Homeschooling

Learning with Pinterest – Birds

Since spring is finally here, we decided to learn all about birds this week in school.  Luckily, our library had lots of books about birds to choose from and of course Pinterest was loaded with great ideas.

Here are some of the bird books that we read this past week, as well as, some that we own and love to read again and again.

Mama Built a Little Nest

1. Mama Built A Little Nest by Jennifer Ward

This was a wonderful book that introduces children to the many different types of nests that birds can build.  The pictures were beautiful and the author used clever poems to introduce each type of nest.  I also liked how the author gave fun facts about the different birds who built each nest because it helped to add more of an educational aspect to the book. **Ben loved the poems and also really enjoyed looking at each bird with its unique nest.

Franny B. Kranny, There's a Bird in Your Hair!

2. Franny B. Kranny, There’s A Bird in Your Hair! by Harriet Lerner

This book was really cute. It is about a little girl with wild, curly hair that refuses to get a haircut until….a bird happens to land in her hair and decides it will make the perfect nest!  **Ben giggled a lot reading this book.

A Mother for Choco (Paperstar)

3. A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza

This book reminds me a lot of Are You My Mother? by Dr. Seuss.  It is about a little bird that goes looking for his mother and cannot find anyone who looks just like him.  He eventually finds a mama bear who takes him into her family that is full of all different types of animals.  We loved this story because it is heartwarming and shows that families come in all different shapes and sizes.

The Baby Beebee Bird

4. The Baby BeeBee Bird by Diane Redfield Massie

This book is about a tiny bird called a BeeBee Bird that gets its days and nights confused at the zoo.  Each night after the other zoo animals go to sleep, the little bird makes a lot of racket, which keeps all of the animals awake.  The zoo animals get fed up with his nocturnal habits and proceed to teach him a lesson that he will never forget.

Horton Hatches the Egg

5. Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss

This is a classic book that we read again and again.  It is about a nice elephant that gets tricked into sitting on an egg by a lazy bird.  Poor Horton has to suffer through all types of weather, gets mocked by other jungle animals, and eventually becomes an attraction at a circus show all because he promised to sit on this egg.  We love this story mostly due to its surprise ending, especially as to what kind of animal hatches out of the egg:)

Dr. Suess's Gertrude McFuzz: Vocal Score

6. Gertrude McFuzz by Dr. Seuss

In this classic from Dr. Seuss, a bird named Gertrude McFuzz wishes for a bigger and better tail because her own is pitifully small in comparison to her other bird friends.  One day, Gertrude learns of a magical berry that can give her a new, beautiful tail if she eats one.  However, she decides to get the biggest tail possible and eats all of the berries at once! She quickly learns that too much of a good thing can be bad.

After we read all of these books on birds, I headed over to Pinterest to find other ways we could learn about birds by doing art projects and experiments.

I found this cute pin  and this one.  **Of course, Ben’s turned out to be quite unique, but still awesome:)

birdpic2

birdpic1
Sword-wielding villainous bird

 

I also stumbled across this pin about how to conduct an experiment on which types of bird beaks are used to eat different foods.  So I decided to make up a couple of worksheets to use in science class this week.

 

birdpaper2
Yes those are devil birds apparently:)

 

We used tweezers, a clothes pin, a slotted spoon, and a straw to simulate some of the many different types of beaks there are in the bird family.  We tried to see which beak could best pick up bread, eat a banana, scoop cheerios out of water, and drink water from a narrow necked bottle.  We then ranked each “beak” from 1-4 in regards to how well it could eat each food type.  We had a lot of fun with this:)

 

Then to make sure Ben remembered all the important facts, I made up a simple worksheet that he did really well on.

birdpaper1

Overall this was a fun lesson and I think that Ben retained a lot of info about birds and their anatomy.  **In fact he pointed out that the robin at the park had an insectivore-type beak:) So maybe I have a budding ornithologist on my hands!

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Frugal Accomplishments

Five Frugal Things

1. Having a low spend week

I made sure to buy all of my Easter basket supplies last week, so I should be able to stay away from the stores this week.

