Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Scripture Memory System

It has taken us a few years to develop a good system for scripture memory that works for our family. This is basically how we do it:

Passages of scripture are chosen from the weekly memory work in our curriculum, from something going on at church like VBS or a particular scripture challenge or Dad will choose some passage of scripture related to a character trait or other area that our family needs to work on.

The scripture is written on an index card and on the white board in the school room. While we are at the breakfast table, we talk our way through the verse or verses so the children understand the meaning and how it is applied to our life. We recite the scripture together a few times as a family. Then the index card is placed behind the "Daily" tab in our scripture memory box.

Our scripture memory box has 40 tabs in it labeled as follows:
One for each day of the week (Monday - Saturday)
One for each day of the month (1-31)

Each day we review 4 scriptures; the daily verse, even or odd depending on the date, day of the week verse and the day of the month verse. As verses become more familiar they are moved to a less frequent location. This idea came from the folks at Simply Charlotte Mason.

After we recite the new scripture together, we make up hand motions for some of the words. We also use voice inflection and develop a rhythmical pattern for the words. Putting this all together creates a multi-sensory approach for the little ones. They may not completely understand the meaning but the words are sticking in their little minds.

The older children will use the verse on the board for copywork during school time.

We will review verses again during our lunch time and at dinner before our family worship time. Sometimes we will review while we are driving if our day requires us to be out of the house more than usual.

This is what works for us now. What ideas do you have for scripture memory with a larger family?

Weekly Scripture Memory

Our weekly verse is:

I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me. John 10:14

Check back later today for our scripture memory system, the ideas we incorporate and how it works for everyone in our home from Mom and Dad to the Littles.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recipe of the Week ~ Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

This is one of our favorite recipes. They are healthy, full of protein and easy to pop out of the freezer and into a lunch bag. The directions say to warm the wraps in a microwave but we enjoy them cool. If you put one in a lunch bag in the morning, it is completely thawed and ready to eat by lunch. We also add some taco seasoning to the mix to spice them up. Enjoy!

• 2 cups uncooked brown rice
• 4 cups water
• 4 (15 ounce) cans black beans
• 2 (15.5 ounce) cans pinto beans
• 1 (10 ounce) can whole kernel corn
• 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
• 16 (10 inch) whole wheat tortillas
• 1 pound shredded pepperjack cheese
1. Combine rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, and cool.
2. Place black beans and pinto beans into a colander or strainer, and rinse. Add corn and diced tomatoes with green chilies, and toss to mix. Transfer to a large bowl, and mix in rice and cheese.
3. Divide the mixture evenly among the tortillas, and roll up. Wrap individually in plastic wrap, place into a large freezer bag, and freeze. Reheat as needed in the microwave for lunch or snacks.

Home Keeping Tuesday ~ Menu Planning

Menu planning was never a part of our routine until the last couple of months. Once-a-month-cooking makes it almost too easy to just walk out to the big freezer every morning and pull out a bag or casserole pan of whatever sounds good at the moment. Once-a-month-shopping, however, necessitates a menu plan to cover all of the extra side items for dinners and little things that we make a quick trip to the store to pick up.

Until now, I have done weekly menu plans more for the sake of preserving my own sanity. A mom can only answer the “what are we having for _____” question so many times in a day. Plus, I discovered that a simple plan posted on the fridge takes the think work out of the day’s meals.

I am by no means an expert menu planner but here is what we are doing now in preparation for our big OAMS trip coming up in two weeks.

1. Keep a list hanging on the refrigerator or in another easy place to note items as you run out of them.

2. Inventory the items (with amounts) that you still have in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer.

3. Begin working your way backward from a simple menu plan. I like to use the weekly menu plan form from Money Saving Mom. Looking at the plan a week at a time makes it seem less overwhelming. Be sure to list everything you need for each meal in your menu plan including condiments, beverages and specific fruits and veggies.

4. Transfer items from the menu to a grocery list. I have a couple of drafts of this list. The first is messy with lots of tally marks as I add to the number of each item I need. The second is neat enough that I can actually read it in the grocery store.

Additional tips:

*Some moms keep a list of the family’s favorite or most common meals in their home management binder and fill in the menu plan with those meals and leave spaces for new recipes to try. (I’m still working on this one.)

*Plan even those meals that you don’t think you need to plan. This will eliminate the extra trips to the store and take the guess work out of the day.

*Plan your menu based on using as much as possible of what you already have in inventory to save money.

*Save your menu plan to reuse again for the weeks or months that you just don’t have time to plan.

