Monday, May 30, 2011

Planning a fabulous summer on a budget!!

First of all, let me begin by saying that I just found the collage below and FELL IN LOVE!!!
Isn't this the MOST adorable??
Click on it to be taken to the author's website where you can print it out for FREE.
It's an 8x10 print, and I'm putting mine in a frame to keep it handy for when we get bored!!!

We're almost finished with our homeschooling for the summer, and no one is more thrilled with this than.....
the TEACHER!!!
Let me just say, it's been a rough year for me!!
Several weeks ago, I began thinking toward our summer!!
Summertime is the BEST time to fill in some of the educational gaps that may have sprung open somewhere between the days filled with "SQUIRREL" moments {my description of the attention spans of my ADHD-er's taken from the movie UP}, mountains of laundry to fold, made-from-scratch meals to prepare, and wintertime sickness!!

So I'm always on the lookout for things to do that are not only fun, but will nurture my children in 4 areas:

The scriptures tell us in Luke 2:52:

"And Jesus increased in
{1} Wisdom,
{2} and Stature,
{3} and in Favor with God 
{4} and man."

When I was working as a summer camp counselor at a Christian Camp many years ago, I heard it put this way:

"Here we have a description of the Lord Jesus as a child,
and goals we can develop for our own children.

Jesus grew:
{1} Intellectually
{2} Physically
{3} Spiritually
{4} Socially

These have become "guideposts" for me as I think about the goals I want to set for each of my children to achieve this summer.  I don't want them to JUST have fun, but also to grow in each of these 4 areas as well.

So grab a calendar....I like to print off these calendars from Jan Brett!

Here are these that I automatically start filling in my June-August calendars with:

{1}  Vacation Bible School
Last summer there were no less than EIGHT {8} separate weeks of VBS available in my area
at neighboring churches of like faith.
I absolutely do not feel bad about using these opportunities for my children because it accomplishes all
of the goals listed above that I have for my children.
Also, when my husband and I were directing the VBS program at our own church, we welcomed children
from within the community.
It gave us chance to get to know others in our area, plus the more children, 
the better the gametimes, classtimes, assembly times, etc!!
I was very impressed with how several churches ran their programs and the safety/security they offer the parents.  I also never had a problem with leaving my Type 1 Diabetic child either.
We always found that their friends were all going at the same time too, 
and many of them are aware of her needs.
Then, of course, I always use the plethora of crafts they make as Christmas presents for grandparents!

{2}  Check out your local library!!
For the last 8 years or so, our local children's librarian has had a summer packed FULL of great activities that are free and open to the public.
Tuesday evenings we had puppet shows, music programs, magic shows, etc.

There were different craft times throughout the week,
Read 25 books and earn great prizes.
In the past, we have gotten free tickets for roller skating, the circus, ice cream and more.
I always save those and use them for empty days.

{3}  Look around and see what specialty camps are available in your area.
Last year, my artistic, ADHD daughter did a week of art camp at a local art school,
and a few of our other children participated in a soccer camp.

I've also seen, in my area, horse camps and theatre camps!!

{4}  Summer church camp!!
My husband and I believe that this is one of THE MOST important weeks in the whole summer for our children.

They are away from all outside media, their neighborhood friends, siblings, routine of home,
and it enables them to totally focus on some spiritual decisions and paths they should be taking!
We don't usually have the {roughly} $500 available in our budget for sending three children to summer camp,
so we start in the spring raising funds for this together as a family!!
Our favorite way is to pick up a few boxes of candy at Costco, and set them up in the breakrooms of the places my husband is employed.
We ask $1 a bar and have found folks to be very generous with us!
This year, we're also having a garage sale with grandma,
and plan on selling candy bars and cans of soda there, as well.
All proceeds go to offset the cost of camp.

{5} Special lessons or classes
Is there a specialized skill that you would like your child to achieve this summer?
How about swimming lessons?
Check-out your craft/hobby store for crafting classes during the summer.

{6}  Participate in your local county or state fair!!
Last year my crafty daughter was inspired to enter our state fair, and we had to get these items prepared and turned in during the month of July.
This year, I plan on encouraging my ADHD lego enthusiast to enter a lego creation in the fair.
That will take some time and preparation.
Our artist is also interested and will need to be preparing her entries as well!!

