Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Collage

I don't have a lot of time these days. Between our intentional learning and the holiday busyness of LoopDeLoop bows and migraines =( I haven't had time to post. I'm hoping this smattering of tidbits will help.

At work, the classroom is learning about acrostic poems. They began by using their names and using words that described their personalities in the poem. Here are some that fit my girls at this stage. (I had to use "Addie" even though we don't call her that- though some people do and we don't mind, because I really needed an E in order to describe her appropriately. You will see...)


C creative, cute, cautious
A attached to her blanket, artist
I inquisitive, insightful
D delightful, doting on little sister
E eager and energetic, emotional
N nap lover


A adorable, adventurous
D "downwalk", darling, duck lover
D DARING, determined
I inventive, incognito (always dressing up or hiding)
E eating....eating....eating

Because she's not nursing so much these days, Daddy has been taking advantage of bedtime snuggles. This night I found them sound asleep in each other's arms. It was too cute not to capture it.

We do not celebrate Halloween, but this year Caiden got to dress up for Cubbie's Fall festival at my parent's church. At first I thought it was a family thing, so I bought fairy wings for Addison at a consignment shop for $3. She didn't get to go after all, but she was too cute in her little fairy costume. Mom convinced me to let them go visit their close neighbors Leigh and Barb so they ended up getting a little candy after all. Aren't they so cute? =)

I am really praying about how to juggle Mama-hood and my growing hair bow business, learning and little kid play time, discipline with the girls and grace, family time and a clean house. Thanks for your love and interest in our family and your patience with my silence these days. =) Hopefully I'll have more time next week! Until then...

Thursday, October 07, 2010


So, I'm slacking. My apologies. Life happened. I should be sleeping now. But instead I am blogging. Go figure. My justification? One less thing on my to-do list will make sleep come easier....whatever, it sounds good. ;)

I will lay out this format differently. I will post according to what we actually DID for the last few weeks instead of our exhaustive list of options. Maybe it will be easier to follow? Let me know.

We have been studying the seasons and specifically Autumn for the last two weeks. Here is how we have done it. Oh, and fyi- we "do school" four days a week because one day a week the girls go and stay with our good friend Jill, so no school for C that day.

Day One:
Bible/ Cubbies
Teach You Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (TYCTR..)
Science: Plant more in the garden, talk about and handle seeds.
Math: Gather acorns, leaves, seeds, etc. Sort by color, size, order by smallest to largest.
Art: Make an autumn wreath with gathered foliage.
Literature: 1. Seasons 2. Have You Seen Trees?

Day Two:
Science: Discuss compost pile, soil, nutrients for plants, etc. Water garden, check for last week's sprouts.
Math: Make zucchini bread. Measure, look at recipe and read amounts. Discuss measurements. Talk about liquid changing to solids, set oven and timer.
Art: Paint 1/2 a tree on folded paper and fold over and discuss symmetry.
Literature: When Autumn Comes, What Happens in Fall?

Day Three:Leaf Day
Bible/ Cubbies
Reading: Bob books
Science: Fall leaf/bark rubbings. Discuss texture.
Math: Leaf classification bar graph. Glue leaves into graph- practice reading it.
Art: Make leaf rubbings into a book.
Literature: Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf; Autumn Leaves; The Little Yellow Leaf
Poetry: The leaves are falling down, the leaves are falling down. Red, yellow, green and brown, The leaves are falling down.

Day Four: Tree Day
Bible: review all memorized Cubbies verses
Science: Another nature walk in the park- gather fall foliage, get some specifically fall veggies at the store- scrutinize with a magnifying glass. Guess at texture, Use vocabulary to describe texture.
Math: practice counting. Match patterns with wooden beads. String the beads for fine motor practice.
Art: Torn paper Autumn leaf tree- paint the trunk, tear small pieces of red, orange, yellow and brown paper for leaves.
Literature: Alphabet Tree; Someday a Tree; Tell me, Tree.
Poetry: Red and yellow, green and brown, Leaves are falling to the ground. We pile them OH SO HIGH, Then we jump in them, my sis and I.

Day Five: Pumpkin Day
Science: weigh and dissect pumpkin. Talk about scent, color, texture, seeds. Cook, roast seeds, talk about how it changed after cooking.
Math: count seeds. Weigh pumpkin before and after de-seeding. Which is heavier?
Art: Pumpkin prints painting fingers
Literature: Pumpkin, Pumpkin; The Pumpkin Book

Day 6: Nuts and Seeds Day
Science: Talk about where seeds come from, being food for birds and humans, Make a pinecone bird feeder. Dissect an acorn.
Math: Roll dice. Match acorns with the dots on the dice. Count. Roll two die- and practice addition.
Art: Prints with acorns and paint.
Literature: From Seed to Plant; The Nature and Science of Seeds; A Seed is Sleepy

Day 7: Apple Day
Science: compare/contrast two different apples (size, color, shape, taste, seed number, stem, leaves, etc) Use a Venn Diagram.
Math- Make baked apples for snack. Make an apple lacing card. Color appropriately, cut out, hole punch.
Art: Apple Tree made with thumb prints.
Literature: The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree; Apples and Pimpkins; Johnny Appleseed; Apples; The Apple Pie Papa Baked.
Apple Hide and Seek- no touching or pointing- must describe using prepositions.

Day 8: Harvest Day
Science: Discuss the life cycle of a vegetable plant- seed to harvest.
Math- Weigh our eggplant harvest. Order by size. Practice counting. Simple addition with garden related word problems.
Art: Make a picture using the harvest/scarecrow stickers.
Literature: Harvest; A Scarecrow's Hat

There were probably other things that we have done that I didn't write in my planner, and that I'm not recalling now. However, I am falling asleep and need to finish preparing for work tomorrow. Thanks for walking this journey with us!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More gifts

I have a full heart today, so I thought I'd share.

