Friday, June 26, 2009

Tuesday's Tip for Moms- Family History

While doing a craft with my children last week, I began to tell them stories about doing crafts with my maternal grandmother. She loved crafts and was always trying new things. Theses stories then progressed to other memories I have of time spent with my maternal grandparents. As we talked, it occurred to me how important it is for my children to hear these stories as my grandmother is now in the final stage of Alzheimer's.

My children have never known the grandmother that I know. I want my children to see beyond the woman in the wheelchair who can no longer care for herself. I want them to know she loved to make things. She loved to watch old movies. She loved to dance.

Thinking about this reminded me of a gift I gave my paternal grandmother about 15 years ago. I created a book of memories about the Berry family. Her husband ( my grandfather) died when I was nine. I thought she would enjoy reading about the memories others had of him and their family. I wrote a letter asking family members (children, grandchildren, siblings, in-laws, etc.) to contribute stories and memories about them. I typed up everything I received and had it bound into a book.

I thought I was making a nice gift for my grandmother. I later realized I had created a wonderful family history. All of the events and many of the people mentioned in these writings are unknown to my children (and some to me ). My father wrote of hunting with his father and fishing with his grandfather. My aunts wrote about making molasses, quilting bees, sewing disasters and how their parents supported them in all they did. I treasure this volume of memories.

My paternal grandmother will be 101 on her birthday. I don't know how many more years the Lord will give her. When she is no longer with us, I'm glad my children will be able to know her, my grandfather and his side of the family through this special collection. My Tuesday's Tip For Moms is to find a way to record the stories of your family.

Tuesday’s Tip for Mom is a blog carnival hosted at Raising Olives to allow moms to share what they have learned along the path of motherhood. Join us every Tuesday as we learn and share tips and ideas for spending time with, encouraging, training or relating to our children.


A friend just wrote to tell me she was blocked from leaving a comment. I'm not sure how that happened, but I think I've fixed it. I would love to read your comments.

Beating the Texas Heat

We have finally discovered something we enjoy about your Texas neighborhood...the pools. A new pool opened a couple of weeks ago that makes a trip to a waterpark unnecessary. It has two large slides and a nice play structure for the younger ones. There is even a splash pad area. Most places in the pool range from 6inches to 2.5 feet. There is a deeper section where the slides empty, but it is only 5 feet. Since there is no "deep end" I don't have to worry about my older kids too much, and there is lots to occupy my non-swimmers. I also liked that there were 3 lifeguards on duty at all times. I think the pools are the one thing my kids will miss when we leave Texas.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

San Antonio

We took a day trip to San Antonio last week. On the way down we picked up barbecue from Texas Pride (a place recommended on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives). We got our food "to go" and headed to Mission San Jose for a picnic.

Mission San Jose still has most of its original buildings and has retained an authentic apperance. We watched a brief film that explained why people came to the missions (there are several in San Antonio) and then toured the grounds on our own.

The church (pictured above) was the center of the mission. The walls that made up the courtyard square held over 80 individual rooms. We think each family had two rooms. They were tiny!

After visiting Mission San Jose, we went to the Alamo. Only the long barracks and the church remain of the original Alamo structure. I was glad we had already seen Mission San Jose so that we had a good idea of how a mission was structured and what the Alamo probably looked like.

Our next stop was the famous River Walk where shops and restaurants line the San Antonio River. The children thought it was pretty. Some said it was their favorite part of the day. The fact that we stopped to cool off at the Rainforest Cafe with drinks and dessert didn't hurt their opinion. :-)

Our final destination was the Japanese Tea Garden. Visiting it was a nice relaxing way to end our day.

Although it was very hot, we enjoyed our day in San Antonio. The best part...everything we did was free! We only paid for gas and food. I told Brian it was nice to know there are still things you can do that don't cost any money.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Teenage Years Begin...

There is a teenager in my house!!! ( The exclamation points represent joy, not dread) Ashley turned 13 on June 5th. We had a wonderful celebration with our oldest daughter. We feasted on cheeseburgers, hashbrown casserole, baked beans and homemade apple pie. Brian and I gave her a necklace, piano sheet music from the Lord of the Rings and the second set of Elsie Dinesmore books. She also received gifts from her siblings and grandparents.

