Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Main Dish

There has been something I have been wanting to try, but just never wanted to spend the money on. My husband and I never really do much for each other's birthday or our anniversary (as in expensive monetary type gifts), but this year, there were several things Jason truly needed, so I actually spent a little money on his b-day this time around. He, in turn, spent a little money for my birthday on something I have been wanting to try for years.

It is called The Main Dish.

Basically, you make a reservation on-line, pick out the meals you would like to eat, then show up at their studio kitchen on the date/time of your reservation. They do all the prep work ahead of time and you just show up (I took along my husband and kids), put all the meals together, then take them home to freeze to be eaten at a later date. How easy is that?!?

It was so much fun!!!

The kids had a blast helping out... and in a matter of 30 minutes or so, we had put together 6 dinners.

A had fun getting her hands messy.

J? so much ;)

I just love how animated A's facial expressions are. She is such a drama queen!

Big J had decided early on he would be the photographer and master cling wrapper of all things that went in the ice chest...hence the reason he did not want to be in the!

This ended up being the perfect gift!!! We will be going out of town for a mission trip and you know how chaotic getting back home and back in the swing of things can be...and coupled with school starting the following week...simply grabbing a nutritious home-made meal out of the freezer sounds like the perfect things to do :)

The down-side is...this is not something we can afford to do on a regular basis. To be quite honest, this may have only been a one-time kinda thing. I am big on sales and coupons, and had I done all this myself, it would have most likely cost me about half of what I paid. In the end, you are paying for more than the food itself... you are also paying for the experience, the convenience, the time, the preparation, and the clean-up... and for the crazy next couple of weeks we have coming will be nice to have something easy for a change :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Exploring Countries and Cultures Kick-off!

This week was our kick-off for the new school year. Technically, we don't start till August,  so if you would like to follow along, check back at the end of the 2nd week of August for weekly highlights and reviews all year long as we explore the different countries and cultures in our Father's World :)

Our Kick-off destination???

The Sea Center features a wetland area which consists of a 1 acre salt marsh and a 3 acre freshwater marsh.

There is also a 20-foot touch tank filled with crabs, snails, fish, anemones, and the state shell of Texas - the Lightning Welk.

There are several different large aquarium areas....

Salt Marsh Aquarium
Coastal Bay Aquarium

Tropical Fish Aquarium

Jetty Aquarium

Artificial Reef Aquarium

Coral Reef Aquarium

Gulf of Mexico Aquarium

...And various other smaller aquariums

There is also a one-of-a-kind marine fish hatchery. The tour takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour and is very interesting and informative.

We also took a little time out to have some fun at the beach :)

Bring on the new school year !

A CraZy - busy FUN filled week!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Picture Perfect Sunday Sermon

So, a friend of mine gave me an idea to get kids more involved in "Big" church and the Sunday sermon/message and...

We *love* it!

What you do is...

Outfit each person (yes, even the parents) with some paper and something to write with. We went with a notebook and pencil for each person. Younger kiddos may choose to have a few crayons. 

While the pastor is preaching, the kids try to draw a picture (or pictures) of what they think he is talking about or the main points of the sermon. They are not limited to just pictures...they can write words, phrases, key points, etc...

Here's the catch though...the parents are in on it as well :) Along with our written notes, we also jot down a picture or two. I think the lady sitting next to me probably thought I was a little kooky, but whatever ;)

After lunch, or dinner, or just anytime later that day, we all bring out our pictures. We talk about what each person drew and the main ideas we took from the sermon. 

It is an excellent time to talk and discuss the sermon, answer any questions, and to reinforcement the message and the key points.

What is wonderful is our kiddos paid more attention to the sermon and listened more intently when drawing their pictures than in the past when they just sat there or worked in some sort of activity book. And you know what? I think I did too :)

To get a 'picture' of what I am talking about...see below :)

Genesis 12:1-3

The message was about Abram listening to God, receiving direction from Him, and following His will  even if that means he has to step out of his comfort zone. The same goes for us. God is more interested in our trust and faith in Him than He is in our comfort levels. 

