Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chicken coop remodeling *lots of pictures*

Last Tuesday they passed a new chicken ordinance so we are all legal to get our 13 chicks next month, woot!  I've been hacking away for the last week at the large bushes around our old shed.  The Hubbs estimates it's about 50 years old.  We have never used it for anything other than hose and toy storage.

All the wonderful moss :(

Front door

Even more moss on this side + you can see their chicken door (triangle)

The old hutch...we think a previous owner had rabbits or something

The 1 window

Demo time!  The Hubbs tore all of the roofing off of this side!

My job was complete :)

Kinda cool

The Hubbs + power tools = job well done

New plywood and tar paper which was free b/c it was leftover from building J's room

We found this white rope while we were working.  When you pull it, it opens the small door to let the chickens out...convenient!

What's next?  
New roofing on the whole thing
Power wash it inside and out
New paint on the outside
Put up the fencing (a wonderful man gave us 80' of chain-link for free)
Start buying feed, etc

I'm looking for suggestions on an exterior paint color...

Linked up at Far Above Rubies

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How much could a cookie have changed?

While I ran some errands this afternoon and The Hubbs watched the kiddos, he made some cookies for the family.  These are cookies that have been sitting for 3 months on the shelf waiting to be made.  They are SO sweet that I didn't want to eat them all, so that's why I hadn't made them.  Yet, about once every other week The Hubbs would ask me to. 

He saved me 1 because he knows my problem with sweets...I will eat them all I was thankful to have 1 cookie to eat after dinner, a nice treat.  I bit into one and it seemed off-tasting.  I couldn't peg it, and I certainly didn't want say anything to him.  I then walked by it again and took another bite and The Hubbs comes up next to me and says "They are really sweet, huh?".  That is what the off-taste was.  It was so over the top sweet compared to what we have been eating.  I jumped for joy inside!  We were finally rounding a corner I so desperatly wanted for all of us.  We have cut nearly all desserts and treats from our diet.  We're certainly eating more fruit and it shows.  I still make sweet things, but they're good for us, not just sugar and flour.

I'm so happy that our Primal 1-week challenge has had lasting effects :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Need some fellow list making/spreadsheet mamas and papas help

We are 99% sure we are going to get 13 chickens soon.  Our city is finally passing an ordinance that will allow us to have 1 hen per 2,000 sqft.  We have a shed out back that will work perfect, we just need to add some nesting boxes, put up fencing, etc.  We're not sure if we're going to get chicks or full-grown hens.  Chicks are hard work and we would have to keep a heat lamp on at all times until they get full grown (3mo).  However, buying full grown hens is hard too since we don't know if they will have a nice temperament or what they've been fed.

I need some help figuring out costs for feed, scratch, etc.  We're going to feed them organic (soy-free) feed and we plan to get that locally.  How much does 1 hen eat a day?  Can I feed them just once a day?  I've got 2 books on hold at the library and can't wait to read them :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Free shorts for I did it in 1 minute

You've likely seen all of the spring and summer clothes at the stores lately.  You've probably also noticed the price tag at say, Target, where they average $9.99.  If you like better brands, say Gymboree, than you'll pay $22.95 on average.  These prices don't take into account sales or coupons, but it gives you an idea.  If you're like me and like to have around 8 pairs of shorts for each child, than that runs you $80 - $184 for just 1 child.

If you're like me and prefer to shop used, than you can save some considerable cash.  You'll probably pay a max of $2.99 each pair, costing you $24 for 8 pairs.  Much more reasonable.

However, a few months ago it dawned on me that I could save even more money by re-using Baby J's knit sweats for summer shorts.  This morning I was going through all of his clothes; the stuff he's wearing currently (and making a pile to donate) and the big box of stuff I bought last summer at garage sales.  I came across 6 pairs of sweats that currently fit J around the waist, but weren't the correct length.  This is where that 1 minute of time = free shorts.  The pictures speak for themselves :)
I'm going to do the same thing with Miss A's cotton leggings when it gets closer to spring, since she still fits into them.  These homemade shorts may not be okay for anywhere except the backyard, but I don't mind.  If you're looking to do this for your kids but don't have any leftover sweats/legging, than now is your time to shop.  The thrift stores will be full of fall/winter clothes once the weather in your area shapes up and people start buying spring/summer clothes.  If you prefer to buy new pants, the stores are clearancing their fall/winter clothes and you can score.  The thing to remember about buying pants to make into shorts is that they only need to fit around your child's waist.

