Thursday, September 29, 2011

WTVA Field Trip

This morning I took Leah and Sam on a field trip to our local TV station.  We got a behind the scenes tour of the newsroom.  It was a lot of fun!

Leah and Sam checking out the foot pedal-controlled teleprompter.

The most exciting part of the tour was the weather wall.  The children had so much fun pretending to give a weather report--trying to figure out which way to point to match up with what was projected on the TV screen.

The green weather wall

Trying to figure it all out

On the news!

The Seven Day Forecast

Sitting on the interview couch

I think Leah and Sam really enjoyed this little outing.  The next fun field trip we plan to attend is at the local doughnut shop! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Making the Long Run Fun

That title may sound like an oxymoron, but running long distances can be fun.  It really can!

For over a year now, I have met friends to do my long run.  My definition of the long run has changed over the last year, because when I first began driving to meet friends and run, we would run 5 miles.  Now, we don't drive to meet unless we are going at least 10 miles.  The length of the long run is different for everyone.  I now run up to an 8-10 mile distance weekly on my treadmill (which is now my medium run), but I always meet friends for my long run (13-22 miles).

Who Do I Run With?

The one person who I always run the long run with is my dear friend, Lynn.  We are joined most often by her husband, Kelly, and for several months (before she became injured) our friend Amber.  Since we have started training for our upcoming marathon in December, Jimmy has joined us for all of our long runs.  Also, some other friends are becoming regulars:  Esther, Heather, and now Kim and Ginger, who joined us this morning, are planning to meet us more in the future.  The more the merrier, we say.  In our group, we all run different paces, but we run some miles  all together, some in pairs, and some alone, but we generally all meet up at the water stops.  Mostly Lynn and I stay together the entire time.
All that to say, that running in a group, no matter the distance, makes it so much more fun.  Yes, running can be fun!

The Logistics:  How We Keep Hydrated

Lynn and I each drive 20 minutes (we live on opposite ends of Tupelo), and the other ladies drive varying distances to our meeting place, a cul-de-sac of a subdivision.  We park our cars, turn on our watches, and start running.  In the dark.  Most of us meet at 6:00 AM, but Heather and Esther usually start at 5:00 AM, and we join them at 6:00.  On the way to the meeting place, Lynn and I set out water and Gatorade at a couple of locations.  We have a friend who lets us use her guest house bathroom at 2.7 miles from our starting point.  We keep cups with our names on them in the kitchen for water.  Then we run to around mile 5.5 which is where our first water is set out.  Next, we run back to our second water/Gatorade stop at around mile 9.  From this stop, we usually go out 1.5-2 miles, and then come back to the water, and then out again 1.5-2 miles.  Sometimes we run back to our friend's house, when our distance is super long.  When we are within 1.5 miles of being done with our run, we head back to where our cars are parked.

What Makes This So Much Fun?

Support.  Friendship.  Conversation.

We call this our weekly therapy session.  When you are running for up to 3 hours or more, you have time to talk about a lot of things!  We share our current struggles, and someone usually has a solution.  We plan our days and weeks.  We laugh!  We comment on people's pretty yards.  Mostly, we just visit and encourage one another.  And we feel good knowing that we are doing something that is beneficial for our bodies, both physically and mentally.

Happy Running!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

One reason that I list my weekly menu on my blog is so that Jimmy can look to see what we are having for supper!  Also, the menu serves as a portable list for me....I don't have to be in my kitchen looking at the list taped on the inside of my pantry door to see what I have planned to cook for that day.

So, here is this week's menu.  Maybe you will see something that looks good that you would like to try.  I cook the same 15-20 meals repeatedly, and most of the recipes are here on my blog.  In fact, I go to my recipe posts or use the search engine in my left sidebar all the time to find a recipe that I need.

I usually buy groceries on Saturday, but Menu Plan Monday is on Monday, so two of my meals are actually already cooked and eaten before I list my weekly menus on Monday.  Today's menu will reflect what has been served as well as what will be served all week.

Saturday: manicotti (from my freezer), salad, homemade rolls
Sunday:  grilled hamburgers
Monday:  red beans and rice
Tuesday:  7 can soup
Wednesday:  baked grouper, baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli
Thursday:  grilled chicken, corn on cob, black eyed peas
Friday:  spaghetti with homemade sauce (from my freezer)

Please visit for more menu inspiration.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sam's New Watch and a Race

Sam asked for a "running watch", since he is now a self-proclaimed runner.  He has been running at cross country practice (one day he ran a whole mile!), and since he was signed up to run a 1/2 mile Fun Run on Saturday, he asked for a watch!  He wanted to keep up with his time.

