Friday, August 19, 2011

In Need of New Recipes

I'm tired of fixing the same things for lunch & dinner.  Yet, half the family is so picky that it's hard to get them to try new things.  Everyone loves taco meat.  Everyone likes spaghetti & lasagna.  Chicken ranks pretty high too.  Half of us eat soup.  BTW, there are only 4 of us in the house, so when I say half, I'm talking only 2 of us!

Here are some things I most regularly fix:

  • Waffles
  • Pancakes
  • Eggs
  • Peanut Butter Toast
  • Cereal

  • Anything Leftover
  • Tacos
  • Deli Sandwiches or Wraps
  • Spaghetti
  • Eggs
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Pancakes

  • Crockpot Lasagna
  • Chili
  • Grilled Chicken Breasts
  • Pizza
  • Salad
  • Eggs
  • Pancakes
  • Tacos
  • Burritos
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Deli Sandwiches (heated & tossed with olive oil with a pinch of seasoning = yum!)
  • Chicken Sandwiches
  • Family Recipe Pasta Dish
  • Spaghetti

When it's in a list like that, it seems like a lot of choices.  But some of it is just a variation of something else.

I'm looking for healthy meals that are fairly simple to prepare that will hopefully be enjoyed by all.  Any ideas???

Monday, August 15, 2011

Our trip to Michigan - The Blueberry Capitol of the World

Honestly, if I lived in Michigan, I think I'd have a blueberry farm!  How do Michigan folks contain themselves with all those blueberries around?

Last week, hubs had to work in Detroit so we all packed up and spent the week camping in our home away from home (aka, our camper).

It was great to get away and probably the last time we'll be able to before starting school.  We started off in the Detroit area and ended up along the east coast of Lake Michigan.  We entertained the idea of heading north to Mackinac City & Mackinac Island but in the end, we chose to go west to South Haven.  We've been there before and are fond of that area.

Turns out, we made a good choice because a kidney stone decided to present itself early in the week.  Seriously!  I'm so glad we didn't go up north because I would not have been able to truly enjoy it.  At least I've been to South Haven before, so I didn't feel like I was missing out as much.

We were still able to do some bike riding...

Enjoy trips to the beach...

Check out these monster waves!

Watch the sunset over the lake...

Play at the playground on the beach...

Walk and shop around town...

Play & swim at the lake & beach at the campground...

Pick blueberries...

Make & eat blueberry pancakes...

And walk out to the lighthouse on the pier...

All these memories would not have been made had I not drank plenty of water, walked a lot, and took pain medication.  I'm so thankful that we were still able to make the best of it and I truly felt blessed to have had the opportunity to go in the first place.

This may be the most precious of all the memories made.  On Friday morning, when I woke up, Katie says "Good morning Momma.  How are you feeling today?"  As if that wasn't sweet enough, she then says "Last night I prayed for your kidney to feel better and for that stone to come out."  God bless that child!  When I got up and went to the bathroom, Katie waited right by the door and before I could even wash my hands, she asked if my pee looked better.  I was happy to report that it did!  It still wasn't completely clear, but it was better than the previous day.  And throughout the day, it cleared up completely and the pain disappeared.  There's something to be said about the faith of a child.

Another highlight was the ice cream (I got blueberry, of course) we got at the local parlor.  We even ate it before we ate dinner!  (Gasp!)  Best of all, we enjoyed each other.

Despite the kidney stone, it was a great week!

Free Samples & Bargains

Don't get too excited, it's not what you think!  I did get some bargains today, but the "free samples" came from Katie at home...

She wanted to offer the other girls (Emily and her friend) food samples, so she set herself up a station with samples of watermelon, peanuts, triscuits, bananas, and cereal.  All of which were a huge hit!  (Notice, there were 3 samples of each item - Katie didn't want to leave herself out!)

This morning, I went to Staples (again) to stock up on more bargains.  I got a pack of inkjet photo paper and 25 packs of lined notebook paper, all for a grand total (after rebates) of $0.75!  That's right, 75 CENTS!  So here is just a portion of items I've been stocking up on during these sales:

Pictured here are
  • 6 reams of paper
  • 25 packs of lined notebook paper
  • 3 composition notebooks (more on another shelf)
  • and a pack of photo paper.
This stockpile rings in at less than $4.00!

Now you might ask, what on earth will you do with all that paper?  Well, some will be donated to our new co-op.  And some will be used by us for school.  And, in case you're wondering, we do recycle. :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Curriculum Changes...already???

