Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Finally Home

Elliott and I got home last Thursday, after staying over a week longer in Missouri than we had originally planned.  Someone very important to me was in the hospital and ended up passing away.  It was definitely not the best vacation extension. And it brought back a lot of memories of our unplanned trip last August/September when my dad was in the hospital and then died.

Since we've been home, it seems like we have been rushing from one thing to the next, without much time in between.  I think that's pretty normal for December, though.  Saturday one of Elliott's best friends had a birthday party 30 miles away.  Sunday was church with a few extra things thrown in.  Monday was the Christmas concert for Elliott's friends that are still at his old school, so we went to that.  Yesterday afternoon we had meetings that I had to attend.  In between those things, I've finally managed to get everything unpacked, although I do still have laundry left to do.  Our car was really loaded down with stuff on the way back up, since we had all of our souvenirs, a bunch of Christmas presents from back home, plus the stuff that I bought on black Friday, along with all of our clothes and other items that we took down.  My husband drove home the week before in his Dad's car that we are trying to sell, and had it pretty well loaded full, too.  I guess that means I would have spent a small fortune in shipping other wise. :)

While we were on vacation we had a great time, though.  We went to Lego Land, Sea World, and Walt Disney World.  The weather was good almost every day.  Rain only changed our plans one day.  There were two days that were "cold" by Florida standards, but with a hoodie on, we were definitely warm enough.  I'll try to post more about our vacation soon, including pictures.  Right now we have to get back to school, though.  We kept up on it somewhat while we were on vacation, but we definitely need to get adjusted back to a more structured day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What a Month!

I can't believe it's been almost a month since I've posted on here.  I had been doing so much better, too! :)  But things have been incredibly hectic here.  I've barely been home long enough to homeschool Elliott lately, so I haven't had time to do much else.  In fact, I think today is only the second day in the last 4 weeks that we haven't spent the majority of the day away from home.  And we leave for vacation tomorrow, so it will be a long while before we are home again!

Between my husband and I we have been to the doctor 7 times this month.  We're both fine now, but it has included way too much time in waiting rooms.  Elliott says the waiting rooms tire him out immediately.  Haha. Carl has needed a driver for the majority of his appointments so Elliott and I had to go with him.

Somehow it slipped my mind until about 3 weeks ago that we were going to be gone the week of collection for the Operation Christmas Child boxes.  My sister and I set a goal of doing at least 50 this year, so we have been really busy working on those, too.  We had over half the stuff already, but still had to go buy quite a bit more stuff.  Then we spent several hours sorting and organizing.  I am happy to report that we got almost all of them done, so my sister just has to pick up puzzles for a few of them, and hard candy for all of them and they will be ready to go. :)

We've also been busy with all the regular things that homeschool families have to do.  It's been unseasonably warm, too, so we've tried to take advantage of that and do more of our lessons outside.  We don't normally have pretty autumns here, but this year it's beautiful.  We've done a few fun fall projects with leaves and other things we've found in nature.

We leave for vacation tomorrow, too!  So of course there are all the plans that go into that.  I am definitely a planner, so I have spent an unreasonable amount of hours planning and budgeting, and replanning things on our vacation this month.  Haha.  It's paid off, though, I think. 

I will try to update my blog at least once while I'm on vacation, but no guarantees.  I haven't tried blogging on my new phone (which I also got this month!), so I'm not sure how that will work.  I can use my tablet if I am somewhere with a decent wifi connection, though.

Typekids.com Review

A few weeks ago my family was given the opportunity to try typekids.com.  We had been looking for a typing program for Elliott for a while, and had just decided to give up for now and wait until next year.  Then I received notification about typekids.com.  I decided to have Elliott try it out, and he LOVED it.  He says it is the best typing program he's tried, and he tried several before this one.  After I looked it over and watched Elliott do a lesson, I agreed with him.  It was the best one we had tried.

One of the things that I like about it is the way it moves from lesson to lesson.  He isn't done with the program yet, but so far he hasn't had much trouble learning the new stuff in each lesson.  The lessons do get progressively harder, but they build well on stuff that has already been covered.  It seems to be set up better than the last typing program we did in that aspect.

Another thing that I really like about it is that the graphics are appropriate for his current age and interests.  It's pirate themed, but not too busy.  We like the theme and feel like it really is age appropriate for the intended audience of 8-14 year olds.  Elliott isn't especially into pirates, but still thought that everything looked cool.

One of Elliott's favorite things about the program is the games.  There are cool little games that can be unlocked after he finishes the lessons.  That is by far his favorite part.    He really likes the shark attack game.  He says he likes it because of all the action.  He likes the other games, too, and is looking forward to unlocking them all!

We received this program free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  The full price of the program is $89.95.  The program consists of 30 lessons.  Would we have paid $89.95 for this program?  Quite possibly, since after trying the first free lessons Elliott couldn't wait to continue.  After trying more lessons, we do really think it is worth the cost, too.

We will be doing another review in a few more months after Elliott has finished the program.  We haven't moved as fast through it as I thought we would, because things have come up and we have been super busy lately.  We haven't had time for much more than the basics lately and Elliott has been doing a lot of his school work in the car or while we are waiting for an appointment.  Things have finally started calming down, though, so we are hoping to find time for it more regularly when we return from our vacation.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Minnie the Math Cat

It was hard to get a good picture, but this is what happens anytime Minnie is around at math time.  She just loves to be in his books, but especially his math book.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wordless Wednesday, Snoopie

To celebrate Snoopie's birthday (yes, we celebrate the animals' birthdays at our house), I thought I would share one of my favorite pictures of her.  This one is about 2 years old, but it's one of my favorites that shows her face. 

My sister had both of the dogs wearing these glasses this day.  Snoopie didn't seem bothered at all.




Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Vacation Planning Fun

We are getting really excited about our upcoming vacation now.  We've made reservations for our hotel stays and we've made a few dining reservations.  We've spent hours looking at Disney maps trying to decide how much time to spend in each park.  We have made outlines and plans and budgets and revised them all several times.  In some ways, I think planning may be the part that Elliott and I like the best. :)

The view from our hotel patio last time we were there.  We'll be at the same hotel for a short time again this year.

Now that we are getting closer to the time we leave (just over a month until we leave for Missouri, and we'll be heading to Florida 10 days later), we are solidifying more of our plans and getting even more excited.  We've started doing a few Disney themed things in school this week, too.  Elliott has been doing Disney themed coloring sheets while I read aloud (I've discovered if Elliott is coloring he listens better if he doesn't have a book to follow along in), and I've made a few worksheets that are Disney themed, too.  They have been a hit and have been the best part of the day according to Elliott both today and yesterday.  He doesn't even seem to mind that he's doing more advanced work than he thinks he can do on his own. ;)

Elliott has been really excited about helping with the planning this year.  He helped me decide on a rough schedule and helped make decisions about where we should eat and when.  It actually means we are eating meals at odd times twice, but I actually agree with Elliott that it's worth it to eat at those times if it means we get to eat at the restaurants he chose. :)  Last time we went to Disney World we only made dining reservations for a character breakfast, and chose counter service meals the rest of the time.  This time we want to try a few different restaurants that we thought looked cool.