{7}  Other miscellaneous fun things to do:
Get a summer job {dog walking, car washing, babysitting, etc.}

Sonic has 1/2 price drinks and slushies from 2-4 pm every. day!!

Our local school district offers FREE breakfast and lunch every. day. {except weekends}.
I pick-up our children from the local VBS and we head on over for a free lunch at the public high school!!
Lots of our friends are there too!

Does your school district offer something like this that you can take advantage of?

Check this out:

Or this:

Visit your local zoo {we have a membership that offers free admission}
or any museum that has free summer programming.

Check out your local park and see if they have any free outdoor concerts during the summer.

Find one of these:

{8}  Don't forget the holidays!!
Fill in that calendar with the holiday parades and cook-outs too!!
Plan a special party with the neighborhood children this year to celebrate the 4th of July!!

{9} Remember to schedule in some time together in specialized teaching time
One goal I have for my older girls this summer is to learn how to plan, budget, purchase, and prepare a meal for their family.
I would also like them to learn how to be skilled in managing our laundry.
If I get sick, which I often do in the winter, the household needs to carry on.
My girls are old enough now to be able to handle these skills, so each week they will have 
"Domestic Skills Class with Mom."

I also want them to memorize some scriptures this summer as well.
I haven't gotten that completely planned yet, but I'm thinking on a passage per month.

{10}  Finally,  here are even more resources from those
 more creative than I!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

A gift for you: 31 Days of Prayer for My Husband

I am a bit "technologically-challenged", so I've been struggling with this for several weeks.
You may remember a little series I was inspired to share about praying my husband every day for 31 days.
These prayers and thoughts are not original with me, but I do not know who did author them.
Just know I'm not taking the credit for being so creative and thoughtful.
But after much trial and error, I share it with you:

I am hoping that you can print it all out on one page and that it's nice and neat, the way I can see it.
Then maybe put it on some pretty card stock and post it somewhere you can see it first thing every day?
I would love to know if it works that way, as I'm still humbling learning and wanting to share something useful.
Have you prayed for your husband today?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Our last birthday of the season!!! Happy 5th Birthday, Garrett!

Yesterday, after I came in from my 4 mile walk, I began waking the children to get ready for Sunday School.
But I couldn't find Garrett.
I looked in every bed.....and we have a lot of beds now.....but he was nowhere to be found.
His brother said, "He's on the couch!"
I quickly went in to see why he was in there, and he was all crumpled up, laying there with his hand over his head.
"I don't feel good, Mommy, and my head hurts."
He had a raging high fever.
Plans quickly changed and I helped the others get dressed.
Garrett and I stayed back from church and had a quiet morning together.
His fever would go down as I gave him Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen, and he would feel good enough to get up and walk around or color.
But as his fever would creep back up, he would need to lay down again.
This went on all day.
I was hoping he would feel better today, but I could tell he was just putting on a brave face for us this morning.
We sang Happy Birthday and he opened his first gift of the day, but he didn't eat one single donut for our traditional birthday breakfast, and as we were driving to our local toy store to pick out something with his birthday dollars, he threw up.

So, I'm not sure how the rest of his day will go.
I had planned pizza and chocolate cupcakes with ice cream, and maybe even a visit to the local spray park.
But when you're 5 and you feel nauseous that isn't a whole lot of fun.
We may be postponing the rest of his fun day until he's feeling better and it isn't storming outside!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Update on Intuniv and my son's progress

