The Long Break

So I came back to my blog because a friend was talking about starting up her own blog and I wanted to share mine with her.  It has been over a year since I last posted.  A lot has happened.  We moved…again!  But this time it was a local move because we were able to do something that we had never done before.  We bought a house!  Fifteen years and 4 kids later and we now have a home of our own!IMG_0413

It was a grueling search and you really don’t realize just how much paperwork you are going to have to fill out when you apply for a mortgage and then sign at closing!  But it was an awesome experience last year.

We have also been able to find a church home too and are plugging in more this year.  Two of our boys have the privilege to be able to go to the camp gatherings for their age group.  They are SO excited!  It has been rough for them since we moved and they are still opening up to their group and trying to make friends.

Our oldest son is going to be in high school this year.  I am SO not ready for that.  Thankfully, I am not alone on this journey.  There are many of my friends who are homeschooling their children through high school and I can always call my mom, who homeschooled my sister and I through high school.  Also, just one of the tools in my arsenal is a 4-year planner from The Well Planned Day.  It helps you plan out the high school years.  This is something that I am looking forward to using with him.  He is currently working on writing a book.  He loves to read and play minecraft when his studies are done.

Our second son will be entering the 4th grade and has expressed his desire to get back in to Karate or Tae-kwon-do.  We had to stop TKD when we moved from Pennsylvania 2 years ago and it is something he really enjoyed and misses.  Hopefully we can get him back into that program.

Our third son will be working on a modified kindergarten/1st grade.  Our suspicions were confirmed that he had some sensory issues and he was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.  So now we have several days where we go to Occupational and Speech therapy.  His occupational therapist has integrated music therapy in his sessions which has helped him a lot.  My goal is to get a listening system for us at home, but since it is considered an alternative therapy, insurance doesn’t cover it.  This is frustrating because having him use it just a couple more times a week would solidify the benefits he receives at OT during the week.

Our daughter will be doing pre-k/k activities, plus sitting in with our family classes during the day.  She loves to do what her brothers do during school and insists on “school time”.  She loves to dance and play with her dolls and all things girly.  That said, she also plays with her brothers and their toys.  From Lego’s to action figures, she is all about playing with them.  She rough houses with them and when they try to get her, she goes back full force!  She love them so much and they love her too.  I foresee an interesting time when she wants to go on a date.  Daddy is one thing, but she has 3 older brothers who are VERY protective of their baby sister.

This year is Darren’s and mine 15th Anniversary.  I’m not sure what we plan on doing to celebrate, but we want to do something for this year.  We have been blessed during our 15 years.  It has taken a lot of work too. Two job layoffs, 1 cross-country move, 1 local move (basically 2 moves happened in 1 year), 4 children and a lot of fun/crazy times.  Keeping God first has been the key to making it through every challenge brought our way.  I am thankful that God brought me a man who loved the Lord.

I am really looking forward to this year.  So many great things have happened and continue to happen for our family.  The past couple of years have been full of changes and challenges, but God has brought us through them all.  It may often seem like there is so much darkness around us, but without it we can’t see the light.

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Welcome to 2015!

Wow!  2014 was quite the ride for us!  As the title of this blog states, Life’s Amazing Adventures!  We certainly had many this year.

From moving across the country to hospital visits, surgeries, adjusting to a new area, making new friends and finally meeting some friends from online, the year has been FULL of adventure!

To start 2014 we found out the status of Darren’s job was changing and he had to look for other employment.  Searching in our home state of Pennsylvania was turning up nothing and so we made the decision to look outside of PA.  Another division of the same company Darren works for is based in Oklahoma and they liked what they saw in his resume and went through the interview process which led to a new job.  This meant a move 1000+ miles from where we were living!  Talk about an adventure!  We packed up our family of 6 and moved across the country to what is called “Green Country”.  Tulsa, Oklahoma is our new home!

This was probably our biggest adventure by far.  We have adjusted to a new time zone which now makes traveling east to visit family a bit more fun with the time change.  The temperature difference has been quiet interesting as well.  I think this past summer we saw a high of 106 degrees. Apparently though that is lower than the “normal high” here of approximately 110-120 degrees.  Yikes!  So far the winter has been pretty normal to what we were used to in Pennsylvania. As long as we don’t hit -20 degrees I think we will be ok.

We are continuing homeschooling as well and are trying to figure out the best routine for our family.  Josef still has speech therapy 1x a week so that day we typically do light school work.  Of course I am still adjusting to learning styles and trying to find curriculum that allows for the various styles our children utilize for learning.

Jonathan turned 12 last year and of course I know moving and leaving the church you grew up in is a hard thing.  I was 14 when my parents made the decision to move back to Gatlinburg and switch churches.  It was hard.  I only hope that we can guide him well over the next crucial years (well they are all crucial) and guide him the way that God wants him to go.

