Menu Plan Monday 4/27/15

My son had a wonderful birthday weekend. He enjoyed his Cuban sandwiches and the Lemon Berry Dessert I made. Now that summer is getting closer, I am looking forward to barbecue season. I found boneless pork shoulder on sale for 89 cents a pound the other day and snapped up two big ones to save for the smoker!! This week, we are having:

Monday: Chili

Tuesday: burgers on the grill

Wednesday: Chicken Enchiladas

Thursday: Cajun Chops

Friday: Make your own pizzas!!

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! See you next week.

Lemon Berry Dessert

This is a great, easy dessert that is light, tart, and just a little bit sweet. It is perfect for summer barbecues, holidays, and get-togethers. My hubby and kids loved the light texture and the seasonal berries. I think you could also use the base recipe and just switch out the berries to match any season!

Ingredients:

16 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 can lemon pie filling
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup sliced almonds
1 container sliced strawberries
1 container sliced raspberries

Directions:

1. Mix the whipping cream with an electric mixer until stiff, set aside.
2. Beat the lemon pie filling and cream cheese until smooth.

3. Combine the whipping cream with the lemon mixture.
4. Place 1/2 of the mixture in the bottom of a large bowl.
5. Add a layer of strawberries and almonds.

6. Add the rest of the lemon mixture.
7. Top with the sliced raspberries.
8. Chill for one hour and serve!
I get requests for this dessert every time we go to friends houses for dinner. I hope you like it! Thanks for stopping by. Check out more new recipes here:

TOS Review: ARTistic Pursuits

ARTistic Pursuits ReviewDo you enjoy teaching art? Are you a natural when it comes to light, space, and composition? Well, I’m not, but I believe art is a necessary part of my kids instruction (plus, my boys need a credit in art for graduation). So, I am thankful that for this review, we got to check out High School 9-12 Book 1, The Elements of Art and Composition from ARTistic Pursuits. It allows me to incorporate real art instruction into our curriculum, despite the fact that I am artistically challenged!

ARTistic Pursuits ReviewThis book is intended for students in high school, or ages 14 and up. It is part of the full curriculum that ARTistic Pursuits offers for students of all ages. In the Senior High Book 1 students explore Western Art and learn about artists like Raphael and Da Vinci. Most of the artwork is completed using pencils and charcoal. I was able to find an inexpensive art kit at Walmart that had everything I needed for my son to complete the projects.

Lessons in this book are written directly to the student, making it particularly easy for parents. Now, I did read through the first few lessons ahead of time before turning the book over to my son, just so I could see what was expected of him. Each lesson covers a particular artistic technique or element (like balance, contrast, proportion etc.) and encourages students to explore that element.

Lessons begin with an introduction to the concept and a thorough explanation of how it works. At the end of the intro is an assignment that encourages students to try their hand at recreating it. From there, students are shown artwork that is a good example of the concept, and then given background info about the period in history the art comes from. This is a great area for parents to jump off and study particular artists/artistic movements in depth. You could easily use the information provided and books from the library to expand on these topics.

Over the course of two semesters, students will cover a wide range of topics, and there is a second book for high school that brings color into the mix. I used this with my son who has an artistic bent as it is. He told me that while he enjoyed reading about the concepts and the art in history, he struggled with getting his art to look like the art in the book. The authors do include images of student artwork throughout, but my son didn’t feel like his matched up. He told me that to him, art was more about drawing what he FELT like drawing, not what he was told to draw.

While I can certainly understand that, I think there is a lot of value in learning the actual terms and techniques related to art in general. I feel like the curriculum from ARTistic Pursuits does a really good job of making art instruction accessible for the average homeschool parent. If you are good at art and love teaching it, you could certainly use this curriculum to take your instruction to the next level, but if, like me, you are not a natural artist, you can still use this to give your kids a solid grounding in art technique.

