We recently headed to the drive-in theater. Here's how we made it work with the kids.

Drive-In Theater with Kids

We don’t typically head to the theater. When you add up the cost of tickets for all of us, and throw some popcorn in there, I’m sure you’ll understand why! I’m pretty sure Chicken Little was the last movie we went to as a family, and that was when we were living in San Diego and Jayme was an only child! (Oh the memories!)

But, back to my post, an ad in the newspaper caught my eye a couple weeks ago. The local drive-in theater was airing Finding Dory followed by The BFG.

Both were movies I knew the kids would enjoy. Honestly, both were movies I wanted to see! The price was nice too. Most of the family could get in for $24. That’s a really low price per movie!

So Bryan and I chatted about it, and we decided he’d stay home with Owen and the rest of the kids and I would catch the Friday night airing. I was a bit nervous. After all, the box office didn’t open until 8:45 PM. That’s way past bedtime around here!

I was a little worried about driving that late at night. We’re over an hour away from the theater!

We decided to give it a go anyways, and I’m glad we did. Here are some things I learned about tackling a drive-in theater with kids:

Plan on Waiting in Line

We got to the theater at 8:45, when the box office opened. The line wrapped all the way out onto the highway. We sat in line, slowly creeping up for an hour. Yikes!

Next time I’ll be better prepared for this, and bring some fun activities for the car. As it was, we enjoyed a few car games to pass the time!

The Movie Starts at Dark

The actual start time varies depending on the time of year. The showing we picked was late. It didn’t start airing until a few minutes before 10:00. That’s really late!

I think if we go again we’ll hit a showing either earlier or later in the season to bump that start time up a bit.

Bring Your Snacks

If your drive-in theater allows you to bring in your own snacks, do it. We popped plenty of popcorn, packed some candy, and brought along water bottles. The kids each had their own bag and snacked as they pleased. It was quite fun.

If you can’t bring snacks, I did discover that the snack bar was way lower priced than a traditional theater.

Go to the Bathroom During the Movie

Yes, you’ll miss a few minutes. But you’ll avoid the line that wraps all the way around the building. That’s a good trade off in my opinion!

Besides, thanks to rolled down windows and plenty of cars, combined with the large screen, we were able to hear the movie so we didn’t really miss a lot.

Turn on Your Car Between Features

This was a tip for my husband, and after seeing other cars at the theater needing a jump, I’m thankful he told me! Listening to the radio without the car being on drains the battery. In order to give it a little boost, you need to run your car between the movies.

Bring Blankets

The kids fell asleep. As they were dozing, they were cold. Blankets were so handy. They each wrapped up and felt cozier.

Leave When You Need To

We parked in the back. Mainly because we sat in line for over an hour before getting there. But, it worked out really well.

After the first movie, the kids started nodding off. Jayme, Simon, and I were awake at the start of the second, but we slowly started falling asleep.

I knew that if I waited much longer I might not make it all the way home so we decided to leave. There was about 1/2 an hour left in the second movie when we pulled out.

Yes, it was a bad spot to leave in–the queen was just having her nightmare from the BFG. I wanted to see how it ended. But I knew I had a long drive.

So we’ll catch the movie again when it comes out on DVD.

What Would I Do Differently?

Next time I may just plan on leaving after the first movie. The drive home was long! I may bring some hot cocoa or something similar next time and leave it in an insulated mug to stay warm for the drive home. The caffeine would have perked me up a bit.

Bring the Bus

We talked about bringing the bus. But we didn’t know how it’d work out. Next time I think we will. There were a couple of motor homes there. And we can all go if we take the bus. Having another adult would have made the drive home much easier!

An External Radio Would Help

Our car radio played for about 25 minutes before the car needed restarting. We had to restart it a lot. An external radio would prevent us from losing sound so often. If we head back again, we’ll probably invest in one!

Have you been to a drive-in theater with kids?

What was your experience like? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section! Do you even have a drive-in theater nearby? I know there definitely aren’t as many as there used to be.

The latest strategy in our battle against Pica. What are we doing now? Click through to read.

