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Monday, August 25, 2014

A-Z Of Bookish Questions

My friend Wesley posted this trivia list on her blog the other day (go check it out for lots of good book reviews), and I thought it was lots of fun.  I enjoy filling these out and reading them, and hopefully you do too!  Here's your useless Katy trivia of the day...
The books I read sometimes look like this...

Author you've read the most books from: Probably Lisa Scottoline.  Back in high school I read every book she had out at the time.  I know there are several more now.
Best sequel ever: I tend to read trilogies, and I usually don't like the second book.  But I liked Once by Anna Carey (review in my end of the month books post later this month!)
Currently reading: The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer; Sugar, Salt, Fat by Michael Moss, and The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.
Drink of choice while reading: A good cup of coffee.
E-reader or physical book: I like both, for very different reasons.  I like the feel of an actual paper book.  I like e-readers for their convenience, space-saving capabilities, and the amount of free books that are available. But I've also started using the library weekly again, so there's pros to both.
Fictional character you probably would have dated in high school: Tobias aka Four from Divergent. He reminds me of my husband.
Glad you gave this book a chance: War and Peace. It was a huge task that took me I think 6 months to finish, but it was full of such strong characters.
Hidden gem book: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.  I read this in one sitting at Barnes and Noble during my college days, and it stuck with me.
Irritated by: Books that drag out the middle of the story just to wrap everything up in two pages.  Pacing, people.
Just finished: Eve, Once, and Rise by Anna Carey.
Kind of books you won’t read: Smutty romance and 50 Shades of Grey.
Longest book you've read: War and Peace. 
Major book hangover because of: Harry Potter. I definitely wished for that series to keep going when it was done.
Number of bookcases you own: One! And of that one five-shelfer, I have three shelves devoted to fiction, one to non-fiction and photo albums, and two for kid books.  And if you can add, you'll realize that's six shelves - we use the top with bookends too.  But that's our limit!
One book you read multiple times: I don't re-read too many, but I've read all of the Harry Potter books a few times, and the first couple of both the Anne of Green Gables series and the Little House on the Prairie series a few times. One day I will actually finish those series...
Preferred place to read: A coffee shop
Quote you like from a book you read: Live like no one else so you can live like no one else. - Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover, which is fresh in my mind.
Reading regret: I wish I had more time to read! But I also know that I sometimes choose to do other things instead, which I'm working on.
Series you started and need to finish: Anne of Green Gables. I started early this year, made it halfway through book 5, and got distracted by other books.
Three of your all time favorite books: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield for the story, Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman for the writing style, and The Seventh Princess by Nick Horn from my childhood (and I still have it!)
Unapologetic fangirl for: Young Adult fiction.  Most of the fiction I read comes from the teen section.
Very excited for this release more than all the others: I don't keep up on new books enough to know what's coming out.  I'm usually years behind, but at least I have the benefit of not having to wait for sequels!
Worst bookish habit: Getting caught up in a book during the kids' naptime, and then continuing to read all afternoon while they interrupt me every two seconds, instead of putting the book down and coming back to it later.
X marks the spot: I have a ribbon and button bookmark (read: kid-proof) that I use most of the time, and I also use a part of a box from a bakery in Paris. 
Your latest book purchase: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. 
Zzzz snatcher book: I can't remember the last time I was bored with a book.  I'm usually pretty good at picking things I want to read.  But if I ever really don't like something, I'll put it down for awhile.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

What I'm Reading...

This week we've been reading through Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover, and we're starting at the beginning, with getting our $1,000 Emergency Fund.  That means gathering lots of stuff to sell!  On the right was my first pile, the "easy stuff" to find.  We have so much stuff!

