Monday, January 30, 2017

34 Weeks of Clean: Week 3

Wow!!!  We're on week 3 of the 34 Weeks of Clean hosted by Family, Faith and Fridays and let me tell you, this week kicked my butt!!!  It didn't help things that I am currently recovering from the flu and was already pretty worthless to start with but I tell you, after this week, my body HURTS!! LOL  But flu or not, I was determined to participate and I will without any guilt consider this project my workout for the week.. haha

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For Week 3, we were asked to completely clean out our kitchen cabinets and drawers.  This means taking everything out, wiping down the surfaces, and sort through and put everything back.  I took this a step further.  First, let me state that in my kitchen, I have 7 drawers and 17 cabinets. Three of these cabinets (and 1 drawer) I cleaned last week with the pantry challenge so that left me 14 cabinets and 6 drawers.   So I had some work ahead of me to begin with. But I should also mention that of those 14 cabinets, 8 of them are soooooo high up that they are not functional (even on a step stool I cannot reach the top shelves) and one of them designed in such a way that it's hard to use. Since I spent much of this challenge standing on top of my counters trying to clean them out, I decided that I would just eliminate the use of them all together and consolidate everything into cabinets that are much more easily accessible.  That way, when we move in a few months, I won't have to climb back up on the counters to clean them again, they will already be done.  LOL

Starting with the drawers, I pulled everything out and was completely grossed out by what was hiding at the bottom of them.  YUCK!!!   The kids tend to pour (and spill) drinks on the counter and the spills drip into the drawers along with crumbs and Lord knows what else.. But all this was hidden by other stuff and as my teenager who unloads the dishwasher is blind to stuff like this, it never got cleaned up. So, the drawers got a really good wipe down with LA Awesome and Clorox wipes.

The utensil drawer was just as nasty..

So it got a nice washing with soap and water and then a follow up with Clorox wipes as well. 

Everything nice and clean once again.

 If you've been following my blog for a while, you might remember the last time I did the 34 Weeks of Clean that I procured one of my "junk" drawers to keep my spices in.  Two years later, I still keep my spices in the drawer but unfortunately the spice drawer was a mess.. Now, I knew this one was going to be dirty because the other day I left the pepper flip top slightly opened and it spilled inside the drawer..

 It appears that some of the dreaded kool-aid also spilled in my drawer. As these are the spices I don't use on a regular basis, I just don't ever bother pulling everything out of here and cleaning it..  Seeing this, I guess I will change that lol

Garrett decided he wanted to help out and clean the drawer out for me..

Now it was time to start sorting through the spices.  I had several spices that were expired so it was time to toss them.  

Here's what I kept

And here's what I ended up tossing.

I HATED throwing away this canister of Old Bay Blacking seasoning - I'll have to mail order some more as I can't find it anywhere around here, but it's been expired since April 2011. LOL

But, that's better than this bottle of poultry seasoning that was expired since May 2008 LOL  Can you tell I do NOT use poultry seasoning much? I'm not even sure if I bought this to be honest or if someone didn't give it to me.

Everything back in the drawer

I'll spare you the cleaning of the other three drawers, two were my junk drawers (and still are) and the third just has dish towels and large kitchen utensils. LOL

So with the drawers out of the way, it was time to start cleaning the cabinets.  See this pic, see that bottom shelf?? That's the ONLY shelf I can reach (and that holds true for all the cabinets that have three shelves - the ones with two shelves I can't reach at all lol).. So it was time to climb up on the counters to start cleaning.

My view from the top of the counter!!   Everything emptied out.

Here's some medicine that was put on the very top shelf of the cabinet along with some others to keep the kids out of it - which in retrospect kept ME out of it as well as I couldn't reach it... LOL  It's not any good now.

Tossing all sorts of stuff that are expired or just plain yucky.

Hey look, more spices!!

