Friday, July 31, 2015

Dream World vs Reality

So, I decided this year to change absolutely everything about the way I homeschool. For one, I'll have ALL of the kids home. Xman and Bean have been home for a few years now, but this is Puppy's first year home. Miss PG is now noticing that she can do Preschool on my computer and VERY much wants to be involved. I've felt very strongly that the set-up for Power of an Hour is what I wanted, but I didn't particularly want to do Old Testament right now, so I was kind of at a loss. One of my friends shared that she uses a similar set up, but makes her own curriculum. I thought- ok.... I can try this. So I set up three days of curriculum that would start with us all as a family, break for chores & lunch prep, give me individual time with each kid, give each kid alone time, and encourage siblings playing together, then leave me finished in time for dinner prep. So today, I present to you, my PLAN and what actually happened.

Here is the syllabus I used for today.

Devotional- 3 Ne 14:21 & Matthew 7:12 (the devotionals I got from Momentity. It's called Armor Your Children)
Pledge of Allegiance
Diligence lesson
     D&C 103:36 (copywork)
    Dictionary Look Up
    Friend Story- A Faithful Finish
    Related Books
        Duck on a Bike
        The Ant & The Grasshopper (fablefreebie)(reading rainbow)
   Game- Fetch the Bean

Individual Time
  1. X&Mommy (HP7), Bean (easy peasy), Puppy& Miss PG (
  2. Bean&Mommy   (Little House on the Prairie), Puppy (easy peasy), X&Miss PG
  3. Puppy &Mommy, Miss PG (preschool), X&Bean (grasshopper/ant study)
  4. Miss PG &Mommy  (preschool packet), X&Bean&Puppy
  5. Mommy & Bean & Puppy (HP1), X(easy peasy),  Miss PG (SuperWhy Grasshopper/Ant on Netflix)
Lunch- Ant & Grasshopper Bento
  1. Sandwich Ant Hill (bread, tuna, mayo)
  2. Olive Ants carrying Corn (olives, corn)
  3. Hummus and Carrot Sun (lemon, chickpeas, sesame seeds, olive oil, cumin, salt, carrots)
  4. Dirty Rice under a Pea Grasshopper (rice, cinnamon, sugar, sugar snap peas)

Here's how it really went down.....
  I got up before the kids (this RARELY happens, bordering on never). Puppy was up within 10 minutes and helped me clear the table. I made a big 'ol pot of Cream of Wheat and some fresh syrup. We set the table and I even found some strawberries and powdered sugar to put on top. We only had to wake up Bean. The rest got up on their own. We ate together as a family

I hung out my fun new sign to let the world know that we were not to be bothered

We cleared the table and got out notebooks and scriptures.  Devotional went fine, as did the video and pledge. Then things strayed from the plan. Late the night before, my cute niece that lives with me gave me an idea to take the quotes I had and print them out so the kids could put them in their scriptures if they'd like. I LOVED the idea and did so. Here is a copy of that. *disclaimer- I did not MAKE the little pieces of artwork. They are literally all from Pinterest, so I hope I'm not breaking any rules or anything here. If so, I'll definitely take them down.
I cut them out while the kids read the scriptures. Then I let them each pick one to put in their scripture and one to glue in their notebook. For the older 3, I had them write down the verse in their notebooks. For Miss PG, I just did tracing letters for the word "diligence" and had her trace it.

We skipped spelling for the time being.
We also skipped Duck on a Bike. It was funny, but I didn't feel like it fit my theme all that well.
Then we watched the Reading Rainbow version of Ant and Grasshopper, even though I checked 3 different versions out from the library.

Then we cleaned up for a little bit, did a couple chores and decided to start individual time. Xman and I hid upstairs in my room reading Harry Potter 7. We didn't want to accidentally spoil anything for the other kids. Bean worked on her laptop doing a day of Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool. I had wanted to the game linked in the syllabus for Puppy and Miss PG, but that didn't happen, so I had them work on their fine motor skills. I had a big, deep tupperware-ish container that I dumped a bag of dry black beans in. I was hoping for little plastic ants, but didn't have the money right off the bat. I did find a couple of really BIG ants at the dollar store that I put in with the black beans. Then I covered them with a layer of shredded brown paper (it's for gift bags) to act as the dirt. Then I had the littles taking turns using ice tongs to pick the "ants" up and put them into an empty egg carton.