We had breakfast with Minnie and the gang last time, but are opting for Lilo and Stitch this year.

I think it's more fun doing the planning this year with Elliott being so excited about it as well.  My husband is kind of a by the seat of his pants guy, so he just rolls his eyes when Elliott and I get excited about plans.  Haha.  He does admit that my planning does help us make sure everything gets done, though, and admits that things wouldn't go nearly as smoothly if he was in charge.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Scholastic Reading Club Sales

Elliott has been saving his money carefully over the last few weeks.  He had been saving most of his money for a 3DS, but when he saw all the Scholastic book sales this month and last month he decided to wait a while on the 3DS.  He had a really long list of books that he wanted, so he saved every penny he could, and even did a few extra chores to make extra money.

Since we have a homeschool account (it's really easy to sign up for one if you are a homeschooler!), we get the same bonus points and teacher opportunities that any other teachers get.  That means we get a lot of free books with our regular orders.  The back to school sales have historically always been some of the best of the year, and this year is no different.  The bonus points go really high if you end up with a fairly large order.  Plus there are coupons for free books for the class, and a free 10 pack of books for the classroom library.

I told Elliott that he could use all the bonus points he earned on his own order on whatever books he wants, and I wouldn't give him a hard time, even if I think the books he picks out are overpriced.  Haha.    He was pretty excited about that, because apparently I tend to tell him he could use his money better elsewhere. ;)

If your kids go to public or private school and get Scholastic book orders right now is a fantastic time to order books.  The teachers will get more bonus points than at any other time of year, and they can use them to build their classroom library or get other nice things for their classroom.  Plus there are more $1 and $2 books in the back to school flyers, and more great deals on larger packs.

We just placed our first order of the school year (most of the stuff was Elliott's, but we actually did have a friend who ordered stuff for her kids this time, too, plus I ordered a few things for gifts and for the giveaway I hosted recently).  We ended up spending about $2 on each book on average.  We also ended up with a lot of great freebies, like free book coupons, posters and stickers, along with enough bonus points to get over $300 worth of books free on future orders!

We love Scholastic book orders because they have such a great variety of books, and most the time have reasonable prices.  We literally have hundreds and hundreds of books that we have bought from Scholastic over the years, and many of them are among Elliott's favorites.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

$60 Fila Shoes For Just $8

Elliott needed new shoes again this weekend.  Usually we try to buy them ahead of time, but this time he moved so quickly from one size to the other that I hadn't had any time to look for the next size up yet!  Luckily, I received a $10 Kohls coupon in the mail last week, so that was our first stop in our quest to find shoes on Saturday.

We headed straight for the shoe department, and Elliott immediately found these shoes.  As luck would have it, they were even in his size, and on clearance.  They were $60 shoes, marked down to $23.99.  Clearance shoes were an additional 25% off, making these $17.99.  With my $10 coupon, I only ended up spending $8.53 with tax. 


Elliott was definitely excited to find some shoes that he thought were cool, and I thought were super affordable.  I had told him on the way in that if we spent very much money on shoes that would be directly coming out of our souvenir money for Disney World, since we are currently saving all our extra money for that.  I was happy to find shoes, too.  We showed up with him in snow boots because they were the only shoes he had that he said didn't pinch his toes.



Monday, September 15, 2014

Winner Announcement

My first giveaway here ended last night.   The two winners of the giveaway were Kristy of Hopeful Threads and Kim of Home Is Where the Heart Is Academy.  I really hope both families enjoy their books as much as Elliott enjoyed offering them!

We're already coming up with ideas for our next giveaway!  Thanks to everyone for entering and sharing about our giveaway.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Eating Dye Free

We've been eating completely dye free since February 2014 now.  When I say we, I guess I really mean just me, since my husband and son have both slipped up occasionally since then.  When Elliott does, it's pretty obvious fairly quickly because it really changes his behavior, and definitely not in a good way.  My husband doesn't notice much of a difference, but is pretty good about sticking with dye free, because he knows that dye is bad news, plus it causes a pretty uncomfortable reaction for me.

I started having bad headaches nearly every day in late January.  Then by the end of the first week of February I was breaking out in hives on a fairly regular basis as well.  After keeping close track of everything I was eating and drinking, we decided to try eliminating all artificial dyes that say color number __.  The hives completely cleared up and I didn't have a headache for several days.  Just to make sure that the dye really was the issue, I tried eating something with red number 40 again, and immediately had a terrible headache and hives all over.  I haven't had red 40, blue 1, yellow 5 or yellow 6 since, except once in a cross contamination issue.  So after that, we got rid of every single thing at our house that had any of those colors and haven't looked back since!

Within about a week of going dye free, Elliott's teacher asked him what had changed since he was being SOO good.  Within 2 weeks, other teachers were even commenting!  I think in the last 3 months of the school year, Elliott had 4 or 5 yellow days combined.  While he was still eating dye, he would average 2 a week.

At first we had  a little trouble eating dye free.  As time has gone on, we've discovered that we don't really miss too many foods that have artificial dye after all, though.  It just took us a while to check automatically for food dyes.  We miss M&Ms, Mountain Dew, Kraft macaroni and cheese, and Doritos.  Since those are all obviously junk food, it's better for us not to eat them anyway.  Haha. 

The removal of food dyes actually fairly closely coincided with our switch to more organic foods, too, though, so that made it easier to make the change.  Organic food can't have artificial dyes anyway, so that made it easier.  We knew we didn't have to switch away from anything organic, and were able to replace some of our old standbys with organic choices anyway.  Like macaroni and cheese, we actually like Annie's better than Kraft now anyway! :) 

Going dye free and eating healthier options has been so good for us in so many ways.  I don't think we would go back now, even if I didn't have strong reactions.   I only wish we would have tried it sooner!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Giveaway Reminder

I just thought I would post a quick reminder that I have a giveaway ending next week here.  There aren't many entries right now, and lots of different ways to get entries, so your chances of winning are high.

There are some great books you can choose from if you win the giveaway.  We've read most of them, and really enjoyed them.  If this giveaway goes well, we will be doing some more, so help me make this one successful! :)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Is a Sam's Club Membership Worth It?

We don't have any warehouse stores in Minot.  Sam's Club is the nearest one, and it's located in Bismarck.  That's about 2.5 hours away, and a place we don't have reason to go very often.  Recently there was a Groupon available, though, with a Sam's club membership, $20 gift card, and some coupons for free food.  We actually did have a trip planned to Bismarck in the next 2 weeks anyway, because we had to have some title work done on one of our cars.  So we decided to go ahead and try Sam's Club.

We spent about 2 hours looking around at Sam's Club.  We found some great deals, some okay deals, and many things that we could get cheaper elsewhere.  One of Elliott's favorite finds was a 6 lb bag of gummy bears that were dye free.   I have a feeling we won't make it through the whole bag of them, but they were cheap enough that it won't be a big deal.  Dye free gummy bears are usually really expensive.  He was also excited to get a box of individual bags of Funyuns.  We don't eat a lot of chips at our house, so that added to the excitement.

We found a good deal on Schick razors for women. Elliott found some good prices on books.  And we got a good deal on a few supplements that we take.  Several of the supplements weren't a good price, but a few were.  We also bought a few giftcards that were discounted, so they were obviously a good deal.

