Monday, April 29, 2013

Great Homeschool Sites

This post is specifically for my lovely niece and her adorable reasons. She was interested in some homeschool sites that I've used in the past and currently using for my baby boy. There are so many great homeschool sites out there just for moms.

I absolutely love Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT).  This site is designed and creating by actual teachers for all grades.  Before you get to big eyed, most material provided to cost, but there are loads of material downloads for FREE.  You can search by specific material or grade, very simple.  You can also find material through Pinterest as well.  It might actually save you a few steps.  There are days when I get lost looking at the printables through this website.  Some of the teachers that list their work have websites that you can go and adventurer around.  I've gotten some great ideas from a few of these teachers.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.  All you have to do is CLICK HERE to get started.  Membership is free, get your own password and you will receive updates by email.

I love 1+1+1=1!  This website is awesome because it is a Christian mom that homeschool's her children on the basis of good Christian morals and principles.  A lot of her material is biblical.  I enjoyed using lap books that she supplied on her site when my daughter was younger for colors, alphabet, numbers and shapes.  She also promotes other homeschool mom website with their ideas.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.  CLICK HERE in order to go to the website.

DLTK is a great website for all sorts of learning printables and classroom ideas.  CLICK HERE to access DLTK-Kids website.

If you need more references, ideas or inspiration, I just go to Pinterest.  It is the master learning tool of a mother's world.  Type what you want specifically under the search and more than likely, you will find what you needed.

I this helps get you started.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Teacher Appreciation and Chocolate Pudding Dump Cake Recipe

Teacher Appreciation Week is right around the corner and I have to be prepared. LOL! There are so many great ideas out there in the big wide world of the web. I'm having entirely too much fun, looking for some simple and quick gifts for my teacher of the year.

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I posted this picture, Katie and I created, a while back.  She just loves her teacher, Mrs. M.  We have been blessed to have great and precious teachers involved in our little girl's life.  When we make little gifts for our teachers, Doug thinks it's crazy.  He says that I'm a suck up.  Well, he can go ahead and call me all kinds of names.  I'm going to tell ya something.  Katie's teachers, past and present, have been  holding her hand, directing her down the educational path.  They have given her the tools to "Bloom and Grow."  God not only connected my child with some awesome educators, but introduced me to some great new friends.  Showing gratitude to someone that works so hard all year with my precious little angel is the least I can do.  

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I made the package of highlighters and sharpie markers yesterday.  I also made the little tags myself.  So simple.  I used my 2" scallop punch and glued it to a 3" circle cut out of some old scrapbook paper that I had left over from another project.  I punched a hole at the very top of the tag with my flower hole punch.  I used gold thread to tie the tag to the package.  I had some green ribbon leftover from my Mother's Day cards and double knotted the packages.  

I found some more great ideas on Pinterest.  So many talented people out there to come up with such great gifts.  I hope it will help give you some ideas for your teachers.

Looking through Pinterest for a pudding cake recipe, I came across a Chocolate Dump Cake that peaked my interest from  Very simple ingredients and it turned out good.  I'm still looking for a more ooey, gooey chocolate pudding recipe.  If you have any suggestions or recipes, I am interested.

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Chocolate Dump Cake Recipe
makes 24 servings

1- 5 oz. package non-instant chocolate pudding mix
2 1/3 cups milk 
1- 18 1/4 oz. package chocolate cake mix 
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Lightly spray baked spray with powder in a 9 x 13" glass dish. 

Combine pudding mix and milk in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until thick, stirring frequently.  Remove pan from heat and stir in dry cake mix.  Mix together and pour into prepared dish. Evenly spread chocolate chips over the top of the cake.  

Place dish in oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. 

Let cool and serve.  

Nutritional Notes:  Each serving provides 193 calories; 8 grams of fat (4 g saturated); 31 carbs; 3 grams of protein; 2 grams of dietary fiber; 2 milligrams cholesterol; 210 milligrams sodium. 

Mirya's Notes:  I did a few tweaks to this recipe to suit my diet needs.  Afraid it might take away from the flavor, I used 1% milk.  I probably could have used skim milk because of the rich chocolate flavor in the cake.  I didn't use 2 cups of chocolate chips.  Instead, I grabbed two big handfuls and sprinkled them all over the top.  Every little bit helps on the nutrition.  The next time I make this cake, I plan to sprinkle nuts on top of the cake.  