Bro. Mark also talked about God blessing you for following His will. This is what A picked up on. She drew a picture of her listening/talking to God. She then started to think of the ways God blesses her (and here's where her imagination takes over) creating squirrels that are fun to watch scurry through the trees and drop acorns down on people's heads or watermelons that she likes to eat and whatever is left over a fruit bat comes to munch on. LOL!

J also keyed in on the blessings part. He said greedy people who don't really have a relationship with God want Him to bless them with material things only to satisfy themselves. But Christians thank God for blessing them (in whatever way that may be) and share with others .

As you can tell, my husband prefers the writing part, but he managed to draw a little picture ;) It is about God giving us, as a family, direction and even bursting our protective bubble, if needed, to get us out of our comfort zone and into His will.

And here's mine...The first few pictures are of Abram listening to God and setting out on the path He has for him and his family. The last picture is of me peering over my protective wall of comfort.

Anyway, I hope you get the idea. And if your kiddos need a little motivation during "big" church, then definitely give it a try :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Daily Bible Devotions - For My Kids

I want to get my kids in a good routine NOW of reading their Bibles DAILY. Hopefully this will form a good habit that will follow them into their teenage years and beyond :)

My kids are ages 6 and 8. They are reading well on their own. They both have NIrV Adventure Bibles. I like that these Bibles are written on their level and are easy to navigate around in.

Once a week, I get on-line and print out a weekly Bible Reading Plan (listed below). The passage(s) for each day is listed as well as a simple question to answer or key verse to copy each day. They also have an area to jot down things to pray about each day/week.

My kids usually do their daily devotions at night right before bed. I find this is a good quiet, wind-down activity.  

Anyway, I get the free Bible Reading Plans from  Head Heart Hand. Click on that link to read all about it and his purpose for creating it. He has two versions: one with 2 daily Bible readings (morning and evening) or just 1 Daily Bible reading.  We do Bible in the morning with our homeschooling, so I opt to use the once a day version. 

For the first single daily devotion/Bible reading, click here

For the first double daily devotion/Bible reading, click here

He has all his posts listed in order. Just click on the little black 'Bible Reading Plan' logo below each post to see all of them or to get to the next week's reading plan. 

We are currently on Week 4 of the Bible reading plan and the kids are loving it! The first week I had to help them along until they got the hang of it. Now they are doing it all on their own each night. I gather up their papers at the end of the week, file them away in a binder, and set out the new papers. I love reading over their papers at the end of each week. Seeing them learn about God and his Word makes my heart smile :)

Gathering Supplies and Hobby Lobby...

I got this idea from a friend of mine, who just happens to be a fellow MFW user, when I ran into her at Hobby Lobby.

I found it extremely helpful so I thought I'd pass it along. Any person can do this regardless of the curriculum you use. It does require a little planning and some storage, but it is SO WORTH IT, and in the end, will save you a TON of money :)

1 - Go through your curriculum and see what crafts and projects you have coming up for the entire year. 

2 - make a list of each supply/item needed for those projects

3 - Subscribe to the weekly hobby Lobby e-mails notifying you of their weekly sale items. You can also go to their website each week, but I find it easier when they deliver the notifications straight to my inbox. 

4 - With each weekly Hobby Lobby sale, scour your list and see what items you need, then go and buy them when they are on sale at Hobby Lobby. 

*Tip* - Hobby Lobby often features 40% off coupons. I load each member of my family up with one each time we go in order to save on those odd-ball items or the ones that never seem to go on sale. 

*Tip* - Start early in the summer (or as soon as your current school year comes to a close) so you have more weeks/months to gather your supplies for the upcoming school year. 

*Tip* - Save your receipts. What you don't end up using, you can return either for cash back or a store credit. 

I can't tell you how nice it is to have each item I'll need for upcoming projects and crafts already tucked away in my cabinets. No more rushing around at the last minute gathering supplies :) And I was notorious for this! 

If you do not have a Hobby Lobby near you, I'm sure this will work with other craft supply stores. Subscribe to their weekly e-mails, check their websites each week, or look through their sales section in the weekly newspaper.