Share your great menu planning ideas in the comments!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Monday's Homeschooling Helps ~ Turn off the Phone

Several months ago I called a fellow homeschooler in the middle of the day. I was surprised when I got her voicemail and the message politely informed me that if I was calling between the hours of 10am and 2pm I would need to leave a message because the family was busy homeschooling. I admit, I was taken aback.

There have been many days that I have complained that I could not get anything done because the phone is constantly ringing, but it never occurred to me to simply turn the phone off. Why do we think that just because we pay to have a telephone that we must keep it on at all times? I think I feel empowered in some way. I can turn off the phone!

Not only will this help us in minimizing distractions to our school day but it will also allow my husband, who works 3rd shift, to rest better. I think this will be a grand plan all the way around.

In fact, there may be plenty of other times that families may benefit from eliminating the distraction of the phone ringing such as dinner time, family worship or devotions, nap time for littles and special times of fellowship with company.

What about emergencies, you might say? Keep your cell phone on you. Most folks today not only have a home phone but a cell phone as well. Anyone would would need you in case of an emergency is likely to have your cell phone. You can include in your home phone message that you can be reached via text on you cell phone during school hours.

Here is my plan: Today is our first official day of school for the new year. In preparation I have changed our home phone message to say that anyone calling between the hours of 8am and 2pm will need to leave a message that we will return after schooling hours. The message will also say that anyone needing us in case of an emergency should text my cell phone.

Let's see how this goes!

Weekly Catechism

Memorizing a weekly catechism is a relatively new activity for our family. Honestly, I didn't even know what the word "catechism" meant until about a year ago when I was sitting in a workshop at a homeschool conference listening to one family's plan and process for home discipleship of their children.

I later realized that there was a weekly catechism included in my homeschool planner. With the information so easily available, we began our memorization journey together as a family a few months ago. Memorizing the weekly catechism has been such a blessing in our home that I thought I would share them with you weekly. Here is what we are working on this week:

Q. How is the sabbath to be sanctified?

A. The sabbath is to be sanctified as a holy day of resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God's worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

Discussion Points with Children
1. What is the Sabbath (If not previously covered or a refresher)?
2. Define sanctified.
3. What is rest?
4. What can be considered worship?
5. What are works of necessity and mercy?

Weekly Menu

The goal of this week’s menu is to clean out the pantry, freezer and refrigerator in preparation for our once-a-month cooking (OAMC) on September 9th and once a month shopping (OAMS) on September 14th. This is the first week that we return to our homeschool co-op on Friday and we are working concessions for a college football game on Saturday to raise money for missions. I took those plans into consideration, took inventory of what we still have in the house and came up with the menu and grocery list based on those items. Here is what is on the menu this week:

Breakfast: Make Ahead French Toast (Recipe from the Raising Olives Blog here.)
Lunch: Burritos and Quesadillas, Fruit, Yogurt
Dinner: Mexican Chicken w/ Rice and veggies
Snacks: Fruit/Yogurt/Homemade Granola/Homemade Granola Bars

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jelly on Homemade Tortillas
Dinner: Black Bean Soup w/ Cornbread
Snacks: Fruit/Yogurt/Homemade Granola/Homemade Granola Bars

Breakfast: Mini Banana Muffins/Yogurt
Lunch: Chicken Tenders/Veggies
Dinner: Waffles w/ syrup
Snacks: Fruit/Yogurt/Homemade Granola/Homemade Granola Bars

Breakfast: Waffles w/ syrup
Lunch: Make Ahead Black Mexican Black Bean Dip w/ Tortillas
Dinner: White Chicken Chili w/ Mexican Cornbread
Snacks: Fruit/Yogurt/Homemade Granola/Homemade Granola Bars

Breakfast: Granola Bars/Yogurt
Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jelly Wraps/Applesauce/Veggie Sticks
Dinner: Teriyaki Chicken w/ fried Rice and Veggies
Snacks: Banana Muffins/ Fruit Leather/Peanut Butter Cookies

Breakfast: Oatmeal/Yogurt/Fruit
Dinner: The majority of this day will be spent working concessions for a missions fund raiser.

Breakfast: Yogurt/Fruit
Lunch: Veggie Soup/ cornbread
Dinner: Leftovers

Many of the recipes for our homemade items will soon be included under the "On the Table" section above.

I print out our weekly menu and post it on the refigerator on Sunday afternoons. This eliminates the constant "what are we having for ______?" questions and also reminds me of what I need to thaw, put in the crockpot or prep for the next day.

