Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year, New Start

Every time the new year is closing in, I feel so much motivation to revamp our school routine.  This year is no different.  I almost feel like I want to have our school year run from Jan-Dec with taking the month of June and December off completely (and more random times through the year).  That would work so well for us, but I guess it would mess the kids up with their "grade" level.  I probably shouldn't worry about that.

We're getting back on track January 2nd with just easing into Math and reading.  On the 6th we'll pick back up full force.  We are going to be starting IEW with a friend and I'm looking forward to that.  I've always been intimidated by it, but she has some experience and I think having the kids do it together will be fun!

I also ordered Life Of Fred to supplement math, mostly for Natalie since she has a bit more trouble grasping the concepts.  I'm hoping they'll find this fun.  I've heard that most kids enjoy it, but that it is best as a supplement to another program.

We're going to start a simple spelling workbook (Spectrum).  I somehow forgot to start spelling in the fall and was reminded of it when we had our homeschool review!  Oops!

Wyatt and Natalie will also continue with the Minecraft Homeschool lessons.  We tried it out before Christmas and they liked it.  I like that it is something they look forward to!

We had started out our year using a lot of Easy Peasy.  I still like the program, but I found that the older two kids would rather have pencil and paper in hand.  Mainly Wyatt--he didn't like the clicking around and reading on the computer.

I'm also going to be implementing a rewards system for school time.  I know there are differing opinions on rewarding kids for something they should already be doing, but here is my thought (some of this is after talking to a friend who does something similar).  As adults, we are rewarded for hard work.  We are motivated by many things, with money and rewards at the top of the list.  Yeah, the satisfaction of completing a job well and such are there but let's be honest...most kids are going to work harder if they know there is something else waiting for them. 
I'll share what I come up with once I get it tweaked.  Hopefully it helps to keep us all on track better!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I'm thankful for time.  Quiet time with God in the mornings, time with my kids before they are grown up, time with Ben to laugh and snuggle, time with friends for coffee, time to "just be".

I'm thankful for the freedom and ability to homeschool.  It's a good feeling to know that I am in control of what my kids learn and when they learn it.  I don't homeschool to shelter, but I am thankful for the protection of their innocence that comes along with it.  I am thankful that I have a supportive husband and that we have been blessed with an amazing support system.  I never, ever thought that I would even consider homeschooling my kids. 

I'm thankful for Amazon.  I know, this seems superficial but it's true.  I am thankful that I can find good deals and have them delivered to my door for free (in 2 days!!).  This year I've decided that I am NOT going to stress about getting out to shop and remembering everything, buying too much b/c I see something else in the store that I think someone needs, etc.  My goal is to do 75% or more of my shopping online so that I can enjoy more time at home with family.   I think we let Christmas become too stressful sometimes!

I'm thankful for new things.  New friends, new opportunities, new days (his mercies are new each day!), new recipes, new books, new ideas....everything new!!!  I like old things, but new things are exciting!

I'm thankful for my kids.  I love that God has trusted me with them (although, what was he thinking??).  I am thankful that I was able to easily become pregnant, something that I don't take for granted.  I have quite a few friends who long to be moms or to be pregnant, and I know that it is a blessing that I shouldn't overlook.
I'm thankful that even though some days I feel like I am at my wit's end, I have 3 kids who make this life so much more exciting!

I'm thankful for "social situations".  I am a VERY social person (if you know me then this isn't a shock!) I love to talk and to just be with people!  If I'm sad or stressed, I just want to talk and be around people!!!  I never meet a stranger. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Butternut Squash Fries

I came across a recipe a few weeks ago and I just had a chance to try it.  I haven't cooked much with butternut squash. I'm not sure why because I do like it a lot.  I think I'm just not sure what to do with it!

These turned out really good.  Next time I will definitely cut them thinner (maybe get a fry cutter--is it worth it?) and cook them a bit longer.  Another option I might try is frying them in coconut oil on the stove top!


2 small butternut squash 
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
 1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 tablespoon coconut sugar

Preheat oven to 400°.
Peel the squash with a veggie peeler. Slice the ends off of the squash, slice in half, and then remove the seeds. Cut into "fries", about 1/4-1/3 inch thickness.

 In a large bowl toss with coconut oil, salt, and sugar. Bake for 1 hour on cookie sheet. 
 You can use a spatula to turn them about halfway through to help get both sides crispy. 

If I were being honest here, I'd tell you that once these were done I sprinkled them with a bit more coconut sugar.  Just keep that to yourself :)
Here is a good article on the benefits of coconut sugar.  It's pretty much the only sweetener I use besides stevia.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

New Favorite Author

I have a deep love of reading just about anything I can get my hands on.  About 9 years ago I was introduced to Christian Fiction and my love for books grew even more.
I can still feel the emotion I had while reading Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  I stayed up until 3 am to finish it and woke up with "crying eyes" the next morning.  Amazing book.
I've worked my way through almost every book written by Karen Kingsbury and Beverly Lewis.  I have many favorites that span across quite a few Christian authors.
Back in June I picked up a book that had been on my shelf, sitting among a few pass-alongs from my mom.
It was this book:
Oh my goodness, I could not put this book down!!!  I worked through the entire series (4 books) in a week.  We won't talk about the laundry situation during this time!  This is also the part where I could tell you that I had to beg the library to take me back so that I could check out the rest of the series--I think we could set a record for late fines.
The Heirs of Montana series follows a widow and her children as they move west with a wagon train to join a family member and start a new life.  The hardships that this family endures on the journey are heartbreaking, yet you can always feel the power of Christ working through the author's words.  Don't you just love that, when the story is so alive and you can just feel the emotion of the characters?
I won't give too much of the story away, but let me say that this was by far one of my favorite series ever.  I love the writing style of Tracie Peterson.  She portrays the characters and the landscape in a way that puts you right there in the midst of it all.  I never thought that I would be so enthralled by historical fiction and was surprised that I enjoyed this so much!
I have since read 6 more of her series and a few stand-alones.  I have not been disappointed by any of them!  If you're looking for an inspirational page-turner then this is the book for you!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Hands On Grammar!