2. Spring cleaning

This week I plan on decluttering and organizing all of our closets and cabinets.  I love to do this throughout the year because I always end up finding something that I forgot I had, which helps prevent me from buying duplicate items later…which I hate!

3. We bought a “new to us” car

I count this as frugal because we negotiated a good price and this newer car gets over twice the gas mileage of the my husband’s old truck.  This will save us a lot of money in the long run because my husband’s new job will have a much longer commute.

4. Chose to repair instead of replace

My son damaged a marker holder attached to our whiteboard this past week.  At first, I was going to throw it away, but then I saw that I could easily fix it with a little thread.  So after about 10 minutes of work, it looks good as new….or at least acceptable:)

5. Reworked my budget

We have a ton of expenses coming up in the next two months, so I decided to see if I could rearrange my budget to fit in the extra costs without having to borrow from savings and I think that it might just work out.  **I tend to pay things early or all at once to avoid monthly installment fees.  However, if I delay paying a few bills closer to their due dates and then do monthly installment payments on my auto insurance for the next few months, I think I can avoid taking out money from savings.  Budgeting is a total juggling act sometimes…

 

Goals

Weekly Goal Update for Week 12

1. Walk at least 500 miles this year (104 miles down and 396 to go)

We had a lot of nice days this week, so I walked almost all of my miles outside.  I also broke the 100 mile mark so that makes me happy:)

2. Eat less than 40 net carbs a day (I did this for 6 out of 7 days)

I decided to increase my daily carb goal to allow for more variety in my diet, specifically oatmeal and apples…which I have dearly missed!  **While I will not be having a huge serving of either, it will be nice to have them as occasional treats.

3. Read two non-fiction books each month

I have only read one non-fiction book so far this month, so I need to hurry up and choose my next one before the end of the month!!

4. Have two date nights each month

We went out for a walk together and then we had a delicious meal at a local Mexican restaurant.  I had a shrimp quesadilla….mmmm.

5. Have two family game nights each month

One down and one to go.

6. Have one no spend week each month

I am currently in the middle of my no spend week.  I bought a minimal amount of groceries and hopefully will not be buying anything else until Thursday, when my week ends.  **This week I am concentrating on decluttering and organizing, both help me to appreciate all of the things I already do own, so it fits nicely into a no spend week mentality.

7. Buy nothing new this year

Nothing new or used was bought this week.

8. Add twelve new products to my Teachers pay Teachers store.

I started working on a set of biology worksheets for my son to do for the next couple of months, so hopefully they will be ready to add to my store soon.

9. $5 Weekly Challenge

This week I decided to buy beans and rice to add to my donation pile for the food bank.  Not exciting, but certainly cheap and nutritious!

Family Fun

Six ways that you can make exercise fun for kids

1. Create Running Challenges

My children have always loved to play at the local playgrounds and that is a really wonderful way to get exercise, but I like to maximize this exercise outing by requiring that we walk/run a one-mile lap around the park before they get to play. 

When my son starts to whine about how “walking is boring”, I start to give him challenges to keep him preoccupied while we get in our mile lap.  Some of his favorite challenges are:

The Mario challenge – Basically, he pretends to be Mario. He jumps over ditches, pretends to ride Yoshi, and runs like Mario while singing the Mario theme. 

Subway Surfer challenge – This is one of Ben’s favorite games on his kindle. Basically, it is a little boy running down train tracks and jumping over obstacles, while a police officer chases him. So to play this challenge, Ben runs and jumps while Emma and Sadie (our dog) chases him. He loves it!

Gold coin challenge – This challenge takes a little planning.  I basically give Ben mini-challenges to do in order to earn imaginary gold coins (Yes, he has a great imagination) Sometimes the challenge will be to run to the next tree, run backwards, hop like a bunny, run in zigzags, etc. Once he completes the task, he gets an imaginary coin thrown to him, which he promptly puts into his pocket:)

Beat Emma challenge – This is a pretty, simple challenge, basically I will tell Ben to race Emma to random trees or benches to see who wins.  (Emma usually lets Ben win)

2. Issue Playground Challenges

Since we homeschool, a lot of the times we will be the only people at the park, which is not a lot of fun for a kid. One way we get around this is by giving Ben certain things to do like:

Superhero challenges – I will tell Ben to be the Flash and see how fast he can run around the playground area or act like Spider-Man and see how fast he can get from one end of the playground equipment to the other (like climbing up ladders, sliding down each slide, and going thru all the tunnels, etc.) He loves to do this!!

