Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Time Bucket List

I've seen lots of fun ideas for letting the kids choose what activities they want to do over the summer.  I like a little more control than that so I just came up with a list that we can refer to when planning out what to do.  I've let my oldest look at it and he was all excited!  I doubt we will do it all.  It was more inspiration.  I gleaned from lots of sites different ideas and applied them to our family.


Summer Fun Ideas 2011

1.           go to discovery park
2.         build a fort,
3.         make homemade pizza
4.         visit the zoo
5.          do a paint project
6.         do service for someone,
7.          visit mom mom
8.         visit mimi
9.         go to a movie
10.            walk a dog
11.       write a story
12.     sew a library bag
13.     get a library card
14.     have a picnic
15.      have a pajama day
16.     help make dinner
17.      plant flowers
18.tie-dye a shirt
19.     go to the park
20.          mail a letter
21.     make a magazine collage
22.           make homemade lemonade
23.           play a board game
24.           take someone dinner
25.           paint with pudding
26.           help little sister play soccer
27.           melt crayons
28.           invite someone to church
29.           have lunch at work with dad
30.          make cookies
31.     go on a hike
32.           have a popcorn fight
33.           go putt putt
34.           swim with the cousins
35.           ding dong ditch w/ cupcakes
36.           do a puzzle
37.           sidewalk chalk
38.           stay up til midnight
39.           go fishing 
40.          get a haircut
41.     clean your room
42.           buy school clothes
43.           buy school supplies.
44.           Backyard picnic w/friends
45.           Go on a walk and take pictures
46.           Play some board games
47.           Take dog for a walk.
48.           Call a friend
49.           Do 25 jumping jacks!
50.           Look through family albums
51.      Make a root beer float.
52.           Go to the movies w/ family
53.           Write a poem.
54.           Make dinner for your family.
55.            Plant flowers in your yard.
56.           Have a bubble bath.
57.            Order a pizza.
58.           Splash in a plastic kiddy pool.
59.           Buy crayons & a coloring book.
60.          Read a book based on a movie
61.     Start a diary and write in it
62.           Spend the day at the library.
63.           Draw a self-portrait.
64.           Make a collage with magazines.
65.           Run around in the sprinklers.
66.           Go to a museum.
67.           Invite friends over for movies
68.           Swing at the park.
69.           Tie-Dye a t-shirt with Kool Aid
70.           Make a smoothie.
71.      Learn how to spell 5 new words
72.           Make popsicles in your freezer.
73.           Put on the radio and dance.
74.           Go camping in your backyard!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

School in the Summer

No, I'm not going to suggest we have year round school!  I'm talking about keeping our children's skills current over the summer.  I have NOT done this well in the past.  We always go to the library and check out books to read.  I read with my son almost every night.  The summer after K4, I didn't work on much with him.  That was a mistake for him.  He needed the reminder of what the letters looked like, how to hold his pencil, etc.  After K5, I did a little more with him.  But I didn't have anything structured.  I mean I didn't want to have him 'doing school' all summer long.  This year, I think I've struck a balance.  My friend Joy suggested a journal.  (THANK YOU!)  So I printed off lots of the special large lined paper that he has at school, placed it in a three ring notebook, and used my handy dandy Silhouette to cut some vinyl on the front saying "Summer Journal".  I showed it to him and he loved it!  Our 'deal' is that he does one page, and then he can draw on the back of the page.  Each day I give him a couple of options; capital alphabet, lower case alphabet, numbers, or two sentences.  Even though we've only had two weeks of summer, it's really working well.  He has even ASKED to write in it!  I usually have him practice piano at the same sitting since he's already focused.  I look over the work and have him correct any major mistakes but I try not to criticize what he's done or the sentences he's worked on!  Hope this helps!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mama Time (yeah, right!) - A Blog on life as a mother by mom expert Hannah Keeley

Check out this great blog post by Hannah Keeley. She's this awesome mom of 7 kids (yikes!). She also went to my alma mater (Furman) and was a Psychology major. She's just awesome and wants Moms to have a better life. This particular post is a little bit of an attitude adjustment. I needed it.
Mama Time (yeah, right!) - A Blog on life as a mother by mom expert Hannah Keeley


Thursday, May 26, 2011

School's Out!