What are your favorite brand(s) of shorts for kids?  How will you save money on this summer's wardrobe?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fred Meyer extra coupon = CHEAP shoes

I really love this time of year for buying next year's clothes and shoes.  I headed to Freddy's this morning to do a little grocery shopping and remembered they had a surprise scratch coupon at the customer service desk this week.  The coupon can have 20, 25, or 30% off regular and sale prices (not clearance) and I got a 20% off one.  I headed straight for the kids' shoes department and scored 3 pairs of shoes for Mr. J.  1 pair of New Balance's, and 2 pairs of Osh Kosh's size 8 for now and size 10 for next fall (and yes, that link to Sears shows them for $9.99, super deal, which means I'll probably stop by there this week).  The total for all 3 pair was $36, so $12/pair.  I truly love NBs and OK shoes as they are made well, have nice flexible soles and have a nice wide footbed :)

I didn't find anything for Miss A in her size for that good of a deal, but we may find something at Sears.

What are your favorite children's shoe brands?  Where do you find the best deals on kids' new shoes?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Homeschooling is on the rise


Gray, TN, March 4, 2011, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC -  

Boasting an increase of 74% since 1999 and now in its fourth decade, the modern homeschooling movement is gaining followers at an astonishing rate. Homeschool, for the most part an unfamiliar term only thirty years ago when the movement began,has become a household word. U.S. educators from both public and private school arenas are very much aware of the movement and its impact, and today popular media frequently make mention of "homeschoolers," from characters in CBS's #1 show, NCIS, to homeschool grads who appear as contestants on shows such as Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Homeschooling has firmly established itself as a mainstream education alternative.

Homeschoolers are here to stay, because homeschooling works:  
  • Homeschoolers (K-12) score an average 37 points above the national average on standardized achievement tests. (HSLDA, 2009)
  • "Homeschool students possess higher ACT scores, grade point averages (GPAs) and graduation rates when compared to traditionally-educated students." (Journal of College Admission, citing a 2010 survey of homeschoolers)
  • Homeschool grads are "more likely to vote, volunteer for political campaigns, participate in boycotts or write letters to the editor. . . . Seventy-one percent of homeschool graduates participate in an ongoing community service activity compared to 37% of U.S. adults of similar ages." (NHERI) Homeschoolers are definitely impacting the political scene, as evidenced not only by the recent election of Jaime Herrera, formerly a homeschooler, as a U.S. Representative (R-WA) but also by the enthusiastic participation of homeschooled students in grassroots organizations such as HSLDA's Generation Joshua.
  • Research conducted by multiple sources has found "the home educated to be developing as well or better socially, emotionally, and psychologically than institutionally schooled children and youth." Homeschool graduates are excelling in their occupations, contributions to their communities' welfare, and their own families.
The U.S. economy is benefiting too. For example, homeschooling families obviously are committed to equip their students to keep abreast of technological advancements, as statistics show that the use of computer technology in their families nearly tripled that of the average U.S. family, based on national norms. As homeschoolers graduate and enter the workforce, U.S. industries who hire these well-prepared, independent thinkers are thriving.
And there are even more winners-taxpayers benefit as well, because home educators receive no government funding, thus reducing the burden on taxpayers. "If there were 2 million homeschool students in the United States in 2009 and the direct per-pupil expenditure was $10,100, then the homeschool community saved American taxpayers $20.4 billion . . . ." (Dr. Brian Ray, NHERI)
More and more parents are realizing it's their responsibility to educate and mentor their children-it's not the government's job, and statistics gathered in numerous research studies have proven that parents are doing a better job.
Paul and Gena Suarez, publishers of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the nation's premier homeschooling publication, are confident that the momentum of the homeschooling movement will continue to accelerate: "Homeschooling has earned its reputation as 'education that works.' We all know that the best advertisement for anything is word-of-mouth promotion, person to person, family to family. Homeschooling families are eager to talk about their success-and parents are listening. In today's economy, the homeschooling option is also appealing to families who formerly enrolled their children in private schools but can no longer afford to do that, so they're jumping on the bandwagon too. Homeschooling is here to stay."
About The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine: Celebrating their 10-year anniversary in 2011, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is recognized as the premier magazine for homeschoolers. View a sample issue here.

How do you know it's Spring?

I have a few ways to tell it's Spring around here.  First, I can't ever get enough sleep when the seasons change.  Secondly, the robin's are mating like gang-busters, even after dark.  Is this weird to just me?  Thirdly and the most obvious way to tell is the new buds on trees and plants.  I'm really looking forward to Spring.  The sunshine is what I missed most.

What do you love most about Spring?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I need your help, pretty please

 I'm finding myself in a veggie rut and I need your helpFor dinner we usually have green beans (garlicky or buttery), peas, or carrots from last year's harvest (all are previously frozen).  I don't really care for corn these days since it's considered a grain.  On occasion I prepare Brussels sprouts which only I love.  For lunch I usually cut up carrot sticks, but J (almost 2) has a hard time getting them small enough to swallow.

So, what are you and your kids' favorite veggies?