Sunday, December 30, 2012

Old Pics

These are three pics (of pics) that we came across at my mom's. We were freakin' adorable!!


Have a great day.

Summer Reading

Every summer, my kids participate in the summer reading program. If your local library has a program, please participate. It is one of those things that will make a world of difference come budget time. There are 2 seperate programs. One is for elementary and the other for middle/high school. I have kids in both. They read so many pages/books/minutes/hours, whatever you decide, and then they get prizes. Their checkout receipts are entered for a drawing, there are performances and movies, and crafts!


This was the last craft day. I enjoyed the poster and matching the characters. I'm weird, I know. It's also a great list of books. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of my favorites!


This is Ms. Suzanne with my kids. She is wonderful, and we love her. She takes the time to actually listen to what the parents and the kids want and then does her best to implement it. To go along with a Frommer's giveaway, she organized a Harry Potter tea party for the England guide. That was fun!


There were these little beauties. You decorate them and then make them a pin or a magnet. The magnet is better. These were too heavy for the pins. After they were decorated, Ms. Suzanne had glow in the dark paint to coat them with. The first thing we did when we got home was run to the big girl's closet and shut the door. They really glowed.


Then there were masks. Can you tell the big girl takes her art very seriously?


The boy, not so much. His mask was just plain fun.


And the baby hiding behind her mask. Crazy thing. She gets crazy from her father.


The big girl won a prize! There were only a handful of kids in the upper grade program this year. This was the prize for the last week. Gotta love prizes!!

We are reading fools. Most of us will read anything we can get our hands on. Please utilize your local library. It's about more than just books. They have foreign language programs, computer access, internet capabilities, and most of them have friendly, knowledgable people that can help you with just about any information you need. If they don't have it, they know where to find it. The kids also participate in a book club that meets once a month and a Pokemon Club that meets twice a month. They also have Lego clubs, chess clubs, movie days, cooking classes, homesteading classes, farming classes, and so much more. Most of the programs are free. You would be amazed at how much your local library has to offer. Our library staff knows us by name and we get priority service because of it. That never hurts, either. 

Have a great day.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Family Pics, 2012

I love the fact that I have the following pics, but I am not happy about the reason. At. All. They were taken at my mother's funeral. It was good to see my family. Some I had never met. Some had never met my children. But we were able to come together to mourn and grieve the loss of a mother, wife, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend. We were also together to celebrate her and her life.

 This is Big Sis. Isn't she beautiful? I love her like no other. She is my friend and my soul. She is an amazing woman and I don't think she knows it. Now it's in print for everyone to see.

 These are four of the reasons my sister is amazing. These are my gorgeous nieces. I love and miss them dearly. How can you not smile when you see them? They just make my heart sing.

 My mother had three brothers, one of which died a few years ago, and two sisters. These are my aunts and uncles. While I was growing up, we saw them as often as we could. We went for Thanksgiving and Christmas and, when we were lucky, a week or two in the summer. And football and basketball season we saw them ALOT. They are huge Arkansas Razorback fans. And loud!! I love it!! Those visits are some of my best memories.  
These are my cousins. Sweet summers. Laughing and running. All of us listening to Van Halen in GP's room, cranked as loud as it would go. That was the first time I had ever heard rock music. It was like the heavens opened up and David Lee Roth started singing. Magical moment for a kid who was forced to listen to Country and Western. I don't mean that stuff we hear today. Think ooooolllllddddd C&W. Dancing in my cousin C's room. That woman was quite the dancer, let me tell you what. R is the tall one in the ball cap. He is my cousin D's son. I had not met him before this day. That stinks. The other man is my cousin, G. And Big Sis. :)

My heart yearns...

Have a great day.

Bees Knees, Part II (And Now I Know What That Means!)


I posted (months ago) about taking a bee field trip. I have the pics to prove it. And now I can post them. I figured instead of a "year in review" post, which I can't remember anyway, I would get the pics going. Be prepared. It may be a whirlwind. Let's get started, shall we?

The pic above is us going into the zoo. I will not even go into the difficulty involved in this pic. The big entrance sign was supposed to be behind us. At least most of us are smiling. The boy is quick. You have to watch him when he's in charge of the camera.



This cute sign is in front of a secondary hive the zoo has. I thought it was cute. And somebody should clean off the lens on my phone. If you look over the top, right side of the sign, you can see the secondary hive.
 


This is the secondary hive, and the back of hubby's head. The bees flew in and out looking for flowers. Interestingly enough, bees won't sting unless you are trying to harm the hive or standing in their flight path to and from the hive.  Kinda cool. There was a queen in this hive. The facilitator challenged the kids to find her. The boy did. He is tenacious.


Honey bees are not just important, they are vital to our crop survival. They are the number 1 pollinator. Roughly 30 % of our food supply needs to be pollinated. Bee population has shrunk 40 % over the past 20 years. Colony Collapse Disorder has become a major issue for bees. Only the queen and the honey will remain after a collapse. All the other bees will fly away and start a new colony. Other bees won't take honey from a collapsed colony. Possible causes for hive collapse are pesticides, malnutrition, mites, viruses, and intensive agriculture. Pesticides are poisons that don't discriminate. They just kill. Some genetically modified crops are not conducive to healthy bees. Somebody help me up on my soapbox and we can talk about GMO crops and the dangers involved in that. Please inform yourself about those dangers.

One bee will make 1 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. I say her because the female does all the work. When a queen becomes a queen, she kills all the other possible queen bees. She flies high into the air while the drones, who are all male, chase her down to mate. Once they've mated, the drones genitals are ripped off and he dies. Just thought I'd throw that cautionary fact out there. Drones are fat, male bees that have one purpose, and one purpose only. They make baby bees. After mating, the queen can no longer fly because her abdomen is too big. The worker bees, all female, take care of the queen, feed the babies, build the honey combs, clean the hive, and do whatever else needs to be done to keep the hive running.

The bees knees refers to the pollen sacks they have on their legs. That's where they store all the pollen until they can get back to the hive. It's one of the most important parts of the bee. There's your fun fact for the day.


That's the boy in the yellow shirt. I guess he wanted to look like a bee. Strange one, he is. I love him soo much!! This is the beekeeper with the hive. He was asked where the worst place to get stung was. His answer was anywhere boney. It's like getting a tattoo. The closer to the bone the needle gets, the more ouchy it is. He was very good with the kids and loved his job. Love that!


This is part of the hive that the beekeeper showed us from the hive above. This is where the bees are taking care of the babies. What you don't see is the honey. All that glorious honey made me want to play bear. Interestingly enough, the bears aren't after honey. They are after the grubs, or baby bees. It's the protein they want.


We got to walk through the zoo to get to the bee hive from the education center. On the way, we got to stop at the butterfly gardens. We liked the giant butterfly bench. And the boy had the camera. You would think I would learn.

In the education center, they had huge displays of all sorts of bugs and yucky things. You should see the size of this beautiful butterfly. It was bigger than my hand! I like the "eyes".



Before you could get close to the hive, you had to suit up. I really have too much hair for the hats. Mine doesn't really cover me, but I got it on. The big girl decided she was close enough and chose not to suit up. Crazy girl. Aren't we cute? Just say yes.


It was a great field trip. It got us wanting our own mini hive. And when would we have time? Please be careful when you see honey bees. They are very vital to our crops, which means our food supply. Don't kill them unless you have to. Walk the other way to avoid them if that's what it takes. And eat more bee spit, um, honey!

Have a great day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Shhhhh...

I'm still here. It's the holidays and I need some quiet time. Give me a bit and I'll be back.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Catchin' Up

We are still here! I promise. Just some stuff to convince you:

  • We've been sick. Oh, yuck. How does the body produce so much snot? That is just disgusting. And debilitating. Apparently, when you're sick, that's what your body does with all it's energy. It makes more snot. Thanks, I've had my quota for the day. It's hubby's fault and he is in so much trouble. We're finally getting over it. I cancelled school for the week. Which stunk because we were off for the whole week of Thanksgiving. We schooled Monday, part of Tuesday, then forget it. At least I have the beginnings of lesson plans for next week.
  • Still not sure we'll make the Christmas parade this year. It's this weekend and the kids are still recovering. We have one more rehearsal and we'll see how they do. I'm sure they'll be amazing, but it's a long walk when you're dancing you're tushy off. We are resting, practicing a little, and just trying to take it easy. The theme this year is a Seussical Christmas. The boy was going to be the Grinch, but I couldn't find a costume. Instead, he's the Once-ler from The Lorax. Simple, easy and he can wear the clothes for every day wear. Sweet! The big girl is going to be the Cat in the Hat. She is something. Now to find someone to do her makeup...
  • The good thing about being sick and not schooling is that I've had time to catch up on some reading. Loving that. We finished a book on CD to listen to Life of Pi. The movie is coming out and I wanted to read the book with the kids first. Yeah, well. We got through the first 5 chapters before I pulled the CD out of the player. A little inappropriate for my younger 2. "Hey, Mama. What's a sexual deviant?" is not a question I want to answer for my 8 year old, but thanks for playing the game. Maybe in 20 years. The book we finished, The Navigator, was really good. There are supposed to be more books, but we'll find out. We just read George's Marvelous Medicine as our after dinner book. I can honestly say that Roald Dahl is our favorite author. We're back to Mark of Athena. Hopefully, we'll get it finished. If not, I requested it under all the kids, so we have more time.
  • I am already researching curriculum for next year. I need to go through my cabinet of doom and see what I have and what I need. I only have pieces and parts of some things. Others, I think I'm going a different way. Oh, how I love curriculum.
  • We had a great Thanksgiving. We had our big meal Wednesday, then went to the mouse's house on Thursday. It wasn't bad. Some parts of some parks were a little crowded, but those parts are always crowded. We didn't stay too long since hubby had to work the next day. And besides, we had pie left! The big girl made 2 apple pies, the boy made a pumpkin, and the baby made chocolate pie. Scrumptious! One of the apple pies didn't make the night. Everyone had some, even me. My nephew had a huge piece. It realy was very good and I don't eat apple pie.
That's all I've got. We're still here, I promise. I think it's nap time, though. Wish we still had pie.

