Why My 11-Year Old Is Excited About History This Year

We’ve always had Legos or Magnetix or some other hands-on activity for our boys to work with while I read History to them. They listen and learn so much better this way, and I always recommend this to parents of young kids! But guess what we’re adding to this year’s History curriculum for Malachi?

These Christian History CDs.

Family Audio Adventures Set

This year Malachi gets to hang out in his Lego room (his favorite place in the world) while listening to History lessons from Heirloom Audio Productions. That’s right. School in the Lego room.

This is full on Christian History, in an amazingly fun audio format. Imagine “Adventures in Odyssey” as a history lesson that kids love. These CDs make history come alive! Kids and families can listen and learn while working in the kitchen, folding laundry, riding in the car, playing – anything!

Family Audio Adventures CDs

We haven’t officially started our school year yet, but I wanted to see how well these CDs would work for Malachi to learn while he builds his Lego city. He got the CD player set up and put in a disc. Every few minutes I’d pop in and say, “How’s the CD?” His responses?

  • “Good! These are really good!”
  • “The whole time I’m picturing everything that’s happening in my head.”
  • “Wait. I need to find out what happens…” (Silly me for interrupting at a peak point of the story!)
  • “Ooh, some of this is sad. Like what was happening to some of the people…”

And then he went on to tell me all about the story and the people, but then he stopped himself and said, “You know what? I think you should listen to these and I don’t want to give it away. You’d really like this.”

Love, love, love. This is school in its best form!

After experiencing just a few hours of Heirloom Audio Productions audio adventures, I can’t tell you how grateful I am to make these CDs a part of Malachi’s curriculum this year. I’ve always really enjoyed reading our history books to the kids through the years, and for sure I’ll still be doing that this year with Malachi. But these CDs share history in a way I never could. They make history come alive, with all the voices and sound effects.

What’s better is that Heriloom Audio Productions is offering all Heavenly Homemaker’s readers a very special deal on their great set of history CDs! Please do click over to read more about what they offer and take advantage of the special price. These discs can be listened to over and over and are a great investment for your family – for education and so much more. (Heads up – looks like the extra special low price is limited to the first few buyers!)

Special thanks to Heirloom Audio Productions for sending us these CDs and offering a great discount to all of us here!

Click here to learn more about this amazing way to learn Christian History with your family!

Drinking Snapple Straight Up Tea While Sporting a New Hairdo!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Snapple® Straight Up™ Tea. The opinions and texts are all mine.

It can always grow back, right? That’s what I kept telling myself when I was trying to decide if I was going to ask my hairdresser to take more than an inch off this time. Three inches, maybe? Four?

Phew, it’s a hard decision. I’ve had long hair for many years. I still want long hair. Matt likes my long hair. But I was feeling the need for something a little lighter, a little bouncier. So I went for it. (See pictures below. I’m loving it!)

Seeing as I was already in “the big city” nearby for my haircut, I took advantage of the opportunity to do some much needed grocery shopping before all my boys got home from church camp. While there, I grabbed a special treat for myself – this Snapple Straight Up Tea.

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I really love a fun treat while I’m out on the town. I found Snapple Straight Up Tea at Hy-Vee for an affordable price.

How very great that the Snapple Straight Up Teas also come in so many varieties. I am particularly impressed that they have not just Sweet and Unsweetened – they have a Sorta Sweet option and a couple others too. These teas nix the high fructose corn syrup and instead use real sugar or honey. Your options are:

  1. Sweet
  2. Sorta Sweet
  3. Unsweetened
  4. Sorta Sweet Honey Green
  5. Sorta Sweet Rooibos

Snapple Straight Up Tea

I love that Snapple Straight Up Tea uses real sugar and natural ingredients. It’s great to have this as an option when I need a pick me up! I chose the unsweetened flavor. That’s always been my favorite. With my new hairdo and my fun drink, I felt all kinds of refreshed as I was stocking up on good deals and groceries.

So speaking of good deals – Hy-Vee has an entire page of digital coupons, one of which offers you Buy-One-at-Hy-Vee-Get-One-Free savings on Snapple Straight Up Tea while they last. With that, you and your sweetie can both have a treat.

