Sunday, December 29, 2019

What's For Dinner

I cannot believe we are days away from a new year.  Not just a new year, but a new decade as well.  It seems only a few years ago I was laughing at the Y2K hysteria and now here we are about to enter the Roaring 20s again. Too bad our roaring twenties won't include men in suits and hats and women with flapper dresses.

We're going to be heading to town on Monday in order to go see the final Star Wars movie.  While we're out, we'll also eat out and then do our grocery shopping so that we do not have to go off base during the new year holiday.

As for New Years, we have to honor our southern roots and make the traditional southern New Years meal - ham which is for prosperity and looking forward to the future, black eyed peas which represents coins, collard greens which also represents money (but in the form of cash), and corn bread which represents luck and gold.   It's just not New Years without a true southern meal :)

Monday-  Movie and Dinner

Tuesday -  Buffalo Chicken Tenders with celery/carrots and chips

Wednesday -  Hoppin' John with Collard Greens, Ham and cornmeal muffins with honey butter

Thursday -  Beef and Barley Soup with salad and baguette

Friday - Shrimp, Cauliflower, and Bacon Saute with cheesy grits

Saturday - Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Hawaiian Sliders with slaw / roasted Brussels sprouts

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Candyland Adventures

We are days away from Christmas and I figured it was a good time to update on our newer additions to our family - Caramel and Licorice.

Both of these two have settled in well and have made themselves right at home.   Bonding between the two seemed to happen almost instantly and after roughly a week, the two have been housed together and are practically inseparable.

The two of them couldn't be any different from each other yet compliment each other so well.  Caramel is a little bundle of energy and joy, happy to be around everyone but never sitting still for very long.  Licky on the other hand, is a bit more reserved and is a huge ball of love, enjoying nothing more than to just lay down beside you and get attention.  She loves to give kisses and enjoys being pet and rubbed but does not like to be picked up at all.  Caramel will allow you to pick him up for a few moments and cuddle before he wants down to run around some more.

Licky keeping me company while I do my morning Bible study in bed.

We did have a bit of a scare with Licky this past week however.  As a result, she got the opportunity to meet her vet, Dr Stone earlier than we would have wanted.  Licky has an issue with cats - I don't know if something happened to her prior to our adopting her, but she does have some animosity towards the feline variety. As a result (instigated by Licky), Keikie scratched Licky on the eye.  So, a vet visit, antibiotics and pain meds were necessary.   Licky did great at the vet and hopefully she has learned not to corner cats.

Lil guy loves just being everywhere.. Anticipating this, we bought a small pen to keep him out of the Christmas tree and presents.  However, he has learned how to jump over the pen.   Next year, I will have to make sure I make the the fencing double height.

Inside the pen for the Christmas tree

Kenny hasn't been especially keen on the rabbits being included in our home, mostly because it takes my attention away from him.. lol 

Our First Christmas in our new Home

And finally, a message directly from Licky:  Advice to all my other bunny followers.. The big male humans might seem scary, but it doesn't take much to wrap them around your paw.. A simple grooming session will guarantee they buy you an abundance of treats and treasures.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Weekend Meal Planning

Sunday:  Tomato and basil grilled cheese with tomato and basil soup

Monday:  Jambalaya with salad

Tuesday:  Charcuterie board  (while we make tamales after Christmas Eve service)

Wednesday :  Pork Tamales with corn, Mexican rice and salad

Thursday:  Chili Cornbread Skillet with corn and salad

Friday:  Red beans, sausage and rice

Saturday: Chicken Noodle Soup with Bread

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Weekend Meal Planning

Can you believe it's almost Christmas?  My husband and I have been getting all of our gift shopping done, trying to buy gifts that we know the kids will enjoy but without going overboard.  I hope the kids will be thrilled to wake up with items such as a new telescope and a sewing machine among other things.

Because we're in Christmas mode and gift buying, along with the fact that for the military, the last paycheck of the year is always a very long pay period, we're in frugal meal mode.

Sunday - Turkey Reuben Sandwiches with chips

Monday - Ravioli and pesto with salad

Tuesday -  Bean and Cheese burritos with rice and salad

Wednesday - pizza crescents with baby carrots and peas

Thursday - Rotisserie chicken with broccoli and baby potatoes

Friday -  Chicken Sandwiches with chips

Saturday -  Chicken and Sausage Gumbo 

Sunday - Chicken Noodle Soup with Bread

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Weekly Wrap Up

We're down to two weeks before our Christmas break and we'e been really been doing a great job staying on track (for the most part)..  The kids have finally got into a rhythm as to how we're doing school each day and there're pretty happy with it.. 