This is a repost of my end of summer post last year.  I'm using it to remind me how to survive!  My son got out of school today.  I'm looking forward to less structure but I know we need some!!!


It seems every time I talk to someone at about their summer, they just sigh.  It was too short, too hectic, and too hot.  This was one of the hottest summers that I remember in South Caroonlina.  For me, this was really the first summer I had two children.  In '08 my daughter was born 2 weeks before school started back.  In '09 my husband was out of work, so he was home the entire summer!  Talk about spoiled.  So the summer of '10 had me flying solo.  I DID NOT DO THIS WELL!  I resolve to do this better next year.  Here is what I learned.  It may or may not help you out.  I will at least have a place to look back to come next June.

1. Have a list of ideas.  I would draw a complete blank on things to do.  If we didn't have a doctor's appointment or somewhere else to be, the three of us just stared at each other like we were lost.  I forgot that we had passes to the zoo until 2 weeks before school started!  Ack!  Of course, it was SOOOO hot!  Maybe I will have a jar that we can pick from.  I just didn't have inspiration on the spot.  
(need to start on this)2. Space out camps, vacations, and vacation bible school.  I did ok on this, but will do better.  It seemed like for any type of camp we had it took a week to recover.  I thought these things would make the summer easier, but they actually made it harder.  It interrupted whatever schedule we had and got us out of the groove.
(done!)3. Save more of a summer activity fund.  I've done this when my son was in a more expensive summer long program, but didn't do it for the small things.  I'll try to save more for that next year.
(better luck next year!)4.  I need to find better summer recipes.  The idea of cranking up the gas stove was horrendous to me.  It was just too hot!  I'll be searching out a few 'no heat' recipes before June.
(SEND ME YOUR IDEAS!!!)5. I will plan some nights out with friends.  I had very little 'mommy recharge' time.
(Who wants to meet up???)Leave me some comments on what ideas you use to get through the summer!  I'd especially like to see some inexpensive ones!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Obedience

Ok, so how many of you thought I was going to be talking about our kids obeying?  Uh huh.  That's what I thought.  I've actually been thinking about Obedience a lot lately.  Mostly because of the Bible Study we are doing on Jonah by Priscilla Shirer.  Jonah wasn't very obedient.  He got eaten by a fish.  He became obedient.  He brought an entire nation to revival.  (That's 6 weeks of a study in 4 sentences!)

I want to be obedient to God!  I DON'T want to be eaten by a fish.  I mean, that's some consequences to incur. Of course I sit here and still question God.  I question what he wants me to do.  I question if he provides.  I question his promises to me.  Doesn't sound so obedient does it?

It reminds me of that song by Jars of Clay "Two Hands."  I feel like I have one hand that wants to be obedient and one hand that doesn't.  But I'm going to keep trying.  And I have to think that pleases God.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Proud Momma Moment

You know those days when you say the SAME thing over and over again?  Pick up your shoes, go to the bathroom, wash your hands, set the table, etc.  I often wonder if my kids listen at all!  I was reminded today that sometimes it's not what we say, but what we DO!  

I understand the importance of having your children help around the house.  I know they should have certain chores to do.  But that is so hard sometimes to keep up with that!  I've heard lots of moms say "no ever puts anything back where it is supposed to go!" or "my kids (or husband) are the reason my house is a disaster!"  Now, I have those times where I've said or thought those things too.  But I've always thought that, to an extent, I should lead by example.  If I want things put up, I should do them.  Of course, I need them to help too.  But if I'm not willing to do the work, why should they?

I walked into my sons room yesterday and he was in his closet.  It's a funny little walk-in closet where he can stand in there with the door closed.  I asked him what he was doing.  He opened the door and said, "Look mom, I'm organizing my closet.  I've got short sleeve shirts here.  Sleevables (what he calls sleeveless) over hear, and school shirts over here.  And then I put all my extra hangers down here on this rod." 

