Monthly Archives: February 2012

Curriculum Deal…Last Day so Don’t Miss Out!

Curriculum Deal…Last Day so Don’t Miss Out!

Both Courtney and I use My Father’s World curriculum.  You’ll see the banner on our side bar.  We don’t receive any kind of commission from the company.  We just really love their products and believe in their vision and thus, we want to share it with you!  Lucky you!  😉

I’ve only just begun the homeschooling journey…one full year under my belt!  And being new at it all I’ve looked at quite a few options trying to decide what will work best for us.  I always come back to My Father’s World.  I order catalogs and hear what others use, research, and I come back to…yup, you guessed it: My Father’s World.  For now, it’s the best fit in our home. 

What do I like about My Father’s World?  Oh, I’m so glad you asked!  Let me share!

  • It’s a Bible-based curriculum…’nuf said. :) 
  • It’s user-friendly!  It’s all planned out for me and easy to follow, but with a LOT of room for flexibility!  And you know how I like my flexibility!
  • Much of MFW uses a hands-on approach to learning.  Great for my active little guys and gals!
  • It’s family friendly!  For now, I can do the Bible time lessons and activities with all four of my little ones (ages 7, 5, 3, 21mo)! In grades 2-8 we can do the same core lessons all together and break off into age appropriate subjects afterward. That saves me time, energy, and sanity!
  • It uses a Charlotte Mason approach to education which has structure, but it doesn’t dumb it down for kids. It promotes the idea that children should also have some structure-free time to learn and explore God’s creation on their own.  Charlotte Mason was also concerned with the character development in children too, and that is very noticeable in the lessons. 
  • My Father’s World has a strong reading/literature focus and includes a lot of books which you can buy at a cheaper price through MFW or you can check out from your local library using their reading lists.
  • MFW is well-rounded including lessons in art, drawing, and music.
  • It is reasonable priced and very customer-friendly.  For instance: MFW came out with a 2nd edition of their kindergarten teachers manual for next year, but I could trade in my 1st edition manual and buy the newer version at half-price.  They were very helpful, professional, and friendly as I’ve dealt with them via phone and email.  They offer different packages and individual items so it’s easy to customize it to fit your budget.
  • They have a high standards and a global perspective.  The Hazell’s, who founded and developed the curriculum, are Bible translators, educators, and homeschooling parents themselves with impressive credentials AND big hearts. 


Even if you don’t homeschool, they have a lot of educational toys and kits that may be a fun way to be involved with your children’s learning at home.  Any grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends out there that have special kids in your lives?  Check out the website for gift ideas, things like ant farms or magnet sets as well as beloved classics to read.  My Father’s World also has a variety of toddler and preschool toys that are nice to keep little ones busy with a purpose!   

So browse their website (use the link on the right side bar) and see what they’re all about.  If you see anything you like, take advantage of their low $4.95 flat-rate shipping price and their 2011 prices.  THIS IS THE LAST DAY!


Crockpot Oatmeal

Crockpot Oatmeal

Another Crockpot idea!  Crockpot Oatmeal is a favorite in our house…great for early, busy mornings.

And…it is SO easy!

I use regular rolled oats.  I don’t know how it will work with other varieties?

The original directions call for 2 cups oats to 3 and 1/4 cup water…I make my batch a little bigger.

I add 4 cups of oats and 7 cups of water…it is slightly more water than you would usually use.  That is the only modification…using {a little} more water.

Add the water and oats to your lightly greased crockpot and…that’s it!  Turn it on warm when you head to bed, and you’ll wake up to warm oatmeal!

I usually set my bowls out…and my kids love it mixed with cinnamon apples!  Healthy.  Quick.  Clean.


Crockpot {Pinto} Beans

Crockpot {Pinto} Beans

I once tried to make refried beans at home.  It was not pretty.  They were down right gross.  As I explained what I did to Maria, {our co-worker at the restaurant Courtney and I served at} she laughed at me.  “You did what?!?”  She took pity on me, and invited both of us over to show us how to make authentic  beans and Mexican rice.  I will forever be grateful! (And so will my husband!) :)

Now I pass the knowledge on to you!


This big bag was from Costco. If memory serves me right it cost less than $8.  The nice thing about beans is they last a loooooooong time, they’re healthy, and they’re cheap!