Have a great day.
  •         

Monday, November 5, 2012

Daybook or 7 Quick Takes, Whichever Comes First

So much stuff in my head. I'm making my list and checking it twice. Really, I'm just crossing stuff off and hoping I'm hitting the high points.

Outisde my window...the sun is starting to come up. Daylight savings always messes me up. Makes me wish I lived in Arizona or Hawaii, where they don't participate in this nonsense. I think we should always fall back. I don't care if it's noon and pitch black. I get 2 "extra" hours a year and that means more than you can imagine. I do like the sun coming up a little earlier, but the setting earlier, not so much. It should be a beautiful day, and we have a cold front coming in tomorrow evening. I like the cooler weather. I see soup in our near future.

I am listening to...the morning news. I'll be glad when the election is over. Social media is full of political posts and insults. Just makes me want to scream "shut up". Pretty soon, I'll be listening to the kids as they get up and get ready for their day. It's going to be a busy one, let me tell you what. That brings us to why...

From the schoolroom...eek! It's going to be a day. Our plans got shifted a little last week and we got behind. The big girl has a quiz and a test she has to take from last week. First she needs to finish her review for the test. The boy had a math review that he did pretty good on, but there are some corrections. The baby just keeps moving on. It must be nice to be a third grader. I hear grumbling every now and then about how easy her work is. Well, get over it. We are taking a week off for Thanksgiving and 2 for Christmas/New Years, so we need to get this stuff done. Our winter break is almost here. And if we don't get it all done, I have a big eraser I can use on the lesson plan book. I have a new lapbook we're going to do for Christmas. Pretty excited about that!

From the farm...I love our chickens, but I wish they knew how to clean their own coop. That is the one chore I really dislike. I feel much better when it's done, but it's yucky. They just keep laying eggs and laying eggs. The weather is getting cooler, but we don't have to put heat in the coop yet. We pulled sweet potatoes yesterday. It's really too cool for them right now. Something has been eating the tops and it was time. They're so little. We're going to plant potatoes. Our other potatoes are doing well. Carrots and beets are growing strong. We lost another strawberry plant, but we still have 2 or three that are doing well. Our peas are beautiful! Excited about those! And those darn bell peppers are just going and going and going. They are smaller in size, but they're still growing.

From the kitchen...we are busy planning our Thanksgiving meal. I've ordered some things from co-op for our meal. I am waiting for cranberries to go buy 1, get 1 free. I have plans for those little babies. I'm going to make cranberry sauce and a cranberry compote. The turkey will be brined again this year. I'm thiking an orange glazed turkey, but we'll see. I've ordered mushrooms to make cream of mushroom soup. For the first time ever, I'm going to make a sweet potato casserole. Hubby is getting a little tired of sweet potatoes, so I'm trying something new. And we have to have brussel sprouts, because that's the law in our home. I know Big Sis is going "blech!" right now. She's funny! The big girl wants to make an apple pie. We're sending her to my FIL's. If she's going to learn, she might as well learn from the best. Hubby got a recipe from him so we can swap some of the ingredients. Pretty excited about the meal.

Around the house...we are working on some projects. Hubby has been cleaning around the sheds trying to get rid of piles. Our room is stil clean even if my desk is a mess. We are about to hit a super busy time with rehearsals for the Christmas parade starting up soon. The parade is the beginning of December so it's all over in about 4-5 weeks. The boy won't be dancing this year. He has a birthday party for the first rehearsal and he really needs to be there. If you miss one rehearsal, you can't participate. I'm not sure what that means for the day of the parade since hubby and I both walk while the kids dance and ride the float. Maybe he can ride the float. We'll see what happens. Is it break time yet?

We are reading...I have to rerequest a couple of books. I had to turn them in before I got the chance to read them. That stinks! One of them I really wanted to read, but didn't even open it. We had to turn in our after dinner book. We got 10 chapters in, darnit! It was a one week loan because it's a new book. I requested it under all of our library cards so hopefully we'll get to finish it. I am about to read "Guilty Wives". I say that, but then there's that whole time thing. When is that going to happen? I'll get to it, I'll get to it.

I didn't make 7, but I made a few. Good thing I'm stopping, though. It's time for breakfast. Then we school, school, school. I think I may take a reading break. Or a nap.

Have a great day.

   

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lessons Learned

I got a new computer!! You cannot even begin to understand how happy I am. I got a laptop so I can take it with if I need to. It has been a search, that's for sure. Hubby and I have become research people. Before we would just get what we wanted and if it broke, oh well, get another. Not anymore. I finally got what I wanted. The keys feel great under my fingers, they're spaced right, and it's easy to navigate. Love it!! But that's not what this blog is about. When I got the computer home and got it set up all I could think about was how I couldn't wait to blog. So, here I go.

This has been a school year. We aren't even half way through and I am tired. I'm not tired of homeschooling. I'm just tired. Come the end of the day it's all I can do to not pass out on the couch at 7 pm. Some nights we aren't even home at 7 and I still want to sleep. I have to admit I fell asleep at piano lessons the other day. I was sitting on my friend's couch, and there I went. Good grief, I hope I didn't snore. The big girl and her friend were standing right next to me talking. That didn't stop me. The baby had about 15 minutes left and my body decided to take advantage of it.

I used to lesson plan for months at a time. I planned from the beginning of school until Christmas break. Why? Because I was a lunatic. It was also much easier then. I was only schooling 2 kids. The baby was still a toddler and played in her room or colored while she sat at the table with us. The curriculum was easy to plan. 2 pages a day in every subject. Just follow the book. We also didn't have as many activities as we have now. We only had 2 dance classes, park day, and church. We were done schooling by 11, 12 at the latest most days. Oh, how things change. Now when I lesson plan, I plan 2-3 weeks at the most, but not more than that. Things change in this house too quickly for that. Now we're at 7 dance classes, park day, piano, veggie co-op, church, field trips, girls club, book club, Pokemon club, and I know I left something out, but I have no idea what that would be. I fill out our schedule before I even start planning. I had to get a copy of my menu planning paper and fill it out with activities and what subjects we would do on what days so the load would be school light on activity heavy days and school heavy on activity light days. It takes me at least an hour to lesson plan.

One reason for the time consumption is the curriculum we are using. The big girl is using A Beka for everything but bible. I used to despise that curriculum. It was boring and dry and not for us. Amazing what you'll use when it's free. I have to say, though, it is not what it used to be. It is engaging and detailed and the big girl likes it. The hardest part is the detailed part. There is so much information. I do have the lesson plans that came with each subject, but they are made for school. We aren't school. We don't have homework. All of our work is homework. I mostly follow the lesson plan, but there are some things I have to change. You should see the chapter review in geography. It would take the big girl at least 2 hours to complete. In school, that would be class time, then homework. We don't have that kind of time. I broke it up over 3 days, then test day 4. We are 5 day a week schoolers now. We only do math and bible on the 5th day, but anything that didn't get finished has to be done on Friday. If not, that means Saturday school for whoever didn't finish. Yuck!! Nobody wants to do that. They do sometimes, but nobody wants to.

I sit with everyone for almost every subject. Bible we do together. The boy and the baby have history and science together, so that gets knocked out pretty quickly. Then I sit with everyone, one at a time, and we go over math. When math is done, it's time for language arts. The baby is using Rod and Staff for grammar. Oh, how I wish we would have used this so much earlier! I cannot say enough great things about Rod and Staff!! Since the baby hasn't really done alot of grammar, she likes when I sit with her. The boy and the big girl are doing literature based studies this year. I have found that if I don't sit with them and talk about the story or go over the questions, things don't stick in the brain like spaghetti to the wall. And I need to add grammar to the mix for the boy. Ok, fine. Then there's geography and science with the big girl. I know that she's smart enough to do the work on her own, and she does. We do the reading together. I do try to assign just the reading part to her on busy days and then the question parts on not so busy days. Most of the time, that works.