Jordan is 7 and growing like crazy.  He amazes me with all that he is learning and how quickly too!  He is very active and has really enjoyed learning the game of Minecraft.  We have to be careful of this as it tends to draw him in.  Limits must be set to keep him from spending so much time on the computer.

Josef is 4 (though will be 5 in 13 days).  Switching speech therapists midstream was difficult.  He really liked Miss Brittany and I knew it would be hard for him to switch.  Broke my heart when we had to say goodbye the last time.  I could tell he was sad. Though I don’t know who was more sad, Josef or myself.  He is doing well with Mrs. Erin.  I am applying the things she suggests into our “school” time for him.  I can’t believe my baby boy is growing so fast.

Cordelia is 2 and going on 13.  She is the little mother hen.  It is so funny because she will come right after me and say the same correction in the same tone as I do.  I try not to laugh, but it is hard not to.  She is so observant and learns things so fast!  She especially loves the kitchen and going in there to get my pots, pans and measuring utensils and then proceed to make her own little meals and such.  Having a girl is such a change from the 3 boys.  I welcome it with open arms.  Life is an adventure!

To add to this adventurous year, I went into the hospital over halloween weekend.  I had been dealing with pain in my lower right side for a few days then the nausea and lack of appetite kicked in on day five.  I went to the urgent care which sent me for a CT scan to see if I had appendicitis.  Fortunately I did NOT have appendicitis.  However, I did have EXTREMELY low hemoglobin, iron and red blood cell count.  This required an overnight stay that turned into 3 nights in total.  Lots of tests were run, lots of questions asked, 4 units of blood transfused and 3 units of iron infused.  I had no idea how dangerously low these counts were and just how much they affected my body.  We also had to figure out the source of the blood loss that caused these numbers to be so low.  Ultimately it came from bleeding that I didn’t get taken care of sooner.  A dangerous situation to be sure.  The root cause required out-patient surgery and is completed.  I am now on the road to recovery.

So this year has been full of ups, downs, changes, emergencies and such.  Definitely a year of adventure in the life of our family.  Praying that this upcoming year is full of adventures here in Tulsa.  Discovering our new home town, making new friends and visiting friends who are already here, learning about life in the west and hopefully some good thunderstorms will come our way.  🙂

Why it’s best to Price Match!

So, we bought a Brother Laser Printer last year.  One of our most expensive purchases in a while, but it has been well worth it.  Nearly 2000 pages printed in black in and I am about 3/4’s of the way through the color toner cartridges.  It survived a 1000+ mile move from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma as well!  So I would definitely recommend Brother as a brand for laser printers.  We have the MFC-9130CW.

Now we ran out of toner about 2 weeks ago and as you might guess, this does not bode well for the homeschool family.  We use our printer almost daily!  From worksheets, to reading guides,, activities to business things our printer is used a lot!

Today we went to Staples to pick up a new toner cartridge.  Well, I get there and the cartridge is $85.99.  OUCH!!  I knew they were pricey but didn’t realize that they were THAT pricey!  There was a sign the aisle about price matching guarantee which included Amazon (it has to be SOLD and SHIPPED from Amazon for this to work!).  I whipped out my iPhone and used the Amazon app to scan the barcode for my toner.  Prices as low as $49.99 new!  The first offer wasn’t Amazon.  Bummer!  But the second price was for Amazon, $56.29!  SCORE!  Almost $30 dollars LESS than what Staples was charging!  I couldn’t believe it.

So I picked up my cartridge and a few other things I needed and headed to the checkout lane.  I informed the clerk that I had a price match using Amazon for the cartridge and showed her the screen on my phone.  We then had to wait for a supervisor who then verified it was sold from and shipped by Amazon (very important to know this!).  I was honestly only expecting the price match which was a difference of $29.70.  But their price match is 110%, not just 100% (which is really cool!).  So my TOTAL discount off the cartridge was $32.67 and made the cartridge $53.32!

It really pays to have a smart phone with the Amazon App!  Saved me more than thirty dollars today because of that.  We also used it when we bought the printer from Best Buy which saved us more than $100 by searching for it on Amazon.  And Best Buy does have the same policy which is the item has to be sold and shipped from Amazon.

Here is my Receipt to show the guarantee!

I hope this little tip has been helpful to you!  It certainly has been for us.  As a family of 6 with one income it really helps to save wherever we can.

Beth

If You Were Me book series by Carole P. Roman – Review

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About 2 weeks ago I was contacted to review 2 of Carole’s new titles in her “If You Were Me” series.  I was able to review for her last year as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  If you would like to see that review, click here.

Carole has written several other books.  A series by the name of Captain No Beard, a book that was created out of her love for Yoga, and then the If You Were Me series that allows children to learn about different countries and cultures.  She really enjoys

We received the books If You Were Me and Lived in Russia and If You Were Me and Lived in Australia for the purpose of this review.

