Friday, August 31, 2018

Weekend Meal Planning

Usually when I meal plan, I try to make sure that I don't plan too many similar meals in the same week.. These last few weeks,  completely failed at that.. Two weeks ago, it seemed every meal I planned ended up being some sort of pasta.. Last week, everything I planned was chicken..   This time around, I tried to make sure to change it up much more.. lol

I'm going to be attempting to make boudain this week.. Unfortunately, I don't have a sausage stuffer, so I will just me making the meat and rice mixture and serving it without the sausage casing.  Fingers crossed it will turn out well. 

I also got lucky and was able to purchase some catfish from the seafood road show that came to the base commisssary yesterday.. So I will have a very happy Ashleigh on Monday when I make some wonderful fried catfish :)

Sunday (9/2)
Mexican Stuffed Shells

Monday (9/3)
Fried catfish with Collard Greens and Broccoli

Tuesday (9/4)
Boudain Sandwiches with Chips

Wednesday (9/5)
Pepperoni cheese pizza bombs

Thursday (9/6)
Asparagus Chicken Alfredo with Salad

Friday (9/7)
Herb Crusted Chicken legs with Salad and Celery and Carrots

Saturday (9/8)
Steak Tips with Carmalized Onions, broccoli and zucchini

Sunday (9/9)
Chicken Bacon Cabbage Skillet with zucchini

Monday (9/10)
Sweet and Spicy Meatball Bake with Salad

Tuesday (9/11)
Sausage and Peppers with chips

Wednesday (9/12)
Chicken and Noodles

Thursday (9/13)
Coney Island Casserole with Pita chips

Friday (9/14)
Smokey Mountain Chicken with Broccoli

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Thankful Thursday (5 Days of Homeschool Encouragement)

Today is a day of reflection.  To look back on our homeschool journey as well as parenthood and life in general and to reflect on those things that we are thankful for.  It's so easy at times to get overwhelmed with those things that aren't going right in our life and boy, let me tell you, when it rains it usually pours.  But even in the darkest of hours, there's always some sort of silver lining, you just can't see it.

What exactly am I thankful for?

Well, I honestly could make a huge list but I'll limit my list to my top 6.  

I am thankful that I live in a country where I can make the decision to keep my children at home and educate them in a way that I find fitting. I can opt for a spiritual or a secular curriculum, or a mix of both, without someone telling me I MUST pick one or the other.. I can teach any subjects I want in the order that I want and if I want to teach outside at the park, I can do that too.

I'm thankful that I have three wonderful kids who are healthy and happy.   I'm thankful every time one of my kids puts their arms around me and says "Mom, I love you" and give me a kiss on the cheek.. I'm thankful every night when they come to me to get goodnight kisses and hugs.

I'm thankful that those three kids enjoy their parents company.  They enjoy engaging with us and doing activities as a family.  They don't throw a fit if we're away from electronics for a few days and have as much fun hiking rocks or playing board games as they do playing on their tablets.

I'm thankful for my own health.  I'm thankful that at 43 years of age, my body hasn't started to fail me as of yet. I take no medications for chronic conditions and I'm healthy enough to hike, camp, work out at the gym or anything else I want to go. 

I'm thankful for a strong partner in marriage.  My husband is also my best friend. After more than a decade together, we still enjoy each others company. We still make each other laugh and we both go out of our way to show our appreciation to one another.

I am thankful for the United States Air Force.  It provides the opportunity for my husband to serve his country doing something he can be proud of, while giving us a stable family life.  My husband is home every night, we have a steady paycheck that puts food on the table, we have a roof over our head, and I can stay at home to focus on running our household, parenting, homeschooling and building a stronger relationship with both my husband and kids.

Actually, I will add one more thing I am thankful for.  If just one of you found encouragement from this weeks posts, either mine or from another post on this blog hop, than I am Thankful for that as well.  If you are inspired, I am thankful.  But most of all, I am thankful for you :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Take a Look Tuesday (Back to Homeschool Blog Hop)

While the temperatures on the thermometer are still showing triple digits, summer is coming to a close and the public school students are heading back to school.  While the kids and I do our lessons throughout the year with multiple breaks in between, I do typically try to start our new curriculum in late August/early September.

