Wednesday, July 27, 2011

FREE! Digital Summer Issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Read It Online Today!

Check out this FREE! digital issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

Take a look at the brand new Summer digital edition of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. TOS is offering this digital issue of the magazine totally free with no strings attached! Enjoy this free gift from TOS—no registration or email address required to view the magazine. Grab a cup of tea and sit down to take a peek here...then share the link with your friends by clicking on the share button at the top of the magazine pages. Enjoy!



Monday, July 18, 2011

Menu Plan Monday (and a good read aloud!)

Is summer flying by, or what?  I can hardly keep up. No matter how much I get done, I just keep feeling like there is so much to do before the school year starts (for us, in August, as we take December off completely) and I just need MORE TIME!!!

In order to find more time, I am going SKIMPY on the meals this week. The munchkins will just have to deal with simple foods, I say. I never did suffer from a few meals of cereal, sandwiches, and that spaghetti out of a can. I loved that stuff. I can't figure out why, but I did.

Hopefully, by the end of this week, IF I use my time wisely, I can feel more in control and less like I am going out of my mind. Aaaaaaaahhhhh! It's summer, folks. Aren't we supposed to be relaxing? I need to get a grip.


Monday---It's hubby's first night of a big conference that he's in charge of at work, so we plan to have our Easy Chicken Alfredo (recipe below) served with corn (sprinkled with Mrs. Dash's Italian medley and butter for a savory flavor) and a fruit cup for the kids, salad for the adults.

Tuesday---I have an afternoon meeting to firm up my recertification paperwork, so Tex will be babysitting in the afternoon. I figure I will stop by the bread store on the way home and pick up some of their thick-sliced Texas Toast bread so we can make easy french toast (I always add a touch of vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon to about you?) Topped with a pool of butter and warm syrup. Turkey Bacon on the side.

Wednesday---I have an afternoon online seminar to attend, so easy is the plan. We have plenty of eggs, so I was thinking fried egg sandwiches with cheese all around, served with fruit, cherry tomatoes (we have a ton of those...Boo calls them "balls"), and carrots chips.

Thursday---I'm in the mood for...something else easy. How about chili in the crockpot? I know, it sounds odd when it is blazing hot outside to have chili, but those boys can add the hot sauce to theirs, and they say that hot sauce opens up your pores and helps you cool off, right? Isn't that how it works? Anyway, we have so many jalepenos we are so not going to use, I think they need to make some pico de gallo to go with it (and Santitas for dippin'). Anyone have a good recipe for jalepeno jelly? Maybe I need to consider making some.

Friday---Traditionally pizza and a movie night, I am amending it to Nachos and a Movie Night. A bit of Velveeta in the chili and some lettuce, tomato, and sour cream on the side turns chili and tortilla chips into Nachos on the second night. It is hubby's last night of his conference, so maybe he will make it home in time to watch the movie with the kids. I hope so.

Saturday---Tacos. I am just in the mood for Mexican this week. It must be our read aloud that is affecting me this way (see below). Besides, there's all that pico we will need to use up...and there is no shortage of tomatoes around here. The bushes are overflowing with tomatoes of all shapes and sizes. Yum.

Sunday---Chicken strips and mashed potatoes with corn on the cob. A perennial favorite and simple since I've made it so many times.


Our Easy Chicken Alfredo recipe

One can of Campbell's Creamy Chicken and Mushroom soup
One jar of Alfredo sauce
1 package of chicken breast tenders (or pre-cooked chicken strips will do)
1 tbs or so of olive oil
garlic salt
Cooked spaghetti (or other much as is needed for your family)
about a half soup can of milk
parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a skillet. Take your chicken tenders and sprinkle them with garlic salt (lightly). Cook until cooked through (I like mine starting to get golden), chopping them into smaller bites as they cook (I chop mine about the size of a goes farther that way). Set aside. Combine the soup and the alfredo sauce. Split the half can of milk between the can and jar to swish and get the rest of the soup/sauce out. Heat up, being careful not to scald it. Serve on top of spaghetti or linguine noodles, and top with the chicken and parmesan cheese. Serve with garlic bread and salad.