The Latest in Our Battle with Pica

Owen developed Pica in 2012. He was constantly on the lookout for things to destroy and eat. He tore through pillows, ripped tags off of clothing, and eaten books. For the past four years, we’ve dealt with emergency surgeries to remove stuck objects, worried about bowel ruptures, and dealt with chronic constipation and pain from everything this little boy would eat.

I felt helpless–every time I thought I had Owen’s room safe, he’d change his tactics and eat something else. He even disassembled a pull on a dresser and ate part of it. Life has been crazy!

The doctors never had any solutions. They just said to keep things picked up as much as possible, and agreed that his strange behavior would likely lead to more serious injury or even death.

We hated it. I think Owen even hated it, as his behavior started to take a turn for the worse. He started pinching and pulling hair. He’d come up behind one of the other kids and grab their necks. He pulled the little ones to the ground and would sit on them.

It wasn’t at all like how Owen typically acts.

The Doctor’s Recommendation

I brought this behavior up at our last appointment with the neurologist in early July. He suggested we try an anti-psychotic medication (Risperidone) to see if that’d curb the aggression. He also lowered Owen’s dose of Keppra (a seizure med known to cause agression) and added vitamin B6 to his med routine.

He also agreed to refer Owen to the behavior specialist in town.

I was hesitant about the new medication. The list of side effects was pretty heavy. But, my gut told me to say yes. And I’m glad I did.

You see, ever since we gave Owen his first half dose over a week ago, he’s eaten very little that wasn’t food. He’s even left some papers alone.

He’s still eaten a few things, and destroyed a newspaper, but the Pica has definitely been curbed. We are so thankful!

Pica and the Med

We’re hopeful that as we continue to get Owen used to this new med, and increase the dose, that the remaining Pica effects will disappear.

But, even if they don’t we’re rejoicing over how much progress he’s shown already.

And as an even bigger bonus, his aggression stopped instantly as well.

We’ve noticed a couple of side effects related to sleep:

-He’s sleeping more during the day
-He’s waking up at night more(but since he’s done this since birth it’s hard to blame this drug)

We haven’t noticed any facial movements, ticks, or increased seizures (which are all possible side effects.)

Balancing Owen’s care is hard. We always wonder if we’re making the right decision. And we don’t ever want to medicate just for the sake of medicating.

Since it takes a while for the body to adjust to a new med, we still aren’t sure of long-term effects. But we’re taking it one day at a time.

And enjoying the way the Pica slowed down. It’s a definite answer to prayer!

Bacon grease and jello. What a combination. Click through and read my tale.

The Unfortunate Tale of Jello & Bacon Grease

Brynna’s crying woke me up. As I pulled on my glasses, I hit the button on the side of my FitBit. 3:24 AM.

I groaned and rolled out of bed. Brynna has been sleeping through the night for a while now, and I was slightly annoyed that she was awake.

But as I hit the bottom of the stairs, I realized that the baby being awake was the least of my worries. Owen’s bedroom door was wide open.

If you remember, Owen’s room features a Dutch door, which we lock from the outside each night. Except I think I must have forgotten to lock the door before I headed to bed last night.

Because Owen was out. And the noise coming from the kitchen told me what had woken up the baby.

Now wide awake, I headed to the kitchen, terrified of what I’d find.

A Greasy, Nasty Kitchen

It was worse than I imagined. You see, I was planning on cooking hashbrowns in bacon grease for breakfast. So my jar of bacon grease was sitting on the counter when I went to bed.

The jar was now on the floor, almost completely empty. The contents had been smeared across the counters, cupboards, and floor.

But bacon grease wasn’t the only mess. We’d eaten Jello for a snack last night, and one of the kids had left half a bowl on the counter. That red Jello joined the bacon grease across the surfaces of my poor kitchen.

Ew! The whole place was a greasy, nasty mess.

Owen also found the donuts I had set aside to send with Bryan. Since only crumbs remained, I’m guessing he at least ate most of those. But the crumbs stuck to the bacon grease in a way I hope you never get to experience.