We still have to get chores done. Saturday has become errand day and Sunday has become chore day. The exception is those chores that have to get done every day. Feed and water the chickens, gather eggs, and unload the dishwasher get done every day. Every couple of days, someone needs to get a load of laundry in there. Whoever does their laundry then has to get it folded and put away. Lunch is important. We break every day for chores and lunch, which takes about an hour to an hour and a half. Some days work goes with us when we go to activities. It either gets done in the van or at the activity.

 One reason we gave up science co-op was because I felt like I had to shove a week's worth of info into an hour I didn't really have to shove it into. I had to make sure they were familiar with the info and they were ready for co-op day. It was too much. Now I feel like I have some control. I can spread the information over a week. We can take our time and get it done. I know that the big girl understands hers and the boy understands his. I don't have the pressure. We don't have to make that a priority unless it has to be. If there's something that's more pressing we can focus on that. It's like the weight of the world. Well, at least I feel like one world is lifted off me.           

By the end of the day, I am exhausted. My brain is mushy. Poor hubby thinks I've forgotten who he is. I really haven't. I'm just tired. We were talking about it tonight. School is a priority for us. Gone are the easy days of done by noon and sleep til 3. Not that I ever got to nap that long, but still. The big girl is a 9th grader. It is very important to us that she do well with her school work. I have cut out all I can for her. It's as light as it can be. The boy is now in middle school. His work isn't going to get any easier from here on out, either. The baby is asking for more work and she's about to get it. BUT, it's work that she can do independently. I like that. She's going to start some critical thinking activities and handwriting. All I need to do is grade it. Yea!

I am already planning curriculum for next year. I wish it was something that I could do over the summer. No it isn't. Who am I kidding? I have an addiction to curriculum. I enjoy the lesson planning. It's like a puzzle. It keeps my brain moving. That's why I like loading the dishwasher. How much can I get shoved in there without overloading it? Crazy, I know. But, what did you expect? It's me. I have some guidelines for high school I have to sort of follow, but I still have lots of leeway for the boy and the baby right now. And really, this is just a stage of life we're in right now. It won't be this way forever and I am embracing every second I can. I may gripe about it, but I'm hanging on for dear life.

Have a great day.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bees Knees

I don't know if bees have knees or not. I know the saying is supposed to mean that something is really great. I think my blog is great, but that's just me. I just had to use a bee reference, though. You'll see why in a minute. Ready for the journey?

  • We are taking a field trip to our local enough zoo to take a beekeeping class. We aren't going to keep bees, but it would be great to know what makes them tick and how do we attract more of them to our garden. I'd also like to find out what the beekeeper's views are about hive collapse. I think it's pesticides. Poison is supposed to kill things so why not bees. And the larger the colony the better chance of spreading it to the rest of the bees. That isn't why we're going, either. We're going because we like honey and we think it's way cool. We have to wear long sleeve shirts and long pants, they supply the helmets. That's gonna bee a funny pic. I made a funny. In honor of our field trip, we are going to forgo most of our schoolwork and do a bee lap book and unit study. We are still going to do bible and math, but how fun. I checked out a bunch of books from the library. The baby has read all but 1. Guess who's going to teach the bee unit study? Not really. I even checked out a Magic School Bus movie just for fun. 
  • Speaking of watching movies, we watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for our family movie night. I haven't seen that movie in probably 30 years. The kids and I had listened to it as a book on CD. It was completely different from the book, but we all enjoyed it. Hubby had only seen parts of it. We were singing the CCBB song all night. It's very catchy! I had no idea Roald Dahl had written the screenplay. We heart Roald Dahl. I am waiting for Mary Poppins to come in. I also haven't seen that one in years. My kids haven't seen it at all that I know of. I am a bad mama. It's in transit, so hopefully we'll get to pick it up come Monday or Tuesday. 
  • We did a pretty good cleaning of the house before my dad and step mom came to visit. Believe it or not, except for the kitchen, which is the hub of our home, everything has basically stayed that way. If I can keep ahead of the hand washing, my island stays clear. I've even mopped a couple of times since they left. That, in and of itself, is tantamount to a miracle. The baby's room, however, may be the downfall. That poor room. 
  • I make our own broths. One of my favorites to make is veggie. I keep a gallon size baggie in the fridge in the crisper drawer. When it's about 1/2 full, I make stock. I save the peels from my garlic press, the ends I cut off the onions, potato and carrot peels, zucchini ends I cut off, and spinach leaves and stems. I also save some of the cabbage leaves I pull off the plants in the tower. I normally make it in the crock pot, but I changed my mind last time. I pulled our big stock pot out from under the cabinet and made it on the stove top. I let it cook for a few hours. I like it much better. My house smelled amazing! It smelled like veggie soup, only better. I used it to make brown rice and a couple of other things. It was so good. That has now become the way I prefer to make veggie stock. 
  • We had our first ever tailgate party at youth tonight. It went very well I think. There was some last minute stress that required us taking our little table top grill, but it was all good. We had grilled hot doge, brats, and hamburgers. We also did chicken wings, but we baked those since the grill was small. We had a pretty good turnout. 
  • We are looking for some trick or treating options. We normally trick or treat at my in-laws with the rest of the family, but that is not happening this year. My MIL said she cancelled it. Funny since I'm not sure anyone will be there this year anyway. I already have a bead on some fall festivals we're planning on and some trunk or treats planned. We aren't keeping the candy we get this year. Our dentist has a program where you can turn in your candy for chances to win prizes. I wonder what the prizes will be this year. We're hoping for a Kindle Fire, but we'll see.   
  • I am trying to be grateful for the loaner computer. I really am. When I have to print, I get extremely frustrated. There are only 2 USB drives that work. I have 3 things to plug in usually: my mouse, my flash drive and the printer. The process is mouse and flash drive, click what I need to print, unplug mouse and plug in printer, after printing unplug printer and plug mouse back in. Pain in my butt! But, we have a computer, we have a computer, WE HAVE A COMPUTER. Sorry, I didn't mean to yell. I think I was trying to convince myself. Gift horse, gift horse, gift horse...
  • I have to write everything down or I'll forget. You have to email me, text me, or social network me. I use the notes feature on my phone like it's going out of style. If I can set an alarm to remind me as well, then bully. I have lost my mind. Wait, I think I already knew that. Let me check my notes.
And there's my alarm. Well, not really, but I did mark stuff off my list. Now to fill it up again.

Have a great day.       

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sweets For the Sweet

There are 2 veggies I really like. They are probably my favorite. Brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes are my thing. They are not favorites for anyone else in my house. That's kind of depressing. Hubby grew up eating meat and potatoes. His mother is German and his dad is from Minnesota. Yeah, there isn't a lot of seasoning going on there. He has eaten more strange food since we've been married than he ever would have thought. The kids grew up on canned veggies. I am so glad that isn't what we do anymore. I don't remember the last can of veggies I opened.

You can probably tell from the title that this blog isn't about brussel sprouts. I think they're pretty sweet, but no this about that orange tuber-like veggie. Are sweet potatoes tubers, like potatoes? I don't know. Research project for someone (just not me. I could Google it, but I won't.). I like my sweet potatoes just about any way you cook them. I like them baked, roasted, french fried, candied, cake, and as biscuits. Cinnamon butter over a soft, hot sweet potato always sounds lovely to me.

There are two ways my family will usually eat them without a fuss. The first is sweet potato chocolate cake. Hubby was giving me grief because I wouldn't write down the recipe for a customer of his. Here's the deal. It is my original recipe and as it is posted on my blog, just like everything else, including but not limited to comments, it is my property, intellectual and otherwise. That means you can't take it and claim it as an original recipe. Pretty sneaky, huh? If I write it down and give it to someone, that means it is no longer my property. Forget that, Mister.

The other way is as biscuits. I have posted on the social media site that I wished I had made a sweet potato so I could make biscuits. I've been asked for this recipe before, so here you go. I have no idea where this recipe came from originally, so if you know, I would like to give credit. For now, though, here's the directions.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

1 cup of mashed sweet potato
2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk

Sift the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into a bowl. Mix oil, milk, and sweet potato until well blended. Add sweet potato mix to flour mix. Use fork to mix until just combined and mixture will hold together. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead until smooth. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut into rounds with biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-20 minutes. 

As soon as these babies come out of the oven, butter them! Oh my giddy aunt! They can be a little plain, so I would suggest adding a little cinnamon to the flour mix. Maybe 2 tsp? I don't measure, I just add, sorry. That makes them so freakin' good. If you don't want to add cinnamon to the dough, then sprinkle them when they come out of the oven after you butter. I would not suggest using whole wheat flour. They are not nearly as good. And for my gluten free friends, if you have a baking flour you prefer, please share. I am very interested in that info. Use whatever oil you use. I would be interested to try this with grape seed oil. That's my next foray into eating better. I also use honey instead of sugar, but you could use agave I'm sure. Just a little dab will do you.          