How To Live An Exceptional Life, Even When Life Doesn't Feel Exceptional. "There is a backstory. Practicing and packing. Preparing and praying. Failing and trying again. And again. And again."  The exceptional stories we hear have a lot of work in the background, work that is full of unexceptional details. (The Art of Simple)

Why Today's Kids Need To Know Nursery Rhymes. My mom, who teaches preschool, has told me several times that the majority of her students don't know any of the nursery rhymes that she teaches until they learn them at school. They're important! (The Measured Mom)

Nine Strategies For Fixing Common Budget Problems. Pretty sure we've hit most of these already, and I'm sure some will come up again. (The Simple Dollar)

My Stress-Free Homeschool Planning Method. I do like to have things all set up, but I may switch to a checklist method to try it out after the first couple weeks are through. (Life Your Way)

The Pictures We Hang On Our Walls. "The pictures on our walls invite us to something better. They remind us of a life lived on purpose with meaning. And they call for us to focus on the very things that make us human." (Becoming Minimalist)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Our 2014 Homeschool Curriculum

I'm nearly ready to start our homeschool year.  And by "nearly ready", I mean I still don't really know what I'm doing, but I have resources for most of my subjects, and a few things specifically written out, so that's something, right?  I think because we don't officially have to report this year since Jonah is not at the age limit of 6 for Wisconsin, I feel a little bit more at ease about jumping into things and seeing how it works as we go.  This is major progress for my Type A planning personality, by the way.

Here's what we have planned to use for this year.  I am guessing at least some of this will change as we figure out what works for us, but this is at least where we are starting.

One of my big resources is Wittenberg Academy, a free classical Lutheran homeschool curriculum.  This is their first year, so it will be kind of cool to see how it all works.  They use public domain (meaning free) resources and pdfs, and the curriculum is all set up for you as long as you are registered.  We won't be using all of the subjects, because I have some things I wanted to do differently, but we will use this for some subjects.

Bible Stories, Memory Work, and Hymnology.  This is actually the one thing I don't have fully figured out yet.  You'd think the pastor's wife would be on the ball with this one, but no.  We are using Wittenberg Academy for some of our other subjects, and I expected them to have a Bible History section, but I haven't found it yet.  So I'm still looking into that.  We were going to do Christ Light, but it's kind of expensive.

For Memory Work, we will be starting On My Heart, and I will also be picking one hymn to work on each week.  Most will be seasonally appropriate, or something that we will be singing in church soon (as the organist, I have all the ins on what's coming up).

Math. We are starting out with the math on Wittenberg Academy, which is a 3-day-a-week setup.  I will supplement this with activities and worksheets that I find online for free.  It seems really basic (it is Kindergarten math after all), so if Jonah ends up flying through it really quickly, I may still look into ordering Saxon, which is what I originally planned on.  However, free won out over $60, at least to start.

Reading.  For learning letters, we are using Letter of the Week, which I found awhile ago and really liked, and then it was also recommended by a teacher friend, which is a bonus.  The only sad part for me is we have a black and white printer, which means some of the materials I'll have to print, and then attempt to color to make them pretty.  I'll supplement this with other letter-appropriate crafts and projects I find online.

We will also be reading a lot!  I'll be using reading lists like this to find books that reinforce the letter of the week.  We're also going to be doing a chapter a day of some longer books, starting with Stuart Little.  And finally, we'll have other more factual books available that go with our science units.  Plus, Jonah and Matthew each pick out 2-3 books for fun each week at the library.  Read read read!

Handwriting. There are tons of free resources out there for handwriting practice.  We'll be using some of these each week to go with our letter of the week.
  • Letters of All Sizes from The Measured Mom. This will be our introductory page each week to get used to writing the letter.
  • Alphabet Tracing Worksheets from Itsy Bitsy Fun. This will be practice for writing uppercase and lowercase of each letter.
  • A-Z Beginner's Handwriting Book from CurrClick. This one has the letter, a short word, and a space for drawing a picture of that word.
  • Bible Based Handwriting Curriculum from Frugal Homeschool Family. This one starts with letters, moves on to Biblical names and words, and eventually to Bible passages. It was on a special free promotion last week, so I picked it up!
I like A Reason For Handwriting, especially because there are Bible verses that go with each letter, but I chose not to do that this year for two reasons. First, I have enough other free resources for now, and second, because the Bible verses don't start until the next book anyway. We may revisit that for next year.

