It’s National Ice Cream Day!

AA

There are a few hours left in the day, so you still have time to grab a cone or dish of your favorite flavor! We ran into Braum’s this evening and picked up three of this family’s favorites – Rocky Road, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Mint Chocolate Chip, as well as a box of waffle cones, and we are enjoying our Sunday night treat!

Blessings,
Nancy

Summer S’mores

X

The other night after a nice swim, Jeff built a fire in the fire pit and we brought out the S’mores ingredients.

W

Pretty soon there were marshmallows roasting over the flames –

V

I like my marshmallows completely charred.

Y

Final result – at least one happy camper! Yummy!

Z

Make some fun memories with your family today!

Blessings,
Nancy

Say Hello to the Little Ladies!

20130424-184919.jpg

Well, we finally did it! After dreaming about it for 8 years since moving to the country, we finally have our own chickens! We purchased these sweet baby girls at a local feed store last Friday. We have 8 chicks – 2 each of 4 different breeds – Ameraucanas, Barred Rock, Rhode Island Reds, and Wyandottes.

20130424-190245.jpg

20130424-190345.jpg

20130424-190505.jpg

Right now the chicks are living in our master bathroom in a large plastic tub (the only place we can keep them safe from our 3 curious cats). They have to stay warm, so we have a heat lamp on them constantly at one end of the box. Their food and water is at the other end. They spend all of their time eating, drinking, sleeping a little, and making a mess.

20130424-192504.jpg

20130424-192555.jpg

Some of them have a new form of entertainment – trying to fly out of the box! Last night we added a piece of mesh screening to the top of the box and so their fun has been thwarted a little bit. Soon we will be transitioning the girls to our old rabbit hutch, outside in the chicken pen. I am so looking forward to the days when I can sit on the front porch and watch the little ladies pecking around the yard – not to mention the lovely fresh eggs we will enjoy each day!

20130424-193409.jpg

P.S. I’m sorry for the tiny pictures! I’m experimenting with posting from my iPad, and still figuring out how everything works! I think I know what to do now with the pics, so they should be back to normal in the next post.

Have a wonderful evening!

Blessings,
Nancy

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day to you all! What a lovely day to share our love with all of the people that God has blessed us with in our lives. And what a wonderful day to remember the greatest love giver of all – our God and Father, who loved us so much that He provided the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, who gave the ultimate gift – His life – to redeem us from our sin, and to bring us back from darkness into the glorious light of His love.

At our house, we are decorating Valentine boxes and bags, making Valentines to exchange, and decorating hearts to put up around the house with ways that God has shown His love to each of us. Dinner tonight will be Spaghetti and Meatballs with Salads and special Valentine Moon-Pie cookies that we will decorate this afternoon. After dinner, we will exchange Valentines with each other, as well as some small treats.

I hope you will have a wonderful day today with your loved ones!

Blessings,
Nancy

A Day With the Dinosaurs

A week or so ago we spent the afternoon at the nearby nature museum. They were hosting an exhibit of animatronic dinosaurs, which were placed around the park on one of the nature trails. It was a beautiful afternoon to be outside and we enjoyed the outing. Besides moving, the dinosaurs also made noises and were fun to look at. Here are a few of the pictures that I took ~

This cabin is one of my favorite things on the trail. We used to be able to go inside, but it is in bad need of repair now, so the park had it nailed shut. I hope its renovation is on their spring to-do list!

Thankfully there were some dinosaurs that were specially made to be climbed on by the kids, since they could really only just look at the robotic ones ~

The T-Rex was huge as was to be expected. There was water dripping from his mouth for some unknown reason, which made him all the creepier!

A fairly new and growing part of the museum is their collection of live animals. Some of the ones we saw outside were this raccoon and deer ~

The indoor portion of the museum has many hands on activities for the kids, as well as exhibits about nature items of local interest. Something new this time was live animals, some of them on temporary vacation from the outdoor area for the winter. We enjoyed watching the lemurs ~

There was an entire room devoted to snakes – UGH! But it was a good lesson for all of us on what the poisonous snakes in the area look like, so we can avoid them, like this rattlesnake for instance ~

This guy was fun to look at, although I never saw him move at all!

No matter how many times we’ve been to visit the nature museum, it is always interesting each time. We’ll be going back this Spring, when everything starts to come back to life and enjoy the flowers and plant life that was mostly dormant on this trip.

Have a nice day!

Blessings,
Nancy

A Visit from NASA!

