Thursday, November 17, 2011

For Your Reading Pleasure..

Not only have I resurrected my blog, 31 Rubies is up and running again too!!

You missed us, didn't you?

Head on over and join in our countdown to Thanksgiving with 10 days of thankfulness. Laura and Catherine posted earlier in the week, and I'm up today.

Stop by and tell us what you are thankful for!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lazy Saturdays

This is the second Saturday in a row that we don't have any plans.

Let me just say this is something I could get used to.

No getting up early and rushing around to make it to a 9am soccer game or other event.

No wondering how in the world I am going to keep my sanity with our crazy schedule for the day.

None of that.

Only being able to be sitting in bed, typing this post with a cup of hot tea at 9:30 am, listening to the girls playing and my hubby still sleeping.'s wonderful! We need days like these.

Especially knowing that the holidays are quickly approaching. Even though this is absolutely my favorite time of the year, along with the holidays comes the hustle and bustle and a packed calendar.

So, today we will rest.

We might stay in our pajamas.

We might catch up on some school work.

We might cuddle up in my bed and read.

We might cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie.

But we will take it slow and enjoy the day.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day 2011

In honor of Veteran's Day we took the girls on a field trip with their American Heritage Girls troop to the Airborne and Special Forces Museum in Fayetteville. They each made "thank you" cards to hand out to veterans. It was such a touching experience. We had never been to this museum, but my grandfather and my father in law were both part of the 82nd Airborne Division from Ft. Bragg, NC, so touring the museum was very special to us.

The girls really enjoyed themselves. They loved looking at the various uniforms, were respectful, engaged themselves and asked appropriate questions. I was so proud of them. Their favorite exhibit was a wedding dress. Why would a wedding dress be in a military museum? The story behind the dress was fascinating. The lady who wore the dress became engaged before her fiance was deployed for the D-Day invasion. Her fiance was an 82nd Airborne paratrooper and after his jump on D-Day, he saved his parachute and when he was able, he mailed the silk from the parachute home to her. She took the silk to a dressmaker and her wedding dress was made from his parachute. When he arrived home from his deployment they were married. The dress was beautiful and had such an awesome story.

The one thing that I didn't expect from our trip to the museum was the amount of emotions I would experience. I can't tell you how many times I became teary-eyed. Each time one of the girls walked up to a veteran and said "excuse me, thank you for all you do" and handed them a card, I could barely hold back the tears. The veterans were all so grateful for the simple card and word of thanks, and I really do believe at their young ages, Shaylie and Nevaeh knew why they were saying thank you.

We were humbled today...and we have hearts full of gratitude tonight. Thank you God for these special men and women who have sacrificed more than we know to protect our country.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Homeschool Journal: Week 2

In my life this week..
a whole lot of nothingness. The girls are staying with Nana and Granddaddy (my parents) in Virginia for 2 weeks. This is the longest they have been away from home. We have 5 more days until we go to Va to meet them...I'm counting down! Let me just say I am BORED!! What did I do with myself prior to having children??

In our homeschool this week..
again, nothing. No little ones at home means no homeschooling taking place. This is the beauty of home education. The girls get the opportunity to spend two weeks with their grandparents..they take it. They are learning/experiencing more there than I could teach in a month. We will just add in a couple extra days here and there to make up the time.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share...
as I mentioned previously, learning happens in all sorts of ways. We need to get away from the thinking that schooling only happens during our scheduled homeschooling hours.

Things I'm working on..
I've started making the girls some fall pillowcase dresses. This is the latest. It's a thin corduroy material. I plan to match it with brown leggings and a white shirt underneath.

I'm grateful for...
the fact that my children have grandparents who are so involved in their lives.

I'm praying for...
a speedy, healthy delivery for one of my very best friends. Baby Davis you are loved so much already and need to come on out and meet everyone!

A photo/video/quote to share...
"We destroy the love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty rewards–gold stars, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A’s on report cards, or honor rolls, or dean’s lists or Phi Beta Kappa keys–in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else."-John Holt

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Homeschool Journal- Week 1

I really love this idea for doing weekly updates. I sporadically used it last year, but plan on keeping with it this year. In my life this week...
I've been really focusing on starting this homeschool year off right. As I've blogged in previous posts, I have been getting up before the girls and having my quiet time. This really improves my day.

In our homeschool this week...
First grade is officially under way! This week has been a lot of review, especially in Math and Phonics. We've started spelling this year and had our first spelling test yesterday. I'm so impressed at how well the girls' handwriting has improved since mid-kindergarten. In science we've begun learning about the scientific method and did our first experiment. Will popping corn and feed corn both pop when heated? The conclusion- popping corn will pop but feed corn will not pop when heated. The girls enjoyed the project and we only overheated one microwave in the process. ;) In Social Studies we've begun our year-long unit on the study of people/countries/cultures/religions. We started out by learning the 7 continents (see video below) and then jumped straight into our first country: the U.S.A. We've had a lot of fun and are so excited about this year!