Snapple selfie with photo bomber

Don’t let the photo-bomber in the back of the van distract you from what is actually me, taking a moment out of my hectic summer afternoon to enjoy refreshment from what remained in my tea bottle. I’ve found that the tea has just enough kick to help me re-focus on everything that needs to be done for the afternoon – which in this case meant some focused ministry brainstorming with Matt while we were on the road to camp to visit our older boys.

One last bit of information I need to let you know about. While you’re sipping you’re Snapple Straight Up Tea, you can tune into the Snapple Straight Up radio station on Pandora. Yes, it’s actually a thing. Type “True Tea Tunes” into the Pandora.com search bar. Your summer just got better, didn’t it?

Back to School Breakfast: How to Set Up a Yogurt Parfait Bar

You know I like setting up different varieties of “Build Your Own” bars. This cuts down on my work and let’s everyone build their dish to their liking. Other ideas I’ve shared here:

Today’s idea is quite simple, and great for a busy school morning. In fact, this would even work as a “breakfast on the go” option by simply building your yogurt parfait in a plastic cup or glass jar and eating it on the way out the door.

How to Set Up a Yogurt Parfait Bar

Great options to set out for a Build Your Own Yogurt Parfait Bar

Want to save even more time? Make this 5-Minute Stop-Top Granola!

Your options are only limited by your imagination. And the ways to save money are great. For instance:

  • Typically it is less expensive to purchase larger tubs of yogurt instead of individual cups.
  • If you buy whole milk plain yogurt, you can add any sweetener you like and make it for your sweetness preference.
  • You can make Homemade Yogurt.
  • Offer berries and other fruit that is in season and thus less expensive.
  • Make your own granola as a stir-in option using one of the recipes above. (Pre-made, boxed granola can be very expensive!)

Did you see all 60 of these great Make-Ahead Breakfast ideas? We will survive busy school mornings, we will!

Gratituesday: School Shopping 2016

It’s been months since I shared a Gratituesday post. Today I’m feeling all sorts of grateful, and would you look at that? It’s Tuesday.

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Last night our oldest packed up and moved back into the dorm. Over hugs, excitement, and a big sigh I was overcome by these two realizations:

  1. This year is a million times less difficult than last year. In line with her freshman son last year, I was the mom bawling hot tears like a baby while trying to sign registration papers. Me. The one moving her son five minutes away from home. We were entering a huge time of transition last year, going from The Coppinger6 to whatever it was this new thing was with only three boys left at home. Happy as I was for Asa, I cried as if I’d just closed the cover after reading the last page of my favorite book. Because I had.
  2. This year brings a whole new flood of emotions. I am so excited for Asa this year!! I remember the beginning of my sophomore year of college and it was my very favorite. There are way fewer unknowns, and everyone gets to reunite with their amazing college friends after being apart for the summer. I was practically jumping up and down in anticipation for him last night (while handing him soap, granola bars, kleenex, a pillow case…).

So here we are. We survived the first year of sending our oldest away from home. He’s grown. We’ve grown. But I’ve not gotten less nostalgic about traditions with my babies (three of whom shave regularly).

You knew this was coming, right? Year after year, we take pictures while school supply shopping. Year after year, I share the pics with you. You’ve watched these little boys grow into men.

Last year, I told the boys we had to do it just one more time. This year I told them to forget about last year being the last time because I just couldn’t not take the traditional shopping picture. They didn’t even argue – probably because we told them we’d take them out for burgers after we shopped.

First, you have to see their school shopping pictures through the years. 2008…

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2009

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2010

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2011

2012

2013 (The year I told them that I am going to take this picture, but you can all look the other way if you want to.)

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2014

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2015 (The year I cried while standing with the notebooks and markers and the son getting ready to leave for college)

boys school shopping 2015

And now this year. 2016. Gone are the days we need 25 cent glue sticks. They all needed shoes and the aisle with the 50 cent colored pencils was all out of shoes.

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I tried to talk Malachi into a nice, normal face. He was well aware that this picture would be posted for the world to see. Second time’s a charm?

school supply shopping4

C’mon, Malachi. Give me a good one.

And so he did. But then Asa wasn’t ready, but I didn’t realize it until too late. He woulda not appreciated me sharing his face in this one, so I did what any nice mother would do. I cropped his head off.

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After spending $5,824,481 on shoes, we headed out for burgers. I decided to hold my phone as high as I could over our table full of family to get a picture of all six of us.

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Two and a half. Okay. Try again. Because maybe my arms are longer than they were two minutes ago?