These are really good if you don't mess them up like I did tonight, darn it. For some reason I used baking soda instead of powder. DON'T do that. I didn't realize why they tasted so funny until I was listing the ingredients. That'll teach me to pay attention. Enjoy these little gems of sweetness. I have half a potato just calling my name.

Have a great day.
 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

7 Is the Magic Number

I know it's really 3. I have the Schoolhouse Rock DVDs. Let's hope I make it to 7.

  • Dinner was extra scrumptious tonight. Hubby made gravy! Believe it or not, I am gravy challenged. Sometimes I make good gravy, but sometimes not so much. I made a pot roast. In years past I would use a can of cream of mushroom soup and a packet of onion soup mix. Not anymore. I did use homemade chicken stock and fresh basil when I cooked the roast, though. I made mashed potatoes and they needed gravy. So hubby worked his gravy magic. Even the picky baby ate it, and she doesn't like gravy. Oh, to have a sweet potato biscuit... 
  • My SIL that I get along with posted a math problem on FB. She needed help solving it. Several people tried, including me. I got 432. I got it right! But, really, the big girl and I just got done with that in her math. If I hadn't gotten it right, then shame on me. 
  • We have bell peppers galore in our garden right now. We picked several the other day for stuffed peppers. We must have 7 or 8 that are almost ready to pick. Loving that! We have okra. Unfortunately, we only have 3 okra plants right now, so there will probably only be enough for one person. Or I could be nice and share with hubby. We have more started and we originally planted 6 okras. 3 died and one is very small. It still has little okras on it. Our broccoli is getting big. We are excited for that. We have brussel sprout sprouts ready for the tower. Our sweet potatoes and yukons are growing like gangbusters. Hubby wants to train the sweets to grow up then put them in a big pot, like at Epcot. We don't really have the growing room that they need, but we make a lot of things from sweet potatoes and would like to grow as many as we can. Our bok choi looks so cute. Now, if we can make it to harvest, we'll be ecstatic.
  • The baby has switched jazz classes. She tried the one after her tap class and loved it! That makes me happy. I wasn't sure she'd like it since it's a bigger class. She has her most of her tap friends in her jazz class so that makes her happy. We're in town one less day so that makes my gas tank and wallet happy. Happy for small favors right now. 
  • We have a couple of field trips coming up. We like field trips. We're going to the Museum of Natural History with a group. It happens to be where a dear friend moved a couple of years ago. We miss her and her family. They're coming, too! SO excited to see them. Before that we have a field trip to the zoo. They are having a bee keeping class. We aren't going to get bees, but what a cool thing. We get to see their hives and watch the bee keeper handle the bees and eat the honey! Oh, the honey! It is so nice to have field trips in the books.   
  • We have finished our book Missing May. The last chapter was a little hard for me to get through. Then the last couple of pages just wore me out. The kids took it hard, too. It was a great book just in case you're interested. It wasn't what I expected, but it was still good. We are reading a 39 Clues book now. We had started this one, but had to turn it in when it was due. I backed up a couple of chapters to help refresh our memories. I picked a second book for the big girl. I am trying to get all the kids out of their reading ruts. The baby isn't that bad. She reads all kinds of stuff. The boy and the big girl tend to get stuck in one genre. She said it was funny. I'll take that. I picked Hatchet for the boy. I can almost guarantee you that he hasn't gotten past Chapter 2. That'll change tomorrow. 
  • School is pretty great right now. I think the change in classes and feeling a little less stressed about it has helped us hit a groove. The big girl is still working into the afternoon, but that won't change any time soon. I have cut her back as far as I can and she knows that. She has been very good about it. The boy has decided he wants to do the science that the baby is doing. That's actually ok. The curriculum we're using is made for a wide range of grade levels. I also have a ton of stuff on all levels to supplement. I do need to look up a couple of experiments for the big girl, but I have a ton of those, too. I made myself promise that I would get better at grading the kids stuff in a more timely manner. I did until Thursday. After a busy long day, I forgot. I had gotten some of it graded earlier. Then we did Saturday school. I had the stuff graded by then and there wasn't anything they needed to work on from the previous lesson, so all was good. Saturday school got whines, but that's what happens when you don't get Friday's work done. Good thing hubby was working or that could have gotten ugly. I would have had to rebel and cancel school and set a bad example and we can't have that, now can we?               
Look, I made it! I made it! That was easier than I thought it was going to be.

Have a great day.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater

We have had a couple of days lately that just haven't worked out as planned. School has kind of turned into the same situation as paying off our cars. You would think we'd have more money every month since we paid them off. No, it's more like that's less we have to come up with. We quit science co-op and we no longer have bible study, so you would think we would have more time. Not so much. Crazy how that works, huh? Because we are pressed for time and have some late nights, it means crazy cooking or a lot of crock pot cooking. We all know how much I love my crock pot, but sometimes, I need a break. 

The last couple of weeks, I've made "cheater" meals. I either didn't have everything I needed to make dinner or I no longer use some of the ingredients or for some reason I just didn't have time for the recipe. The first was stuffed peppers. I did use peppers from the garden. They are so lovely. The one thing that has consistently produced are the peppers. You should see our sweet potatoes and yukon potatoes, but they aren't ready to harvest yet. My recipe for peppers calls for instant rice. I'm sorry, I'm Hawaiian. I can't use instant rice by law. It's really my own law, but it's there. I was going to use brown rice, but I still have some sticky rice from when my dad came to visit and it needs to go. I will eat it all if it doesn't. I cooked the rice because if it didn't cook completely while the peppers cooked, they would have been awful. I don't like crunchy rice and I wasn't taking a chance. I also didn't have fresh tomatoes, so, gasp, I used canned. Cool your jets, people. You know it was the good stuff. Since everything was cooked when it got put together, I didn't have to cook it as long. It also didn't seem as time intensive. I put it all together and put it in the fridge. When hubby got home with a couple of the kids, he popped them in the oven to warm up. They were scrumptious.

Mexican chicken is one of my favorite things to eat. Some of the ingredients, however, make me cringe now. I had leftover chicken that needed to be used. This was another thing I could put together and cook later. And once again, since everything was cooked already, it just needed to be heated. I used blue corn chips, They are so good. I layered chips, chicken, Rotel ( I know, don't judge.), more chips, and Provolone cheese. I sprinkled the chicken with some cumin and oregano and a little cayenne. Not too much cayenne since the Rotel more than made up for the spicy. I should have added a little chicken or veggie stock to add a little more moisture, but I didn't think about that until I was eating and it was a little dry. As I was putting it together, the big girl asked if there was enough for everyone to have thirds and fourths. Darn it, no, but next time there will be.

And, last but not least, I picked up a pie pumpkin at veggie co-op. Just one, but it makes a lot of pumpkin. I am going to process that bad boy today. I have visions of pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cake or pie, and maybe a little pumpkin in my coffee. I'll make my own darn pumpkin spice latte. Take that! I'm really the only one that likes pumpkin flavored things. Except when I make them with fresh pumpkin. Then it gets eaten faster than you can say "Peter, Peter". It's all in the ingredients you use, I have found. My family is not big on sweet potatoes or Brussel sprouts, either, unless I cook them. I think it's because I sprinkle everything with extra love. 

That's all I got for now. I think I have time for a second cup of coffee. I wish that pumpkin was already done. Tomorrow is another day.             

Have a great day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Eating Well

  I haven't done a recipe blog in a while. Shame on me. Really, though, I was burned out when it came to cooking, so the blog would have been short and sweet. Well, short anyway. I blogged a few weeks ago about hubby and the kids picking some recipes out of my stash. They came up with some good ones, let me tell you what. We also spent last Saturday, um, processing chickens. I have a freezer full. I roasted one Sunday then used the leftovers later in the week. I made chicken enchiladas. I haven't made those in forever. Tonight was hubby's night to cook. He made potato soup. It doesn't sound fancy, but the crispy carrots were great to just snack on. Both recipes were a hit.

I had never made my own enchilada sauce. I always relied on a can. Nothing is easier than that, but we don't do that anymore. I came across this recipe on Food.com. It was so stinking good. My biggest recommendation is buy good spices. If you go cheap, you can taste it. And after the kids were eating it, I told them there was a secret ingredient. Here's what I did:

Enchilada Sauce

3 Tbsp chili powder
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp oregano
3 cups water
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Stirring constantly, slowly add enough water to make a thin paste. Pour into pan and add rest of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Stir in tomato sauce. Use in you favorite recipe.

You know I changed something because I am that way. Don't combine the ingredients in a bowl. Use the pot you're going to cook in. That's one less dish, thank you. I cut the chili powder just a little because I have some sensitive palates that don't do spicy very well. I also didn't use garlic salt. I used garlic powder. If you're adding salt already, cut where you can. Or use fresh garlic. I also added more cocoa powder because chili and chocolate are so good together. I had some left over, so I froze it. It would be good as a sauce for quesadillas or tostadas or anything else you need a spicy sauce for. I'd make another batch if I had enough tortillas. Or a spoon. 