The best deals were in the baking and fresh produce departments, though.  Because we weren't going straight home, we couldn't buy as many fresh things as we would have liked, though.  We had soccer that evening and we knew we wouldn't make it home in time to drop everything off and still make it back to base on time, so we had to stick with what would fit in our cooler.

We still ended up buying mushrooms ( a family favorite at our house, we consume pounds of mushrooms every week here), a veggie tray, and a few fruits.

In the baking department, we bought yeast, vanilla extract, and lemon extract, all significantly cheaper than what I've found elsewhere.  When it's not too hot outside, I do almost all of my baking from scratch, including breads, buns, muffins, cookies, etc.  So I use a lot of yeast and vanilla extract.

Over all, for our family, I would say our membership was worth it, just for the savings on the baking stuff.  I'm not positive we will renew right away when our membership expires, though, just because of the drive time.  We usually only go to Bismark 2-3 times a year, but will probably make it a point to go at least a little more often while we have the membership, especially if there is anything else we want to do in the area.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Weekend Plans

My husband has a four day weekend this weekend, so we decided Elliott should, too. :)  Today is actually my birthday as well, and last year my dad passed away on my birthday.  We're trying to keep the day happy and upbeat, but we will see how well that works.  So far it's going okay.

Elliott gave me the birthday presents he's been hiding from me first thing this morning.  I already knew what they were, since I was with them when they bought one of them, I was actually the one to order another, and the third one I specifically asked for and showed everyone the picture.  Haha.  I guess Elliott was afraid I would read the book early if I knew where it was, though. ;)






My husband is cooking breakfast right now.  He's making pancakes from scratch, which is a new experience for him.  I almost always make them from scratch, though, so I had a couple recipes for him to look at.  Elliott's still unsure how that will work out.

My sister should be here soon, too.  We're going to all go out for lunch together, and maybe do a small amount of shopping this afternoon as well.  We're trying to do something to keep us from sitting at home all day, so the day will be easier.

Then the rest of the weekend will include farmers markets in the morning, followed by other grocery shopping, church on Sunday, and a sleepover on Sunday night.  We should also be moving our bedroom furniture back into our bedroom at some point this weekend!  Carl finished the floor in there last night, and now just has to attach the trim and we will be good to go.  That is so exciting for me!  That's another step closer to having a classroom finished, and having all the extra stuff out of my living room so I can attempt to keep it clean again. ;)


Monday, August 25, 2014

Farmers Markets

My family loves going to the Farmers Markets.  We have two here, and neither are huge, but they both attract a fair amount of people.  The season is fairly short here, but we try to go every Saturday when they are going on.  Sometimes Elliott and I go back on Tuesday or Thursday if we didn't buy enough the Saturday before, but usually we are able to plan appropriately.  If we miss it on Saturday, it somehow messes up our entire week.

This weekend we went to both of them.  We mainly went for zucchini, cucumbers, green beans, and snap peas.  We ended up getting all those things, plus tomatoes, okra, carrots, yellow squash, hot sauce, and homemade pie.  When we find that many veggies we want at the farmers market I consider it a great day.  It makes shopping for veggies for the rest of the week easier, and Elliott is much more likely to eat the veggies from the farmers market without a fuss.  We buy mostly organic when it's available here, and since most of the farmers at the market farm organically, it's great for our family.  Plus the prices are typically pretty close to the same as what is available at the grocery store, only at the grocery store the stuff isn't organic!

We had a potluck at church yesterday and I made a veggie tray, and zucchini muffins to take.  Since my son and I are both on a pretty restrictive diet, I always try to take healthy choices that we can actually eat. :)  That's easier to do during summer when fresh veggies are plentiful.


That picture is just part of what we ended up buying.  We bought a couple of large zucchini that aren't in the picture and another bag of ones that are about the size of the ones in the picture.  We eat a lot of zucchini at our house when it's in season.  This is the only time of year that I have no trouble getting at least six or seven servings of veggies into everyone in my family without any complaints, so I take advantage of it. :)

Do you go to farmers markets?  What are your favorite choices?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Third Grade Read Aloud List

On the giveaway that I posted this week, I mentioned that Elliott and I have finalized a list of 20 books that we plan on reading this year as part of our school day.  This will definitely not be the only 20 books that we read throughout the school year, but I thought 20 would be a good starting point.  :)  They are all chapter books, although we plan on using some picture books this year, too.  We do use Reading Street for language arts as well, and that has a picture book each week that we read together and do worksheets about.

When we were picking books out, we kind of went all over the place.  We picked some classic books, and some new books, and some in between.  We chose books that appeal to 2nd graders, and books that appeal to junior high kids.  We chose books that will take us about a week to read, and books that will take closer to a month.  We didn't really have any set parameters, because this reading is for fun, and I wanted to make sure that it was all stuff Elliott would enjoy.  He purposely picked several that have film adaptations so that we can watch the film and compare and contrast as well.

We already had most of the books in our shelves, but will be ordering a few as well.  I like to have a copy of the ones that we read together, so we can check another copy out at the library and each hold our own copies while we read together.  In fact, there are 2 or 3 books that we actually own a second copy of because we got the second in a bigger pack from scholastic.  Even though I pulled these from our own shelves, most were books we hadn't read yet.  We have always had the problem of buying more books than we have time to read in the past, but I'm hoping that phase is over now that we have so much more dedicated time to reading together!

 This is the stack of books that we want to read together, or I plan on reading out loud to him.  We also have the Chronicles of Narnia set, and the Harry Potter books that we will try to read if we get a chance, but we might wait until next year on those.  Others that we don't have yet, but plan on reading as well include the Sarah, Plain and Tall books (I believe there are three?) by Patricia MacLachlan and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.

There are also a number of books that Elliott has already read that he wants to read again, like the Runaway Ralph series, and the Fudge books.  So, in other words, we have a lot of reading planned. :)

We are almost finished reading Charlotte's Web right now.  I think the next book we start will be Hotel For Dogs.  When Elliott was younger, the movie was his very favorite.  I think he was probably about 3 or maybe 4.  I'm not sure exactly how old he was, but he was little enough that he called it "Hofer Tail Dogs" instead of saying it the right way.  We are pretty excited to read the book now!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Homeschooling Full Time

We started homeschooling this summer, but only a few days a week. I wanted to ease into it, both for my sake, and my son's.   I wanted him to still have plenty of time to play with his friends over the summer as well.  He's pretty lucky that most of his best friends live close enough that  they can ride bikes to each other's houses.  The one that does live in the next town over has a pretty cool mom, who is willing to bring him over here, or pick him up from here, or even both if she needs to.  So he really got to see all of his closest friends quite a bit over the summer.  I'm really hoping that continues, even with them starting school this week.  I think since we are going to be making the effort, it shouldn't be a problem.  The parents are all on board with planning play times and sleep overs through out the school year, so Elliott is pretty excited about that.

This week Elliott's friends go back to school, so we start going full time, too.  We plan on following the school calendar pretty closely, other than while we are on vacation in November.  He also gets a 4 day weekend for Labor Day instead of just the 3 day weekend his friends get.  That Friday is my birthday, though, and also the one year anniversary of the day my Dad died, so I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't be able to teach very well that day anyway.