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Three of us, plus the nice family in the back. Wait, wait. I’ve got this.

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I don’t even.

This is the point at which I gave up, stood up, backed up as far as I could, sat in a stranger’s lap, and took a pic of my men. Oh, these guys. How did we get here? 

school supply shopping8

When we got home, we loaded all of Asa’s stuff into his car, and sent him on his way. There were no tears this time, unless you count the ones I’ve shed since looking at these “through the years” pictures.

What a great God we serve. I see these pictures and I’m reminded of all God has brought us through. There are more than just crayons and growing boys in these pictures. These pictures are reminders of life, and sorrow, and growing pains, and struggle, and love.

We grow. God remains the constant, faithful, gentle, loving God. Praise Him for His goodness this Gratituesday!

Come Get Your “What I Loved About Summer” Printable

Here’s something I’ll assign my youngest during the first week of school. It’s simple, but a good way to get his juices flowing and make him think about all he loved about summertime.

Free Printable Summer Writing Prompt

Want this and many more free printables?

We’ve been creating and collecting all sorts of printable learning activities for all ages. These are free for everyone and will connect you to our fun Heavenly Homemaker’s Learning Zone.

Enter your email address here, then check your inbox for download instructions. Print one, print them all, use them in whatever ways work best for your family!

If you are already subscribed to Heavenly Homemaker’s Learning Zone, you should have received an email yesterday giving you instant access to this freebie. Look in your inbox for the subject: FREE Summer Writing Prompt

How to Make Bacon Bits and Why You Should Make Them

Five pounds of bacon. That’s how much I cooked at one time a couple weeks ago. This might sound excessive to you, but have you met my family? 

The following are conversations I have every single time I am at the grocery store when people see my shopping cart:

Person: Wow, what are you going to do with all those berries?
Me: Eat them.

Person: Wow, what are you going to do with all that chicken?
Me: Eat it.

Person: Wow, what are you going to do with all those peaches?
Me: Eat them.

And on it goes. Every time. Without fail. At least one person at the store comments on the abundant contents of my shopping cart. Apparently my cart looks like one big party. This is what happens when you have a household of teenage boys. Also, when there is a good price, I buy in bulk. It only makes sense, but apparently people aren’t used to seeing a woman with 15 packages of cheese. I had no idea I was such an anomaly. As if 15 packages of cheese at one time is somehow weird. It’s a day in the life, man. A day in the life.

So back to the bacon. No, we did not eat all five pounds at once. Goodness.

I found it for a fantastic price, which of course means that I bought 10 packages. (Wow, what are you going to do with all that bacon? We’ve been through this already…)

I froze five packs and then proceeded to cook the other five pounds. Why?

  1. Because why cook one when you can cook five and only dirty one pot?
  2. Having bacon bits in the freezer saves oodles of time and means all I have to do is grab the cooked bacon and use it in a meal (see ideas below).
  3. When I cook bacon, my clothes and hair smell like bacon. I’d prefer this scent to be my perfume of choice only occasionally.

How to Make Bacon Bits and Why You Should Make Them

What’s the easiest way to make Bacon Bits?

I pick up the entire package of bacon, with the strips all stuck together, and I cut it with kitchen shears like this:

bacon bits 1

For five pounds, I use my largest pot. Once the pieces are cut, I cover it and cook it on medium heat for about an hour, stirring every once in a while so it cooks evenly. (A smaller amount of bacon would take much less time, but I know nothing about cooking in small amounts.)

bacon bits2

Once the bacon is fully cooked, I strain out the grease, allow it to cool, then package it up in meal-sized portions for the fridge and freezer.

bacon bits4

bacon bits3

What will I do with all the Bacon Bits? As needed, I’ll pull some out to quickly make:

In other “why you should make your own Bacon Bits” related news, I believe it is important to be aware that we’re aware that: “Bac’n Pieces™ Bacon Flavored Bits are artificially flavored textured soy flour to imitate bacon pieces.” Ingredients include Textured Soy Flour, Canola Oil, Salt, Caramel Color, Maltodextrin, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Lactic Acid, Yeast Extract, Disodium Inosinate And Disodium Guanylate (Flavor Enhancers), And&Nbsp;Fd&C Red 40.

I’d stick with real bacon if I’m you. It’s not difficult and the taste is no comparison.