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Love Spring and All That Comes With It

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A Prayer in Spring
by Robert Frost 
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orcahrd white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

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All photos are taken by "" 

We've been busy doing some projects.  Enjoying the Spring like weather (70 + degrees).  Katie had a small school project this weekend.  She brought home a stuffed toy named "George."  She had to do some things with him.  Today, she had to write a story about their time this weekend together.  I think it is cute.  We took a couple of photos to tape to the story and she drew her impression of George.  I also wanted to get a head start on a couple of upcoming events, Mother's Day and Teacher Appreciation.  In the back of my head, I knew these two events would be coming up soon and didn't want to rush on the projects at the last minute.  

Outdoor Project
Last Autumn, my sister and her husband gave us edger brick that they were no longer using.  I was telling her how we were planning on purchasing some in order to keep mulch around the play set.  Our back yard is so plain and I'm really hoping these bricks will be the beginning of a back yard that we all can enjoy.  Introducing Phase I: 

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Full view of the project

It will serve a purpose, but hope to add style and color.

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Close up of sand box area

  We put down pavers for the sand box area.  We've never installed pavers before, so this was a new experience for us.  It wasn't as bad as I first thought, just make sure your area is LEVEL.  What did we need to do this?  We measured the sandbox and I wanted additional for the kids to sit or put their shoes on the pavers.  We purchased 25-12" square pavers, 2-bags of paver base, 1-bag of paver sand and shop broom.  
  1. Clear off a level area by your needed measurement. 
  2. Spread out the paver base, even to the cleared area. 
  3. Place pavers with a small even gap between them. 
  4. Pour paver sand on top and make sure to fill in the gaps with sand.  
What's to come?  Adding a few flowers and mulch.  I've been keeping my eyes open for a metal bench and glider.  I still have a few other places to check out.  I will keep you up-to-date on our outdoor project.  

Teacher Appreciation
I really wanted Katie to make a handprint flower for her teacher last year, but ran out of time.  Of course, the year before last, we had our tornado and missed teacher appreciation week.  I think Mrs. M will like her painting and hopefully brighten up her day.  Katie said she wanted to paint Mrs. M a sunflower.  I think I made the mistake of using washable finger paint.  I've never experienced "washable" finger paint.  It's not very project friendly because I had to go back with regular paint and fill in where the paint wouldn't stick to the watercolor paper.  I still think it turned out cute.

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"Mrs. M,  Thank you for helping me to . . . Bloom and Grow.  Love, Katie"

I have a couple more Teacher Appreciation gifts to prepare for Mrs. M.  As soon as I finish them, I will post for you to see. 

Mother's Day
I know it is a month away, but my time is precious and hate to be rushed.  I came across this precious Mother's Day card idea for my children's grandmothers.  Love it!  

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I really thought these turned out so cute.  Each one is unique in it's own way. 

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Here is an up-close look at the card

I got the idea from The Crafting Chick.  CLICK HERE! For instructions and the "Happy Mother's Day" printable.  The card itself is made from double-sided scrapbook paper, I picked up from Hobby Lobby.  I think the paper cost me $.59 each.  The flower blossom is made from cupcake holders and scrap button that was in my button jar.  Yes, I have a button jar.  They are great for crafts.  The flower stem, leaf and decor are ribbons.  The leaf, I cut a leaf shape out of very wide (2-3") ribbon.  The "Happy Mother's Day" and "All About My Grandma" are free printables from The Crafting Chick.  

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To print the Grandma questionnaire, CLICK HERE.  Go to the part of the website, where you can save the questionnaire to your computer.  It isn't a download.  You can print as many questionnaires as you please.  Such a cute idea!  As you can see above, I helped Colton with his questionnaire about his grandmas.  He came up with some cute answers and some that I had no idea, how he came up with them. 

Our Spring Baby
Of course, I can not end this post without showing off my new little spring niece, Avery.  She is precious and sweet!  Colton and I had the opportunity to spend some time with her and her big brother last Monday.  I was there to babysit, but all I did was run after boys.  Avery knew I would be busy running after the boys, so she was a complete angel the entire time.  

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Our March Happenings!

We have had a very eventful couple of weeks. Preparing for a birthday party, Spring Break vacation and anticipating the arrival of a new family member.

Colton's 4th Birthday Party
I did my best to create an Angry Bird themed party for my baby boy, due to the fact that it rained off and on all day.  Yuck!  I had games planned for outside until the last couple of days, when I almost began to cry seeing 70% precipitation on the local news station.   {boo-woo}  What do you do?  You improvise that's what you do.  I created a last minute dart poster.  YES!  

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The night before the party, I stayed up until about 1:30 A.M. blowing the balloons on this wall.  Trust me when I say, I went to bed a little light headed.  LOL!  I had a few people compliment my colorful wall decor. 