More expired medications that I will take to the pharmacy to dispose of. (Really wish the Alka-Seltzer wasn't expired, I could use it right now)

Bottles of Alcohol that I have NO idea where they came from!!  Someone must have given them to us, as we don't drink wine.. (I'm a Bloody Mary/Scotch drinker)

Everything consolidated to two shelves.. At least with my step stool I can reach the second shelf.. lol

Time to repeat the process with the twin cabinet.. Back on the countertop I go!!  This cabinet, now that it's cleaned out, will not be used anymore.

I had to laugh when I found these dip mixes.. These mixes are probably 12 years old. I remember buying them at some craft show (or maybe it was a gun show) back when I still lived in Texas, which was before Hurricane Rita.. WHY I still have these, I don't know, but they went in the trash.

Same with this packet of dirty rice seasoning.. I would think this packet is probably 10 years old as I bought it when we lived in Louisiana and that was before I got pregnant with Ashleigh.. It went in the trash as well. lol

Anyone who's a military family will recognize this LOL  I found a few of these.. They all went in the trash.

 Here's another absolutely evil, useless cabinet.. This one is about 5 foot deep and I could probably climb into it, except for this lazy susan thing that blocks the way. If anything falls off of the platforms, it take an Act of God to get it back.. I hate this cabinet.. I gave it a good wipe down, stuck a broom back there to try to sweep anything that was in it out and then closed it up - it won't be used anymore.  One of the things that I swept out of it - a copy of the marriage license from my first husband - I told you this cabinet is evil.

 Next to the worthless evil cabinet is the under sink cabinet. I pulled everything out of it, gave it all a good wipe down and put everything back.  It was at this point however, that I contimplated killing my husband as I found three empty bottles of vinegar that for whatever reason couldn't find their way to the recycle bin until now. LOL  I don't clean under here as there are spiders in the crevices of the sink basin. I hate spiders!!

 Time to climb back on top of the counters again.. There's two cabinets that I can't reach at all.. I can reach the bottom shelf with the help of a step stool but the top shelf is a No Go..

 All cleaned out.. This  cabinet will not be used anymore.

Hey look, MORE seasonings!!  These were from a friend who came over and made some baked beans for us and somehow the bag of seasoning got put in the top of the cabinet where it wasn't seen again.

All cabinet surfaces got a nice cleaning with LA Awesome and/or a scrubbing with Dawn and a tooth brush.  (Although, I'll be honest, this pic is Garrett holding the toothbrush so I could take the pic.. I couldn't hold both it and work the camera).

So, with the cabinets cleaned out, there was a pile of stuff I needed to sort through but that would have to wait til the next day, as I was ready for a hot soak after making a pitcher of cherry lemonade and having a cool drink. I think I deserved it.. LOL

All Clean and ready for move out!!

 I will admit, there are two cabinets that I did not attempt to clean - I will leave both of those to Charles to do. One is above our stove and I'm not about to stand on the stove to try to clean it. The other one is recessed behind the fridge and there's no way I can reach it.  But, everything I could reach was cleaned. And I managed to eliminate a TON of stuff and consolidate most of our stuff to minimal cabinet space.

So, Week Three is over and done.. Since I've done this before, I guess I should get ready for the Fridge and Freezer for Week 4.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

3 Seeds by Chara Games ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Some time back before the Thanksgiving holiday, I did a review for a wonderful board game called Commissioned from Chara Games.  Commissioned was a historical based co-operative strategy game in which players take the role of early Christian Apostles and work together to spread the word of Christ, grow the Christian church and collect the books of the New Testament.  I found the game to be very impressive: from a well thought out concept to the quality construction of the game board and pieces. 

Today I have a second game by the same company.  The challenge to "Reap What You Sew" takes on a new meaning in 3 Seeds, a family safe light strategy card game for  2 to 5 players aged 12 and up.

About Chara Games

Chara Games was developed in 2014 by Patrick and Katherine Lysaght who wanted to produce table top games with a Christian theme.   Following a very successful Kickstart campaign that raised more than 254% of the production cost, Chara released their first board game, Commissioned, late last year.  

