Happy Monday

Monday, June 30, 2008

In planning a 4th of July get together for a few friends I came upon these recipes for cute cakes and desserts. I thought if anyone was looking for some birthday ideas these might fit the bill. I like that they are hand made and you don't need a preformed pan to create them. I think it's more fun and creative to build it yourself, and kids would love helping. Some of these, like the dinosaur and space shuttle, could even be used as an extension of a unit study. There are also some 4th of July recipes. Lots of fun ideas for getting the kids in the kitchen if you poke around the site.

Apparently Money Does Grow on Trees

Saturday, June 28, 2008

It was a hot and sticky day and we were on our third errand, heading into the grocery store. My 6 year old darling son asked if he could get "just a small toy, like a parachute man or car or something?" as a reward for his "best behavior." My reply was "No, I'm not buying anything extra, just the groceries we need." He persisted, pleading and reminding me of how "good" he'd been on our outing. Good? hmm, arguable at best, I thought to myself. Again, I said "no" and the whining ensued. I was in no mood to deal with this, as I was hot, tired and busy wrestling a wiggly and hungry 10 month old into the shopping cart while using one leg to block my three year old from running into the parking lot. I muttered something about how "money doesn't grow on trees" and instantly realized that I'd finally become my mother. The real kicker came when I realized I'd been outsmarted, however, as ds emphatically replied (his voice giving away his annoyance at my ignorance), "Yes it does! It's made of paper isn't it?!"

4th of July Fun

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Ah, the 4th of July, the pinnacle of summer. I love it! Backyard barbeques, beach time, fireworks, and all things bright, sparkly and savory. What's not to love? Looking for some fun lessons for the 4th? How about pyrotechnics? Here's a cool site that explores the science behind the excitement that explodes on July 4th. And don't miss these great lesson plans on Americana. Find some related children's books here.
Dig deep into history at this awesome site and explore the archives of the charters of American freedom.
Looking for some crafty fun and star spangled treats? Be sure to take advantage of all the fresh seasonal fruits and veggies. 4th of July is a favorite holiday and guarantees the opportunity for making great summer memories. So, how do you plan on celebrating?

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


My window washer.

John Adams

Monday, June 23, 2008

Anyone else watching the HBO John Adams series? I bought it for my husband for Father's Day and we've been watching it nightly. He's seen almost all of it and I've seen bits of most episodes...I have more interruptions with laundry, the kids etc., and I go to bed earlier. Anyway, it's very well done and I'm loving it! My dad is a big history buff and I remember watching the Winds of War and the North and South with him growing up. It was romanticized history, but so enthralling! I always wished I could transport myself back in time and would day dream about it on visits to Colonial Williamsburg.
So, sorry for neglecting the blog posts, I'm currently glued to the tube for some grown up edutainment ;P

Great American Backyard Campout

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I recently saw this posted on an online forum. The fourth annual Great American Backyard Campout is coming up soon. I don't think I've ever heard of this (where was I for the first three???) and was wondering if anyone has done this or plans to this month? Sounds like fun and I'm sure my 6 and 3 year olds would LOVE it. We've never taken them camping. In fact, I've never been camping. (Don't get me wrong, I love the outdoors, but I do so need my hot shower and fluffy pillows). My 10 month old would be a huge handful at a campsite; he's not quite walking, but never sitting still and always eating what he can get his hands on. Maybe we'll set up camp, cook out, tell stories and sing camp songs (off key-I can't carry a tune in a bucket) roast marshmellows, then climb into our cozy warm beds inside the house. Ok, it's cheating, I know. Can I at least have a real shower in the morning?

Crab Wrangling

Friday, June 20, 2008














A favorite summer pass-time of ours is walking down to the river to watch the blue crabs. We've been anxiously awaiting their arrival this summer and finally saw a few last week. In summer's past the kids have loved walking the few blocks to the water to watch the crabs and try to catch one. They are swift and remarkably smart considering their brains are contained in the tiny portion in front of their shells where their eyes are. My dear dare-devil 6 year old son likes to bring "bait" (a hot dog, piece of bread, or whatever he can steal from the kitchen) and his crab net on our outings. He has managed to entice a crab into his net on occasion. Then it is always very exciting (and comical) to watch mom try to free the buggar without getting pinched. (We don't need no stinking gloves!) We never keep them. I can't bear the screaming as they are plunged into the pot of boiling water. (Yes, I know, I'm a tree-hugging bleeding heart liberal. My husband tells me so frequently).
Blue crabs have fascinated us. We attended a blue crab class at the Mariner's Museum last spring and learned all sorts of fascinating facts as well as how to tell a male from a female...blue claws versus red, or capitol building versus empire state on the abdomen. Learn more about blue crabs here and here.
If you get the chance to go crab wrangling, give it a whirl! You and your kids won't be disappointed ;)