We are both pretty excited about homeschooling.  Elliott has learned a lot of stuff, and really enjoys most things we do each day.  To me, the biggest issue is getting everything out and putting it all away again.  We don't have a designated spot to work on it right now, because my husband is working on the flooring in our bedroom.  That means we are sleeping in what was supposed to be the classroom since we can't have any furniture in our bedroom.  After our bedroom is finished, we are going to move Elliott into the old classroom and work on the flooring in his room.  We might just leave him in the old classroom, though, and turn his current bedroom into the classroom.  We haven't decided for sure yet.  Either way, I'm hoping that at some point in September I have a better place to work. :) Right now, my living room couch looks something like this during the school day.

We start out with his books in a neat stack.  As the day goes on, Elliott certainly doesn't keep everything nice and neat.  He digs through the pile to find the next subject, and things become a mess.  It doesn't matter what order I put his things in, we will end up doing them in a different order that day anyway.  Haha.  This pile doesn't include everything he does.  He also has Bible, Spanish, handwriting, and social studies, that just didn't make it into the picture for some reason.

Even though we have a chaotic mess in our living room every day, and some days it drives me crazy, we are really happy with our homeschooling adventure so far!  I feel more at peace with this decision than I ever did about him being in public school.  And it's just amazing to me when he learns something new that is supposed to be well beyond his years.  Don't get me wrong, we have our moments (and sometimes entire days!) when one of us is unhappy with homeschooling.  We've had tears, frustrations, and over all bad attitudes more than I care to admit.  But more often than not, at the end of the day, we can both say we learned something, and homeschool is the right choice for us.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to School Giveaway

Elliott and I have spent the last 2 or 3 weeks finalizing our list of must reads for school this year.  We ended up coming up with 20 books that we will read for sure this year.  We read together for about 30-45 minutes every day, and I read to him for another 15-20 minutes during snack time.  He also reads to me most days of the week.  So 20 will almost certainly not be enough books to last all school year, but I think it's a good start.  Plus it gives us the opportunity to watch for more must reads as we learn about different things.

In honor of school starting, and preparing our own book lists, Elliott and I decided to do a book giveaway of our own!  All the books will be brand new scholastic books.  There will be two random winners, and each winner will get to pick the prize pack of their choice.

Prize pack 1:  Early Chapter Books

 

Horrible Harry in Room 2B by Suzy Kline
A Jigsaw Jones Mystery:  The Case of the Stinky Science Project by James Preller
Ready, Freddy!  The King of Show-And-Tell by Abby Klein
Cam Jansen and the School Play Mystery by David A. Adler
Junie B., First Grader: One-Man Band by Barbara Park

Prize Pack 2:  Early Chapter Books



Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park
Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald
The Bailey School Kids Jr Chapter Books #5: Dragons Do Eat Homework By Debbie Dadey
The Kids of the Polk Street School: The Beast in Ms. Rooney's Room by Patricia Reilly Giff
Herbie Jones and the Second Grade Slippers by Sami Sweeten


Prize Pack 3: Chapter Books



Third-Grade Detectives #1: The Clue of the Left-Handed Envelope by George E. Stanley
Judy Moody by Megan McDonald
Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
Third Grade Angels by Jerry Spinelli
Stuart Goes to School by Sara Pennypacker

Prize Pack 4: I Can Read! Picture books



 Little Critter: To the Rescue! by Mercer Mayer
What's That, Mittens? by Lola M. Schaefer
Mittens at School by Lola M. Schaefer
Little Critter: This is My Town by Mercer Mayer
Dixie and the Class Treat  by Grace Gilman
Dixie by Grace Gilman

This giveaway isn't sponsored by Scholastic.  We just chose Scholastic books because we love them so much and want to share them with others!  We've read more than a dozen of the ones that are offered as prizes and liked them all.




Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer Is Almost Over

Since we are homeschooling now, we didn't take a traditional summer vacation.  We are taking an extended vacation in November, so we did enough schooling over the summer to be able to take as much time off as we want in November without running behind.  We do still plan on doing some school work, but only a day or two a week while we are on vacation.

We took it pretty easy this summer with school work, though.  We did full days, but typically only 2 or 3 each week.  There were 2 or 3 weeks where we did 4 days.  We just did whatever we had time for, while still giving Elliott ample opportunity to spend time with his friends.  It worked out well for us, too.  We ended up with at least 20 sleep overs at our house, and half a dozen at his friends' houses.  He also got to go camping with his friend's family.  In addition to all the sleepovers, there were countless hours spent playing with friends at home, at our new land (referred to as the big lawn by Elliott and all his friends for some reason), at the park, or at friends' houses.

His friends go back to school next week, though.  Elliott is sad, but excited at the same time.  Soccer season just started and two of his besties are playing on his team, so he will still see them at least twice a week.  He's also already made arrangements for a sleepover next weekend.  This weekend one of his friends is having a sleepover in a tent in his backyard and inviting Elliott and 2 or 3 other boys.  They are all looking forward to it as their last big sleepover of the summer.

Talking to his friends, most of them are kind of excited about going back to school, but also sad.  Two of them have repeatedly said they want Elliott to go back to public school because they don't know what they will do without him.  Haha.  Elliott keeps saying he will miss his friends, too, but he is loving homeschool.  Even on days that we struggle with a part of homeschool, we are both still happy with the choice overall.  Even though we have only done homeschool 20 something days, he's already learned an incredible amount of stuff! 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Soccer Season

Outdoor soccer season officially started last night with the skills assessment and team picking.  Elliott is playing on base this year, and really looking forward to it.  I mentioned it to one of his friend's Moms before the deadline, so she signed her son up.  I misplaced another friend's mom's phone number or I would have called her as well.  We ended up seeing her this week, though, and Elliott mentioned it then.  I told her to call the next morning to see if her son could still join since they hadn't made teams yet.  He was able to join.  The boys were soo excited!  Their other close friends aren't part of military families so they can't play with them, but three kids works out nicely for carpools and such.

Elliott convinced his dad to sign up as a coach.  He thinks he may be in over his head, because he doesn't remember the rules that well.  He's done some training now, though, and was reminded of rules he had forgotten.  He also has two other guys that are supposed to help him coach (although neither of them showed up last night, so hopefully they prove more reliable in the future!), so maybe they will know more about soccer.  For seven and eight year olds, it's more about having fun and practicing team work anyway, though.

Since the coaches did the assessments together and then sat down and picked teams, Carl was able to get both of Elliott's friends on his team as well.  Since we have a 20+ mile drive it's great that they are all on the same team so we can carpool.  Plus the three of them are all good friends, so they are excited to play together, since they don't know any of the other kids (the vast majority of the kids playing live on base).

Friday, August 1, 2014

Camping Without Me

One of Elliott's best friends goes camping a lot during the summer.  Sometimes they use a tent, and sometimes they use an RV.  They are going this weekend, and Elliott is going with them.  When I first asked Elliott if he wanted to go, he was super excited.  Then last night he decided camping was going to be scary and he didn't want to be away from me for that long.  We talked about it this morning, though, and he decided to go ahead and give it a try.  They aren't going to be too far from home, and him and this specific friend are together A LOT (He's spent the night at our house at least a dozen times this summer, and Elliott's spent the night over there 3 or 4 times as well).   So it will be the perfect chance to spread his wings a little and be away  from me for two whole nights.

