Friday, January 31, 2020

The Weekly Wrap Up

It's Friday. So that means it's time for the weekly wrap up. Did anyone else feel like January took forever to get over with?  Luckily, the kids didn't seem to mind at all and have been hard at work all month with their lessons - surprisingly as usually getting back into the swing of things following Christmas break is pretty difficult.

Garrett and Alyssa were away at Barstow for a youth retreat (they were there at the time of the 4.6 earthquake) over the weekend.  This was the first time Garrett has been away from the family overnight.  The resort they went to, Ironwood, is set up like an old west trading post.  Garrett went as one of the participants but Alyssa was there as a chaperone for the female youth.  

Garrett at the Ironwood resort
While Alyssa and Garrett were We took Ashleigh to the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound to visit with the kitties. She had a wonderful time as always getting to see the cats and they finally had one of the snow leopards out for display.   We enjoy going to the EFBC as they are not a zoo and their purpose is the conservation of the various species of endangered wild cats.

Garrett has been having issues lately with paying attention to his history lessons lately.  To be completely honest, I don't know if he's paid attention all year.  I can read a sentence and immediately ask him a question in regards to it and he has no clue what I was talking about.  So I have decided to make the kids read the lessons themselves and fill out their question sheets while they are reading.. This has worked well for them, especially Ashleigh who does well with reading and no longer has to wait on her brother - she can just complete her lesson at her own pace.   Garrett has gone back to lesson 1 - Columbus discovering America so that he can understand the materials we have previously covered. 

Garrett reading his history assignment and filling out his worksheet

Our lessons have been pretty basic.. We're still working though The Nose Tree with IEW's Fix it Grammar.   Dad almost always comes home for lunch during our language arts lessons, which leads to him teaching  distracting our classwork. LOL

The kids began Year 2 of Let's Go Geography.   This is for an upcoming review, but we absolutely loved Year 1 of this product and so the kids were super excited to be reviewing Year 2.  This week, we did a bit of mapwork, creating folders for the work they will be doing throughout the lessons, and watching videos about the contienents and oceans.

Other things we have been working on this week - we are roughly 50 percent though reading the book Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson.  In science, we began learning about Meteorology and Oceanography.  We've also been studying the artwork of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer and the music of Hildegard Von Bingen. The kids are also still using Smartick as a supplement daily for their math lesson, and of course practicing daily with their instruments.

This week was a bit hard for Ashleigh.  Being a military family, other families tend to come and go as they get orders.  Unfortunately, we had two families leaving this week, one of which is Ashleigh's best friend, Gabby.   The girls have been having playdates and will keep in touch with each other through the mail service. 
Ashleigh and her friend Gabby

Monday, January 27, 2020

What's For Dinner

Another week.. Can you believe we are almost done with January - ALREADY????  It's like woooooah, slow down there.  I remember being a small kid and thinking summer break and then Christmas would never arrive , or counting the days down til my birthday and it taking forever.. Now, it's like I add a higher number to my age or start shopping for Christmas almost back to back.

Speaking of age, I turn 44 this week (tomorrow to be exact).   Where does the time go?  I'll be celebrating at Bible Study tomorrow with a great group of women (although I am NOT telling them it's my birthday.. lol)

Tonight, I'll be attending a Farewell dinner for two very wonderful women, Christina and Jessica.  Sadly, one of the realities of military life is that you make friends and then you go elsewhere.  Christina will be heading to Oklahoma and Jessica is heading to Kentucky, so we wanted to get together and celebrate them before they go.  That means Pizza for Charles and the kids, while Mom has Chili's lol

Wednesday is the monthly Strong Family dinner.  This is something put on by the Chapel every month to provide both a meal and to help build fellowship with others on base.  (And I will tell you, it works - these dinners are what brought me out of the house and more involved in the base community).  I think this month, they are catering Mexican food, which is always a huge hit with my family ;)   

Because this week is going to be so busy, I switched last weeks menu around and ended up making alot of the meals I planned for this week instead...     That allowed me to save the less time consuming meals for this week. 

