Friday, April 22, 2011


The Honeysuckle are in full bloom! FRitW and MT don't remember ever trying Honeysuckle, so I grabbed my camera and gave them a quick lesson.

Every child should try Honeysuckle at least once - don't you think?


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Baskets

As of last night, I had given up! I wanted to grow grass in our Easter baskets for the egg hunting this year. I finally got everything together to do so last weekend. (Can you say PROCRASTINATOR?)

We lined the baskets with a trash bag and added potting soil.

The kids covered the soil liberally with grass seed.

We watered and set them in the sun.

Last night I checked them one more time before going to bed and nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not a blade of grass in sight.

“Next year,” I told myself, “Next year, I will remember to plant the grass earlier!”

So this morning, when Kirk checked the baskets, I was surprised at his response. He called me over to look and …

I'll trim off the trash bags before Sunday, and what a lovely nest our eggs will have!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TOS Crew Review: Growing Healthy Homes, Nutrition 101: Choose Life!


For a few years now, our family has attempted to be healthier. We have made many changes in the foods we eat, attempting to eat more local, fresh, whole foods. There seems to be a trend, probably more like a fad, to eat ‘healthier’ and the stores support the trend with multiple products claiming to be healthy, natural, or organic. It has been difficult to find a pathway to good health balanced with less processed foods. So, I was thrilled to be chosen to review Growing Healthy Homes Nutrition 101: Choose Life!

Nutrition 101: Choose Life! is 448 pages of information about how your body works, how it utilizes or rejects the foods we feed ourselves, and recommendations not only for healthy foods, but for ways to introduce them to your family. The book is divided into six units:

  • The Brain and Nervous System 
  • The Digestive System
  • The Respiratory, Olfactory, Auditory, and Visual Systems 
  • The Skeletal and Muscular Systems
  • The Cardiovascular and Immune Systems
  • The Endocrine System and Emotions

Each unit is divided into 4 chapters that explain the body system, how it works, how different foods affect it and why. There is a variety of activities included for each lesson to appeal to older and younger children as well as visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners. We also found recipes throughout the book to help us add the good foods to our diets (delicious, kid-friendly recipes!).

The appendices are a goldmine of information and include a Choose Life! Food Pyramid, information about choosing vegetables and fruits in a store, a breakdown of oils and their properties, and so much more. The Appendices are approximately one third of the book.

Nutrition 101: Choose Life! is exactly what I have been looking for to provide our children with a good basis for healthy eating. I am able to use it with all four of our kids even with their wide range of ages. The information is presented in an easy to read colorful format and there are activities that all of them can participate in. I personally loved the suggestions for encouraging your family (and yourself) to try new foods and was very pleased by the discussions of how and why certain foods affect your body.

A great way to begin incorporating healthier foods are the activities that have the student create a tasty menu that incorporates ‘brain healthy’ or ‘digestive healthy’ foods. For example: Unit One, Chapter Four asks the student to create a complete dinner menu with four times the RDA of thiamin. It must include all of the food groups, include a variety of foods and taste good. Then they are to prepare it for the family. (We haven’t done this one yet, but I look forward to the creativity it will inspire!)

We have already made some changes as a result of this book. We have changed the oils we are using and increased our vegetable intake and I have been inspired to restart my exercise routine. Even the little boys are more aware of why certain foods are a good choice and why others are not.

Click here to view a sample of Growing Healthy Homes Nutrition 101: Choose Life! You will find information about the authors, portions of 3 different units and some of the activities. There is even a recipe included in this sneak peek! Also consider joining the live webinar tomorrow (Thursday, April 21st) at 4-5:30 pm Eastern or 3:00-4:30 pm Central.

Nutrition 101: Choose Life! is available as a physical book for $99.95, on CD for $79.95, or as a combination package of book and CD for $129.95. Growing Healthy Homes has offered a 15% discount to my readers! Just use TOScrew11 to receive your discount.

Other crew members also reviewed Nutrition 101 – click here to read what they have to say about it.
**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Perse Anality Project - March/April

It is time to share my March Perse Anality Project. (Read this post to learn more about Perse Anality) The March project is a larger bag and honestly, the color scheme is not my favorite, but it turned out nicely. Here is the bag from the kit:

I’m in the habit of washing and drying my fabric before sewing and this time I got a bit impatient. Maybe that is because dedicated crafting time doesn’t come easy around here. So, while the kit fabric was washing, I pulled a few pieces out of my stash and stitched this up:

The directions called for a flat strip of fabric (the red on the kit bag) to be sewn into the purse before stitching the pleats, but I wanted something a little more interesting, so I cut the strip twice as long as the pattern suggested and ruffled the strip on my stash bag. On the kit bag, I decided to pleat the strip.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with all of these purses I will be making…


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Abilene, Day Two

Sunday morning dawned windy – this is West Texas after all – and we planned to spend the morning at the Abilene Zoo. The zoo wasn’t open when we arrived, but luckily the park was! All 6 of us played for almost an hour at this park – oh my it was fun! It was designed to be a frontier town complete with bank, jail, and mountain to climb.

Doesn't this look interesting?

This jail was created for escapes!

Another daring escape

This is MT's idea of a 'mean guy face'

Oh no! Dad is taking MT to jail!
And she's in the air!

For years we used Abilene as a good halfway stop between our home and Dad’s parent’s home. We always stopped at this park and played at the playground when it was just a plain old playground. We never went to the zoo, so this was a first for our family. Several of the animals were put up for the winter, but in the water birds exhibit a flock of ducks was visiting. Due to the wind, the nearby pond was too choppy for them to land, but the bird exhibit was sheltered and therefore perfect for a rest!

Between the zoo and the park was this pond. The wind was strong enough that you could feel an occasional spray from the pond while inside the zoo!
The geese are part of the exhibit, everyone else is a visitor - I think... Oh the noise was something else!

A native West Texan, Dad wasn't bothered by the wind on the giraffe walk. The rest of us were getting blown around up there. Usually  you can feed the giraffes from here, but today they were staying low, out of the wind. Isn't the sky beautiful though? 

The curious zebra

We enjoyed the giraffe exhibit with its walk over bridge and the zebras made us feel as though we were on exhibit instead of them. A recently opened native exhibit was active with mountain lions, wild turkeys, and a river otter. The indoor reptile and bird exhibits were well-done and a nice break from the continual buffeting of the wind. The animals in all of the exhibits were active and curious like this lion cub, who ran over to us and climbed up to see if we would play. He was very cute, but I think that my boys might play a little rough for him! ~grin~
Want to play???

On the way home, we took the backroads and took a quick detour through Dinosaur Valley State Park. We have wanted to see this park, but just haven’t found the time, so we stopped to see if it would be something worth coming back to see, and ended up wading the afternoon away. We walked in dinosaur footprints, explored the creek, and made plans to return. Finally we headed home, a bit sandy and tired, but thankful for the family time over the weekend.

FRitW, enjoying the cool creek on this very warm day.

Big Brother, Little Brother

I included this one, just because it's cute.

The little guys

and the bigger ones

3 toed dinosaur print

another 3 toed dinosaur print

and more...

Oh, and yes, I did get my sugar!