Yesterday I took my son back to his doctor for his 6-month check up.
As a recap, in August of 2009 I had my oldest daughter {who was almost 12} and my son {who was 7} tested for ADHD at the Child Study Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
There were several issues that prompted my even going through this process, the most prominent being my son's emotional extremes when it came to time with his friends, corrections at home in behavior, sleep, etc.
Sure enough, my daughter was diagnosed ADHD-Inattentive Type with some dysgraphia and math problems manifesting themselves also.
My son was diagnosed as ADHD-Combined Type with moderate anxiety.  No dysgraphia and no depression.
Immediately, having a diagnoses from a professional who sees children with these issues on a daily basis was so helpful.
I did not feel pressured to be either of my children on medication but the doctor did go over with me some really wonderful interventions we could use at home.
Some of these included:  Family counseling {to learn better discipline techniques and a better family structure for these children, resources for finding educational help, books to read, nutritional interventions, etc.
Everyone in the office was so gentle and understanding and helpful, and it was a great experience for us.
I finally felt like I was talking to people who were not looking at me like I was crazy, sensitive, or a terrible mother!!
But after a couple months of changes at home, both in our homeschooling, diet, and discipline techniques, we still were having over-the-top issues with our son.
The most troubling aspect being we could tell he felt he was "different" and didn't like having ADHD because he really did not WANT to respond to things the way he did.
So at our follow-up, I spoke with the doctor about medication for him.
This was not an easy decision for me as I'm not a big fan of medications for children, especially when not necessary or when the side effects are worse than the initial problem!!
I went in with a list of things that I did not want:  stimulants or anti-depressants that cause appetite issues, mood swings, emotional problems, or that make the children feel like zombies!!
So the doctor suggested Intuniv.
It is NOT a stimulant.
It is not an anti-depressant.
And it has been wonderful for him!!
We started this in January of 2010, and the help was immediate and dramatic for him.
It takes the edge off of him, and he has been able to settle his body down enough to sit and learn.
Academically, he is finally progressing and enjoying learning.
He still gets upset and throws fits, but now his calm-down is less than HALF what it used to be.
He is "getting humor."
We {his dad and I} have been so happy with the improvement that we really feel like he has reached a good stable place.
Not perfect....still has issues....but we're seeing some consistency and that he is getting better.
So yesterday, I asked the doctor if our bi-annual visits were necessary anymore.
You see, our insurance doesn't cover one penny of these visits since they revolve around an ADHD diagnoses.
And at $190 a pop, that's really expensive for us.
He told us that if our pediatrician {who is only 5 minutes from our house} would write the prescription for his intuniv, then we could just switch everything over to him.
So, that's what I'm going to try to do.
Only catch......our insurance changes AGAIN on June 1.
{Have I mentioned before how I HATE to mess with insurance???  I'd rather be shot in the face!!}
If our new insurance has better coverage on these type of visits, then we may just continue driving the long distance and keeping up the relationship with that office in case things change dramatically for him when he hits puberty in a couple years!!
We do not need to change the dosage he is on {3 mg.}.
I asked the doctor what the cues are for needing to bump up to a 4 mg. tablet.
His response was when his progress began to deteriorate and he wasn't learning as well as he is now.
I also mentioned the issue of sleepiness and how I had heard that if they have no sleepiness AT ALL, EVER due to the medication, that may be a cue that a bump up is necessary.  Not that you want a tired child, but this medication tends to make them sleepy and you know it is working if they get a bit droopy occasionally in the afternoon.
If they are sleeping a LOT ALL the time, you may need to drop down the medication.
Overall, we had a good visit, and I left encouraged.
Hoping that we can transfer all this to our regular pediatrician now!!
Have to start making phone calls!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturdays are for: Soccer!!

Last fall my second and third daughters begged me to let them play soccer.
I was a little hesitant because of the time involved and how that would ramp up the craziness of our weekends.
But they were persistent and I couldn't very well say no to them when we had already decided that our son could play baseball.
So, for the first time ever I was inducted into the elite "Soccer Mom" club.
Our very dearest, long-time family friends have had their children involved in the Upward soccer program for several years now, so I decided to give that a try.
They have been playing for several weeks now, and have really enjoyed it.
As I suspected, it has made for busy and somewhat chaotic Saturdays, but we've always been able to work out the transportation when we've had soccer games overlapping the baseball games!
Every Saturday since the middle of April we've had 2 soccer games and 1-2 baseball games to attend.
I do enjoy having something structured and outdoor for all of my children to do instead of spending their Saturdays laying around the house and whining of boredom!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Celebrating Mother's Day 2011

"Every  good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and cometh down from the Father of lights....."
James 1:17

"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift."
2 Corinthians 9:15

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday's Fabulous Family Recipe.....A Double Header!!