Places we're going and people we're seeing...
This week we made a trip to Myrtle Beach for family photos on the beach. They turned out awesome! We also found out yesterday that my mom and grandmother will be coming down today to spend a few days with us! Surprises are so much fun! My favorite thing this week was...
Getting back into the swing of school! I love love love teaching my children at home. It fills me with so much joy!

I'm reading...
Dancing with My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy by Sally Clarkson

I'm grateful for...
a brief reprieve from the heat wave that we've been having. Thank you God for mid-eighties and low humidity.

I'm praying for...
for my fellow homeschool families who have started back to school this week. May we all open our eyes and hearts to the paths God has chosen for us.

A photo/video/link to share...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Noticing Change...already??

It's only our third day of our second year of homeschooling and it's probably too soon to make any real observations, but can I just say that I can already see some of the changes I've been praying about taking place.

I know what you're thinking. It's only the third day, just wait until the novelty wears off, then she'll be singing a different tune. And maybe you're right, but for right now I'm going to soak it all in.

What kind of changes am I noticing? Most of them involve me. First of all, once again I'm up before the children. (No, I can't say that about yesterday. But hey- 2 out 3 isn't bad!). Getting out of bed when the alarm goes off at 0630 is oh. so. hard. But I love the quiet time in the morning.
Second-the light bulb has come on in respect to our daily schedule. Guess what the solution was? Throw it out the window. I'm not talking about our weekly schedule. We have to school 4 days a week in order to meet our yearly requirements. I'm talking about a daily schedule...start school precisely at 0800, Math until 0900, Phonics until 1000, Lunch at 1200, finish school day at 1400. get the idea. That stuff is for the birds! Now if you follow a schedule like that and it works for you and your family then by all means keep doing it. But for us it was more than a hinderance. We begin school when the girls are up, fed and clothed. We start with a subject of their choosing and continue until we're finished or until they need a break. Some days take longer than others and that's okay. This is a BIG change for us. Our first year of homeschooling, I tried so desperately to stick to a schedule and most of the time it didn't work out and I ended up frustrated.
The third change I've noticed is my willingness to discontinue a curriculum that is not working for us. Wait a minute- it's only day 3. How do you know it's not working? Mother's intuition? I don't know. What I do know is that my children are not ready for the Language Arts curriculum I bought. The very first lesson was asking them to copy a sentence and fix the capitalization errors. The problem is the sentences were way above their reading level. If they can't read what they're writing, what is the point? I have no doubt they will be ready for it by Christmas, so we'll just pick it back up then. Besides their phonics and reading curriculum covers the same information at a level they can understand. But you see last year I *never* would've humbled myself enough to abruptly stop a curriculum, even if it wasn't working. I had the I paid for it, we're going to use it and like it mindset. I'm so surprised we've even made it to a second year! That's living proof of God's grace!

What's brought about these changes? Is it because I have one year under my belt and I feel more confident? Is it because I'm adopting more of a homeschooling spirit? Or is it my prayers that God would open my eyes and my heart to do things differently this year? I like to think it's a combination of all three.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Time 4 Learning *review*

We were recently fortunate enough to receive a one-month free trial of Time4Learning. If you are unfamiliar with Time4Learning, I suggest you visit their website here.

This is my review:

This program is not just for homeschoolers. It is a great supplement for any student grades pre-K through 8th grade. I came across T4L while I was researching curriculum for our first grade year. I read mixed reviews of whether or not it could be used as a complete homeschool curriculum. After our trial, I can see how some would use it as a complete curriculum, but for us I do not feel that it was comprehensive enough. I am partial to a pencil/paper curriculum. I do feel like T4L is a great resource to solidify their learning. The program is set up where the child completes lessons for 15 minutes and then is allowed to play on the virtual playground for 15 minutes. After their 15 minutes of play is over, they must do another 15 minutes of lessons before being allowed on the playground again. My children loved this!! 15 minutes was the perfect length of time. The subjects covered are Math, Language Arts/Phonics, and Science. My only complaint about that is the child gets to choose the subject. My children love math and science, but see phonics as boring, so they never wanted to choose phonics. I wish the program automatically selected the subject for them for each lesson.

