Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tip for Drinking More Water

Homemade chicken noodles soup...and water!
I struggle with drinking enough water each day. When I don't drink enough I feel sluggish and dizzy, but yet I still don't drink! Two tips I've discovered to help keep me on track are drinking first and hot sauce.
First, I try to drink a nice tall glass of water first thing in the morning before having anything else. It usually goes down quite easily in just a few gulps.
Second, I put hot sauce on some things. Here you see my lunch: some yummy homemade chicken noodle soup with several drops of hot sauce and water to calm down the heat in my mouth! Yum!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What Homeschooling Looks Like... Today


Girls enjoying homeschooling at the kitchen table

I am loving the flexibility that comes with homeschooling. The day I took this photo we started out the day with a special breakfast at Dunkin Donuts. After schooling for a bit, the girls finished the day with a trip to an amusement park with their grandparents! You see the two year old is eagerly doing school right along with her big sister.

Right now both are practicing handwriting while singing the ABCs. Special requests for today: more about animals from the little one and more science experiments from the big one. I'm sure we can accommodate this. I'm also enjoying less rushed mornings and the wonderful morning chore routine the older one has mastered.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Adventures in Cumberland Falls and Corbin, Kentucky! Moonbow!

Its been my husband's dream for years to see a moonbow.  Apparently, the only places you can see a moonbow (defined as a rainbow in the light of the moon) are Cumberland Falls near Corbin, Kentucky and Victoria Falls near the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.  We chose Kentucky.  Its much closer than Africa. You have to view it within 2 days of a full moon.

We arrived to Corbin about 6pm, quickly checked in to our hotel (a Hampton Inn...yummy free cookies) and then started the drive into the park.  We weren't sure how accessable the falls were.  The answer is: very accessable.  We parked in a spacious parking lot, walked down the sidewalk past the visitor's center and gift shop, and then down the sidewalk to the moonbow viewing location.  Once we got close to the falls, we were able to walk out on a flat (as in grade) but bumpy rock formation to get a better view.  It had a cable fence to keep anyone from venturing too close to the water, but it was just cable. (As in, the toddler stayed in the back carrier the whole time).

The falls during the day

My husband set up the camera and tripod and waited.  The rest of us visited the Visitor Center, which was quite educational.  It had samples of many different native trees and a case with dozens of arrowheads and their approximate time period. Some were even BC! There were displays of native wildlife and descriptions of several endangered native species.

About 10:30 PM (the toddler was fast asleep in the back carrier) it was Moonbow time.  The moon finally reached above the trees and was shining on the spray from the waterfall...and there was a moonbow.  We stayed and snapped photos about 15 minutes.  (By snapping, I mean super long exposure because it was night time).  Also by this time there was quite a crowd.  They were very happy to fill in our spot when we left.

Moonbow photo taken in August 2011 at 10:30pm.

Saturday morning we ate the yummy hotel breakfast and returned to the falls.  My husband had considered white water rafting with the 6-year-old, but later decided she wasn't quite ready for that.  Instead, we chose a Rainbow Mist boat ride.  This was provided by Sheltowee Trace Outfitters who have a pavilion right inside the park. The raft ride takes you right up to the base of the falls...thus the mist.  When we went, the price was $12 for people 13 and up, $10 for kids 6-12, and $7 for kids 5 and under (but over 25 pounds).  We were very fortunate to be the only people on our raft.  This could be because there was a thunderstorm an hour before our ride. Our tour guide was super...but I can't remember his name, just that it had 5 letters and was tattooed on his back.

After the raft ride we headed up to the horse stables on park property.  Here, the 6 year old and I rode our very first horse ride!  She was on a lead.  I was not.  The first 10 minutes or so of the guided ride was very relaxing.  Then, my horse realized I didn't know what I was doing and became as ornery as a toddler.  He kept stopping for snacks and twice tried to go off on his own trail instead of staying with the group.  I tried my best to steer him.  It was still fun, but I learned that horses have quite the personality. Cost was $18 a person.

That evening we went for a quick swim and enjoyed David's Steak House & Buffet.  Everyone was SUPER friendly.  The manager even stopped by our table to chat for several minutes.  The food was good, too.  I discovered I really like corn bread salad.

Sunday morning after church we visited KFC in Corbin.  But it wasn't just any KFC...It was the site of Sanders' Cafe.  This was where Colonel Sanders first sold his fried chicken before going on the road selling his special seasonings nationwide. There was a little museum inside too.  Again, everyone here was SUPER nice.  I remarked about how I'd never seen chicken livers and was curious to try them, but didn't want a whole meal.  So, the employee was kind enough to throw in a couple for free so I could try.  My reaction:  the coating was good... but not a fan of the liver.  Now I can add that to my list of odd foods I've tried (ox tail, fish eyes...etc).