Start by filling a teakettle or pot with 6-7 cups of water and bring to a rolling boil.  While you’re waiting, rinse about 2 cups of dry beans.  After rinsing dump them in the crockpot.

 Once the water is boiling, pour it over the beans and cover.  Maria salted the beans at this point, but since I’ve discovered yummy desserts with cooked beans I hold off and add salt just before eating.  Set your crockpot to high and in about 3 hours you’ll have cooked beans!

{2 cups of dry beans and 6 cups of water yielded 5-6 cups of cooked beans for me and a lot of “juice”}

If you want to make Mexican refried beans make sure you don’t drain the beans.  You want some of that juice!

In a large skillet heat oil on medium-high setting.  I use grapeseed oil.  It’s healthy, flavorless, and able to withstand high temps!  And I didn’t measure–SORRY–but just use enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the whole pan.

***WARNING: Now this is where it can be dangerous so clear little ones out of the kitchen!  We’ll add watery stuff to hot oil and it SPLATTERS!  Very carefully add a couple of scoops of cooked beans with some of the bean juice.  I did two cups cooked beans.

Once the spattering stops grab a potato masher and mash!   This is a great time to add salt and spices if you like. Maria just used salt.   I add salt, a little onion powder and a little cumin for really flavorful refried beans.  A little salt really does bring out the flavor.  If they’re not tasting quite like refried beans you get at the Mexican restaurant, add a little more salt and then taste again!  If the beans are too dry, add more bean juice.  If they’re too wet, just keep mashing/stirring and wait.  The liquid will evaporate.  That’s the great thing about this recipe…it’s very adjustable!

This is the consistency I like.  The rest of the cooked beans I didn’t use to make the refried stuff, I put in a baggie {with juice!} and froze.  They’re easy to thaw out and throw into soup, make chili, or more refried beans at a later date!

These refried beans are delicious with salsa and cheese as a meal. My husband also loves when I make a big batch and do a bunch of bean and cheese burritos to freeze.  It’s an easy and delicious lunch for him to take on the road! A side of Mexican rice {stay tuned for a later post!!!!} is a great compliment and a yummy touch to burritos too!

So, there you are: Crockpot Pinto Beans!  I’ve used this same method for black and great northern beans too.  Some bean varieties just take a little longer to cook.    Enjoy!




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Teachable Moments

Teachable Moments

Any of my dear friends that I worked with at camp will recognize this phrase: teachable moments.  Teachable moments are those instant {many times unexpected} opportunities to share truth.  Maybe they come up during a particular struggle with a bunk mate to teach about forgiveness.  Maybe it’s a chance to understand a little better just how big God’s love is as you look out at the vastness of a clear summer sky.  

It takes a little bit of thought, but when you find yourself in a teachable moment with your kids (or someone else’s kids) it can speak volumes with few words! Consider it a living parable. Sometimes it just sneaks up and it’s obvious: “there’s something we can learn here!” Other times those teachable moments are a little more elusive, and need to be sought out.

And I’m not even talking just spiritual truths.  For instance,when I’m out shopping with my early reader, I’m on the look out for words she can sound out on packages that are going in my cart.  She feels helpful and it’s reinforcing what we’re learning in reading time at home.  Teachable moment!  

While helping teach my toddler how to dress himself we talk about the colors on his clothes.  Teachable moment! 

My three-year old knows her letters and sounds. {Many thanks to The Letter Factory DVD!}  She likes to sit on my lap when I’m on the computer and look for letters that she recognizes. Teachable moment!   

I try to do word problems for my first grader throughout the day.  Prepping for meals is an easy time to do that: “I need 8 potatoes but I only have four here, so how many more do I need?”  And yet another teachable moment! 

Words, letters, colors, and addition, all “taught” in everyday life situations!

I try to use the times I screw up with my kids as teachable moments too.  “See, Mommy just lost her temper and wasn’t being patient.  It was wrong of me to yell like that.  I really need to work on my self-control, huh?”  And I ask for forgiveness.  Even watching a movie with the kids we try to point out what the characters are doing, and talk about whether they’re making wise or foolish choices and looking at the consequences of those choices. 

 Now, I know we’re all busy.  I’m not trying to turn everything into a sermon or anything.  You could think of this as learning on the go.  When you feel like you’re just wasting time, such as standing in a line somewhere or driving in the car, look around for a teachable moment.  It might be that moment when something “clicks.”  And there’s nothing better than looking into a child’s eyes and knowing that he/she gets it!