285. for our little homeschool co-op group. We meet once a week in someone's home and do group activities. SO fun! This is really the first opportunity Caiden has had to be with children her own age on a consistent basis. She doesn't really have any little friends her own age since Iain (and of course Cory) Brannon moved to GA a while back. (we miss you guys!)

286. What a blessing to watch her make friends, and practice being a sweet friend.

287. Watching her choose to leave her friends to check in on her VERY independent sister. How sweet!

288. The music of Addison running through the house squealing, singing and yelling "FRIENDS"- before the group came to our house today.

289. That my migraine went away during the meeting.

290. For a good friend who has helped us during our diaper fiasco. (All of Caiden's old cloth diapers that Addison has been using have suddenly fallen apart leaving us to very quickly decide what to do for the (hopefully short) remainder of Addison's diapering days.

291. That this weekend was a much needed escape from some difficult happenings at work.

292. For some super fun times learning about our five senses.

293. For my children's amazing Grandparents on both sides. I am a richly blessed woman!

294. For time for the girls to play with their cousins a little more often than "the norm". Such sweetness!

295. For a clean home!

296. For lots of yummy food options in the pantry and freezer for the week ahead.

297. For the day to snuggle Caiden's neck, to breathe in my Addison, to prepare for my work week in peace.

298. On Thursday it looks like we will own our first new items of furniture- a couch, love seat and chair! It probably won't be delivered for a few weeks, but I'm almost giddy I'm so excited!!! Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa McLaughlin!!!!! =D

299. For a lovely day to play at the park

300. I am in awe of my baby- she is so independent and adventurous. She climbed the "big kid" playground today over and over again. She got "stuck" on a big step once, but I was watching as close as she would let me and rescued her. That didn't stop her from trying it again. Gosh, I love that kid!

Okay, children are up from naps, so my blogging time is over. Thanks for sharing in my joy!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Unit Two: Exploring with Our Senses

My constant reminder...Excite, Examine, Expand, Excel! =)

Concepts for this unit:

*Auditory Development:
Environmental sounds, sources of sounds, classify sounds according to theme (animal, instruments, machines, ect).
Repeating sounds/rhythms. Identifying words that rhyme in both initial and final positions.
Come up with our own funny rhymes!

Repeat tapping/rhythms, repeat poems.
Continue with memory verses.

*Visual Discrimination:
Identify and complete missing pieces of a picture.
Talk about Braille.

*Motor and Sensory Development:
Follow oral/auditory directions using prepositions.
Differentiate between hot, warm, cool and cold.
Touch and match what you feel.
Identify moods by facial expressions.

Senses, receptors, sound waves, touch, taste, smell. Opposites:smooth, rough, bumpy, soft, hard, prickly, fluffy, sticky,
slippery, sour, sweet, salty, shiny, dull. Lastly, "explore", "classify", and names for emotions.

Distinguish between more/less, greater/smaller; match equivalent groups by sight- checking “hypothesis” by counting;
Learn to use and read a ruler.
Match shapes with real life objects with the same shape.
Simple addition with and without manipulatives.

Dissect a flower, (touch, see, smell)
Classification: of sounds, smells, tastes, shapes and sizes.

Note: I got these curriculum goals from an old Elementary Grade Curriculum Continuums Notebook- the Sunshine State Standards of homeschooling ages ago. ;)

Do Your Ears Hang Low?
My Five Senses (Where is Thumbkin)
The 5 Senses Song http://www.mrsjonesroom.com/songs/senses.html
Other songs/poems http://www.everythingpreschool.com/themes/fivesenses/songs.htm
Sing a Song of Senses- http://blogs.jocolibrary.org/corinthtoddlertime/2010/04/20/my-5-senses-preschool-storytime/ (half way down the page)

Field Trips:
Musical field trip?? *Beach (touch, smell, taste, hear and see!)
*Art Museum *Leu Gardens- visit with a camera and a magnifying glass

*Duck Duck Goose *What’s in the Sock? *What’s This Scent? *Animal Sounds Guess Who

*Nature Listening Walk *Dance with bells on an anklet *Flashlight tag *Red Light Green Light

*Simon Says *Use a magnifying glass on a nature walk.

*Lacing cards blindfolded *Make a texture book

*Book of “My Favorites” (things to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel)- child illustrated

*Whistle Game *I Spy *Stress relieving massage, managing emotions

*Practice showing emotions, giving language to emotions and role playing how to calm down.

*Torn paper art collage *Make binoculars

*Make colored bubbles *Playdough with pumpkin pie seasoning

*Colored pasta necklace- patterning

*Make instruments (beans, rice, acorns, sticks on a pie plate) and use them!

*Fingerprint art *Paint with Clouds *Shaving Cream art

*Stencils to trace *Texture stencils for rubbings

*Leaf/bark rubbings *Pudding finger paint/snack =)

*Popcorn (before= touch, during=sounds, after-smell
*What’s for snack? (Use a blindfold and guess with your nose!)

Charles Shaw- It Looked Like Spilled Milk
Tana Hoban- Is It Rough, Is It Smooth Is It Shiny?
Paul Showers- Find Out By Touching
Harriet Ziefert- You Can’t Taste a Pickle With Your Ear
Ray Broekel- Your Five Senses
Paul Showers- The Listening Walk
Aliki- My Hands
Margaret Miller- My Five Senses
Tana Hoban- Count and See
Tana Hoban- More, Fewer, Less
Eric Carle- The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Barnyard Dance- good for listening to the rhythm
Aliki- My Five Senses
Learning Ladders- My Body
Find Out by Touching- Paul Showers
Count and See- Tana Hoban
You Can’t Taste A Pickle with Your Ear- Harriet Ziefert
Your Five Senses- Broekel
My Five Senses- Aliki
My Five Senses- Margaret Miller
The Listening Walk- Paul Showers
My Body- Learning Ladders

I'm hurting on the Literature side, but we're reading lots of other books, and I figure we're using our senses to enjoy them, regardless of what topic they cover, so we're okay. =)

I'm also looking for a Discovery Toys representative as I have three school related toys I really want to get the girls for Christmas. I will include them so I don't forget. There's so much on my brain these days, it will likely happen.
1. Playful Patterns
2. Measure Up Balance
3. Giant Pegboard/Geo board

Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day of School!