Trying the Door

Owen has recently learned to open our front door. His sticky hand prints told me that he had indeed tried this night as well. I’m so thankful that we locked the deadbolt before heading to bed. Otherwise, he easily could have headed outside in the middle of the night instead of just hanging out in the kitchen.

That realization was terrifying. I’ve heard of other special needs children ending up outside in the middle of the night, but it wasn’t something I ever thought we’d experience. I’m so thankful that he can’t yet work the deadbolt!

Comforting & Cleaning

Brynna was still crying as I took in the mess. I knew that even though I wanted to clean it up, right now wasn’t the time to start. I’d just make a lot of noise and wake everyone else up.

So as hard as it was to pull myself away, I just got Owen out of the kitchen, washed up the best I could, and changed. I put him back in bed with a movie and a cup of water.

Then I comforted Brynna and got her back to sleep on the couch. Owen still wasn’t sleeping by this point, so I went to his bed and we both finally fell asleep about 5.

What a night!

Takeaways

I really thought I’d locked Owen’s door last night, but I’m going to assume I just forgot. Because the only other possibility is that he learned to reach over the door and unlock it.

He’s tall enough to do it, but I really hope that’s not what happened. Otherwise we’ll have to find a new way to keep his door locked.

I’m thankful that he didn’t break any glass, get into the dishwasher soap, or anything else like that. It could have been much worse!

Oh, and if you’re ever in a position to have to clean up crumb covered, Jello, Bacon grease slime from your kitchen, may I recommend Dawn? It worked wonders!

Though I think I’ll be finding this gross mixture around for a while. I’m sure I didn’t get it all in one go.

I hope you had a more restful night than I did, with no tales of bacon and jello!

Screen time can be tricky. Here's how we're currently handling it.

How We Handle Screen Time

Screen time is a never ending struggle here. Owen thrives on screen time–he engages with his iPad, pays attention to videos, and really needs the stimulation.

At night, his iPad has allowed me to get at least some sleep. We’ve even installed a TV in the boys’ room, connected just to our Apple TV in case his iPad dies in the middle of the night.

But, the other kids don’t need as much screen time.

Instead of calming them down, the stimulation causes the opposite. They get wired, and definitely need a way to shake their excess energy.

Of course we run into the–it’s not fair, why does Owen get to watch a movie and we don’t. Our standby answer is usually along the lines of life isn’t fair–why do you get to talk and he doesn’t? That usually puts things into perspective.

Still, our kids probably have more screen time than many other families. We all have to do what works for us!

Here are some of our thoughts for handling screen time in our family.

1. No TV/Wii Until After Lunch

During the school year, this keeps the kids accountable for what they HAVE to do before doing what they WANT to do. They’ve accomplished school and chores by lunchtime, and we’re okay with them taking a break.

During the summer, we’re a little more lax 🙂 it’s summer! But they still have things they HAVE to do before it can go on.

2. Weekends Have More Screen Time

On the weekends, we don’t have the lunchtime rule. We’ll often watch a movie as a family in the morning, or play a competitive game of Mario Kart.

3. Each Child Gets 1/2 an Hour of Wii on Their Day

The kids each get the Wii for 1/2 an hour on their day. They’ll often invite a sibling to join them, which is fine with me. I really like to keep close tabs on the video games–so this gives everyone something to look forward to instead of just wanting to play all the time.

4. I Put Educational Games on the iPad

The kids enjoy playing on the iPad with Owen. So I put some educational games on there. If they’re going to be playing, they might as well be learning! 🙂

5. I Accept that Life is Crazy and Some Days We’ll Watch More TV

Life around here is hectic. We never know when Owen will have a massive seizure and need to go to the doctor/hospital, or when a cow will get out.

Things happen.

And when they do, I usually turn on the TV. It’s something that will keep the kids out of trouble while I take care of the crisis.

And I’ve slowly learned to accept this. My kids will watch more TV than others, and that’s okay. We just try to balance it out with other fun, non-screen related activities.

How Do You Handle Screen Time?
I’d love to hear what works for your family! I know we’re all different!

Inclusive toys let everyone join in on the fun. Click through to discover our five favorite.

