Big House Too Big?

10 Oct

I never thought I would say this, but we are strongly considering putting our house on the market in the spring. I have been feeling the need to simplify our lives for some time now, and our 2800 sf house just isn’t simple for the four of us. How much space does a family of four need anyway? Don’t get me wrong, I love our house and I love it’s potential! When we purchased our home three years ago, I thought we would be here at least ten years.

A house this big is hard to keep clean without the help of a cleaning service or maid, and that is something we just can’t justify spending money on at this point in our lives. Cleaning our house from top to bottom is a day long process for two adults, which just seems like a ridiculous way to spend our time. A couple weeks ago we were expecting out of town guests on a Saturday evening, so I got up at 6:30am and got to work cleaning. My husband joined me at 8:30am, and together we worked until 5:30pm, only pausing for meals and bathroom breaks (and a softball game for my husband). All this cleaning has me rethinking the idea that “bigger is better”.

Another reason we are considering putting our house on the market, is that we would really like to move to another part of the country. My husband and I were both born here in Texas, and have spent our entire lives here with the exception of our four year stay in California. Despite this, we both hate the heat and humidity that we have to endure June through October. Our oldest doesn’t handle the heat well at all. All four of us also have pretty bad allergies here. We are considering a move to Colorado at the beginning of the summer, once school lets out. We have visited several times over the years, and like the cooler drier weather, the good/healthy food, the overall healthy environment and outdoor activities, and the fact that it is drivable in a day for our family here. We are currently in the research stage though, so we’ll see.

Reason #3 to list our home for sale, is that our current market is booming and if our calculations are right we could make enough profit to pay off my husband’s student loans and be completely debt free. Assuming the government gets their act together, and doesn’t screw up the housing market recovery with their ridiculous shut down of course. We have been looking at comps in our area, and talking with friends who have sold recently, and were surprised at what we could potentially make on our home if we were to sell it. Being able to be completely debt free for the first time in our fourteen year marriage is reason enough I think!

We have some big decisions to make in the near future, and are praying that God will guide us where we should go. Any advice would be welcomed!

School Lunch (9/3)

2 Sep

Today for lunch my girls both get Whole Wheat Skillet Pizza with local pastured ground beef and black olives (left-over from dinner the night before), cubed local organic watermelon, and raw organic cashews.

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School Lunch (8/29)

31 Aug

I am making a concerted effort this year to make lunches for my two school girls that are fun, and offer a variety of nutrients to get them through their day in a healthy way. I am prepping almost everything the night before, which gives me more time to be creative. Both girls, 4th grade and Kindergarten, get the same lunch which keeps things simple for me.

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Today’s lunch included homemade Whole Wheat Waffles served plain (leftover from dinner the night before), an organic unsweetened Apple Sauce cup, raw almonds, and a macaroon.

Independence Day

14 Aug

The fourth of July has come and gone, but I still want to write about how we spent our day. The fourth of July has always been a quintessential part of summer vacation for our family. I have so many memories of July 4th holidays spent with family and friends growing up, and now with my own family and the traditions we love.

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We start our day with the parade our little town puts on…this year was the best we have seen yet. My oldest has even been in the parade a few times with her Girl Scout Troop. Here in Texas it is usually pretty darn HOT in July, but this year we had the best weather…it actually felt nice sitting outside.

After the parade we head home for a nice relaxing day. For dinner, my husband dusts off the grill. This year we went with a healthier version of the typical July 4th fare. Organic Applegate beef hot dogs on the grill, Ezekiel 4:9 whole grain pocket bread, raw sharp cheddar cheese, Garden of Eatin’ organic blue corn chips, locally made salsa, organic fruit salad (bananas, plums, peaches), and Maine Root root beer. What a treat!

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At dusk we load up our lawn chairs, and head down the street to watch the fireworks show that our town puts on. This year was another good July 4th for my family, with many fun memories made, and I am grateful that we have the ability to enjoy celebrating our independence thanks to the brave men and women who fought for our freedom!

What did your family do to celebrate this fourth of July?

Summer Reading Programs

13 Aug

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I had intended to write about summer reading programs at the beginning of summer, but what can I say…time got away from me! ๐Ÿ™‚ In June I read through this post about some of the free programs available this summer, and in the end decided to have my daughters participate in the program that Half Price Books stores were offering.

We kept a daily log (that we printed off the Half Price Books website) of each girl’s reading minutes. The girls had to read a minimum of 300 minutes (or be read to, for the younger kids like my Kindergartener) during the month of June, and again during the month of July. Each month we turned in their reading logs and they received a $5 gift certificate to Half Price Books.

My 8 year old read over twice the required reading minutes, and we read to my 5 year old over 400 minutes each month. My 8 year old was able to purchase three books and two bookmarks with the gift certificates she earned, and my 5 year old purchased two books and two bookmarks.

I think it was a successful program, and we were happy with the outcome! Did your children participate in any summer reading programs this year? What were your favorites?