When I sat to plan the menu, I knew there was at least one night hubby was going to have to cook. That was tonight. I tried to plan something easy. He really is a good cook but he doesn't have much confidence in his skills. Crazy man. I showed him the recipe and we talked about it before we decided that was what we were going to have for dinner. We didn't realize that it was for a side dish, so I did have to stop and get something else to go with it. Oh, well, we know better for next time. This came from my Better Homes and Gardens magazine. This is one reason I love that mag.

Rosemary Potato Soup with Crispy Carrots

1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 medium russet or white potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cups water
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into ribbons

In 4 or 5 quart pot, melt butter. Add onion, salt, and pepper. Cook until translucent. Add potatoes, 2 cups of water, and rosemary. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat. With a potato masher, mash potatoes until no lumps remain, or process with a wand blender. Add remaining water. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until thick. Stir frequently to keep potatoes from sticking to pot. While simmering, heat oil in a pan. Add carrot ribbons and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until crisp. Drain on paper towel or cooling rack. Spoon soup into bowls and top with carrots. 

Please, I am from the south. We don't fry onions in a tablespoon of butter. And that little bit of salt and pepper is for the birds. Salt those potatoes, people. You can't go back and add it. It'll be too late. That's all I have to say about that. Moving on. We used Yukon Gold potatoes because that's what we have. If you use a blender, please be very careful. Only process small batches at a time. Big batches make your blender turn into a bomb and it could explode. NOT FUN! I have a wand blender, but hubby used the regular masher. It worked wonderfully. We didn't have rosemary. Hubby called and asked what to use instead. I said oregano, but you could use parsley, basil, thyme, or any combination of those. The carrots didn't get quite as crunchy as I would like, but they were still darn good. If you want more soup, I would double or even triple the recipe depending on how much you want or how many people you're serving. You could even add cooked ham or bacon.

Good food is always present in our home. I like to eat too much to have crappy food. These were both winners. The baby and the boy didn't particularly care for the carrots in the soup. That's sort of odd for the boy since he's my carrot eater. I picked up a baguette and we had that with our soup. You could crouton it and let it sit in your soup before you eat it. Oh, yummy. I may eat hubby's leftovers he was going to take to work tomorrow. He'll never know. I'll blame it on the kids. Or the cat. Wait, we don't have a cat. Oh, never mind. It would totally be worth it.

Have a great day.
 





Monday, September 17, 2012

You Win Some, You Want to Dump Some

It has been a very busy couple of weeks for us. Finally I have a minute to sit down. Of course, Revolution is on, so I'm blogging during commercials. So far there haven't been any, so I'm doing what I can.

My dad and step mom came to visit. It was nice. They haven't been to our home since we moved here. We hadn't been to there house in about 5-6 years. It was a nice visit. One little snafu. My dad and I got into it about homeschooling and me being stubborn. Well, it takes stubborn to know stubborn is what I always say. Anyway, I'll repeat what I said to him. I don't give a damn what anyone thinks about our decision to home school. It wasn't anyone else's decision but mine and hubby's and we made the right one. We went and had ice cream and to the park. There's this little place across from the park that has a lovely dreamsicle ice cream. I could have eaten my weight in that stuff. We went and ate sushi. And the kids got spoiled at the big box store. So did I. And it was nice. It was good to see them and great to spend some time. It was a much needed break for us.

The kids and I have decided that we do not like our science curriculum. We have been using Apologia: Exploring Creation with Physical Science. I can guarantee you that I won't use anymore of their science curriculum if it's written by the same man that wrote this one. At one point today, I could have stabbed my eyes out with my pencil. Good thing I wear glasses and have a barrier between my eyes and the sharp, pointy end. Do we really need a paragraph explaining that when you have a chemical symbol with two letters, the first letter is capitalized and the second letter isn't? Do we have to repeat through 4 chapters that the chemical formula for water is H2O? The first experiment in chapter 4 is the same as the experiment in chapter 1, except using Epsom salt and not baking soda. I'm all for review, but repeating over and over is something else. And he doesn't know when to stop talking. We just need to hang in there a few more months until co-op is over. Lord, give me strength.

I didn't get much sleep last night. About 3:30, my eyes popped open and they didn't want to close until about 5. Not good. About 5 this afternoon, I couldn't take it anymore. I made it to the couch before I kind of just faded away. Hubby came home and took the boy to dance. I finally rolled off the couch about 6:30 to make dinner. I had something else on the menu, but realized yesterday I didn't have everything I needed. So I made it up. We had meatballs, zucchini and carrot ribbons sauteed in butter and garlic, and sweet potato biscuits. EVERYONE ate the biscuits. They were lovely. I'm going to make more and post the recipe. Hubby told me he doesn't like sweet potatoes (he really doesn't), but he will eat them any way I cook them. He feels the same way about Brussel sprouts.

I've been picking books for the kids. They still get to pick their own, but I pick something outside their comfort zone. The boy has read 2 of my picks and really enjoyed them. He's already asked me to pick another. He also found a new author he likes. The baby has liked my picks as well. She has been on an American Girl kick for a couple of months now. I picked some cute books for her. The big girl isn't real happy, but she's reading her book because she's a good girl. I'm not sure what I'm picking next for her, but it will be way out of her box. That's the way I roll.   

And now I'm rolling off to bed. I am wiped out and Revolution is over.

Have a great day. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Aaaaahhhhhh...

Sometimes I let anxiety get the best of me. Ok, maybe more than sometimes. Case in point: freaking out about our schooling and our schedule and how in the world the two were going to mesh. Well, actually, except for an impromptu trip to buy dance shoes and run errands, it's meshed very well.

We have had a couple of days that just seemed like we couldn't get any work done at all. It was one road block after another. It was driving me crazy. There was no reason we should be working at 3 in the afternoon. Sometimes, it be's like that, to quote Pink. Really, though, that should not be our norm. I'm going to keep an eye on things and see what else needs to be tweaked.

It doesn't help that the kids are each taking two dance classes. We hadn't even started and I was worried we would have to drop classes already. Science is taking a huge chunk of time for us. Bible study got moved to a different day and we had not one night off during the week. Not one. Panic set in. And it brought a bag, like it was going to stay for awhile. Well, crap.

Guess what? Stuff happens and things change. Sometimes that's good, but sometimes not. Sometimes it's a combination of things. Here's what happened.

I cancelled bible study. We showed up, but nobody else did. I was expecting that. I had gotten messages and texts from the kids that normally showed and others that they weren't going to be able to participate. I gave it a try just to see if anyone was going to make it. Nope. 6:30 came around and we turned off the lights and left. As much as I absolutely loved facilitating that study, it was almost like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I didn't know how we were going to be out 5 nights a week and still function the next day. We don't have to. We have a night off.

Dance! The kids started this week. Everyone is loving their classes this year. I love, love, love to hear "I had the best time!" all the way home. If it were just one of them, that would be one thing. It was all of them. After every class. The class times are late enough, too, that if we need to school a little longer on certain days, it is all good. We have the time. We are out quite a bit, but I'm going to see if we can move one of the classes. There is a jazz class right after the baby's tap class that I'm going to see if she can try. If she does well, that cuts another night out for us.

Our impromptu trip was because the baby told me the morning of her tap class that her shoes were too small. Off we go to buy tap shoes. The kids got the majority of their work done while I was in the shower. They also swapped laundry and folded towels and packed dance bags. If they can do that, I think it's going to be ok.

My only concern at this time is science co-op. It's not even co-op, it's the work load that goes with co-op. It takes us quite awhile to get through the lesson at home. The kids need to know the lesson before we get to co-op. Then it gets reviewed there and the labs are done. The next week, we finish the chapter and test. There is so much info in the books. And we have to do it all. Except last week because I was tired. I haven't been sleeping well. I skipped the last 2 or 3 pages. Guess what they talked about in co-op? That went well. Or not. I don't like the way the information is presented in the curriculum we're using. The man that wrote it likes the sound of his own voice. He uses "thus" and "nevertheless" in almost every paragraph, but not always the right way. I think someone has a confidence issue.

Piano is going well for the girls. I think the boy may start. I'm not sure. He hasn't shown any interest in getting back to guitar or playing or practicing. We thought maybe drums, but we're still not sure. That would mean acquiring a drum set for him to practice on. I told him to pick one, but he hasn't made a decision yet. We'll see where he ends up.

I feel better about the extras working with school now that they've all started. We are taking next week off. My dad and step mom are coming to visit! Yea!! They'll only be here for a few days, but we are so excited. It has been about 4 years since we've seen them. Then we go back at it. Tomorrow is Rock the Universe! Group 1 Crew and TobyMac are going to be so happy to see me. I mean, I'll be so happy to see them. Long day, very early morning and sleeping til noon. I'm taking a breath. And out...aaaahhhhhh.

Have a nice day.
          

Monday, September 3, 2012

And, Big Sigh...

