Friday, January 3, 2014

Back after a Hiatus & When it rains it pours...

Hello all my lovely friends! I'm back after a hiatus which was supposed to be brief but in fact turned into a few months. If you are still here and reading this... I'm sorry and I promise to give you a heads-up before I go AWOL again. O'kay? 

In my defense though I have to say that we have been so crazy busy here in our little home and several things have happened that has been totally beyond my control. Have you even heard the expression "When it rains it pours"? Well boy has it been pouring over here!!!! I'm talking about Thunderstorms and Gullywashers!!!  

I think I told you before that October was a crazy month for our family with 3 of the kids birthdays and the Hunky Hubbs and my Wedding Anniversary. (A fourth child's birthday follows on Nov. 4th). Well, on top of the normal controlled chaos that is life here in our large family and the Birthdays and the Anniversary and Thanksgiving and all the extra shopping and then Christmas (whew are you tired yet??? Just remembering it all makes me tired... I need a nap. Wake me in an hour.....ZZzzzzzz.) Anywho.... life got even more chaotic than normal when "storm" #1 hit.

Remember my lovely newly remodeled Kitchen???? Remember all those beautiful dark hardwood floors that Hubbs and I slaved and sweated over for days and days????

Our Kitchen after new flooring installed...

 Well, Our refrigerator's ice maker decided to spring a leak in the least obvious way possible and cause all those lovely dark hardwood floors to buckle and swell.... I'm talking we could charge admission for the roller coaster that is now my kitchen floor.

Storm #2 started as one by one the eyes on our dinosaur of a stove decided to break and go out until now we are left with the small eye on the front as our only working eye.  Imagine if you will cooking for a family of 8 with only one eye.... Nuff said.....
My Stepfather feeling sorry for me has kindly lent me his 2 burner camping stove as a back up until we can get a new stove...
Are you forming an image in your minds eye??? Are we laughing yet??? Don't forget to include me standing on the wavy floors... sheesh....

Storm #3 happened the week before Christmas. While trying to get my laundry caught up and having done several loads that day I noticed the dryer making a funny rubbing noise which only got louder and louder as the day wore on. I mentioned it to the Hunky Hubbs and he looked at it and not seeing anything just let it go...... well right in the middle of a load of quilts and sheets it goes out completely....... DEADER THAN A DOORNAIL!!!!!!
If we were not camping before we certainly look that way now... I have taken to hanging the drying laundry around the house on chairs and any available door or hanging surface. LOL!!!!! Now we need not only a stove but a dryer.....

Are you keeping up with it all????? Are you tired yet????? Need a nap????

The Gullywasher happened on Christmas Day. We were traveling to Hubbs parents house for our annual family get together when the transmission on our van decided that it no longer wanted to  go at a high speed and slipped in 2nd gear and stuck there..... What is normally a 30 min drive for us took a good hour. You should have seen us trying to get home that evening. We had to have my Father Inlaw drive Hubbs and the older kids home and then Hubbs came for the rest of us in his van. To make a long story short that van is DEAD.... Out of commission....DOWN FOR THE COUNT!!!!!

We are now down to one vehicle and it will not fit all of us legally to drive anywhere. Which only means that we will be not only in the market for new flooring for the kitchen, a new stove and a new dryer but now a new Van. 

 In my best Charlie Brown voice.....GOOD GRIEF!!!!!!!

All I can say is Thank God 2014 is now here and we can put 2013 behind us!!!! 

I've got some really exciting news to share with you very soon. So keep checking back with me. or better yet, follow me on facebook or google plus so you can stay up to date with all of the crazy happenings here. :D

I am so blessed to have each and everyone of you in my life.



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I thought I would share with you today our recipe for homemade laundry detergent since I was out and needed to make more.
I first discovered this recipe from one of the Duggar family books a couple of years ago and have been making my own detergent ever since. We really like the way it cleans and it saves our family a ton of money.
The recipe: 4 cups (or I use a large stock pot) hot water
1 Fels-Naptha Soap bar
1 cup of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
Fill stock pot with water and put on stove top. 

Grate the Fels-Naptha Soap Bar (you can do this in several different ways, we have used a food processor but I find it just as easy to grate it by hand.)
The grated soap will resemble grated cheese.

Add the grated soap to the pot of water.
Stir continually over medium-low heat until the soap dissolves and melts.


Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water.
Add Borax and Super washing Soda. Stir until dissolved.
Add melted soap and stir again (some people may want to add essential oils here of your favorite scent. That is totally up to you. Honestly I really like the smell of the Fels-Naptha soap. It has a clean smell and the scent is not too overpowering.) 

Fill the remainder of the bucket to the top with hot tap water. Stir and Cover.
Let sit overnight to thicken.
The next day the detergent will be thick and gelatinous. It is supposed to be :D .

Give it a good stir to break up the jelled liquid.

The last step is to fill your containers half full with the soap mixture and fill the rest with water.

Give it a good shake before each use.
We use old detergent bottles or fabric softener bottles to store the ready to use detergent in. That way we can store the large 5 gallon bucket in a closet out of the way until needed.
When I first began making this I probably only made it twice a year. (Remember we have a family of 8 so it should last a regular size family a bit longer. ) But recently we have been sharing the detergent with my Mom so I have been making it a little more often. Maybe 3 to 4 times a year.
Have you ever tried making your own detergent? If so how do you like it?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I WON!!!!

I am not exaggerating when I say that I never win anything!!!

I must have the worst luck.

Anyway I was so surprised to get an email from Sarah Over at My Joy Filled Life informing me that I actually won the beautiful Nature Bible for kids by Tommy Nelson.
Isn't it so sweet!!!! 
I love the fact that it zips up to keep it safe when traveling to and from church and the colors are adorable as well.
I know a little boy that is going to be so thrilled to wake up on Christmas morning and find this under the tree.
This guy right here....

I know Christmas is still like 3+ months away but with 6 kids we find ourselves shopping year round for gifts.  It keeps us from being so stressed out during the Holidays  running around trying to get everything on their list, and from becoming so broke.. LOL!!!  When we shop year round it seems we are better able to sit back and enjoy the season. 
Anyone else shop year round??
A Bible was #1 on this little guys list.  Makes a Mommy proud... :D
I wanted to jump up and down when I got the email from Sarah telling me I had actually won!!! Thank you Sarah for this wonderful giveaway!!! My Joy Filled Life is a great blog that I love to read.  If you haven't already you should check it out!
I'm so happy that this is one item I can check off our shopping list... now like a Bazillion more....
If you would like to get one  of these wonderful Bibles for the little guy or gal in your life you can find it on Amazon here.
Thanks for stopping by my friends!!! 
I hope you have a Blessed rest of the day!!!!



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Something We Have Always Wanted

We love music! There is just something about the sound of music drifting through the house that makes it feel more homey. Don't you agree?

 For the longest time we have been wanting a piano. When Megan-Ann was around six or seven she took piano lessons for only a few weeks before her piano teacher moved and we never found a replacement. Not sure why we never pursued it... she was young and was not that interested in it, she hated the practice it required so that was that.

Well, a few weeks ago my Dad called and asked if we wanted his upright piano. They purchased a farm a couple of years ago and the piano was bought along with a lot of other antiques at that time from the previous owner who was down sizing. No one plays the piano at my Dad's house and they figured we might use it. WHY OF COURSE WE WOULD!!!

Megan was thrilled!!!!  So this weekend we went and picked it up along with a few other pieces I am excited about. (I'll get to those in another post...)

Isn't it pretty??? It is old but in great shape.. Not sure how old.. I need to do some research.

Can you tell that Megan-Ann is just like her Momma she could not wait to decorate the top of this beauty.  I think she did a pretty good job don't you?  I think the statues on the sconces are quite fitting and add a nice touch to our little music area.
(There are a few scratches you  can see on the bench seat... a mishap while it was being transported from my Dad's home to ours...eek!! My Dad won't be too pleased....but I am just glad it got here in one piece.)

Anyway as soon as it was moved in and decorated properly it was show time... We were serenaded with a lovely rendition of Hot Cross Buns.. (the only song she remembers from her previous lessons..HAHA!!!)

Of course my littles could not wait to get their hands on it as well.

I am anticipating the day of Mozart, Beethoven, old Time Hymns and Christmas Carols  playing on this piano!!!!


Friday, August 23, 2013

Two Weeks In...

Well we are two weeks into our second year homeschooling and I can already tell that I am loving the choices I made in our curriculum so much better than last year. I say "I"  because  for the most part the Hunky Hubbs leaves school up to me. He sees the hours of research I spend on line pouring over curriculum and homeschooling resources and as long as I give him a heads up on the choices I make and why he is all too  happy to steer clear and let me have the wheel.