Parkour challenges – I think all kids are into Parkour lately.  Ben especially loves it, so when we are at the park he climbs up slides and jumps over tunnels in attempts to get a thumbs up approval rating from me.

3. Have pretend Superhero battles 

One way we exercise at home is to have pretend superhero battles.  When we play this, I pretend to have a controller, which makes Ben do certain actions.  For example, if he is Black Widow he does a lot of spins, leaps, and martial art actions. If he is Thor, then he will use his hammer and fist to fight off villains.

4. Play “Mother May I?” and “Simon Says”…Extreme-style

Sometimes Ben will say he is bored during the afternoon, so we will play Mother May I? and Simon Says.  The trick to making these count as exercise is to give action-packed tasks to do.  Ben loves to do the Running Man (basically running in place), jumping jacks, kangaroo hops (giant leaps), army crawls, and anything else I can think of at the time.

5. Have a Dance Party

My kids really like to dance and this is the easiest way to get them to exercise most days.  I simply tell them to dance for five fast songs and away they go.  This is our all-time favorite way to get exercise because it is so fun that you forget you are even exercising.

6. Make-up Interactive Chuck E. Cheese Games

This is a game that Ben made up but loves to play occasionally.  Basically we recreate games that he loves to play at Chuck E. Cheese by making them into live-action versions.  For example, he loves Fruit Ninja so he has me throw soft rubber balls at him while he blocks them with his hands and feet using martial art skills…it is hilarious!

We also like to play the Duck Punch game.  Ben runs back and forth in the living room, while quacking and tries to avoid being hit with balls…again…hilarious.

Another fun game we like to recreate is the Basketball Toss game.  To play this game, we place balls throughout the living room and then put a big box in the center of the room.  To win, Ben has to run around and try to get all of the balls into the box before the time runs out.

I hope these ideas give you some fun ways to keep your children active inside and out.  Exercise can always be fun with the right mindset!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frugal Accomplishments

Five Frugal Things

1. Kroger deals

This week I stocked up on cases of soda for just $1.28 each, party-sized Lay’s potato chips for $1.99, peanut butter for $.80, and a large package of fresh spinach marked down to $1.48.

2. Ordered school books for next year

My daughter is starting high school next year…yikes! Since we homeschool, I have been a little worried about what to teach and the cost of high school textbooks.  Luckily, I found a lot of great websites and developed a plan for my daughter’s freshman year.  I decided to treat high school similar to college and I will be teaching Emma AP-style classes for English, History, and Science.

The great thing about the internet is that the amount of free information is vast.  I found a lot of syllabuses for AP courses online and the instructors even listed the books that they used, which was really helpful. I then headed over to Amazon and scored used books for each subject, for a grand total of only $50, which is crazy cheap for curriculum.

3. Dollar Tree cleaning supplies are awesome

After reading many great reviews on the Dollar Tree’s CRL and Lime-away, I decided to try them out.  My husband used the CRL to clean off a rust streak that has been on our house’s siding for way too long and it worked wonderfully.  Then I used the Lime-away to tackle some stubborn stains that have been around my toilet’s rim and that also worked really well.  So if you were like me and doubted the Dollar Tree’s cleaning products, save yourself a lot of money and try them out…you will not regret it!

4. Credit card reward points

I know some people are anti-credit cards, but I like to game the system and have the credit card company pay me to simply use their card.  This month’s statement showed that I have earned $25 in rewards points for simply using my credit card to purchase items that I would have to buy anyways, so that is pretty sweet.  This year I plan to pay for Christmas and birthdays using my reward points, so I will keep you updated. **To Note:  I always pay my balance off each week and we also have not paid any interest in almost 8 years, otherwise this would not be a smart way to earn extra cash each month.