There are so many awesome features to T4L. 30 days was not nearly a long enough period for us to explore the program in it's entirety. There are parents features where you can track your child's progress, print progress reports, view lesson plans, and see suggested outside material. There is also a parents forum where you can connect with other parents whose children are using T4L. I will be completely honest in telling you that I didn't access nearly enough of these features. The hectic schedule of summer caught up with me and now that the trial is over I wish I would've looked around a bit more.

If your children enjoy playing on the computer and you are looking for something to supplement their education, I highly recommend Time 4 Learning! They are having a great special this month (July) of $4.99 per child with no limit of the number of children. Try it out! You can cancel at any time, but if you're like my family at the end of the month you're going to keep right on going!

Monday, July 11, 2011

First Day

Our first day of first grade is complete!!

My day started bright and early at 6:30 a.m.- Yes, 6:30 is very early for me. I really wanted to make it a point to wake up before the girls this year. Having a little bit of quiet time; reading my daily devotion/Bible, drinking my coffee in peace,and a little bit of computer time always leads to a better day for me.

By the time the girls woke up, I was refreshed and energized for the day. I even had apple cinnamon mini-muffins baking. Both girls woke up in a good moods and the day started very pleasantly. They were so ready to start back to school.

We were working on school work by 0830. I didn't take the advice of many veteran homeschoolers and slowly work our way into the year. We jumped in with both feet and yes, I'll admit, we really had to struggle to stay on task at times. 7 subjects on the first day back from a lengthy break is r.o.u.g.h. But we survived. For the most part everyone enjoyed themselves. Shaylie became pretty bored with phonics because it was very basic to her. Both of them noticed some big differences from Kindergarten. Nevaeh noticed the day was significantly longer. We were typically done with a Kindergarten day in an hour. Today took us three hours. Shaylie noticed the work was a little more difficult than K; especially Language Arts. We jumped right into capitalization- no review at all. I was impressed though. They both did remarkably well.

So, day one is finished. No tears (from students or teachers), no loss of patience, only a few "pay attention please"s, and one burned up microwave (popcorn/field corn science experiement)..I would say makes for a pretty good day!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Prayer For First Grade

Heavenly Father,

Today I come to you as we are preparing to begin our second year of homeschooling with a grateful heart. Thank you so much for these sweet little girls you've given to me. Thank you for their precious hearts and their eager minds. Please give me the wisdom and patience to constantly feed their enthusiasm and spirits.

Lord I thank you for the opportunity to educate our children in the comfort of our own home. Thank you for this land that gives us the freedom to be the parents You have called us to be.

I pray that each moment in our home will bring glory to You. I pray that you will direct our lessons and my teaching to fit Your will. I pray that you will open my eyes and my heart to know when to step away from the lesson plans and educate the girls in informal ways. Please help me to remember that learning happens every minute of every day, not just while we are "doing school".

God I pray that our first grade year will be filled with learning, fun times, and love. I pray that Shaylie and Nevaeh will not only learn about phonics, math, science and history...but that they will learn to be the wonderful little girls You have created them to be.

I pray that each day I will rely on your strength, and that when tough days arise that I will know that Your mercies are renewed every morning. I pray that I will always remember that educating my awesome little people is what You have created me to do, and that I will live each day with a smile on my face because of the joy in my heart.

In the incredible name of Jesus I pray,


Thursday, July 7, 2011

End of "summer break"

The past week has been spent enjoying our last week on "summer break", even though we school year-round, we've were still able to take a few weeks off.

To recap the past week-

Last Thursday and Friday we spent at Myrtle Beach, enjoying the sun, sand, waves and of course a trip to Margaritaville (we LOVE that place and rarely make a trip to MB without eating there!) The girls also received money in the mail from Nana and Granddaddy and were able to make their own teddy bears at Build-A-Bear workshop!

I was on call Saturday-Monday, but we were still able to have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend! We attended our town's annual Independence Day celebration and saw an awesome fireworks show on Saturday evening.

Sunday kicked off Superheroes unit for our kids program at church and the all the kids dressed up like superheroes. Adorable. Shaylie and Nevaeh designed their own costumes and with the help of their Great Grandma Jean, the designs came to life! Super Shaylie and Super Nevaeh were on patrol.

Monday was spent at my in-laws house for a cook-out. Ate way toooo much food..but enjoyed every single bite of it! :)

Bright and early Tuesday morning we left for a mini-vacation to Water Country USA and Busch Gardens. We met up with some friends from Greenville at Water Country and had a great time. Shaylie and Nevaeh love playing with Annagrace, Madalyn and Layla. We definitely need to make plans to hang out more often.
Nevaeh, Shaylie and Madalyn

Being silly with Daddy!