     Last year we used My Father's World. I did like it and for the most part my kids did as well. Except for my oldest boys, they were a bit bored of it all. It was hard to keep them focused and they did not like having to wait for the littles to get their work finished before we moved along to the next subject.  For a kid with ADHD you can imagine my oldest son was in agony trying to remain focused.

So, this year I did not go with a set curriculum but pieced my own together and I can tell you they are all so much happier with the decisions I made. They love being able to work at their own pace. I won't go into the spill of all the books we chose again, since I just shared all about it a few posts earlier.

I can tell you though that one thing I am really excited about is The Mystery of History

The Mystery of History
 I love history, it was my favorite subject in school, and I think the kids are really liking it as well. We have begun a little time line starting with the creation of the world and Adam and Eve and we will continue to add to this for each new person that is introduced to us. From what I have read from other homeschooling families and blogs it can become pretty elaborate by the time we are finished with it. I'll keep you posted on it's progress.

Do you have a homeschool room or a designated place you homeschool? I wish we could have a homeschool room. I would have it decorated all cute with bulletin boards and my dry erase board, maps and school related posters all over the walls... Huge book cases full to the brim with neatly organized books ...And a cute little desk for me  and cubbies for each of my "students". Our mascots  (the longest living gold fish in history) would reside in there as well.  Yup, I can just imagine it all.. Perhaps like this one from My Joy Filled Life.

 Isn't it darling? She has done a great job!!! (Maybe someday..)

For now, we usually start our day at the Dining table with Bible but mid-way through the day the oldest two have abandoned the table for the couches, laptops and books spread everywhere, I guess it is more relaxing like that.

  I fought this last year but honestly I am not sure why. I've found this year that as long as they are staying focused and doing their work they are learning just the same. So, now I'm OK with it.  

How about you? Do you insist on everyone sitting at a table together to get the work done or are they able to spread out where ever they like?


Monday, August 19, 2013

A Peek Inside My Home

We live in a small 1400sqft. 1960 ranch house with 6 kids. We have done tons of improvements from when we first moved into this house 13 years ago.

The kitchen has undergone a few changes through the year but one thing has remained the same, the cabinets. That is a big CHUNK of money we do not have right now so we have made due by painting them. One day I want to replace them but they are functional, so replacing them is not at the top of our TO-Do List. When we moved it the cabinets were 1960's builder grade brown and UGLY!!! We painted them Yellow a few years ago. I wanted a yellow kitchen and had saw a pic in a magazine. The walls were dark brown paneling when we moved it.... it was dark dark dark. We wall papered the walls and added a new counter-top at the time we painted the cabinets yellow. It was fine for a while but you know how your style evolves over time... I wanted a white kitchen... Here is what I ended up with.

The Finished Remodel

love my floors

We still want to replace the appliances with stainless steel but I am being patient. October is just around the corner and that starts our busiest time with  FOUR Birthdays, our Wedding Anniversary, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We stay BUSY BUSY BUSY from October until January when I feel I can finally breath again. :D

I have two favorite things in my kitchen, my beautiful pantry and our new back door. All built by  The Hunky Hubbs and myself. I am not going to say that everything is perfect, (far from it I am sure) but we are so proud of all the work we have done.

Here are a few pics of the work in progress....

That is me.. trying to load the dishwasher in the mist of the mess

I looked and looked and could not find a pic on my computer of the kitchen before we started. The empty wall once held an antique Buffet cabinet. We gave it to my Mother-in-Law (who had her eye on it for some time). The floors were linoleum. The area you see that is bare wood is where we had to tear up a portion of the floor so it could be leveled from underneath. 

The brown spot on the wall was where a cabinet once hung. We removed it to add a back door.  

removing the lower cabinet
 The Hunky Hubbs hard at work removing the lower cabinet.


The cabinets are gone and the hardwood floor has been brought in to be installed.  Also a leveling compound was poured on the floor to prepare it for the hardwood to be installed.

The pantry walls

 After installing the flooring we built the pantry.

Sheetrock a new cabinet and a little helper

We sheet rocked the walls, added 2 small lower cabinets and a small upper cabinet. Then cut the hole in the wall for the exterior door.

this was scary

There was a hole in my house... eek!!!!

ahhh.. much better

 You have no idea the difference in the kitchen now that the glass door has been installed... The room seemed to flood with light!!!!

Let's look at the finished work once again.. I am so proud!!!!

This picture is looking into the kitchen from the Dining area. There was a small doorway with a pocket door between the kitchen and Dining room... I wanted it OPEN... So several years ago we took the walls down to half walls and added the columns!!! This is one of my FAVORITE projects!!!