I am starting to feel just a tad overwhelmed. I usually stay pretty busy. When we have a day where we can sit around in pajamas, we relish it.We are about to go into overdrive, but I'm not sure I'm gonna survive.

Our curriculum choice this year was based on the fact that I got most of it for free. It's good stuff, don't get me wrong. Free is not a reason to use it if it doesn't work for my kids. What's the point, really? The issue is that it is A LOT of work. There are some days we are still working at 3 in the afternoon. What kind of junk is that? Granted, the days we did that we got started just a little later than normal, but this is not the point. Even on days we do start on time, we are still schooling into the afternoon. Now we throw dance and girls club in the mix. Oh, yeah, and book club for the kids. Good thing that's once a month. And Latin. I'm ordering that this week. What have I gotten myself into?

A big giant ball of stress, that's what I've gotten into, dang it. There is so much we have to do that isn't together. What we do have together is taking some time. I have cut back as far as I can. There are some things that just can't be cut down anymore if we're expected to actually work. I mean, I could always just sit around all day and not do anything. Yeah, that's gonna happen.

Added to that is a strict "no going out to eat" until November. Hubby and I are putting ourselves on a pretty tight budget for the next couple of months. We want to see where the money is going and how it's getting there. That means menu planning and lots of cooking. Good thing the kids need to learn how to cook. There will be a couple of nights a week that the kids and/or hubby are going to make dinner. There is just no way around it. I do have a stack of recipes that they picked out. I added the Better Homes and Gardens Recipe app to my phone. Hopefully I can get some good ideas from that. I also sat and pulled a bunch of recipes from magazines today. I needed to get rid of the magazines, but I wanted the info in it. I pulled some pretty good vegetarian recipes and some I can make vegetarian. I like those. I do have a menu for the rest of this week. Please let it work.  

My dad is coming to visit! Yea!! I'm not sure if my step mom is coming or not, but it'll be good to see her, too. That will be the only exception to our "no going out to eat" rule. Dad wants sushi. Who am I to disappoint? I have some meals planned for next week, but we'll see how it goes. This will be our last hurrah for a little while.

I need to research and gather info on a couple of field trips. I got a request for the chocolate factory again. I am so in to that, let me tell you what. And then the beach? I say, yes, and thank you. When are those supposed to happen? I told the kids I would try to schedule a day every few weeks so we can go to Disney. Doesn't that sound lovely? Why, yes it does. I'm not sure when those days will be. I think they call them Saturdays.  

This, too, shall pass. I feel a little overwhelmed because we haven't started extras. I'll have a better idea of what kind of time we have. I think that's why we haven't found a groove yet. We don't have everything we need to groove. That starts this week. So ready for dance! I'll have a better picture of our schedule when that happens.

Right now, I'm gonna take it day by day and not put so much added stress on everyone. It's that whole trickle down thing. We have one week to get through, vacation after that, then a settling in period. Oh, to settle. Taking a breath, and big sigh.

Have a great day.
 
 


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Plugging Away

We have been steady at it for about 3 weeks now. We've made some additions, and some subtractions, and really we're just trying to find a groove. My dad is coming to visit in about 2 weeks, and there will be no school that week. Here's what we've got going so far.

  • The baby says she's bored. OK. I can fix that. Really, poor thing doesn't have that much to do. I have a few more workbooks she could do, but I don't want her to just do busy work. At the park the other day, one of the moms had some Rod and Staff language arts. So I got it. Rod and Staff is a curriculum I have wanted to use with my kids for awhile. The only place you can get it is the Rod and Staff website. Which I forget about when it's time to order. Anyway, it's grammar. Ooooo, the most dreaded of the dreaded subjects. I like the thoroughness of the curriculum. It has a lot of extras that come with it that we may or may not need. I always read the teacher's manuals (I'm weird that way) and it said that 120 minutes should be set aside for this. I'm not gonna, but the baby won't be bored anymore. 
  • The boy is having motivation issues when it comes to his guitar. I think because he doesn't have anyone to just sit and play guitar with. He hasn't picked it up in over a week. Probably closer to two or three. It breaks my heart. He enjoyed the lessons so much. My dad is supposed to be bringing his ukelele with him. I'm hoping it helps the boy. Then we can get back to it. I'm thinking about putting him in piano with his sisters. Or maybe drums. I just don't know.
  • The science we are doing for co-op is very time consuming. We work on it for about an hour, then we go to co-op the next day. But between the exercises and the reading, good grief. We could spend an hour and a half on it and probably still not get everything done. We go over half of the chapter one week and some experiments, then we finish the chapter and test the next week. I'm starting to think we may have to test at home. Then there's the chapter review. I use it as a test prep. If we have time. It is wearing me out. 
  • We got all the shoes we need for dance. I finally found a white shirt for the boy. Just a plain white shirt. You could not imagine how hard that has been. The big girl has her leotard and tights. The baby has been set for awhile. She couldn't find her jazz shoes. One day she had them. The next day they were gone. Crazy girl. I found them under my desk. I have no idea and neither does she. The best we can figure is that she was wearing them while she was playing on the computer.
  • We desperately need a new computer. This one is old, loud, and we can't always access all the websites we need to access. It gets very frustrating. At least we can use it for history. It's better than nothing. 
  • I made stuffed shells for dinner. They were lovely. Everyone agreed they should go in the keeper pile. I'll post the recipe later. I looked through the stack and realized I have a lot of cooking to do. I made veggie stock. I'm going to make turkey stock in a few days. I also need to make cream of broccoli soup and maybe cream of chicken. I need them for two casserole type dishes the kids picked. Then there's the sweet potato crescent rolls. Oh my giddy aunt, they look amazing! I cooked a chicken today and deboned it so I have chicken and stock ready for soup and dinner. And I got a butternut squash at co-op. I am the only one that likes it, and I don't always. I do like butternut squash soup. We are going to have a couple of dreary days and soup is good on dreary days. I might make the rolls with the squash soup. Can you imagine? I think I'm drooling.     
I think that's good for the run down. I need to go put my stock away now that's it's cooled some. I think I may flip through my Better Homes and Gardens. I almost feel my kitchen mojo coming back.

Have a great day.        

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Daybook

I have about 8 minutes until I get the kids up and we get ready for school. I like my quiet time in the morning. I can sit with my coffee and computer(or phone more often then not these days) and just browse through some sites I like or play Angry Birds or any of my Friends games. Then they wake up and it is pedal to the floor all day it seems. Here we go, 'cause we are wasting time.

  • Outside my window: it is sunny and starting to get hot. Who knew at 745 in the morning it could be so muggy? You would think I was back home in Texas. Oh, now that is a lovely dream.One day, my dream will come true. I hope we have time for a swim this afternoon before it rains. We like the rain. The garden gets watered and the pool gets full. Mercy, the humidity, though. 
  • I am reading: I have a couple of books that the big girl checked out and one for me. She started one and said it was boring. It looked pretty interesting to me, so she handed it over. The other one is by an author she really likes, but she didn't realize it was an adult book. There's nothing bad in it so far, but she wanted me to read it first. Can do. We just finished our after dinner book, which was The Secret Under Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson. There were a couple of things that were a little weird in the book and I thought for sure we were gonna have questions, but no. I don't know whether to be OK about that or terrified. There was a part where a young man sat with his grandmother as she died. That was kinda hard to get through. Now we need a new book. I'm not sure what that will be, but we'll figure it out. And, of course, we're still listening to The Hobbit. It's not my favorite book, but it's better than I thought it would be.
  • From the garden: Hubby and I cleaned some things out of the tower. We lost some strawberry plants to the heat, but it leaves room for other things. Right now we want to put in kale and Brussel sprouts. Our purple cabbage has not done much and they are getting pulled this weekend. There are three and they're tiny, so we'll use them all at once. Our sweet potatoes are flourishing as are our bell peppers. I wish the peppers would get bigger and come in at the same time. They are loving the rain, so hopefully. We pulled the rest of the tomato plants, but hubby rooted them and stuck them back in the ground. The bottom half of the plants were bare and ugly, but the tops were green and growing. We cut out the middle man and hopefully we'll get Romas and lemon boys and mortgage lifters out of it. We also planted beets, red okra, green okra, chard, and bok choi. So excited for our fall/winter crop. 
  • From the schoolroom: We started school yesterday! So happy to have that going again. The baby has already asked for more work. Can we get through the first week, please? Really, though, her language arts is lacking, so I may change it. Or add to it, I haven't decided which. I have a couple of weeks before I order Latin, so I have some time to decide. Day 1 went well. There was some basic orientation to do. For us, that means looking at the new curriculum, discussing how the assignments are laid out, going over our schedule, that sort of thing. This year is the big girl's first year of high school so that means keeping grades. And I got our dance schedule finally! It is quite hefty this year, but that's fine, too. I've added dates for science co-op, girls club, and dance to my phone. Now to get it all on the big calendar. 
  • Around the house: Operation clean rooms is mostly complete. Everybody has a little more that needs to get done, but the baby got her room vacuumed and the boy got his swept. So really, that means they do have a floor and I'm happy about that. We need to get the big girl some shelves so we can move her desk out. Now to get the pile in the kitchen to the thrift store. We could stock their shelves for years to come. 
  • From the kitchen: I'm bored!! What kind of junk is that? My goal is to go through my gray box of yummy, aka my recipe box, and a bag of recipes I've torn out of Better Homes and Gardens magazines and pull 10 recipes I haven't made before. Hubby has to do the same thing. That will give us 20 new meals. We have got to find something in all that that is a winner. I'm hoping it will help me get creative in the kitchen again. Our schedule isn't nearly as wonky as it has been in the past, but there are still a couple of late-ish nights, so I'm hitting my crock pot blogs, too. There was a lemon chicken recipe I wanted to try. You know I'll post the recipe if it's a winner. 
I have gone over my allotted 15 minutes by about 10. The kids are up and I need to get moving. I have a bowl of oatmeal with honey and butter calling my name. And I'm hungry this morning.