We haven't even started the school year yet and I'm already on the fence about spelling!  My Father's World suggests using Spelling by Sound and Structure for 2nd grade and Spelling Power from 3rd grade on.  I'm considering getting the 2nd grade suggestion but Spelling Power is not a good fit for us.  We've been using Sequential Spelling and like it.  But, it doesn't go into phonetic spelling.  But, does that matter?  Some say it does, others say it doesn't.  Personally, I think it's a matter of preference and whatever suits the child's learning style best.  There's no right or wrong, in my opinion.

But, that doesn't help me decide.  I'm definitely using the McGuffey Readers this year and the parent guide recommends also using The ABCs and All Their Tricks which can also be used for spelling.  I read that teaching phonetic spelling will strengthen reading skills.  Oooooh, that sounds wonderful!

But, sometimes my girls like to do spelling worksheets.  This is why I'm considering Spelling by Sound and Structure for both of them.

So, this is just one example of what goes through a homeschooling mother's head.  What to do?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Our Week in Review

Monday was great. I took Katie to the pool while Emily was at gymnastics practice. It's really special to have some one-on-one time once in a while. It was great to be out in the sun for a while.

Tuesday wasn't so wonderful for me. It will be in the long run but I don't like shots and I got one at the doctor's office on Tuesday. I nearly fainted in the office twice and felt shaky for several hours afterwards. I know it's all in my head, and I tell myself to chill out, and I pray, but it doesn't work. :(

In the afternoon, we went to a new friend's house with a few familiar friends to discuss our new and upcoming co-op. I'm sure I'll share plenty about this during the school year. Anyway, being there talking with other women helped take my wimpy mind off the shot and helped me to relax. I was so worked up over it that I fell asleep at 9:00 that night! Being the night owl that I am, this is so not normal for me!

We just hung out at home all day Wednesday. I was still not feeling 100%, especially since I had a bruise from the shot I got. (That totally sounds like a line from a Dr. Seuss book!)  At some point, I managed to begin cleaning the office/classroom.  I seriously don't know how this happens! This room was fairly clean a few weeks ago, I promise!

After a while, I quit.  I have to pace myself, you know!  Certainly wouldn't want to exhaust all my energy in one room!

We went to Ikea on Thursday but didn't buy anything except for a box in the clearance section for $1.00. We ate lunch there and turns out that kids eat free during the entire month of August! I had three kids with me that day, so I was thrilled!

Friday was FUN DAY!  We went to yard sales (part of the "World's Longest Yard Sale") and found a few bargains, these purses being a couple of them...

After trotting around at yard sales, we joined my parents and brother's family at a family festival where we enjoyed a free lunch, snacks, sno-cones, ice cream, and games. 

It was provided by the electric company and they do it once a year.  They always have educational games and information, the environmental trailer, a small petting zoo, carnival games, crafts, face painters, balloon animals, pie eating contests, and more!  All FREE!  And for just a $1.00 donation, you could sit for a few minutes while an artist draws a caricature of you.  Katie couldn't wait to have one drawn.

The sheriff & fire departments were also there with freebies.  We got a pizza cutter, water bottles, fingerprint booklets for each child, and other things.

The best part was when Emily was playing a game, I looked back to see where Katie was and this is what I saw...
Look closely - there is a SNAKE around her neck!!!  A real, live snake!  Oh my goodness.  I had to get a picture of that.

The fun day didn't end there.  We had a gymnastics awards ceremony and banquet to attend in the evening.  Emily got awarded for most improved on the bars.  It was a great year of gymnastics and we learned a lot about what it's like having a child on a gymnastics team.

The banquet was fun.  Kids swam while the adults socialized.

What wasn't fun was the fact that hubs couldn't join us because he spent the entire night working on the brakes on the truck.  The pads, rotors, and calipers were all BAD!  The front brakes were almost non-existent.  Thank God we didn't have any accidents.  I always felt like those brakes weren't right because stopping seemed to take much longer for the truck than my car.  I figured it was because the truck was heavier and I didn't drive it all the time and just wasn't used to it.  But I still had a weird feeling about it.  Turns out, my instinct was right.  There's something to be said about "women's intuition."

Linked to Weekly Wrap-Up

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Friday, August 5, 2011

Helpful Hints for Homeschoolers: Artwork

This time of year always sucks me into Operation Organization.  Yes, that's what I call it.  I don't do it well, but I do make improvements each year.  The thing is that with each passing year, we collect more stuff.  Why?  Because there's curriculum to be saved to pass on to the next victim, I mean child.  There's cherished artwork, prize papers, and binders full of school work that couldn't dare be thrown out!