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Since it is now summer we typically do a light school work for math, English and reading.  These books fit in perfectly during our reading time.  Sometimes all of the kids are awake during this time period but sometimes it’s just my oldest 2.   We have 4 children.  Three boys, Jonathan, Jordan & Josef and 1 daughter, Cordelia.  They range in age from 12 to 2 years old.

We actually read these in the evening so that everyone could participate in the questions.  I really am grateful that the books have included pronunciation of words from that country.  Otherwise I would probably do a not so good job at the pronunciation.

At the end of each book I took the time to ask questions regarding what they had heard.  Whether it was some of the new words (again thankful for the pronunciations and definitions at the back) or asking about cities mentioned or other details the book provided.  The kids were able to recall a good bit of what was read.

I really like to have our oldest, Jonathan, copy a few of the new words and their definitions.  Then I have him work on memorizing them over the next 2 weeks.  For Jordan I work on about 2-3 words for memorizing definitions and copying down the word several times.

The books are probably on a 1-3 grade level and all of our children have enjoyed them.  They have had me pull out the first 4 books we got just so we could go through them again.  I am so glad that my children enjoy reading as a family and that they like to even bring out books we have read already.

You can go to Carole’s website and follow the links there to purchase her books.  I know I will be looking to get her other If You were Me books for our schooling. 

Blogging through the Alphabet – K is for Kindle

A Kindle is a device that allows you to read books electronically.  I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure about  purchasing one of these devices.  I am one who loves to feel the weight of a book in my hands, the feeling of turning an actual page, the smell of the paper and ink. 

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My dad worked in a print shop and while they didn’t print books, they did a lot of other printing.  The smell of the print shop was unique.  My dad would come home with his fingers tainted.  Even after using LAVA soap to scrub the ink off of his hands.

I remember going there after soccer practice and games.  The guys who worked there were like

family to me.  I could sit and watch them as they worked.  It was a unique experience to see the inner workings of a print shop.

I think that is why I am so partial to the paper and ink of physical books.  I appreciate what it takes to make them (well at least the printing aspect).  There is just something special about holding a book in your hands while reading.

That said, if you saw my house and the massive amount of books you would see why we finally
broke down and bought a Kindle. 

The Kindle Fire has been a wonderful addition to our house since Christmas of last year.  I had been using a Kindle App. on my phone up until this point.  But the massive amount of books I have gotten (mostly free) for the Kindle is great.  I have purchased some books. Mainly when they are available at a great discount.  But I would say that the most of my collection is free books. 

I love getting free kids educational books and classics.  I have added them to the Kindle FreeTime app that is available.  We have an account set up for each of the kids.  It has books and apps that we allow them to use.  We can set up time limits and also limits through a category.  Whether it is videos, apps or books.  This has been a great help in limiting how much technology is used in our house.

The only thing that I do have an issue with is that I can’t share documents or things like that with my oldest on his FreeTime account.  This is a dilemma for school and I have yet to find a way to resolve it.  But I am working to figure it out.

We have a lot of education and mind building apps.  A few just for fun apps too.  I do restrict the app time to 45 minutes. 

Josef, our youngest uses it when I am working with the older two boys.  There are some apps on there that are educational for him.  He has picked up quite quickly how to operate the Kindle.  Something about technology and young ones.  They are learning earlier and earlier. 

Overall, I would say that I am pleased with our Kindle purchase.  There are some things that I wish were better about it.  Like the fact that the Kindle can actually be reset  from the kids side.  This completely wipes everything out that you downloaded and is something that I think needs to be fixed on their end.  That is probably my only complaint.

Today

Well this concludes about 3 weeks of birthday celebrations in our house…  I have a love/hate relationship with cake.  I love to eat it, but I hate what it does to me.  So needless to say that I am GLAD it is all out of our house and that I can get back to my regularly scheduled programming (eating).  Sweets in the house TOTALLY throw me off my game!  But hey, when you have 4 birthdays in 3 weeks, it’s bound to get a little crazy! 

So this is going to be a short but sweet post (pun intended there).  I got to visit my family today.  It’s been since last November (2012) that I saw them.  I was probably at one of my heaviest weights then too.  Gotta love the holidays.  So this was after the biggest loser challenge and I had lost 7lbs (gained 5 over the past 3 weeks due to cake and not really going to the gym.).  But I am ok with that.  Tomorrow is a new day! 

Anyways, my dad saw me and asked if I had lost some weight.  Please note, he hasn’t seen me since November.  Well I haven’t lost a lot of weight, but I have been toning up.  Muscle burns fat after all!  🙂  I gotta keep remembering that!

So while my weight isn’t where I want it to be, the changes are getting more noticeable to others and myself.  I just gotta keep plugging away.  I feel like Scarlett O’Hara saying “After all, Tomorrow is another day!”