When I dropped him off at their house around noon, he and his friend were both so excited they could barely hold still while his parents finished loading everything up.  I bet he will have a blast!  My husband is off early today and on his way home right now, so he's excited as well.  Our last kid free weekend was the one before Elliott was born. ;)  We don't have much planned, but Carl is still looking forward to some time with no kids. 

I have a feeling I will have a harder time with Elliott being away than Elliott will.  He'll probably miss me a little at bedtime, but be perfectly happy the rest of the time.  At least that's what I am hoping.  He's already decided that if he has fun with his friend's family this weekend, he is going to convince his dad to take him soon!

Monday, July 28, 2014

We Got a New Car

On Friday we bought a new car.  We weren't without a car payment very long, but it was long enough to save up a little bit of money toward this one.  We didn't end up trading ours in either because my  husband thinks it will be easy to sell it private party and make more money that way.  There's nothing really wrong with it, other than a windshield wiper issue that my husband will be fixing this weekend.  It seems to be a magnet for rocks, though, and that's really the reason we stopped driving it much.  I just hope we don't have that issue with this new car!  We have had the Impala 3.5 years and have replaced the windshield twice, and it has a crack again.  We live right off of a dirt road, but most of the cracks happened when we were out on the highway instead. 

We have been researching cars for months now, trying to decide what we wanted to buy next.  I think my husband would have preferred it if I would have been willing to get an SUV and get rid of our minivan, but our minivan still runs great and hasn't given us much trouble at all.  Plus an SUV comes with a much larger payment than a car, especially with all the features that we wanted.  And we don't even need something that big most of the time.  We have a truck to haul things in, and only one child, so unless I'm taking a group of kids somewhere, a car is big enough for most of my driving.  So that's the main focus I've had. :)


Monday, July 21, 2014

Walt Disney World in November

Recently I posted about an upcoming trip to Florida.  We have decided on November and started making our reservations now.  We will be back up here in time for Thanksgiving so my sister doesn't have to spend it alone, but will be gone for the month up to the day or two before Thanksgiving.  In fact, we will be leaving here at the end of October, and spending Halloween in Missouri.  Elliott has decided that he wants to see Casting Crowns in Missouri instead of trick or treating, so if we can get tickets, that will be our Halloween plans.  Since Elliott can't have anything with artificial dye anyway, I can see why trick or treating would lose some of its appeal.  We'll just take him and buy him a bag of his one of his favorite dye free candies instead. :)

As for our time in Florida, we will be staying 11 nights.  Part of them will be on Disney property, and part of them will be nearby in Celebration.  We'll be going to Disney World, the Disney water park that is open, and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas.  We'll also be visiting Sea World (we all get in free through the military appreciation program) and Lego Land (Carl's ticket is free there as well) while we are there.

Elliott and I have been having a lot of fun planning our trip.  Almost every day when we take a break from school work, we work on vacation plans.  Elliott has been putting together a list of must rides, and characters he must meet.  We met many of his favorite characters last time, but he's looking forward to seeing many of them again.  Plus there are characters that we missed that he wants to see this time.  Then of course there are also some new characters that weren't there 3.5 years ago.

As for rides, last time we went he was barely 5, and was afraid to ride a lot of the rides.  He was also really afraid of the dark.  This time he will be almost 9, and is no longer afraid of the dark.  There are still several rides that he thinks would be way too scary, but his list is much longer this time. 

Last time we didn't make it to any of the water parks, and that is on Elliott's must do list this time.  He's pretty excited about some of the rides there as well.  He hasn't ever been to a water park, but has really enjoyed water slides at hotels we've stayed at, and birthday parties he's attended.  One of the places we are staying has a water slide at one of their pools.  Elliott's really looking forward to that.

Over all, we can't decide what we are most looking forward to, but we are all definitely looking forward to our vacation!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Throw Back Thursday: Walt Disney World March 2011

Since we are currently planning another trip to Disney World, Elliott and I have been going through our pictures from last time over the last few days.  We thought we would do a throw back Thursday post with a few of our favorites.  We literally have hundreds, so it was hard to narrow it down, but for various reasons, here are a few of our favorites.


Waiting in line to meet one of his favorite characters.

He loved Chip and Dale and never missed an opportunity for a picture.
This was the first character hug he initiated.

Handy Manny was the only Disney Junior character we got to meet, but that was fine, because he was Elliott's favorite at the time.


When Elliott looked at this picture he told me that he almost completely disappeared into Lotso's belly!
Pooh was another favorite to hug.







Elliott had a lot of fun with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen.  Here Prince Naveen is asking if Elliott is trying to steal his princess after she hugged him.




Elliott's response was "maybe"


Naveen decided they could still be friends, because Elliott had an awesome name, just like their friend, the dragon (from Pete's Dragon)


Pluto was the first character Elliott went up to by himself (he had already met Snow White and Daisy Duck, but wanted an adult with him for those)


He couldn't believe it when Cinderella wanted to dance with him.

Dancing with Cinderella
All smiles after their dance.

Stitch was Elliott's favorite character to meet, but we only got to meet Lilo the one time, he was soo excited!






Saturday, July 12, 2014

Vacation Planning

Ok, so anyone that knows me knows that I like to plan A LOT in advance for any expensive vacations.  I'm totally fine with waiting until the last minute to do something under $1000, like going to visit family, but anything more, I want plenty of time to plan.  Our last vacation besides to Missouri was in July and I started planning in March, and that was the latest I've ever waited.  Last time we went to Florida I planned for nearly a year (I think I started planning in early May and we went in late March).

So I think my husband was pretty surprised when he came home from work the other day, and Elliott and I had been looking at Disney World and Universal rides and comparing them, trying to decide which was better.  We tentatively had a trip to Missouri planned for September, to see family.  After thinking about it, and looking around online, I decided that we should extend it and go to Florida as well.  We have a time share sampler thing that we bought last year that includes more than enough points for 10 nights in Celebration, FL, and they had openings for when we wanted to go.  I told my husband I wanted to do it, fully expecting to have to talk him into it (last time we went to Disney World, he said that would most likely be the only time we went), but instead he liked the idea.  He's been wanting a real vacation for a while because of some of the things going on at work.  And I think it would be great for our whole family as well.  We've had a pretty crazy year!

Carl checked his schedule at work, and it looks like he can take off the full 25 days we want, as long as he requests it soon.  But then the same day he checked it, we got the soccer sign up information, and it turns out that the season is starting late this year, so Elliott wouldn't be able to play if we go then.  So now we have checked out the stuff going on at Disney in November, and made sure that we would be able to get a suite at the resort and everything as well.  Carl hasn't been able to check at work yet to see if he could get that time off, but Elliott is really pushing for that time instead.

There are definite advantages to going in November, like how much cooler it will be.  Elliott and I are both wimps when it comes to really hot weather.  November in Orlando is typically similar to July in North Dakota (our hottest month of the year).  September will seem incredibly hot to us.  No matter which time we go, we can go to one of the special night time parties at Magic Kingdom.  I think I would like the Halloween one better, but Elliott is pushing for the Christmas one.  Waiting until November would also give me more time to plan and save.  So I have a feeling that if November works for Carl's work schedule that is when we will end up going.