There are many philosophies of learning. This, I know. However, I needed one I could remember as I made my lesson plans and mapped out where we were going- often as I was doing other things throughout my day. =) You know how it is. Simplicity is important for a Mama like me trying to juggle so many balls at one time. This one fit the bill: Excite, Examine, Expand, Excel.

The theory? Develop excitement for learning about this topic. Create an interest, discuss what they already know, what they want to learn. Use mindmapping, brainstorming, watching a video, making lists, looking at pictures, taking field trips.

So, for our first day of preschool homeschool we took a trip to the Science Center. Nothing like a good field trip to create an interest! They had a room dedicated to transportation (our first unit study on the docket) for pint sized learners. It was great. I love hands on learning! =) Here are some pics of the day. I wish I had gotten some of her doing some table work, but I was the one working with her then, so- no pictures. ;) Even Daddy took the day off to explore with us! Yeah for Daddy!!!

They had wooden miniature models of an airplane, a train, a space shuttle, a train table, small cars to ride in, a race car where you can replace the wheels and "gas up", lots of books, puzzles, and posters.

Here our big school girl is trying her hand at being a pilot. She may be better suited to being Peter Pan...

I have to say, this train was pretty cool. It came complete with a hand crank on the outside replicating the engine that made it sound like it was really rumbling down the track.

Conductor Caiden! All Aboard!

There were all kinds of gears and levers and bells and whistles (literally!) in there. What a cool learning tool!

Addison really loved the train table. She spent most of her time stalking the boy who was hogging the engine. =) Finally he gave her a turn and she said with a huge toothy grin, "so 'cited!" I mean, seriously? I just want to eat her. The whole time I'm coaching her to "wait your turn, be patient, be sweet...but what I really want to say is, "Move over greedy little boy, my little girl is enamored with the train table and she just wants a turn!" =)

Two weeks later, we are almost at the end of our unit study. We have discussed shapes, signs and symbols. We have said rhymes and sung songs. We have read more than 50 books related to transportation, shapes, signs and symbols.We have manipulated shapes to make pictures. We have worked on patterning, ordering by size, sorting by shape and color and means of transport (water, air, road). She has memorized her address, and learned to write her name. We have practiced using our body as a means of transportation and practiced with an obstacle course. We have made traffic sign and signals and used them. She knows when, why and how to dial 911 in the case of emergencies. She is beginning to ask questions and learn how we find the answers about the world around her. She is practicing the things she has learned in her free play time. All of this without much "table time" at all! Just what I was aiming for! This home schooling thing is pretty amazing. It's not going to be easy, but I think we're going to like it.

Tomorrow we will be meeting with a small group of other homeschooling parents whose children are also preschool age for some group learning. We will meet once a week during the morning hours and I will be hosting/leading a group session twice a quarter. We also will be scheduling group field trips we will have the opportunity to take part in as desired. I am excited about this opportunity as she doesn't have much access to friends her own age. (Her "friends" are youth group kids, her sister, her aunts and cousins who we don't see nearly as often as we should.) We're excited! Thanks for sharing in our journey!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


What could be cuter

than a toothy smile

from a little girl

with pigtails for the first time? ....I don't know either! =D

Saturday, July 31, 2010

One Unit Study Down!

So. I have started planning out our calendar for Caiden's schooling next year. Here is what we are doing:
*Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for Reading- also practicing the letters they introduce in sand, rice, on paper, in paint, water and paintbrush on the sidewalk, making words with foam letters in the bathtub, etc.
* Rod and Staff's Bible Curriculum with Coloring book supplemented with our new Preschool Bible.
* Unit Studies for Math, Literature, and Science

The first unit study we will be doing is on transportation. First we will be visiting the Orlando Science Center (and you can bet we'll be asking for memberships to this place for Christmas this year because it's such a great hands-on resource!) in order to create an interest about all things transportation. Their second floor is dedicated to transportation preschool-style: just their size! I can't wait!

Next we'll be visiting the Library and gathering all of our literature resources.

Here's my outline:

Concepts to Introduce:
*Traffic Signs and Shapes
*Transportation vocab: Conductor, Pilot,Captain, caution, R/R crossing, turn signal, address, right lane, left lane, sidewalk,
runway, train tracks, train station, marina, train related vocab, and any vocab from literature.
*Colors related to transportation signs
* Beginning to memorize her address and phone number
*Distance vocab/concepts: means of transportation for various distances.
*Methods of transportation on our own: walk, run, jump, hop, skip, walk backwards (sideways) tip toes, climb, slide, swim, swing.

Lonely Bus Driver 
 One lonely bus driver all alone and blue 
He picked up a passenger and then there were two. 
Two people riding, they stopped by a tree 
 They picked up a passenger, and then there were three. 
Three people riding, they stopped by a store 
 They picked up a passenger, and then there were four.

 Four people riding, happy and alive,  
 They picked up a passenger, and then there were five. 
Five people riding open swung the door 
 Four passengers got off the bus,  
The driver's alone once more.

