Saturday, April 28, 2012

Music to my ears

Our family loves music.  We have the radio on whenever we can... during breakfast, lunch, in the car.  We have our favorite CDs ready at all times to listen to.  Someone is always singing.  In fact, right now, as I type, my 6 yr. old is singing all by herself in her bedroom, as she plays with her toys. 

Molly playing in a wedding at the age of 6!
Marykate's very first lesson at age 4

It doesn't end there though.  My husband grew up playing the violin, so we have carried that over to our children.  My oldest daughter started lessons when she was just 3 and we have continued the tradition with each child starting at either age 3 or 4.  For the most part, they all enjoy it.  Some more then others.

As the kids get older, it is fun to hear them play together for recitals, church, nursing homes, and sometimes just for family and friends.  Our favorite time of year to play together, is definitely Christmas.  We start practicing and playing Christmas music as early as November 1.   This year, as we were new to Illinois, and had only been attending our small church a few months, it was a joy, to see my husband and kids all play together on Christmas morning.  

My two older daughters are also taking guitar lessons.  It has been fun to switch things up a bit with that, and it adds another dynamic to our music.  Maddie is our singer, and has taken voice lessons.  The guitar has been fun for her to experiment with.  She loves to write her own songs, so  now she can sing along with her guitar.

With all the instruments, can also come mess.  So we came up with a great way to organize our violins, bows, etc.  We found some violin hooks at our local violin store, when purchasing our daughter's full size violin (exciting!)

Not only is this practical and functional, it's also a beautiful display in my living room.  We just love it!  I would recommend it to anyone who has one or more musicians in their home.  It also has inspired the kids to practice a lot more and makes it so much more convenient!

Last, but not least, we have the baby of the family.  He has not started violin lessons just yet, but I think he has found another interest.....

We just might have a future drummer on our hands.....

♥  Shannon

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Simple Blessings

I found this beautiful bouquet on my table this morning from the kids.  Is there anything more precious??!!  Such a simple blessing to this mom's heart!

I spent the morning outside with the kids.  It was such a beautiful spring morning.  The rain was coming, and we had flowers to plant.  We planted some sunflowers, tulips, daffodils, and lillies.  I even transplanted some hostas.  The wind was breezy, but warm, and the kittens were playful.  It was so quiet and peaceful outdoors this morning.  The kids who weren't planting with me, were swinging, and I found my oldest daughter reading under a tree.  These are the simple things in life I cherish, wonderful blessings.  To plant flowers with my daughter, find a worm in the dirt, and hand it over to my boys, find some buds on a lilac tree, I was sure was not going to bloom this year... blessings!

The lettuce, spinach and radish's are all up in the garden.  My baby helped me cut some for lunch.  Again, another blessing. 

It started to rain, so we grabbed the clothes off the line and headed inside for reading time.  My three younger children sat around me as I read to them from their History books.  We sang some songs and then they sketched on paper what they learned from the story.... Another blessing.  Precious time, that is flying by so quick, spent with my children.

Oh, sure there are days where I am pulling my hair out, laundry is piled high, dishes are filling the sink and we just can't get it together, but today was not that day.  Today I am thankful for the simple blessings in my life and the precious moments spent with my children.

♥ Shannon

Monday, April 23, 2012

Homemade Granola Cereal

"This is the Day that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it!"
What a beautiful spring day it is in our neck of the woods.  The sun is shining and it is cool and crisp outside.  The kids raced outside after chores and breakfast.  They were anxious to try out the new climbing wall contraption my husband added to the swing set yesterday.  The house is quiet, except for the sound of clothes tumbling in the dryer.  The aroma of homemade granola is filling the air, as it bakes in the oven.  I'd say that's a pretty good start to my Monday. 

I found this recipe on Tammy's Recipes website a few years ago and have tweaked it a bit (not that it needed it).  We prefer the almonds and extra cinnamon flavor along with the flax seed. This is the kids favorite cereal.  With the price of food going up, I find myself making this more and more.  I buy all my food in bulk, so I usually have the ingredients on hand.  It's so good warm out of the oven and always a special treat.  In fact, I think this will be coming out of the oven right about lunch time!