Sunday-  Lasagna Soup

Monday - Pizza for kids (Mom's at a Going away dinner for friends)

Tuesday - Beer Simmered Brats with peppers / onions / German potato salad

Wednesday -  Strong Family Dinner at the Community Center

Thursday - Baked Potato Bar night - Taco Potatoes

Friday - Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with salad

Saturday -  Mom's Choice for Dinner Out for her Birthday ;)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

What's For Dinner

Happy Sunday everyone.  The family and I just got home from a nice service at the chapel on base this morning.  What a great way to start the week off right.

It's only been in the last few weeks that we actually started attending chapel as a family. I've been involved with the Women's fellowship Bible study for a bit now and the girls have been involved with AWANA for a few years but we have never attended church together as a family.  My husband was not brought up with a religious background but over the years has started being drawn more and more into a relationship with the Lord.

We finally took the next step and began getting up Sunday mornings to attend the service on base.  Charles and I will also be joining a small group study in April when the slot for us opens up. Garrett will be attending a youth retreat this coming weekend - the first time he will ever be away from the home without us (and I'm kinda scared about it).  Ashleigh has been asked to join the Youth Dance Ministry and Alyssa is also going to be teaching the Children's service in the upcoming weeks.  And somehow, over the last few weeks, I have found myself in a leadership role with our women's study as well.

Ashleigh's Dance Worship Group practice

Needless to say, God has made his presence known in our home and has shown that he has a place for each of us to help in his ministry. 

Okay, so, what's on the menu for the week??

Sunday:   Zuppa Toscana with bread

Monday :  Lemon chicken with broccoli with rice and crab raggoon

Tuesday :  Pierogi with Bacon and Chives and braised cabbage 

Wednesday :  Charcuterie board (Grab and Growl Meal)

Thursday : Cajun Fish Tacos with tangy slaw / roasted Cajun cauliflower

Friday : Chicken wings, celery and carrots, and potato wedges

Saturday :  Dinner out

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Schoolhouse Teachers (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

This year, to begin my review season, I get to revisit a website that I have previously reviewed before. However, unlike other times when I have revisited a product or a website, this is a website that I use extensively with my family on a regular basis prior to my review, both with homeschooling a well as for day to day household management -  Members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given a Ultimate PreK-12 Annual Membership  for the purpose of this review. is the curriculum/education aspect of The Old Schoolhouse family.  For a low yearly price, homeschool families have a wide range of curriculum options for grades K-12, with more than 400 self-paced online courses, and numerous teaching resources all included in the yearly membership.  Classes are all inclusive so you aren't going to have to buy textbooks to teach the courses, just download the lessons and you're all set.

Membership price allows access to all available courses and offers a core subject for every subject for every grade, making it a full curriculum website that allows families to teach all students in their home, regardless of age and grade.   Membership also allows unlimited access to the  World Book Resources Library, RightNow Media, a Silver plan level account with Applecore for homeschool record keeping and much much more, all at one low yearly price.

With more than 400 classes to choose from, your first experience with the website can be much like being a kid in the candy store, with so much curriculum options, it can be a bit overwheming.  To help eliminate this problem and to make things much easier in selecting courses and piece together a full curriculum for your student, offers a downloadable Scope and Sequence for each grade level.  These Scope and Sequence files are a great place to start with and can be found under the planning tab on the website.

 By selecting either the grade level or the subject you wish to teach, the Scope and Sequence feature will suggest courses that are found on the website that will fulfill the academic goals for that level.  It also makes suggestions for class future planning.

Please note: does not align with any particular set of regulations or guidelines. Each family must research their state's guideline and requirements to ensure they meet those guidelines.

Another section that I personally enjoy using is the quick links section.  This shows all the classes available on, listed by subject.  This portion will also note new classes that have been added to the website recently to make it easy to find those and read more about the class.  From the quick links, you can go directly to the class information.  