Their 2nd game, 3 Seeds, was designed by Anthony Buhr and released just recently. Both Commissioned and 3 Seeds can be purchased though Amazon.

Playing 3 Seeds

3 Seeds is a card game for 2-5 players and takes around 30 to 45 minutes to play. It is recommended for players 12 and up. Included in the game are:
  • 30 Seed cards
  • 20 Crop cards
  • 14 Harvest cards
  • 17 Event cards
  • 3 Reference cards
  • 1 turn marker
  • 5 colored scoring cubes
  • 8 blue 50 point tokens
  • 1 score card

The basics of this game is that you want to harvest the most amount of crops while managing time, labor, and money while hidden information might be working against you to sabotage your crops. 

Each player has a hand of Seed cards that match to their color (5 colors for up to 5 players). These cards include two cards each for Time, Labor and Money. In the playing field in front of each player, there are two cards - a face up Crop card and then a face down Harvest card. During their turn, players draw three cards from the deck and then plays two of their Seed cards on top of the Crop card that is currently in play (either their own or in front of one of the other players). The third card is then placed in the top of your deck.

Crop cards indicate the resources that the player would need in order to harvest that crop - typically a combination of time, money and labor.  If the player meets the requirements to harvest, they are then able to flip over the Crop card that is face down which gives the scoring points for that crop. All players who currently have a seed card for that crop are then awarded points for resources they have contributed to the crop multiplied by the number on the Harvest card. The Crop Card is then given to the player who controlled the playing field while all other players who contributed to the harvest would then gain an Event card.  Then a new Crop Card and Harvest Card are drawn and placed back in the playing field.  The game is over when all the Crop Cards have been played and the player with the most points wins. 

The setup for this game is very simple and game play is easy to learn.  However, if one player isn't paying attention to what they are doing, they can quickly find themselves at a disadvantage as the goal is to earn the most points by sowing your seeds with the crops that have the highest point yield by paying attention to what the other players are doing in order to gain insight to information they know that you may not. 

This game is a lot of fun and Charles, Alyssa and myself ended up playing several hands together.  The game is well thought out and much like Commissioned, I found the cards and game construction to be top notch.  This will be a game that will be pulled down from the game shelf often and will hold up well over the years. 

For more information about 3 Seeds, Commissioned and Chara Games, be sure to visit their website or one of their social media platforms:

Twitter: @Charagames

Friday, January 27, 2017

B is for Blessed (Blogging Through the Alphabet)

It's week two of Blogging The Alphabet and that means another post to share a bit of our lives with you.

A Net In Time Schooling

Letter B turned out to be a bit harder for me to find something to write about but after much though, I realized that "Blessed" seems the perfect B word to describe my family.  We have been blessed in so many ways.

I often complain a bit about living in the middle of the desert in California but honestly, being here has been a blessing more than a curse.  The career field that my husband is in with the Air Force is only at a very small handful of bases - 5 to be exact.  And of those bases, the other 4 bases are known for long hours and constant weekend duty assignment.  As long as we've been here, my husband has maybe worked a total of 5 weekend days and has had to work late maybe 10-20 times, in the last 6 years.  Instead, my husband is often home early and he's home with us every weekend.  While this might not seem like a much, to us, it means a lot.  We're blessed to be together almost every weekend as a family and it means that just about every night we lay our heads down to sleep, all five of our family members are safe under the same roof.

We're also blessed that because of his job, I'm able to stay home with my kids. The fact that I can homeschool them and offer them a far superior education compared to what is offered on base is a blessing as well.  With Garrett's autism, I'm not sure how he would have done in school (and the school on base wouldn't take him anyway, they wanted to send him to a Skills for Living program at another base). And while I do miss working full time, being home with the kids each day, being able to cook them a hot mean instead of running through drive through has been something I wouldn't trade for anything.  I'm here every night to give the kids their kisses goodnight, I'm here when they wake up each morning and when they are sick, I'm here the entire time for them to cuddle up with until they feel better.  That's another blessing.