Last week we had a fun surprise – NASA came to town with a test model of the new Orion spaceship. I was working on dinner when Jeff called. He had stopped for gas at a nearby truck stop on his way home from work, and he said that there was a flatbed truck carrying a space capsule parked there. I put dinner on hold and we all jumped in the van to go see. When we got there we joined a number of other onlookers who had stopped by to check it out like we did. Everyone had their phones and cameras out taking pictures and I was no exception! Here are a few of the shots that I took –

At first we thought it might be a part of an old Apollo space capsule, but later at home I went to the website written at the bottom of the trailer and found out that it was a test capsule for the new Orion space program. The inside of the capsule was empty – it was really just the framework that was there, as it was used in testing I suppose. The testing had been going on in New Mexico, but the capsule is now on it’s way to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is making stops along the way in Oklahoma, Texas, and Alabama to give people a chance to see it. We happened to be at one of it’s overnight stops before heading into the Dallas area. You can read more about this at this NASA website.

It was a really neat surprise and an impromptu lesson for the kids on both the Apollo space missions, as well as the new Orion plans. One of the things I love about homeschooling is seeing how many lessons the Lord brings our way when we least expect it!

Have a great day!

Blessings,
Nancy

Dirt Cups

Our desserts for Nature Day were these delicious Dirt Cups. I came across this cute dessert idea a number of years ago – not quite sure where – maybe another magazine ad, or maybe on a Jell-O pudding box, or maybe we had them at VBS one year. I do know that not too long ago you could actually buy a box with all of the ingredients included to make these dirt cups. I didn’t see any of these prepackaged at my store, so I just put them together myself. All you need to create these is 4 ingredients:

    – 1 Package of Instant Chocolate Pudding
    – Milk
    – Oreo Cookies
    – Gummy Worms

Here’s what you do ~

1. Mix the pudding mix and milk together according to package directions. Spoon into individual cups. This is your mud!

2. Stick one end of gummy worms into pudding, leaving the other end hanging out.

3. Crush Oreo cookies. We put them in a large Ziploc bag and crushed them with my heavy wooden rolling pin. Sprinkle cookies on top of pudding. This is your dirt!

And you’re done! I made mine about an hour ahead and stored them in the refrigerator until we were ready for them, but you can certainly eat them right away if you like. This is a fun dessert for the kiddos, and the adults, too – as long as you don’t get creeped out eating the worms!

Blessings,
Nancy

Nature Day

Our second Summer Theme Day this month was Nature Day, originally scheduled for last week, but moved to earlier this week. We started the special activities with a picnic lunch in the yard. While we ate, I read a couple of chapters from “The Story Book of Science” by Jean Henri Fabre, a wonderful storytelling book that celebrates the wonders of God’s creation.

When we finished lunch, it was time for a nature scavenger hunt. The kids took their lists and paper sacks all over the yard looking for rocks, leaves, seeds, insects and flowers, to name a few of the items. We were able to find everything on our lists except for a feather, and clover (which seems to have only been around in the spring).

It was a very hot day, but there was a strong breeze and nice shady trees overhead that made it bearable to be outside. Eventually, though, we were ready to head back into the air conditioning to cool off.

My next plan didn’t turn out so well. We piled into the van and drove about a half an hour to visit a natural science museum. We were looking forward to exploring the indoor exhibits and to walking on the nature trails. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the only discovery we made was that the museum was closed for the day. Oh well, next time I’ll remember to check the schedule before I burn up my gas! We got back in the car and started for home again – with a stop by Sonic for slushes to make the trip not a total waste!

The extra time when we got home turned out to be a good thing, because we had more time to work on our nature craft. Everyone sketched something on a small sheet of paper that they had seen in the yard that day. Then we painted wooden picture frames to put our sketches in.

We enjoyed a trail mix snack while we worked on our craft –

A few of their sketches, which they decided needed paint as well –

No, we did not see a volcano in the yard! That last one isn’t a volcano, but rather a picture of an Autumn tree – and no, we did not see an Autumn tree in the yard on this Summer day! We did see the tree, however, and this particular child decided that she preferred to paint it in Fall colors. 🙂

A few more colorful frames –

Jeff grilled out some Teriyaki chicken tenders for dinner, which we ate with brown rice and grilled zucchini and onions from the garden. For dessert, I made these yummy “Dirt Cups” to go with our nature theme. They were a huge success!

Nature day turned out to be a great day, although I was dissappointed that we had to miss the nature museum. We will make plans to go another day – when we know it will be open! – sometime soon. I’ll post the recipe for the dirt cups as soon as I can – super simple and fun!

Have a wonderful day!