This time around, we're not really starting new curriculum but instead we are re-visiting curriculum that we have started and put down temporarily for other items.  A number of these items are curriculum that you may recognize as review items - when I write that I plan on continuing using a particular item, I do truly mean it.. lol   We will be using a mix of both physical and digital curriculum this year.

Our 2018-2019 Curriculum



We will be using a variety of different materials for language arts this year. Since Garrett and Ashleigh are on two different levels, they will begin working independently from each other for the time being.

 First, Ashleigh will be picking up where she left off to finish Readers in Residence from Apologia.  She was really enjoying this particular reading curriculum when we were using it but we got side tracked with a few other projects and it got put to the way side.  She's actually very excited to be getting back into this one as she really enjoyed it and we would like to finish this book before Volume 2 is released. 

For her grammar lessons, Ashleigh will be starting IEW's Fix It Grammar.  We will be starting with The Nose Tree .

 Garrett will starting a new review item that looks like one that we will continue to use for the year and that is a new Level 3 Three-in-one reading comprehension, spelling and grammar curriculum from Reading Eggs.   (Expect a review early next month)

Garrett will also be continuing with Saxon Grammar and Writing 3.  He has done really well with this particular curriculum and I want to keep him with this and finish this book :)

Another item we are picking back up after a bit of a break is Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization from IEW.  The kids should move through the first section pretty quick as they still remember most of the poems they memorized previously.  Both kids will be working with this curriculum.

Finally, for writing, the kids will be using another IEW curriculum. We will be using All Things Fun & Fascinating using Structure and Style. 


For math, the kids will be starting Math Lessons for a Living Education Level 4 from Master Books.  We had started this book back in January but the kids just didn't seem ready for it yet,  and instead we spend the last few months going back and reviewing many of the building blocks that they needed to know before moving on to this level.  We will also be using a few different math workshops from and extra practice as needed from Math-U-See Gamma.


My kids were VERY excited when I pulled out the first volume of Mystery of History and announced we would be revisiting it.  We covered this volume a few years ago but I honestly don't think they retained much of any of it.  This time, we will be supplementing the lessons with lots of short videos, movies, books and activities to really bring home what they are learning. 

Along with Mystery of History, we will be continuing to use the Bible Study Guide for All Ages.  These two seem as if they will work very well together .  I'll be placing an order for the next 26 lessons of this study soon.

Here's the completed student notebooks.. Thank you to Sarah from My Joy-Filled Life for providing the perfect setup for these notebooks..


Another one of our favorite companies, the kids have elected to being Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  This is probably the very first book I bought when I decided to homeschool and somehow, we never used it.  Time to fix that :)  

We will also be doing many unit studies and nature studies along with our formal science curriculum and will share these as we work on each one.


Foreign Language

Garrett and Ashleigh have both settled in their choice of foreign language.  Garrett enjoys learning Greek while Ashleigh has done very well with her Latin Studies and so they will continue with both of these.  Ashleigh will be continuing where she left off with First Form Latin from Memoria Press and if she finishes it before the end of the year, we will be purchasing Second Form.   Garrett took a break from "Hey Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek!" during the summer but will be picking it back up after a review of what he already knows. Once he completes the book, we will be making a decision whether to buy Level 4 or if we might consider trying Elementary Greek from Memoria Press.

Both Kids will also be using Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder from Roman Roads.. This is a program we are currently reviewing (expect a review next month) that is looking very promising for the kids and I think will be especially helpful for them, especially Ashleigh.


We will be starting back over with CursiveLogic..  I had the fun job of erasing all their previous work from their books so that we can start over from the beginning (I can't be the first parent to have ever done that, right??).  After they complete the book, we will then just start adding copy work 

With both kids we will be using The Master and His Apprentice for Art/Artist Studies.  However,  as Garrett does not care for Art lessons, Ashleigh will be doing Artistic Pursuits on her own to help learn more artistic techniques.  In place of art, Garrett will instead be learning computer programming starting with Scratch, Kodable and possible Code for Teens.