Ever made your own bacon bits? Ever get amazed comments at the store because of the amount of food you buy? Ever cut bacon with scissors?

Freezer Cooking I’ve Been Doing to Prepare for Back-to-School

With a houseful of teenage boys, it’s difficult to get ahead.

I’m talking about food in this case, although I guess the same statement is true in every area of life in a household full of kids. (I’m looking at you, Laundry Pile. Dirty Dishes. Mail. Shoe Closet.) Bah.

This is why I did some freezer cooking a few weeks ago when three outa four of our boys were still at church camp. With hardly anyone here to eat, I actually had leftovers to put in the freezer. Yay me!

I took a few pictures along the way to share with you. Take note that not all freezer cooking involves making casseroles. There are many other ways to get ahead. For instance…

I had a cheese shredding marathon:

school food1

It only takes a few minutes and NO EFFORT to shred 8 packages of cheese when I use my food processor. I ran it through the shred piece, so now I have two big bowls of shredded cheese ready to add to everything we need for the next couple of weeks! (Yes, this will be gone by the time we start school. Whatever.)

Almost as important as shredded cheese is the double batch of frozen cookie balls I made. These won’t last long once the boys discover them, but I love that they can take out a few and bake them for an afternoon snack. I used this Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

school food2

If you don’t have any of these Silicone Baking Mats,
I encourage you to read more about why I love them here!

I made two bags of our favorite Apricot Chicken. I’ll dump this into the crock pot on a busy school day. (This is a recipe from our Eat Right Away Collection. These are a must have because they save so much time!)

school food3

You know I didn’t do all of this, all on the same day, right? No way. But, there was a day I made not one but SIX batches of homemade whole wheat tortillas. That was a tortilla making record for me!

Malachi helped me use the tortillas to make 24 Lazy Dogs and 24 Meat and Cheese Burritos. We still had leftover tortillas for a few quesadillas, so I felt very accomplished that day.

school food4

Another time, I cut and cooked 5 pounds of bacon to have on hand for salads and scrambled eggs. More on that later. :)

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I mixed up a double batch of Blueberry Muffins and froze the batter so we can bake the muffins fresh on a school morning. I love this time saving technique!

frozen muffins

Last, I made a double batch of Giant Breakfast Cookies. Instead of baking them, I froze them into unbaked cookie balls. This means we can take out a few and bake them fresh any morning we want/need them. I’ll share specifics on how to do this another day soon!

breakfast cookies1

I’m hoping to make a triple or quadruple batch of this Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel Dip for the freezer during the next few days. That will be great to have on hand for Nachos, Spicy Mac and Cheese, or Simple Taco Soup.

Now your turn! Have you done any freezer cooking lately? What have you been making in an effort to get ahead before school starts?

Lilla Rose Giveaway Winner and New August Special

It’s fun to share that Sarah D. won the $50 gift certificate from Paula at Lilla Rose! She’s already on her way to receiving her prize. :)

Be sure to take note of the great new products at Lilla Rose, as well as the August specials. This month, if you spend at least $60 you’ll receive a free beautiful scarf!

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Paula was awesome enough to set up this promotion as a party this time! That means anything you purchase through this link during the next couple of days earns me free product. I’m overwhelmed by the fun!

Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas to Make Back-to-School Mornings Easier

Here you go. 60 Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas to give us a boost as we kick off the school year! All of these are made with real food ingredients and will hopefully save our mornings from being too hectic.

60 Make Ahead Breakfast Recipes and Ideas
The beauty of these ideas is that they make mornings easier whether your kids have to get out the door for school in the morning or you homeschool and want to get your day off to a productive start without spending too much time putting breakfast on the table. (For that matter, these ideas are great even if you aren’t in the kids-in-school season of life!)

I love getting breakfast foods made ahead of time so that my kids can easily help themselves in the morning. Often we’ll also scramble or fry eggs to go with our meal and we always get out fresh fruit. My teenage boys often also crave protein at breakfast, so I try to have something meaty available for them to cook for themselves. Hmm, it sure does sound like we eat a lot around here. Truth: We eat a lot around here.

So 60 Make Ahead breakfast ideas. Here we go!

Recipes and Ideas You Can Make Ahead for a Fast Breakfast

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All of these recipes can be made the day before and served right away in the morning!

Homemade cereal recipes you can make ahead and serve right away in the morning

Some mornings are cereal mornings, so there. Here are some homemade cereal options we enjoy!