I've already checked with my mom (she's who we stay with when we are in Missouri) and she said she doesn't foresee any kind of problems with either dates.  And she can watch Snoopie while we are in Florida as well (Darla will keep Trixie, and the cats will go to my father in law's house, or stay with the house sitter).  I'm getting anxious to know when we will go so I can go ahead and start making reservations and real plans!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bath and Body Works Online Sale With Coupon Code

My son and I both love Bath and Body Works.  Before we removed all artificial dyes from our cosmetics and toiletries, we used a lot of their body washes and lotions.  Elliott loved several of the scents in the guy collection, and also enjoyed a few of the fruitier ones as well.  Now we can no longer buy any of the body washes, and only a few of the lotions, but that hasn't put an end to our shopping there.  We still buy wallflower scents, candles, and car air fresheners there.  They have so many different choices, and even Carl has come on board and is willing to go into the store to pick out his own scents for the truck, instead of just trusting Elliott and I to do it for him (although I think the real reason he now is willing to go in there is to keep a closer eye on our spending!).


Last week when we were at the mall anyway, we went in to see what was on sale.  They had a bunch of body washes, lotions, etc for 75% off, and the wallflower 2 pack refills for $5.  We ended up buying 2 bottles of lotion, and I think 8 2 pack refills.  We also bought a few of the scentportable refills (for the car) and a new holder to add a second one to the van.  
http://www.bathandbodyworks.com/graphics/product_images/pBBW1-17625639enh-z8.jpg
Watermelon Lemonade is one of our favorite scents, we were disappointed that there was only one left in our local store.
 I know it might seem crazy that I then started looking online to see if I could find more of my favorite scent (watermelon lemonade is a favorite of everyone in my house) on sale, but that's exactly what I did.  We have wallflower nightlights plugged in in Elliott's room, the upstairs bathroom, and the hallway.  We have just regular ones in our room, the downstairs bathroom, and the living room.  Sometimes it's kind of a pain to make sure all the scents on one floor work together, but it's worth it to keep our house smelling fresh instead of like animals (we have four pets that we love dearly, but they all stink).

It turns out that the online sales aren't necessarily as good, but they are still pretty good.  Plus there's a 20% off coupon (BBW20JULY) you can use to save more.  One bad thing is you can only use one coupon code per order, so you still have to pay shipping, but it's a flat rate of $5.99 so if you are buying several things it's still worth it.  

http://www.bathandbodyworks.com/graphics/product_images/pBBW1-15278866enh-z8.jpgMany wallflower 2 packs are on sale for half price ($6.25), the big 3 wick candles are on sale for $12 (normally $22.50)  and the scentportable refills are on sale just the same as they usually are in store, buy 4 get 2 free.  The 20% off makes both them and the candles a better deal than the sales that were going on in store last week.  Also there are some great deals to be had if you are in the market for lotion and body wash.  The prices start at $2.75 for full size bottles (making them just $2.20 after coupon)!




Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Children's Place Sale



 The Children's Place is having a great sale right now.  They have a lot of clearance items marked down to $3.99-5.99.  There's a coupon code available for 40% off your entire order, too.  The sale said it was over yesterday, but then they extended it through today.


I ended up ordering Elliott 4 pairs of shorts, 3 shirts, and 2 sets of shorts pajamas for under $40 shipped.


sporty matchables tank
This was one of Elliott's favorites, $3.99, or $2.39 after the coupon code.
matchables dazzle shorts
These shorts weren't in the clearance department, but were on sale for $5.99, so $3.60 after the coupon.



dino pj set
These weren't on sale, so we ended up paying $7.77 after the coupon, but he really needed pajamas, so we bought them anyway.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

I hope all my American friends are enjoying our nation's birthday.  We live in an area where we can still do our own fireworks, so yesterday Carl and Elliott went a little crazy with buying them.  It's been a while since Carl was so excited to buy them, though, so we bought whatever he wanted, within reason.  They've already been doing a few daytime things.  We'll have a lot to do late tonight, though.

Carl is grilling hamburgers right now for lunch, and will be grilling brats, hotdogs, and ribs tonight.  Nothing like grilled food all day. :)  My sister is actually off work tonight, so she will be joining us later.  We're excited.  She's had to work every 4th since she moved up here, so it will be nice having her here!

This is just part of our stuff.  It's missing one big thing, plus most of Elliott's stuff he can do himself (smoke bombs, sparklers, snakes, etc)


Monday, June 30, 2014

Teenagers in Training

Elliott is eight years old now and is convinced he is old enough for a cell phone.  My husband and I disagree, and luckily so do the parents of  his friends.  The only one of his friends who has a cell phone is a diabetic and needs it to contact his parents immediately if his numbers are off or he just feels like they might be.  I'm glad Elliott realizes that while B NEEDS one, Elliott only wants one, so he doesn't use that comparison.  The main reason he wants a cell phone is to text his friends.  That isn't really a valid point when none of them have cell phones, though.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lots of Sleepovers

I'm not sure if it's because Elliott is an only child and I am a stay at home mom, or what, but it seems like we constantly have someone wanting to spend the night at our house.  We're about 4 weeks into summer vacation, and we've already had to tell several kids that we have a limit of three times a week for sleep overs.  We've had eight sleep overs at our house already this summer and Elliott has spent the night with two of his friends as well.  Tomorrow night he is spending the night with one of those friends again.

The good thing about so many sleepovers is Elliott is willing to clean his room without much fighting.  Ha.  That's one of the conditions to have a friend over, and he's really been pretty accommodating for the most part.  It also keeps him from telling me that he is "soo bored!" which is definitely great.

There are drawbacks, too, though.  It makes it hard for us to get school work done when we have someone over so often.  I feel bad sending kids home all the time.  We aren't doing a whole lot of work these days, but I want to make sure we continue to do work at least 2 times a week, so he doesn't forget the stuff.  I also miss having more time with just Elliott.  I like his friends, but sometimes I just wanna hang out in jammies all day with Elliott, ya know?

It's also expensive having kids over all the time.  When they are active, they are hungry.  We have been over budget on our groceries constantly since school got out, so I ended up raising it by quite a bit for the summer.  Things like fruit, yogurt, and granola bars are just flying at my house right now!  We've also been doing art projects and science experiments with friends, too.  It is a lot of fun for them, and worth the money, though.

I really am glad that Elliott has so many friends.  And I'm glad that they all feel comfortable at my house, and they are comfortable talking to me about anything and everything.  As they get older, that will become even more important I'm sure.  Right now they all still listen to me and follow my rules as well, which is definitely an added bonus. :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gymboree Sales Today Only

I read about a huge Gymboree sale today over on Frugalityisfree.com.  Normally I don't shop much at Gymboree because I think their stuff is too expensive, and the boy stuff isn't as cute as the girl stuff anyway.  Today I decided to check it out, though, because I realized Elliott needs more shorts last week when I was putting away laundry.