Home Study Field Trip – July

1 Aug

We recently spent a week in Oklahoma visiting my Grandmother, and I took advantage of the different scenery and planned our home-study field trip for July to take place there. We visited the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, and it turned out to be a fantastic choice for a field trip.

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The Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art โ€” Gilcrease Museum โ€” opened in Tulsa on May 3, 1949. Collector and oilman Thomas Gilcrease (1890-1962) created this private museum.

Gilcrease Museum is one of the country’s best facilities for the preservation and study of American art and history. The museum’s charm, beauty and art collections draw thousands of visitors from around the world to the Osage hills for a glimpse into the past. Gilcrease Museum houses the world’s largest, most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West. The museum also offers an unparalleled collection of Native American art and artifacts, as well as historical manuscripts, documents and maps.

The museum, and gardens and grounds surrounding it, took several hours to go through. We planned a little poorly and arrived at 11:00, and by 2:00 we were about to pass out from hunger (having not eaten since breakfast) and for that reason we went through the last part of the museum very quickly. I wish we had arrived an hour earlier and then we would have had plenty of time to look at everything.

After lunch I had the girls do the worksheets I had printed at home on education.com, and brought with us on our trip. It pays to plan ahead!

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Acton Nature Center 5k

31 Jul

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I am not a runner by any means…it is a struggle for me, and I do not enjoy it. I do enjoy the way I feel after a run though! In September 2011 I ran my first 5k after training all summer (basically a couch to 5k type program). It was HARD, but so exhilarating! I wanted to do it again, and I did…just three weeks later in October.

I have several 5ks under my belt now. I prefer to run in the spring and fall when the weather is better, although I have done a couple in the winter and now one in the summer.

Last fall I co-coached a local group of girls in the Girls on the Run program, in which my oldest participated. At the conclusion of the program we all ran a 5k together, and my daughter has joined me in two other 5ks since then.

This summer we participated in the Acton Nature Center 5k, and she was the youngest runner. This was our first trail run, with hills, and it was a different kind of animal than what I am used to. At some point during the race I twisted my knee and had to walk a lot more than normal for the last half. Despite the challenges we both placed in our gender/age groups!

One of the great things about 5ks is they usually benefit a local, sometimes national, charitable organization. The fees for this particular 5k benefited the Acton Nature Center. So you can feel good about doing something for your health, as well as for a good cause! Win-win. If you’ve never run a 5k, you should…it’s addicting!

Homestudy Field Trip – June

30 Jul

In June I took my girls to the Dallas Arboretum for our home-study field trip, and my mom went with us. I had pre-purchased our tickets through Groupon for a great deal, only $6 per person instead of the regular price of $15. We did have to pay for parking in addition to that, which was $10.

We had never been to the Arboretum, and aside from the summer temperatures it was really nice. I would like to go back in the fall or spring, when we can enjoy the weather more! There was a lot to look at, including a little village where I took this picture, and it took us several hours to get through most of it. Toward the end we were so hot and tired, we just went as fast as we could!

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I brought along worksheets from education.com for the girls to do while we ate lunch.

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Summer Workbooks

20 Jul

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According to The National Summer Learning Association, all young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months, and some students also lose more than two months in reading achievement. For this reason, we continue learning through the summer months!

This summer I have my girls doing several different things to further their education.

My 4th grader is keeping a summer journal, where she writes each day’s activities. She is participating in a girls book club with four of her peers, and they are reading 1 book every two weeks and then meeting to discuss the book. She is also working through a 3rd to 4th grade bridging workbook that covers a variety of topics, and a cursive handwriting workbook. She is reading a book for 8 – 10 year old girls called The Care and Keeping of You, and another book called The Feelings Book.

My Kindergartener is keeping a summer “journal”, where she draws pictures of each day’s activities. She is also working through a PreK to K bridging workbook, and a basic handwriting workbook.

I feel really good about what they are accomplishing this summer, although we most likely will not finish all the books before school starts back. What do you have your kids doing over the summer to help them stay on track with their education? I would love to hear your ideas!

Homemade Popcorn

3 Jul

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We love popcorn, who doesn’t? Even more, I love the fact that popcorn is a whole grain and therefore fits into our whole foods diet! It is super easy to make healthy homemade popcorn, so please don’t ever buy those boxes of chemical and toxin filled popcorn that you find on the grocery store shelf again.

I read this tip on 100 Days of Real Food, and we have been enjoying healthy delicious popcorn ever since! All you need is a bag of organic popcorn kernels, and brown paper “lunch sack” bags. Since roughly 90% of corn in the United States contain GMOs, it is always best to go with organic popcorn kernels. Put 1/4 cup popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag, and fold the top of the bag over 4-5 times. Microwave as you would a store bought bag of popcorn. It takes about 2:00 minutes in my microwave, but the time will vary depending on your microwave so just listen for the popping to slow down. I put my popcorn in a big bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon melted butter (you could use olive oil instead), and sprinkle with salt to taste. So yummy! You could use other spices to create all kinds of flavors; salt and lime juice, salt and pepper, sugar and cinnamon, etc. Enjoy!