Full Swing

It is the second week of school, and we are in the full swing of things!  Activities don’t start for another week, (thank goodness), but we are really starting to get our routine down.


Math with Papa on our bed…

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Fun with magnets…

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Thankful Thursday Tea Parties…

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Learning letters with sister…

It’s nice to be back in a routine.  And, it’s nice to be able to homeschool!  (Just be glad you can’t hear some of the complaining when you see these pictures; ha!)

National Waffle Day

One of my son’s library books this week gives all sorts of fun facts about different foods.  It’s called Food Trucks, and it has also inspired a food truck game he plays with his sisters.  I love when library books are multi-purposed!  We happened to be reading 2 days ago that National Waffle Day is August 24.  We couldn’t read that and not celebrate.  Since we just had waffles, and this was a “celebration,” I decided to try to make chocolate waffles.  (They were still pretty healthy with whole wheat flour, Greek yogurt, cocoa powder and shaved 70% dark chocolate, but don’t tell my kids that!)  All the kids thought they were awesome and tasted like brownies.  Personally, I still thought they tasted ‘healthy;’ ha!  But, good…. I thought they were good!  Either way, it was a win!

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Just to be sure this was legit, I googled National Waffle Day, and sure enough it is legit!  If you are curious about the origin, click here.  Happy National Waffle Day!  (And, thank you, wonderful library!)

Meal Planning

Meal planning is such a chore, isn’t it?  And, why is that?  Our parents couldn’t browse the web for a recipe using what they had in their freezer.  They couldn’t search Pinterest for a cute free calendar page on which to record all meal planning.  We have so many tools, and so many awesome food choices!  Yet, it is still a chore that is difficult for me.

Nevertheless,  whenever I plan meals, my week goes so much smoother.  Life just works better!  And so, I have begun again.  I’ve been here before… but somehow this time it’s different.  (Maybe it really is the cute calendar print out I found on Pinterest?)  Whatever it is, I really hope and pray that this time it sticks.  I have been planning my meals for 6 weeks now, by writing them out on a calendar page 5 at a time.  I leave the weekends blank for simple meals or dad’s choice or going out.  And, I really try to make “real meals,” even when my husband isn’t home… which has been a lot, lately!

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Soup and bread is becoming a staple.  There are so many different soups to make, and no matter what I choose my kids get excited because fresh bread is involved!

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Leftover fresh bread makes great french toast!

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This funky salsa is all from our garden tomatoes!  I LOVE my Pampered Chef salsa maker this time of year.  We use the fresh salsa for burrito bowl night.  I just grill any meat and cut it into bite size pieces.  I cook rice in the rice maker, have black beans, steamed white corn, sour cream, salsa, and guacamole.  Oh, and shredded romaine.  All my kids love this meal, so I can get away with having it twice a month.  I usually do chicken once and beef once.

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Grilled pork chops are what won me my husband.  (I told Sierra that story tonight, and she loved it!) I just spread some dijon, garlic salt, and soy sauce all over.  You don’t even have to marinate!  Then grill them, but don’t over grill pork or it is way too dry.

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I was inspired to try this dinner from one of the food trucks at our church’s 25th anniversary.  I cooked pork in the crockpot all day with a little salt and pepper.  Then I drained most of the juice, and added some ketchup and asian flavors; hoisin sauce and sweet chili sauce.  For the shredded cabbage, I made a sweet sesame dressing.  And, for the buns I used Hawaiian rolls.  The kids really liked this asian-style pulled irk slider.

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I don’t ever plan out lunches or breakfast, though sometimes I wish I would!  Ever since becoming a fan of cupcake wars, Sierra wants me to take pictures of her breakfast “recipes.”  (Basically, what toppings she puts on her mini german pancakes)  She invented the honey, whip cream, strawberry pancake.  Mmmm, now I’m hungry.  Is it breakfast, yet?

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I’m hoping by putting a spattering of some of our meals here that I am encouraging myself to stay diligent with the meal planning.  I’ll keep you posted!

Popsicle Stick People

It’s Friday… hooray!  One week of school down.  I still haven’t cleaned our office/ school room.  My days are still a little chaotic and not as I like.  But, I am slowly but surely plugging along with some much-needed organization.  Overall, it was a good first week and I am glad we are getting back into a routine.

On a completely different note, here are the girls making popsicle stick people the day before we started school.  The last hurrah of summer, I suppose!

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First Day of School

It seems wrong to go from a watermelon post to a first day of school post.  I guess technically, back to school comes right after summer, but somehow my brain has not caught on yet.  Once the kids went to bed last night, I began planning for the first day.  I don’t like that feeling at all — not being prepared way ahead of time.  By the end of the year, I usually let things slide a bit, but I have never started a school year this unplanned.  You would think my planning involved looking at my curriculum and deciding how the school day would go, etc.  Instead, I planned our first day meals, snacks, and fun then went to bed exhausted.  Priorities, right?