Have a great day. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Run Down

On several of my friends' blogs, they are listing what they are using for the upcoming school year. In all my ramblings about planning and extras and co-ops and time, I'm not sure that I've done that. If I have, you get to see it again!

  • Bible: God, What's Your Name? This is a Kay Arthur study that lets the kids find out what the different names for God are and what they mean. I love this idea and have wanted to do this as a bible study for a couple of years now. It's the only subject this year that we will do all together. I'm a little sad about that.
  • Science: Apologia's Exploring Creation with Physical Science. This is what the big girl and the boy will be using for co-op. There will also be experiments with every module. Yea for experiments! I'm actually excited for that part. Their notebooks are set up and ready to go. God's Design for Life: Animal Life is what the elementary kids will be using. I'm actually looking forward to that as well. It was the science we did 3 years ago and the kids really enjoyed it. We will supplement that with The Complete Book of Animals and a lap book.
  • History and Geography: The big girl will be using World Geography with Political and Cultural Profiles by A Beka. I was given this curriculum and I used to despise A Beka. It was dry and uninteresting. I really like this one. It's not dry and it has more information than one can possibly learn in one short school year. It will definitely be a challenge for the big girl to get everything done. Good thing she doesn't have to. The boy and the baby will be using Story of the World, Volume 3. The boy is specially excited. This has been his favorite history curriculum and he is glad to be getting back to it. This may be the last year we use this curriculum. Or I may start all over with the baby since she was 3 when we started. That's weird to think about. 
  • Math: The big girl will be using A Beka Algebra. We were disappointed with her algebra curriculum last year and finally went back to pre-algebra for her. Her original pre-algebra just did not prepare her well enough for algebra. I hated to do it, but sometimes you have to. The boy will be using Bob Jones Math 6. It's just a straight forward sixth grade math. It has some colorful pages, but we're moving away from "I must be entertained by my curriculum". No, you need to learn. Might as well start now. The baby will be using LIFE Pacs. They worked well for the boy and I think they'll work well for the baby. I just couldn't find anything else that I thought would work for her. 
  • Language Arts: The big girl will be using Themes in Literature by A Beka. She started this at the end of last year. It gave her an idea of how it would work for this year. There will be a lot of reading, that's for sure. I get to read with her so I know what the heck I'm teaching. The boy will be using book studies this year from Total Language Plus (The Whipping Boy) and Progeny Press (Mr. Popper's Penguins and Carry On, Mr. Bowditch). This is the first time we've used TLP, so we'll see how it goes. It seems very thorough. I have used PP before with the big girl and she enjoyed them. It didn't over power the story with lots of activities just to have activities. He may or may not finish all three. That's ok, too. I'm hoping he gets at least 2 of them done. The baby girl will be using Spelling and Poetry 3 by A Beka. At least for now. I would like more spelling, but there are only 5 lessons for each group of words, and most, if not all, look like they can be completed in the first day. It doesn't use all the words. Or if it does, it only uses each one once. I may switch her to Wordly Wise, but I really want to see how this works with our schedule. And, of course, I have tons of grammar and reading comprehension workbooks. We'll see what happens. 
  • Latin: We will be using Memoria Press's First Form Latin Series. There are four books in this series and we could use them all. We'll see how the first year goes, but we're pretty excited about it. 
That's the rundown of our curriculum for the year. There's so much in my lesson plan book. I've scheduled the first two weeks and we start next Monday. The baby asked why we start in August since it was part of summer. I told her because we take off May, June, and July. We may start before schools and a lot of our friends start, but we get done sooner, too. Here's to a great school year. I hope yours is amazing!

Have a great day.         

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Daybook Style

I like the daybook when I have a lot I want to say, but don't quite know how to say it yet. At this point, I'm just glad to have a computer to use. I'll grumble about it on the other blog shortly.

  • Around the House: We are trying to get to those things finished that didn't get done during school or at the beginning of our crazy summer. The kids' rooms are coming along. The baby needs help, but have you seen her room? I'm cleaning up and cleaning out piles. I have books for the kids library at church I need to drop off, clothes to the thrift store, and things I had promised to give to friends that are just sitting in the corner of the kitchen. But at least they're organized. The yard is finally taking shape as is the garden. One thing at a time.
  • Outside My Window: The sun is trying to peak out. It's been a rainy summer (duh!) and we appreciate every drop. Specially the drops that filled our pool. We didn't do much of that, but God has worked overtime on it. It's nice and full now. It will be oppressively hot for a few hours then rain, glorious rain. 
  • I Am Reading: Nothing right now. I did just finish the 50 Shades trilogy. It is not what you think it is. I've got a blog planned for that as well. My next book will be Heaven Is for Real. I've been wanting to read that one for awhile, and borrowed it from a friend. Maybe when I'm done working this afternoon, I'll have a few minutes to get started. And, as usual, my request list is full at the library, I just don't have any books ready to pick up yet.  
  • From the Schoolroom: School starts for us in 2 weeks. Lots of work to get done this year, but I think I've got a groove planned. Can you plan a groove? Anyway, we had to borrow a computer from my FIL, since our laptop decided to go to sleep. Like permanently. It's not what I had, but we can use it for school, so there ya' go. I cannot believe this will be our 5th year homeschooling. Where did the time go?
  • From the Kitchen: There is not much happening there. Between Art and Music Camp, VBS, and all our other summer activities, I haven't made a "real" trip to the grocery store or planned a menu in weeks. I do have a list and even printed my coupons. I did manage to make a really good stuffed zucchini using lentils and brown rice instead of ground beef and white rice. It was lovely. We've been eating more vegetarian meals and no one has complained. I like it when that happens. Now to start adding more raw meals. Slowly, but surely.
  • I Am Thankful: For my HUBBY!!!!! He has stood beside me in good times and not so good times. He has lifted me up and treated me like a queen. As my mom's health was steadily declining, he comforted me and held me and prayed with and for me and for Mom. God hand picked this wonderful man for me and I am ever so grateful for God's discerning wisdom. 
  • From the Farm: You should see our chickens! They are so big! We get between 9-10 eggs a day. I am selling eggs as quickly as they lay them it seems some days. Talk about fresh eggs. We are going to add a run to the coop, but it will probably be the fall before we get to it. The tower has been cleaned out of old plants and is ready for some new stuff. We didn't take everything out, just what was done growing. We are going to start a few things to replace it with. Hubby wants a whole square foot bed full of brussel sprouts. I love that man. He said he never liked them until I cooked them. See what I mean? The man is amazing. We are putting up a portion of privacy fence by the garden, hopefully next weekend. The garden beds have been cleaned out as well. We had to pull several plants that died while we were in Texas and either haven't come back or only partially. It's ok, they'll make great compost. We did move the sweet potatoes container and ended up pulling 5 lbs of sweet potatoes! So happy about that!
  • I Am Researching: Alkaline water. I very much believe that diet and nutrition has as much, if not more, to do with your health than any other thing, including exercise. While I believe that exercising is an important component, I also believe that the food you put in your mouth trumps even that. I am looking at both sides before I decide if that's a route we want to take or not. I know that keeping your body as alkaline as possible will help prevent and discourage sickness and ailments. I even have a list of alkaline foods. I'm basing a series of meals on them and we'll see how easy it is. Lots of veggies, that's for sure. Good thing veggie co-op is this week. 
That's what I've got for now. I think that's more than plenty for now. I've been inspired by my friend and fellow blogger to do some rearranging of my closet and clothes to create new looks. Thanks, ALT. I needed another project. At least my closet will get cleaned out. Wait, I thought that's what the blog was for. Oh, different kind of closet.

Have a great day.          

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Something Old, Something Not So New

My computer is fried. Makes me mad, too, because I still have pictures I need to get off of it. In time, in time. Anyway, we had to borrow a computer (this thing is so ancient), then we didn't have a keyboard, then we couldn't get the mouse to work. One thing after another just makes me want my computer back! Well, really, it makes me want a new one because I am a consumer. Anyway, while I have a minute, here's an incredibly long run down, catch up, freaking out because school is about to start blog. Grab a drink. You may need one. I know I do! Shall we?