After finding a course that looks interesting, simply click the link and you will be brought to the course information page.  This page will tell you the length of the course, if it's text based or video based, and what grade the course is suitable for.  From here you can also learn who wrote the course and what expertise they have in teaching that course.

Banners for Getting started, Course Outline, Course Sample and More about the Course provide a quick popup the provide more information about the course.  This information is available without having a membership to help you learn more about what is included in the course module.

Members have access to the actual class materials.  All classes include the text material needed for the course as well as a printable lesson plan.

The lesson plans are extremely helpful.  These PDF files can easily be printed out and kept in a planning notebook, making planning for and teaching each day's coursework as simple as following the list.  The first page of the Lesson Plan gives a quick summary of the course and what material is needed while the rest of the planner breaks the course down day by day. A section is also provided for jotting down notes as needed.

Also included with your membership, also offers their members access to hundreds of streaming videos from providers including, Drive Thru History, Vision Video, Discovery House, Boat Angel, City on a Hill, RightNow Media, and more.  Some of these videos are included with their coursework however, some videos that are included are not necessarily educational based. For example, through their partnership with RightNow Media, members have access to a vast library of Bible based marriage studies, parenting studies and more.

A very few of the video selections available on

 So, now that you have at least an idea for what is, let me tell you how my family uses it.  We have been a member of since 2014, so I've had over 5 years now to really enjoy what the site has to offer.

Over the course of those five years, I've used a large variety of course work from the site.  From multiplication workshops, music lessons, the video library and more, has really become my Go-to for looking for curriculum before I actually purchase anything. For example, my son really did not seem to enjoy any foreign language that we tried with him - Spanish, French, Chinese and even Latin, he didn't really care for it.  However, there was a course that unfortunately isn't offered on the website anymore that introduced kids to Greek.  Through their partnership with "Hey Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek!", I was able to download Level 1 of the Greek language program to use with Garrett. He enjoyed it so much, that we continued with his Greek lessons (although we did have to purchase lessons beyond that first course).

Another case where came to our budget rescue was this year for American History.  I tried a curriculum that I purchased and I ended up being very disappointed in it after a few weeks. It just didn't seem like it had enough history in it.  Once again, I took a look to see what was available and found a video and text based course that has worked perfectly for my needs.

I'm really glad to have found this course and have really enjoyed the textbook that accompanies the course. It uses A History of The United States and Its People by Edward Eggleston and the copywrite date is 1888.  I really like this text because it presents history without the slanted, bias view that is often seen in history books today. The course utilizes several components, including a video component as well as an introduction to Socratic discussions which has been really insightful.

A Page from the Textbook from the American History course we are using
Because gives you full access to everything they offer, you can mix and match stuff together to create a curriculum that works well for your family.  I use this to my advantage by supplementing the American History course with the Drive Thru History: American History videos that are also available on the website.

 The Drive Thru History videos are part of their own American History curriculum available on the website, however, I simply use them alongside with the curriculum we are currently using by simply watching the one that coincides with what we are learning about in our history course.

Another class we have really taken advantage of using is the Beginner Violin course.  This is a 32 week video based course taught by violin instructor Nancy Blue and we are 12 weeks into the course.

After we reviewed another violin program but were unable to continue with it past our review period due to budget restrains, so I was absolutely ecstatic to find this course as an offering on the website. 

The violin course starts with helping the student and parent learn how to buy a violin and take care of it, such as how to store it and the bow, how to use rosin, ect.  Throughout the 32 lessons, students learn how to hold the violin and the scales, eventually learning to actually play simple songs (Garrett's currently working on Twinkle Twinkle).  After completing all 32 lessons, the student earns 0.5 credit for music elective.