Friday night, Jimmy brought home Sam a running watch.  It is a digital watch with a stop-watch feature.  Sam practiced timing himself until bedtime, and the first words out of his mouth Saturday morning when I woke him up at 6:00 AM were about the watch!  

He was ready!

Sam, posing with Leah and THE WATCH before their race.

Even with all of his practicing, his watch timing didn't work exactly right!  When he finished the race (which actually seemed like less than a half mile), his watch read 15 seconds.  The official race clock said 3 minutes, 48 I am thinking that he pressed the stop button too soon.  He may have not started his watch until after the race was over and he thought he was pressing stop.  And then when he found me, he pressed it again--and this time he did actually stop it.  He must have timed from the end of the race until when he showed me his watch.

Anyway!  He doesn't know any different, and he was pleased as could be with running his first race wearing a watch!

Leah and Sam, after the race--still trying to catch their breath!

The other children ran the 5K (This was the Tallahatchie River Run 5K), which began right after the Fun Run.  Jimmy had to work this weekend, so I ran before the race to get my final miles for the week's marathon training, and then I watched and cheered!

The Spartans were able to compete as a cross country team against 5 other schools, as well as compete individually.  Our Spartan girls won 1st place, and the boys won 3rd place.  We now have another team trophy!  

Sam (see the watch) and Jared (one of Lynn's sons) after the race.


Clay, playing frisbee

Leah and Avery (Lynn's daughter), enjoying a snow cone

The Spartan Girls

The family funnel cake.  Sam thought I should get one for each person!  I bought one for the 5 of them to share, and there was still some left over!

It was a beautiful day to run and enjoy time with friends.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I have been familiar with the concept of narration pretty much the entire time I have been homeschooling (this is my 11th year!).  Narration is simply having your child tell back to you what he has read or what you have read aloud to him.  Narration is also listening to your child spontaneously tell you all about a fantastic book he has read...while you are driving down the road or sharing a meal together.  Narration can be a planned part of your school day, or it can be a natural occurrence as your family reads good books together.

I learned about narration while reading articles about and by Charlotte Mason and Cindy Rushton.  I have had my children narrate their books to me informally over the years, but this year is the first time that I have actually regularly documented their narrations.  I wish I had started this years ago!

Both Clay (7th grade) and Leah (2nd grade) are narrating to me every single school day after I read to them their Sonlight history read alouds for the day.  My procedure for doing this is very simple.

  1. I take my laptop with me to our read aloud area.
  2. I created a document for each of them.  They are titled Clay's Narration 2011 and Leah's Narration 2011. 
  3. Each day after I finish reading to them, I ask them to tell me three (Leah) or five (Clay) things that they remember, learned, found interesting, etc.  I simply type in the day's date, and list the items 1,2,3, etc.  
  4. I save the document, and that's it!  
I plan to print out the entire year's narration at the end of the school year, but I am not sure how I want to save it.  I plan to continue this simple narration for Clay, Leah, and Sam (when I begin with him next year) until they are in high school.  I am excited to one day have the history of the world and the history of our country in my children's own words!

Narration can also lead to creative writing.  As your child gets older, you could have him write his own narration instead of orally giving it to you.  You could also have the child edit and rewrite his narrations occasionally, turning them into a descriptive paragraph, a character sketch, or even an essay!

Do you use narration in your homeschool?  How?  Do you have some great ideas to share?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me!

Friday, I celebrated my birthday!

I began my day with a 16 mile run with Jimmy, Lynn, Kelly, Heather, and Esther.  Actually, only Lynn, Kelly, and I ran all 16 miles together.  Heather and Esther started running at 5:00 AM, and we joined them at 6:00.  Esther ran one more mile with all of us, and Heather and Jimmy ran 8 or 9 with us.  Jimmy went on to run a total of 24!

After all of that running, Jimmy, Lynn, Kelly, and I enjoyed a Salty Caramel Mocha at Starbucks.  Then Jimmy and I came home to a delicious breakfast of pancakes and bacon cooked by my sweet children!  They had the table all set and decorated festively.

Next, I opened my presents!  (And after the present opening, the children completely cleaned up the kitchen from our breakfast!)