Ashley is a delight to Brian and me. She helps around the house and in the kitchen (often without being asked), cares for her younger siblings, does well in school and is diligent in all she does. She loves horses, reading, drawing, reading,the Lord of the Rings, reading, playing the piano and reading. Did I mention reading? I can't keep enough books in the house to satisfy her voracious appetite. Ashley's current desire is to write and illustrate her own books some day. I look forward to seeing how God uses this special young lady for His glory.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ice Cream in a Bag- Tuesday's Tip for Moms

One part of our summer schedule is called "Fun with Mom". Years ago I subscribed to Family Fun magazine. This past weekend I looked through some old issues for ideas. Today's "Fun with Mom" was making ice cream in zip-top bags. My kids loved it! (I tried to take pictures but discovered the batteries for my camera need to be charged.)

2 Tbsp sugar
1c. half-n-half (We used whipping cream)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c salt (Kosher or rock salt work best)
Ice cubes (enough to fill a gallon-size bag about half full)
1 pint-sized zip-top bag (we used qt-sized)
1 gallon-sized zip-top bag

Combine the sugar, half and half, and vanilla extract in the pint-sized bag and seal it tightly. Place the salt and ice in the gallon-sized bag then seal the smaller bag inside as well. Seal the larger bag. Now shake the bags until the mixture hardens (about 5 minutes). Feel the small bag to determine when its done. Take the smaller bag out of the larger one, add min-ins, and eat the ice cream right out of the bag. Easy cleanup too!

We made four batches. It was enough for my 7 oldest. We put it in bowls. Making individual bags would have made clean-up easier, but it was nice to be able to share the shaking job. The bags get really cold. We finally wrapped dish towels around them. That helped a lot. We mixed-in M & Ms and chocolate syrup. Yum!

Tuesday’s Tip for Mom is a blog carnival hosted at Raising Olives to allow moms to share what they have learned along the path of motherhood. Join us every Tuesday as we learn and share tips and ideas for spending time with, encouraging, training or relating to our children.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lists- My Tuesday's Tip for Moms

Many people have commented to me over the years that I must be a very organized person. I'm not exactly sure what they see in me that makes them think that, because I definitely do not list it as one of my strengths. It is something that has developed out of necessity. :-) One of the tools I have found useful is to make lists.

The Grocery List- I realize this one is probably very obvious, however I am amazed that almost no one I see in the grocery store is using a list. I use a list every week and still find myself missing the occasional ingredient. Kimberly wrote about setting up weekly menus. I have four weekly menus that our family rotates through. I also have a grocery list for each week. Initially it took a lot of work, but now it is so nice to be able to print a copy from the computer, mark off the things we don't need and add what we do. I keep a running list in my kitchen of things we have run out of or that are running low. I've also divided up things like toilet paper, shampoo, aluminum foil, etc. among my weekly lists and buy them each month, if needed. I use a similar list when shopping at Sam's or Costco.

The Shopping List- For many years I've kept a Wal-Mart list on the dry erase board along with the items I need to add to the weekly grocery list. Last year it occurred to me I should keep lists for others stores and web sites I visit. I created a list with the following sections: Sam's/Costco, office supply store, pharmacy, home improvement store, craft store, homeschool supplies (usually web sites). When I am ready to go shopping, I cut off the portion I need and take it with me.

The Book List- We buy a lot of books. One of my husband's desires is for us to have a large family library. I often joke with people that we buy books first and if there is money left, we buy food. I keep a list of books we need and a wish list of books we want.

The Gift List- Throughout the year I keep a list of gift ideas for each member of our family. I also make a list of the gifts we give to others each year so that I don't duplicate items later.

The Size List- This is a list I've just recently started. I don't do a lot of clothes shopping in stores, but when I run across a good deal it will be nice to know my 13 year old's measurements.
Many styles today are made to fit tight, so just because I think she should wear a ladies' medium doesn't mean my selection will fit. Last week I bought an XL in something I could tell had a "tight look" and it was still too small! If I had had her measurements with me, I wouldn't have made that mistake.

The Recipe List- I'm actually not doing this right now, but at times I've kept a list of recipes I wanted to try.