That's a good idea as to what curriculum we will be using this year.  Of course, as the year progresses, some things may fall to the wayside and some other things may be added.  That's usually the way homeschooling works :)

Monday, August 20, 2018

Motivational Monday (Back to School Blog Hop)

Welcome to Monday and the first day of the Back To School Blog Hop featuring the members of the Homeschool Review Crew.  It's all of our hope that throughout the week, we can bring you a bit of insight, motivation and encouragement.

For those new to homeschooling, or those who are dreading the start of a new year, we kick off the week with Motivation Monday.

Now, I would love to be the one to tell you that Homeschooling is always such a blessing, that the kids will respond well to what your trying to teach them and they will always try their hardest to soak in all the information give to them.  Alas, that was not my homeschool journey.  Instead, my journey was originally one of chaos.  My kids would NEVER sit still and they would constantly cry because they didn't want to read or to write.  Honestly, they didn't want to do anything.  Everything was a fight, especially with my son.  There were plenty of times I sat in my bedroom at night and cried, wondering if I was making the right choice keeping them home. I worried that maybe I should at least send my youngest to public school because I didn't want her education hindered by my son not wanting to learn.   Things were NOT working in my homeschool.

On top of the behavioral problems we had early on, there was also a huge problem with me.  I couldn't keep organized to save my own life.  Books were scattered everywhere, I would write lesson plans and not follow them.  I don't know how I expected my kids to do what they were suppose to do when I couldn't do what I was suppose to do.

Point is, I made a lot of mistakes in those first few years.  For one, I expected that my kids would perform just like they would have had they been sitting in a traditional public school classroom.  But wasn't that what I was homeschooling them for in the first place - to avoid a traditional public school classroom?  Why would I keep them home just to mimic public school at home??   And so we change things up and I found other teaching methods that my kids responded better to.  I catered learning to their strengths and their interests, tailoring our lessons to what I knew they would want to learn from.  We steered away from textbook learning and instead used more videos.  Why read about the Panama canal and how it works when you can instead watch a documentary showing how it works?

“Don’t wait on perfect conditions for success to happen; just go ahead and do something.” –Dan Miller

Don't beat yourself up over those things your students don't respond well to.  If a curriculum isn't a fit, either modify it to be a better fit for you or sell it to recoup your money and move on.  Don't force you and your student to make it fit just because you think you NEED to do it.  Like Dan Miller said, "Don't wait on perfect conditions for success to happen; just go ahead and do something."..  If you wait for perfect conditions, you might be waiting a long time.  Instead, do your own thing and make learning happen.

Also, remember there is nothing wrong in taking a day off every now and again and allowing yourself to reset.  If a particular math lesson has caused large amount of stress, take a day or two off from the lesson.  Instead, head outside for a nature study.  Look at clouds, identify plants, get your hands dirty. That math lesson will be there when you return and if you're stressed, your kids are probably stressed too.  Taking that moment to take a break and recharge might just be what all of you need.  You might just be surprised when you return to the lesson to find that it goes much easier afterwards.

But most of all, remember this.  You are doing a GREAT job.  Even if it seems otherwise, you are setting the foundation that your students education will build upon.  Even if you only manage to teach them a few things in those early years, each block will provide the support for later down the road.  Slow and steady will win the race and you've given your child a great start.

Click the banner below to read other Motivational Monday Posts from the Crew.

The following Homeschool Review Crew Members will be participating in the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop.  Click on any of their blogs to read what messages of motivation they have ready for you today :)  

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
Angie @ Run Ran Family Adventures & Learning
Annette @ A Net in Time
Ashley @ Gift of Chaos
Betty @ Let’s Get Real
Carol @ Home Sweet Life
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Thursday, August 16, 2018

God Schooling (A Homeschool Crew Review)

I have been homeschooling my kids now for five years.  Throughout that time, there are days that I wonder if I'm doing the right thing. I am constantly bombarding myself with questions about their education. Are they learning enough? Am I doing enough? What level should they be working at?  There are days as a homeschooling parent that I can really use some encouragement, a voice that has been there, done that.  So I was really excited when I was asked to review God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco.

About the Author

Author Julie Polanco is a mother of four homeschooled students with a past history of teaching education. With more than 15 years of homeschool experience as well as early childhood education, Ms Polanco has been featured in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and has had many articles in various homeschool publications,

About The Book

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn (ISBN 978-1-68350-863-2) is a 163 page trade paperback with a matte laminate cover.  