video

Eco-Friendly Schooling

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It seems green is the new black. Green is everywhere, the grocery store, home improvement stores, on TV, in the news. The campaigns to go green abound. Hey, I'm not knocking it, I'm all for it. I just hope the new fashion is more than a passing trend. If you are homeschooling and are hip to the new green, (or were green even before it was in vogue) Ecobrain delivers a valuable service: online books. Green learning. Why not save trees while you study? Check it out. There are some interesting topics and something for just about everyone. eBooks on cooking, parenting, nature, green living, fiction, and more. They even have Magic School Bus titles and other kid literature. Great fun! Go Green!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Life's messy. And sometimes big messes come in little packages. This one was presented to me just this morning. Good thing I've got a Woolly Hoover. It is amazing. Does a very thorough job and never looses suction. Some days I don't know how I'd live without it!

Wordless Wednesday


We love a family trip to the ice cream parlor on a hot summer evening. This is my daughter's ice cream face after a recent visit to Cold Stone Creamery.
Check out more Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Click and Learn

Monday, June 16, 2008

A few cool new resources I thought I'd share... I've been in a bit of a slump lately and began searching for a fresh perspective and some new ideas for studying. I came across a couple of resources I hadn't seen before and thought they were worth sharing. The first is a PBS Teachers Resource site. It's free to join, open to homeschoolers and has some great links. When you sign up you automatically get 10% off in their online store as well. Another is LearningPlanet.com which includes, games, quizzes, printables and more categorized by grade level. You can check out some of the activities for free and they offer a 10 day free trial of the site. A year's membership is $39.95. I also like Lifeprint, which I had seen but forgotten about, this site offers lesson plans and an online dictionary for American Sign Language. Very cool! Also try funology, Seussville , Weekly Reader online and I love the Berenstain Bears! Have some fun :)

$10 Gift Certificate to Outback Steakhouse

Just a quick post for a freebie. Follow the instructions below to get a $10 gift certificate to Outback Steakhouse. When you receive the certificate, activate it online at outback.com and you will be entered to win a $100 gift card.
To request a promotional certificate send self addressed stamped envelope (VT residence may omit postage) to: Outback Steakhouse Fathers Day Certificate Request, 2202 N. West Shore Blvd. Tampa, FL 33607. Requests must be received by July 5, 2008. Limit: One (1) per envelope. One (1) request per day. Illegible, incomplete or mechanically reproduced requests are void. Not responsible for lost, late, damaged, delayed, postage due or misdirected mail/requests.

Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 15, 2008



Wishing a very happy and fun-filled family day to all of you! Here are some cute craft ideas in case you need a last minute gift ;) Let dad sleep in, make him some breakfast with the kids and leave a sweet homemade card at his place at the table.

Healthy Eats

Friday, June 13, 2008

Since we've established that cooking at home and making meals from scratch will save you money on groceries, here's a site that will healthify your recipes. This is so cool, send in your recipe and the site will give you a healthy version with substitutions for making your favorite meals better for your bod. Or, you can search for healthified recipes from their archives. Check it out, there everything from mac and cheese, to brownies, even gravy! Good eats with less guilt. What's not to love?

The Daily Dog Bone


Max enjoys a birthday bone.
Happy Birthday buddy!
Woof!

The Daily Dog Bone

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Tomorrow is Max-a-doodle's birthday. What a handsome boy!