Today everything on the site is $12.99 and under, and there's free shipping with no minimum purchase.  JR posted some cute girl things in her post about it.  Since we just have a boy, that obviously wasn't what I was interested in, but I did find some cute things for big boys.
Plaid Shirt
Elliott loves plaid button up shirts and has them in a variety of colors.  Gymboree has a few different ones, but this one was his favorite.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

When people ask what I like about North Dakota, I always mention the beauty and wide open spaces. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

We Paid the Van Off

I know this blog was supposed to be about saving money and getting debt paid off, but somewhere along the way I lost that focus.  We are still somewhat focused on that goal in real life, although it does seem like we just keep taking on more stuff when we get something paid off.  But we are working on it, and our debt numbers are steadily declining, even when we add a new column.

A few weeks ago we paid our Uplander off.  We only paid it off 3 months early, but either way, it's paid off now!  This is sad to admit, but it's actually the first car my husband and I have bought at a dealer and paid off before we traded it in.   It's nice to not owe anything on it anymore. :)  Unfortunately it will probably end up being replaced in the fairly near future with something we have to make payments on again, though.  The van has almost 140,000 miles on (it's a 2008) since we drive everywhere.  It's been a lot of places, and we still love it, but if it starts giving us any kind of problems we will have to get rid of it.  With all the cross country driving we do we need something that is completely reliable.  We have already started early processes of car shopping again, trying to decide what we want next.  But so far we haven't really found anything that we love.  Hopefully that will change before we actually have to get a new car!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Busy Weekends

It seems like every weekend has been busy since the weather got nice enough to do stuff outside.  This last weekend was definitely no exception.  Our family is really enjoying it, although I do worry that Carl might be overdoing it since he had surgery less than 2 weeks ago.  He says he is taking breaks when he needs them, though, and he's not in more pain than usual, so I guess it's going okay.

Friday morning Elliott and I got most of his school work done early so that we could go to base after lunch.  We didn't see any yard sales listed in the paper, but thought we would go try our luck anyway, and go to the park, too, since it was a nice day.  Elliott took the rest of his work to do in the car.

We got to base, and only found one yard sale still going on.  Elliott did find 5 books (2 How to Train Your Dragon, 2 Artemis Fowl and 1 Bunnicula) that were all part of a series that he likes.  We only paid $1 for all 5.  So then after driving around for a while, we headed to the big park that is his very favorite.  We had been playing there for about 40 minutes when Carl called to ask us when we were coming to base (we were supposed to meet him after work), because he got off work early.  He was pleasantly surprised to hear that we were already on base, so he came over to the park and Elliott played for a while longer, before we decided to go ahead and do some other stuff.

Friday, June 6, 2014

One Week Down

Today we finished our first week of homeschool.  It went really well, and we are really enjoying it so far.  Elliott is learning a lot, and we are making time to do a lot of fun things.  We've been doing better at time management because of school, so we are making time to do fun things outside of school time as well.

This week we learned about our nervous system in science and the names of our bones in health.  Elliott's so funny doing his dance as he shows me names of the bones. :)  In language arts, we've mainly just been doing review type work, and I'm trying to figure out if he needs any extra work on anything (so far he's done a great job on everything).  In math we've been reviewing place values and the different ways we can make larger groups (1 group of 1000 is the same as 10 groups of 100, 100 groups of 10 and 1000 single ones for example).  In social studies we've learned about communities and the difference between urban, suburban and rural neighborhoods.  We're still working on numbers in Spanish.  And we're working on looking things up without using the table of contents so much in the Bible.  We're also doing a unit study on animals, and learning about their habitats, their eating choices, life span, and their sizes.  We're also spending lots of time reading every day.

Gardening

We are getting a late start on our garden this year, but hopefully we will still have plenty of time to grow everything and enjoy eating garden fresh veggies and a few fruits.  This year is the first year that we have planted a garden since 2009.  We normally travel a lot during the summer, making a garden hard to care for properly.   Now that we are homeschooling Elliott, we are planning our travel times during the off season.

At our current house, we really don't have a great location for a garden anyway.  We have several trees in our yard, and between them, our house, the neighbor's garage, and our shed, there's just too much shade for a garden very large to grow very well.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

 Summer Reading



Elliott got his box of surprise books from Scholastic yesterday, and couldn't wait to check it out.  He's already read three of them!


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Start To Homeschooling

Yesterday morning we were supposed to start doing some homeschool work just to figure out some rough ideas for the amount of time we would need on various subjects. We also wanted to get an idea of how much work he would be doing on his own, and how much he would need (or want) help with.  It turns out he had so much fun doing the first few things, that he decided to make yesterday his first official day of school.  I think part of it might also be that he is currently grounded so it was a great way to spend time he had to spend at home anyway.  Haha.

We did have a little bit of fussing, and a minor meltdown, but overall, we both enjoyed it.  It turns out that he is most likely going to want to do a lot of the stuff more together than I anticipated, but that's perfectly fine with me.  We've switched curriculum on a few things, and they seem to be a little more advanced than what he is used to, so we had to discuss things a little more in depth.  It appears that he didn't learn some of the things in second grade that this curriculum assumes he already learned.

We've been working on homeschool again today, and he absolutely hates one of the things that I bought.  It's not a huge deal, though, because it's one that I bought as a supplement.  We just started with it because we are waiting on a new copy of what I need, after our first one got damaged.  He's still not overly fond of Go Math (which he insisted we get, even though it wasn't my first choice for math) but I think we are going to stick with it a while longer before we give it up.  I spent enough money on it that I certainly want to give it a fair shake, but if it needs to be replaced, we can make that work, too.

Spanish is still his favorite subject, and he's done it both days this week, even though I told him that we only needed do it once or twice a week each week.  I have a feeling it will end up being an everyday thing, or at least as often as time allows.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Maleficent

It seems like our family used to go to the movie theater nearly every weekend.  Over the last several months (maybe a year?) we have cut way back, though, and go more like once a month.  Part of that is because there just haven't been as many movies that we have wanted to see, and part of it has just been that we haven't had as much time, with the insane work schedule Carl has been on so much of the time.

Over the weekend we did go see a movie, though.  Elliott had been really wanting to see Maleficent.  He mentioned how great it looked every time we saw a commercial.  So when he saw that it would be on base opening weekend, he begged to go see it.  Since we have been trying to support the base theater when possible, we agreed to take him to see it.

Elliott loved it.  He said part of it was scary, and part of it was kind of weird, but over all he loved it.  He has never seen the original Sleeping Beauty, though, so he went in there with no real ideas about what to expect, or how Maleficent had appeared in the original movie.  He viewed it completely as a movie on its own, and thought it was great.

  My husband and I both thought it was okay.  Neither of us thought it was as great as Elliott did, though.  I typically enjoy books and movies told from a different point of view than the one we've heard before, so I did find it interesting.  The acting was good for the most part, and some of the special effects were really good.

Over all, we found it to be a good way to spend some time on a Saturday afternoon, but it's probably not a movie we will add to our collection (unless Elliott buys it with his own money or gets it as a gift from someone else).

Sunday, June 1, 2014

How Much Can One Kid Eat?