To learn more about this curriculum, connect with ARTistic Pursuits on social media:

ARTistic Pursuits on Facebook

To see what other members of the crew thought of this and all the other curriculums we got to check out, click here:

ARTistic Pursuits Review

Crew Disclaimer

Menu Plan Monday 4/20/15

My youngest boy turns 14 this Friday. We have a tradition in our family that you get to pick dinner on your birthday. He decided he wants me to make Cuban sandwiches using my pork taco meat, so that is what I will be doing. We also plan to take the day off to have a family beach day since the weather has been so gorgeous! He is very excited! Here is the rest of our menu this week:

Monday: Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Tuesday: Cheesy Tortellini

Wednesday: Mexican Pizza

Thursday: Spaghetti

Friday Cubans made with Pork Taco meat

Thanks for joining me for Menu Plan Monday! See you next week.

Menu Plan Monday 4/13/15

Last week was pretty busy for me, but I am happy to be back for Menu Plan Monday this week! The weather is warming up and it is almost swimming pool weather here, which means cookouts and barbecues are on their way. I found a great deal on pork shoulder at the store this week, so we are thinking we might smoke it the first week of May. In the meantime, here’s what’s for dinner at our house this week:

Monday: Wine Seared Pork

Tuesday: Garlic Butter Salmon

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: Rosemary Roast Chicken

Friday: Steaks on the Grill

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to join me next week!

Real Life Homeschool : Reality Check

I hope you have enjoyed a peek into what homeschool is like for our family during this Real Life Homeschool blog hop. So, what are the most important things I would say about “real life” homeschool? Well for starters, I would acknowledge that often, things DO NOT go as planned. And I would say that is perfectly okay.

As adults, we know that real life is often very messy. You have financial crisis, sudden illness, unexpected problems, and other issues that have a way of popping up. So why should homeschooling be any different? Which is one of the reasons homeschooling is so good! It is real. Your kids get to see how you work through problems in life as they arise, and often, they get to work through them with you.

Kids learn how to prioritize when emergencies do come up, which is a lesson that will benefit them as adults. They learn how to accept the fact that sometimes, even the best-laid plans run amuck, and that you still have to keep going. See, as a homeschool mom, I don’t want to just teach my kids academics, I want to prepare them for life in the real world. I want my boys to grow up to be the kind of adults who can handle it when they get a wrench thrown in their plans, the kind who don’t wither under the pressure of some kind of crisis or disaster.

So, even though interruptions and setbacks can be frustrating, I like to look at them as learning and character training opportunities. And that is what I think Real Life homeschool is all about!

I hope you enjoyed the 5 Day Blog Hop as much as I did. I have had such a good time reading posts from my fellow crew members. To see what my friends had to share today, click here:

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!
Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Start with these 10 blogs:
Indy Homeschool
The Open Window-An Autism Blog
Creative Madness Mama
Hopkins Homeschool
Tots and Me…Growing Up Together
Our Journey
Crystal Starr
A Little This … A Little That
For the Display of His Splendor

Real Life Homeschool: Schooling on the Go

We are at day 4 of a our 5 Day Blog Hop, and today, I want to share how we do school on those busy, on-the-go days. You know, the days you have dentist appointments, have to run to the library, have homeschool co-op, have to hit the grocery store, or just run a bunch of general errands. One of the benefits of homeschooling is, of course, the flexibility. However, I have found that if you don’t have some kind of a plan for these kinds of days, then often, nothing gets done. So, this is how we school in the car!

My backseat is pretty comfy.

So, the first thing we do on a busy day is pack our backpack with everything portable. Our math book and notebook, the chapter book we are reading, grammar, and spelling. I used to try to cart around our history and science books too, but I quickly realized that the load was much heavier than was realistic and honestly, on a busy day like that, it probably won’t get done anyway, so I limit our carschooling days to our essential subjects.

While we are in the car, I try to provide instructional entertainment with an audio drama or book on tape. Heirloom Audio Productions offers some excellent ones, like Under Drake’s Flag and In Freedom’s Cause. These are nice because we can listen to them and then spend time discussing them using the study guides. We also like to pass the time listening to classical music CDs like the ones from Maestro Classics. I feel like this is a way to bring some value to the times we spend in the car.