Nevaeh is our little daredevil. She loves rides. The faster the better. Shaylie not so much. We went to a water park at Myrtle Beach about a month ago and the child did not ride ANYTHING. She wouldn't even ride the carousel at Broadway at the Beach, so we didn't have high expectations for this trip. As usual though, children are unpredictable. She rode almost every ride she was tall enough to ride at Water Country...and guess what?! She loved it. We were in shock. Busch Gardens was a little bit of a different story. She rode the kiddie rides, but wouldn't brave the Grover roller coaster (also a child's ride). But hey- we were happy just to have her ride anything! We convinced her to ride Escape from Pompeii, not the best idea. She hated it and even asked me to "throw her out of the boat" at one point. LOL. When the ride ended, she made me promise her that she would never have go on that ride again.

We've had an awesome week and are now gearing up for first grade which starts next Monday. I'm not sure who is more excited the girls or me!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Challenge for You

Today I'm posting at Growing Your Homeschool. Come on over and let me challenge you to commit to homeschooling for the long haul.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Homeschooling vs. Schooling At Home

There are always big discussions about what type of homeschool you have.

Is your approach classical, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-based,or Montessori just to name a few?

Do you concentrate on unit studies?

Are you an unschooler?

Do you homeschool or do you school at home. Whoa..isn't that the same thing? Throughout our first year it was apparent to me from talking to fellow homeschoolers that homeschooling is NOT the same as schooling at home.

I have no idea what type of homeschool we have. I do know though that we lean more toward the school at home approach...and I hate it.

I don't think that's how homeschooling was meant to be, but I have no idea how to get away from it. You see my husband and I were both public school children. We know no other method of schooling besides sitting at desk doing pencil and paper exercises and taking tests. That's not what I want for my children which is one of the big reasons we decided to homeschool, but how do you get away from it when it's the only way you know.

I have friends who homeschool who spend very little time each day doing pencil and paper work. I want to be more like that. Yes, I am aware of the dangers of comparing ourselves to others(see my post here about that).But I can't get over the fear that my children aren't going to learn if we don't teach using workbooks and tests. Now I know that for the basics of reading and parts of math seatwork is needed, but there is so much more to learn that does not involve sitting at a desk for a few hours each day.

This year we are planning to have more fun and do more exploring. We are still going to be doing a good bit of seatwork, but there will be many more fun activities for first grade than we had in kindergarten.

My question for those of you who see homeschooling as more than school at home is how can I move past these preconceived notions I have? How can we become more of a homeschooling family and less of a worksheet completing, test taking, boring, no fun here type of school?

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Since we have officially finished our first year of homeschooling, I can now look back and reflect on what worked well for us and which areas we need to change.

I've already posted about our curriculum choices for 2011-2012 and you can see we made some changes in that area.

The one area that needs the most revision is organization of our schedule. This year we will school 4 days a week. This is a must in order for us to finish our curriculum by next June and still be able to take a few breaks. Since we usually can't have school 4 consecutive days because of my work schedule, it's important that we stick to schedule on my days off. I've decided that I will have our entire first grade year planned out before our official first day, which is scheduled for July 11th. At first this task seemed huge, but I've been working on lesson plans for about 3 weeks and currently I have every subject except one planned. I've just worked on it a few minutes here and there and it has come together quite nicely.

These next two weeks will involve getting the last subject planned out, making lots of copies, and getting the girls' binders together. I let Shaylie and Nevaeh pick out their own binders for the year (they will be able to design their own covers- will post pics!) Inside, there are tab dividers for each subject. I will fill their binders with 6 weeks worth of lessons. Once we complete those 6 weeks, I will refill with the next 6 weeks. This is a brand new system for us and I'm hoping it will lead to a more organized approach than we had this past year.

How do you organize your year, your week, your day?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Week in review: The week of surgery

This week has been almost entirely consumed with our oldest daughter's tonsillectomy. This was a much needed, scheduled procedure. This tiny little girl has had strep throat 8 times since last August. Every 3-4 weeks, we were facing yet another strep diagnosis and round of antibiotics. Finally, we had enough and made an appointment with an ENT, only to discover at the appointment that she had strep AGAIN. She had literally just finished antibiotics 10 days prior. The doctor felt the best course of action would be to remove the tonsils and adenoids asap, and we agreed.

I knew it was the best decision. Strep throat can cause rheumatic fever which can lead to cardiac issues, luckily we had not made it to that point yet, but constantly being on antibiotics is not an ideal situation either.

Tonsillectomies are routine, outpatient procedures. But nothing is routine in the mind of a Mommy when her child is facing surgery. I was a nervous wreck. Being a nurse, can be a good thing when it comes to the health of your children, but it can also be a bad thing. You see, we know all the bad things that are unlikely but *could* happen, and those are the very things I was worried about. The what-ifs surrounding anesthesia scared me to death.

