Monthly Archives: May 2013

Summertime Activities for Kids… Geocaching

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Geocaching is such a fun and rewarding “techie game” that kids can totally get into. Our family has been geocaching for 3 years now. When we travel, we always try and look up a cache or two on the way as well, just for the fun of it.

Here’s the breakdown of what geocaching is and how to start it.

  1. You have a GPS.
  2. Log into www.geocaching.com and get the coordinates of a location near you – make sure that you read the description too, there may be clues in it.
  3. Enter the coordinates into your GPS.
  4. Take you and your kids out to the coordinates
  5. Find the hidden treasure (and when I say treasure, I mean a container)
  6. Sign the log in the contain with your geocache name, exchange goodies (AKA swag – we carry a bag of army men in the car with us.)
  7. Return the “cache” to the same place that you found it for the next person.

My kids have such a BLAST going geocaching. We invested in a $100 GPS that is specifically for caching and during the summer, we go once a week out to find a cache or two. If we are going to be gone for more than 3, we pack a picnic lunch. blog-geocaching-griffenGeocaching allows us to work together as a family, using clues to find a “treasure:. We get outside, away from TVs, computers and cell phones to hike and exercise our minds and our bodies.

We use it as part of our homeschooling.

There are also treasures that are in the container that range from something the size of the end of your fingernail (MICRO) to ammo cans and 5 gallon buckets. There could also be geocoins and trackers. If you are lucky enough to find one of those, AWESOME! Write down the number, log it in and pass it on. Then, you can track it on it’s journey.

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Summertime Activities for Kids… Gardening

I have several friends who are always asking me, “Kris, what do you do with your kids in the summer time. You have so many, how do you keep them entertained?? ”

garden-blogpeasFirst off, if the Sun is out… then the TV is OFF!This is something that I implemented years ago. I don’ t want my children to turn into couch potatoes. I have 4 that I homeschool and 3 that are in public school. We homeschool to the school year and take time off in the summer of formal school. That doesn’t mean that we are not schooling.  There are so many different things that you can do with your kiddlings that I am going to touch on different around the house activities and projects throughout the summer.

START A GARDEN!

Gardening  what we can eat is a major thing in our house. We have 3 acres where we live and I know that many people don’t have land like that that, but, why not try a container garden if you don’t have room for a larger one in your yard. Gardens do NOT have to be big, and they are REALLY REWARDING. Kids LOVE to eat the food that you grow.  

Nothing tastes better than fresh produce that you grew and harvested. With my kids, they know that their hard work will lead to a FANTASTIC meal. Last night we had swiss chard harvested less than an hour before to eat with dinner!!

garden-blog-TOMATILLOSI don’t have room for a garden! I hear that alot from friends – Guess what? You don’t need a ton of room if you want to have a garden. You can try a container garden right outside your front door! 

Tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos (green tomatoes) grow GREAT in larger pots on your patio. Remember that you do need 2 tomatillos for them to produce fruit. Your entire herb selection is great to grow in pots around your yard. Every year, we plant basil, chives, lemon balm, thyme, oregano, cilantro, parsley and dill in pots around the yard. Many of those pots I found at yard sales. Mint is also a really good grower – just make sure that you plant it in a pot if you don’t want it to spread!!! We use mint in our summertime-drinks (I have a kid mojito recipe that will be a hit – will post that soon)

If you have a wire fence, try planting seeding sunflowers (so that you can tie them up), green beans or sweet peas. Throughout the summer, I NEVER see peas come into the house. The kids will pick them right off of the vine and eat in the garden. Sunflowers are fun because after you harvest, you can feed all of those little birds in your yard with the seeds.

garden-blog-rowanandheronionsAre you worried about weeds???you are reading this post because you have kids right? They each have two little weed-picking hands. At our home, we make it into a GAME!!! Any weeds in our garden feeds our chickens. Even my 5 year-olds can both pick weeds!! We have a 15 minute timer that we use. 15 minutes a day gets all of those garden weeds down. If you are having a container garden, your weeds will be limited.We use the weed pulling time as family time and we ALL go out an pull!!!

So you have never planted a thing in your life? Guess what neither had I, until my parents moved to Arizona and started me on gardening. Now that this gift was introduced to me, I haven’t stopped. We have a LARGE garden that produces enough to feed my family of 9 in the summer and to can many items to use throughout the year like relish and salsas. But, remember to start SMALL! You have to have enough time to weed, water and tend your garden.

garden-blog-tomatoesFor a patio garden, you will need several larger pots…. no I am not talk 1Gallon… I am talking 5 gallon or larger! Potting soil and either plants or seeds. We start all of our plants by seeds but you can pick up plants at any hardware or discount store in your area.You will also need to fertilize your plants. I use GOATALYZER. (yep, goat poo is awesome and natural!) We try not to use any chemicals on our garden… Do I really want to eat things that kill bugs? I don’t want that in my body! Here is the website for goatalyzer – www.GOATALYZER.com

This year, I even invested in a greenhouse so that they seedlings weren’t taking over my kitchen and dining area. The greenhouse ran about $1000. It is 8’x6′ and has a sunshade, shelves and a ton of extras that we picked up. It took 2 days for Larry and I to put together. You can build your own or even just use your windowsill to start your seeds early in the season!

