Monday, August 31, 2009

August in Review

First of all, this was the month I was going to begin learning how to be the prudent wife.  I'm a late bloomer, okay?  One of the great things about homeschooling is that EVERYONE is learning, right?  And we never stop.  So even though I just turned forty-something years old, it's not too late for me.  I started the choystercash couponing class.  Week One had to do with freebies from Rite-Aid.  We don't have a local Rite-Aid, so I got the week off.  This is Week Two.  This week's deals are Walgreens deals, $50 worth of free stuff.  I am still looking at the list and trying to get through the brain fog.  You do have to pay for this stuff, but you get money back to use on later purchases.   I can see that I am going to have to be real wise (and brainy) about how to shop Walgreens if I do this.  Will I actually save money, or will I just spend more on stuff we don't normally buy?  I'll let you know what happens.  Come on, someone join me on this class so we can compare notes!

Okay, August.  We started school.  The first day was horrid, but things are now much improved, almost wonderful.  Here we are actually studying, well, three-fourths are studying.  The remaining fourth is playing...

Some dear friends in Minnesota sent us this stuff in a box.  My husband ran when he saw it, but the girls thought it was great!  We are eagerly anticipating a visit from the PlainJane family, and we are brushing up on our Minnesotan: "You betcha", "hot dish", and "Do you want to come with?" 

I have been gaining a small interest in lentils, beans, and unusual grains for their nutritional value.  As we are not big cooked lentil fans, I tried spouting some.  Lentil sprouts are supposed to be REALLY good for you (translation -- probably bad-tasting).  Surprise!  They taste good!  Kind of like a cross between bean sprouts and snow peas.  We girls all enjoyed snacking on them.  (Dad didn't -- he preferred his hidden M&M's.) You don't need a sprouter.  Just soak about 1/2 cup of lentils overnight in plenty of water.  In the morning, rinse very well and pour the lentils into a colander lined with a clean dishtowel.  Cover with the overlapping part of the towel, then run water over the whole thing.  Set the colander in a bowl to catch the drips.  Do this again each evening and morning for two or three days.  When your lentils have sprouted, rinse them well, drain, and refrigerate in a zip-lock bag.  They are a great snack or addition to a green salad.  And when you are tired of snacking on them, you can have your little kids plant some.   They come up super fast.

Elisabeth has been spending much time at Build-a-Bearville, and desired a real Build-a-Bear so bad it hurt.   We are lucky enough NOT to have a Build-a-Bear store nearby ($!$!$!), but since we were going to go to California for my birthday last week, I did a bit of research and found a store reasonably close to my parents' home.  Betsy spent her own money on a very cute bunny and the special code that will allow her to spend even more time at Build-a-Bearville.    She is now a Junior Cyberguide and "owns" a beautiful home in Build-a-Bearville.

From there we went to Balboa Island for a fun day by the ocean.  I got a pair of Crocs sandals -- what a relief to my poor diabetic feet -- in a neat little clothing and accessories store called "Fresh Produce".  What a funny name for a clothing store!  Then I got home and looked up Crocs on eBay...   LOL!  Oh well, next time I'll get them online.  But my feet were thanking me all that day.  Wouldn't you know Crocs is going out of business?

From there we rode the little ferry to the Fun Zone,

where my folks treated the girls, but especially Emily, to a ferris wheel ride:

And the carousel:

Then we had lunch at Ruby's on the pier and met this guy:

One evening we took a walk along Alamitos Bay

And found these,

and watched the sun set (you didn't know the ocean runs downhill, did you? lol!):

And the girls did some more artsy stuff at Grammy's:

I had a wonderful birthday with people who love me! I'm sure there's more, but this post is long enough already.

And here is my project for September:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wanna-Be Prudent Housewife

The woman on the left is me.  Soon I am going to be the woman on the right!  Lately I have been perusing the many sites on couponing.  When I look at coupons, I can not see how women get $100 worth of groceries for under $20, but I am going to find out!  Most of the time the coupons that are out there are not for items that I buy.  But perhaps with some study I can make this work.  I am going to start, first of all, by doing the couponing class that will start next week.  Do you want to join me while I learn how to do the CVS and Walgreens deals?  Sign up here:  I recommend that you set up a separate email account just for your internet coupon emails and that sort of stuff -- they can really jam up your inbox.  Choystercash sends out an email every time they are alerted to a good deal, sometimes several each week.  Their couponing class begins this coming Monday and runs for ten weeks.  Another good site for couponing is  She supplies you with all the deals AND all the coupons, too.  It's all overwhelming to me right now, but with God's help I am going to get it!!

Also, for any of you Texas dwellers, do you know about HEB's "fresh or free" policy?  My brother-in-law is constantly going into HEB and walking out with $100 worth of groceries for absolutely FREE.  Here is their policy:
"We guarantee the freshness of all products in our store.  If you find a product with a sell date earlier than today, we will gladly exchange it for a free FRESH replacement item (not redeemable for cash). Limit one free item on any like UPC. On bulk items normally sold by the pound you will receive one pound free."