Science. Right now my plan is to do units on different topics.  I do also like the science included in the Wittenberg Academy curriculum, because it includes Biblical stories and principles in it, so we will probably use that too, as it fits in with the topics.  Our first unit will be Oceans, ending with a field trip to Lake Michigan toward the end of September (that's as close as we get to an ocean in the midwest, but we'll talk about the differences too).

History.  I looked into Story of the World, and I really like it, but I think it may be just a bit over Jonah's head, and since it's geared toward starting in 1st grade, we're going to wait on that until next year.  Our history this year will focus on holidays, plus other random little tidbits as they come up, like learning about Johnny Appleseed during the month of September.

Art. Our art projects will go along with our Letter of the Week, Science, or the season.  For little kids, there are endless amounts of project ideas online, and I like to think I'm creative every now and then, so we should have no issue coming up with these!

I think that's it!  Right now I have my first month or so mapped out with lots and lots to do every morning of the 5-day week.  We won't do it all.  I'm at least realistic enough to know that.  We may end up shifting into a 4-day week if 5 days gets to be too much, especially with doctor appointments and grocery shopping and household things.  But for now, this is the plan!  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

On Diapers and the Walgreens Well Beginnings Brand

Last week we ran out of overnight diapers.  I knew that it would be a few days before I had money in my Amazon account from Swagbucks to order more, so it was time to try something different.  I put Hannah in a Well Beginnings diaper from Walgreens and crossed my fingers.  And it worked! It lasted the whole night without leaks.  
The last time we tried store brand diapers for overnights, it did not go well.  We had leaks by the wee hours of the morning, unhappy kids, and tired parents.  This was definitely better.  These diapers have lots of great features, like a wetness indicator on the smaller sizes and a stretchy waistband, but my favorite feature is the price.  These diapers are $8.99 for a jumbo pack, but they're on sale quite often for less.  If you follow this blog, you've seen them several times in my weekly coupon posts.
Well Beginnings is Walgreens' brand for all your baby product needs, from diapers and wipes to baby wash to formula.  I have always been a firm believer that store brands are just as good as name brands, and this brand has the quality products to back me up.  For more information on all the products, you can check out the Well Beginnings website, or the Walgreens Facebook page.

We don't use disposables all the time, but when we do, I like to know that they're up to the challenge.  And saving money is always a plus!

Some links in this post are affiliate links.
Disclosure: I received a Well Beginnings sample pack and coupons from Moms Meet as compensation for this review.  As always, all opinions are my own.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What I'm Reading...

Over the last few weeks Hannah has become obsessed with having her shoes on, and has gone from taking a few hesitant steps to walking everywhere, all the time.  She's growing up so fast!

Can I See Your Belly Button? Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones, but this one made me cry. (Momastery via Life Your Way)

A Life-Changing Challenge: Add One Compliment. This is an interesting idea, and I bet it would result in a lot of extra good feelings. (Becoming Minimalist)

30 Great Gifts For $5 (Or Less!). There are a lot of good ideas on this list. I might be biased though, because practical, consumable gifts are my favorite, and I know they're not for everyone. (The Simple Dollar)

Play Is A Child's Work. This is a good reminder for me to just let play happen, even if it sometimes turns into unorganized chaos. (Simple Homeschool)

The One-Pile Cleaning Method For Kids. We do this sometimes when there's a lot to pick up in the living room, and it works! (Life Your Way)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Menu Plan August 16-31

With the abundance of fresh veggies at the Farmer's Market, we decided to have ratatouille for dinner last meal plan.  It was both beautiful and delicious! (The kids were not as thrilled about it though)

Here's what's on the menu this time around:

Saturday, August 16
Breakfast: Whatever you find (yogurt/granola, cereal, oatmeal)
Lunch: Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
Dinner: Stuffed Peppers

Sunday, August 17
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: BLTs
Dinner: Mini Pepper Nachos with Black Beans