This is a choo-choo train (bend arm at elbow)
Puffing down the track. (rotate arms in rhythm)
Now it's going forward,
Now it's going back.(push arms in appropriate directions; continue rotating motion)
Now the bell is ringing, (pull bell cord)
Now the whistle blows (make sound)
What a lot of noise it makes Everywhere it goes!(cover ears)

Taking Off - Mary McB.Green
The airplane taxis down the field
And heads into the breeze
It lifts its wheels above the ground
Skims above the trees
It rises high and higher
Away up toward the sun
It’s just a speck against the sky
...and now it’s gone!

Down By the Station...
Down by the station (down by the station)
Early in the morning (early in the morning)
See the little pufferbellies (see the little pufferbellies)
All in a row (all in a row)
See the station master (see the station master)
Turn the little handle (turn the little handle)
Puff, puff, toot, toot (puff, puff, toot, toot)
Off we go! (off we go!)

Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Wheels on the Bus

*Origami boats/ airplanes *Make train, boat, etc with construction paper shapes (pre-cut)
*Large Boxes- paint, decorate to make trains, boats, airplanes, buses, etc.
*Egg Carton bus *Clothes Pin Airplane
*Floating boat

*Red Light, Green Light *Transportation Puzzles
*Block runway/tracks/road *Order trucks from smallest to largest
*Mother May I? (Option #1: crawl, jump, hop, step (front, back,side, big, small), run, skip etc. Option #2: “Mother May I move the bear?”- use prepositions- under, over, in, out, beside, on, off,
*Dot to Dot *Lacing cards- home made or transportation cards from G-Ma
*Bicycling *Sand table with cars
*Obstacle course runway for children: crawl in the tunnel, run, step through a ladder on the ground, jump, climb stairs, slide,
*Sidewalk chalk road with traffic signs: travel by foot, bike, wagon, or skateboard
*Geo Boards- Shapes, then move to boat, bus, train, etc.
*Geometric Shapes -make transportation vehicles
*Sorting vehicles by land, air and water
Worksheets for on-the-go:
*Patterning with pictures of cars/boats *Street Sign Shapes- cut and paste
*Transportation shapes and counting *Vehicles: Color, cut, sort and paste

Crews, Donald- Freight Train; Trucks; School Bus; Flying; Sail Away
Watty and Piper- The Little Engine That Could
Potter, Marian- The Little Red Caboose
Scarry, Richard- Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
Roy, Jennifer Rozines and Gregory Roy- Shapes in Transportation
Lenski, Lois- The Little Train; Davy Goes Places;
Barton, Byron- Airport
Rockwell, Anne- Good Morning Digger; Trucks; Ferryboat Ride
Hillenbrand, Will- Down By the Station
Burton, Virginia Lee- Katy and the Big Snow
Eastman- P.D -Go Dog, Go!

Pear (or peach) boats with pretzel masts and sliced cheese as the mainsail.
Apple trains stuck together with soy or almond butter, banana wheels.
Banana planes with graham cracker wings and raisin windows.

Field trips:
Mount Dora Train Ride
Science Center second floor transportation room
Disney- Monorail, boat, bus
Lake Mary Historical Center model train display
Sanford Marina

So. There you go. The rest of the year is in various stages of development, but I'm having a blast! Thoughts? Additions? Great ideas? Please share! Thanks! =)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More gifts

It's been way too long since I've written a post about all of the gifts we have received. Today I'm especially feeling the need to cultivate a thankful heart. Our AC went out yesterday while the girls napped. It's been an interesting 24 hours. Hopefully it will be resolved before today's nap time!

255. For a typically working AC
256. For when the girls AREN'T screaming at each other - those sweet quiet moments can easily go unnoticed because they don't demand as much attention. And, for the moments I do catch them and make them a bigger deal than the other.
257. That the screaming phase is just that- a phase.
258. That the girls are playing together in Caiden's room- I love to hear them communicate together.
259. For our Library that is SO close
260. That Addison is running around the house with a bell from one of Caiden's games saying "Tinkle bell, tinkle bell" =D
261. For the extra time to read A LOT to the girls (about 25 books a week)
262. For intrinsic relevancy- the reason Caiden decided she wanted to learn to write her name- to write to her pen pal Emma!

263. For my hands on, snuggle bunny, tactile child who needs to be hugged, tickled, wrestled with and held. It's fun for everyone!
264. For two little girls who are enjoying the no AC dress code for Littles: diapers and panties only (perhaps for the first extended time). If I had known they would enjoy it this much maybe I would have let them do this sooner!
265. For Addison saying: "it's okay" as one word.
266. For time during yesterday's nap time to work on a list of unit studies and activities for the Fall. It's a work in progress. We're going to have so much fun!!
267. For the really well written and inspiring books we've found at the Library recently. One of Caiden's favorites was Ox Cart Man. She wanted to learn to sew like the little girl in the story. So, out came the lacing cards. When those are mastered, I have yarn and a plastic needle. The goal? To make Christmas presents this year. Her idea. We'll see. ;)
268. For fun afternoons writing letters in rice, sand, chocolate pudding, red jello-paint, cool whip, and painting with water on the side walk.
269. For Addison learning to count just by hearing her sister: One two, free (me: four) five (me: six) seben, (me: eight) nine, TEN! Just about knocked me over last night- Jeff is my witness!
270. For fun new music that both girls love. Even Addison has learned some of the words in just two days- amazing!
271. When you ask Addison a question and she says, "I dunno". Makes me smile every time.
272.That God is providing resources, connections, ideas, support and like minded moms for our venture into home preschool.
273. That we made it through a week without Daddy and that he had a good mission trip with the youth group.
274. That Jeff is HOME!!
275. For the morning to play in water with buckets, paint brushes, and lots of splashing.
276. For the trees in our back yard, and the breeze that blows through the preserve and over the creek that kept us cool all morning.
277. That we have A/C again!!!! (Thanks to B & L A/C Services!)
278. That it didn't cost as much as we feared!
279. That I have learned to save money couponing- hard work, time consuming, but so worth it!
280. For time to do little things- like blogging.
281. That a beautiful butterfly kept us company this morning in the back yard. It was quite a treat.
282. I spent the morning pretending with Caiden and was thrilled to see her imagination, her vocabulary, and how she really COULD entertain herself with just a stick and water.
283. For Caiden's imaginary eagle friend who apparently moved in with us this afternoon and is named Mary. She is very helpful and "brought us berries while we were in the backyard all morning." =) (We've made a lot of progress in the name department. folks! Until a few weeks ago, all of her made up characters in her stories and her dolls had made-up names that sounded Arabic. =)
284. For the Spanish/English Signing Time videos my Mom bought and am delighted that Addison asked for Agua and signed "water" this morning. Having children that could eventually be trilingual- now THAT would be amazing!