Leah and Julie with the Chair of Gifts

I received precious handmade cards and gifts from the children.  Jimmy had also taken them shopping, and I saw Sam give his contribution to the gift fund just as I began opening my presents.....he donated $.53.

Leah recently learned how to crochet animals, and she gave me her first creation--a jellyfish.  Clay carved me a beautiful wooden spoon out of cedar from our woods.  Olivia and Julie worked together to sew me two sets of cloth napkins.  They did a fantastic job--the napkins even have mitered corners!  They also gave me two more pieces of cute fabric with the promise to make me two more sets of napkins.  Sam drew me a precious picture for a birthday card.

I also got a new pizza pan (which I used for the first time last night), a bundt pan (to make pound cake in), and a necklace with charms--5 of them, each one has one of the children's names on it.  Thank you, Aunt Debbie for helping Jimmy with this gift!

the jellyfish
I know that I look rough---remember, I ran for over 2 hours before this picture!

After resting most of the afternoon, we all went out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants, and then we went to the mall.  

It was a wonderful day!

A family photo on my birthday

Monday, September 19, 2011

Menu Plan Monday


  • tortellini with homemade pasta sauce (from the freezer)
  • turkey sandwiches (I bought a turkey breast this weekend....I figured baking this and slicing it had to be healthier than the deli meat I buy at the grocery store)
  • baked potatoes
  • leftovers from suppers
  • homemade pizza (I plan to make this tonight.  I am making bread today, and I will use some of the dough for our pizza crusts.)
  • roast with onions, carrots, and potatoes, green beans, and rolls.  Also brown rice for those who don't care for potatoes.
  • potato soup (made by Julie), crunchy green salad
  • roast sandwiches and gravy, chips
For more menu ideas, please visit

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

School Schedule Update

I am writing a post for publication in October for The Homeschool Classroom that chronicles a day in our homeschool, but I wanted to go ahead and share a couple of changes that I have made since we first began school.  Today will be our 25th school day of the new year!

Adjusting to schooling five children instead of four, has really not been that big of a deal.  I think last year's school day was much harder to adjust to.  I already had the expectation of our school day lasting until mid-afternoon before we even began, so the time required to get it all done has not stressed me.

That being said, on the days we have school, that is basically all we do----school.  I find it very hard to carve out time for blogging, housework (beyond keeping the house tidy, the clothes washed, and the kitchen clean), and major meal preparations.  Since we have one day off from school each week (most weeks), I use that day to clean my house, run errands, fold all the clean clothes that I didn't get to, etc.

Things I have changed so far:

1.  Julie (9th grade) is using a different writing curriculum than we first planned.  She was using How to Write the Novel Way, a book that she has had for a few years now and was really looking forward to completing, but, as she began working in it, she realized that it was just not going to work for her.  I completely understood, and we did a little bit of internet browsing, and decided for her to choose an IEW book.  She chose Life Sciences.  This works out nicely, since she is studying Apologia's Biology this year.  The Life Sciences writing program goes right along with that book.

2.  I am doing all of Leah's and Sam's schoolwork with them together, instead of separately.  They wanted to sit with each other while they were doing their seatwork, and they both wanted to hear each other's Sonlight books (even though Sam's books are the very same ones that I read to Leah just two years ago!).  So, I am beginning my school day by reading both of their Sonlight books to them.  I usually alternate by reading one of Leah's, then one of Sam's.  That takes us about 45 minutes.  Then after our Bible lesson, the three of us sit at a table (I am in the middle), and they do all of their seatwork at the same time.  I just go back and forth helping them.  Sam finishes his work first, and then he is off to play.  When I am done with both of them, usually by 11:00 or 11:30, I move on to helping Clay.

Thank you for all of the pencil advice!
I am going to buy two new items to try--Ticonderoga pencils and some mechanical pencils.  I prefer a pencil that doesn't have quite as fine a point as mechanical pencils normally do, but a friend of mine suggested that I try mechanical pencils with lead 9.  I will.

How is your homeschooling year going?

Monday, September 12, 2011


What kind of pencils do you use? 

I have tried a variety of brands in a varied price range, and I still have not found a brand of pencils that sharpen easily without whittling away the entire pencil. Or break within one minute of use.  Or sharpen on one side, but not the other.  We are experiencing pencil frustration over here!

Please share the kind of pencils you like, and also include where you buy them.

