Summer Fun-Making a TeePee in your Backyard

My kids love to make indoor forts, but I thought this year we would try something a little bit more creative.  Make a TeePee!  This kids bugged me last year about it, plus I can sneak in a little learning into summer…shhh…they will never know!

How to make a TeePee!  Sticks and Cloth!  I am know it sounds simple!  Here are some great sites to get some cool ideas from!  If you make one let me know!

I also learned that you can find plans as detailed as possible or simple as you choose!

Have Fun!  Check out all our other Summer Fun!





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Makings of Strong Families-Family Traditions and Celebrations

8.  Has a strong sense of family in which tradition and celebration abound.

When Dan and I had our first thanksgiving dinner, we brought two family traditions together.    His was onion rolls and mine was dried sweet corn.  Every Thanksgiving and Christmas after that we have always have those two items, among all the other wonderful yummy foods we have!  When Jeremy moved in with us, we asked him what one food item made thanksgiving for him.  It was deviled eggs.  So now, we have three foods, for sure we make.

It is the little things that we do every year that make traditions.

  • Leaving cookies and notes for Santa.
  • Dying Easter Eggs.
  • Fireworks on the 4th of July
  • Picking Pumpkins at a Pumpkin farm
  • Hunting for easter eggs
  • opening one present christmas eve
  • breakfast in bed on mother’s day

When I asked my 5-year-old what traditions we have.  He responded “Jesus.”  Oh gosh my heart melted!  We have family celebration of Jesus every day, and bigger on Sunday.  Every holiday we celebrate Jesus is woven into it.

We have special things we do for birthday’s.  Daddy has started taking them out for birthday breakfast.  We let them pick out where or what they want to eat for dinner.  It is their special day.  We also celebrate

  • birthday
  • baptismal
  • confirmations
  • anniversaries
  • adoption days
  • graduations
  • weddings

Family celebrations isn’t about money, but about time with one and other.

Some families have weekly game nights or movie nights.  Some have pizza night.

As we get foster kids in and out, we try to see what important traditions or celebrations they may remember and if possible, use them.  Just like the deviled eggs.

What kind of traditions do you have in your family?

Need  helping getting started check out Simple Mom and 10 Ideas to Get you Started.

Hey wondering about dried sweet corn?



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Makings of a Strong Family-Shares Responsibilities among its members

6.  Shares Responsibilities among its members

Oh I could go in so many different directions here.

When everyone works together things get done.  Faster.   Better.  Easier.

Is it a women’s job?  Is it a man’s job?

Let’s just agree some things men do better.  And other things women do better.

Find the better and do them.

If the hubby cooks well, then enjoy it!  If the wife likes fixing things up, wahoo!

It is about stepping up and taking initiative to know when you need to step up.

My husband is good at this most days.  He will do dishes often.  And he puts the lefts overs away.

But guys, if your wife is having a tough day, and not feeling good-step up.  If baby is sticky, don’t walk away like you didn’t smell that.  Trash over flowing…you get the idea!

And gals, our guys work hard.  Do extra stuff for them when you can.

All over our house we are lacking this right now- initiative and shared responsibilities.  Unless mommy is giving out who is cleaning what.  It is not getting cleaned right now.  There are something that are getting done.  But I know this is where I have fallen in terms of good chores and shared responsibilities.  We have had list before, but then kids come out and in.

And when I do ask them to clean some times I get screaming and whining.  And sometimes they do it with a cheerful heart.  And sometimes they do it without being asked.

We are going to work on this.  I have already a few ides in place for the beginning of summer.  This will be easier cause AnnieQ will be done with school and it will flow better.

My Kid Organization board on Pinterest has lots of ideas for chores.  Check it out!

This is part of my Making Strong Families Series.

How do you share responsibilities?


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Makings of a Strong Families: has a Sense of Play and Humor

5.  Has a Sense of Play and Humor

All can be perfectly quiet, calm and before they know it, momma is doing something silly!  You got to!  Kids love that stuff, when moms and dads can be silly!  Watch the smiles on their faces when parents get down and play with them.

When Robby was little he had lots of toys.  But the thing he loved best was when Dan got on the floor with him and played horse.  He loved that.  The smile beamed from his face!  Sadly many parents don’t take the time to get down and play with their kids.  We often are tired or busy.  But kids they want us to play with them.  They would rather us take a ball and throw it with them than sit and watch TV or computer.  Kids would rather sit around the table playing a board game or cards on an evening then all this other stuff we have them in.