We're blessed to have a house full of love. The kids have a father who kisses both mom as well as them goodbye each time he walks out the door to head to work, as well as an exchange of "I love you" and "be safe". My oldest knows that she always has a parent in her corner if she needs us, who will always be there if the phone rings and she needs assistance.  Yes, they know that occasionally mom and dad might have a disagreement but they know that they are short lived and will never come to a physical altercation or harsh words being exchanged.  They know that even when they do wrong, they are still loved and nothing will ever change that. Garrett might know he's different from other kids but that we still see him as important and not lacking - that we will always approach him with patience and love.

We may not have a whole lot. We might not be able to afford the latest fashions and their shoes might come from Walmart or even a thrift store, but they are rich when it comes to love and affection.  Blessings do not come with pricetags - they are priceless in their own right - and we are wealthy in blessings, even if we don't always appreciate them at face value.

The Weekly Wrap up (1/23 - 1/27)

It's been quite a while since I've done a weekly wrap up and with all the new and fun things that we've been doing with our homeschool, I figured this week would be a great time to start.

One thing I need to do for my weekly wrap ups is come up with a new graphics.. LOL   Originally, I used the toilet paper with the brown writing as a joke because it sure seemed our school week always went down the toilet by the time the week was over.  This is no longer the case as the kids are learning and working hard with their school work.. I guess before next week, I'll sit down and design a new graphic ;)

The kids and I are on our third week of school since returning from our holiday break. With the start of a new year, we also started some new curriculum that after doing some research, I felt was a better fit for the kids than some of the stuff we were previously using.  The first of these was switching to Master Books for our 3rd Grade Math Curriculum.  Previously we were using Math U See, which I absolutely love  but felt it was a bit too "utilitarian" for Ashleigh.  We are still using it as reinforcement and the kids will be working through the Gamma level along with their math work, however, I liked the "living" style of the Master Books a bit more as it engages them a bit more.

As we are on our third week with Master Books, the kids are doing review materials. This particular week was reviewing addition including carrying as well as tally marks.  Super easy and the kids blew through it but it did give us some great opportunities to talk about the Wright Brothers, the country of Peru (which we found Lima, Peru is 4,005 miles from our home - as the crow flies) and the Andes Mountains.

Another new curriculum we started this week was a Texas History curriculum geared for lower elementary students.  We are using Discover Texas which can be found at their website here. This week, we concentrated on the symbols of the state, such as the state bird, flower and tree as well as the state song, motto, nickname and the flag.   This also gave us a wonderful opportunity to use some of the notebooking pages available from as I work on easing Garrett into doing more writing this year.

Noticing how badly I need to vacuum while they do Texas History

Last year, we focused on poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson so I wanted to change it up a bit for them and let them have a bit of fun with our daily poetry.  So we're starting to read from "Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein.  The kids are loving that.  We read a poem each day to start our day off and it helps set the tone for the day, especially our "Wacky Wednesdays".. LOL  Without a doubt, their favorite this week was "The Loser".

After poetry, the kids have been working on their grammar lessons.  This week, we focused on Antonyms and Synonyms and had a couple of pop quizzes over both, which the kids both scored perfect on.  We usually also include our literature reading at this time, however, I sort of messed up and got a condensed version of Swiss Family Robinson and I wanted to throw it across the room - but it was a library book.. LOL   So next week, we'll start reading a selection by G.A. Henty for our literature selection.

EVIL!!!   Didn't say Condensed (if I could even call it that!!) on the cover.  

In addition to the geography lessons included with our math book, the kids have also been working through the "All About The World" geography study unit from (our grammar unit is also from there).  This week was a concentration on the oceans of the world (last week was the continents) as we prepare to begin focusing on learning the various countries of the world.  The kids know their 50 states pretty well (although they still struggle some with the New England area) so it's time to start learning the various regions of the world.