The day before and the morning of surgery, I was in a constant state of prayer. I just kept repeating the same things over and over in my mind, "please God keep her safe. Guide the hands of the doctors and nurses. Please let her wake up healthy.' Just on constant repeat. God probably got tired of hearing it. He probably just wanted to say "Be quiet and trust me". One of the biggest things I was worried about was the moment where the nurses would take her from me and wheel her into the OR. I had the whole scenario worked out in my mind and none of it was pleasant. I thought she would be screaming and clinging to me and I would be an emotional mess. That is not how it happened. Her pre-op nurse gave her a medication called Versed to relax her and it did it's job! She was laughing about everything and was even happily giggling when they wheeled her into the OR. Her dad and I were even laughing. There were no tears. God is good...all the time.

I wish I could say the next time we saw her was just as pleasant, but that would be a lie. She was hurting, confused and crying. All I could do was hold her and tell her we were there and everything was okay. About an hour later, we were on our way home.

We are now 2 days post-op and she is slowly recovering. She's been in quite a bit of pain. One of the hardest things I've encountered as a parent is seeing my child in pain and not being able to do anything to help her. Luckily, she's been sleeping a lot and we haven't had any problem getting her take her pain medication. We are praying that each day brings a little less pain and soon she will be back to her usual self.

Her sister, Nevaeh, will make the world's best nurse in a few years.
She has been so sweet and caring. She brings her whatever she needs. She is constantly refilling her water and bringing her Popsicles. This morning, Shaylie was crying because her ears hurt and I looked in on her and Nevaeh had a flashlight looking into Shay's ears. I asked her what she was doing and she said "trying to figure out what is hurting her". She is just precious.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New homeschool blog

Hey guys! I've had the wonderful opportunity to be a contributor of a new homeschool blog. Growing Your Homeschool is a place for both new and veteran homeschooling parents. It's an awesome little piece of cyberspace where we can all learn from and grow with each other.

Our ten contributors are all relatively new to the homeschool arena. We would love for you to stop in, see what we're up to, tell us what we're doing right, tell us what we're doing wrong, and share in this sometimes all too entertaining adventure with us.

Growing Your Homeschool went live last week and we already have some great posts up. My first post went up today and it tells about how my family became a homeschooling family. I hope you'll take the time to read it and tell me what you think.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My First Review Opportunity

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. Time4Learning can be used for homeschool, afterschool and summer skill sharpening. Be sure to come back and read about my experience.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

2011-2012 Curriculum

****This was previously published by me on 31 Rubies****

Can I share a secret with you? I am like a child on Christmas morning when it comes to purchasing new curriculum. Even though, as my husband said a few weeks ago while I was frantically browsing vendor websites, curriculum was becoming a four letter word in our home. I knew exactly what I wanted in my mind, but just couldn't find it in a pretty little package on any website.
But then we attended the annual NC homeschool convention and all those curriculum vendors were set up just for my browsing pleasure. I was in paradise. Now, silly me went to the convention with plans of not buying anything while I was there. I was just planning to "get some ideas". I got some ideas all right..and came home with a backseat full of shiny new books!

I knew that we wanted to make some changes in curriculum for next year, mainly for Science and Social Studies, but didn't really have any plans to switch our Phonics and Math. That was before I learned to value of cost comparison. In my opinion being loyal to one vendor is silly if you can find the same material by a different company at a cheaper price. We ended up switching all of our curriculum. I'll let you know in a few months if I still think this was a good decision.

Here's what we decided on:

Math- Horizons 1st grade

Phonics & Reading- Horizons 1st grade

Science- Purposeful Design- Level One (We struggled with finding a science curriculum, but once we found this one, we were in love! I highly recommend checking it out!)

Spelling- Modern Curriculum Press-Spelling Workout Level A
History/Geography/Social Studies/World Religions- We are going to be doing a year long study of people/places of the world. We have pieced together our own lessons for this, but found some awesome books to use. A few of them are from My Father's World, a couple are from Usborne books, and some we found at a used book stand. My husband will be the primary teacher for this subject, but we are all looking forward to it.

Language Arts- Weekly Reader Publishing- Daily Language Practice Grade 1

Bible- Day By Day Devotions: 7-minute character growing devotions for kids by Karyn Henley

Read-A-Louds/Unit Studies: The Little House on the Prairie Series, Charlotte's Web, Shiloh, and Sarah Plain and Tall.

Art and Music will accompany most of these subjects, so I don't have a specific curriculum for those. Maybe next year.

And to keep it all together...or as my husband says "a planner for your planners". Yes, I have an addiction to buying planners. I LOVE this one. It has absolutely everything I could want in it. The Well Planned Day. If you haven't already bought should!