That's all I have time for now. And it was just what the Dr. ordered. My perspective has shifted and I'm feeling a whole lot more cheerful. Thanks for listening! =)

Friday, July 16, 2010


Inspired by a few friends of mine who have been sharing their couponing success with the world on Facebook, I decided to do a little studying myself and figure out how to play this game. I have found a few websites that have really helped along this journey. I will share them with you so you can jump on the bandwagon too. But first...

Here are a few things that have changed the way I shop: sales come around every 4-6 weeks. In between then the items have mini-sales. The best price is to get the biggest sales. For example: Yogurt may go on a 60% off sale, but it may have a 30 or 40% off sale in between. So, when they have the greatest sale: I stock up so i can make it until the next time that sale comes around. What really makes this a good deal is if Publix has a BOGO sale or you can find a coupon in addition to the sale. This week Yoplait Probiotic yogurt was on a BOGO sale and then I had a $0.50 off and $.60 off coupon for those items, so I paid $1.40 for 8 cups of yogurt.

Tip: Notice I said when Publix has a BOGO sale, and you have a coupon- you can use a coupon for BOTH items. That's REAL savings!

Do not have brand loyalty. It's much easier to save money that way. Believe it or not, I can saved a lot more money buying the brand name items vs. store brands- and in some instances the taste difference is REAL. The reason I can save more is because they don't have coupons for the store brands, nor do they go on sale as often.

Okay, here's my routine. On Sunday I go and get a newspaper. Sometimes two if the coupons are good. I check out the store inserts for Publix, CVS, Walmart and Walgreens. Then I look at the coupon and sale match ups. Then I check out a few coupon websites for printable websites: www.coupons.com, www.smartsource.com, www.redplum.com and print out anything I need now, or could possibly use later. There are some websites that help in the sale/coupon match ups. They are www.tipsandtricks.com, www.iheartpublix.com, and www.southernsavers.com.

Then, based on what staples we are out of, and what is on sale, I make my grocery list. Sometimes it's unclear whether sale prices are better than I can find on stores brands at Walmart, so I will to to Walmart first to make sure I can't find anything cheaper.

For example: at CVS this week they had advertised BOGO on 12 rolls of toilet paper making it 24 rolls for $10.49. I happened to have coupons for that brand as well. ($1.50 off total) And some left over CVS extra care bucks. (-$4) making it $5 for 24 rolls of toilet paper!! YAHOO!! =D There really is a trick to working CVS and Walgreens, but that will have to be a different post.

So, this week at Walgreens, Walmart and Publix I paid a total of $85.54 and saved $40.87. That's nothing to sneeze at, but it's not as impressive as some of my friends have pulled off. I'm a work in progress! So, want to join me? Let me know what you have saved!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Princesses Have Left the Building

...But we are hoping and praying that the one that matters will return to us soon!

You know that your Three Year Old is understanding her boundaries when she will willingly explain them to all who will listen: in the grocery store, at the Dr.'s Office, to family, at church....=)

We have been hard core struggling with Caiden's behaviour recently. I know- it's hard to believe. But it's true. It's been AWFUL! We have tried everything we could think of and were unsatisfied with the results. Until...there was finally a brainstorm that resulted in something promising. Until she was able to behave like her beloved princesses, we were going to have to take away everything Princess. Movies, clothing, dress up, books...you name it. (It's almost frightening how many "royal" things we own!) It began with the obvious offenders, and then she willingly started bringing us Princess items. A random Barbie Belle shoe, Jaq, Gus and Suzie mini toys from Cinderella, Barbie Aurora's brush, etc. She was very serious about these miscellaneous Princess items and insisted that they be removed as well. Well...okay. So, we have been Princess free for about six days now and we are seeing glimpses of our old Caiden. Not because she wants to earn them back, but honestly, I think it's because she isn't consumed with eating, breathing, LIVING Princess stuff. I mean, it was getting bad- it was all she would talk about. It was all she was concerned about. It was becoming obsessive. It's almost like she needed to clear her head. I know that sounds dramatic, but I'm telling you folks, I'm dead serious. It was like a 7th grader's obsession with their new cell phone. Sometimes you just need a forced sabbatical.

So, we're using this time to read a LOT of Library books. I went and found about 14 of the newest Caldecott and Newbury Award winners that our Library had and we are enjoying those. I'm trying to expand her horizons past the imaginary world (that had become oh too real!) and into the present. I'm trying to pull her out of her head and listen to all of her ruminations. We're spending more time outside; which works well for Addison since she could live outside 24-7 if I allowed it. But most importantly, we're focusing a lot on character development. You know, actual character traits and a lot of Scripture to back it up. We're talking about the Fruit of the Spirit. And we're doing more "time-ins". We sit down, try and get to the heart posture and why she's making these choices, what she's feeling etc. We look at the ugliness, really look at it- not just scold about it, and talk about it. And then we forgive it.