Monday, August 18
Breakfast: Zucchini Apple Muffins
Lunch: Cobb Salads
Dinner: Cheesy Chicken Rice Bake

Tuesday, August 19
Breakfast: Zucchini Apple Muffins
Lunch: Cobb Salads
Dinner: Leftover Cheesy Chicken Rice Bake

Wednesday, August 20
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Crockpot Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions over Rice
Dinner: Oatmeal Pancakes

Thursday, August 21
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Leftover Crockpot Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions
Dinner: Black Bean Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries

Friday, August 22
Breakfast: Eggs and Veggies
Lunch: Pinto Bean and Ground Turkey Taco Salads
Dinner: Chicken Pepper Bake

Saturday, August 23
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Leftover Chicken Pepper Bake or Stir Fry (the chicken pepper bake is a new recipe, so I'm not sure if it will be enough for two nights, so I'll have a bag of stir fry veggies ready just in case)

Sunday, August 24
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Soups from the Freezer, Easy Cheesy Biscuits
Dinner: Homemade Pizza - chicken, black olives, mushrooms, and whatever random veggies we have

Monday, August 25
Breakfast: Eggs, Bacon, and Sweet Potatoes
Lunch: Homemade Macaroni and Cheese, Hot Dogs
Dinner: Mini Meat Loaves, Broccoli

Tuesday, August 26
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Mini Meat Loaves
Dinner: Crockpot Southern Chicken Stew, Biscuits

Wednesday, August 27
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Chicken Enchilada Chili
Dinner: Leftover Southern Chicken Stew and Biscuits

Thursday, August 28
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Leftover Chicken Enchilada Chili
Dinner: Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuits

Friday, August 29
Breakfast: Strawberry Baked Oatmeal
Lunch: Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas

Saturday, August 30
Breakfast: Eggs, Mushrooms, and Sweet Potatoes
Lunch: Mushroom Vegetable Soup with Barley
Dinner: Enchiladas

Sunday, August 31
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Mushroom Vegetable Soup
Dinner: Leftover Enchiladas

I'm also planning on making some Chocolate Zucchini Muffins for snacking and the freezer, or some Zucchini Brownies (or maybe both!).  We are blessed with friends and neighbors who are sharing their garden goodies with us, and the zucchini is flooding in!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Weekly Coupon Shopping

Walgreens
I went back and forth over doing this deal, because it would use up all of my extra cash in my grocery money for the month, but I decided to do it anyways.  It just means if I need any non-food items for the rest of the month, I'm limited to Walgreens points and a few CVS ECBs that I have leftover.  But I should be set, so I think that's okay.

  • Angel Soft 24 pack: $8.99, get 1,000 points ($1.00).  Used $1/1 printable = paid $7.99, got 1,000 points.
  • 2 Well Beginnings Jumbo Packs: B1G1 50% off $6.00, plus get 2,000 points when you buy 2.  Used $1/1 coupon (came with a blog pack - look for a review next week!) = paid $8.00, got 2,000 points.
  • Cheerios: on clearance for $1.09. Used $1/1 (mailer) = $0.09, plus I'll get $0.75 back from SavingStar!
  • Starbucks Iced Coffee: $1.79. Used $1/1 printable (no longer available) = $0.79.
  • 3 Lindsay Olives: $0.99 (ad coupon). Used $1/2 printable = paid $0.49 for 2 and $0.99 for 1.
  • 2 Dawn Dish Soaps: $0.99 each. Used two $0.30/1 printables = paid $0.69 each.
  • Used 5,000 points when you spend $25+ ad coupon = paid $21.22 with tax, got 8,000 points back (1,000 for Angel Soft, 2,000 for diapers, 5,000 for the ad coupon).  
I also have at least 5,000 points on my card, so I'll have to check to see what the next level of cashing them out is. I know 5,000 is $5, but I think the rate gets better if you have more points.  I haven't done much with the points system so far, although I do have it set up to earn points for steps with my Fitbit too, so I get points from that as well.  Every bit helps!