If I know ahead of time we are going to be running around, I can plan around it, which is great. I limit our subjects, set up the backpack ahead of time, and the day goes relatively smoothly. For instance, once every two weeks we do a big grocery shopping trip. So, on those days, I plan for only a few subjects, and figure the life skills my kids are learning at the grocery store take care of the rest. On co-op days we also go light on school, usually only doing reading, spelling and math.

But what about those days when stuff just comes up out of the blue? Well, on those days I tell myself to pick and choose what is most important and postpone everything else. Believe it or not, I find my cell phone and computer to be handy tools on those days. There are actually a lot of educational games and applications that at least give my kids a chance to practice math and reading skills when we are out and about. I also try to make a stop at the library if we can. We might grab lunch and hit the playground too, so my boys can run around and burn off some energy. And dinner on these busy days (which I try to squeeze in in between guitar lessons and football practices)? Well, let’s just say the pizza man is quite familiar with my house! LOL

At any rate, carschooling is a reality for many homeschoolers. Unlike most parents who run errands and take care of things while their kids are at school, our kids are always with us, so it is inevitable that we have to make adjustments. How do you do school on those days when you have to run around? Let me know in the comments. To see what my fellow crew members had to share today, click here:

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

 

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Start with these 10 blogs:
Life at Rossmont
A Stable Beginning
Happy Little Homemaker
Joyful Hearts and Faces
Day by Day in Our World
Mama’s Coffee Shop
Delightful Learning
Double O Farms
Tales of a Homeschool Family
Home Sweet Life
A Rup Life

Real Life Homeschool: A Not-So-Good Day

So as  you know, this week the Homeschool Review Crew is doing a 5 Day Blog Hop and our topic is Real Life Homeschool. Yesterday, I told you about what a really good day in our homeschool looks like. As much as I would like to say that all of our days are like that, if I did, I would be lying. More often than not, our regular days resemble something more like this:

I hit the snooze button one (okay, 3) too many times and I don’t roll out of bed until 7:30 (when my kids were younger I never could have done this, but now that they are older, they like to sleep). Instead of having an hour of Bible quiet time and coffee, I squeeze in a devotional that I receive in my email ( I love the daily devotionals from Proverbs 31 ministries). I pray out loud in the shower, then get my kids up and check my email while they have some Pop Tarts (breakfast of champions. LOL).

At this point I want to draw attention to the fact that my quiet time is the first thing to go in this scenario. I know this is a bad idea, and I always regret it later on, but it’s one of the easiest things to cut out. I wish I could say that I always make that a priority, because I do understand how important it is, but the purpose is to be real here, and that is my reality.

Anyway, my hurried pace always seems to agitate my kids too and it is not uncommon for a squabble to start up. Also, it never fails that on a day like today, some other crisis seems to pop up. The dog throws up all over the floor, the sink backs up and I have to spend hours on the phone first with the landlord, then coordinating with the plumber. Or, some work assignment comes up that absolutely HAS to be finished by noon. It’s like things start to bulldoze and after a while I’m just along for the ride.

So, as it seems my attention is going to be elsewhere, at least for the morning, I resort to plan B. Instead of doing a math lesson with my youngest, I have him log onto a website like IXL (moments like this I am so grateful to be on the crew review team) and have him do some work on there. I mean, it’s good for him to get some extra practice on some concepts right? (that’s what I tell myself)

After that, as I get my oldest to shop-vac the gunky water out of the sink, I have the young boy read. Read what? To be honest, whatever strikes his fancy, which is usually comics. Look, reading is reading, and as long as his nose is in a book and not focused on the TV, I figure that’s a win.

After a lunch that probably consisted of microwave corn dogs and chicken strips (yes, I know, frozen pre-packaged foods are bad bad bad, but there are days the microwave is my best friend). I hope to settle down for at least a read aloud. But then the phone rings and it is my mother in law and I have to answer because my father in law is ill and is frequently in the hospital. So, I turn to Netflix for a little history (I love Netflix). Documentaries count as learning don’t they? Especially if I have my kids write a narration of what they learned!