After 30 min, it was time to switch. Bean was wise enough to pick up a second copy of Little House last time she went to an outdoor library. It was a great idea because while we were reading, I was trying fruitlessly to get the Captain to take a nap. Turns out he was poopy. Good job, mama. Xman spent his time with Miss  PG reading the other versions of the Ant and the Grasshopper. Puppy LOVES his time on the computer doing school. Bean and I got through a whole chapter, so we decided to color  for the rest of our time.

Once this block of time was done, we handed out lunch. Lunch was spectacular in my head! Tuna fish sandwich shaped into an ant hill- that worked fine. Ants made of olives on toothpicks- that turned out fine. Then there was my hummus and carrot sun idea. The hummus was supposed to be the center of the sun and the carrots were supposed to be the rays. I even bought yellow carrots! Yeah, that part was not as pretty. THEN, I was going to have a grasshopper like THIS (though my kids pointed out that that's a praying mantis) on a bed of dirty rice. My dirty rice was still crunchy and no way did I have enough room to do fancy pea art. SO they just got dirty rice and peas.

Ok, so the last block of time is where we REALLY strayed from the schedule. During my 1 on 1 time with Puppy, he wanted to put together this paper grasshopper, so while he was cutting and gluing, I did spelling with the oldest two. Only words I knew they were having struggles with anyway. It was only 6 words.
Miss PG loved that she had all that time alone to do her Preschool. Xman and Bean, after spelling, read all the ant and grasshopper books I'd checked out from the library and learned a thing or two. 

Then it was time to switch again. Here's where it gets kind of fun. By this time, I was SO tired. Luckily, Xman agreed to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with Bean and Puppy. I had very mixed emotions about this. One- I LOVE HP and love seeing people experience it for the first time. Two- I was just SO SO tired that I was more relieved than anything.

I had prepared (way too much) stuff for Miss PG. Aside from everything I printed out (coloring pages, mazes, dot marker projects, etc), I also made a few things
(again with the upside down?!?!) 
I made you a version you could take to the Silhouette machine. Save you some cutting time.

 They aren't as cute, but it might be worth not having to cut them all out yourself.
Next we have pre-writing exercises.
 These were the most fun to make. They are little strips with ants on them (I used an eraser and an ink pad). Then your preschooler cuts on the lines dividing the ants.

We also had time for some coloring pages and a couple of easy mazes.

After this part, I was completely exhausted, so all the kids joined in to watch the Super Why version of Ant and the Grasshopper while Xman did his alone time on the computer with Easy Peasy. 

All in all, it was a good day. We were just accepted to My Tech High, so we'll still have some adjusting to do, but I think this school year will be a blast!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Bento Rescue

Sometimes, things don't go according to plan. For example, any time I decide to paint, it only takes 30 min.... In my head. In reality, it seems to take all day! I'm trying to set up our new homeschool space and had a wild hair. I decided to make a mini-dream come true. I painted my piano yellow!!



Not going to lie, I love it. I'm going to sand the edges a bit to give it a shabby chic look.

Now... In doing all this, my main floor & dining room are trashed!

However, we still needed to eat. Bentos to the rescue! I made the meal I was going to make and just kept the ingredients separated. I seasoned some ground beef with sage, salt, pepper, onion powder, parsley flakes, & garlic. I also made rice (next time, I'll make it sticky rice & shape it all cute) and sautéed some summer squash & zucchini in canola oil. Those who could have dairy had cheese, those who could not had black beans. OK, truth be told, all the kids asked for black beans. We obliged. We also had a side of kiwi.


posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Graham Crackers

I'm excited to get fancy square or circle cutters for this recipe so they look nice. I found the original recipe on Thirty Handmade Days. Hers look phenomenal. As I'm sure you've gathered, however, we can't have dairy. Here is a picture of ours.

So here is my recipe:
 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 1 cup brown sugar
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 tsp. salt
 8 Tbs of a cold oil (refrigerated coconut oil, non-dairy margarine, lard, etc)
 1/3 cup honey 
 1/4 cup coconut milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (being SURE that it's the real stuff, no vanillin)

Using the paddle on low, mix flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add cold oil butter substitute. Mix until coarsely combined. 
In a separate bowl, add honey, coconut milk, and vanilla. Slowly pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture. When it looks like cookie dough, separate it in 2 sections, put 'em in saran wrap or a ziplock and refrigerate them for about 2 hrs.

