Sunday, August 24, 2014

Harvest Time Begins

I like to maintain that it is still summer until fall equinox, meaning there's almost a month of summer remaining. Harvest time is usually synonymous with fall, meaning that so many of the things I planned for this summer (like my homeschool planning) are still undone as the days grow shorter. Whether I'm ready or not, our harvest season is beginning.

Remember those potatoes I planted inside of the wire cylinders?

We just dug them out.
Such good colors.

During the past few weeks, while things have been relatively quiet on this blog, we've also had a couple of good opportunities to visit a local blueberry farm and do some picking.

I've added an epic blueberry patch to the list of essentials for my dream homestead.

What have you been harvesting this summer? 

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer Learning: Our Trip to the Science Center

Even in the midst of the moving extravaganza, I'm a sucker for the science center. And when my sister called and offered to take us, I decided it was worth it to squeeze it in between filling boxes, yard work, and deep cleaning (not to mention planning chores and thinking about meal planning).

Homeschooling has been very minimal, as in occasional book reading and math games. There have been quite a few birthday parties and other special occasions in the last few weeks too, so a day of hands on learning at the science center was just what our homeschool life needed.

Bee saw some bigger kids moving this giant granite sphere, so he had to try too. The ball has a constant flow of water underneath it, so there is no friction, making it possible to move the four-thousand-pound object relatively easily. I'm not sure that Bee picked up on all that. 

Both of these little people love music (and already show a natural level of musical ability that I have yet to be able to cultivate in all of my years) so they had a good time with the music and sound area.

 Bee found another opportunity to explore friction, static electricity and gravity.

Woah! What's that crazy glowing thing with with all of those gears? Nothing terribly practical, just part of the steam-punk inspired sleep exhibit. 

We had some fun with proportions with this double sized dining table and chair set.

The children made friends with this giant caterpillar statue...

...and helped their Aunt Joy figure out how to put these insect puzzles together. What would she have done without them?

Also enjoyed but not pictured were the enormous cockroaches, various beetles, and naked mole rats, all of whom sparked my morbid curiosity enough to cause me to stare for an extended period, but neglect to take pictures. The children were less interested.

While I've been busy planning, listing and charting other aspects of my life, I've seriously neglected homeschool planning for next year. I had imagined myself working on it all summer and having enough time to dig up the best of the best in online homeschooling resources and delving into the pile of homeschool related books I have...unfortunately the reality has been that deciding to move again has thrown those plans out the window, along with my aspirations for a staycation and refreshing parenting-reflection at home retreat.

I guess it's just time to get busy...I mean busier.

How has summer learning been for you? What are your homeschool plans or domestic organization plans for this year?

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Grocery Savings and Meal Planning

I can't even count the number of times I've clicked on an article, or picked up a book, promising to teach me all of the secrets I need to cut my grocery bill in half, only to be disappointed. The tips tell me to use coupons to buy processed "foods" and buy discount low-quality factory farmed meats to save big. Ugh. I pretty much stopped looking for grocery savings tips and resigned myself to spend an enormous portion of our income on groceries to eat well.

As I mentioned in my last post about cleaning, fall time, combined with the fact that we're moving has heightened my enthusiasm in the domestic sphere. I've been meaning to revive my existing menu plans to better mesh with our gluten-free and fewer grains style of eating that we've gradually adopted in my family since I orginally made these menu plans last fall.

Only I've been dreading it, because somehow, the act of officially changing our meal plans will make it real that our grocery bill is SO EXPENSIVE.

That is until, I discovered the Grocery Savings Made Simple course, which is all about saving money on groceries while eating real food, including a lot of high quality protein from pasture raised animals. It's an e-course that starts September 2nd, you can find more information about it here, and also get a free download of one of the grocery saving prinables. I've had the chance to talk with the course creator, Shannon, who blogs at Growing Slower and preview some of the course material and I can tell you that I can't wait to learn more about her grocery savings system and implement it in our family. It's all about real strategies that I already use, like buying in bulk and cooking from scratch, but how to get organized with it and do it smarter.

I'm signed up, and if you sign up before August 26th, there is a special pay what you can option. I have to say that I think this is so awesome on Shannon's behalf to recognize that the families who need this information the most will have the hardest time paying. I know that a lot of us blogging mamas out there are trying to help support our families by sharing our creativity and expertise through our blogs, so being paid for our work is important. That makes the reduced rate for this course a really generous move and honestly, I'm impressed.

Time to get it together on grocery savings and have a meal planning revival! Ahhh, I love my autumn organizing and planning spree.

Note: I am receiving a free pass to the e-course in exchange for my honest review and social media promotion of the course. The opinions stated in this post are my own.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fabulously Fresh and Clean Chores Checklist with Free Printables

I know. It's supposed to be spring cleaning, but something about autumn approaching gets me jazzed for a household deep cleaning renewal, along with all of the vows to myself to never let it get messy or dirty again.