Blessings,
Nancy

Pigs in a Blanket

Here is a great idea for a fun summer meal. I have been making these for years – I’m not sure where I got my original recipe, maybe an ad in a magazine, but I’ve noticed that they sometimes have a recipe for these “Pigs” on the Crescent Roll package these days. It’s basically a hot dog stuffed with mustard and cheese, wrapped in a crescent roll, and baked until yummy! You can leave the mustard and/or the cheese out if you like – I made mine minus the mustard for years, because a certain child wouldn’t touch them otherwise (you know who you are), but am back to adding the mustard now, as that child isn’t living and dining at home anymore and is free to make his pigs anyway he wants to.

Here are the ingredients I use ~

I usually have beef hot dogs on hand, so I’m wondering if maybe I should change the name to “Cows in a Blanket” around our house?? If you buy the normal size hot dogs, you will need one tube of crescent rolls per package, but if you buy the bun-length dogs like I have in the picture, you can cut them in half, use two tubes of crescents and have double the pigs for not double the money!

The first thing you want to do is slit the hot dogs lengthwise, so that your cheese will have a pocket to fit into. Don’t cut all the way to the bottom side of the dogs! Just make a nice pocket –

Squirt a small dollop of mustard into the middle of each pocket, then use a knife to spread it along the inside length of the dog. Cut or tear your cheese slices into fourths (4 long strips) and insert one or two into each hot dog ~

At this point, if you’re using the long hot dogs, go ahead and cut them in half ~

Wrap each piggie in a crescent roll blanket – one crescent triangle per dog…or pig…or cow (this is getting to be a regular zoo!) ~

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until rolls are cooked and golden. You can brush them with egg white before baking for a shiny surface, or brush them with melted butter after baking for buttery shine – or you can leave them alone and just enjoy them plain like we did! I’m thinking that one could get really creative with this recipe and add all kinds of items – relish, onions, or maybe try it with barbecue sauce instead of the mustard. I may have to try that one next time. Enjoy!

Blessings,
Nancy

Our MarioKart Tournament

Yesterday we held our first Summer Theme Day – a MarioKart tournament. Our MarioKart game is played on the Wii system with nifty little steering wheels that hold the Wii controllers. When you turn the steering wheel, your car turns on the screen – lots of fun!

In this game you can pick from a wide variety of Mario characters and their respective vehicles to be your racer. There are also lots of fun race tracks to choose from for each race with names like “Moo Moo Meadows” and “Mushroom Gorge”, just to name two. The game has many different options for races from single races and racers to tournaments with multi-players and multi-races.

We had seven people playing in our tournament for the day – Mom, Laura, Tommy, Sarah, Michael, Anna, and David. Dad was working from home – and was certainly not being distracted at all, certainly not! I made up a schedule ahead of time for the day which included 3 blocks of racing, with breaks for meals and snacks, and then the Finals round to determine our champion.

We raced two at a time according to the pre-planned schedule. Each person would race each other person at some point in the day. We set the game for tournament mode, meaning that each racing duo would race 2 races in a row, with each mini-tournament resulting in a winner, which was recorded on the charts next to the racers’ names. We also recorded the points earned by each racer (determined by the game), because the determination of the top two racers, who would face each other in the final round, was based on total points accumulated throughout the day. Each racer was scheduled for 2 mini-tournaments per block, for a total of 6 mini-tournaments each for the day.

We started out the first block with the game set for 4 race mini-tournaments, but soon realized that it was taking too long to play it that way, and would seriously throw us off schedule for the day, so we switched it to 2 race mini-tournaments. We cut our point scores in half for those first races to make it fair – hence the crazy markings on the above chart!

Is this all as clear as mud? Well, anyway, we had lots of fun, screaming and laughing, as we raced each other, dodging obstacles, falling off the track, and shooting mushrooms and bananas at each other. These pictures look way calmer than we actually were!

Because we adjusted our mini-tournaments to 2 races each, we ended up actually finishing earlier than planned, so we decided to hold the Finals before dinner. Tommy and Michael were our top two racers and advanced to the final round. Here they are racing on “Rainbow Road” –

To win the championship a racer had to win 2 out of 3 mini-tournaments consisting of 2 races each. And the winner of our MarioKart Tournament Day was Tommy, with Michael coming in second, and Anna placing third. They were awarded medals, candy bars, and Tommy also received a Mario keychain, which is now proudly hanging on his skate bag.

After the finals were over, we all went outdoors for a cool, refreshing swim – car racing is hard work, you know. We followed our swim up with a dinner of Spaghetti and “Mario” Meatballs, salad, and a specially decorated chocolate cake for dessert.

David has already been asking when the next MarioKart Tournament will be, so I think it was a success! Next week’s theme day will be Nature Day – probably will be a bit calmer and quieter than our racing fun!

Blessings,
Nancy