Our Five Favorite Inclusive Toys

Finding toys that all the kids can play with can be challenging. It can’t be too small or the littles or Owen will eat them. It can’t be too babyish, or the older kids won’t be interested. But, we’ve found success with these five inclusive toys.

If you’re looking for ideas to integrate a child with special needs, or a wide-range of ages, you might consider these. They’ve been sure boredom busters around here!

Just so you know, this post does contain affiliate links. If you click through and buy something, I’ll receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

1. A Bubble Machine

This was Owen’s most recent birthday gift. He has always loved bubbles. This little device spits them out so fast.

We have to be careful to keep it out of reach, but it’s fun for everyone. We’ve:

  • Put on music and had a bubble dance party
  • Brought it outside and just played in the yard with bubbles all around
  • Counted how many bubbles we could pop
  • Compared sizes of bubbles
  • Tried to catch bubbles

Bubbles are definitely fun for all ages. I can see gallons and gallons of them in our future!

2. Mega Bloks

My kids all love building with construction bricks. While many of them can’t yet play with actual LEGOs, we all enjoy getting out the big drawer full of Mega Bloks.

We have building challenges, work together to build something, or even just try and make baskets while throwing them.

Owen will sit and play with them for a long time. He puts them in the drawer and dumps them back out on his head. Then he takes apart towers that other people build for him. It’s so nice to have something he can’t eat!

3. Our Rescue Bot Collection

We have almost all of the Rescue Bots, and they’ve been a blast to play with. They are super simple to transform, and hold up well to Owen’s roughness.

We have the larger ones–here’s what Chase looks like:

We use these to act out the TV show as we watch it (my kids were so glad when season four finally started!). We also pull them out with our other character based toys and create our own crossovers.

4. Our Lycra Swing

This one was blessing to Owen from the local Elks. He participates in the therapy program, and was the guest of honor at one of their dinners. They did a fundraiser that night, and raised enough so Owen could get this swing.

All the kids LOVE it! We used to have it hanging in our living room, but because of the drop ceiling we have we weren’t able to secure it to a beam and it eventually pulled out.

We’re building an outdoor swing set this summer, and this swing will be going up. Until then, we bring it out and hang it on the clothesline.

Owen also has the tunnel, sheet, and sack from this company and they get a lot of use!

5. A Parachute

I picked this up at Toys R’ Us a while back, and we’ve used it a lot. It takes me back to grade school PE class.

We try to keep balls in the air, raise it up high and have someone run under it, and are working on switching places while it’s up.

Owen loves having it raised up and down over him.

Do You Use Inclusive Toys?

I’d love for you to share your favorite toys for either a wide-range of ages, or for kids with special needs in the comment section. I’m always on the lookout for new favorites–and having suggestions will make shopping for Owen much easier in the future!

Some tips I've learned for memorizing hymns with kids.

Memorizing Hymns with Kids: Tips I’ve Learned

We’ve been memorizing a hymn a month for almost three years now! That’s a lot of songs committed to memory. I’ve learned a bit about memorizing hymns with kids during this time and wanted to share those discoveries with you.

Pick a Song with a Chorus

Some of the songs we’ve memorized didn’t have a chorus. I found them a lot harder for my younger kids to learn.

When there’s a chorus, there’s a section of song we’re repeating over and over again each time we sing it. It’s the first part everyone memorizes.

So when Bryan and I are picking songs to memorize each year, we tend to select those with a chorus over those without. As the kids get older and more of them can read fluently, it won’t be as big of a deal. But right now, it makes it more enjoyable for the younger kids.

Be Consistent

During months When we consistently sing our memory hymn twice a day, we all memorize the song. Not only that, but we can still sing it months later.

Months when life happens, and we’re sick, and we don’t sing, we struggle to even remember the first verse.

So as obvious as it sounds, you actually have to sing the song to commit it to memory!

Listen to the Song If It’s Unfamiliar

Most of the hymns we’ve memorized are familiar. They’re ones we’ve sung at church or listened to on the radio. Those ones are easier to memorize!

Some other hymns aren’t as familiar. When that’s the case, we do much better when we listen to the hymn several times. It helps us learn the tune.