So, I'm tired. Really, really brain tired. But, I know in my heart that this is something that pays off in the long run. This is what my Father in Heaven does with me. And I'm hoping someday to become more like Him than when I started. And honestly, parenting in the midst of these non-Princess days is what will probably be my most efficient vehicle toward that "becoming". So, we're digging in. We're slowing down. We're taking time. We're committed to doing whatever we need to do to train her up. So, pray for us!

And pray for sweet Addison too, as she isn't sleeping well due to SIX teeth coming in at the same time- four of those being molars. =( ...That also could be why I'm so tired. ;)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I told you she's mischievous! Add innovative to the list too. She's been dragging Caiden's "potty stool" around to reach whatever she wants to get into. Of course I prevent access to this stool as much as possible, but it still happens. I wasn't fast enough to catch the amused, mischievous look on her face, but then, I did run to get the camera instead of getting her safely on the ground which threw her for a loop.

Apparently she gets her pension for creativity from her sister. Look what Caiden did last night!

Who knew that there was such great potential in the rack that the diapers were drying on?! They've been playing in it almost non-stop since last evening. She asked if she could keep it up for "lots of days" and I think I may just let them. The company we're going to have during the next few days will just have to deal with it. =)

Friday, June 25, 2010

First Installment

Can it be? I actually haven't blogged since February?! Well then, I guess I should post some Easter pictures.

We take our family pictures in front of the Resurrection Cross in front of the church every year. The girls choose a flower to add to the collage, and we say, "He is Risen!" and then we take as many pictures as we can. Thanks Dez!!! I have to admit, we are not very photogenic. We never all look cute at the same time. However, this year, they turned out pretty well. I give all the credit to our "photographer". ;)

The reason for my silence in the blog world is two-fold: The last few months of school were tough. And I was really trying to engage with my children who are growing by leaps and bounds every day! Because we have been SO busy, we were REALLY excited about our vacation to Disney with Jeff's entire immediate family over Memorial Day. I love those vacations because the kiddos get to really enjoy each other. And the adults too! ;) Jeff's brother Jay and his wife Kristin have three children: Connor, Landon and Reese. For some reason I don't have pictures on my camera of them all, but I know Mom took some, so hopefully I will be able to snag some from them and add them later. Here are some snapshots of our time together. Sweet time with G-Ma, reading before bedtime...

One night we had dinner at a hotel on property and the girls wore their CUTE little Minnie pillowcase dresses that Dez made for them. I made the bows, of course. I'm going to have to get better pictures of this, but here's one that shows the dress a little.

Here's a peak at Landon and Addison playing together. So sweet!

And one of the cousins meeting Donald Duck- Addison's favorite, but up close he was pretty intimidating as evidenced by the thinly masked fear on her face!

Here are some super duper cute shots of our 16 month old Addison. This child will make you fall in love with her a million times a day. See?

Here's her working her magic with her Daddy! =) She's also our most daring and most mischievious child. In the last week I've found her coloring on our walls twice, experimenting with my lipstick, falling down a few steps of play ground equipment where she impatiently brushed me off and merrily went on her way after I stopped her fall. She will dash away in public pausing only for a second to turn around and happily taunt, "bye-bye!" before dashing off again. She's bundle of energy, "I wan down- walk!" and would happily spend her entire day "uside". She needs a bath every single day because she is ALWAYS dirty. =) She's communicating very well these days. Although her speech is not as clear as Caiden's was at this age, her vocabulary is larger. She regularly speaks in sentences and can communicate her wants and needs most of the time pretty well. She amazes us everyday. Here's a picture of our little Piccasso painting on a more acceptable surface than our walls. ;)
In the next few days I'm going to hunt down an edible paint recipe and let the girls go to town painting on themselves in the bath tub. (Doesn't that just sound like fun? I wonder if they have a chocolate one...)

Here's our other little sunshine.

She is our Lover of Stories. We've taken to visiting our Library once a week to check out a huge stack of books, just to keep Caiden busy. In the car, it's my job to navigate the roads and come up with perfectly engaging stories for her. Thankfully, we now take turns and she makes one up for Addison too. I'm trying to keep a balance of Bible stories, fairy tale stories, fables, and role playing stories about the world around her. By the time we arrive at our destination, I'm already tired! ;)

This summer I am researching preschool curriculums, unit studies, and field trips for the coming year. My goal is to have the next year loosely laid out so that Jeff and I can team teach her this coming year, as I'm still working part time. I don't want to get her too far out in front of the pack for her age group, but at the same time, I'm not going to starve a hungry child! It's a fine balance and I'm trusting the Lord to give me wisdom and discernment as we move forward.

One of my greatest delights is watching my girls love on each other. One of their favorite things to do at the park, is swing together. It's pretty adorable. Here's a pretty poor shot, but it explains what I mean. The next one is a cute one of their friends, Corey and Iain Brannon thinking that that swing technique looked cool enough to try. =)

The girls are up from their naps, and I need to give them my attention. More installments to come! =)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Coming Soon!

Yes, we've been BUSY. Here are a few things you may see coming soon:

New pics and quotes from the girls.
Memorial Day at Disney with our Family
Our trip to TN
Update on Loopdeloop Bow Company (that's me- by the way! =) with possibly some cute pics!
New activities we're growing into
Caiden and Emma
Couponing Report
Thank God for Summer

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


As I was reading Caiden's post to her she threw out her hip, snapped her hand down on it, dusted off her "what were you THINKING" scowl and soundly put me in my place. "Mama- you didn't get it RIGHT. You forgot Big Grandma and Big Grandpa!" (Jeff's Grandparents)

"Yes, small fry, I did. I'm not perfect you know. Your list of loved ones DOES equal the population of some small towns and did I mention, I'm not perfect? In fact, you can just re-align your hips now please because if you keep throwing it out that far, by the time you're 13 you're going to look mighty silly. And while you're at it, you can stop looking at me that way because you AREN'T 13 yet (and hopefully by then we've made more progress and you will have forgotten about that look). " ....is what I was THINKING.