Save Me Some Moola! Money Saving Tips

Ok, as promised, here are some tips and resources to help save money on groceries. Grocerysavingtips.com has some great advice, printable coupons and recipes for stretching your budget. I like that the site is categorized by grocery shopping aisles for easy reference and they offer a newsletter if you'd like to have monthly tips emailed to you. The author also offers budgeting ideas and more frugal living resources on her sister site, betterbudgeting.com. Another site with a slew of great tips is save-money-on-groceries.com. Lots of common sense advice here like don't shop when you're hungry. But, some other tips I hadn't thought of as well. An easy read and worth the time. Here's an interesting article, by Alanna Kellogg with loads of down to earth advice. And if you are willing to make a few lifestyle changes, you may not need those coupons after all! And this article shows how one family thrives on just $20 a week by using coupons. Other ways I save money are through earning points for gift cards and freebies. I am a member of mypoints which gives points to members for reading emails and for purchases through their site. I only occasionally purchase items online that I would be buying anyway and that are cheaper than in store (ie pet meds). I earn enough points for 3-4 gift cards per year worth $25 -$50. These come in handy for gifts or extras. I often use my points for Barnes and Noble gift cards which I use to purchase books for my kids online through mypoints so that my points are earning more points (10 per dollar for B&N, so my $25 free gift card earns me another 250 points). Used wisely they add up quickly. It's worth the few minutes a day to open emails (usually 4-5 a day). I also am a member of e-rewards which "pays" members for online surveys. When I first signed up I was unimpressed with the reward selection (mostly airline points and magazines, which I don't use) but after a few months I realized that by completing just 3-4 surveys, I could accumulate enough reward money for 6 free Blockbuster movie rentals. I am on my 3rd set of free rentals in less than a year. The reward comes in the form of printable coupons, one per month for 6 months. Plus, when I use my Blockbuster rewards card to rent movies I also earn free rentals through Blockbuster's program, by renting my free e-rewards movies. So, I rarely pay for movie rentals. (I also collect Pampers points on diapers and have gotten 2 free Blockbuster gift cards for 2 movies, 2 coke products and a bucket of popcorn.) Needless to say, we watch a lot more movies than we used to, and for free! Other sites that pay well include ebates.com and surveysavvy.com. If you'd like to sign up for any of these sites, email me (melissabrich@gmail.com) and I'll send you a referral link. I have a printable coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase at Target as well, if you want that.
That's all I have for now. I hope this helps you fatten your wallet and enjoy some cheap eats and entertainment. I'll keep searching out great deals and keep posting them here so stay tuned. Please, post your great finds in comments!
And, if you missed my first post on grocery saving tips click here.

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


A rousing game of Hop on Pop...
Happy Father's Day!

Check out More Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom.

What are you giving Dad as a Father's Day gift?

Save Me from this Sweltering Heat & How Can I Save Some Money?!

Monday, June 9, 2008

I think the heat has gotten to me. It's hot in this house and miserable outside. Even I'd-live-outdoors-if-you'd-let-me Aiden says it's too hot to play outside, so you know it's Africa hot. And, now I've got kids bouncing off the walls. I'm just feeling a little weary.

The birthday was a blast and Brynie now owns just about every Go Diego Go product on the market. She's a happy "bid free year old dirl." I can't believe she's three! I'm feeling old.

Sorry to be light on content...I'll get it together soon, I promise. I have been scouring the internet for money saving resources and ideas. The cost of living has made me down right grumpy. I would love to hear from you about what you're doing to save money and what you do to make some cash. Once I compile all of my resources I'll post them here to share the wealth, so to speak.

For a few quick tips, check out my previous post on saving money on groceries. And check out the Hillbilly Housewife (love her!). I recently found this site and love it. There are some great ideas for eating cheap and well and it's all laid out with shopping lists and to do lists...if only I was as organized with everything ;)

I'm off to try for a good night's sleep...for a change. Tomorrow morning brings well baby visits and immunizations x 2, what fun! At least it's cold at the hospital ;P
Stay cool,
~M

The Daily Dog Bone

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Why the long face Max?

Yipee for Me I'm Turning Three!

Saturday, June 7, 2008



Happy Birthday Brynie!

Summer is a Great Time for Exploring Nature

Friday, June 6, 2008

My six year old loves Animal Planet and often pretends to be a croc hunter. My three year old is obsessed with Diego and pretends to rescue animals. I love that they have both become animal lovers. We go on family walks after dinner and often spot cool creatures to look up online. We've seen osprey, Canadian geese, mallards, rabbits, robins, cardinals, blue crabs, blue jays, woodpeckers, turtles, blue herons, raccoons, and the occasional Great Dane;) The opportunities for learning naturally abound this time of year. Walks, trips to the beach or just playing in the back yard will offer unique and up close encounters with nature. Here are a few sites I've recently explored and found very useful:
enatureTV
WebRangers
National Geographic Kids
National Wildlife Federation Kids
Globio
The Life of Birds
Check them out and see what you think.