I’ll also have Jayme play the song for us on the piano or recorder. It helps her practice her music skills and gives us another opportunity to listen.

Review

In addition to singing our memory hymn of the month each day, one child gets to pick another song that we’ve learned to review.

We also keep a list of memorized hymns in the bus to pull out and go through when we’re on a drive. Reviewing these songs is a great way to pass some miles.

Talk About the Meaning

These hymns are full of wonderful praises to the Lord, and we want our kids to know that. We frequently talk about the meaning of the words we are singing.

If there’s a word we don’t know, we take time to look it up. That way we understand what we are singing.

Keep It Up

There are months when we fail at learning a song completely. But, instead of giving up, we keep going. We make it a priority to be more consistent the next month.

We continue to practice the hymn that isn’t as familiar, and we just pull out the hymnal again.

We believe there’s value in learning these beautiful hymns, and so we’ll keep learning them.

Have a Plan

If I were to just say we were going to memorize a hymn each month, but never took the time to actually work with my husband to decide which ones, I’m sure this would get thrown to the wayside. Other things would come up, and we’d just forget.

By planning out each month’s song every July, it’s something I don’t have to even think much about. We’ve already had the discussion. We’ve picked songs that coordinate with holidays (like Christmas or Easter). We’re set.

I’m looking forward to picking our songs for the 2016-2017 school year next month. When we get them selected, I’ll be sure to share them with you.

Do you memorize hymns with kids? I’d love to hear what ones are your favorite, or have you add your tips in the comment section below.

Are you traveling with kids this summer? Here are 13 tips to make it go smoothly!

13 Tips for Traveling with Kids

We love going on drives. Traveling with kids is a lot of fun, and it’s something the whole family enjoys. Over the years we’ve picked up several tips for ensuring the trips go smoothly.

13 Tips for Traveling with Kids

1. Make Sure Everyone Has Space

Since upgrading to our family bus, trips are a lot more enjoyable for everyone. Before, we were packed into the Suburban. Everyone was a little squished.

On the bus, everyone has space. Even when they’re sharing a seat, there’s room to stretch and not feel like a sardine.

If your family is cramped in your current vehicle, consider renting a larger one for your trip. Space helps keep fighting down, and you won’t have to hear, “He’s in my space!” nearly as often.

2. Bring Snacks

There’s nothing like snacks to relieve the tension and keep the whining down. I love packing each kid their own snack bag. That way they can control when they eat.

I usually include several easy to eat options including:
A granola bar
A baggie of grapes
Trail mix
Beef Jerky
Carrot sticks
A couple of cookies
A juice box
A bottle of water

Of course if it’s a short trip, they don’t get all of that! But the food helps the miles pass.

3. Find a Park

We make it a point to let the kids run around every couple of hours. Otherwise all of that built up energy often leads to no good.

Most small towns have parks. We use Siri on our phones to lead the way. Yes, she’s gotten us lost a few times. But that’s part of the adventure.

We’ve seen beautiful parks and we all enjoy the fresh air. We don’t stay long, usually half-an-hour, but it refreshes everyone’s spirits and prepares us for the next leg of the journey.

4. Play Games

Games are one of our favorite parts of traveling together! I especially appreciate games that don’t require lots of stuff, because the bus gets messy enough all on its own.

Here’s a post with some of our favorite math based car games.

Here’s a post with some of our favorite word/language based car games.

5. Sing Songs

Since the radio on the bus doesn’t work, we make our own music. We take turns picking a favorite song, and then we all sing together.

We’ve sung hymns we’ve memorized, theme songs from our favorite shows, and a ton of other songs. Sometimes I sit by Jayme and we look up lyrics to Disney songs. Then we’re good for a long time!

6. Do an Activity

On our way to the coast a couple years ago, we brought baggies of Fruit Loops and string for each of the kids. They had a great time making their own necklaces. After they were done, we tied them up and they slowly ate them.

We’ve also brought coloring pages and pencil boxes with colored pencils (because those don’t melt like crayons do!). Having something to work on is always a good way to pass the time.