Families have to play.  Together.

 I don’t always do a good job on the together part.  You often hear-go play-so I can get things done!

I remember one time we were outside working on some yard work.  Before I knew it we had a football game going on.  The kids ate that up!  More so cause daddy was the one running the football!  Kids love parents when they play!

Marriages do better when you can be silly every once and a while.  Or more.  Most marriages balance each other one, one a little bit more serious the other a little bit more silly.  Dan and I balance each other out!  I have the daily fun down better, he has the big fun down better.

Really as I type this Isaiah walks out with a huge bead necklace, going “look at me” and “shaking his booty!”  Where’s my camera?  Humor and Play!

Jeremy and I can go from having the most serious conversation about life, to have the funnest conventions about life.  Robby thinks we are funny.  Sometimes we are.  But in our house, you just got to find humor to make it through!

When was the last time you all had a belly aching almost peed in your pants laugh?  I remember years ago, I was at my granny and pop-pop’s house.  We were playing cards like we always did there.  My great Aunt Dinny was also there.  I don’t remember what happened, but she said or did something that we all laughed so hard.  We normally didn’t laugh like that together.  But that moment, I will always remember!  We always played together, but the humor was the bellying laughing kind.

I am going to write a book.  I have been saying this for 10 years now. It is going to be called “When All Else Fails There is Always Duct Tape.  Humorous Parenting Advice”

Have fun.  Play games.  Laugh.  Blow bubbles.  Tell knock knock jokes.

How is your family playing and finding humor in life.

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Free/$1 Movies this Summer

Who likes to  goto the movies?  We love the moves doing the summer time!  Especially the free ones and the $1 ones!

A few places have release their movie list (I will update as I get more info!)

  • Monaco has released their free movie schedule:  Every Monday & Wednesday | June – August at 10:00AM
  • Regal Movies will start their Summer express in June also, but will be charging a $1.
  • Carmike $1 movies has $1 or $1.50 movies all year long.  We have a popcorn bucket for them!  We bought it for about $17 back in Jan and can fill it for about $3 every time we go!

Graphics by JW 

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Developing a Sense of Trust Makes Strong Families.

4. Develops a sense of trust

When babies are born, the first thing that they learn is trust. Trust that when they cry their needs will be met. Crying is their only form of communication. When our babies cry, we pick them up, love them, feed them, and care for them. This teaches them that every thing is ok.

This little guy above is my nephew Jon Jon. My daddy took the picture!

When you get married you form a bond of trust. For better or worse. I promise to be there.It is wise for you to create hedges or fences to make sure that trust stays true in your marriage. Listening to each other and keeping communication strong helps keep trust strong. Respecting each other creates a sense of trust.

Divorce is not in our vocabulary. We never have to worry about if we have a bad day with each other that it may end it all. We trust each other that we can make it through those tough times. We trust that God has given us the strength. But it takes work. All the time.

That trust we have in each other is something we have to teach Jeremy. He makes comments that Dan is cheating on me or me and the pool guy. Coming from a normal back ground kid, I would be mad. But we know his back ground. We know that we have to teach him, that Dan and I are strong and together. I do not go to the store to “cheat”. I goto the store to go to the store. But if you understood the history of where he grew up, this is what people did. They didn’t commit to each other for ever. They came and went. They cheated. They were not there when you needed them. Sometimes the only person you could trust was yourself.

Robby grew up with a strong sense of trust. He was hungry, I fed him. He was wet, I changed him. Yes there were times he cried and I didn’t know why. Sometimes babies cry. But we gave Robby that sense of trust.

Isaiah came to us stiff as a board. We popped him into the sling and carried him. He cried all the time. He was sick. He spit up all the time. We only fed him 3-4 ozs at a time. But in time he wasn’t stiff any more. We invested a lot to help him learn to trust. To teach him how to attach.

We did not know he was going to be ours forever. Just that he needed this. To trust.

This trust is a two way street though.

While teaching children to trust, parents trusting children is important to. Mr. Isaiah has been at it again with food. This time hiding food in the dinning room under a dresser. This brought in an ant parade. Right now I do not trust him in the kitchen. He is not allow in the kitchen. He had to get really strict with him about the kitchen and food thing.

