oil, which is the tipping point for Judas, who go to religious authorities and offers to deliver Jesus.
    • Read Luke 21
    • Read Mark 14:1-11
    Maundy Thursday- After celebrating the Passover with his disciples, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, where Judas betrayed him. He was arrested and tortured while Peter denied him.
    • Read Isaiah 50:4-10
    • Read Luke 22:1-65
    Good Friday- The Jewish leaders, with the help of Pilate, subjected Jesus to a mock trial that resulted in a death sentence for the one who would be called the King of the Jews. He was hastily crucified and quickly buried before the Sabbath began that evening. Use Homemade Resurrection Eggs to further explain to younger children, but I highly recommend leaving the 12th egg unopened until Sunday (see Saturday for why).
    • Read Psalm 22:1-18
    • Read Luke 22:66-71 and Luke 23:1-56
    Holy Saturday-Traditionally this is the day of mourning after Good Friday. On Saturday evening, before bed, we turn off all the lights for just a few moments and talked about the darkness of the tomb.  When you turn it back on, tell them there is an exciting day coming where it isn’t going to be dark in the tomb anymore.
    • Read Isaiah 52:13-15 and Isaiah 53
    • Read Luke 23:56
    Easter Sunday
    A couple of women went to Jesus' tomb to anoint him for burial, but when they arrived, he wasn't there. The tomb was empty, and an angel greeted them with the news that Jesus was alive. The women hurried back to tell the others, and Jesus surprised his grieving disciples by showing up in their midst.
    • Read Isaiah 52:7-10
    • Read Luke 24 
    1. OPEN LAST EGG  on your Resurrection Eggs!
    2. Decorate! Instead of baskets filled with candy and toys, the boys woke up to balloons and streamers celebrating Jesus's Resurrection.  We decorate our house with a large He is Risen banner. It doesn't come out until Easter morning, and stays up for a few weeks!
    3. Make Resurrection Rolls as you discuss how Jesus's friends laid him the tomb, but he arose 3 days later! You use a white (pure) marshmallow (symbolizes Jesus body).  You roll it in melted butter (oils), cinnamon and sugar (spices), and then put it in crescent rolls (tomb). After baking the marshmallow will "disappear"/melt!

    Other Easter Week Activities
    •  Passover Sedar- A family in our church invited us to a Christian Passover Seder.  What depth this adds to the Holy Week. We eat the same dinner our Jewish Savior Jesus himself ate with his disciples the night he was arrested.  We read the book "Hoppy Passover" before to show the boys what we would be doing. It seemed silly at first, but was extremely helpful in showing what they should expect, and they did very well the whole evening.
    • Resurrection Garden- We did a simple grass Resurrection Garden at the beginning of the week (more instructions coming in later post).  The boys found sticks in the yard for the crosses. It took longer than I had hoped for the grass to grow.  Next year I will buy the quick growing seeds.
    • You can decorate your house with a large He is Risen banner. The beautiful thing was through my kids excitement in the morning was they never once asked for an Easter Basket. I feel like we at least fixed our parenting fail just a bit. Now onto asking the Holy Spirit to help me with fixing  the many other things we have failed at this year....all a work in progress. ;)