5. Recycled unwanted candy

Like many kids, my children get way too much candy for every holiday.  However, unlike a lot of children, my kids very rarely eat it all.  If it has been more than six months after a holiday and the candy is still in the pantry, I ask the kids if they want it anymore.  Most of the time they say no, so I get to use it as treats for my Sunday school class.  I love to do this because it is zero waste and also zero cost to me:)

Goals

Weekly Goal Update for Week 11

1. Walk at least 500 miles this year (94 miles down and 406 to go)

Our weather has been beautiful, so I walked almost all of my 12 miles outside.  *I am hoping that my mileage will pick up now that spring has arrived.

2. Eat less than 30 net carbs each day

I did this for 6 out of 7 days this week.  My extended family celebrated March birthdays on Saturday, so I had to have at least two pieces of cookie cake (it was Great American cookie cake…yum) since my birthday was included:)

3. Read two non-fiction books each month

So far I have read one, does anyone have any suggestions for my next book??

4. Have two date nights each month

We should be going out this weekend, I am thinking Mexican….

5. Have two family game nights each month

We had one this past week and played multiple rounds of Moustache Smash, Apples to Apples Jr., and Boggle.

6. Have one no spend week each month

I am planning to have one starting this next weekend.  **A new grocery store has opened in our area, so our local Kroger has been having amazing sales to try and steal some of their traffic.  I do not think it will last long, so I have been stocking up while I can!

7. Buy nothing new this year

thrift

I bought nothing “new” this week, but I did find some great deals at the thrift store. I found a practically brand new purse for $5 (My old purse was falling apart, so I have been looking for a new one for the past two months. Patience is a virtue…) I also found a three pack of water bottles for $1.99 and two textbooks that I plan to use for next year for just $1.50 each.

8. Add twelve new products to my Teachers pay Teachers store

I still need to add one this month to stay on pace, so I need to get hopping.

9. $5 Weekly Challenge

donation

While I was at the grocery store, I scooped up 3 more peanut butters for just $.80 each and added two boxes of cereal to round out my donation this week.

Blessings

Blessings This Week

It is so easy to get caught up in the ugliness of the world or even just the blah-ness of everyday life, that we tend to overlook the beautiful things.  So I decided to share some of the blessings that I have received this past week that sparked some joy into my life:

1. Walks outside with my husband

We have been having cold and rainy weather a lot lately, but yesterday was sunny and not too cool, so I enjoyed a walk with my husband at our local park.  This is one way my husband shows he cares for me because I love walking outside but hate going by myself (I blame the Walking Dead!)

**I will walk by myself at a real park with people walking around, but our local park’s walking trails go through the woods and I have an overactive imagination!

2. Farm fresh eggs

My father’s chickens have been laying like crazy due to the longer daylight, so we have been enjoying them quite often.  I love the fresh eggs because the yolks are almost orange and have a nice buttery taste (at least to me).

3. Giggling children

I love my children, but I can do without the constant whining.  One day this week, instead of asking them to simply play together, I told them to dance to five songs and then play Hotwheel cars for 15 minutes, while I took a walk with my husband.  There was whining before I left, but when we returned they were smiling and being nice to each other so I guess enforced playtime is a good thing:)

**My daughter is much older than my son and doesn’t always want to play with him, but she is a good sport about it mostly (after a lecture on kindness and the importance of doing things we do not always want to do) Thank you Emma!

 

Recipes

Low Carb Yogurt (+My Favorite Add-ins)

loaded yogurt

I love traditional low carb breakfasts, like omelets, low carb breakfast burritos, etc. But it is so nice to have a no-cook, quick option to spice it up occasionally.  One of the way I mix up the breakfast rotation is to have yogurt a few times per week.  Now most people would assume yogurt (especially flavored) yogurt is not a real low carb food and they would be mostly right. There is one brand of yogurt that is reasonably low carb and delicious, of course I am talking about Triple Zero Yogurt!

Triple Zero Yogurt is sweetened by stevia and contains a lot of fiber, like 10g per 8oz serving, which means that it is relatively filling.  I never eat a whole 8oz serving because it does have 12 net carbs per 8oz serving, so I simply use just 4oz for my meal.  Now you might say, that isn’t enough food! That is where the delicious add-ins come into play.

