The Wind in My Sails – What’s Coming

I have a confession to make.  It is pretty obvious from the archives, of course, but I will confess that for a few months I have been deliberately absent from this site.  We had a big summer with the boys being 6 and 4 – a fun time to have lots of different activities or just to play.  I decided to take some time experiencing things up close instead of working to remember to capture moments for posterity in net-worthy photos and script.   I chose to live in the moment right next to my family instead of six feet behind them with the camera.

I must admit that the blog crash last year really took the writing wind out of my sails.  I love taking pictures when we go places and writing or posting about things that interest us or that I find helpful, but it was really time to step back.  Now I feel like I can begin blogging again with renewed energy to match our next homeschool and family adventure – 1st grade and preK.  Super fun with kids learning to read and growing together as we homeschool.  Co-ops, field trips, swim lessons and a new-to-us music program addition are going to round out our fall semester.

As for here, I am hoping to post at least a few times a week.   My current projects are:

  • Schooling, of course, and learning together.  The kids have their stuff, and I am planning on hand-spinning, more coding, and Spanish 1 this year.
  • Simplifying our home life: Clutter-be-gone and a schedule we can all live with.
  • The (seemingly) never-ending yard project.  Cleaning up after some back yard neglect and starting a vegetable garden.
  • A healthy food-habit makeover.  This one is going to be baby steps, folks!
  • A specific and protected Bible study time instead of when-I-get-a-waking-minute (something I slipped out of during the toddler an training years).  Even if it is 5 minutes, I plan to protect and cherish this time to launch my days in a better frame.
  • A new look for this and my other blog.

It is great to be so excited about what may be coming.  I hope you will join me for the journey.  The sails are back up and let’s see how this next growing year unfolds!

Jen

Cabin Fever

Here we snow again.

Winter weather is once again coming to the Southeastern U.S.  The authorities have requested everyone who doesn’t have to get out to stay home for the next couple of days.  I agree, since Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee don’t really have a whole lot of winter weather equipment and what they do have works better if they don’t need to run over spun-out cars to use it.  So, it looks like a whole lot of people will be inside and that includes many kids.

Now, it doesn’t bother me one little bit to be in for a couple of days from cold and precipitation (I do prefer that we don’t lose power and water, but that is another story), but my kiddos will start getting stir crazy after the first day.  I have heard a lot of friends contemplating how to keep their children entertained for a few days when stuck indoors?  Of course, there will be a lot of just regular old playtime, but sometimes it helps to have some direction.  Here is a list of some of our favorite indoor activities:

1. Building blocks/bricks

In a word, Legos or Duplos or plain shaped blocks.  My kids will build with Legos and other building bricks for hours.  Sometimes they come up with their own scenarios and sometimes we do a big build together.  If we want to do a homeschool day, we can use these to do Lego math (Pinterest has a lot of great ideas there) or launch an art/creative writing project to make a storybook based the places and characters we build.

2. Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

My kids used to love watching Super Why on PBS or Netflix.  Last year we did our own version where I “hid” -usually in plain sight- letters in various places in the house and they went searching for them to fill in the blanks on the dry erase board.  We use felt letters, Magnetic Letters on a cookie sheet, or wooden letter disks (I made these when my youngest was 3 using the printable letters and instructions on Confessions of a Homeschooler).  I also sometimes use a dry erase marker and wipe off boards to write them.  On really stir crazy days I would do this throughout the day with the answer word as the next planned activity (i.e. the words “art time” if we are going to paint next).

IMG_1181 IMG_1182

3. Furniture Fort

Not for the faint of clearing up, but my kids love to grab the blankets and rearrange the living room furniture and kitchen chairs to make forts for indoor adventures.  The only thing I insist is that we put it back before bedtime so that the grown ups can use the living room in the evening.

4. Indoor Camping

We break out the 2-person dome tent and kid camp chairs and set up in the living room.  The boys have a great time playing in the tent, we turn out all the lights, and they set up their bedrolls and flashlights like the sun is going down.  Last time the weather kept us inside for a while, we taught the boys about another camping tradition: s’mores in the fireplace!

smore

 5. Books, books, and more books!

Indoor time is a great time to read together and my kids just soak in snuggle time on the sofa or in the chair with mom or dad.  We choose sticker activity books, leveled readers they have chosen, or chapter books to read together.  If my read-aloud voice runs out of steam, I break out the Kindle Fire and we listen to audiobooks.  We are enjoying Magic Tree House series as well as The Boxcar Children for chapter read-alouds.  My older one especially loves the adventures.

We will round out the top 10 with:

6. Band Time
7. Baking Time
8. Building with Woodsies or other Arts & Crafts
9. Cardboard and Duct Tape
10. Electronic Devices for games or education.

 

Does your family have favorite indoor activities when the winter weather arrives?

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Bread, Milk, and Eggs

It is no secret that we live in the Southeastern U.S.  You  may have heard of us recently when we made national (and maybe international) news because two of our major cities, Birmingham and Atlanta, were shut down due to snow and ice with quite a commotion in the process.  Lots of armchair quarterbacking will continue, probably for days or weeks while people keep discussing “Snowmaggedon,” “Snowpocalypse” and “”Snowjam” 2014.

I don’t think that preparatory trips to the store to collect bread, milk, and eggs are limited to the Southeast.  Growing up in another region, we used to joke that if we all got stuck at least we could make French Toast.  I can’t help with the milk and eggs, but if you don’t make it in for bread, here are a few links to my favorite bread recipes.  Some of these only require a few ingredients each–you may already have them in your kitchen.  Now, while you are stuck inside the house, at least the house can smell like freshly baked yummies.

Here they are: some of my favorite bread and muffin recipes and the links to where I found them.

peasant bread

Peasant Bread from Alexandra Cooks:  This recipe has 6 ingredients, no kneading, and produces a good basic white bread.  I hope at some point to convert the recipe to whole wheat, but I haven’t gotten there quite yet.

Bagel Recipe from King Arthur Flour

Bagel Recipe from King Arthur Flour:  The bagel recipe also has 6 basic ingredients but requires a little more work.  These are easiest if you have either a mixer or bread machine because the dense texture is achieved by working the dough to develop the gluten.  They are also boiled and then baked for their texture.  King Arthur Flour has an extensive recipe database, and I have tried several of their other recipes which have turned out well.

buttermuffins

Butter Muffins from Southern Living:  Good, rich flavor, only 3 ingredients, and fast prep makes these muffins popular with my crowd, but they are very crumbly in texture so I have to get little mess-makers to grab a napkin.

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Muffins from The Curvy Carrot

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Muffins from The Curvy Carrot:  These gems require a lot more ingredients than the others, but they are soooooooooo good!

Scones from Allrecipes.com

Scones from Allrecipes.com: You may want to start the coffee pot when you make these scones. They are so yummy and rich that I actually split them in half for a serving. They are not too tricky and the result is more like half-bread, half-dessert.

I could keep going and going and going, but I need to actually go and cook some dinner for the crew now.  Happy baking!