7. Talk Through Your Trip

Our kids always appreciate being kept in the loop. We have them help watch for the appropriate signs, check out the map, and look for places they’d like to stop.

We also tell them a bit about what they can expect–we’re going into two states, and it’ll take several hours. This helps them prepare mentally for the trip. I don’t like the unknown, and many of them take after me in that area!

8. Bring a Change of Clothes

Even if you aren’t planning an overnight adventure, bring a spare set of clothes for everyone. We’ve dealt with puke, spilled drinks, and accidents when the park’s bathroom was closed. You never know who will need fresh clothes, so just stick them in a bag and be prepared!

9. Use Glow Sticks

Will you be traveling after dark? Bring along a pack of glow sticks or glow bracelets. I picked up a container of 65 glow bracelets at Wal-Mart for $5 before our last trip. It made the return trip much more enjoyable. With that many bracelets, everyone could have several. It was fun!

10. Change Seats

We try to change seats almost every stop. We have the room to do it, and it makes the kids rotate who they sit by. It also ensures everyone gets a chance at the window seats for a better view, and a chance to sit with me.

11. Don’t Expect too Much Sitting

Kids can’t sit still for as long as you probably can. Don’t make them sit for hours without a break. Take potty stops. Stop and explore a new area.

We try to get out of the bus every couple of hours. It helps!

12. Take Pictures

Take pictures throughout the day, and at your stops. They’re a great way to document your memories! Also, let your kids take some pictures. I always love seeing the world through their eyes.

13. Stop at Historical Sites

We love stopping at historical sites as we travel. Keep your eyes peeled for those brown highway signs. Recently we explored a historic ranger station in Montana. Here’s a pic that Bryan captured of the kids and me there.

traveling with kids & stopping at historical sites.

What Are Your Favorite Tips for Traveling with Kids?

I’d love for you to share them in the comments section below. Do you have any travel plans for this summer?

rabbit failure

7 Lessons from My Rabbit Failure

Do you remember way back when I bought rabbits a year and a half ago? I figured I’d get them on a solid breeding schedule, and be adding a litter a month to the freezer.

Things didn’t exactly work out like I’ve planned–which is why I haven’t talked much about my rabbits here on the blog. I’ve had rabbit failure!

We’ve had exactly five baby bunnies survive here at the farm. We also lost a litter to the cold.

So much for “breeding like rabbits!” My rabbit experience was an epic failure so far. It’s turned out nothing like I planned.

But since I don’t want it to be a total waste, I’m taking a step back to see where I failed. I can use the knowledge gained from my reflection going forward, and hopefully have more success in the future!

Fail #1. Not Sexing My Bunnies Upon Purchase

I bought my rabbits from a random person on Craigslist. I was supposed to be getting 3 girl bunnies and 2 boy bunnies. I thought they knew what they were talking about, and never bothered to check.

It took several months of breeding attempts before I realized that one of the girls was in fact a boy. Oops. No wonder those previous breeding sessions didn’t result in baby bunnies!

On that note, it is really tough to tell the difference between a girl bunny and a boy bunny. They look really similar! I still need to get better at this.

Fail #2. Picking a Breed Just for Looks

lessons from my rabbit failure.
The rabbits I bought were American Chinchilla. Well, I also got one mixed breed. He’s the brown one in that pic.

They were beautiful! I loved the sleek look of the almost blue coat, and bought them mainly because of their looks.

They were sweet, and cuddly, and beautiful. That made it hard for me to go through with the butchering process.

If I buy new rabbits in the future, I’ll stick with a less attractive breed. It might help me mentally!

Fail #3. Feeding My Rabbits too Much

My bunnies got fat. They were given free access to pellets at their last home, so I just continued that feeding pattern. It wasn’t a good idea.

Rabbits don’t need a lot of pellets, unless they are young fryers growing for butchering or pregnant or nursing. I needed to increase the hay and decrease the pellets, to try and keep them at a good weight. I learned that too much fat is not good for breeding stock.

The extra fat also made butchering harder!