Yesterday we needed something fun and distracting for school time.

 Do you ever have those days?  Everyone is grouchy and complaining and we're struggling to get through our work.  Sometimes I just throw in the towel and call it an off day, but we already had one of those at the beginning of the week (don't judge).

I had seen something similar to this on Pinterest and decided it was just what we needed!
We sat with a pumpkin and the kids had to come up with as many adjectives as they could to describe the outside.

Natalie writing her adjectives for the outside

Then we cut the top off of the pumpkin and dug in for the real fun!  The kids had a blast getting their hands dirty and it was fun because as they were talking and having fun, I was able to catch words they were using and write them on the "inside" paper.  It was a great way to show them just how much we use adjectives!



Check out Wyatt's face--this was definitely what we needed!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Crock Pot Jambalaya

A friend shared a recipe with me last year for Jambalaya, and since I prefer to keep things as simple as possible...I choose to make this in the crock pot!
It's quickly become a family favorite and it's so easy to make!  This makes quite a bit, but  if we have more than just our family to prepare for, I double the recipe.
16 ounce package of cooked, frozen shrimp (tail off) and/or 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken 1 pound link sausage, sliced 1 bell pepper, diced 1 onion, diced 1 cup celery, chopped 4 cups beef broth 2.5 cups instant brown rice 1 can rotel tomatoes 1 can sliced mushrooms 2 bay leaves 1 stick of butter
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
Place all ingredients in crock pot and mix well.  Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
Be sure to stir a few times throughout the cooking process!

Fun Fall and Thanksgiving Homeschool Printables

Here are some fun (and free!) printables and ideas to help keep the learning fun!

These are just a few that we're going to be using this month!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

This picture makes me smile...I love that Mason works hard to imitate the big kids (well, most of the time that makes me smile!).

We've been watching Liberty's Kids and the filling out a worksheet as we watch.  Mason insists on having his own and he takes it very seriously!  
I'm hoping that his eagerness to keep up with the other two will make him a bit easier to teach!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Middle Age

On Saturday I will be turning 35.  I'm not dealing with this very well.   I know, ridiculous isn't it?

About 8 years ago Ben was hanging with some guys from our small group when something came up about age.  Ben made a comment referring to 35 as middle age--he was joking, but often you don't know that he is.  From that point on we have laughed about 35 being middle age.

I have NEVER dreaded a birthday.  I embrace them with open arms.  I was so excited to turn 30--I finally felt like a grown up!  I think I might be looking forward to 40.  

But 35?  It's haunting me.  I am convinced that my body is falling apart.  I have hit the age that my chart would read "high risk" if we were to have another baby (noooo...we aren't planning it, but still...).   I have so much gray hair right now that I think it's time to wash it out.  My body aches and every time I feel a new pain I start panicking.  Yet I feel better than I have in many years!

I feel like my life is half over--I pray that it isn't, but I still feel like this.  I think about my regrets, how differently I would have done things.   I worry that I haven't made enough of an effort this far, and what if I don't make the best of the next 35 years?

Then sometimes I get this overwhelming joy when I think about my life right now.  I never imagined I could be this happy.  Never imagined that I would be married to someone who loves me unconditionally and takes such good care of our family.  I start looking forward to the time that Ben and I will have together and watching our kids grow.  I love where I am in life and I want things to stay this good forever.  

I know one day I'll look back on "35" and laugh that I felt this way, but for now it's just overwhelming.  I just hope that "35" is good to me!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

No More Java

It is no secret to those who know me that I have a deep love for coffee.  A serious, deep love.

I have great memories of being at my grandparent's house and having a delicious cup of coffee, even as a small child.  My grandmother would have the old-fashioned coffee grinder ready and we would get to work.  Then she would brew a very strong pot on top of the gas stove (and sometimes on the wood stove!) in one of these awesome percolators (we bought one of these a few years ago and Ben uses it on occasion).

I can't think of any family function where there wasn't a pot of coffee brewing.  One of my most favorite possessions is the Bunn coffee maker that my dad gave Ben and I for our first Christmas together.

It was routine for me to wake up every morning, stumble to the coffee pot to get it going, and then proceed to drink the entire pot throughout the morning.  That's a lot of coffee.

Then, in the middle of June something strange happened.  

I woke up one morning and the thought of coffee made me sick to my stomach.  Granted I had some other health things going on at the time, but desire for coffee???  

This diversion lasted for almost 2 months, and then I drank a cup.  I was a shaky disaster all day!  I no longer feel sick at the thought, yet I can't bring myself to drink any.

I feel like I'm missing something in my day, almost like I have said goodbye to a friend!  I really, really hope that it's only temporary.  I miss my coffee!

Maybe you coffee lovers out there can have an extra cup for me today?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Back To The Blog

It was recently mentioned that I'm doing a terrible job with this blog, and I will admit that.  Facebook and other responsibilities have taken priority.  I miss blogging and I plan to get back to it--at least I hope to!

The kids will start school next week...not sure if we're excited or dreading it!  Probably both.

I'll leave you this picture of the kids--a friend gave us a pool and they think it's just great!  Such a blessing as they've been begging for a "big pool" all summer!