Thanks so much!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sherman Day 5K

This morning our family (except for Sam) all ran the 4th annual Sherman Day 5K.  We have run this race every year, and it is always a fun local race.  This year, 101 runners participated.  Everyone in our family had a super race!  It was Leah's second 5K, and she beat her previous time by 3 minutes!  She told me that she didn't want to walk except at the water stop at the halfway point, and that is exactly what she did.

Avery and Leah after the race. 
This was Avery's first 5K, and she did great!

Jimmy ran a PR!  (personal record)
He has been trying to break 20 minutes in a 5K for some time now.  Today, he did!  If you look at the printout above from the race clock, you will see his time in place 3.......


Way to go Jimmy!  We are all so happy for him, and I think all of the  Spartan spectators rejoiced with him as he crossed the finish line!  I would have loved to see him meet this goal, but Leah and I were way behind!

Olivia, Julie, and Clay after the race

Clay ran a PR too!
He beat his previous time by one second!  Julie and Olivia were both very pleased with their times.  They both ran faster than they have in a while, and they were so happy!  Clay won 1st in his division, Julie won 2nd place overall female, and Olivia won 1st in her division.

Louis, John, Jimmy, and Stephen
The CrossFit Men

I put everyone's finish time in the left sidebar under Race Results.

Strawberry-Cheese Ring

I am spending the next couple of hours in my kitchen preparing food for our family Bible study  tonight and also for Season's (Jimmy's cousin) baby shower tomorrow.  I am making homemade macaroni and cheese, green beans, and cream cheese/chocolate brownies for tonight and a strawberry-cheese ring for tomorrow's shower.  Here is the recipe for the strawberry-cheese ring.  It is delicious!

2 (8 oz.) pkgs. sharp cheddar cheese
1 sm. onion, peeled
1 c. pecans, chopped
2/3 c. mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Dash red pepper
Strawberry preserves

Grate cheese and onion. Add pecans, mayonnaise and seasonings until blended. Shape mixture into a ring on a serving platter. Chill several hours. Fill center of ring with strawberry preserves. Serve with Wheat Thins.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Our First Home Ec Sewing Project

Yesterday, Olivia and Julie completed two t-shirt dresses for Leah.  They turned out so cute!  I think we spent 4 separate sewing sessions on their construction, each session from 20-45 minutes.  That included all of the measuring, cutting, sewing, serging, and ironing.

I am NOT a good photographer, so these pictures really don't do these dresses justice.

Completed dress #1.  The picture of Leah modeling this dress is a little blurry, so here is the dress lying on the ottoman.

Leah wearing dress #1

Leah wearing dress #2

A close-up of where the fabric joins the t-shirt

Isn't this a cute way to hem the dress?

I bought Leah leggings in the same color as the t-shirts for her to wear on cold days. 

We used the instructions found on Cool People Sew.  Look on the left sidebar for the "How to Make a T-shirt Dress" link.

We will spend the next few home ec lessons on menu planning and grocery shopping.  Our next sewing project will be sewing twirly or tiered skirts for the older girls.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sam's Wardrobe

Sam likes to dress himself.

His idea of fashion and mine are not always the same.  He especially likes to choose his "church clothes".  I lay out his clothes for our Sunday morning service, but when he redresses for our evening service, he usually makes a few changes to the original outfit (which consists of  khaki or navy pants, a shirt with a collar, belt, and brown dress shoes).  He likes to wear long shorts with his original Sunday morning shirt, belt, shoes, and yes, the tall dark socks.  The old man tourist look.

One Wednesday night he came down dressed for Bible study in jeans, running shoes, a navy shirt with the word "Run" on the front, and a too little (by 3 or 4 inches) navy sport coat.  Lovely.  People actually laughed (quietly) as we filed in to our pew.

For every day wear, he sometimes chooses a monochromatic color theme--navy shorts with a navy t shirt (Clay used to do the same thing!) or red shorts with a red shirt.  Other times he chooses a shirt that he really loves, and he will wear it for several days in a row!  He did this last week.

I dug out a MSU jersey for him to wear to the football-watching party last Thursday night.  He loved that jersey!  And he wore it for three days straight.  I finally washed it Saturday, and he seems to have forgotten it...... for now!

Sam rarely sleeps in pajamas.  After his bath he just dresses in whatever he is going to wear the next day.  It could be jeans or a bathing suit, or something in between.  That saves time!

Here are a few pictures of the beloved MSU jersey.