Our Read-Aloud of the Week:

Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures: The Amazing Mexican Secret

Our local library is sponsoring a reading program called One World, Many Stories this year, and part of that program includes a selection of Flat Stanley Worldwide tales to places like Mexico, Japan, Canada, Mt. Rushmore, Africa, and Egypt.

Each of the stories has its own backpack kit, in which you find a few picture books on topics related to the world area from the story (our kit has a book called Cinco de Mouse-o and a book called I Wanna Iguana), a few manipulative items (our kit has marracas, a puppet armadillo, and a Spanish song cd), and our very own Flat Stanley to color.

Whether or not you are close enough to a library to participate in this year's reading program, you can join in on the Flat Stanley fun! Just print up your own letters of introduction for a your flat journey, and the accompanying journaling pages, then send your Flat fellow out to have adventures unknown. If you don't like the classic look of Flat Stanley, have a look at these different flat folks. Check out the Flat Stanley Project for more ideas and information. I hear there's even a Flat Stanley app in the iPhone app store. Kinda makes me wish I had a fancy phone...

Here's a fun library song to go with the One World, Many Stories theme...and it's free, too.

More information on exploring your world can be found at Growing Up Global.

Enjoy your week and keep on READing!!


Friday, July 15, 2011

Put Your Dream to the Test

In Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See it and Seize it by best-selling author John C. Maxwell you will answer ten powerful questions to help you determine whether your dreams will stay dreams, or become a reality. John Maxwell, an internationally respected leadership expert uses his many years of counseling and experience to encourage and prepare readers to achieve their dreams. He offers a step-by-step action plan that you can start using today to visualize, own, and reach your dream. In 286 inspiration-filled pages he will help you filter out the daydreams that serve to distract, the pie-in-the-sky dreams with no strategy, and the destination dreams (those in which you believe that a place, position, or person will make you happy) to find the true gems that are valid and worthy of the investment of a person's life. He defines those dreams as being, "an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it. A dream worth pursuing is a picture and a blueprint of a person's purpose and potential."

I have dreams. We all have dreams. At least, I hope we all do. We all should. God planted within us special things, and has a specially mission for each of us being here. One of my pastors used to say that if you are still here, you haven't fulfilled your mission yet. Well, I am still here, so how do I take the next step to find out the rest of my mission? Not that I am in any hurry to leave here, but I do want to be doing what the Lord intended for me to do. I do not want to stand before Him and have him say, "Well, I put ----- on your heart. Why did you ignore me all those years?" That is the reason I picked this book to review. I have several dreams that I believe in and I wanted to see what Mr. Maxwell had to say about whether they were even viable, and how to go about embracing those dreams as goals, if they were something I should pursue.

Basically, in the book, he asks you ten questions to help you find out in what stage your dream is, and how committed you are to pursuing it. Then points you in the right direction for how to take the next steps in achieving your dream by asking pointed and challenging questions revolving around the following topics: Ownership, Clarity, Reality, Passion, Pathway, People, Cost, Tenacity, Fulfillment, and Significance. 

One I went through the process of analyzing my dream and my response to it, I determined that it was something that was viable. The next thing was to develop a plan and to learn how to make that dream a reality. He teaches you the steps to make this happen through a series of inspiring stories about people who have made dreams, sometimes dreams that defied all odd, a reality, as well as widom gleaned from his years of personal experience with striving to achieve dreams. These incredible testimonies to the power of living your dreams made the book extra-special for me. I am all for how-to books, but if you can mix a bit of "here's how he/she/I did it" into the information, then it seems more personal...more like having a mentor or friend to walk beside you all the way through the process. I like that.