Oh what a proud momma moment!  Now, for those of you who know me well, you can understand how big a deal this was, since I LOVE to organize.  I literally started crying!  All the times I had reorganized his clothes and showed him where things should go had rubbed off!  I hadn't asked him to do this.  He just decided he wanted to do it himself.  Such ownership in a 7 year old.  Is it how I would have done it?  No.  Was it better than I would have expected?  Yes.  

Thank you God for showing me that my hard work DOES pay off!

Proverbs 22:6 (New King James Version)

6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
      And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Prayers Between Breaths

I find myself lately praying at 'strange' times and places.  I tend to pray in front of my washer and dryer while I am folding clothes.  The sounds of the machines drown out the sounds of the house and make it easy to concentrate.  I went running today and found myself praying.  I like to run on the sidewalk on a pretty busy road.    The cars act like white noise.  Of course, today I was huffing and puffing so much that I couldn't hear the cars!  :)  I know people that get up before the sun to spend time with God.  I commend them and I know their lives are blessed for it.  God has not yet called me to do that.  I think he knows that I need my sleep!

As I was attempting to run, I was praying for a group of women in my life.  They are in a Bible study with me.  As we begin the study  Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer, I have become aware that we each carry pain with us.  Pain of ignoring God.  Pain of living life.  Pain of past mistakes.  Pain of current situations.  Whether they run their mouths like me and air their dirty laundry or carry their pain silently, it's there.  I was thinking about how what each of us wants is for this pain to be healed.  I realized that when we draw closer to God, THAT is when the healing begins.  It can't begin in isolation.  God may call you to reveal something to a friend so that they can pray with you during the healing.  God may call you to only rely on Him for that healing.  Either way, it can't happen in isolation.  We have to step towards God in order to be healed of that pain.  It is there that He holds us in His hands.

I listen to praise music when I run (it's the ONLY way I can get through the torture!)  As I'm praying for each of these women to be healed of their messes (that we all have!) I was listening to Your Hands by JJ Heller.  It's such a comforting song of knowing that we DO rest in his hands:

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crookedly lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

When You walked upon the Earth
You healed the broken, lost, and hurt
I know You hate to see me cry
One day You will set all things right

Your hands that shape the world 
Are holding me, they hold me still

I pray that you feel that God has you right in the palm of His hands!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Being a 'Messy Mommy'

About a month ago, I had some major computer problems.  My husband and I are 'computer people' so when we can't fix it, then there is something BIG going on.  One afternoon I found myself on the phone with tech support in India.  I know you've been there.  It can be frustrating but I was getting some answers so I wanted to stick with it.  The thing is, I was home alone with the kids.  As I sat in the family room on the phone and the laptop, the two were playing very nicely together in the kitchen, for two hours!  Now, I should have suspected something when both children came in and asked for me to help tie their aprons on them.  My son got one of my vintage aprons and then improvised with a dish towel for his sister.  I really just thought that they were playing with the 'play kitchen'.  Although the pictures don't do it justice, here is what I found:

Yep, that's paint.  Finger paint, watercolor paint, tempera paint.  Green paint, red paint, purple paint.  On arms, on legs, on the floor, and yes, some on paper.  (Don't you know my daughter will kill me one day for that picture!)  Now I could have 'gone ballistic' over this mess!  But really, how could I get mad?  They used our craft supplies, not real paint, so it was all washable.  They DID put on aprons.  They WERE being quiet while I was on the phone.  They were playing WITHOUT fighting.  They were HELPING each other.  Aren't these all things that we want to instill in our children?  Don't we read books about how to do this?  Don't we PAY for art classes?  Don't we pray that God gives them a creative, playful, spirit?  So how could I get mad?