Their clerks cannot stop you from going through the merchandise for the out-dated stuff, but they might go ahead of you and start rotating the stock a little better.   If the check-out person gives you any trouble, ask them to call the management.  This policy is good for anything in the store, including meat, dairy, HBA, grocery, etc. Note this:  YOU GET A NEW ONE FREE,  NOT THE OUTDATED ONE!  Google HEB for some "fresh or free" tips.

If only we lived in Texas.

House and riches are the inheritance of fathers:
and a prudent wife is from the LORD.
Proverbs 19:14

Monday, August 10, 2009

Place Value with LEGOS

Emily was beside herself with impatience to start school. So the other day I printed out some freebie math worksheets for her -- worksheets for place value, skip counting, and other first-grader stuff.  We worked through the place value worksheets in nothing flat.

6 tens and _____ ones = 67

7 tens and 9 ones = ______

And etcetera.  Emily picked it up immediately.  But later, when I quizzed her orally, she couldn't do it.  I realized that she had recognized a pattern, but had not grasped the concept.  Hmmm... what could we use to SHOW her place value?  How about ... Legos?

First we made bricks of 10-piecers, figuring out all the different ways to make 10.  With Legos you can't do two 5-piecers together, or 9+1, but you can do 6+4 and 8+2 in several different ways, with different shaped pieces.  Or you can combine colors to get 5+5 and 9+1 and all the other combos you need.  Emily helped me make ten 10-piecers.  Then we dug down to the bottom of the bucket for the 1-piecers and scrounged up a dozen or so.

Since she already knew how to count by 10's, we did that, touching one 10-piecer Lego brick for 10, 20, 30, up to 100.  Then I showed her that there were 100 Lego brick "bumps" in that pile.  I saw the light bulb go on for her.  (I do love that moment!) Then we made two-digit numbers with them.  Twenty-three equals two 10-piecers and three 1-piecers.  That was easy!  This is too easy, Mom.  What else can we do with them?  We can add them. Oh neat!  And that is how we made our own (cheap) version of Math-U-See.  Next week we'll do addition with carrying.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Month in Review -- July

Oh dear, I am tardy with this post!  Good thing I don't have much to tell you.  It was July.  Hot, above or below 115°F, with average LOW temps at 85°.  We've lived here nearly six years, and it's still weird to me to see the bank thermometer at 103° at 9:00 or 10:00 at night!   We spent a lot of time in the house, and some at the lake or river.  I posted photos of the lake already... And we did art, which I also told you about.... So I will just go look at my trusty camera and see if anything else exciting happened. * * *

While I'm looking, I'll tell you about my reading list.  Lately I have been reading some of the literary classics, to reacquaint myself with them and to see if I would now consider them decent reading for my growing girls.  My criteria for good reading  material changed drastically when the Lord saved me, and as I am responsible for the hearts and minds of a few voracious readers in my house, I am trying to be careful about what we have on our shelves. In the "done" pile are The Old Man and the Sea, Pride and Prejudice, Flowers for Algernon (definitely NOT recommended by me for tweens or teens), and To Kill a Mockingbird.    I can't pre-read everything my kids get a hold of, and I thought that the classics should be relatively safe.  But I had a nagging feeling that they might not be.  I don't know who decides a book is a classic, but we don't have the same standards.  Okay, blanket statement forthcoming. Seems to me a book is called a classic if, in addition to containing great writing, it does one of two things: One, either it challenges cultural mores and norms and ideas about what is right and wrong, or two, it challenges GOD'S authority on the subject of right and wrong.  I don't mind the first at all.  I would put Mockingbird in that category.  It's a great book.  But I don't consider Mockingbird okay for my kids to read, simply because of the mature content.  I know, I read it for the first time in junior high, and I survived. The testimonies about the rape must not have made a big impression on me, because I had forgotten all about them. But do I want to feed that to my kids? And what about the language? Garbage in, garbage out?  **sigh**   Algernon, on the other hand, challenges both societal behavior and God's law.  The story idea is great, but the philosophy is entirely humanistic, and the content is definitely "adult".  Many of the classics have excellent ideas and excellent writing, with all this other stuff thrown in.  Why do they have to do that?  Do I want my kids to learn about humanism or immorality from a book? I haven't figured out if or when it's okay to read something  as  a family that is completely contrary to God's thinking, just so that we can discuss contrasting ideas.  What are your reading recommendations?

* * *

Okay, I found something.  I picked up this great book at the library.   Amy took it over as well as my sewing machine, and she created several bags:


Here's the first one she did.  I had this fabric map of the USA hanging around, which I intended for years to at least hem (even had it on the wall with just its raw edges for a long time), and Amy made much better use of it than what it was doing in my sewing stuff.  Using an old mattress pad for batting, Amy machine-quilted the fabric then constructed a big bag and lined it.

My artist mom went to the Provence region of France with her artsy friends for a couple of weeks (wish I could say it was us -- now THAT would have been something to tell!), and that sort of inspired Amy and me to make her a brush holder from a pattern in that same book. (Excuse the tacky brushes.)  Here's the process:

Next week we'll be starting "school". Yippee!   Actually I am considering unschooling this year.  Or should I say, unschooling again this year? 
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