Last night, we were out. . . living it up. . . at Pizza Hut. . .at my son's baseball pizza party! LOL

He was awarded a medal and recognized for being an all-around player, willing to play whatever position the coaches asked him to. He was so happy and we're proud of him.

Meanwhile, an all-out storm began to rage, with heavy wind, rain, thunder, and lightening. The rain finally eased up, we made it home safely, but quickly realized our beloved Science Tree was damaged.

After school today, we went outside to "survey" the damage before Husband called in the "Tree Man" to have it chopped down. My kids told me this was a "solemn occasion" so we couldn't run outside as usual.  :)

{{Later, my 10 yr. old daughter--in the blue below--went to the piano to play a song to "lament the Science Tree" she said! LOL Who says "lament"? That would be my child! It was sad, but funny at the same time. We all chuckled about that one!}}

The kids (and mama) are pretty upset by this because the Science Tree afforded us the opportunity to observe many of God's critters. We've seen the regular squirrels and chipmunks, red cardinals we lovingly refer to as "Ben", tons of ants, butterflies and other insects, and even a few woodpeckers.

My kids have also seen chipmunks and squirrels sitting in these holes, happily munching on whatever they've found. Over time, the tree was slowly being hollowed out. Also, a few summers ago, the electric company came and heavily trimmed the tree on one side, so that it was now unevenly weighted toward our fence. It was weakened. Husband was going to have it cut down some time ago, but he delayed it, knowing how much we enjoyed it.

So, by week's end, the Science Tree will be a stump. But I wanted to note for the record (and for my kids) how much we enjoyed it!!

So it was our grocery week. We try to do the majority of our grocery shopping once a month. This isn't a "large family" thing for us. It's just something we've always done since we got married. Some of you know from a Facebook post that my baby girl had a cold, couldn't sleep, and woke my husband up, too. Since he couldn't go back to sleep, he decided to go ahead and do our grocery shopping at 4 or 5 in the morning, alone! (Sweet, sweet man!)

Well, I've been trying to make our grocery trips easier. Shopping for 8 is not for the faint of heart. My issue: sitting down each month and writing out a grocery list, taking an inventory of what we need, and making sure it's included in the list. Ugh! But, I know that if I don't write it down, I'll be wandering in the store--I have no time for that sort of thing. And, even when I write the list, I'm still missing something.

I searched through various homemaking blogs and Pinterest and saw tons of grocery list printables, but they just didn't meet my needs. My biggest issues: they didn't have enough lines under each category and the categories were in the wrong "order" according to the way I moved through the store. Plus, I still had to write everything down. I don't have an i-Phone or other cell phone with all the app capabilities (old school here!) so that wasn't an option either. {I did hear that the Anylist app was great if you do use your phone for making grocery lists!}

Type EVERYTHING out. Yep, that's it. Nothing fancy. (No printable either because our stores and eating habits are different!)

I just sat down and literally typed out EVERYTHING that I EVER get on a REGULAR basis, sorted by category, in order the way I move through the store. Then I print it up, and go through my fridge, freezer, and pantry, highlighting the items I need to purchase. I can easily write in quantities next to the items if need be. I shop at Wal-Mart and Aldi, so I can use 2 highlighters to indicate which items I'll be getting from which store. I also left some room at the end to write in any add-on items that aren't a part of our normal shopping, but we may need to pick up. Another benefit: I can price compare. I can quickly note the price of an item at one store and since I'm using one list, I can check the price of that item at the other store. (I'm trying to buy more at Aldi if I get enough quantity at a lower price.)

Over the next couple of months, I'll probably have to add a few things to my master list to make it complete. But, preparing for the store now is SO much simpler. My husband got to have a first go of our new system and it worked well for him. Plus, he brought the list back home so I could use it to go get the rest of our grocery items from Aldi. I really wish I'd done this a lot sooner. I got the idea a long time ago from another homemaker who no longer blogs anymore. What took me so long?!

I hope this tip helps you out. Next "grocery" related item on my to-do list: make a running inventory list on what is in the deep freezer. I want to post it on the outside of the freezer so I'll know exactly what's in there without having to dig in it. Yeah, you should see this barely-over-5-feet woman digging around in a deep freezer! I promise, it's straight comedy!!!

Any grocery shopping tips you'd like to share? What makes your grocery shopping easier and more enjoyable?

Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth
So, this past week was so relaxing.
Like a breath of fresh air. . .

No hard fast rules for times and deadlines. I told my children what the order of our summer days would be. They told me that they thought that was a good idea, and so we flowed with it. It felt great. I'll be tightening up my own homemaking schedule a bit and reworking our chores this summer. But overall, relaxed feels so good!

I think the other thing that helped was that baseball was cancelled this week due to the heat and then the rain. It was a relief to not have to bump dinner up an hour twice this week in order to get to practices. We have one make-up game left (possibly?) and then it will be officially over. I know my son has enjoyed it and all, but this mama is glad to have a break.