Now it did take me a good hour to get the children, table, and floor cleaned up.  (Baths were EARLY that day!)  I was frustrated at the fact that two hours on the phone cost me an additional hour of clean up.  Don't think I just joyfully jumped at the task.  But I did choose to just go with it.  I was a Messy Mommy that day.  And I do hope that when my children are older, they will remember that I let them get messy sometimes.  That maybe, just sometimes, I was a fun mom!  Life is often messy.  The perfectly clean house will be in another season.  Let me know how you want to 'get messy' with your kids this week!
(P.S. Thanks for the 'kick in the pants' this am to get back on here and write.  You know who you are!!)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cold Turkey

Why does it take me so long to write a post?  I have about 50 posts in my head.  If I could stick a USB drive in my head and download it to my blog then you would have a post a day!  Oh well...

We went cold turkey and cancelled our cable.  Unfortunately, we are still tied to the cable company because we use them for our internet connection.  It's the only available option we have. But cancelling the cable saves us about $50 a month.  We had a pretty basic package.

There are lots of articles on the net that tell you ways to go cable/satellite free.  We already owned a Wii, so that was the cheap way to go.  We use the Wii to connect to Netflix.  We pay $9.99 a month for unlimited streaming and one DVD via mail a month.  The $7.99 option is for streaming only.

We were going to install an over the air antennae for the house but are waiting on that.  We want to see if we actually miss network TV.  If we decide to go that route, we would install an antennae to our chimney and run the wire to our cable box.  It allows reception to any TV hooked up via a co-ax cable.  No set top rabbit ears hear.  This would cost about $200.

I really thought the kids would miss there regular shows.  They have loved all the new option they have.  Since we only had basic cable there were some kids shows we didn't get.  They have discovered an old time Super Mario Brothers Show, Backyardigans, Angelina Ballerina Movies, and Spiderman.

Lots of people who ditch cable say they like it because they become more intentional about watching TV.  That hasn't really happened for us because we have had a DVR for years.  The cool thing has been that my husband and I have discovered shows that we would have never watched before!  We can start from season 1, and watch away!  My favorite two gems are "Veronica Mars" from UPN and "Eureka" from the SyFy channel.  We love these!  And by watching on Netflix, there are NO commercials!  No annoying Viagra commercials or toys the kids beg us to have.

And for the network shows we do want to watch we go to Hulu.  We either watch it on the laptop or hook it to our TV from the laptop.  It's all very freeing!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Quick tip-Extra Space

Need some extra space in your house?  I think most of us who have kids do!  I have a simple solution that I LOVE!  I have a clothesline in my laundry room.  It's one like this:
It's retractable, but I mostly have it out.  It stretches out over the washer and dryer.  I use it all the time!  Of course I use it for drying clothes.  I also use it to hang fingerpainted creations that need to dry.  It works great if you need to spray febreeze on an item, like a blanket.  Just clothespin it up, spray, and let dry.  I also hang pool toys, swim suits, and the like on it to dry.  I believe I paid about $10 for it.  It has really paid off.  If I were to get another one, I would consider this one:
If you have any great space savers in your life, I'd love to hear about them!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Quick tip-Cut where you are

Here is such a simple way to make your life easier.  Put scissors where you need them.  I keep a pair of relatively good hair scissors in the bathroom (in a childproof locked drawer).  I use them to trim hubbie's sideburns, cut clothing tags, trim stray threads, etc.  I also keep a pair of child's scissors in my car.  They are perfect for opening that toy that the kiddos can't wait to open.  I've also used them to cut out a coupon, trim a shoelace that has gotten frayed, and open other various packages.  Maybe there is a place that you need to stash a pair of scissors.  If you find yourself always leaving the room you are in to get a pair of scissors, then buy a pair for that place!  Save yourself some steps.

I'd love to hear if you have a quick-tip that saves you time, steps, or effort!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Quick tip-Laundry

Since I can't seem to get a long post written, I thought I would do a series of quick tips that make my life easier!

I keep a bottle of stain pre-treatment spray right next to our dirty clothes.  This way, it's right there where I need it.  Not all the way downstairs in the laundry (although I keep a bottle there too!)  I'm not one to advocate buying more than you need, but sometimes having two of something just makes sense!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Taking the bugs with you on a picnic

I have a new item up in my ETSY shop.  It's a ladybug covered snack sak.  Maybe it's because I have a boy, but I got a kick out of thinking of taking the bugs WITH you on the picnic!  And they are ladybugs, so they're cute, right?