For history, the kids are working on both American History as well as learning about Ancient Greece. We're currently reviewing the Ancient Greece unit study from Homeschool in the Woods, which we'll have a full review on next month.  For this week, the kids learned about how the Minoans, the Myceaneans and about the Dorian invasion.  We also talked about Hellen and his sons and how the various inhabitants of Greek were named for them.  We also did quite a bit of mapwork as we learned the different peninsulas and islands of Greece.

For American History right now, we're simply reading the book "Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims".  Regardless of his political views, I have heard really good things about this series by Rush Limbaugh and so far the kids are loving it.  Yeah, it can be a bit silly, with a talking, time travelling horse, but if it captures their imagination and gets them to sit down and actually listen to the story, I'm okay with it.

Another new curriculum we are working through is "Exploring Life Science" by Chrissy Martin.  I'm going to be honest, I picked up this curriculum as a free e-book off of Amazon sometime in the middle of last year and didn't give it too much though.  It caught my attention back during Christmas break and as I started giving it a look over, I was REALLY impressed with it.  It is a creation based curriculum, which I like, but it's extremely thorough.  This is our third week with it and so far the kids have learned the difference between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells  and learned about the structures of animal cells and plant cells and the difference between the two.  And when I say they learned, I really do mean it - I am completely amazed by how much they are retaining.  I think I have the only kids in 3rd grade on base that know what a golgi complex is and what it does.. LOL

But the REAL draw of the new science curriculum is the microscope work we've been doing these last two weeks.  I was really fortunate to be able to purchase a nice light microscope with taxes for our homeschool classroom, along with a few sets of prepared slides. The first week of this year, we spent time learning the parts of the microscope as well as proper handling. Last week, we put those lessons to use as we looked at simple things such as salt crystals (and were completely amazed that ours were rounded rather than square), a planarian flatworm and the letter E under the scope to see how the images appear in the scope vs what we see with our eyes, as well as the "opposite" direction the slide moves when using the knobs.

This week, the kids actually began getting into the "meat" of life science as we looked at various animal and plant cells under the scope.  For animal cells, we began by looking at skin cells and discussing the fact they did not have a nucleus since they were dead. We then took a scraping of cheek cells (donated by Garrett) where we were able observe the cell membrane, cytoplasm and nucleus of the cell.  We then looked at a prepared slide of Ascaris that had been dyed so that we could see the same cell parts really well.    For plant cells, we looked at a prepared Rannuculus stem and then we prepared our own slides from a thin slice of potato and onion skin.  Since we also had a prepared and stained onion slide, we compared that to our prepared slide.  Finally, we prepared a slide from our Bacopa plant from our aquarium, where the kids were able to see the Chloroplasts in the cell really well.  We discussed why they were able to see the chloroplasts in the Bacopa and not in the onion and potato.  

Answering science questions - I love this photo of him. 
Science is right after lunch - can you tell??

Each time we looked at a sample under the microscope, the kids had to sketch what they saw as well as identify what magnification they were looking under. 

Garrett's sketch of skin cells

Ashleigh's sketch of the cells from an Ascaris worm
Overall, we've had a really great three weeks since the turn of the new year and I look forward to sharing more of what our classroom is like each week - something I honestly haven't focused on too much in the past because I felt inadequate.

Next week:

Discussion of Classification and Kingdoms
Proper Use of Periods and Commas
Review of Subtraction including Borrowing and subtracting money
Major Geographical Features of the World
Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims
Texas Geography: Rivers, Land Features and Natural Regions
Ancient Greece: The Archaic Period, Greek Columns and Greek Government
Literature Selection: The Cat of Bubastes by G.A. Henty

Also, we're going to be starting a new review item next week with Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level B, which should be in my mailbox tomorrow.   That may or may not chance our Grammar curriculum, depending on how well it fits in with what we're currently doing.


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