The kids started the week (or I guess you could say ended the last week) by attending the annual Christmas tree lighting festival.  There they got to see Santa and Mrs Claus, ride in a carriage drawn by mules, play in snow made especially for the event and enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies.

For our school week, we're still following A Gentle Feast for our morning work. We are currently on week 14.  For our Bible work, we read John 2: 12-25, Genesis 12: 10-20, Psalms 14 and Proverbs 10: 20-32.  We read about the Norse God Bragi, God of poetry, and learned about the lives of Hildegard von Bingen and read the poem At a Solemn Music by John Milton as well as a selection from the play Twelfth Night by Shakespeare.  To get us into the Christmas mood, we also read A Gift of the Magi by O Henry and The Thieves who Couldn't Help Sneezing by Thomas Holding.  To round out our morning work, we also finished reading The Wind in the Door, the second book to A Wrinkle in Time.

For Language Arts, we did a few writing prompts from Jump In 2nd Edition to get Garrett to really begin to focus on writing.  (After the holiday we will actually begin writing an opinion essay).  The kids also completed Week10 of IEW's Fix it Grammar, learning about using apostrophes.  For our literature selection, we are currently reading The Hobbit and ended the week completing Chapter 7, putting us at 48 percent of the way through the book. 

For Science, we completed Module 5 of General Science,  which the kids tested over and did really well.  This module was a general overview of Astronomy, covering topics such as forms of light wavelengths, stars, planets, galaxies, comets, meteors and such. 

Our history lesson had us learning about the immigration of the Dutch to North American and their settling in New Netherlands which then became New York after England took it over. 

For music, both kids are practicing both their Twinkle Twinkle complex as well as feeling out Jingle Bells on their instruments.  For music theory, they learned about the different types of rests.  I am hoping both kids will be able to play Jingle Bells together on Christmas, but that remains to be seen.. lol  Garrett has done really well in figuring out the music where Ashleigh on the other hand doesn't seem to want to put the effort in.

For her art lesson this week, Ashleigh did the Polar Exploration drawing with Creating a Masterpiece.  She has now completed all the Level 1 drawings and will be moving on to the Level 2 drawings.

This drawing was using both a white and black pencil color on black paper. I don't think she was a big fan of this particular art option, but I wanted her to complete it before we moved on to the next level.

The kids are both still using Smartick math (a product we reviewed not that long ago) as a math supplement in addition to their daily math lessons.  I have gone back to using Math U See with them daily and then use this 4-5 time a week.

This week, we also went to the Strong Family dinner here on base.  This is a monthly dinner for military families, usually catered by a local restaurant (3/4 of the time it's Chick-fil-a), and served by our base commander. This month, dinner was provided by one of our family's favorite establishments, J's Hideaway, who provided us with Tri-tip, mashed potatoes, green beans, mac and cheese and salad.    The housing office provided Christmas crafts for the kids to make as well as goodie bags to bring home.  Ashleigh and Garrett both enjoyed making these Christmas themed photo frames which they hung on our fridge when they got home.

This week, we had both a science test over module 5 in our Apologia General Science course, Lesson 1 in Math U See, as well as Test 3 for Garrett's Greek and Ashleigh's Latin 1 Test.  I have to say that Garrett has really improved on his study skills, as his first few tests this year he absolutely bombed.  This week, they did so well on all their tests.  Both kids made 100's on both Math and Science, and for Foreign Language, Garrett made a 97 on his test and Ashleigh made a 100.

To end the week, we had visit from Sailor Santa.  This was the fourth year in a row that the Navy unit on our base has dressed up as Santa, rode upon a Fire truck and visited each neighborhood to distribute toys to all the kids.  Sailor Santa is always a huge hit for Ashleigh and Garrett and the weather was pleasant enough for us to sit outside and drink hot cocoa while we waited.

We have one more week of school for this year and then the kids will have two weeks off, returning to their studies on January 6th.   They will continue to use Smartick as well as practice their instruments while we are on break, but outside of that, they will not be working on studies during that time.. :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Good News and Upcoming Changes

I'm happy to announce that I have once again been invited back as a Reviewer for the Homeschool Review Crew.   This will mark my 6th year as a member of the Crew.