As both Garrett and Ashleigh are working with instruments, another course we have been using is Music Theory, as learning to read music is an important part to learning any instrument.  Music Theory is offered as a 2 part course (as well as an Advanced Music Theory offered at the high school level) and we are currently studying with Music Theory 1, which is designed and written by music teacher Michelle Martin, who has over 20 years of experience.

Music Theory is a great starting platform for the kids to build a foundation in music understanding by using both written instruction a well as activities geared for both elementary and secondary level students to learn notes, tempo, rests, dynamics and more.  Music Theory I and II together is a 32 week course, taught twice a week. 

Other course we are currently using is the Introduction to Architecture for Garrett and Introduction to Photography with Ashleigh.  These were electives they both selected for themselves and both have so far really enjoyed the class they selected.
Garrett looking over his Introduction to Architecture textbook at the beginning of the school year
Working on an Architecture assignment

One of Ashleigh's Photographs from her Photography course
We also use the 5th and 6th grade math course as a supplement to our current math (although both courses could be used on their own as part of a full core curriculum).  
Don't let Ashleigh's doodles fool you, she did perfectly fine
If you have a struggling reader, like I do, you'll want to check out both the Literacy Center and the books offered by World Book.  The Literacy center covers pre-reading and reading from a preschool-2nd grade level and reading comprehension through a 3rd-4th grade level and offers downloadable and printable books as well as strategies for encouraging reading and book suggestions for your child's reading level.

 The World Book Online is another service that is included with your SchoolhouseTeachers membership.  World Book Online contains thousands of informational articles with stunning illustrations, videos, interactive maps, research help, and activities. Many courses on SchoolhouseTeachers utilize articles and timelines found on the World Book Online website.  There is also an extensive collection of Ebooks on loads of subjects that can be read online.

We have used so many different offerings from, so these are only a few examples. There are daily activities such as writing prompts, 5 and 10 day unit studies based on famous works of art, short read aloud plays for students to read and act out together, and so much more that we have used.. It really is a full curriculum option that you can easily customize your own education for grades K-12th.

But the website offers so much more than just curriculum and education. I mentioned that I tend to use SchoolhouseTeachers for my everyday household management.  One of the most useful things I have discovered is using a second copy of the planners offered on the website (another perk to membership) and use it for menu planning. (I already use a copy for homeschool as well.)  I save it to a different area under a different name (I simply save the file as MealPlanner so as to not overwrite my lesson planning file) and it makes it super easy for me to sit down, plan out my meals and be able to actually see them over the course of the 2 weeks I plan for.

I have been doing this for a good two years now and can easily go back and remind myself of recipes that the family really enjoyed that I might otherwise forget.

Okay, so I have a tool to schedule my dinners, but what if I have absolutely no idea what to make?  The website has you covered there as well.  The website provides monthly recipe ideas to help make meal planning super easy, submitted by members of  Each month provides a list of either a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and dessert idea for each day, meaning there's bound to be a few ideas that your family will enjoy. There's also a gluten free and vegan section.

And it would be a disservice if I failed to mention the various other resources for parents. From ideas for family nights spent together, organizing your home, or even providing daily encouragement for the homeschool mom, there is an entire section dedicated to courses and resources just for you.  The Parent EBook Library offers a large collection of Ebooks published by The Old Schoolhouse, many of which are typically sold on their website but is free for your reading with your membership to has been a blessing to our family and I know you'll find it to be a blessing to your family as well.

#hsreviews #schoolhouseteachers #homechool #onlineclasses #allinonecurriculum #homeschoolonline #homeschoolcurriculum #onlineteaching #digitallearning

For more information about, please visit their website. You can also find them on them on the following social media sites:


Members of the Crew were each given the opportunity to review with their families.  Be sure to click the banner below to read more reviews and see what classes and resources they used with their families.
Online Homeschooling For the Whole Family { Reviews}

Sunday, January 5, 2020

What's For Dinner

Happy New Years..  Yeah, I know, we're already 5 days into 2020, but still, :)   I hope everyone had a great holiday break and the start of a wonderful year.    I'll be posting later this week about my word and goal for the year but til then, I'm happy with the changes our family has made for this year.