Elliott's only been out of school for a little more than a week, but man has he been eating!  I think he must be getting ready to go through a growth spurt, and then hopefully his eating will slow down a little bit.  Otherwise we are going to have to rethink the grocery budget or something. :)

Even when he was in school I packed his lunch almost every single day, so his lunches were already in our grocery budget.  It's the snacks and the huge portions it seems to take to fill him up lately that are killing the budget.  He's still thin, so I'm not worried about him eating so much, and figure he really does need it, but it gives me a stomach ache just watching him eat so much.

Just as an example: last night we ate at Taco Bell for supper, where he consumed a quesadilla, taco, and cheese roll up, along with a large drink.  As we were shopping RIGHT after we ate, he started complaining that he was hungry again.  So on the way home he ate an ice cream drumstick.  Then after we put away groceries he ate some Annie's cheese crackers, a banana, grapes, 2 slices of toast, some cottage cheese, and was still looking for more food when I finally sent him to brush his teeth and get ready for bed.  He also drank a big glass of milk during that time.

I've been buying so many fresh fruits and veggies lately that someone I know asked if we were running a day care or something to need all that stuff with only one child.  Haha.  It's amazing how much one child can eat when he's active and hungry, though!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Scholastic Books

One of the first things that I did after filing paperwork with the school about homeschooling Elliott next year was sign up for scholastic reading club.  I've been buying books for Elliott through Scholastic reading club since right before he was born, since I have a sister that is a teacher.  They have some great, quality books cheaper than anywhere else, and it's easy to see what is appropriate for each age.  He's always enjoyed books, but he especially enjoyed getting the flyers at school over the last two years and going through and picking some books out by himself.  My sister that lives up here is now a preschool teacher and uses Scholastic reading club, so we could order books for him whenever we wanted anyway, but I have to admit that we were both excited about starting our own account.

It was pretty easy to sign up as a homeschooler at Scholastic.  I just had to talk to someone on the phone for a few minutes to verify that I was indeed going to be homeschooling Elliott, and she got it all taken care of.  With a homeschool account, you earn bonus points the same way that you do as a public or private school teacher.  Obviously I won't be earning them as fast since I will only be ordering for Elliott mainly, but it still adds up pretty fast.  Especially considering that for several years now I've ordered more from Scholastic than the rest of my sister's class put together.  We really like books at our house. :)  I was able to join in late March, even though we were finishing up the year in public school.  The lady I talked to was super nice and said they let people go ahead and start early in case they need anything for the schooling they will do during the summer.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Surgery and Time Together

My husband had surgery on Tuesday.  It went well.  He's off work this week recovering.  So far it's gone really well.  We were both a little bit concerned that we might drive each other crazy. :)  I mean, obviously we love each other and like spending time together, but this is definitely more time than we usually spend together, unless we are on vacation, or he's really busy with some project at home.  Since he can't do much right now, he's mainly been hanging out in front of the TV.  Which is fine by me. :)

Next week Elliott and I start doing a little bit of homeschool stuff.  We aren't doing much in June, just kind of getting a feel for how things will work.  We aren't counting it as far as record keeping or anything either.  It will mainly be a few fun things, and me checking for gaps so I know if we have to hit anything harder before we move on to cover the stuff in his third grade books.   While I was in the waiting room on Tuesday, I worked on some loose lesson plans, and tried to figure out just what all I will be checking him on.  I don't think there are going to be any major gaps anywhere, but I do want to get a feel for the time it takes him to do some stuff, too.  I've been looking at ways to work on a few things that he's not quite as comfortable with, too.  It's amazing how many books and worksheets are out there to cover just about anything you want.  Right now I'm mainly sticking with things that someone else has already created, although I have a feeling that as I get more comfortable with it, I will probably end up doing a lot more of my own.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day

We've had a busy weekend full of family fun this weekend.  We went to Bismarck to go to the zoo on Friday (it's much larger than the Minot one, with more room for the animals).  Saturday we spent the night in a hotel with a pool with two waterslides so we could go swimming.  I think Elliott ended up going down the slides about 200 times. lol  We were at the pool for about 5.5 hours Saturday and then Elliott and Carl went back for another hour Sunday morning while I was getting ready for church.  Yesterday after church, a couple from our church invited everyone to their house for lunch.  Elliott finally played with the other kids from our church and had a blast.  Right now Carl is outside grilling.

We have had a great weekend, but we are also taking the time to remember why Memorial Day is a holiday.  As a military family, it hits close to home.  We don't personally have any close friends that have been killed in action, but it's easy to see that it could happen.  And people that are willing to give their lives for us deserve all the respect and admiration that they get, and even more.  Memorial Day is such an important holiday to teach children about.  We've talked about it several times with Elliott this weekend, and I think he really gets it now.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Summer Time

Well, Elliott is officially done with second grade now.  His last day of school was Thursday, but his last day of doing anything work related was Tuesday.  His summer vacation lasts until the seventh of July, when we officially start homeschooling.  I think he would kind of like a longer summer vacation, but he's on board with starting school in July so he can have more time off at other times of the year. :)

We started summer vacation with a bang. We drove to Bismarck yesterday and went to the zoo and Red Lobster.  We considered staying the night, but couldn't find a hotel with a decent pool that had openings by the time we made up our mind to stay the night.  So we came home.  We are planning on going swimming at one of the hotels in Minot today or tomorrow, though.  My husband is going to make some calls when he comes in from mowing the yard.  We're trying to decide whether to spend the night in a hotel, or just do the afternoon at the one with waterslides. Decisions decisions!

We have a few fun things planned this summer.  Living in North Dakota, a lot of the stuff is only open from Memorial to Labor Day, so we are planning on having a fairly busy summer.  We have plans to work on some school stuff that is related to different places in the Dakotas.  As I have been doing research, I've discovered quite a bit about my current state that I didn't know before. :)   I'm looking forward to learning even more!  We believe that having a good foundation of state history is pretty important, too.  And since this IS Elliott's home state, and the only state he's lived in so far, we think now is the time to really find out more about it, and do some traveling to see it in person.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Target Sales on Groceries

Normally we don't buy much in the way of food at Target, because there's just not a lot of selection at our smallish store.  Most of what they do carry is similar (or even better) in price to the grocery stores in Minot, though, so we do pick some stuff up there sometimes.

This week I noticed that there was a $10/$50 coupon for food and beverage items at Target, though, so I thought it might be worth checking into.  Then I saw that Pepsi was on sale as well.  I'm the only one that regularly drinks soda at my house, and I'm cutting back, but I still go through a 12 pack every 3 weeks or so, and was down to just 3 or 4 cans left, so it was time to buy some anyway. :)

I didn't take any pictures, but I did end up spending $52.47 on food and beverages all together, so I was able to use the $10/50 coupon to bring the total down, and then used my red card to get another 5% off.  A few of the things that I purchased (veggie straws, archer farms salsa, and organic eggs) had cartwheel coupons as well.  So I think we ended up getting some decent deals.  It was nothing compared to the deals I used to get when I couponed a lot and really paid close attention to everything I bought, but it was still decent savings.

Adding up the amount I saved because things were on sale, the $10, the 5%, and the cartwheel savings, I ended up saving about $20, which is pretty good, considering Target was a spur of the moment stop with no preplanning at all Sunday afternoon. :)

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