Found this Alfred Hitchcock clipart online and had to display it.  I also printed these paper birds from a website and set them here and there.  I couldn't keep Colton from playing with them. photo 558873_10151600578510850_1052307966_n.jpg

For those of you who know Alfred Hitchcock and have seen his movies, you will appreciate this picture I set out.  As I was showing my young 20 something year old niece this picture, she asked "who is Alfred Hitchcock?"  "What?"  I looked at her mother and asked her why this child didn't know A.H.  She had nothing.  

Dart game I created because it ended up raining all day.  The kids threw Angry Bird bean bags at the pigs. photo 5311_10151600578290850_562792753_n.jpg I took a stab at the cupcakes - Colton loved them and that's all that matters to me.  :) photo 181027_10151600578160850_958945096_n.jpg
(Above left: Angry Birds dart poster.  I gave the kids Angry Bird beanbags and had them throw at the piggies.  Keep up with your score.  The person with the most points - WINS! )
(Above right: I made the Angry Bird cupcakes.  Not professional, but they were fun to make and delicious.) 

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Colton has so many Angry Bird game sets that I put them to use.  I set up scenes throughout the house.  

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I think these turned out so cute and Colton LOVED them.  However, I have a warning.  The more paper you apply on the latex balloons, the heavier they get.  I couldn't apply the white bodies to a few of the birds.  I got this idea from "The Party Animal" website.  To get the free printables just CLICK HERE!

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HAPPY 4TH BIRTHDAY Colton!  We Love You! 

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I hate that I didn't notice, we were having our picture taken in front of the microwave and bookcase - Argh!  What was I thinking?  I blame it on exhaustion at that point.  HAHA! photo 45352_10151600574720850_344933142_n.jpg

Spring Break 2013
We decided to plan a little get away this year to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  We just love Tennessee and it's not a long drive.  I'm the only one in my little family that has ever been to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area, but it's been several  years since I've visited the area.  We were all pretty excited to go.  I wanted to see how much it had grown in about 25 years.  I have to say that it is beautiful today as it was back then.  The Smokey Mountains do not disappoint.  We had a great experience at Gatlinburg, Ober Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, Tennessee.  Great hospitality. We absolutely hated to leave this beautiful and fun place.  

Here are just a few things and places, we experienced:

Baskins Creek Condos - our home away from home. photo 553173_10151600525860850_613391937_n.jpg
We stayed at Baskins Creek Condominium - CLICK HERE for further information.  Each unit are individually owned.  Our room included the following: King size Master bedroom with jacuzzi and private bath; two Queen size beds in the guest room with private bathroom; gas fireplace and balcony.  The kids loved the fact that they each had their very own queen sized bed and bathroom to themselves. They also had to get in the jacuzzi every day with their swim suits.  It snowed all day for two days, while we were there.  LOVED IT!  The trolley service picks up right at the lobby entrance, very convenient for us.   

Eatin' at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. - I had the Mahi-Mahi with grilled shrimp - sooo good! photo 485222_10151600528610850_1083004199_n.jpg
I asked to eat at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, just a few blocks from our condo.  We really enjoyed our experience and the food was GREAT.  We even ran into a family, we knew, from our church.  They just sat down, while we were heading back out in the snow.  

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I love this picture!  Doug shot it from his window.  Pictures do not do the beautiful mountains justice.  It was so breathtaking and serene.  I was in heaven just admiring what my Lord created for my enjoyment.  Shot taken from the streets of Gatlinburg, TN

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We spent half a day at Ober Gatlinburg, TN.  We planned to do a little snow tubing and seeing the sights.  Wow!!  When we finally made it up the mountain, we had the opportunity to enjoy the view.  Gorgeous! 

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You can't see too good in this picture because I didn't have my big flash, but on the left side of this picture up the creek, we saw a man fly fishing.  You know, he had to be COLD.  

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Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort

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Here they come - Snow Tubing

This was the first time I've ever gone snow tubing.  It was an exhilarating experience and I recommend anyone and every one to do this during the Winter and Early Spring.  The tubing closes after Easter weekend for Summer.  I would love to do this again.  We got to ride for 1 1/2 hours at $20 a person.  You don't even have to hike the steep hill in order to slide.  All you do is get on the escalator (shown on the far right of this photo).  


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Katie got to slide by herself - she is the first one to the left with the pink coat and purple boggan.  

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Daddy and Colton came right after her - pictured to the left with white boggan and red jacket. Colton rode in the back, behind daddy.  

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We met a sweet family from Miami, FL.  We took turns taking each other's family photos.  The background is the ski slopes, which was closed off for the season.  It was about 29 degrees at the time.  It warmed up a little, but still cold.  