So, what do we do with all these, shall we say, goodies?  If you're like me, you will store them.  At least most of them.  And as time passes, you might weed some of it out.  You might gift some pieces of artwork to family on special occassions.  You might scan some into your computer to add to your digital collection.  Or, you might look at it and think why on earth did I hang on to this? and in the trash it goes.

Here's what I do with the artwork.  Which, I'll be totally honest, it's quite a bit!  I have a large box for each child that I store on top of a bookcase.  I try to label each drawing, painting, etc. with the child's name & date (if they didn't do so themselves).  Once it's labeled, I toss it into the box.  About once or twice a year, I go through each box and elimate what I'm mentally and emotionally able to.

My ultimate goal, however, is to put the best of the best into a large photo album.  I'm talking 11x14.  Hobby Lobby used to sell this size but I'm not sure if they still do.  A 12x12 or 8x10 album might work just fine, too.

Putting the artwork in an album like that, under protected sheets of clear film, will provide a tidy way to store the papers.  It may also boost a child's confidence and help them to feel good about the work they created.  And maybe, just maybe, it would someday turn into somewhat of a portfolio for the child.

And, of course, a great way to showcase your child's art is to display it.  Some paintings are framed and hung on walls.  Sadly though, many of the oh so lovely clay sculptures and paper miche projects eventually make their way into the trash.  Shhhhh, don't tell!!!  If it truly is worthy of keeping, I will store it, I promise! Usually, I will take a picture of the item, sometimes in the hands of the child, before throwing it out.  Somehow, that clears my conscience of any guilt of being a bad mom for throwing out things my children made!

So how do you store and/or showcase your children's artwork?

(I read a helpful hint about using real art supplies that I thought was worth sharing. It's found at Many Little Blessings. I hope you will take the time to read it, too.)

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Since we've been completely satisfied with our curriculum over the past four years - wow, did I really just say 4 years? - we are sticking with it.  If it's not broke, don't fix it, right?

Well, our first year, we used FIAR (Five in a Row).  This was our rookie year and it went great for what we needed at that time.  I remembering feeling so incredibly clueless!  FIAR was perfect for us even though I spent that entire year questioning if we were doing enough... If what we were doing was what we were supposed to be doing... If it was all worth it.  It was totally worth it!

Without further ado, this year...
our 5th year of homeschooling...
we will use......

My Father's World (aka: MFW)
Rome to Reformation (RTR)...

This will be the first year that both children will learn from the same curriculum, for the most part.  That is, once Katie finishes her work in MFW First Grade.  We didn't quite get through it since we took our trip to California and all back in the Spring.  My intention was to finish school before leaving for our trip, but that didn't quite happen.  Oh well.  We did plenty of learning while we were there!

Because I like the "old school" Charlotte Mason method of teaching/learning, we will continue our work in Intermediate Language Lessons for Emily while Katie will begin Primary Language Lessons this year.  I'm not sure when that will happen, but I'm sure it will happen this year.  Writing Strands is something we'll pick back up as well.

For math, RightStart has carried us through thus far and "it ain't broke" either!  Although, Katie seems to have a little bit different learning style than Emily that doesn't require as much fluff, so we may not use as many manipulatives with her.  She does, however, like colorful pages, of which RightStart does not have.  So we'll just have to play it out and see what happens.

We picked up the Wilson Reading System at a private Christian school sale.  They decided to close their doors and sell all their stuff.  I scored this entire system for only $35, and it includes 2 sets of student books!  I know very little about it but if it works for us, great.  If not, I'm confident that I can sell it and probably at least double my money.

Spelling will begin with Sequential Spelling.  I'm still on the fence out what to use for Katie.  MFW recommends using Spelling by Sound and Structure, which is probably what I'll end up with for her.  I generally like what MFW recommends.  Generally.

Lastly, I love the idea of using the McGuffey Readers.
William McGuffey is actually from our area and an entire section of our local college library is devoted to him.  In fact, I'm planning a field trip there this year.  If you don't know much about these books, I encourage you to research them on the internet.  They may not be a fit for everyone, but I believe they are somewhat of a treasure. :)

My kids will take art and science classes at co-op, as well as doing some at home in some form or another.  You will just have to read future posts to see what do, because I'm sure it will vary!

We don't have an official start date yet since we will be taking another (shorter) trip next week.  Going north this time to one of my favorite states - Michigan!  I love Michigan in the summer, especially along the east coast of Lake Michigan.  It's just beautiful.  Love the lighthouses.  Love the beaches.  Love the scenery.  Love the towns.  Anyway, hubs has to work in MI one day, so we are all going together and taking the rest of the week to relax and enjoy. We will probably begin school on Aug. 22.  But don't hold me to that!

Not Back to School Blog Hop