Homemade Granola Cereal:

6 c rolled oats
1/2 c brown sugar
3/4 c wheat germ
1/2 c flax seed
1/2 c coconut
2 T cinnamon
1 c chopped almonds
1/2 c nonfat dry milk

Add all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl

2/3 c honey
2/3 c vegetable oil
2 T water
1 1/2 t vanilla

Combine honey, oil, water and vanilla.  Add to dry oats mixture and mix thoroughly.   Turn into two large shallow greased baking pans or cookie sheets.  Heat in 300 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until lightly toasted.  Stir twice during baking.  Let cool for 15 minutes and then stir again.  Store in tightly sealed container.  Add raisins before serving if desired.  Baking time may vary depending on your oven.

I usually double or triple this recipe whenever I get around to making it. This is such a delicious, nutritious cereal, filled with fiber and flavor.  It's definitely a family favorite!  The kids are making their way back inside now, so we better get started on school....

♥  Shannon

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Weekends at our house

This is what the weekend looks like at our house....

Maddie's pumpkin muffins.  We love to have a special treat on Saturday mornings for breakfast!

There is a lot of lounging around....

but there is always work to be done.

The garden needs to be plowed....

 forts need to be built

and trees need to be climbed.

There is always time for some extreme swinging.

And then, there are the baby kittens to tend to.....

I LOVE Saturdays at our house!

Friday, April 20, 2012

New Life

We have baby kittens!  This is our first.  I have city kids, gone country... so this is a big deal for us. 

Straight from the mouth of my baby, when I showed him the babies "It's just like a miracle, mom"
I couldn't have said it better myself .

♥  Shannon

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A birthday present for our baby

My how the years fly by.  It seems like only yesterday, I had 5 babies... My oldest was only 7 when baby #5 was born.  I thought those years of diaper changes, car seats, blankies, Dr. visits, laundry piles, sleepless nights, diaper changes ( I know I already mentioned that), would never end.  Now here we are 5 years later....  How is it that my baby is 5, and we are soon to be parents of a teenager?!! 

We wanted to do something special for our baby, as he is only going to turn 5 once.  So we decided to build him a see saw.  Now, we have done this once before.  It was five years, 4 states, and 3 moves ago.  We lived in Wisconsin.  He doesn't remember it.  We had to sell it in our move and have always wanted to build another one.  A few months earlier we set out to find our antique wagon wheels and found the perfect set, for our now bigger, more grown up kids.

  We were lucky enough to find a pair of antique wheels, that were original, still on the axle.  This made our job a lot easier!  Notice how large/wide these wheel are.  I had an idea!  We had just enough room to make it a double see saw, now only one child would be left out... maybe that's not such a great idea after all ;) 

It was birthday weekend and grandpa and grandma were coming to visit.  This was the perfect project for father, son and two grandsons to work on together.

With all four boys helping.... it didn't take long at all, and the see saw was finished.  The kids couldn't wait to test it out!

  Grandma even chimed in and suggested we add some old tractor seats to the middle, for extra seating.  We happened to have some, and now all five kids can play at once.  We even have room for a friend! 

This see saw is definitely special to our baby, because he got to help his dad and grandpa make it.  It doesn't get any better then that!

♥  Shannon

Thank you Pinterest

Today was a typical day in our home.  The older girls had guitar lessons to start off our morning, then home for some school, and then lunch.  I was looking forward to this afternoon, as we had no place to go, and I was planning on spending the day outdoors, mowing the lawn, planting my raspberries, transplanting some hosta's and daylillies, and possibly starting my strawberry patch.  Gardening is what I love to do in my down time.  It's relaxing, and oh so enjoyable to this mom, after a day of housework and homeschool.  Especially this time of year, as the crabapple tree's are blossoming, and the smell of lilac's in the air.  I can't get enough of it!

I had such a busy morning, I paid no attention to the weather report.  Well just about the time I had done a few laps with the mower, and the kids were nicely settled in at the swing set.  The rain came down and showed no signs of stopping.  I was disappointed, and will hopefully get to work on my gardening tomorrow.  I decided since we were heading indoors, I would lift my spirits with a little pinterest project I wanted to get done.  It would take some rearranging, but I had the entire afternoon free, so I went forward with it. 
I've been wanting to arrange my dishes in the antique secretary, that was once my husband's great grandfathers.  It has special meaning to us, as we  named one of our sons after him. 

I couldn't stop there however.... I was just getting started and had more dishes to display.  I decided to bring in another antique cabinet, one I had found at a garage sale last summer.  It however was in my daughter's room filled with stuffed animals, American Girl dolls, piggy banks, beads, etc...  That will be another day!  Here is what I finally accomplished this afternoon, and I am lovin it!