Fail #4. Trying to Breed in Extreme Weather

Our winters were cold. Several weeks of below zero type cold. With that weather, I should have skipped breeding. But I didn’t. We lost our first batch of babies to the cold.

Likewise, our summers have been really hot. Too hot for successful breeding to take place. Next time, I need to plan on spring and fall breeding to increase the viability of each litter.

Fail #5. Not Learning the Butchering Process From Someone

YouTube videos are great for a lot of things! I’ve learned a ton from them.

But for butchering a rabbit? That’s a skill I really should have learned from someone in person. There was a lot I underestimated. Like how hard it’d be to actually go through with it.

Fail #6. Not Preparing for the Mental Process of Dispatching

I’ve taken care of every aspect of the butchering process before. Except for the actual dispatching.

Give me a dead animal, and I can clean it, cut it up, and prepare it for the table or freezer. But, the rabbits were my project, and I wanted to take care of everything.

I’ve never actually killed anything before. I completely underestimated the mental struggle I’d have to deal with. My hesitation came once I’d already begun to utilize the broomstick method, and I caused the rabbit undue suffering. Once I realized what was happening, I quickly bucked up and finished the task I’d started. It just wasn’t pleasant.

Now, I’ll be better prepared. I thought that all of the other butchering tasks had prepared me, but they hadn’t. Killing an animal was different than just cleaning it!

Fail #7. Trying to Use Dull Knives

Let’s just say I was in tears by the time I finally got the rabbit’s hide off. Sharp knives are important. Lesson learned!

I need to begin with sharp knives, and have a way to sharpen them midway through if necessary.

Learning From My Rabbit Failure

Despite my failures, I learned a lot about raising rabbits. I know what I need to do to try and turn my small herd around.

Since most of my stock is getting old, and haven’t been productive, I’m going to be butchering them at the end of the month. And I’ve already enlisted experienced help. That way I learn from someone who knows what he’s doing!

I will be keeping one male and one female. We also have three baby bunnies currently. I’ll raise them until they’re 6-8 weeks old, and then butcher.

By then, the mama should have another litter.

Then I’ll give her a break until fall. She’ll need it after having back to back litters.

I’ll begin raising my herd, utilizing the saying, “Keep the best, eat the rest!”

Have you ever raised rabbits? Did you run into as many difficulties as I did? I’d love for you to share your experiences in the comments.

This simple diaper basket helps me save time each day. Minimizing decisions through simple solutions helps so much!

Save Time with a Diaper Basket

I’m a huge fan of minimizing decisions and making life easy. In fact, I developed a course about doing just that to help other freelancing/blogging moms. That’s why I had to come up with a solution for diapers.

You see, I currently have three in diapers. Owen, Simon, and Brynna. They’re all in different sizes. And digging through boxes for diapers was taking too much time each day.

I knew I needed a streamlined solution. A way to make it easy to:

    • Grab a diaper when I needed it
    • Let the kids grab a diaper easily
    • Have all three sizes stored together so everything was in one place
    • Have the wipes handy too.
  • I needed an easy to maintain solution. Because it was taking far to long to dig for diapers each day. It was also too easy for the kids to grab the wrong size inadvertently, because Simon’s and Brynna’s diapers look very similar.

    We needed a solution.

    Introducing My Diaper Basket

    I took a large basket I found at Goodwill. Every morning, I grab a stack of size 3s, a stack of size 4s, and a stack of the larger diapers and put them in the basket. They fit nicely, sorted by size.

    diaper basket plain

    The basket also holds a pack of wipes. It’s everything I need for a diaper change, all in one place.

    I love it!

    The kids can easily see the sizes. They know where the wipes go if they see them left out. Everything has a home.

    And by giving our diapers and wipes a home, we save time. They’re It’s amazing how much impact a little organization can have on your whole day.

    Organization and minimizing decisions doesn’t have to be complicated. Often it’s just a matter of rearranging things a bit and being prepared for what you know will happen.

    Is there anything in your life that’s taking too much time or causing unneeded stress? Take a couple minutes to look at it from a new perspective and see if there’s a way to tackle it. My diaper basket doesn’t take much time to prep each morning. But it sure helped me be prepared throughout the day.