When Jeremy move in with us I didn’t trust him. I loved him and wanted him. I just didn’t trust him. He was coming from a back ground where he had done many things and I didn’t know yet how much I could trust him. As time went on, I slowly trusted him more and more. But then when things would happen, certain trust would fly out the door and slowly had to be regained again.

Trust in the Lord you God with all your heart, mind and soul.

Trust is a funny thing. Here one day gone the next.

Why don’t you take your kids on a Trust Walk? or better yet, let them lead you!

Check out my Pinterest Board on Strong Families for more ideas on trust

How do you develop a sense a trust in your family?

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Why we are a “Foster Family.”

Dan and I never had that conversation where we said “we should be foster parents.”  We had talked about maybe adopting one day, in a fleeting conversation.  Dan knew that one day I dreamed I would loved to have had 10 kids.  I also dreamed I would drop them off at my mom’s for the summer time.

We had friends, James and Marlene, who had already taken in a teenage niece, was look at other foster care possibilities.  We attended a Youth Villages info meeting.  They deal with teens who need special care.  And I was not going to foster or adopt teens. We need to foster younger children.  Robby was only 3 at this time, almost 4.

While getting pregnant the second time around was a little bit harder, it is not impossible.  I do have PCOS  and that does making getting pregnant harder.  I left it at, if God grants me the gift (although personally being “pregnant” is not a “gift” it sucks for me horribly.  I was sick every day almost.  Between headaches and throwing up…there was not joy in it.) of being pregnant, then I would take what ever He hands me.   I have learned to trust him, cause again and again, He proves to me He is in control not me!


After Youth Villages, I knew I wanted to look a little bit more into this fostering.  So I googled DHR in our area.  I learned that there was a class starting soon, so I signed us up.  Before I knew it, we had finished class, two home visits, made many adjustments to our house, wrote our life story, made a photo album.  Why were we doing all this? Why did we want to be a foster family?

Because we wanted to give babies/kids a safe loving home to be in while giving their families a chance to get back on their feet or get a different plan in place for their kids.  This is not always the case.  But we didn’t walk in to adopt.  Or to make our family bigger.  We also knew that helping keep siblings together if possible was important to us.

After a year of taking off of fostering Robby asked me why we didn’t have any foster kids. I said I needed a break. We had just gotten done with a 14 month placement.  Robby said, “Mom we are a Fostering Family.  We are good at that”

We have fostered and done respite care for over 20 kids now.  We have learned much, seen much, and have stories to share.  Since May is National Fostering Month I thought I would share stories with you all.  I also have asked others to share their stories also.

Have you ever thought about about fostering a child?  Have you ever thought about making a difference for a child in need?  Check out AdoptUsKids on how to become a foster parent or check out your local DHR for more information.

I would love to hear your story!


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Can you Homeschool and do Foster Care?

There are a lot of questions I get asked about foster care and homeschooling.  One of the biggest one is how do you balance home school and foster care?  My answer, very carefully!

I started homeschooling Robby from the beginning for many reasons.  We knew a few homeschooling families and was very impressed of how well-adjusted to life these kids where.  We wanted our kids to reflect that.   When I stopped working, it opened the door of the possibility of homeschooling.

Robby also had some “pooping” issues when he was younger and made that “K” year very hard, so it also worked to keep him home.  As we continued we started to develop a home school mind.  When we started fostering, we started with babies. We wanted to stay younger than Robby and this worked.  While I only had two kids I kept our foster babies home.

When I got up to three kids, I enrolled my two little ones in our churches child care center two mornings a week.  I needed some time to do some time with Robby (like speech therapy) and it was easier with out the little ones.  Also when I had Dr. appointments or a meeting at DHR, I could make arrangements for my little ones to be at the center.

It wasn’t until Jeremy moved in with us in his 7th grade year that I had to enter into a public school.  We loved his teaches and counselors there!  They bent over backwards for us.  Up until then, Jeremy really hadn’t been to school, just bits of school.  At this time, I really didn’t think about homeschooling him.   Our days were balanced.  I enjoyed our after school talks we had every day over a potpie.

When he was in 8th grade (still in foster care) I asked to home school him.  We were having some problems and I knew that if we could get  home, it may help.  Our other option was private school.  We looked into one just before his 9th grade, but he was trying to live a normal life and wanted to go to normal high school.  In 10th grade he went two days and came home and asked if he could be home schooled.  I told him try one more day.  My husband felt it would be better for him to be home schooled, and here we are today.  They key with Jeremy was we knew we were adopting him when we asked to home school him while he was in foster care.