Each year, I always find myself really worried that I won't receive an invite back.  Maybe that's just part of my lack of self confidence, but I always fret over it.  As a member of the crew, I always try to make sure that I am honest with you, my reader, as to how I view the product.  Many times, I review a product that is really a good product but my kids just do not like and I will tell you that.  Other times, I might review a product that I honestly think is not well done and I will tell you that a well..   As a reviewer, I want to give you MY honest opinion on the product and not just blow smoke to make the product look amazing when it isn't.   Because of this, I always worry that maybe I won't get that email inviting me back because I was too harsh on a product, that I was too honest in my opinion.

But.... I have been invited back.

And I hope that you, my readers, will continue to enjoy my honest reviews, good or bad.

But I also want to make this blog more than just reviews and what I want to cook each week. LOL

I'm hoping in the upcoming year to do much more with this blog.

I will start doing the weekly updates for what we are doing in our school, for an example.  I always take photos during the week, but then I realize that the kids are almost always wearing the same clothes in almost all of them, and I'm like oooh, can't post these because it looks like they never change clothes.  (The truth is, they wear their favorite outfits in the house and they change when we leave the house.. and they almost always change back into their favorite outfits when we return. *shake head*)

 I'll also be trying to once again start a monthly Astronomy posts in correlation with Lepus California Observatory.  It would thrill me to no end to present homeschool families with a monthly list of astronomy dates of upcoming event, such as meteor showers, that they might not otherwise be aware of.   I might even begin a monthly Astronomy photography link up - allowing you to post links to photographs that you have taken throughout the month.

I'm wanting to find my niche as a homeschool blogger but I want whatever I present to you to be genuine.  I feel like a fraud offering advice on how to be this perfect homeschool family, because honestly, my family is far from that.   But I do want to engage with you beyond just reviews - and I hope to offer more opportunities to do that in 202.

So, here's to another year of the Crew.. and here's to making 2020 an amazing year.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Weekend Meal Planning

The weather has finally turned to a pretty consistent cold here, the leaves seemed to brown and fall of the trees almost overnight and Thanksgiving is only a few days away.  It feels like the holidays barreled in like a freight train - not sure I'm exactly ready. LOL   For the time being, I get to sit around biting my nails while I wait to find out if I'm invited back for a 6th year of the Review Crew - fingers crossed.

Usually, for Thanksgiving, my husband makes a turkey and homemade cranberry sauce and I make most of the sides and we have a big family dinner.  However, early in the year our fridge stopped working and the housing office replaced it with a fridge that would be more than sufficient for a small family, but for a family of 5, it is way too small. There's no way I could fit the leftovers in there (as it is, two dozen eggs and a gallon of milk takes up the bulk of it).  So we decided to skip the big dinner this year and go out to eat. (I'm going to be keeping an eye on Black Friday deals for a cheap fridge to put in the garage to give myself extra room. )   So who knows what we'll eat that day - Buffalo Wild Wings?  Outback?  Indian food? We shall see. 

Sunday:  Smoky sweet potato and black bean soup with salad and bread

Monday:  Black Pepper Chicken with Rice

Tuesday:  Chicken Fajita Pasta with Salad

Wednesday: Beef and Broccoli with rice and Asian slaw

Thursday:  Thanksgiving dinner out

Friday:  Turkey Breast with Gravy, smothered green beans, Parmesan zucchini casserole

Saturday: Buffalo Baked Ziti with salad and steamed asparagus

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

LitWits (A Homeschool Crew Review)

I love reading.  My kids,  not so much.  However, they enjoy books so much more with fun activities that really help to engage them into the story and bring it from the pages of the book.  Members of the crew have been using LitWits Kits  from LitWits with their families for the last  few weeks.

LitWits was very generous and gave us our choice of four LitWits Kits from their extensive collection of available kits. With kits available for  For our selections, we opted for A Wrinkle in Time, The Hobbit, The Phantom Tollbooth, and The Secret Garden.

For this review, however, when I show the actual product to demonstrate the layout of the LitWits, I will be showing the LitWits kit for Little House in the Big Woods, which is absolutely free on the LitWits website for you to try in your own home.

What are LitWits?