Instead, I took a deep breath and said, " Why yes, you're right! I did. Will you please remind me what you said about them so I can add it to this list?"

Her "look" melted into a lovely smile and she said, "Sure, that would be GREAT. I said my favorite thing about them was that we could visit their house and that they let me watch a show on T.V. and NOT that Big Grandpa tells me I'm full of Soup- 'cuz, I didn't even eat soup!" =)

The Big Three

Based on one of our latest Library finds- "Pajama Day", Caiden has called a McLaughlin Pajama Day for this gray and drippy morning. Super fun! We're going to have breakfast for lunch and wear our p.j's. In honor of our pajama day, I though I would write a proper post about my big three year old. This post was inspired by our bed time conversation last night. (Plus, I knew I needed to get this down before I forgot it! ) =)

After I got Addison down last night, I snuck back into Caiden's room to snuggle with her and help her settle down. We usually tell stories during this time, but last night I decided to take the time to really get to know my daughter. Here's a (non-verbatim) transcript of my peek into her world.

Introducing Caiden the Three Year Old!

Mama: Caiden, what your favorite thing to do with Daddy?
Caiden: Go to the playground
M: what is your favorite thing to do with Mama?
C: go for walks and snuggle.
M:what is your favorite thing to do with Addison?

C: Read books to her.

M :What is your favorite food?
C: Eggplant and stir-fry (don't worry- these are two SEPARATE foods!) =)
M: what's your favorite thing to drink?
C: Apple juice and for a surprise I like eating ice cream or cookies!!!

M: What's your favorite toy TODAY?
C: I like playing with my kitchen and my castle too!
M:Who is your best friend?
C: Addison
M:Where is your favorite place to GO?
C: I already told you- to the Playground- oh, wait- and Disney!
M: What is your favorite book?
C: Amelia Bedelia and Fancy Nancy books.

M:What's your favorite thing to do with G-Ma and Pi-Paw?
C: When G-Ma comes to visit me when you work, and going to Disney too! When I was 2, Pi-Paw took me to a playground- that was my favorite!

M: What's your favorite thing to do with Nana and Papa?
C: I like to read books and spend time with them.

M: What is your favorite thing to do with G.G.?
C: I like going to her house and playing with her toys.

M: What's your favorite thing to do with your Aunts?
C: Going outside and jumping in leaves with my new friend, Emma.

M:What do you like to do with Uncle Tim and Aunt Sarah?
C: I like going on dates with them.

M:What do your favorite thing about Uncle Jay and Aunt Kristin and your cousins?
C: I like seeing them at Disney and playing with them. And I'm happy about the books they gave me for my birthday! (We took her book shopping with the gift card they gave her for her birthday and she bought, Sammy the Seal and Fancy Nancy- Bonjour Butterfly.)

What's your favorite thing about Uncle Aaron and Aunt Kris?
C: When they come see me and I wake up from my nap and they are HERE!!!

What your favorite thing about Aunt Heather and Uncle Michael?
C: I like then coming over to my house!!

What is your favorite song?
C: My favorite song used to be "Mighty to Save" but now my favorite is Signing Time
What is your favorite movie?
C: Cinderella

What is your favorite doll? Minnie

What is your favorite thing to DO at home?
C: Do crafts!

And there you have it folks! Can you tell that her love language is Quality Time? =)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


In honor of this being Addison's birth month, I wanted to share with you a little of the joy we get from her every day.

Addison is an amazingly sweet, precious, funny child. She is our cuddle bug. We begin each day by entering her room to find a joyous, radiantly smiling little girl standing in her crib, bouncing with excitement. She always looks behind me and says, "Sis" . Waking up is always more fun when your sister is around!! Upon waking, she loves to snuggle for a few minutes. I just soak it up!

When I'm running around, getting stuff done, she will crawl over, catch my attention, pulling me in with her dark eyes and then just laugh. Not just a chuckle- I mean a great, long, belly laugh that never fails to end in hiccups. All you have to do to incite those hiccups on your own is s-l-o-w-l-y look in her direction with a mischievous look on your face and she will collapse in hysterics. It's rather delightful!

When she nurses, she intertwines her fingers in my hair and caresses it gently. She has just learned to say, "Milk!" and is thrilled with how effective that command is, although sometimes she will add a signed, "please" for good measure. She is now consuming solid meals 2-3 times a day and is a huge fan of big people food. Her favorite seems to be Cheerios so far. Caiden is so excited so finally be able to share some of her food with Addison. They are often caught sharing their juice cups as well. Last week at church they shared their Cheerio snack for the first time, and it was adorable.

When we're grocery shopping, Addison leans over the cart to look for her sister and squeals and laughs when she catches her attention. Caiden loooves entertaining Addison and will keep it up the entire trip. I break up "the love" several times a visit because the decibel level increases at a very rapid pace and I try to be sensitive to those around me. Last week Caiden protested, "But Mom, I'm just loving my sister!" Heaven forbid I stand in the way of that!!!

She is mimicking more every day. She tries to repeat everything you say. It's amazing! Last week my sister (Aunt Heather- more affectionately known as Aunt Heath) came over and she was playing with Addison. She taught her, "A is for Addison, Big "A", Little A- "a, a, a". Two days later Caiden announced that she "made an A" as she was coloring and Addison says "a,a,a" and when I congratulated her she told me, "Heath". And I remember thinking at the time, "she's a little young for that ." Humph. The child is brilliant!