Check back on Tuesday for more of the how and why of menu planning!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Worship Wednesday

This is the easiest post for me to write this week. Being here at the beach and waking up to the sounds of the ocean reminds me of how great our God is.

I saw a blog post yesterday that simply said, "What ever it costs you, Exalt Christ!" As I looked out at the sun setting on the ocean, the waves moving in perfect rhythm and the surf breaking on the beach in a chorus of glory to the creator, He was exalted.

Exalt means to lift up or elevate in position, to glorify or praise. I wondered what about my life exalted my Lord. What in the way that I live each day declares that He alone is God?

Whatever it costs us today, Exhalt Him!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Esther Experience

I am so excited to be attending the Esther Experience Retreat scheduled for October 7-9th. There is a small group of ladies from our church going and I am thrilled to get to spend some time with them. Thanks so much to Kristy M. for setting this up! I am also super excited that I will get to spend some much desired quality time with my bestie, Brandi, and some much needed quality time focusing on my Savior.

If you have never attended an Esther Experience event before, let me assure you that you will be blessed!

There is still time to register for the retreat in October. You can do so by visiting the Living Vessels website here.

Patricia Wade is a blessed and gifted speaker with a beautiful heart for God. This is quite obvious in the way her inspired event ministers to women. Read her complete profile via the link below.

I hope to have my twitter feed, facebook and blog all linked up by the time we head out to the retreat. Brandi and I will check in regularly!

Be sure to comment to let me know if you are attending so we can meet up!

Beautiful Girlhood

I am so excited to begin the Beautiful Girlhood study with my oldest daughter; better late than never.

If you are looking for a wonderfully meaningful way to spend some quality time building character with your daughter, this is it! I purchased Beautiful Girlhood and the Beautiful Girlhood Companion Guide from Pumpkinseed Press at the Cincinatti Homeschool Convention in April of this year and have been waiting for just the right time to begin the study with my daughter. That is why we were thrilled to hear that the B'twixt & B'tween Blog will be hosting a 9 week study through the materials with a posting relevant to each chapter and its corresponding guide chapter.

For Abby and I, our study time will be Saturday afternoon tea time. We have been shopping the thrift stores for weeks to find just the right tea pot and tea cups for our special time together. Girls need special time with mom, especially in large families where individual time is hard to come by.

Our Tea Time outline will serve as my Saturday postings for a while. I'll be sure to include our craft projects, discussion activities and menus so that you can follow along with us.

To purchase Beautiful Girlhood materials, tea party supplies and more visit the Pumpkinseed Press site here.

***Due to the recent chaos in our home, we are beginning this study a few weeks behind so, don't be afraid to jump in and follow along with us!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Frugal Friday ~ Steps 1 & 2 of Once a Month Shopping

Here we go! The once-a-month-shopping adventure begins. Sometimes I still can't believe we are trying this.

Step One should definitely be discussing the idea of only going into department and grocery stores on one day a month with your spouse. If your husband is not on board, it will never work because he will either (a) go to the store anyway and spend more money than budgeted or (b) he will be very grouchy when he does not get all of his needs on the list and you are not making the weekly or daily runs to the market.

This went fairly well for me. My husband is usually on board for anything that will save us money and he is always ready for something new and exciting. Personally, I think the thought of a complete months worth of groceries stacked in the back of our van was enough to win him over :) He will be blogging about his own frugal adventure in Healthy Home Fitness here.

Step Two is research. First you need a general list of the things you will be purchasing. We generated this list from the grocery list that was already hanging on our fridge and taking a complete inventory of our fridge, freezer, pantry, bathroom, and storage room. I also downloaded a couple of master grocery lists to help remind me of things that I might forget. I found the most useful ones here and here.

We have also begun Step Three which is price scouting. More on that next week.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 2011 ~ 30 Day Focus ~ a little late!

Every month in the Langford house we focus on one each of the following:

Fruit of the Spirit
Character Trait/Habit

Some of these are Simply Charlotte Mason inspired and some are items that we have built in as a family. My initial lists of artists, poets and composers came from Simply Charlotte Mason.

In preparation for the month, we check out books from library with examples of art from the artist we are covering. We also review biography of the artist at some point during the month or cover a little each day as time permits.

I include some books of poetry by the poet in our book basket for the month and read some of the poems out loud once or twice a week.

Covering composers is simple. At the beginning of the month, we discuss the composer, his style of music and some that we may be familiar with. We find a CD of his music on Ebay, at McKays or the local library and listen to it as we clean or do independent work.