Have you used any of these books? Do you have any advice/recommendations? I would love to hear from you.
Do you have any questions for me? If so, comment below and ask away! I will get back to you!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Freezer Cooking Round One

If you've been following my blog, you know my family spends WAY too much money eating out. We have found that meal planning helps cut down on our eating out, but sometimes I just don't have the time, energy, or motivation to cook the meal we've planned. So, then what? We get take out. And we're back to square one.

One of the sessions I attended at the homeschool convention was "Living on More with Less". The speaker talked about meal planning and freezer meals. Basically bulk shopping for meat and key ingredients and then taking one day and cooking and freezing multiple meals. When dinner time comes, you choose a meal from the freezer, thaw it, reheat it, add any sides you would like and there's a complete meal in under 20 minutes. I was intrigued.

This morning, my husband and I sat down to make our meal list and grocery list and I was beyond frustrated. Meal planning is difficult at our house because my husband is vegetarian, and my kids are extremely picky. So, trying to plan and fix a meal that I will be the only one eating is no fun at all. Then I remembered the idea of freezer meals. I could make individual portions with meat for myself, portions without meat for my hubby,and portions without any "weird" ingredients for the girls.

We made our list and headed out to 4 grocery stores. Yes, 4 grocery stores in about 3 hours. My poor husband and kids are so great! They put up with all of my crazy ideas. But we did manage to find everything on our list!

Then it was back home for a quick nap and then to start cooking!

Here's a photo of the ingredients we used:

It took about 3 hours of me cooking and my husband grilling and washing dishes, but we managed to come up with 28 meals. I'm not going to list all 28, but here's an idea: spaghetti (we just need to cook the pasta on the day we plan to eat it), lasagna, baked ziti, vegetarian lasagna, chicken fajitas, chicken tacos, beef tacos, nachos, grilled chicken, grilled chicken salads, lemon pepper chicken breasts, bbq chicken breasts, buffalo chicken sandwiches, italian chicken breasts, italian pork chops.

There is so much more we could've done, but we simply ran out of time. Just with what we've done, we will have dinner ideas for almost a month for less than $90!

Here's a photo of all of our freezer bags full of yumminess! :)

Do you do OAMC (once a month cooking) or freezer meals? If so, what are you favorites? Any tips for me? I'm hooked now! :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Homeschool Convention

May 26-28, 2011 my husband and I travelled to Winston-Salem, NC for the annual NCHE homeschool convention. Being the homeschooling mama that I am, I loved every minute of it. My husband (even though he may not like to admit it) also enjoyed parts of it.

We arrived on Thursday, checked into our awesome hotel and headed over to the convention center. The book fair opened 2 hours before the actual convention started and this was a perfect time to browse the vendors because it wasn't crowded at all. My original plan was to explore my options and have a general idea of the curriculum we would be using before leaving the convention. I had some ideas in mind, but nothing set in stone. It was so nice to be able to take our time, look through the curriculum, ask questions, and do price comparisons this year. Last year we didn't get to do much of that because it was so crowded and we had the girls with us. We were smart this year and left the girls with their Nana! They were happy and so were we! :)

The speaker sessions of the convention began Thursday at 3:00. The speakers were awesome! We especially enjoyed the session entitled "Homeschooling the strong-willed child", because we all know that I have a very strong-willed child. This session was eye-opening for my husband and I in many ways. Our favorite session on Thursday was the keynote address that evening. Todd Wilson was the speaker and he spoke regarding "Lies Homeschoolers Believe". If you ever have the chance to hear Todd speak, do it! He's a great speaker. He and his wife homeschool their 8 children while driving around the country in an RV. Oh, the stories he can tell!

Friday was full of sessions and book fair shopping! My plan to not buy any curriculum at the book fair was changed when I realized the price difference in shopping there vs. shopping online. I found much better deals at the convention. We've completely changed our curriculum for first grade. More on that in another post. We enjoyed Friday's sessions too. My favorite was titled "Living on More with Less". Jennifer Schmidt was the speaker. She blogs at She has awesome tips on living frugally. You can be sure I will be writing another blog post on what I learned at that session. On Friday we also met up with our friends the Saufleys. We always have a great time with them and I'm so glad we were able to spend some time together.

Saturday was the last day of the convention. It involved making some last minute purchases at the book fair and attending the last sessions. I'll have to be honest... by this point, we were all a little burned out on the sessions. The speakers were still great but we were in information overload. I attended a session called "Stand By Your Man" about the importance of maintaining your marriage that really spoke deeply to me. Yep, you guessed it...another post will be coming about that one too! After the last session, we had lunch with the Saufleys and then made the 3 hour drive back home. The drive home was filled with conversation regarding what we learned. We discussed our weaknesses and our plans for the future. We had a really awesome weekend. The alone time with my husband was much needed and we arrived home feeling rejuvenated and stronger as a couple and parents.