Addison also loves hats as much as Caiden loves bows. See? >

She appropriates those all on her own. It's way too cute! Of course, Jeff loves it! ;)

Well, there are so many more things I could share with you, but I'm falling asleep on the job. Good night!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Every day...

Every day as the whirring and growling draw closer, she runs to the window, drawn- as if by Sirens. You can feel the vibrations before it ever reaches our street. It's like clockwork, really. It squeals to a stop in front of our house, lifts, shakes, drops and then clambers up the hill to do it again, making enough noise to wake our back yard neighbors. ;) Nothing gets in her way as she madly dashes toward the window. Not toys, not little sisters, not blinds will hold her back. Mental note: open the blinds upon waking in the morning to delay replacing said window coverings. Does every little child have a love affair with garbage trucks? Do yours?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Confessions and Christmas

But not in that order- it just sounded better that way...

Christmas was fun. And busy. And I found myself doing a lot of introspection and a lot of resolutions about next year. Maybe if I write them down I'll remember them more easily. Who am I kidding, I won't remember to read these before next year, but maybe this will help me be more accountable to you all. Whoever "you all" happens to be- which really is a strange thing not knowing exactly who reads this blog, by the way. Maybe after you read this post you can "comment" and let me know that you're reading. Oh aren't you so kind!

Anyway. Christmas. When I say busy, I mean that we left the house each morning from the 19th -26th and didn't return until evening. The good news is that I never forgot to pack something that we couldn't live without, and we survived. The bad news is that we left the house each morning and came back each evening utterly exhausted and only did what was absolutely mandatory before falling unconscious in our beds/couch/floor- basically where ever we found ourselves. The good news is- we had fun, we celebrated Jesus' birthday well and made lots of memories. The bad news: naps? What's that you say? And our home? Ugh. But, we survived and the kids are happily back into their schedules and we are almost at the final stages of unearthing our home from the piles/dirt that got neglected while we were vacationing.

Let me share some of our memories with you!
Disney ! (Over Thanksgiving)

More Disney- with the cousins! Connor, Landon and Caiden were thick as thieves. They had a blast together and really do love each other. So much so that I heard this come out of my mouth: "No, you can't marry your cousins- you can love them a lot, but you can't marry them." =)

Connor-5, Landon-3, Caiden- almost 3, Addison-10months, Reese- 3 months. We had it easy this year- next year we're going to have to wrangle the youngest two into the picture- oh my! =)

We attempted to get a family Christmas picture. Twenty-five pictures later, here are the best ones. ;)

We also took one with ALL of my sibs- which, as you know, is a daunting task, as the numbers of us are growing! My, don't we look intimidating?!

During the break, Addison had her first solid food, followed closely by her first taste of ice cream- per the Jeff McLaughlin tradition. In another post I'll expound on how this tradition began, for now I'll just leave you hanging. Grin. I'm so mean some times... To make it up to you, feast your eyes on this cutie pie!
She is also saying: hat, Mama, uh-oh, dog, Dada, good girl, and signing: hat, more, milk, dog. This is going way too fast!!

So now for the confessions- forgot about that already, huh? Well, here goes. I just cleaned my kitchen floor for the first time in like, three weeks. There, I said it. It was getting so bad, that I wouldn't let Addison crawl in there because I was certain that she would find a different kind of organic home made baby food than she was used to, and I just wasn't comfortable expanding her palate yet! In fact, this break I went on a house cleaning hiatus. Not on purpose, mind you. It was sheer survival! I've been sick for like- a month. For real. And I can't do anything about it unless I want to give my child formula for a week while I take an antibiotic- which I don't.

So, I've chosen to SLEEP (which really is a dishonest characterization of my evening activities as Addison has been sick/teething/off schedule and waking once or three times a night) instead of cleaning, or picking up. Really the only thing that HAS gotten done is the laundry. The child needs diapers, you know? Well, not exactly DONE- just washed and dumped on the couch. That and the baby food was made- she needs to eat too...It was truly frustrating/embarrassing/insert an descriptive word that makes you feel sick to your stomach. Because we all have these visions in our heads of the perfect Christmas- the reading of the Scripture, singing of Happy Birthday, eating of the birthday cake, the sharing of gifts, the happy children, the loving parents kissing in front of the tree, the spotlessly clean home gleaming in the background...Well, everything happened, except the last part. In fact, my home was the messiest it's ever been in my seven years of marriage on Christmas Day. And I chose to let it go in order to sleep- plus, no one would see it any way. Oops.

Then we had a surprise visit from G-Ma and Pi-paw. Which was awesome- because I guarantee you next year my girls will NOT remember that the house was a mess, but that their grandparents surprised them and visited them on Christmas morning. However, I was mortified. I've haven't felt that kind of embarrassment in years. Not since a boy named Zach walked in on me using the lady's room in 6th grade.

So, I started to think about WHY that embarrassed me. Why did I need to have everything perfect? Man, that pride thing runs deep! So deep that I even started to justify it! In reality, my house should be clean. But here's the deal- I'm NOT perfect. I'm just a regular Mama, caring for my two little girls, loving my husband, running a hair bow biz (oh yeah, I haven't written about that yet- that's a separate post all together...bear with me!), working part time, participating in Christmas festivities, being sick, and just doing the best I could. So, I thought that I would share that with you so you wouldn't think that you had to be perfect too. Join me in becoming more genuine, real, and honest with yourself and others this year. I mean really, don't you feel better already? =)

So, I'm just going to do the best I can.

And really? I'm okay with that. I think my amazing husband and my little girls still love me. I hope I haven't scarred them for life, I pray hard and trust that Jesus will make up for the rest. And you know? He's pretty good at that!!!!