The hymns come from the book Then Sings My Soul. At the beginning of the month, we read the chapter about the hymn from the book. Then we break down the words of the hymn so the children understand what they are singing about before we sing. We then sing this hymn every night during our family worship time for the month.

We work through the fruits of the spirit list in Galatians almost twice a year but this keeps them fresh in our hearts and minds. At one of our meal times, we ask the children how they demonstrated the particular fruit that day or the day before. Dad and I also share some examples. Then comes the hard part, we talk about ways we could have demonstrated this fruit and we did not. Sometimes we have crafts or activities pertaining to the fruit in our workboxes.

For character traits and habits, we use a couple of sources. I love the book Laying Down the Rails by Sonya Schafer and we use the character trait chart found on the Duggar website. Sometimes we work through the lists systematically and sometimes we see an area that needs focus and skip to that one. For Instruction in Righteousness also is also very helpful in providing appropriate scripture for habits and character traits.

Ideally, this post will come on the first day of each new month listing our focus topics, books we are using and planned activities. Feel free to follow along and comment with any ideas you may have.

Here is the list for August:
Fruit of the Spirit: Meekness
Character Trait/Habit: Regularity (Adhering to a Schedule or Routine)
Composer: Pachabel
Poet:Robert Louis Stevenson
Artist: Vangogh
Hymn: Blessed Assurance

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday's Homeschooling Helps

I really enjoyed this post over at Raising Arrows this morning. Even though we only have four children right now and only three of them are technically "schooling," we still get this same question.

I like to think of our schooling time as very "one-room-schoolhouse" style. Even though the littles may not be ready for some of the more mature history discussions, they are still in the room and part of the story and discussion. They also may not benefit from some of the more advanced math and science concepts but the exposure is wonderful.

My new favorite example of why and how this works happened just a few weeks ago. Our youngest (3) was playing with some Lauri toys recommended in the My Father's World toddler and preschool packs, the two oldest were working independently and I was reviewing flash cards with the Kindergartner. The baby wondered over and started mimicking the Kindergartner as she reviewed her numbers. When we came to the flashcard number 3, he ran back to his Lauri toys, grabbed a foam 3 and returned all smiles and proudly announced "free, I free" pointing to himself.

For this reason and many others, we like having everyone in the same room while we are doing school. If you are schooling multiple grades at the same time, the older children are getting a review of concepts while the younger are learning them. The younger children are getting valuable exposure to new concepts while the older ones are learning. Plus, it just feels like Little House on the Prairie and that makes me smile.

Big Changes!!

Please be patient with us for the next couple of days as we are making major layout, design and content changes to the blog. I hope you will like them!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Adventures in Frugality: Once a Month Shopping

A friend recently told me that, even though she is once-a-month-cooking, she is still spending hundreds of dollars a month at the grocery store. This caused me to do some investigation into the grocery spending in the Langford home.

I was hit in the face with several harsh pieces of reality:

1. My pantry is full of items that are pieces and parts of recipes that were purchased due to poor planning.

2. In reviewing my receipts I noticed that every trip to a store included some sort of impulse purchase.

(We save all of our reciepts in a basket to be reviewed and sorted at the end of the month. Of course, this sometimes piles up and we have a couple of months at a time.)

3. According to Steve and Annette Economides in their book America’s Cheapest Family, 6 of 10 grocery store purchases are unplanned.

4. In the last two weeks, I have darkened the doorway of a grocery store or department store 11 times! That is more than every other day!!

With all of these facts staring me in the face, I decided to take action! After tossing the idea around for a couple of days, I presented it to my husband. I proposed that we challenge ourselves to shop only one day for an entire month. It sounded much more reasonable in my mind than it did when I said it out loud. Now it sounded absolutely crazy but, having verbalized to my husband my preplanned list of pros and cons, I felt in some way committed to the idea.
After talking over some ins and outs for a few minutes we decided to jump off the deep end and give it a try.

For the month of August, we will be blogging all of our prep efforts, plans and lists and countdown to our big shopping day on September 3rd. For the month of September we will be blogging all of the daily issues that pop up, adjustments that need to be made, difficulties and successes as we move toward our next allowed shopping day of October 1st. Our goal is to not set foot in another grocery or department store after that date until the October 1st date. (Even now it sounds insane!)

We will be posting our list of detailed guidelines as we develop them. The ultimate goal of course, is to save money by avoiding the stores, sticking to our budget, planning our meals and eliminating restaurants all together for a month.
You are welcome to jump in on this challenge with us and link up your blog to our regular posts or just read along as we muddle our way through this latest and greatest adventure in frugality!