Monday, February 7, 2011

I fought the pillow...not sure who won!

I sew.  I am not a great sewer.  I try.  Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes not.  And most of the time, it's somewhere in between.  Kind of like my life.  I am in the process of redoing my sewing/craft/misc room in our house.  It's been fun to redo on a BUDGET!  I have a black and white theme with red accents.  So I wanted to do a statement pillow.  It was supposed to be for a 24 inch pillow.  It ended up being 16 inches.  That's what I mean.  I'm not so exact.  I entered it in Sew, Mama, Sew Blog.  If I win, it will be a God thing!  Here's the pillow:
I used fabric that I had in my stash or that my mom had.  I wanted to use some red ric-rack but it didn't work.  So I had to rip it out and start over.  I ended up using grosgrain ribbon and hand pleated it.  This was a pain!  And I sure there was an easier way.  The birds are actually iron on transfers that I used with my Silhouette Cutter.  Oh, let me mention the pillow form.  Since I had 2-24 inch pillow forms and NOT a 16 inch pillow I went shopping.  Blank plain pillow forms can be $15-$25.  It's really crazy.  So I went to Ross and got a ready made pillow for the inside.  Done.  And it only cost $5!  (Take the cover with you to the store!)

Now I need some ideas for the 2-24 inch pillows!

ETSY Shop open!

So my ETSY shop is officially open.  Of course I have one thing posted in there, but let me know what else you want to see!
Here is the direct link: http://www.etsy.com/shop/scharmonyfarms

Hope everyone is staying healthy and warm!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I love the internet!

Ok, so I really do love the internet!  It's an amazing thing.  The internet saved me somewhere between $250-$600 today.  I know I don't post many pictures on my blog.  I'm lazy that way.  But I do have a rather nice Digital SLR camera, courtesy of my mother-in-law when she 'upgraded'.  I've used it for about a year and have fallen in love with it.  I don't do anything fancy.  I mostly use the auto modes.  At my son's school program, I no longer could zoom.  And when it did work, there was this grinding sound.  NOT GOOD!

I went to the local camera store and was told it would be $250 to fix it.  So then I asked what a new lens would cost.  $600.  Ok, this is NOT in the budget.  So I went on line and googled away to find out what could be wrong.  Seems these lenses suffer from a loose screw.  (Don't say it!)  Then knowing what was wrong, I searched for a tutorial to fix it.  It wasn't the greatest tutorial but after about 30 minutes of working on it, I fixed it!  Wooohoooo!

Have you ever used the internet to save you BIG bucks?  I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Meal Planning Tool

In January 2010, I decided I needed to get a handle on my meal planning.  Well, my lack of meal planning.  One of the blogs I read mentioned an on-line tool that seemed worth checking out.  It is called Plan to Eat.  It has a free 30 day trial.  If you like the service it is $4.95 a month or $39 a year (which is like getting 4 month free).  Now, I know there are free options out there, but I feel like this is worth it.  I am sure I save $39 a year in eating out costs because I have nothing planned to eat.
Why I like it:
1. I can input all of my own recipes.  I put in all of my recipes in about 5 hours.  You can search for recipes and import them from the web or bulk input them by copying and pasting.  I love having my recipes on line!
2. It has a calendar to plan out meals, move them around, and help make a shopping list.  It allows you then to remove what you have on hand.
3. You can link it (using iCal technology) to my Google calendar, which is on my phone.  So I can check my phone or computer for what we are having.
4. They are always trying to make the site better.  I love that!

Please check them out!  Use this LINK and I might make $4.  Enough for a couple of Sonic Sodas, but that's another story.