If you've never been to your state homeschool convention, I encourage you to GO! Even if you're just contemplating homeschooling...GO. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Not here..but there!

I haven't been posting here much because I've been posting at 31 Rubies. Come on over and see what we've been up to!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Over the river and through the woods...

Those of you who know me well know that I'm just not the outdoorsy type.

I enjoy the outdoors if it involves being in my yard (which is in the city limits), being on a beach or soaking up the sun by the pool on a cruise ship. But to go hiking or fishing...nope that's not my thing. Leave me at will be happier and so will I.

But lately I've been trying to step outside the box that I've caged myself into. So last evening when my husband announced that he would like to take us all on a walk by the river today, I'll admit my heart started racing just a little. A little voice inside me reminded me of stepping out of the box..and I agreed to go.

We started the afternoon with a picnic lunch at a beautiful park. We fed the geese and ducks. A little duck even came up and took a piece of bread right out of my hand. It was awesome! The girls had a blast. We played for about an hour and then headed to the river.

On the drive, my anxiety level was building. Let me clarify, it's not just that I don't like the outdoors. I have a crippling fear of snakes. I'm not sure where or when this fear originated but it's severe. Anyway, the drive to the river consisted of a constant, silent prayer. I really wanted to do this. I know many of you are reading this thinking that I was just being a silly girly girl..but truthfully I wanted to do this for myself, but also for my husband because he loves hiking, fishing, and exploring and I really want to be able to share in these experiences with him, but also for our children because yes they know how scared Mommy is of snakes and we knew the likelihood of seeing a snake at the river is great..but I wanted them to see me be able to overcome my reservations and spend time enjoying something that normally I would not have done.

So, we arrive at the river and I make the first move...I got out of the car. Yes! My husband instructs me to find a large stick to carry with me...what?! A stick, exactly what am I going to need that for?! I find a stick..and we begin the journey. The girls are loving it...climbing over logs and asking all kinds of questions. I'm so thankful they're not like me in every way. Scott led us and I brought up the rear...carefully watching each step. My mother had me paranoid that snakes would be hanging from trees, so I'm trying to look up and down at the same time and well let's just say it's a good thing I had that large stick otherwise I would've ended up in the river on several occasions. Every time I felt the anxiety building I reminded myself I was relying on God's strength and not my own and it got me through. The further into the woods we walked, the more comfortable I became. I honestly didn't think I would last more than 15-20 minutes, but we hiked for an entire hour. I was so proud of myself. I even found myself telling my husband that I would love to find a waterfall to hike to. I have to admit I enjoyed myself. The woods and river were so peaceful, the temperature was just right and I didn't see one single snake.

Ahh..the things we do for those we love!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal: Week ending 5/13

It's been a while since I've posted my weekly update...but finally, I've started again. I enjoy this quick weekly wrap up because it's a great way to keep up with the craziness in our lives.

So here's what we've been up to this week:

In my life this week:

Mother's Day is a great way to start your week. I wish we could start each week with Mother's Day! I love the thoughtfulness and creativity my husband and my daughters put into their gifts and the day in general. Tuesday I decided I was going to have a "Mommy's Day Out" and treated myself to a haircut, eyebrow waxing, massage, mani/pedi. It was wonderful. Though I did feel a bit guilty about being gone most of the afternoon and spending so much money on myself, I enjoyed it. We as mothers neglect ourselves way too often. Not to mention the fact that I had a little one at home who wasn't feel so well. She has strep throat again- the 5th time since August. But she was at home cuddled up on the couch being taken care of by Daddy, so I snuck away for awhile!

In our homeschool this week:

As I posted in my last post (which blogger has somehow deleted and should be restoring soon!), we are all getting Summer fever, even though we school year round. When my children aren't feeling well, their attention span is nonexistent. So, school with Shaylie wasn't easy this week. Basically, I saved it all up and she completed it today since she's feeling better. Nevaeh however moved right along. Really, I think she enjoyed the one on one time. We didn't do anything really exciting...truthfully, we're all just bored and are ready to move on to first grade!

Places we're going and people we're seeing:

We didn't go anywhere this week. The girls are attending a Kids Nite Out at our local Fitness Center tonight and they are super excited! I'm excited too because that means I get a date night with my hubby!