After your nap (or errands, or getting the kids to bed, or lessons or whatever you do), take the dough out, roll it onto a  lightly floured surface or a surface coated in cinnamon & sugar. Roll it until it almost covers a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. If you're into measuring, 30HD says that it's about 1/8" thick.

When I made these, I just used a pizza cutter and kind of free handed it, but next time, I'll either use cookie cutters or a straight edge (WHO is this perfectionist I'm becoming?!?!) Once you have your cookies marked, use a fork or a toothpick or whatever to make the little dimples in the cracker.

We sprinkled even MORE cinnamon & sugar on the top, then baked in preheated 350* oven for 15-20 min (I do 17 min). You want them a little bit brown. Pull them out, cool them, then break them apart on the lines you made earlier.

Store them in an airtight container. They are delicious, but you should probably share some with your kids.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Pretzel Bites Bento Box

Tonight's dinner wasn't intentionally a Bento Box. I was not TOO comfortable with the new recipe I tried and we made a big 'ol mess of the kitchen table. I made pretzel bites and they were delicious! Instead of trying to clear the table, we threw the yummies into the Bento Boxes and had a BLAST eating. Even the adults got Bentos! Now, it's a good thing we weren't really going anywhere because it was not nearly enough food the adults, we had seconds and thirds, lol.

Here's how pretty they look!!

Xman and Puppy wanted photos with theirs!! I will eventually get the picture thing figured out!

Ok, now to the recipes!! We have to alter almost every recipe. First, the Pretzel bites. I got the recipe from A Cozy Kitchen. The only alteration we had to make there was replacing the butter with canola oil.
To dip the pretzels, Hubby made a Honey Mustard Sauce. He got the recipe from and left out the Paprika so my kids could eat it (Paprika is Feingold Stage 2)

Now to the surprise of the night- the salad!!! I chose this recipe simply because I happened to have cabbage and chicken that was already cooked. I was honestly nervous about making it because I wanted to like it so badly. Well, guess what? I LOVED IT!!! And so did the kids. There was not one single complaint about dinner. The original was from The Urban Poser, but I'll repost OUR version here.

Chicken and Cabbage Salad


Leftover chicken, shredded

1 small head Savoy Cabbage, thinly sliced

1 cup julienned carrots

3 green onions, the whole thing!

1/4 cup  Mint leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 cup  Basil leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 cup  Cilantro leaves, roughly chopped


1/4 cup water

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (to taste)

1 tablespoon Sweet and Sour Sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon vinegar

1 tablespoons Olive Oil

Just put them all together and pour the dressing on top. SO FRIGGIN DELICIOUS!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bento Boxes

Ok, I have a tendency to get a little carried away when an idea hits me. It is July. Every July, my kids write their letters to Santa. This year, they have all decided to ask for a family pass to Thanksgiving Point. Because our entire lives currently revolve around food, I thought it would be fun to also get them each a Bento Box so we can take lunches or what not with us! Whether these will be from Santa or as Mom and Dad's "something to need" gift, we haven't decided. However, I decided that I need to start practicing. I hit up the dollar store and bought a bunch of small bentos, disposable ones to play with.

                                           Um, not sure why the picture is upside down.....

                                           These are some smaller ones that I love!

For our first Bento box, we went super simple. It also was NOT ENOUGH. Three minutes after finishing, they kids were starving.

I sliced cantaloupe... I tried to do triangles, but I'm not that cool yet. I added strawberries (they are Feingold Stage 2). For most of the kids, I added some cheese cubes, but Puppy is Dairy Free, so his has a hard boiled egg. The toast has coconut oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of onion powder. The chickpeas were a recipe found  Modern Parents Messy Food. We did the honey cinnamon variety. My kids liked em. My husband liked em. To be honest, they weren't my favorite. But that's ok! Like I said, everyone else liked em!

My favorite go-to recipes

I love finding recipes where I don't have to change anything at all.

I bought myself a bread machine at DI for $5!

I was lucky enough to find this recipe that is TECHNICALLY for hamburger buns, but I use it for rolls very often, just make them smaller. I am to the point where I have this recipe memorized!! I'm not even joking, though- if I can do these, ANYONE can!!!