If you try it, let me know what you think!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Home Run Recipe

I am not a great cook.  I'm getting better and I should probably cut myself some slack!  But I did have a home run tonight and I thought I would share what I did to make a healthier version of Chicken Fried Steak.  It's not really a recipe but more of a method (as Rachael Ray would say)

Ingredients:
Cube Steak
Flour
Egg Whites
Panko Bread Crumbs (Japanese Bread Crumbs)
Salt
Pepper
Sweet Paprika

After you separate the egg white from yolks, beat the egg whites with a fork until foamy.  Set up an assembly line.  1st bowl:  Flour, Pepper, Salt, Sweet Paprika.  2nd bowl: egg whites.  3rd bowl:  Panko bread crumbs. Take the steak and dredge through each bowl.  You can press extra bread crumbs into meat if needed.  Place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 425 till golden brown.  This probably took about 20 minutes.

Now, I also made a gravy for it that wasn't so healthy but was SOOOOO good!  I was just using what was in my fridge.
Ingredients:
Mushrooms
2 T butter
Shallots
Garlic
Half and Half (or milk)
Sweet Paprika
Flour

Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium fry pan.  Saute garlic and shallots in butter.  You can use onions if you like, but I like a more mild taste.  Add 2 T flour to pan and stir together to make a roux.  Add cream and mushrooms.  Cook down.  Watch it so it doesn't burn.  If you use milk you will have to simmer it longer.  You can also use less cream and add beef stock.

If you make this, I sure would like to hear how it went.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Swap Meet at Sew Many Ways

I peruse A LOT of blogs!  Most are good, but occasionally I find one that is GREAT!  Sew Many Ways is one such blog.  Karen is hosting a Swap Meet!  Pop into her blog and check out the stuff other bloggers are wanting to swap!  Maybe there is something there that you've been looking for.  She just started it this weekend, so it's very new, and there aren't many swappers yet.....but give it time.....I'll bet there'll be a bunch of stuff within a week or two!


My favorite part of her blog is her Tool Time Tuesday.  She goes to the hardware store to find items for her sewing room.  Love it!


Ok, so here's what I'm hoping to swap with someone!  A personalized laptop monogram!


You chose the middle letter!  Leave me a comment if you want to swap from Sew Many Ways!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pictures for New (ad)Venture

I had quite a bit of interest in my reusable snack bags!  YEAH!  Here are some more details:
-They are 'sandwich' size but can be used for snacks too.
-They are sized about 6 inches by 7 inches when flat and have a 2 inch flap.  They are plenty big enough for 'hearty' bread size sandwich's
-The flap is like the sandwich bags we had back in the 70s and 80s.  I have never had a problem with food falling out.  I've used them in lunch boxes and in the car as a 'to-go' snack.  I tried some with velcro but felt like the food sometimes got stuck in them.
-When you are finished with using it, turn it inside out, throw it in the wash and the dryer.
-I've even used them for grapes and carrots.
In the picture below I wanted to show you the size sandwich that is in the left bag (hence the bread on the IKEA plate).  Also, there is a pencil below the bags to give you a size idea.
The more you buy the more you can save!
1-4: $3.00 each
5-9: $2.75 each
10-14: $2.50 each
15-19: $2.25 each
20 or more: $2.00 each

I have lots of different fabrics and can even hunt down a specific theme for larger orders.  So if you are trying to 'go green' or you just want a back up for when you run out of plastic baggies, then my snack saks are for you!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Possible New Venture

Sometimes it's great to be a woman.  I mean, we can reinvent ourselves throughout our lifetime.  Maybe we color our hair, maybe we go back to school, maybe we change careers.  The point is we can do all of this.  Guys don't tend to do this.  Yeah us!

Well, in the spirit of reinventing ourselves, I'm dabbling in a few new ventures.  I will probably eventually open an ETSY shop, but in the mean time it made more sense to come straight to you my readers (who let's face it, are mostly my friends in real life!).  

The first thing I want to offer are awesome vinyl decals.  You've seen these all over.  They can be used on wall, frames, decorative objects, and furniture.  I have the ability to cut these now and I have been using them all over the house!  I'll get around to posting pictures soon.  If you have something that you have wanted to turn into a silk purse, email me and we can work something out!

The second thing I am thinking of offering are reusable snack bags.  I have made these without velcro or closures.  Just simple snack bags that get thrown in the wash.  My son uses them for school and I have to tell you I LOVE not buying plastic bags!

Let me know what you think!