  • The last two weeks were incredibly busy. The big girl and I volunteered at church for our Music and Art Camp.The boy and the baby participated and they had a great time. I was exhausted. The next week was VBS. I remember the years when the kids went to at least four a summer. Those were the days! Now I have 2 kids that have aged out and one that only has a couple of years left of VBS. I am so sad. We were all tired when we got home. The great thing about the programs is that they offered breakfast and lunch. The bad thing was the breakfast was some version of toast (buttered, cinnamon, cheese) and lunch was processed to within an inch of it's life. I got to the point that I couldn't feed my kids that junk anymore and took lunches for them. Then Friday morning I woke up late and there went lunch. Oh well, I did what I could. We were all regretting it by the time we got home. It was the thought that counted I guess. And nap time was much appreciated!!
  • I have most of my curriculum and two weeks of lesson plans done. I was waiting for two books I had loaned a friend. I got those back and went to planning. Then my computer died. The history I was planning on using for the boy and the baby is on a disc. Kinda hard to use that when you don't have a computer. It's a good thing I had a whole history curriculum I could use with them. I got it when I was given six boxes of curriculum last spring. Now we have a loaner computer so we're back to the original plan. Thank goodness, too, because my back up history was a TON of work. Like I need that this year.
  • I've decided to add Latin to our school year. I am nothing if not tenacious. Let's do more work!! Ugh!! I've been thinking about it for the last year or so. The big girl has to have a foreign language for high school. She wanted to take French, but I have no desire to teach or learn French. German, I'm good with. The kids want to wait until after Latin to learn German. Um, ok, whatever. I'll order that in a couple of weeks and get it in the lesson plan. Won't this be fun? 
  • I don't get our dance schedule until the Friday before we start school. This should be interesting. The big girl wants to take ballet and jazz. The boy wants to take tap and hip hop. The baby wants to take tap and jazz. Now to get the schedule to work the way I want it to. Please, please, please. I am excited already for recital and it's not even here yet. I'm skipping dancing this year, maybe. We'll see how the schedule works out and when the rest of the classes are. If I can swing a class or two a month, that would be awesome. That's up in the air, but thankfully, not for much longer.
  • I have a folder I keep for field trips and activities. I keep mementos like programs or flyers or ticket stubs. We have quite the array right now. When we were in Texas, we got to go to Grossology at the Museum of Science and History. We also got to go to the Rancher's Museum and another exhibit called Risk. They were both very cool. We still haven't made it to the Texas Civil War Museum, but we're working on it. There is a local place that is like a "retirement" home for missionaries to Africa. I would like to schedule the tour and talk and then visit the gift shop. The items benefit the various projects in Africa that the missionaries started. Pretty cool, I think. I'm not real sure when that will happen, but it's on my list. I would also like to visit a local tractor museum and an apiary. They are both relatively close, just in opposite directions. Lots of great ideas but if you have another, bring it on. I'll add it to the list.
  • Summer reading was a bust. By the time we got back from Texas and had some processing time, there were only two classes left for the big girl. Pokemon Club was in full swing for the boy, but that's come and go. You don't have to be there for the whole thing. There were also cool science classes on Wednesdays, but we had Music and Art Camp and VBS. Maybe next summer...
  • We worked on the garden today. Between hubby working long hours and our volunteering, the house had gone to heck in a hand basket and so had the yard. Thank goodness for our neighbor mowing our front yard. We removed some old cabbage plants and a couple of strawberry plants from the tower. We're going to add kale and bok choy. We've been needing to move the sweet potatoes, so we did. And pulled up 5 pounds of those babies! We didn't treat them very well, but they grew anyway and we are thankful. We've started a new crop and hope to treat these better. We had to pull all of our cucumbers and some of our tomatoes. That was heart breaking. We are starting some beets, brussel sprouts, chard, and carrots. We are looking for okra seeds. We may have to go with seedlings if we can find them. We are babying the strawberries through the heat and are hoping they last until the weather cools down some. I hope the weather cools down this fall. We even have corn. We're still not sure how it lived, but ok. The bell peppers have been loving the rain. They just multiply like rabbits overnight. Now if they would get a little more size to them.
  • The heat has been oppressive. It's like having a hot, wet blanket thrown over your head every time you walk outside. Our saving grace is the pool! Hubby worked really hard a few weeks ago and got the pool up and running. It is so nice to have. One day after VBS, I dumped all my stuff at the door, cleared out my pockets, and crawled straight in the pool, clothes and all. It had been one of those mornings. The baby told the big girl I was in the pool. The big girl didn't believe her, so the baby pointed out the window. I think the big girl wanted to put me in time out. She didn't thank goodness! I took the kids down to the dollar store to get pool toys. I let them spend a little money and everybody got what they wanted. I got noodles. What can I say? I like to float.
I know there's more, but I'll be darned if I can think of it. I cannot stand to type on this ancient keyboard, but at this point, it's better than nothing. Maybe.

Have a great day.        

Thursday, July 5, 2012

School Blogging

My computer has gone off the deep end. It is beyond it's last leg. The last few days it wouldn't power on. I get lucky every now and then. Right now I'm lucky and it's on, so I am blogging. We are waiting until it gets closer to school starting so hopefully there'll be a sale. And maybe, I'll have a coupon. Things were pretty dicey these past few weeks so here's the run down of the good, bad, and ugly.

  • We are doing science co-op this year. There are 5 families involved. I am excited and nervous all at the same time. I need to put notebooks together for the two big kids. The baby is going to be in a group of younger kids. They'll be using a different curriculum from the olders. It's going to be so much fun. I'll be teaching every 8 weeks I think. We already have a tentative schedule put together so that helps tremedously.
  • The baby will be involved in Girls Club again this year. She had the best time last year. I try to let each kid participate in an activity that their siblings aren't involved in and this is hers. My friend M put a schedule together that runs until after Christmas break. Thank you! That helps me get everything on the calendar and in the lesson plan book. The baby is ready to get back to it and seeing her friends on a regular basis again. 
  • The kids will get to take two dance classes this year. I think, because we have so many activities, and a couple of new ones, that I may skip dance this year.  It's just one more thing. I might just pay by the lesson instead of pay for a month and not be able to make any of the classes. The kids are ready. We had to skip dance this summer so we could go to Texas. The boy is taking tap and hip hop. He's gonna wear my shoes. He has big feet, but me not so much. I really hope he needs black tap shoes because that's what mine are. The big girl wants to take ballet and jazz. Hair in a bun every week. I have flashbacks of putting a bun in a 5 year old's hair. Thank goodness she can do her own bun now. The baby is taking tap and jazz. She loves her some tap dancing! She has shoes for both of her classes, too. Recital is going to be awesome!!
  • I am a little nervous about our upcoming school year. There is so much to keep track of. I have schedules for everything printed out and in at least three calendars. I have my master calendar, my phone calendar, and the lesson plan book. I know at this point what day and time two of our activities are going to be. We don't get our dance schedule until the beginning of August. I am hoping for classes that take place on the same day. Same time would be a huge bonus, that's for sure. Then we have to plan guitar and piano. Chores still have to get done. And the chickens are a huge chore every day. Our schedule is full and we haven't even started school yet. School? When do we have time to do that? Taking a breath, taking a breath.
  • We started a youth garden. One of the girls in our youth group wanted to start a garden. So we did. It's taken us a while to get our stuff together, but we finally got the square foot forms together and seeds started. Planting day will hopefully be in about two weeks. I need to keep an eye on the seeds and make sure they're germinating. We started 2 kinds of pumpkins, bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach, snow peas, and something else I can't remember right now. We would really like to get enough supplies to build at least four more forms. That would be awesome.  
  • And because I am not crazy enough, I am thinking about flag football and cheerleading in the winter. Our church is going to start a league after the NFL season is over. The boy wants to play and the baby is going to cheerlead. I am nuts. And my kids will be soon. It sounds crazy, and we spend a lot of time in the van, but we only do the activities that my kids want to do. If it ever got to the point that it was too much, we would drop something. We have before and we will again. My kids mean more to me than "Look how much stuff we can do!" But when the activities stop, we all look at each other and twiddle our thumbs. We do not do downtime well.
  • We are participating in an Arts and Music camp and VBS that our church is running. The big girl and I will volunteer and the boy and the baby get to participate. The boy asked if he could help with VBS. He is part of youth now, but he will age out of VBS after this summer. I remember when the kids participated in at least 4 VBS's. Those were the days. Homeschoolers refer to it as mom's best friend. Kids are gone for a couple hours a day. We make lots of plans, but really only get naps done. Sometimes, that's the most important thing to accomplish. 
We didn't get all of our summer plans accomplished. We didn't even get half of them accomplished, but we had a rough start. The pool is up and running, we still have our Disney passes, and I'm trying to plan some field trips. I'm exhausted. Is it summer yet?