I love my two chandeliers. Thy give me small kitchen a warm feeling. The small one was purchased from Lowe's and the large center one was a good-will find for $30!!!! It was bright gold but I could not pass it up!!! I took the crystals off and gave it a coat of spray paint. The paint resembles rust and I love it!!

I noticed the bulb was out but of course I did not have any more... I wanted to include this pic so just overlook it PLEASE. :D

I am undecided as to what to do with my windows. I think I want to get rid of the dirty broken blinds. Any Suggestions as to what to replace them with?

I do hope you enjoyed taking a peek inside my home and my little kitchen. I've had fun putting this post together.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why we chose to homeschool our family and our 2013-14 curriculum choice (pt.2)

I promised a few days ago to fill ya'll in on our curriculum choice. So I thought I would do a quick post about it before finishing up our weekly schedule.

Yesterday began a new year for us here at the McGill Family Academy. We started off with a special breakfast of pancakes (a favorite for everyone!!!) Then moved along easily into the day. We really did not do any real work today just looked through our books and got a feel for what we were going to be tackling this year.

The oldest boys are in high school this year (in my best Shaggy voice from Scooby-Doo... YIKES!!!)
Although they are now in 9th grade I found that last year we were doing a lot of catch up  from their previous public school experience. So this year we are trying to buckle down.

Here is a list of their work load....
 Bible: (I like doing this best as a  group)/ S.O.A.P. study- We are working toward reading the Bible through in a year, WRITE THROUGH THE BIBLE- Philippians 2:1-18The Narrow Way-Character Curriculum

History: Mystery of History vol 1 (again as a family group) We will be doing a bit of geography along with MOH as we track the places and lives of the people we will be studing.

Language ArtsRod and Staff English 8 (yes, they could have done 9&10 but I feel that Rod and Staff is advanced , especially in diagramming sentences. They will be reading To Kill a Mockingbird and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and I am still deciding what else.. we feel it is very important they read a good deal of the classics as well as modern literature... last year we read "The Pigman", "Treasure Island", "Kingdom Tales" "A wrinkle in Time" and "Lord of the Flies."

Science: Exploring Creation with Physical Science... They will be doing this as an online class through "The Virtual Homeschool Group"

Pre-Algebra: Teaching Textbooks (We did pre-alg. the last half of our school year last year. The first half was really a catch up. But I felt it was important that they get a full year of it since mathematics is used through-out our lives. :D )

P.E.:  YMCA with the family :D (told you Noah was looking forward to PE this year)

Noah 9th grade

Devin 9th grade


Megan-Ann is now in Middle School- 6th grade. Here is a run-down of her curriculum.
Bible and History: same as the  older boys  and done with the family...
also Pre-Algebra Teaching Textbooks, will be done along with the boys. She is very smart and above grade level... (can you tell I am one proud Momma???) 
Language Arts- Rod and Staff 6 Eng./Grammar and Rod and Staff Spelling by Sound and Structure. Also Megan will be reading Where the Red Fern Grows, Swiss Family Robinson and a few more (she is just like her Momma and loves to read!!! )
Science:  Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
Typing: Dance Mat Typing (online)
P.E.: YMCA with the family
Piano: online at

Megan-Ann 6th grade
Now for the littles... Declan is in 3rd grade and Kayleigh is in 2nd. Again they will be doing the Bible curriculum with the rest of the crew as a family activity along with Mystery of History and P.E.. Science will be done with Megan-Ann but they do have some workbooks to supplement in the event it gets a little over their heads. Declan will be using Rod and Staff English 3 for grammar and Penmanship. (he is excited to learn cursive this year ). He also will learn multiplication and division this year. I have workbooks for these. Kayleigh will be learning out of workbooks as well. I have a plethora of workbooks... Don't ask me why but I can not enter a used bookstore with out leaving with  a cart full a few more.
Declan 3rd grade

Kayleigh second grade
And last but not least, there is Teagan. He will be 4 in October, not quite ready for real learning as of yet but that does not stop him from thinking he is working right along with the rest of them... :D He will get his coloring book and climb up to the table and tell us it is "Time for his homework" then proceeds to scribble his little heart out... :D I LOVE that kiddo!!!

Teagan (does the child never wear a shirt???)
So, that is pretty much it.... How about you? Are you all geared up for school? What grades are your kiddos in? I would love to hear from you drop me a line!!!