The book is divided into two parts.

Part 1:  Dispelling Myths
Chapter 1:  Biblical Support for Natural Learning
Chapter 2:  Motivation & Excellence

Part 2: Practice
Chapter 3:  Thoughts on Teaching Children Under Age Eight
Chapter 4:  Thoughts on Teaching Children Aged Eight to Twelve
Chapter 5:  Giving Teens the Wings to Fly
Chapter 6:  Spreading the Banquet
Chapter 7: Getting Started
Chapter 8:  Some Q & A
Chapter 9:  Record-Keeping and Structure
Concluding Remarks
Part one of the book focuses on the Christian reasoning for homeschooling children and the myths that surround them.   Secondly, the book argues against using a strict schedule or timeline for teaching children but instead allowing learning to come naturally, the way that the Lord designed them to learn.

Part two of the book focuses on the best ways to each students at each age of development, starting with students under the age of eight years of age, from eight to twelve years of age, and during the teenage years.  The author gives suggestions for each of these groups while backing up her suggestions using research from various sources from experts in child development and homeschooling education, as well as giving personal examples from her own experiences with her children.

My Opinion

At 163 pages, I expected that I would zip though this book within a matter of a few hours.  Instead, I found that this is not a book that you will read quickly but instead will want to take your time and really absorb what is being said.  I often brought this book with me for a long soak in a hot bubble bath while I enjoyed some relaxing time by myself.

Another place I enjoyed taking this book was to the gym, where I could read it while doing a mindless activity like the elliptical.  It gave me something else to focus on beside the time readout and I could work on enriching myself mentally as well as physically.

Like any book of this particular genre, I don't necessarily agree with everything that the author says, and that's okay.  With any book that I read, there will be information that I can relate to or can learn from and there will be things I don't.  However, there's enough in this of the positive in this book to far outweigh those things that I disagreed with.  I often found myself shaking my head in agreement, recognizing my son or my daughter in many of the examples given.  While I'm not a proponent of Unschooling, which the author supports as God's intended method of teaching our children, I did find lots of helpful information that helped me understand the psychology behind how my children learn and how to approach and tailor their education better for them.   The chapter in regards to teenager has even been very helpful in regards of my oldest daughter and has led to discussions in regards to certification programs and trade school as opposed to traditional college.

Overall, this has been a nice book full of great moments of encouragement.  Those who are new to homeschooling, those struggling in their homeschool journey, and those considering switching to an unschooling style educational setting will find this book to be most helpful. 

#hsreviews #GodSchooling #ChristianUnschooling #RelaxedHomeschooling

For more information about God Schooling as well as other books by Julie Polanco, be sure to visit the author's website.  You can also find more information from the following social media sites;


God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews}

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Weekly Meal Planning

Another week of meal planning.  Charles is off for vacation for the next two weeks, so we're able to shop one week at a time and go take care of our shopping on a weekday, which is unusual. 

I am planning for us to go out to eat on Tuesday since we're driving to Los Angeles to spend the day at the museum. 

Wednesday (8/15)
Pizza Paninis with salad and chips

Thursday (8/16)
Cheeseburger Tater Tot casserole

Friday (8/17)
Crock Pot Lo Mein

Saturday (8/18)
Bacon spaghetti aglio olio with salad

Sunday (8/19)
Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Monday (8/20)
Tortellini and Broccoli Alfredo

Tuesday (8/21)
Out to Eat

Monday, August 13, 2018

Branch Out World (A Homeschool Review Crew)

For one full week, the kids and I worked on the Paddington Bear  literary study from Branch Out World.

About Branch Out World

Branch Out World is a business based in West Yorkshire, UK started by a homeschool family who wanted to share their love of great children's literature with other homeschool families by creating unit studies for other parents to share with their children.  While all their studies feature books that have some sort of tie to the UK (written by a UK author, the setting is in the UK, ect), these studies feature selections that any child will love.   