The kids were so tired after all the snow tubing and fun at Ober Gatlinburg.  We stopped at The Peddler for lunch.  It was so good and one of the best salad bars.  Yum!  After we ate, the kids were tuckered out.  My sweet adorable husband had the best idea ever.  We all went back to the room and I got to go out on my own.  We passed by this little shopping area called "The Village" that I had my eyes on since we got there.  They had some very unique shops and just walking distance from our condo.  I also jumped in the truck and headed towards the Art and Crafts Community on the other side of town.  I stumbled into this one shop that I wished I had more time to really look because it was so interesting.  I would have loved to take pictures, but I had noticed several shops' signs that requested "no pictures taken."  The woman's artwork on display in this place was so interesting.  She had painted silks.  I thought they were just scarves, but the lady was sweet enough to educate about the technique.  The artist stretched stripes of silk and actually painted artwork on them.  Beautiful vibrant colors.  The lady said that most people just frame the silks and hang them on the wall.  What I fell in love with is scrimshaw piano ivories.  BEAUTIFUL!  It's an old technique of craving onto ivory that dates back centuries.  To remind me of our wonderful trip, I bought a cross scrimshaw pendant and a pair of dogwood scrimshaw earrings.  I LOVE them.  I'll have to take a picture and show them to you one day.  

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Katie absolutely had to visit "Wonderworks" in Pigeon Forge, TN.  It reminded me of our local science centers for kids on steroids.  They had laser tag and magic shows, which we didn't do.  I tried to get Katie to climb the rock wall with me, but she wouldn't do it.  There was also a tight rope climbing experience, about 3 stories high called the "Spacewalk Challenge."  Katie didn't want to do it either, which was good because it made me nervous.  I'm talking about nothing but ropes and you had your safety harness and helmet.  We all had a great experience and I know I was wiped out by the time we left.  

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We came across a neat little museum called "Hollywood Stars Cars" on the main strip in Gatlinburg.  Colton spotted the Bat mobile and that's all it took.  I think we were all pleasantly surprised as we made our way through this 2 story car museum.  They had real cars from "The Andy Griffith Show" police car to James Bond's 007 memorabilia.  

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Our future oceanographers - taken at the Ripley's Aquarium
The aquarium was a wonderful experience.  I loved getting on the moving sidewalk and experience the tunnel of sharks, stingrays and other ocean life.  We got to see the handlers feed the sharks and stingrays a snack.  Katie thought it was gross.  Of course, Colton thought it was cool.  

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They got to be apart of the Penguin experience.  They crawl through tubes and stick their heads between the penguins.  They also did this experience in another areas with the fish.  I couldn't take a good picture because of the flash, no matter what angle I tried to take the picture.  

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This was taken on the strip in Gatlinburg as we were headed to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  There is so much to do in all four of these towns that you would never be bored.  There was so much we couldn't see it all.  I hope it won't be 25 years before I ever get back.  The only thing I regret not being able to see is Cade's Cove.  When I checked my alerts for the area roads/maps, a warning came up that there was a landslide at Newfound Gap, which is the road that you would take from Gatlinburg to Cherokee (where the Native Indians live), Clingman's Dome and Cade's Cove.  I knew the kids wouldn't be able to make it to Clingman's Dome, but I would loved to have seen their faces at the other two places.  Cade's Cove is where the wildlife (bears) are seen the most.  Maybe next time.  

Welcome Avery! 

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We used Friday to stay around the house and catch up with household chores.  We ended up at Academy buying the kids their own baseball bats, gloves and practice balls.  I had Doug take the kids with him, while I checked out the swim suits.  I needed a new one so bad.  I never can find one to look nice on me, so I became excited to find one that looked half way decent on me.  Yes!  Needless to say, when I went looking for Doug and kids to tell them the exciting news about my swim suit, he didn't look all that excited.  The kids had already tried his patiences to the extreme.  I took the kids and let him look around.  

The next morning, we received a call from my sister.  Her daughter was at the hospital preparing for the arrival of her second child.  My mom and I drove to the hospital to welcome our new little precious member of the family, Avery Cathleen.  She is just so beautiful!  Several family members were there to welcome her to the world and she was passed around like a sack of potatoes.  She didn't cry or become uncomfortable not the first time.  She weighs 7 lbs. 5 oz. and 20 inches long.  Petite compared to my 8 & 9 lb. babies.  Mom and baby girl are home and doing well.  Lord willing, we will try to visit the growing family sometime this weekend.  

It rained on Easter Sunday for brief moments in the morning, so we didn't do anything too exciting.  Our families came together at Doug's parents house.  We had a HUGE meal, egg hunts for the kids and enjoyed the laughter of family stories.  I hope you had a wonderful Easter.