Great Grandpa's Menter's secretary

I got my inspiration for this display off pinterest.

So, I guess at the end of the day, I can thank pinterest for the inspiration to accomplish this task, that has been on my mind for a year now.  Now on to my daughter's room....

♥  Shannon

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Playroom makeover, before and after

With 5 kids we accumulate a lot of stuff.  Toys being the #1.  My husband is just as much to blame for this mess, as he cannot pass up a good deal.  And then there are the toys that were passed down from generation to generation (dad's old toys, he can't give up).  We have a birthday in our house, just about every other month, and then you add on the Holidays, and let's just say our play room was out of control!  

Don't forget about what happens when friends come over to play.... EVERY. SINGLE. TOY. gets dumped out!  We knew there must be a better, more organized way. 

So here we have it.  White wire shelves (you can purchase at any home improvement store), with clear, labeled totes.  We placed the older toys, they were less likely to play with everyday, on the higher shelves, and everyday toys on the lower shelves.  All blocks, Lego's, fisher price, Lincoln logs, Thomas the train, etc., are stored in the totes.  The rule is, one tote down at a time, and it must be picked up and put back on the shelf before another tote comes down.  Now, I'm not going to lie and say my playroom looks like this all the time,  but this system is definitely working out for us.  This gives the kids a lot more floor space, and they seem to be enjoying their toys a lot more! 

♥ Shannon

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


As a family of 7, it can be pretty expensive to buy cheese, milk, any dairy for that matter.   Well I think we have come up with a solution to that problem... at least when it comes to cheese.  About a year ago, while visiting the Amish in Wisconsin, we stopped in to a little cheese factory, right there in the hills of WI.  It was quaint, cute and most importantly they were stocked up with fresh cheese! 

My husband had this grand idea to buy a 40 pound block of fresh cheddar cheese.  We took some advice from the cheese maker, himself, before pursuing this of course.  We brought it home, cut it up into good size chunks, and vacuum sealed them into individual packages.   We like to cut them in different sizes, so we will have just what we need depending on the occasion. 

We then stored them in our refrigerator, NOT the freezer, and nine months later, when we pulled out our last package of cheese, it was just as delicious as the first!  It turned out so well, and has been so convenient and economical, that we returned to that same cheese factory just recently and purchased a couple of the cheese wheels, pictured above.

I keep an extra fridge, in my laundry room, for my overflow of bulk food items.  I store all my packaged cheese in the drawer's.  I even have guest's who have commented on how fresh the cheese taste, and ask where I got it from.... You can definitely taste the difference!

So, if you are ever traveling through the hills of Wisconsin, and stumble upon a cheese factory, stop in and pick up some cheese!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring is in the air!

We tried something new this year.  Growing seeds indoors.  I thought this might save us some cost and also be a great science experiment for the kids.  They are tracking the progress of their plants in a journal, and one of my children even did a demonstration for 4-H using some of our tomato plants.

We planted tomato's, peppers, cabbage, onions and for fun, some morning glory.  Everything came up nice, except for the peppers.  I think we ended up with about two pepper plants.  This weekend, we took some time to transplant some of our cabbage.  The cabbage can handle the cold, unlike the tomato's, which I will probably wait and plant the first or second week in May.

Our cabbage plants

I had three helpers that day.  The kids love to get their hands dirty and jump right in to help out.  With so many willing hands, it went pretty quick and we were done just in time, before the storms started moving through.

A few weeks ago we planted some lettuce, spinach and radishes, and those are coming up really well. In about a week or so, we will be having fresh salad straight from the garden!

I hope to instill a love for gardening in all my children. These are the simple things in life, that have been lost or forgotten.  I will always cherish these special times with them, teaching them, and watching them grow and learn. 

♥ Shannon

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Because that's what weekends are for....

Cupcakes, soccer games, 4H meetings... this is how we started off our Saturday.  It was the girl's turn for treats at our monthly 4H meeting, so this gave Maddie the perfect chance to practice up on her cupcake decorating.  The boys were thrilled when we came home with leftover's :) 

Sunday is always a more relaxing day in our home.  Church in the morning and I usually have lunch in the crockpot or oven, ready and waiting when we arrive home.  This afternoon I found the kids out front trying to catch butterflies.  So I sat on the front porch drinking some hot tea, and just enjoyed watching them.

I can't think of a better way to spend my Sunday afternoon!