    Have you recently organized something to save time? I’d love to hear about it!

    Homeschool plans for the summer. Here's what we'll be learning once school's out.

    Homeschool Plans for Summer

    We’re getting ready to wrap up our school year. Bryan’s grandparents are coming to town, and their arrival marks the end of our official school calendar.

    But, learning never ends around here. So I’ve been making homeschool plans for the summer. Here’s what we’ll be working on, both as a family, and as individuals.

    Family Studies

    We’ll continue having our daily Bible times. We meet as a family in the morning and evening each day. We sing the hymn we’re memorizing, recite our annual memory passage and add a new verse if applicable (this year was Phil. 2.) Then we share a Bible story, or some verses that we’ve been thinking about lately. Of course, we end by counting our blessings.

    Unit Studies
    I’m joining forces with another homeschooling mom of seven to create homeschool unit studies. I’ll be testing these out on my kids over the summer.

    A Trip?
    We’re also tentatively planning a trip to the Portland Zoo. It’ll be a fun family learning trip. And the first out of town trip in our school bus!

    Gardening
    I’m not a gardener. I tend to grow weeds and kill plants.

    But, I want the kids to know how to garden. So we’re planting another garden. It’ll keep everyone busy this summer!

    Jayme

    Photoshop
    Jayme loves drawing on her computer. But, she prefers using Paint. That’s because she hasn’t experimented much with Photoshop. Bryan and I have been showing her how much more control she’ll have in Photoshop. So, she’ll have some scheduled time this summer with us to play with it.

    Math
    She didn’t quite finish up her math course this year. I’m not worried, because kids in the public school never actually finish the books.

    But, I don’t want her to forget anything either. So she and Bryan have a weekly math night. I’m so thankful for a husband who’s good at higher levels of math!

    Owen

    We’re really working on some sensory things with Owen. He has a sensory sack that he loves being in. I’ve noticed when I put him in there with his iPad, he’s able to better focus on the actual options on there and not get so overwhelmed.

    So we’re going to try some basic matching games via the iPad this summer. We’ll see how it goes!

    We’re also working on self-feeding some more. Because I’d love him to get better at that so I can stop feeding him.

    Jeffrey

    Jeff needs to practice his reading and handwriting this summer. So, he and I will have reading dates with hot cocoa on the chilly mornings. On hot days, I think he’ll enjoy sitting on the porch swing and reading.

    He’ll also be my list maker this summer. Since I actually have to be able to read what he writes, it’ll be good practice.

    He still needs to finish up his phonics book as well, so he’ll do a couple of pages twice a week. It’ll help keep everything fresh in his mind!

    Ellie

    Ellie will be finishing up her math and phonics book over the summer. She’ll do just a couple of pages once or twice a week. Just enough to keep her learning.

    She’ll also be reading with me. She likes to read while I make dinner. I’m looking forward to it!

    Sydney

    Sydney will be practicing writing her name and the letters to get her prepped for kindergarten next year. Well, technically she won’t be 5 until the end of November. So she’s still a full year away from officially being in kindergarten. But, that’s okay. She loves working on school!

    She’ll also do some basic math practice through board games. My favorite way to learn!

    Simon

    Simon is going to learn about the potty. Because he really doesn’t like it much right now. And I don’t want another school year with him in diapers.

    So he will be potty trained by fall.

    Being able to pee outside in the summer helped Jeff learn at this age, so I’m hoping that tactic works with Simon as well. Yet another reason I love living where I do!

    Brynna

    My sweet little girl. As the baby of the family, she’ll be getting lots of loving this summer. She also likes to dig in the dirt, so I’m sure she’ll do some of that!

    Lisa

    Can’t forget myself–I love learning! Over the summer, I want to write another curriculum for young kids. This one will be Teaching Writing Through Play. It’ll compliment the course I have up over on Schoolhouse Teachers.

    I also want to create some more play things for the kids with all of these tires we have in the junk pile. Might as well put them to use. As I get them finished, I’ll be sure to post tutorials and pics!

    What homeschool plans for summer do you have? I’d love to hear all about them in the comments.