To make the process even simpler, John Maxwell provides journaling ideas, targeted questions, and action-plan suggestions at the end of the book for every chapter. This feature makes this book ideal for use in a group setting, which I actually think would be the best way to use it. I often "hear" online gurus chatting about the usefulness of having a group of people who have similar goals to work with on achieving your own goals. These days, finding such a group can be just a click away, if you do not have people you can meet with in person. You will likely want someone to discuss the important points in the book, and to help you to evaluate, understand, and apply the information. Of course, if you don't have anyone with which to read the book, the information is still a valuable resource, and I would highly recommend it. I am planning on passing the book to my two older sons next, so they can clarify their life-courses, and then, perhaps, we will be able to discuss the topic thoroughly. I know that so far, this book has been helpful to me. I will continue to use it and to go through the rest of the activities over the next month or so.

I highly recommend this book if you have ever had a dream that you entertained for a day, a week, a year, a decade. This book will assist you in finding if your dream has the qualities it needs to become reality, and if YOU have the ability and tools to make it become true. If you don't currently have a dream, this book will help you find one. Having a dream that is aimed at some specific goal, and working to achieve it diligently, will not only bee good for you, but it has the potential to influence others who see you striving toward a goal...not to mention the help that your idea could provide to others.

Do yourself a favor. Find a copy of this book, read it with an open mind and heart, and give yourself permission to dream a little. You will be glad you did.



I review for BookSneeze®
I received this book free from the publisher through theBookSneeze®.com book review  program for bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own based on my personal reading and understanding of this book. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What's New in July? You decide!

This is the view off of my deck. It's very peaceful in the country.

Those of you who know me personally, or through Facebook, may realize that I took June off from blogging because I was so burned out by my graduate classes in April and May. I couldn't even think in full sentences after writing nearly one hundred pages of essay answers per class (I took two to renew my teaching certificate). By the way, my hard work paid off and I received "As" in both classes. Yay!!

In any case, I am back, and have been busy making lists of what I want to do posts on this month. So far, I have kept busy catching up on old happenings and sharing photos that I want my far away friends and family to see. That's great for my family, but leaves a gap for anyone who doesn't know us. I can personally look at photos of my adorable kids all day, but most of you would probably prefer to look at photos of your own family!

However, I was thinking that since several folks locally have contacted me in the last month to find out information about how to homeschool, that perhaps I should throw in some posts on basic homeschooling ideas and tips. This is where you all come in. If you have time to leave a comment, please do, and share with me some topic ideas on which I might focus. You don't even have to have a need to know the just need to know that it is needed! I have been homeschooling for twelve years now, following three years as a public school teacher, and I am just full of information, but I do need help with cutting it all down into smaller, readable bites.

So, I am looking forward to hearing from you...I do appreciate your help and I am excited about seeing what you all come up with.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Menu Plan Monday--July 11-July 17

Join Laura at Organizing Junkie for more menu plans and recipes!

Monday: 7-11's (a convenience store) birthday bash means a free Slurpee for all and a death dog (a hot dog with all the fixins' I dare?) for everyone...well, maybe we just use ketsup for the kids. They have VBS all week and are raring to go! I just love summer.

Tuesday: We are rolling in tomatoes, so I am going to make our BLT Wrap Ups for everyone to enjoy before VBS, served with macaroni salad and sweet tea.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sermon Sunday---Divided

Have you heard about the movie Divided? For some time, my husband and I have been convicted that the currently popular model of youth church is not the way the Lord wishes our family to pursue. One signal we had that we needed to rethink the whole idea of youth church was when we were attending a large church in Florida and began to see negative attitudes and behaviors in our oldest son. We prayed about it and the Lord showed us that some of them were coming from some of his experiences in the youth group at church. We decided to leave the large church and sought a smaller fellowship with a different vision for youth, and within a month we began to see a positive change in him. 

I am not saying that every youth group or youth group activity is inherently bad, but I am suggesting that maybe folks need to step back and objectively look at what their individual church is doing with their youth, and how it compares to what the world the difference discernible, or does your "youth church" look like something you might mistake for MTV if you take out the lyrics? Every individual needs to pray and make a decision based on the Lord's leading, but a bit of research is always a good thing. Take an evening with your spouse (or by yourself if you are a young person, or with a friend) and watch this interesting, well-researched video about one young man's investigation into the true calling of Christ on today's youth while the movie is still available online for free. Let me know what you think.