And since I am now relaying the info my mother in law told me to my hubby and we are trying to decide if we need to make the three-hour trek to their home, I send my boys outside for a little recess but also give them an assignment. Take their Dangerous Book for Boys outside and stage one of the battles from history. This is an assignment they take to with gusto. Seriously, they do this just for fun.

As I take in the mess that is my house (dishes from breakfast are still in the sink and army men are everywhere) I sigh and ponder going to the gym. But then I figure all the pacing back and forth I did when I was on the phone probably covered my workout for the day. Instead, I turn my attention to dinner. Since I was too scatterbrained to pull any meat out of the freezer this morning, it looks like we’re having leftovers (I did mention earlier that I love my microwave right?)

At the end of the day I convince the kids to put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher while I restart the load of laundry in the washer that smells musty because I forgot to switch the clothes to the dryer and fall onto the couch. My youngest grabs a book and I read to him, then we turn on the TV and veg out. My dogs want a walk, but my oldest takes them in yard to chase the tennis ball instead. I promise myself that tomorrow will be better and I absolutely will get up as soon as the alarm goes off but, well, you know how that goes.

So, that’s a more typical, kind of crazy and slightly disorganized real life homeschool day at our house. Do you ever have days like that? Let me know in the comments. Tomorrow, I am going to tell you what one of our “carschooling” days is like. Check out what my fellow crew members had to share today here.

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!
Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Real Life Homeschool: A Good Day

So, the topic of our blog hop for this week is real life homeschool. I told you yesterday that it did not take me long to learn that in real life homeschool, things rarely go according to plan. However, I thought I would start off describing what a day in our life looks like when we have a good day. Occasionally, we have days where things go exactly like I planned, with no unexpected interruptions. Granted, these days are rare 🙂 but when they do happen, it’s really nice.

So, on a good day I am up by 6:30, and I start my day in the Word. I know how important it is to spend time with God in the morning, and when I don’t, it seems the rest of my day is just more stressful. On good days, I have time to pour myself a cup of coffee before everyone else is up and jump into a Bible study and prayer time. Incidentally, I find the 30-day Bible studies from Doorposts to be really good.

After I am done, I wake up my kids and serve them a hot breakfast. Scrambled eggs with salsa and cheese is my specialty! I try to get my boys up around 8 on most days, although my older son has college classes Monday and Wednesday mornings so he is up anyway. From there, the big kid and I discuss what he is working on that day, and my youngest grabs his planner and starts getting his books together.

He usually starts his individual work first, while I sort through emails and clean up from breakfast. I also use this time to squeeze in an assignment or two (I work as a freelance writer) so I don’t have as much to do later. My son likes to work in our homeschool corner, which is finally cleaned up again.

Seriously, if I showed you what that corner looked like before, you would probably report me to Hoarders! I don’t know why, but I just have such a hard time parting with our homeschool supplies and stuff. I worry that the second I get rid of something is exactly when I will need it. That corner had books and papers and things piled up the side of the window. It drives my super-organized hubby crazy! He finally sat me down during our spring break and spent two days going through everything piece by piece until we cleaned it up. It was painful. I cried more than once. Sigh.

Anyway, by the time my youngest gets done with his individual work and I wrap up my morning activities it is lunchtime. On a good day this means I make us a nice salad, or we pack up some sandwiches and head to the park down the street. It has a nice playground and tennis courts and lots of places to picnic. My boys both love to be outside so we finish out our lunch hour with some free play, swimming, etc. (or, what I like to call PE).

You might not be able to tell, but there is a boy swinging on a tire swing under that big tree.

We live in Florida, so our pool gets used about 10 months out of the year.

After our lunch break, we finish out our school day doing work together on the couch. I work with my youngest in science, history, and writing. For his other subjects, I teach the concept but he does the work on his own. I also love to read so I try to squeeze in some read-aloud time too. If we did really well (and didn’t take too many Lego breaks!) We are done with school about 2. Now, if I am really fortunate, my boys will move directly into their chores at this time, but, more often than not, they need a few “gentle reminders” first.