So, what will I be feeding my family this week?  Well, for starters, I made my oldest cook our dinner tonight.  It really turned out pretty good too ;)   Starting next week, all three kids will begin the process of planning a meal, making a list of what they need for that meal and then the three will be preparing that dinner together.  But that's not til next week ;)   Also, we decided to change our menu from last week, so a few meals that were planned for last week are moved to this week .

Sunday - Italian Sausage, Chard and  White Bean Soup with parmesan garlic bread

Monday - BBQ Naan Pizza with Pork and Pineapple with romaine salad

Tuesday - Million Dollar Spaghetti with Salad and garlic bread

Wednesday - Mushu Chicken Wraps with carrots / shiitakes / cabbage

Thursday - Chicken Korma with spinach  and basmati rice

Friday -  Stuffed Bell Peppers with mashed potatoes and corn

Saturday - Philly cheese steak sandwiches with steak fries

Thursday, January 2, 2020

January Astronomy Report

Lepus California Observatory Monthly Astronomical Report
January 2020

It’s time to get those Christmas telescopes set up and ready to start observing for the first month of 2020. January will play host to some of the more prominent winter constellations and features one meteor shower and one lunar eclipse.

Quadrantids Meteor Shower

The month gets a running start with the annual Quadrantids meteor shower. This is shower peaks in the first week of January and normally produces around 40 meteors per hour. The shower will peak this year on the evening of the 3rd into the early morning of the 4th. Expect the best views to come after midnight when the first quarter moon sets. The radiant for this shower is in the constellation Bootes, but meteors will appear anywhere in the sky. Get bundled up and enjoy a mug of your favorite hot beverage while enjoying a night under the stars.

The Moon

The first lunar eclipse of the year occurs on the 10th and will be visible from most of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. The moon will pass through part of the Earth’s outer shadow, called the penumbra, and will slightly darken during the eclipse. The effect is much less pronounced compared to a total or partial lunar eclipse. The full moon falls on the 10th and the moon will be new again on the 24th.


The most prominent planet for the month of January will be Venus, glowing brightly in the western sky after sunset. It will continue to increase in magnitude throughout the month. Through a telescope, Venus’ current phase looks like a waxing gibbous moon. Mercury will start to join the party in late January but will be challenging to view due to its proximity to the sun. The ice giants Uranus and Neptune are up in the sky for viewing but their prime-time moments won’t be until much later in the year. They will appear as tiny blue-green disks in a telescope.

Constellations and Deep Sky

Orion, Taurus, Auriga and Gemini will be dominating the sky this month. The Pleiades (M45) is a well-known open cluster in Taurus, commonly referred to as the seven sisters. It is a grouping of spectral class-B stars surrounded by a beautiful refection nebula. The nebula is most noticeable in larger telescopes and long exposure photography but can still be seen in smaller scopes under ideal viewing conditions. Auriga is a treasure trove of open clusters, containing M36, M37 and M38 which are all easy to spot in binoculars and small scopes. Gemini contains the planetary nebula C39, also known as the Eskimo Nebula. This object began forming about 10,000 years ago when a dying star ejected its outer layers of gas, forming the ring like structure that resembles a person’s head wearing a parka hood. The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is in the constellation of the same name and is the closest major galaxy to the Milky Way. The bright core of M31 is easily visible in binoculars and small telescopes. The full size of Andromeda is huge…if it were bright enough to be seen in its entirety it would span the width of about 6 full moons in the sky.

Deep sky object of the month

The Orion Nebula (M42) is located in the constellation of Orion, in the sword of the hunter. M42 is the brightest and closest nebula to Earth, and the easiest to observe with a telescope. It’s billowing clouds of nebulosity is apparent in even small telescopes, and the young cluster of stars called the Trapezium glows softly at its center. M42 is one of the finest deep sky objects in the northern hemisphere.


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