We spent some more time by the pool this day and ordered pizza for dinner (Snappy Tomato Pizza). Then, we got ready to depart in the morning...Next stop, Gatlinburg, Tennessee!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Homeschool Adventures

Today for math class we are lining up cars, dolls, and balls to learn about graphing. The kids are having fun running around to gather things and line them up. When we were done we used the easel paper to draw a graph. Final results: 16 cars, 20 dolls, and 6 balls.

Road Trip!

So, we are in KY...actually, by the time you read this we won't be, but we WERE in KY.  It was a 10 hour drive from our house.  Although we brought some Signing Time DVDs we borrowed from the library (2 @ 25min each), the kids were great at entertaining themselves.  I packed books, a notebook for each of them (currently 20 cents at Walmart), a pack of crayons and some pencils. I also grabbed a coloring book for the toddler, and one of those Color Wonder type kids the older one got for her birthday sometime.  We stopped at 2 visitor centers and a restaurant for lunch.   Just to let you know, you DON'T have to have kids glued to TV for long car rides!

Other activities we played in the car were to create a story and the ABC game.  To create a story, one person starts and then go around the car adding a bit to the story until its over.  Makes for a funny, silly story.  The ABC game can be played one of two ways.  Last year, we played by looking for a letter A, then a letter B, etc.  This year, we looked for an object that started with an a, b, c, d, e...the only letter we "cheated" on was X, and used 'exit' for it.

I packed water, clementine oranges, cheese, and goldfish crackers for the car in case we got hungry in between stops.   We also had "lovies" in reach for when the kids wanted to nap.

Stay tuned for what we did in Kentucky!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Freezer Fast Recipe: Chicken Noodle Soup

Oh, I wish I had taken a picture...but we ate it too fast! Maybe I'll remember next time! Previously I posted how to make your own chicken broth. Recently we needed something quick to make for lunch, and I hadn't menu planned effectively. So, I relied on my fall back freezer stash.  After I had made chicken broth recently, I froze about 10 quarts of it.  I also had some extra cooked chicken breast that I had chopped and frozen and a bag of soup vegetables in the freezer.  In my pantry was a bag of egg noodles.  So, to make our very own chicken noodle soup all I had to do was defrost a few quarts of broth (basically just dumping the frozen chunk into the pot and letting it warm), add the vegetables and chicken, some seasoning like salt, pepper, onion, garlic and parsley, and then the noodles until cooked according to package directions.  All done, and a delicious hearty lunch!

We also like to add a little tobasco sauce...but AFTER we dish out the kids' portions.

In recipe form:

3 or 4 quarts of chicken broth
one bag egg noodles
one bag of soup vegetables (about 2 cups)
one pound of cooked, chopped chicken
1/4 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt (my chicken broth had ZERO salt in it)
1/2 tsp pepper
(I really just eyeball my should do the same and taste it)

Mix broth, chicken, vegetables and spices together.  Once soup is boiling and all ingredients are warm, add the noodles and cook according to package instruction.  Don't overcook the noodles!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Use the library!

Children enjoy reading Sandra Boynton at the library
Previously I posted about saving money on books by borrowing instead of buying those books that will only be read once. (We still have plenty that are read repeatedly!) Another great resource at the library is programs! Despite living in one of the poorest counties in our state, the library still manages to provide numerous play times, story times and even a Lego club! All free! Today we are participating in a baby story time. It's a great opportunity for the kids (and moms) to socialize, and for everyone to foster a love of literature.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Money Saver: Send Yourself Flowers!

I love fresh flowers, but my husband doesn't buy them weekly! In order to keep my vases filled for next to nothing I grow several good cutting flowers on the side of my house. In the spring there are tulips and hyacinths. In the summer I have a butterfly bush, tea rose bush, and gladiolas. Next year I hope to add sunflowers. So beautiful, and practically free!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Get Creative With Food!

I can't take credit for this one!  This was a breakfast my mom made for my daughter during a recent visit.  It also happened to be her birthday (thus the candle).  Sausage eye brows, strawberry and blueberry eyes, banana bread muffin nose, banana lips around bacon teeth.  Yum!  Sure, its got the same nutrition as if the food was simply put on the plate, but this way it solicited giggles from all!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Money Saver: Local Farmers Market

I love our local farmers' market. So many varieties of locally grown fruits and vegetables at super low prices! This day I got 18 ears sweet corn, 1 qt green beans, 1 pt blackberries, 1 qt blueberries, and 18 small cucumbers all for $15.