Official Divided the Movie (HD Version) from NCFIC on Vimeo.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cow Appreciation Day

We love, love, love Chick-fil-A! Not only is the food excellent, but you have got to appreciate the speedy and polite service. Have you ever read S.Truett Cathy's books about how he started Chick-fil-A and turned it into an amazingly successful franchise? Tex just finished reading How Did You Do It, Truett? and says he really learned a lot from it about how Mr. Cathy was able to build his successful business with a combination of hard work, faith, and help from many people. He's going to read Eat More Ckikin: Inspire More People next, about how Mr. Cathy's commitment to his Christian principles has helped him achieve both personal and spiritual prosperity. I particularly like his book It's Better to Build Boys Than to Mend Men. It's a wonderful collection of stories from Mr. Cathy's experiences as a father, foster parent, and grandfather that show why it is so important to be a positive influence and example in the lives of all children, especially boys.

Let's get mooooo-vin', Mommy!!

On our way to Chick-fil-A...Yes, that is a Dalmatian costume that Firefly is wearing,
but it has cow ears and a cow tail. Sometimes you have to make do with what you have...
She moo-ed just like a cow when we placed our order!

In any case, I am a fan of Chick-fil-A all through the year, but especially at that time of year when Cow Appreciation Day rolls around. That's when we head over to our local store in cow costumes and snag one complete FREE MEAL per person...anything off the menu...just for dressing from head to hooves as a cow! (You can score a free sandwich for simply donning a sign or ears or any other part of a cow costume). It's amazing. This year I decked out the kids, except for poor Tex, who was feeling under the weather, and they each got a six-piece kids' meal for FREE! and I got my usual upsized Number One (the original sandwich), no pickle. (Boring, I know, but it is my favorite).

They rang the cowbell when we walked through the door and said, "Here comes a whole herd of cows!"
And yes, I am in all black, no spots. I told them that I was an Angus.

The kids powered through their delicious meals (and nutritious, since we were able to swap sodas and waffle fries for milk and fresh fruit), then spent an hour and a half burning off their energy by playing with some sweet children in the clean, new playland at our nearly new local Chick-fil-A. Boy, were they all loud. But they had a blast, especially since the oppressive heat, and frequent rain, had been keeping them from playing outside at home the way they usually would have. Even Boo held his own, trying to go up the slide and chasing others when he was tagged as "IT" in a game of tag. I was pleased at how all the children were such good sports and played so well with the littlest ones. Something good about Chick-fil-A seems to rub off on everyone's kids whenever they are there.

Here is the girl cow that Boo was so fond of...isn't she sweet?

The funniest thing of all was Boo, who was so friendly to was positively adorable. He ran around grinning in his little cow costume, hugging anyone he came across who looked open to it (with me nearby, of course), especially the employee who was wearing the girl cow costume. He kept looking for her every time he took a break from playing, and would run up and give her a big cow hug around the knees. She learned to look for him if she came near our table, and thoughtfully brought all the kids balloons before we left.

They are lovin' that Ice minus spots, ears, and tails.

As a final treat, before we left, the kids decided that they'd rather have ice cream than the kids' meal toy (which was a book, but we already had copies of those titles). I love how Chick-fil-A always has quality kids' meal prizes like audio stories or books, instead of useless plastic movie junk, and how they let you trade the toy for ice cream, if you already have one. So each of the kids got an Ice Dream cone which they devoured with gusto and pure enjoyment. I bought a cup of Ice Dream drenched in chocolate syrup for myself (my ONE purchase of the day!) which I also devoured with gusto. YUM! This is definitely going to continue to be an annual outing for us.

If you haven't heard Tim Hawkins sing his Chick-fil-A song, you need to check it out. It's a hoot.



Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sermon Sunday---Proverbs

I have been listening to the series on Proverbs  by Mars Hill Church pastor, Mark Driscoll, for the last few weeks. I have been challenged, touched, and even taken aback a few times by the style of this preacher (he is not afraid to say outrageous things and speak his mind from time to time), yet I always find that he is speaking Bible truths in an honest, forthright way that is sometimes lacking in today's churches. 
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