Since we got done so early, I have plenty of time to grade papers and finish up my work assignments before I cook dinner. I can also head to the gym and squeeze in a Zumba class or some time on the elliptical. (My doctor told me I needed to work on taking off a few pounds to bring my blood pressure down). Dinner is on the table around 6, and it is a HEALTHY meal!

After dinner, we grab the dogs and head out for a family walk. If this was a day my hubby was off work, he was puttering in and out working on various house projects and other things. He doesn’t participate in homeschool a whole lot, except for Shop type activities and car maintenance.

A rare photo of my camera-shy teenager and our little girl dog.

My hubby and younger son.

At the end of the day, we have story time and my hubby and I get some TV time before we go to bed. At 11 LOL!

So, how does that sound? This is my ideal day, and like I said, while most days are not like that at all, I occasionally get lucky. Most of the time though, things are drastically different. Tomorrow I am going to give you a glimpse of what a Not-so-good (or closer to normal) day looks like. What does a really good day look like in your house? Am I the only one who frequently has her “best laid plans” go awry? Let me know in the comments. And see what my fellow crew members are talking about for the Real Life Homeschool blog hop here:

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Get started with these 10 blogs:
For This Season
Unexpected Homeschool
For Him and My Family
As We Walk Along the Road
Growing in His Glory
Homeschool Coffee Break
Daily Life
There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
Proverbial Homemaker
ElCloud Homeschool

Real Life Homeschool: What is it?

It’s time for another Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Hop and I am really excited about our topic! For the entire week, me and my fellow crew members will be blogging about what real life homeschool looks like in our homes! I am so looking forward to seeing how my friends school on good days and bad days!

 

So, what is real life homeschool? Well, to me, that means letting you in on what homeschool is like in our house when things are great and when things are messy. Let’s face it, this life is not always easy. When I started homeschooling I had this “ideal” image in my head of what my day would be like. Up with the sun for quiet time, a healthy breakfast cooked for my family, a day of fun, learning, and laughter, and a yummy dinner and clean house afterwards. Oh, and enriching field trips, lots of reading aloud, science experiments, family time etc. etc. etc. Yep, I was going to do it all!!

Except, then I started to actually homeschool and I realized, I can’t do it all. As much as I WANT to be supermom,  I do not actually have super human powers. This reality was hard for me to accept at first. Days did not always go as planned, and I got frustrated. I even questioned what I was thinking when I decided to homeschool in the first place. But then, as I got to know other homeschoolers and spent more and more time in prayer, I began to realize that it’s actually okay to fall short sometimes because everybody does.

Sure, we have some great days when things so smoothly and it looks just like I thought it would in my  head. But, more often than not, our homeschool is a reflection of our real life. And real life is, messy (or at least mine is). There are unexpected setbacks, illnesses, family emergencies, and financial crisis. There are days when the sink backs up, the car breaks down, and the AC goes out. There are days we have to stop regular homeschool to deal with curveballs life has thrown us. But here’s the thing, through all of this my kids are learning some very valuable lessons. Stuff like how to be flexible (which I admit isn’t my strong suit), how to deal with problems, how to keep going when things get tough, and most importantly, how to rely on the Lord for everything.

So, for the next four days I am going to give you a real glimpse into our homeschool week. I want to give you an example of what a good day looks at my house, and also a bad day, and everything in between. I hope that maybe you will see something you relate to in my day. I hope that if you are worried because your homeschool dream doesn’t meet your reality you will realize you are not alone. And I really hope that I don’t look like a total flop as a homeschool mom!! So, join me tomorrow when I peel back the proverbial curtain and show you a good day at my house. See you then!

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

 

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Check out these ten blogs:

Every Bed of Roses
Ben and Me
Footprints in the Butter
Mountain of Grace Homeschooling
Raventhreads
Counting Our Blessings
Homeschooling for His Glory
Ozark Ramblings
Chestnut Grove Academy
Only Passionate Curiosity
Farm Fresh Adventures