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Recipes that freeze well and can be thawed and reheated easily

If you have these in your freezer, you can thaw and rewarm in the oven or toaster oven!

Recipes that Can Be Made Easily with Whole Wheat Quick Baking Mix

quick_mix

Fun Ideas to Enjoy Stir-n-Pour Bread

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This super easy Stir-n-Pour Bread takes practically no effort, but turns out a delicious loaf of bread. When I have this on hand, we can slice it and make:

  • Peanut Butter Honey Toast
  • Fried Eggs on Toast
  • Cinnamon Toast
  • Scrambled Egg Sandwiches
  • Simple Buttered Toast – maybe even with jelly :)

Drink Your BreakfastYum

Most smoothies are pretty quick to make and can be filling if you include peanut butter or cottage cheese. Add fresh spinach for an extra punch of nourishment.

pineapple_mango_smoothie_2

Muffins,  Muffins, Muffins!

I’ve learned to love freezing muffin batter, which you can read about here. What a time saver! I’ve also learned that silicone muffin cups are fantastic. More about that here.

silicone muffins 3

Make it Ahead, but Cook it in the Morning

Overnight Whole Wheat Waffles

  • Mix up Overnight Waffle Batter before bed so that all you have to do in the morning is cook the waffles and serve.
  • Make Turkey Sausage in large batches and freeze it in meal sized portions. Make Freezer Biscuits, and thaw only the amount you’ll need in the morning for a meal. Make a quick meal of a big treat – Biscuits and Gravy – when you’ve done the prep work ahead! Here’s my Sausage Gravy recipe.
  • Follow the freezing muffin batter idea mentioned above, set some out at night before bed, then bake them in the morning.
  • If you want to serve pancakes, mix the dry ingredients the night before so that all you have to do in the morning is add your liquids and cook. This isn’t as fast as other ideas shared here, but it does make the pancake process a little easier in the morning! Here’s our favorite Whole Wheat Pancake recipe.

I have several new breakfast ideas in the works, so be on the look-out for those. Sign up here for our free weekly newsletter to be sure you don’t miss a post!

Leave a comment to share your favorite Make-Ahead Breakfast ideas!

Making Back to School Time FUN! Recipes, Tips, and Freebies!

I’ve been in denial. I chose to pretend that summer break could last forever. Now all of a sudden it’s August and reality has hit. Rude. 

It’s not actually school that I’m dreading. Learning is fun and all that. Yay for routines. It’s the fullness of all the school year brings with it that makes me take a deep breath and brace myself. The school year means music lessons, sports practices (and games and reffing and coaching), many church activities, many commitments – and yes – the actual school work.

Thank you God for the refreshment of summer. 

So here we are, gearing up for the 2016-17 school year. Our oldest moves back into the dorm mid-August when his soccer schedule begins. Classes begin the 24th, so we’ll begin our homeschool year that day too. This year still at home we have a high school junior (who is taking several college/dual credit classes), a high school freshman, and a sixth grader. It’s amazing to be at this point in our lives. What a good God we serve – a God who faithfully walks us through each season.

I’ve decided to choose to look forward to the launch of a new school year (because dreading it sure isn’t much fun). I’m focusing on words like fresh, new, bright. This is better than thinking about papers due, barely keeping up, Geometry lessons, and harried schedules – doncha think?

We might as well have us some fun with this Back-to-School thing!

Back to School Freebies, Tips, and Encouragement

There’s a lot of fun to be had when we think about this time of year. Really, there is. I’ve been coming up with some fun new recipe ideas that are great for helping us work back into a routine. I’m working to stock my freezer to make school days easier, and I have a lot of greatness to share with you!

Be on the lookout for timely giveaways too. :)

So that’s what we’ll be focusing on here during the month of August. Don’t have school aged kids? I bet you’ll still enjoy these recipes and tips. After all, everyone loves saving time and money, right?!

Want some great free printables?

Dozens of FREE School Printables

Everyone who is a part of our Learning Zone list has access to oodles of great school freebies! Plus, we continue to add more to the mix. It’s all free, so you’ll want to sign up to be a part of this!

Let’s kick off this Back-to-School series by sharing in the comments section:

What are some of your best “Back-to-School” Sanity Tips?

Posts coming up this week:

  • Back-to-School Breakfast Prep
  • Freezer Cooking for Back-to-School