We started tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, brussel sprouts, tomatillos, butternut squash, cucumbers, zucchini all in the greenhouse this year.

garden-blog-sunflowersWe start our peas, onions, carrots, sunflowers, turnips, lettuce, radishes, chard, and spinach directly in the ground. We have them in a 4×4′ and 4×8′ plots in our garden. We have plots built from both railroad ties and from blocks.

Each garden can be built in order to fit your families needs.

The main bulk of seed that we are using, my dad’s shop is carrying. I am SO THRILLED with how many came up and are nearly ready to harvest.  I only buy non-GMO and and non-hybred so that I can use the seeds from year to year right out of my plants. Our watermelons and sunflowers from this year are off of watermelons that we grew last year and we saved their seeds!!

Here is the link to the seeds on MAZY’S

– http://mazys.com/emergency-preparedness/garden-seeds/40-000-garden-seeds

So, I want to end this with HAPPY GARDENING!!! I hope that you can have a successful summer with your kids outside together.

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Let's have a celebration!

If you’re gonna be a bear, be a grizzly! I always say that…so we knew that we needed to have a party for the whole family to celebrate our adoption.    We invited many of our family and friends… The highlight (besides the jumpy castle – THANK YOU CHINO RENTALS!!!) was the trail mix bar – letting kids (old and young) create their own snack back of trail mix. We started with either popcorn or granola (or both in some cases) and then had 12 different toppings (including dried fruits, chocolate chips, marshmallows, etc.

I picked up the scoops and bags from PickYourPlum.com about a month ago and the metal buckets from the dollar section in Target.

We also decided to take photobooth style photos for the boys’ adoption album. THAT WAS A HOOT! The graphics are from galler.ee.

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Reflection

SMkids-adoption-046It has been a journey for us… a long and grateful journey that is coming to an end and allowing us to be the official parents of 2 more AMAZING little boys. This is the reason that the blog has been neglected… I had a hard time sharing about our family and not being able to share 100%.

Trystan and Breckin have been living with us since July of 2012 and are now officially adopted into our family. I have been asked, with all of the stress and drama that it entails to adopt through Foster Care, would we do it again. And I can simply answer that as “Yes, I would!” There are many things that I would do differently. But, I would all over again to save a child and show them what a true family is.

The court dates can get crazy. The time spent researching and relearning how to be a parent is just as undesirable as stabbing yourself with a fork. But now that this chapter in our life is closing and we can focus on making the best possible life for my new little boys, I can sit back and see that God has given Larry and I patience. And i get to actually share them with my family and friends.

It is a GREAT journey to accomplish and we are so grateful to my children’s birth parents that they, although they don’t know it, the gift that they have given to us is one that I will never forget.

My boys came from a hard life, a hard 4 and 6 years, one where they didn’t know where their next meal was coming from, where they didn’t know if they would be starved or beaten. Now, they can understand that they came from the exception and not the norm. We are a normal loving Christian family, accepting who they are and where they came from. The journey will continue to be rocky, but we are here for the long haul.

A friend of mine passed away this last week, giving life to her child as she slipped into heaven to be his guardian angel. “They passed each other momentarily as they entered their new home.” (Rex Galbraith, brother of Katrina)  Katrina left this world and her husband and 6 children and it makes me look at what God has in store for each of us. In her passing, I have relearned who I am as a mom and know that we never know when we will be called home.

“Your children will become who you are;

so be who you want them to be.”

So, as I reflect on this incredible journey, I see that I will be the best mom that I can be, I will teach each of my children to follow their light, no matter where it takes them and I will say my prayers every day for my family & friends, and my new boys birth family because I am thankful that they had my children and I was gifted them. Now, however there are 7 against two… Lar and I had better watch out!!

 

Home-made Biscuits!!! Yes, Please.

Home-made Biscuits!!! Yes, Please.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tbs baking powder
  • 2 Tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup of shortening
  • 2 cup of milk or buttermilk

 

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
  2. In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.
  3. Cut in the shortening. until what’s in the bowl resembles coarse meal.
  4. Gradually stir in the milk until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If your dough seems too sticky, add a tablespoon or two more flour. If it’s too dry, add more milk.
  5. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface. Knead the dough. You don’t want to over work it. Just until there are no sticky parts. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Use a round cookie cutter (or the rim of a glass/mug) to punch out the biscuits.

Place the cut outs onto a greased cookie pan. Place in the oven for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the tops and edges start to brown.

 

Enjoy your food!