Each of the big kids completed a chapter in math, and have enjoyed working through their spelling books. Something I haven't shared yet: my 3 year-old has been learning to read (a very gentle approach). He loves it and asks if we still have school each day. :) The two year old and 1 year old are having a grand time toddling around and rearranging my cabinets and pantry on a regular basis.

He pulled each item out of the pantry, one by one, and lined them up just so, and baby sister joined in.
And in case you're wondering, there were healthier options that he bypassed!!

We started a new read aloud called Ginger Pye. It's still early, but so far, so good. The girls   worked on a craft, while I helped Sonny Boy build a wooden toy.  My MIL signed the kids up to receive a new craft to work on every few weeks, a craft club for girls and a wood-workers one for boys. They are perfect for summer time. *Thanks, Mother!*

We baked banana bread. . . mmmm, so good and gone in a little over a day.

We finally compiled our famous "Summer Bucket List." We haven't done one for a couple of summers, so the kids were excited about it. My sweet children have some pretty fun requests and so we will try to do most of them. Travel to Indiana or South Carolina are looking like slim chances, though. . . . although I'm totally not opposed!!!

We shall see what things we can cross off of this list!

*Thanks to all of you who shared your science curriculum suggestions last week!!!*

Ease of Routine

by on Monday, June 15, 2015
So, this past week was so relaxing. Like a breath of fresh air. . . No hard fast rules for times and deadlines. I told my children what t...

So, we finished out our formal school year. . . YAY!!! We had an impromptu "ceremony" in our hallway upstairs. I gathered the kids and told them all that last Friday was our "official" last day of school. I spoke to each one individually and congratulated them on a specific thing they did well. We all applauded each person. Even the littlest 3 were congratulated. I've never done that before, but the kids loved it, so maybe we'll start something new??
Sonny Boy at his baseball game. He looks good, doesn't he?
 We did not do everything I had planned, but I totally feel like it was a success. We had some really great highs, and a few tough lows, but this is what matters most: I could see God's hand through it all, the story He's writing and weaving into our lives. That is what matters, because what are the highs and lows apart from God? On my highs I'd think they were of my own doing, and in my lows I'd feel great despair. But with Him, I keep my perspective in line knowing that He blesses and He is my hope.

These 2 must be watched at ALL times! LOL
 The kids progressed very well and improvements were seen all around. We enjoyed some great books, fun read-alouds, and some good creative writing. We had some leaps in math that everyone feels good about. History is unfolding and the kids love the way they learn about how things came to be. Science, on the other hand, eh, mmm, well, uhm, we need some prayer for new curriculum in that area. While we completed it, we literally trudged through it. Taking a classical approach to science is just not a good fit for our family in this season of life, so this mama has some things to figure out. Homeschooling mamas: Please feel completely free to leave your suggestions on Science curriculum!!!

My oldest, such a sweetheart!

2nd oldest, such a little lady.
 The start of this week began with an extended family gathering at our house on Sunday afternoon. Together with my husband's siblings and parents, we are trying to be intentional about getting our families together once a month. {Moments like these are when I wish my parents and brother lived close by!!} Anyway, that was a lot of fun and gives me the opportunity to practice hosting/hospitality.

Our kitchen eating area the day following the gathering.
I still need to put the food servers and condiments away.
Husband has to move the table back in the center.
Maybe tomorrow. . .exhaustion is real!
On Monday morning, I met with my homeschool umbrella to review our homeschool year. It was a great meeting, nice and smooth, refreshing with some good advice. Although the meeting itself was fairly laid back, planning for it on the other hand had me pretty busy. . . and that was just for 3 kids. I'm not sure what things will look like when all 6 are school-aged. But, we'll just let the Lord handle the future, since He is way more capable than I am.
These totes are packed with homeschool work/projects for my older three.
I used them to transport their work to my homeschool review.
Found them for $4 each at Dollar General. . . .steal! :)

For the rest of this week, we will begin to implement our summer routine. We will continue with math every day, and add in some alternating combination of History and Language Arts. We have signed up for the summer reading program at the local library and we will work on some type of handiwork: crafts, recipes, wood work (boys) and crochet (girls). The kids' summer schedule will loosely look something like this:
Morning Chores
Bible/Catechism/Scripture Memory
Math + Other Subject
Free Time
Handiwork or Project
Nap/Quiet Time*
Afternoon Chores
Free Time
Family Time
*Older kids are free to continue reading or complete a quiet project independently during nap  time.

Some conversations must be had over the phone! LOL
I am excited about this summer and spending some fun time with my kids. I hope to keep  you all updated about our weekly summer time adventures.

What are your plans for the summer? Do you homeschool year round or do you take a break during the summer?

Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

Breathe, It's Summer Time

by on Monday, June 08, 2015
So, we finished out our formal school year. . . YAY!!! We had an impromptu "ceremony" in our hallway upstairs. I gathered the kids...
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