Today I include not one, but two new recipes that have become favorites in our house over the last couple weeks.
The first is a recipe that was shared with me by a sweet friend who is married to one of my husband's fellow police officers.  When she shared on her facebook that she had made a crockpot full of this, I knew IMMEDIATELY that I would love it!!
And I did.....and still do......and so does my husband.
He's crazy about it, and never complains that I make it once a week now!!
Several of my children enjoy it too.
My "texturally challenged" eaters....not so much.....too much goin' on in one pot all at the same time!!
I love this too because it adheres to all of the diet changes we implemented a while high fructose corn syrup, gluten free (though we're not gluten free.....more gluten-reduced), no artificial dyes, not a lot of sugars, and lower in carbs!!  Of course, it is high in sodium so be careful!
So without further adieu........
Debbie's Chicken Tortilla Soup

Gather together:

1 family size can of Chicken and Rice Soup
2 (15 oz.) cans of chicken broth
1 can of Rotel
1 (15 oz) can of sweet corn
1 (15 oz) can of black beans
1 (15 oz) can of original Ranch style beans
2 Large cans of chicken breast 
(Debbie suggested cutting up a deli rotisserie chicken, and that
is what I do.  Delicious.  Add as much chicken as you like!)

Drain only the corn and the black beans.

Empty all the other cans into your crockpot and then add the drained corn and black beans,
and your chopped chicken.
Since it all is already cooked through, you only need leave it in the crockpot until warmed through.
Mine will warm it nicely on high in about 3 hours.
If you need it warmed quicker, you can follow the same instructions in a soup pot on the stove.
Or you could leave the house in the morning, turn the crockpot on low and have it ready
for lunch!!

Serve with shredded cheese and tortilla chips!!

 Warning:  Highly addictive!!!

Okay, so this instantly became my new FAVORITE edible spring craft this year!!
I saw the recipe for this cutie little child-friendly treat in the April-May 2011 edition of Taste of Home magazine, and knew right away that we needed to add this to our repertoire of fun things to do to celebrate the spring season!!  I'm tucking this idea away for NEXT spring too.
Next year, I'd like to really concentrate on separating out the celebrating and enjoying the "Season of Spring" from Resurrection Sunday.
As I'm getting older, I'm learning to appreciate at an even deeper level the ultimate gift of God that is salvation from the penalty of our sin and the corruption it infects us with which results in permanent separation from our Holy Elohim.
At Easter, which I'm preferring to call Resurrection Sunday, we celebrate and rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave in which he was buried three days after His crucifixion for our sin.
If He hadn't risen, then all He had promised would be a lie.  Everything He said He was and His purpose for coming to this earth would have become void.
It has become much more sacred, much more of a lavish demonstration of God's grace and love to us, that I'm becoming more inclined not to confuse it with chocolate bunnies and jelly beans.  
Certainly not with colored eggs!
I'm leaning more towards keeping that Sunday a precious day, full of joy and awe at the wonder of His power.

But I still think it's so much fun to celebrate the turning of the season from winter to spring, and enjoying the gorgeous pictures of this new life found in Christ (life from out of the grave of our sin!!)!
So I'm collecting ideas for next year and a "Spring Fling" to have with our children either before or maybe even after we remember Resurrection Sunday!!
This idea is on the top of the list!!

Bird Nests

Here is what you'll need:

2 packages of white baking chips (10 oz. each)
10 oz. package of pretzel sticks
25 Peep candy birds
Candy eggs (can be the malted chocolate eggs, jelly beans, etc.)

Melt 2 packages of white baking chips.
(I only used one because I didn't need that many nests!!)

Stir the package of pretzel sticks into chocolate until well coated.

Scoop 25 nests onto waxed paper (or tin foil, if you're me!!);
use two forks to arrange coated pretzels into a circle.
Dip a peep candy into some of the melted white chocolate and place onto each nest.
Arrange the candy eggs onto the nest while the chocolate is still warm
so they will stick to the nest.
Makes 25 if you follow the recipe and use all the white chocolate 
and the entire bag of pretzels.
(We only did about half the recipe and still had enough to share with our neighbors!!)


You can see this idea also at Taste of Home,
as well as at Mommy's Kitchen!!
(You can click on those names to reach their website!)