The Borrowers List- How many times have you gone to your bookshelf to find a certain book only to remember you loaned it to someone. The question is can you remember who you've loaned it to? I loan out a lot of books, baby equipment, children's clothes, etc. I've found I can't always remember who has what, so I created a list to help me keep track of where my belongings are.

The Packing List- Since getting married, my husband and I have never lived in the same state as our parents. This being the case we do a lot of traveling to visit family. When we only had 1-2 children packing wasn't so difficult. Now that I am packing for 9 (Brian hasn't let me pack for him since I forgot his dress shoes and we had a wedding to attend!) it is a monumental task. I actually have several types of packing lists. The first one is for all the "things" we need to take on any trip. This list covers items from pacifiers to our portable DVD player. Attached to this list is a list of my personal items including clothes, glasses, Bible, toiletries, etc.

When my children were all young I listed their clothing and personal items on the master list. Now that some of them are old enough to pack for themselves I have a list for each child. It lists each item of clothing, shoes, extras like sunglasses, MP3s, etc. After printing each child's list I fill in how many of each item they should pack. I check each child's selections before they are packed.

My final packing list is for vacations. We usually rent a house/condo when we go on vacation. This packing lists consists of things I need for housekeeping. (i.e. dish detergent, aluminum foil, linens, etc.) It also contains items related to that specific location (i.e. sunscreen and beach toys for the beach). I know lots of people who camp use a similar list.

Making these lists requires some initial effort but once completed I only have to do the actual packing. I don't have to spend much time thinking about "what" to pack.

I realize this post doesn't relate specifically to spending time with our children, however I think being organized helps free us up to spend more time with them. Hopefully some of these ideas will help you as perform your various "mommy" duties. So, what type of lists help you?

Tuesday’s Tip for Mom is a blog carnival hosted at Raising Olives to allow moms to share what they have learned along the path of motherhood. Join us every Tuesday as we learn and share tips and ideas for spending time with, encouraging, training or relating to our children.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Buddy Time

My friend Kimberly hosts an amazing blog at If you have interest in homeschooling or how to manage a larger than average family, you should visit her blog. She hosts a blog carnival on Tuesdays called Tuesday's Tips for Mom. This post is part of her carnival. (I've never done anything like this before. I hope it works.)

We are beginning our summer schedule this week. Basically we do math review, lots of reading and work on things I don't have much time for during the school year. (training how to do new chores, art projects, etc.) One of the things my kids enjoy most is Buddy Time. Last week when I told the children I was working on the summer schedule, several of them asked me if we were going to have Buddy Time again this year. They said it was their favorite part of the day.

I have 8 children ages 13 (on Friday), 11, 9, 7, almost 6, 3.5, 19 months and 8 weeks. The oldest six participate in Buddy Time. During this time each of the older 3 is matched with one of the younger three. The younger child then picks what he/she would like to do. My older children have toys/collections that they don't allow their younger siblings to play with without supervision. Buddy Time allows the younger children to play with these items under the watchful eye of its owner. This year we've decided to have a few days when the older child gets to pick the activity. We rotate pairings through all the children. Our schedule allows for this activity to last for 30 minutes, however last summer I was constantly asked if it could last longer. I've scheduled this activity prior to nap/quiet hour. If the children are quiet (and aren't one of my nappers), I allow Buddy Time to last longer.

Another benefit to Buddy Time is that it forces all of the children to spend one-on-one time with their younger brothers and sisters. For the most part my children spend large amounts of time enjoying one another. However I've noticed one girl and one boy don't often choose to play together. One prefers to be outside and the other prefers quiet inside activities. I've enjoyed watching this pair during Buddy Time, especially when they are laughing together. I think this activity has helped their overall relationship.

Hayley assist Kathryn with one of her favorite activities...dressing her dolls.

Ashley and Will are battling Lord of the Rings and Star Wars action figures.

Emily and Luke have developed a baseball game just for two.

Tuesday’s Tip for Mom is a blog carnival hosted at Raising Olives to allow moms to share what they have learned along the path of motherhood. Join us every Tuesday as we learn and share tips and ideas for spending time with, encouraging, training or relating to our children.