To make it dairy free, don't spread the tops with butter- instead use a non-dairy substitute or coconut oil. I make these 3 times a week, at least.

Another recipe we use often that doesn't need any changes at all is for a ranch mix. SUPER yummy ranch dressing! The kids love it! You can find it here at Real Food Healthy Living

Adventures in Feingold, pt 2, the answer

We knew from experience that my kids were affected by Red40. It had pretty much not been allowed in our home for around 6 years. Occasionally, I would wonder every now and then if it was just in my head and let them eat something red. HA! For two days I would wonder why on EARTH I had doubted myself!

I will admit, I had heard of the Feingold diet before, but every time I had, I mentally stuck my fingers in my ears, closed my eyes, and went "LALALALALALALALA!" It was just TOO foreign. No way could food be that closesly related to behavior. Artificial colors, sure, but enough foods that you have to purchase a special list? No way could we afford that anyway. So it had always been dismissed quickly.

Remember, though, we had hit bottom. It was time for me to face the facts and to look at more options. I spent hours reading stories of other people who had started the program and had kids just like mine, but they improved with food. After much prayer, much study, much more prayer, and lots of conversation, we decided to give it a go. It helped that it was tax return season, so if we needed to a big shopping trip (we did), we could.

When you purchase the Feingold program, they send you a handbook. It includes facts, stories, recipes, letters to give to grandparents, menus, and extra resources. You also receive access to the foodlists- 4 times a year, the people at Feingold release a list of companies and products whose ingredients are considered "safe." This means it does not include any artificial color or flavor, no vanillin, no petroleum based preservatives (BHA, BHT, and TbHQ). These are all things that affect those with neurological issues. You also get access to a search feature so you can quickly find approved brands. My favorite perk of being a member, access to the Facebook page. The people on this board are AMAZING! So much help, people who have kids JUST LIKE MINE. People struggling fighting the same fight I'm fighting.

Within days of starting the new program (I hate calling it a diet), we noticed a change with ALL of the kids! They played together. They got along. They still had fits, but the fits didn't last for 20 minutes at a time. I only had to ask twice instead of ten times. We had new lives! Granted, we did have a week of detox, but that's totally normal. A couple months in, I had to go dairy free to try to keep the Captain from getting constant ear infections. We knew Puppy needed something besides basic Feingold and decided to go that route since he was already Lactose intolerant. It was what he needed. Our first Saturday (Big Chore Day), Puppy did everything he was asked the FIRST time and without complaining. This had literally NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. Anyway, things are going really well on Feingold!!

Now, one thing about ADHD is that if I fail at something more than a few times, I give up entirely. I have no desire to even TRY that particular activity again. Cooking was one of these things I had no desire to try. But I had to choose to learn to cook or to more than double my food budget. With lots of prayer (and new yeast- there's a story there) and serious necessity, I decided that I needed some kitchen skills.

This is where we stand right now. It's been a few months now and I have learned a TON about substituting foods to make things Feingold approved and Dairy Free. I need a place to put all these revised recipes. My cute niece, Sara, suggested that I put them here, to share with everyone!

Adventures in Feingold, Pt 1, the beginning

I know it's been ages since my last post! We have had some pretty huge changes in our house.

Background- I have five children. Xman just turned 11, JB is 9. Puppy just turned 7. Miss PG is 3. The Captain is 9 months.

When Xman was 3 or 4, I noticed that he was different from the other boys. Naturally, 3 and 4 year olds are hyper, happy, goofy kids. And naturally, kids these age don't always listen the first time they are told. Xman, though..... he could run CIRCLES around the other kids. And he did. Other mom's would call their kids 3 or 4 times and then their kids would come. Xman you'd call 8 times, he'd finally come, run a literal circle around my legs, and then take off again. Everything he did was rough. Hugging was rough, kisses were rough. I found myself bracing every time he came near. He didn't sleep and he was ALWAYS moving. I was exhausted.

We suspected that ADHD might possibly be the case, but he was SO young that we didn't want to discuss it too much. We learned that red40 often contributed to hyperactivity.  We took it out of our house and it was hard, but behavior improved. Did it fix everything? No. But at least we weren't in a constant state of insanity. When Xman started kindergarten, his teacher and I were talking and she mentioned that her nephews always calmed down when they had caffeine. We tested it. I was SHOCKED. Giving him 4 oz of diet Mt Dew actually helped him chill!!! Granted, it only lasted an hour or two, but still!!