Designed for students ages ranging from 6-14 (targeted age 8-12), LitWits Kits are written by Becky Clendenen Kimbal and Jenny Clendenen Walicek and are designed to help parents teach great books and instill a love of reading using a fun, hands on approach.   Each Litwits Kit includes:

  • sensory prop ideas:  see, hear, smell, and feel what the characters did
  • bookbites ideas:  taste what the characters ate
  • creative project ideas & instructions/templates:  make what a character made
  • kinetic activity ideas & instructions/prompts:  do what a character did (or might/should have!)
  • academic handouts:  learn the story’s narrative arc, vocabulary, setting, and more
  • creative writing handouts: write what a character wrote or felt
  • takeaway topics:  know what the characters knew
  • learning links:  learn more about what the characters’ world was like
  • audiovisual links:  see and hear what the characters’ world looked and sounded like
  • CCSS alignment:  check off lots of boxes!

Once purchased, LitWits can either be accessed online on the website or they can be downloaded to use offline and printed out.  Each LitWit offers advice for including various physical props to the classroom that tie into the story, hands on activities,  food related ideas, handouts about literary elements, as well many other activities.

A Hands on Art Project for Little House in the Big Woods

Food related activity for Little House in the Big Woods
In addition to the activities, LitWits also includes a really nice collection of additional resources that can be used while reading the book.  These resources include author biographies, maps and other resources that teach more about the setting and time period of the book, and other resources to provide rabbit trails for learning beyond what is included in the pages of the book.

How We Used LitWits

For this review period, we decided to read "A Wrinkle In Time" and include the projects found in the LitWit to go along with it.  Right at the start with the first chapter, we had a cute activity to include with our reading - a visit from Mrs Whatsit.   Ashleigh and I found tons of scarves and bed sheets, as well as a huge floppy hat and dressed her up at the beloved wacky character.   If only we would have had some rainboots to go along with it :)

Here's Garrett playing with one of the props we used during the book.  We used this while reading about the Happy Medium as she was gazing into her crystal ball.   We really had hoped we would be able to find a brain jello mold as also recommended but they were sold out (close to Halloween).  That would have been so much fun.

Another activity we did was the folding a two dimensional piece of paper into a 3D object.  The kids love doing anything origami so this was a really fun project for them.   With a simple piece of paper, a bit of decorating and a bit of folding and the kids had a 3D scene from the book.

Inside hers Ashleigh decided to draw a scene of Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace looking upon Uriel.

In addition to the activities, we also worked on the handout worksheets that are with the kit.   For this kit, there was an activity to write their own mnemonic to learn the order of the planets. Afterwards they filled out the order from memory.   There was also an activity where they could create their own character using a character building sheet, as well as an activity where the kids had to put events that happened in the book in order as they appeared in the narrative arc.

We tried to complete as many of the activities as we could, but unfortunately, were unable to do the BookBites section.  This particular activity asked for me to make melon balls out of a watermelon ahead of time and then having the kids close their eyes as I feed it to them, as Aunt Beast fed Meg.  At the time of this review, watermelon isn't exactly plentiful at the moment, so we skipped that portion.

We really enjoyed using the LitWits Kit and felt it really did add to our reading experience.  The kids really got into the activities.  I'm looking forward to using the other kits this year and will be beginning the next one soon, but we are having such a hard time of deciding which one we want to do.  They each are son wonderful in different ways.  We will probably wait to use The Secret Garden come springtime as much of the activities revolve around plants and having a nice tea with marmalade, which will be so nice to do outdoors once the temperatures warm up again.  The Phantom Tollbooth has fun props like Synonym buns and Rigamaroles (cinnamon buns and rolls), making a chromagraph (which would be fun as the kids are currently learning music theory), and another paper folding project to make a dodecahedron.  The Hobbit LitWits kit has the kids creating the Elfish sword Sting (don't know if it glows around orcs or goblins), trace Bilbo’s journey across the narrative arc, dine with Beorn, write using Tolkien’s characterization techniques, decode ancient runes, guess what’s in Gollum’s pocketses for meaningful insights, solve riddles, find out why Gandalf “abandoned” Bilbo, and so much more!  How do you decide???   I do know that LitWits will be a regular purchase for our reading. 

#hsreviews #readforfunlearnforlife #litwits #litwitskits

For more information about LitWits Kits, be sure to check out their website.  You can also find LitWits on the following social media sites:

Members of the crew were allowed their choice of any four of the available LitWits Kids to use with their families. Be sure to click the banner below to read which ones they picked and how they used them with their homeschool.

LitWits Kits {LitWits Reviews}


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