Blooming lilacs were a teachable moment for my daughters!



How can we bring a sweet fragrance to others?

 Be on the look out for teachable moments today!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!


Monday Menu

Monday Menu

What’s cookin’ at your house this week?  Here’s the plan for our week!


Crockpot Oatmeal (Post coming soon)

Oatmeal Squares x 2

Breakfast Burrittos




Homemade Uncrustables

Cheese Quesedillas

Mac and Cheese

Cheese, Crackers, and Yogurt (my kids call this “fun lunch”)

Leftovers x 2



Chicken and Stuffing

Sloppy Joes

Breakfast for Dinner

Taco Bar and Refried Beans (Michelle’s going to post on homemade refried beans tommorrow!)

Pull Apart Pizza

Checkin’ In

Checkin’ In

Being a person who likes variety I often have a few projects in progress at any one time.  I love being able to do things myself, but there’s usually a learning curve.  And you lucky blog-friends get to learn from my mistakes experiments!

Here’s some of my projects:

  • DIY yogurt
  • sewing diaper bags/purses
  • crochet beanies
  • DIY Kindle cover:  first prototype was a flop, I’ll resign myself and use a pattern
  • Homemade wheat bread on a regular basis to replace store-bought
  • DIY lotion
  • Homemade mayo
  • whole wheat desserts with natural sweetners
  • DIY wheat thin-like crackers
  • selling baby stuff (saving up for an electric grain mill!!!)
  • clutter busting the home

Just about every area of the house has a project going on.  It keeps me going.  I have a short attention span, so when I get bored with one project I move to another.  Some are on-going experiments.  Some are a one-time thing.  In general, I’m trying to move us to eating healthier, living lighter, and getting in-touch with my creative side! :)

And checking in with a past project, the DIY facewash I’ve been using for over a month has been working great!  Who woulda thought that a person with large pores and oily skin prone to acne could dry it up with slathering more oil on it?!?!  But it works!  My skin is much less oily, normal in fact!  I still have some acne, but it’s better than it was and my pores are smaller!  I think the trick is to soak the washcloth in the warm-as-you-can-stand-it-water and lay it over your face for a minute after you rubbed the oil mixture in.  Then I gently rub off the excess oil. 

I only use the facewash at night, and it does great at removing my make-up (although I don’t wear waterproof mascara, just the regular stuff).  My face is fine in the morning and ready to go.  Only needing to wash my face once a day saves me time and money…a little really goes a long way!  My skin is better than I can ever remember it.  It’s no longer oily in the day.  My face doesn’t feel tight and raw after washing like some of my harsher cleansers have left it.  And if I need a little moisture, I use a tiny bit of coconut oil.  This project was definitely worth the $2.75 I spent on it!  I’m no medical professional, but this works great for me!


Oil-based Facewash! Only 2 ingredients!


**Note: I found my castor oil at Walmart in the pharmacy section on the bottom shelf under all the other laxatives.  😀    I also saw it at a local health food coop but it was more expensive there.  The cheap stuff works fine, just so ya know! 

How about you?  Any projects you’re working on?  Anything you’d like to see here on A Lighter Journey?  Let us know if you have any ideas!  We love a good project!



The Bonus of Perseverance

The Bonus of Perseverance

Did you ever notice that if you start making progress in one area of your life it seems to affect other areas?  Sometimes the effect is progress in a new area.  Bonus! :)   Sometimes the effect is neglect in a different arena because so much energy is being spent elsewhere.  Bummer! :(

For example:  cleaning.  I start making in progress in one room.  Meanwhile, as my attention is focused “elsewhere”, my kids are tearing apart a different room! That’s the bummer part.   However, as I grow in becoming more disciplined in organizing our home, the self-control spills over in to my eating habits, schedule, and such.  Bonus!!! 😀

But self-discipline is HARD!   It’s easy for me to become discouraged when I’m not making progress in keeping my home tidy.  I’m trying!  Really, I am.  And then I look around at the new messes that were created while I washed dishes. Grrrrrrr! It makes me wonder why I even try!  I am not seeing the bonus at this point.