As I started researching ADHD, all of the symptoms seemed SO familiar to me! I felt like I was reading all about my childhood. I decided to go to MY Dr. She prescribed me Vyvance and for the first time in my entire life, I felt NORMAL! I could think a thought and then my thought would tell my body to move to action. This had NEVER happened!! Before meds, I would watch Biggest Loser and think to myself, "I should do jumping jacks during commercial breaks" or "I should walk in place during commercials" and then just sit there and do nothing. This was not out of laziness, there was just no connection between thought and action. I could look at a pile of papers and think to myself, "That would take 30 second to clean up" and then walk past it a million more times until anything happened. Once I had my meds, I was flabberghasted! I could look at a mess in my living room and my brain would tell my body, "First, put away the books. Now put away all the dishes. Putting a bucket as a catch-all would keep the mess down." For the first time in my entire life, I could keep house! I felt like a new person! How could I not give this gift to my child?

It was time to go back to the Dr for Xman. I told him about my experience with meds. I told him about our experiment with caffeine. He kind of chuckled and said that he had written down ADHD on every set of notes since he was 3 years old (by this time, he was just about 6). His birthday was in June, so school was already out at this point. I asked his teacher to fill out the paperwork/questionnaire and she did, but two weeks after school was out had mellowed her memory and the Dr didn't feel comfortable diagnosing him with those answers. He said to wait out the summer and once he started first grade to wait for 6 weeks. If the teacher hadn't called us by then with issues, call her and ask how we was doing.

Six weeks in, exactly, I got a call. Now, I absolutely ADORED his first grade teacher! She was so kind and gentle when she called about his behavior. I told her what was happening and she readily agreed to do the paperwork. With this new, fresh set of eyes, we were able to get a proper diagnosis and get him started on meds. Because I was impressed with Vyvance, we tried that first for him, but he developed a tic, so we switched. We got him on generic Adderal and he has done fantastic with it since.

Things went well for a while. We had Puppy and he was the EASIEST baby! He was happy! He slept through the night early on! He was a champion nurser! We didn't really run into any struggles until he was 2. We discovered an allergy to lactose. We switched him to soy milk and that did NOT work. Finally, we settled on Lactose Free milk and it was ok. When he turned 3, he was QUITE the character. He had a mind of his own like you wouldn't believe. The Dr said to me once, "You know he probably has ADHD as well, right?" and from then on, we kind of assumed. We knew we didn't want to talk about meds until he was at least 6.

As time went on, though, I noticed some red flags. See, there are many, many things that can cause ADHDlike symptoms- lack of sleep (often caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils), allergies to foods, parasites, and more. So, I studied. I learned as MUCH as I could about ADHD and I just wasn't convinced that his was Puppy's deal. We tried the caffeine experiment and you know what? It was like you gave a 5 year old caffeine!! He was bouncing off the walls and SO out of control! He also didn't seem to struggle with focus. The biggest one, though, was how he acted around other adults. His kindergarten teacher told me how WELL he behaved in class and how well he listened. This was NOT the case at home. He fought me on everything. Not exaggerating. Getting ready for school in the morning was terrible. It was a fight to wake him up. It was a fight to get him dressed. He sometimes even fought me on going potty even though he was doing the peepee dance in the hall. It was a fight to get him to eat breakfast. It was a fight to get shoes on. It was a fight for absolutely everything.

I should probably mention that there were a few big changes by this point. I had taken both Xman and JB out of public school. We had switched Drs (after commuting to the Dr an hour away for so many years). The new Dr agreed that if I didn't feel he had ADHD, because I was living with it myself and because Xman had it, I probably knew best. He did agree, however, that it sounded VERY much like Opposition Defiance Disorder. He recommended therapy to help him work through some anger issues. (this kind of happened around the same time as THIS post). Therapy helped, but we still struggled daily.

Towards the end of first grade, I had Puppy's teacher fill out the ADHD questionnaire because things at home were still NOT pretty at all. The only part he fit was the H. He did not sit still at all. We had officially hit rock bottom. I was out of options, Something had to change because I had stopped loving being a mom. It was too hard. I was too tired.

And then we found Feingold......