 

yogurt ingredients
Those are walnuts in an almonds container…reduce, reuse, recycle:)

 

Yogurt is great, but loaded yogurt is amazing and filling.  Some of my favorite add-ins are walnuts, chia seeds, hemp hearts, flax seeds, any type of berry, coconut, and cherries.  My current favorite combination is 4oz of yogurt, handful of blackberries, 2T coconut, 2T chia seed mix, and 1oz of walnuts….it is amazing and it rings in with 15g of fiber which is over half of what dieticians say we should be eating each day.  The net carb count for the above combination is 13g, so I do not eat this everyday, but do eat it occasionally when I am craving something besides eggs or do not have time to cook breakfast.

**My all time favorite fruit add-in are dark cherries…delicious!

If you love yogurt and add-ins, what are your favorite combinations??

 

 

Frugal Accomplishments

Five Frugal Things

1. Thrift Store finds

My daughter and I love to watch romantic comedies, so when I saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding for just $1.50 I scooped it up! I also found two really nice reusable water bottles for just $.99 each.

2. Friends of the Library book sale

Our library is having a 50% off sale in its used book room this month, where I found a hardback of Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes (a family favorite) to add to my gift stash for $.50 and also picked up a Pilates dvd for my daughter to try out for just $1.

3. Perennials

Since it has been so nice this week, we cleaned out our flower beds in the front yard.  I was pleased to see that all of my perennials are coming back this year, so that will save me from having to replace them next month.

4. Dollar Tree

I picked up some cleaning products, Easter candy, and office supplies at the Dollar Tree this week.  **I am always amazed at all the things that you can find for just $1

5. Limited food waste

I have been trying to watch our food waste lately, so this week I:  froze spaghetti sauce before it went bad, used up all of the sandwich bread (even the ends), made sure the older container of yogurt got opened first, ate random leftovers for lunch, and made sure to refrigerate my son’s half eaten muffins for the next morning.

 

Goals

Goal Update for Week 10

1. Walk at least 500 miles this year. (82 miles down, 418 to go)

I walked 10 miles this week, mostly outdoors. **I realized that I am going to have to walk at least 10 miles a week (if not more) to hit 500 by the end of the year, so hopefully this walking trend continues

2. Eat less than 30 net carbs a day

I did this for 6 out of 7 days….it was my birthday this week so there may have been a large brownie and ice cream (topped with chocolate sauce and Oreos) for dessert one night…..Yes, a stomachache followed!! But it was worth it:)

3. Read at least two nonfiction books a month

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too)

This past week I read The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin.  (I randomly picked this book up at the library on a whim)  I liked it ok. It has a really simple personality-type test inside that takes just a few minutes to complete.  The author basically thinks that everyone’s personality fits into four tendencies: The Questioner, The Obliger, The Rebel, and The Upholder.  She goes further and shows a diagram as to how each tendency overlaps with another one, which allows you to understand a little more as to which type of tendency you have. My problem with the test/book, is that my top two tendencies, The Rebel and The Upholder, are total opposites. So they technically should not belong together at all, but they were almost equal in my results…..so I guess I have a split personality!

It overall was a really fun book, especially if you like to take personality quizzes in magazines.  **I was not surprised at all to see that I am a Rebel, I really hate to be told what to do…even by myself.  It was nice to know that other people rebel against themselves…

4.  Have at least two date nights a month

Not yet.

5. Have at least two family game nights a month

Not yet.

6. Have one no spend week a month

Not yet, I am still recovering from Frugal February, so I will probably have a no spend week later in the month.

7. Buy nothing new this year

I decided to edit the rules for my buy nothing new challenge.  I am allowing myself a free pass to use at the Dollar Tree and the Target Dollar aisle because realistically, I cannot get it cheaper anywhere else.  **It is next to impossible to find stocking stuffers or Easter basket items at the thrift store!!

8. Add twelve new products to my Teachers Pay Teachers store

I finally finished my Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets study guide and added it to my store on Saturday…..thank goodness that is done!

9. $5 weekly challenge

pb and ravioli

Kroger had a great sale on peanut butter this week so I got five jars to donate to the food bank. I was still under budget so I found a large can of ravioli that was on sale to round out my donation for the week.