But this morning I remembered something.  See, I’m studying James with some other moms in the area, and the book opens up  with some verses that bring me hope:

  • “Consider it pure joy, my brothers {sisters} whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he {she} should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given.”  James 1:2-5

Maybe keeping up on dishes is not a “trial” for you.  It is for me.  It’s not the persecution the early church that originally received this letter was facing.  But it is most definitely a “testing of [MY] faith.”  And sometimes the fight does not seem worth it as I look at where I seem to be losing ground (ie: the growing laundry pile or toy-strewn living room).  But the scrubbing of pots and pans isn’t effort in vain!  It’s producing that perseverance stuff!  It’s growing me. 

So I keep trying.  (And I fail.) But I keep trying.  I guess that’s called perSEVERance: it feels severe at times!  I’m not to that point of being “mature and complete.”  I don’t think I will be until God calls me to my forever home.  But it’s nice to know I’m closer than I was.  And I ask for His wisdom in knowing the best way to fight this battle, face my trials.  It’s even nicer to know God will give it generously! And I’m not alone!

My trial, my joy…depends on how ya look at it!

How about you? What’s your trial/joy? 






A Legacy of Love…My Great-Grandmother

A Legacy of Love…My Great-Grandmother

My great-grandmother passed away early this week at the age of 92.  While I am saddened to the core that I won’t get to talk to her, or listen to her funny stories anymore…I am mostly honored to have been a part of her life.  An amazing, impressive life, full of love and family.

She had three children, 12 grandchildren, 47 great-grandchildren, and 5 great-great-grandchildren.  What an impressive legacy for one woman to leave behind!   She left behind a beautiful family, full of life and love.  That is a legacy.  It is a legacy that transcends death. It is a legacy of love.  Because of this she will be remembered always.

I can only hope to have a life so full of love!  To leave a legacy such as she.

Before she passed, she gave me a beautiful set of brushes and a mirror that I had always admired in her home as a little girl.  Taped to the back, on a little piece of white paper, in her beautiful handwriting, she wrote…

“The mirror, comb, and brush on this dresser was given to me from Ariel (her husband) for Christmas in 1937.  We were married in 1939, Sept. 1”

I now keep these on my dresser, and am, and always will be reminded of her when I see them.  Reminded of the love with which they were given to her from her husband to be so long ago…and how that love grew…creating a family.  A family that is now her legacy.  A beautiful, perfect legacy.

Thank you (great) Grandma, for all you have given us!

Garlic Rosemary Baked Fries

Garlic Rosemary Baked Fries

This is my husbands favorite thing to make on Sunday nights, and I love it because he’s the one cooking!  He was inspired by SmashBurger.

Garlic Rosemary Baked Fries

  • Potatoes (as many as it takes to feed your family, we do one for each person)
  • Garlic Salt
  • Rosemary
  • Olive Oil

Cut your potatoes into fry sized pieces, our’s usually look like steak fries.

Put into a big bowl and drizzle with olive oil and add the garlic and rosemary…I have a Rachel Ray attitude towards measuring…a couple of pieces of garlic salt, and a handful of rosemary.   Toss it around until everything is covered!

Cover a cookie sheet with tinfoil…we think the tinfoil is key to them being crispy!

Bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.  Flip them with tongs about halfway through!


We serve them with fry sauce…because it’s delish!

Fry Sauce

  • ketchup
  • mayo
  • pickles

Add equal parts ketchup and mayo ( or whatever ratio you prefer) and mix.  Chop up a pickle into tiny pieces and mix in.  We also add and tiny dollop of pickle juice (crazy?).

Pile Therapy Continues (Part 4)

Pile Therapy Continues (Part 4)

Catch up with Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of my Pile Therapy journey.

Well, I did it.  I did it just this morning (I told you I’m a procrastinator!), but it’s done.  And honestly, if it weren’t for this little blog I probably wouldn’t have accomplished the task.  It’s amazing what a little accountability will do when all other motivation is lost!

These piles weren’t that big, but being mostly papers it took a while to go through things and find the right place for it all.  However, I think it took longer to wipe all the fingerprints and smudges off my computer screen than it did to file away papers! 




 Now there’s two less piles in my home!  And I’m pretty sure that the dining room ledge and this computer desk are the only clean surfaces in the place.  {Sigh}.  Looks like we’ll be having a family cleaning session after school time today! (Don’t tell my kids yet!!!!)

I’m sure these aren’t the most exciting posts, but I appreciate the accountability, folks!  How about you?  What are you going to accomplish today? Online Phonics Reading Program

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