About the Paddington Bear Literary Study

For this review, we received a PDF digital version of the Paddington Bear study.  This 69 page study
takes up 4.4MB of space and is suggested for students aged 5-10 years old.  This study uses the picture book Paddington (not to be confused with the chapter book A Bear Called Paddington) written by Michael Bond and illustrated by R.W. Alley.

In addition to the picture book, the study also suggests other resources to use during the course of the study.  While our library was limited, we found a really nice book to use to learn about Peru as well as the chapter book that the picture book was based on.

This lit study takes 5 days to complete (although this can easily be expanded to a longer study period by following rabbit holes).  Each day, students read the story and then focus on one aspect of the story:

Day 1 – Exploring the Setting
Day 2 – Exploring the Words
Day 3 – Exploring the Pictures
Day 4 – Exploring Science
Day 5 - Exploring Maths, Crafts & More

All maps, print outs and instructions are included with the study, which also includes a lapbooking project.   This particular study contains 30 different activities covering a wide variety of topics.

How We Used It

Day 1 invites students to explore the setting of the book where they learn about England where the story takes place, as well as Peru in South America, where Paddington Bear was from.  I really enjoyed teaching the kids this particular lesson because it covered migration and about what Push and Pull factors were in regards to migration.  This lesson also included both map work as well as a research activity over both England and Peru.  Finally, we learned about when the story was written and discussed other historical events that were happening at the same time.

 Day 2 has students focusing on vocabulary words used in the story that they might not already be familiar with.  We also learned about the author, Michael Bond.  The kids were really shocked to find out he wrote the book 60 years ago but he died only last year.

In addition to learning about the author, we also discussed themes covered in this book.  Being an Air Force family, one of the things the kids have learned is "Service Before Self" - so they quickly recognized the theme of "helping others" and they were able to tell me many examples of characters in the book helping others.

Finally, on this day, there was a discussion in regards to how dialect affects the way an author might write a character speaking in their books.  In the book, a taxi driver says "Bears IS extra" instead of "bears are extra".. The kids thought this was hilarious and I have been hearing "bears is extra" ever since. 

Day three focused on the illustration aspect of the story.  We learned a bit about illustrator R.W. Alley and then the kids took time to study one of his drawings from the book and then try to remember minute details of the illustration. 

They also learned about Victorian style architecture and some of the details that were used in that style, such as balusters, fenestrations, lancets, and quoins.   The final portion of this days lesson focused on art techniques which Ashleigh enjoyed but Garrett, who hates to draw, decided to sit out for.

By Day Four, the kids were reciting portions of the book to me while I was reading.  This particular lesson focused on science.  Ashleigh really enjoyed learning about the Spectacled (Andean) bear which is the only bear found in Peru. Because the kids knew that Paddington had come from "Darkest Peru", they deduced that Paddington must be a Spectacled bear. Ashleigh, however, was quick to point out that Paddington looked nothing like a Spectacled Bear which brought us down a rabbit hole in regards to artistic license.

This paricular day had a few experiments, one that discussed the various properties of shaving cream. Two other experiments involved making both an edible and non edible foam.  The edible was a meringue made from eggs and sugar.  The kids have helped to make meringue on a few different occasions when helping make pies so we were going to make the non-edible version, which uses yeast, hydrogen peroxide and food coloring.  However, we were disappointed to find that we were completely out of both yeast and peroxide, so we ended up skipping this experiment as well.   We did, however, have fun writing our names in the condensation on the mirror while learning about steam.

Day 5 focuses on simple math skills, such as drawing parallel and perpendicular lines as well as grouping and numbers.  The kids already know these skills very well, so we did skip those particular activities. Instead we focused on learning more about Tablas de Sarhua.  This turned out to be a really cool rabbit hole for the kids.  We found several videos and photographs and learned a lot about the history of these painted boards.

Each day, the kids worked on various activities, whether it was mapwork and coloring flags or putting components into their lapbook.

Overall, this was a really neat little unit study that introduced the children to many things that they hadn't been exposed to before, such as the architecture  elements and the Tablas de Sarhua.

#hsreviews #BOWresources #projectfuntolearn #PictureBookExplorers

For more information about the different offerings of literary studies from Branch Out World, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find more information at the following social media platforms:


Paddington Bear {Branch Out World Reviews}


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