My Bible reading this morning was a great reminder of how much I need God.  Daily.  Every hour.  Every minute.  I depend on His creativity and help throughout the day and school year, as I have always been bad at planning things out.  I am so grateful for His guidance in my life, and His grace, which we need daily!  I could NOT homeschool without it!

All that to say, here are some fun pictures from our first day.  Thankfully, the kids don’t know how “unplanned” I feel.  (They do now, I suppose, since they love reading this blog!)

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The kids came down so excited, as always.  “Happy first day of school!”  “What’s our snack?”  We’ve done rice krispy apples, Rolo/ kiss pencils, homemade donutsapple oreo pops, pretzel crayons, and now this year we did letter/ apple sugar cookies.  Each kid got all the letters to spell out their names.  We even played a little game to see who could get the most words out of their name letters.  Of course, our fifth grader creamed everyone!

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I got the cute bags to put them in at the dollar section of Target at least a month ago.  I also got the plates, straws, and napkins on clearance at Target at the end of last fall.  For their little “gift,” I filled a pencil I made, (free template here), with mini gel pens; also from the dollar section at Target.

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Decorating the cookies was fun… and yummy!  Like I mentioned earlier, my day was super unplanned.  The only other {somewhat} planned activity was making a cover for our new Scripture Art Journals.  Our old ones lasted us two years, and I was excited to have them start new ones.  (You can read more about them here.)  Our new ones came in a 3-pack from… the dollar section at Target.  (Surprise!)  By the way, that awesome carousel was my back to school present to myself from Zullily while they had free shipping in July.  Isn’t it fun? 

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We got in a little math and a little reading.  Though I am not planned, it is nice to ease into things… One thing I have been planning is meals, and I hope to share more here, soon.

One day down!  I am blessed.

Homegrown Watermelon

I still have the little stick that came with our watermelon plant, indicating that we bought a “black, seedless watermelon plant.”  Since it says “black,” I’ve been waiting for the watermelon to turn black before I pick it.  Well, it hasn’t been getting black, but the sun has given it some nice yellow sun spots, so I decided to go online to see when it would be ripe for picking.

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The few places I checked all said to look at the tendril closest to the watermelon, and if it is brown and dried it is ready to pick.  It sounded easy enough, so I checked, and sure enough it was ready!

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It weighed-in at a whopping 6.6 pounds.  (Yikes!  I need to clean my scale!)

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As you can see, our black, seedless watermelon is neither black, nor seedless.  It was filled with seeds!  The worst part was, it didn’t taste that great.  It wasn’t bad; the texture was good.  But, we must have been lacking something in our soil because it wasn’t super sweet.  I really did zero research on growing a watermelon, and picked our bad drought year, so I am surprised it didn’t turn out worse.  The chickens loved pecking at the rinds.  Overall, it was a fun experience, but I am a little discouraged about growing watermelons…

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It doesn’t really matter how “good” or “bad” the watermelon is — if you stick it on the table with toothpicks, this boy will gobble it up.  The other girls thought it was ok, but only tried one piece.  We have one more watermelon growing, but I think I may rip it out and start planting some lettuce.  Fresh salad; mmmm….

Little Things…

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Natalie finished her best friend pillow… finally!  Am I the only mom who has kids that love to start projects and then quickly lose interest in finishing them?  I must say, though, she did a great job!  It turned out super cute.

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These two make me laugh… always!  (unless they make me cry…)  They just look so grown-up in this picture!  My boy has insisted on long-sleeves and socks now that it’s 100+ degrees out.  Yes, they make me smile!

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Summer days with swimming, friends, and games… we start school on Tuesday and I am already missing these days!

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Lately my husband haas been playing his guitar a lot more.  Listening to him worship while the kids dance around our bedroom is the best.

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Every time Malachi gets “boy stickers,” or “boy coloring books” or anything I tuck them away into his special “boy craft box.”  The other day the girls were doing crafts, and he wanted to join in… I got so excited to pull out his craft stuff for the first time in a long time!  He still loves his green and black!

Still my little girl…

Tonight my oldest and I had one of our fun chats.  My girl LOVES to talk!  And, I love to be her mom!  She informed me that certain things make kids grow-up faster — like going on mission trips.  Yikes!  Don’t they grow fast enough as it is?  Anyway, then I came downstairs and downloaded the pictures from today, and was reminded that my tween is still my little girl.  She and her sisters had a fun American Girl time this morning, and she did her hair to match her doll.




Yesterday I awoke to one of those, “MOM, MOM!!!!” moments.  Thankfully there was no blood involved.  Natalie was alerting me to the fact that there was a cat in our backyard, in the same place we found Stray, that looked just like Stray.  Weird, I know!  Today I saw him again at another house so I think it is safe to say he is not staying.  The kids made sure I took a picture before he disappeared.  He really was a friendly cat who rubbed up against the kids.  He ran away from me, though.  Oh, well… no tears shed by me!  Our kids have already named him… Bobcat!