Yes, I know what you're thinking, with two young children in the house, this is an extreme position to be taking. And maybe that's the point, cleaning binges drive me to the extreme. That's one reason why I've taken the time to create my epic cleaning schedule.

In the busy, ever so demanding world of mommyhood, it's an attainable way to create the solace of a clean and orderly home. It breaks up the compulsive cleaning into manageable sections you can do each day.

In other words, this is my method for achieving the housewife's ultimate dream: a clean home

...while still having enough time in the day to take care of other responsibilities and enjoying life. Since adopting this cleaning routine, even cleaning has become more enjoyable since I'm not driven to a manic state by the overwhelming expectation that I will get it all done today.

The chores schedule is actually broken down like this:
  • Daily Chores: a list of essential chores that get done each day to keep the house functional and keep clutter levels down. These are the ones that get done every day, even when I don't have time or energy for cleaning.
  • Chores for Each Day of the Week: deep cleaning certain parts of the house each day. If one of these gets skipped for a week, I know I'll come back to in next week...which keeps me out of panic when I get to the next day of cleaning.
  • Monthly Chores: take care of all of those areas that are too easy for busy mamas to forget about for months at a time, on a rotating basis.
  • Seasonal Chores: things to do each season to keep the home orderly and free of clutter. 
  • Semi-Annual Chores and Annual Chores: minor DIY repairs and home maintenance.
 I have two lists: one is the master list with all the chores from daily to annual, and the other is a checklist that you can hang in an inconspicuous place to keep track of the daily chores and monthly chores. And there's even a section for kids' chores.

These chore lists have inside and outside chores, along with basic household management tasks, so nothing important gets overlooked.

Get the complete list and the daily checklist. There are plenty of blanks so you can customize according to your needs. You can take a look at my complete list to get an idea of what kinds of things you might want to fill in the blanks with to make the list as detailed as you need.

With this list our houses will sparkle and we'll be calm and collected cleaners, or at least we'll have a solid plan for how that will theoretically take place to carry us beyond the urge to binge clean.

What kind of cleaning schedule has worked for you? 

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer Homeschooling Update

If you've been wondering how homeschooling is going in the midst of summer plans and moving, well it's been very mellow. We did have a chance to do a couple of fun activities this past week.

Although not strictly homeschoooling, (well who knows maybe it counts as PE?) we made some Pinterest-inspired sponge balls to play with. While I was making the balls, Chobie wanted to build a house with the strips of sponge that I had cut. Which gave us the idea of using the sponges as blocks in the pool.

We were surprised to find out that the blocks actually move downwards in the water as you stack them.

And of course, here is how the sponge balls (pinned from Spoonful) turned out...

This is another one down off of the summer fun times list. Hooray!

We made some slime. The kind that used to be called "Gak" and branded by Nickelodeon in the 90s, yeah that kind. Made from Borax and glue. I never actually made it as a kid, so seeing the process was probably as amazing to me as it was to Chobie. Anyway, it was a fun introduction to chemical reactions, how different things can mix and have unexpected results to become something completely different than the original ingredients. Hooray for polymerization!

The theme for this month is pretty loosely inspired around mixing up goo. Since there aren't all that many books on the subject, we are reading some fun and informative books on a variety of other topics including these titles (with links from my independent bookstore affiliate).

Summer: An Alphabet Acrostic

This book is part of a series with alphabet acrostics for each season. We started reading them last fall
 and have made it all the way around to summer. I really like the illustrations and the acrostic poetry is pretty impressive (although the last time I read acrostic poetry, I think it was name poems we made in 5th grade, so I might not have the highest standards).

Going Around the Sun: Some Planetary Fun

Charlotte's Web

I think this is going to work out pretty well because the real theme of this month is moving. So we have lots to do.

What kinds of things are you learning about this summer?

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lately...Week Five

ok, so these haven't exactly been each week...but I figured it was about time for another.

this week I've been...

remembering to take breaks from being busy
trying to keep our routine while beginning the process of packing
cooking lots of greens
drinking  water and more water
reading Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting (and loving it) 
wanting more time to sleep
creating a more simple life
playing in the pool with these sponge balls (one more down on the Summer Fun Times list)
deciding what to keep and what to toss
wishing for, in the words of my younger sister, "a Pinterest life" or maybe just more time to make one
planning our kindergarten structure
wondering if its too soon to start preparing for the kids fall birthdays and Halloween 
loving cool summer mornings
listening to Chobie sing songs about garbage
needing more creative time
wearing as little as possible since its been so hot
noticing how I'm running out of things to pack that we aren't using
exploring good sugar-free and grain-free recipes
thinking of how to squeeze yoga back into my daily routine
getting through my moving checklist like a champ
feeling an alternating sense of overwhelm and contentment

gratitude for...
figs growing in the alley
how much Bee loves pointing out the moon to us
little people helping with packing and cleaning
new life
good books
good kids books
opportunities to share thoughts and ideas
banana ice cream
Chobie's emerging sense of style

What's been keeping you busy lately? Feel free to leave links to your recent posts, I'd love to look at them.

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