My favorite thing this week was:

I have two favorites: obviously my Mommy's Day Out and Tuesday evening when Shaylie was feeling so bad, she asked me to come lay in her bed with her, so I did. She was almost asleep and looked up at me with these big eyes and said "Mommy, you know there is no such thing as too much love in the world!"..she melted my heart.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have:

Are you guys sticking with the same curriculum next year or changing it up?

I know we will be changing, but I just haven't figured out which one will be switching to!

A photo, video, link, or quote to share:

Amanda from 31 Rubies has an awesome week long series of posts about marriage this week. I loved it. Check it out: here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The end is near!

Our first year of homeschooling is winding down. Kindergarten will soon be finished!

We will be finishing our Math curriculum next week and we will be finishing up Phonics within the month. We completed our Science curriculum last month. We're just reviewing basic Social Studies (address, phone number, parts of community, etc) while we finish up the remainder of our year.

Even though we are schooling year round, we are feeling those "can't sit still", "can't stay focused" end of the year excitements. And it's not just the girls either. I'm just as guilty. Excited about upcoming vacations, excited about new curriculum and beginning first grade...and getting a little bored and burnt out with our current curriculum. But we are still finishing the year strong, despite yet another case of strep throat for Shaylie. This makes the 5th time she's had strep since August! My poor sweet girl. She and Mommy have both had enough and we have an ENT consult in June...looks like a tonsillectomy is in her near future.

My husband and I are looking to do something special to celebrate the girls' Kindergarten graduation. We aren't part of a co-op and sadly don't have any homeschooling friends near whatever we do will most likely just be a family event. I'm looking for suggestions. How did you celebrate your homeschooler's graduation from Kindergarten? I can't wait to hear your ideas!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


What are you doing for Easter?

I'm sad to say we will miss Easter service at Vertical Church. I'm sure it will be incredible. I'm already waiting for the podcast to come out so I can see just what I missed.

But I'm so excited because we will be leaving Thursday to go to Virginia to spend Easter with my family. The kids and I are both counting down the days. It's been a while since we've gone to Virginia (my family has been here to visit us numerous times though!) and despite a 6 hour drive with two kids and a dog that really do not like to ride I'm still looking forward to it.

Since we won't be attending an Easter church service, I'm trying hard to make sure my children really understand what Easter is all about. Yes, Easter baskets and chocolate bunnies, pretty dresses, and Easter dinner are all's really about love. The love of Jesus. He loves us so much that he died for us.

So I'm challenging you during these last few days before Easter, show the love of Jesus to others. Love others the way Jesus has loved you. Even when you're stressed out trying to fix Easter dinner and get your house clean for guests, even when you are tying up those last minute loose ends at work, even when you've driven for 4 hours with screaming kids and a barking dog and you still have 2 more hours to go...let His love shine.

Happy Easter guys!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I'm posting at 31 Rubies today! Come say "Hi!"

A Work in Progress..

I finally have some photos of our new house to put up. I'm only going to put up pics of rooms that we are finished with because I plan to do a before and after post as we remodel each of the remaining rooms (Shaylie's room, Nevaeh's room, our bedroom, and bathroom). The room that I am the most proud of right now is our living room. That's the only room that we are completely finished with. I really wish we would've taken before pics, but we didn't. you go!

The front- we plan to repaint the shutters, add some hanging baskets to the porch and get some beautiful flower beds started underneath the two front windows.

View of the living room from the front door. We painted the walls (they were solid white before) and hung the border. I absolutely love the colors. The hardwood floors in this room are beautiful and we didn't have to do a thing to them!
Another view of the living room. I really love this entertainment cabinet. We found it at a yard sale a few years ago, but our tv is old (My hubby's from his freshman year in college!) and it's about to die so in the near future we will be upgrading to a flat screen and will no longer have a need for this.

The kitchen. Yes, it's tiny, but it's completely functional. We have plans of remodeling the kitchen. There is a partition between the kitchen and dining area (where you can see the stove in the pic) that we plan to remove to open the room up. The previous owners of the house had indoor/outdoor carpet in the kitchen. Have you ever heard of such a thing?! It was horrible. It was gross and there was no way of cleaning it. Ugh. It only lasted about two weeks. Thanks to my wonderful hubby and my Dad it's been replaced! What made it even more strange was when they pulled up the carpet, there was tile underneath.

The new and improved kitchen floor! :)

Our dining area/homeschool room. We chose to use this room for our homeschool room because it's so bright...and because of the built in bookcase (see next photo)

These are all of the indoor photos for right now. More to come in the coming months. We will be focusing on one room a month from here on out. Just wait until you see the before and after pics especially of our bedroom floor that my husband had to completely redo because water damage. It's definitely been a learning experience!

I will leave you with a few pics of the beautiful flowers blooming in our yard.