Save Your Sour Puss, This is Sweet!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ahhh, summer is here. The weatherman's forecast for the rest of the week was hot, hazy and humid. Sounds to me like a great time to have a lemonade stand. Why not? Everyone is garage sale-ing on weekends to eek out a little extra gas money, the kids are getting out of school and the neighborhood should be a hoppin' with plenty of thirsty passersby. What a fun way to teach the kids to set up shop, market their wares and hone their people skills (with a little math thrown in on the sly). Last fall we had a garage sale and I helped the kids set up a lemonade stand. We also sold brownies and cookies. They had a blast and actually made more money than the "grown ups."

Sunkist is offering free lemonade stand kits, while supplies last, if you pledge to donate your profits to a good cause. (Bonus lesson in philanthropy). And, be sure to check out these free printables to make your stand stupendous. Another site that stands for a good cause, Alex's lemonade.

Whatever you choose, make it fun and make it sweet. Cheers!

The Daily Dog Bone


Watch dog on the alert.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 3, 2008



For more Wordless Wednesday, check out 5 minutes for Mom.

Interesting Posts about Homeschooling by Dr. Laura

Dr. Laura...I don't agree with everything she says, but I love her matter of fact, no bs attitude and thought these posts on homeschooling were worth sharing.

The Daily Dog Bone

Win a Dyson Vacuum

Growing up I remember how much I hated vacuuming. The chores were divided between my sisters and I, and I was the vacuumer. Now, it's one of my favorite chores because it doesn't seem as tedious as dusting (and moving all the crap on the bookshelves and dressers so I can dust) or laundry (which seems a never ending battle). At least when I vacuum I can see the floor has gotten cleaner (less dog hair and crumbs) and I feel a sense of accomplishment when I put the vacuum away and close the closet door. Like making a big check mark on my to do list. The whole house feels cleaner and tidier...that is until someone comes running in from the sandbox or the kids sit down for a snack.

Check out aordinarylife for a chance to win a Dyson. I have one, use it daily and couldn't live without it. I've tried Rainbow, Kenmore, Hoover, Panasonic, and Electrolux and Dyson beats them all on suction and cleaning power. Plus, it isn't cumbersome like many vacs. It makes life at home a little easier and that's what makes it a real gem.

A Southern Sojourn

Monday, June 2, 2008

Dh has taken leave for a couple of weeks so last weekend we finally made the trip down to NC to visit his family. It had been several months since we'd been to Mamaw and Papaw's house in Asheboro and the kids were thrilled. We went out for a steakhouse dinner Friday night, then crashed from the exhaustion of trying to entertain and appease 3 weary, wiggly, whiny, kids on the 5 hour car ride. As we nestled all snug in our beds, we were serenaded by the belching bull frogs that had taken up residence near the family pool. The rest of the weekend brought a little league game, a birthday party, tractor rides, some pool time and even a little free babysitting! Dh and I managed to steal away for an hour or so and a cuppa joe...the closest thing to a date we've had in eons! All in all it was a great weekend in the great state of NC.

"Once Upon A Time..."


This is Bryn telling a story to help pass the time on our long car ride.
video

The Daily Dog Bone


Poor Max spent a long weekend without us. We headed down to NC to visit family and Max stayed home. He always gets depressed when we leave. As a matter of fact, he starts pacing and whining when he sees the suitcases come out. It's even worse if we take him with us, though. He has the long cramped ride, of course, but he won't eat while we're gone. He gets very anxious and upset. Poor guy, he's just so high strung.
He didn't stay home alone, though, my sister very graciously agreed to dogsit. She reported that Max wormed his way into the bed with her, and when she had to kick him out of the room because he was such a bed-hog (mind you, he's 165 furry lbs), he sat in the hallway and whined all night keeping her awake.

He was exhausted from the stress of it all. After our initial flappy-tailed greeting, this is how he looked the night we had returned home.

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