A year ago we had a bright 9-year-old move in with us. He was in 3rd grade and that was our first exposure to the elementary schools.  And our first taste in balancing foster care with home school.  And it was not easy.  We are done with homeschooling in the morning, early afternoon.  At night we don’t have homework.  But Brandle was coming home with homework and the last thing he wanted to do was homework.  He would rather play with Robby.  So I started doing some of Robby’s work in the evenings doing homework time, to help balance things out.

Doing the summer, we picked up foster care of one of Brandle’s younger brothers.  He had many behavior problems and lots of needs.  He was going into K the same as my little girl.  It was at that moment that I had to make a choice, and measure how much I can handle.  Since AnnieQ was my social butterfly, we decided to send her to K along with Michael.  We asked Robby if he wanted to go, but he said he was a homeschooling boy and he was staying that way.  So our year began with two older boys being home schooled, three in the local elementary school and  one in morning PreK.

After the boys left at Thanksgiving we decided to keep AnnieQ in school.  She had a great teacher and I felt she was in  a good place for this year.

So what have I learned from all this.

  1. If you are totally against public schools, then don’t foster care school age kids.
  2. Make sure you have good communication with the teachers.  They are part of the team working with this child.
  3. Having a homeschooling schedule and a public school schedule is hard.  Have good calendar skills.  You will need them.
  4. Homeschooling and having some in public school make it hard to do all the extra volunteer extras stuff that I wanted to do.
  5. There are many forms to fill out and beware of the fundraising.
  6. If you have ESP meetings (Special education meetings-education service plans) know your rights, and don’t feel afraid to ask questions.  This is a HUGE team effort involving you, the school, DHR, the parents (if they are involved) and anyone else who may be involved.
  7. The public school kids get jealous of the field trips the home school kids are taking.
  8. Have regular contact with teacher, either through notes, email, or phone calls.
  9. I didn’t use the bus until after the boys lefts.  My littlest one then was too active to use the bus.  But use the bus when you can.  It helps with schedules, and all the crazy deriving around you must do!
  10. Be organized with clothes for the week.
  11. Create a landing spot and files for all the papers that going to come in.  I would send school work in a folder now and then to a visit so the parents could see.
  12. It takes a few weeks to get into the swing of things.
  13. You don’t have to do everything that comes your way.
  14. You are not super mom.  Stop trying to be.  (yep yep had to keep learning that one over and over again!)

Foster care and home schooling are possible.   It just takes a lot of work. Know your family and what will work for them.

Why didn’t I home school them?  First, I knew the goal was to get them back with their family.  So I needed them to be in school to keep that part stable and “normal.”  Also, I personal needed that break from the littlest one!  Loved him dearly, but was emotionally drained ever day.  When I went to pick him up everyday I was happy to see him!  Foster children come with a whole different set of issues that your children do not have.  Knowing your limits is key!

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Strawberry picking at Brown Farms

A friend of mine invited me to go strawberry picking this year.  I was thrilled cause every year I want to go, but don’t!  Something always happening!  And this morning when I got up I wasn’t sure if we would make it with the storms coming, but I went any way!  It was about 40 minutes drive to Browns Farm in New Market, AL.  (Check around where you live for you pick farms.)

I met two friends of mine and everyone was picking when we got there (didn’t time that right!)  Each boy got a gallon bucket and started picking.  If the weather didn’t look so bad out west, I would have gotten a few more gallons today, but I knew we didn’t have time.

The web site “You Pick Your Own” I have been using for years!  I learned how to make apple butter and apple sauce over 7 years ago with it.  It has many great ideas for canning and freezing.

It is good that kids learn where food comes from.  It doesn’t just come from the supermarket.  It also teaches them to support local farmers and business!

So our picking time was about 30 minutes and as we got into the cars it started to pour!

Here is our fun!

Brown Farm, alabama, pick your ownbrowns farm, alabama, pick your own

Brown Farm

There is a flower and plant Nursery there, the rain came to fast, we didn’t get to go in this time!

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This I am looking into- A Homemade Toothpaste Recipe for Tooth Remineralization

It seems that our bathroom always has smeared in various places blue tooth paste.  While I have looked for an alternative I never really did much with it!  I may try this-use small jars and just have them dip their tooth brushes in.  It is always worth a try right!

Rethinking Oral Health Care: A Homemade Toothpaste Recipe for Tooth Remineralization.

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