Here we are at the Prince's house.  Sam is also wearing his Sky Dogs MSU hat. Another favorite!
Can you see his missing teeth?
Can you see my gray hair?

Posing in the shirt on Thursday night

Still wearing it on Friday night--he did change shorts.

As I am typing this, Sam is still in his pajamas---this time not day clothes, but still an interesting choice.  Clay's plaid boxer shorts and a green and white snowflake long sleeved pajama top.

Good memories!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It Feels Like Fall!

We have enjoyed temperatures ranging from the 5os to the low 70s for a couple of days.  We also have gotten several inches of much needed rain.

Yesterday, Julie decorated our house for fall!  Leah had already put our fall placemats on the kitchen table, and with the cooler temperatures, it seemed like a good time to make our home look a little bit autumn-y.  I hope to get by Bath and Body Works tomorrow to pick up some fall scented Wallflowers.

a bowl of little pumpkins on a table in our den

one of several pumpkins on the bookshelves in the den

a cute little grouping of pumpkins on the hearth

Indian corn garland and two fall arrangements on the fireplace mantle.

I love fall!  The cooler temperatures, the beautiful colored leaves on the trees, the crunch of leaves on the ground, running in the cold air, cooking the season's first soup, and an occasional football game.  Before the children began running cross country, we usually had season tickets to the Miss. State football games.  We are hoping to attend at least one home game this fall.  Cross country or 5K races are also fun on crisp fall mornings.  

Have you decorated your home for fall?

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Tupelo 14.2 Miler

Yesterday Jimmy and I joined about 600 other runners for the annual Tupelo 14.2 Miler and Marathon.  We ran the 14.2 Miler.  We got up at 3:45 AM for this fun event!  The race begins at 5:00 AM, which allows us to run the race and get home in plenty of time to get ready for Bible class and worship service.  We were home before 8:00 AM!

I ran the first 9.65 miles with Lynn, and we had the best time chatting!  The first hour of this race is run in complete darkness, and on this morning, in complete cloud cover.  It was really hot and humid.  Thankfully, it began to rain, and the cool drizzle continued for the remainder of the run.  I spotted Kelly ahead of me as I was running ahead of Lynn, so I spent the next mile trying to catch him.  I finally caught him around mile 11.  Part of this race course includes roads that we run on our long runs, so I was in familiar territory.

My finish time was 2 hours, 19 minutes.  That is a good bit slower than I have run it the last two years, but I am ok with that.  I have not been training to run a long run at a fast (for me) pace, so my finish time reflects that.

It was a good run!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Last Week

This has been a busy, but normal week.

School takes the majority of our day, but we are having a great school year!  Both of my older girls are taking Algebra I or II and Biology I or II, and I enjoy those subjects much more than physical science, chemistry, and geometry.  When I help them (rarely!) or review their study guides with them for a test, I can actually remember some of the material from when I was in high school or college.  

I am proud of Clay and 7th grade work.  His workload has increased, as well as the amount of schoolwork that I expect him to complete independently.  He is doing well!  He is working  alone in the Apologia General Science book, and I have been pleased with the results so far.  I am currently reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond to him (along with other books as well), and I am really enjoying that book!  I have never read it before now.  He is not as interested as me in how it will all turn out.  It does seem to be more of a girl book.

Sam and Leah are moving right along with their studies.  Sam has learned the letters B, T, F, R, and M so far.  It is very enjoyable teaching both him and Leah.  They are eager to learn, and they will sit and listen to me read to them as long as I will do it.  Of course, they sometimes wiggle, moan, and distract one another during their seatwork, and Sam has been known to slingshot his pencil across the room or fall out of his chair while doing handwriting!  So, my older children suggested that I do "The Treasure Box" with them.  Olivia, Julie, and Clay remembered us doing that when they were young, distractable and wiggly.  I bought a bunch of junk (treasures) at Dollar General, and put it all in a plastic box.  Then I printed a grid with 25 small squares.  They earn a sticker to place in the square when I observe them working nicely (not aggravating their sister, not complaining about the amount of math problems on the page, not playing the drums on the school table, etc.).  It took them about 7 school days to fill the grid for the first time--Leah filled hers first--and then they visited The Treasure Box!  Joy!  Leah chose a small notebook with a butterfly cover, and Sam selected a tape measure which he promptly hung on his shorts (it goes nicely with his knife that he carries at all times!).  They are continuing to try their best to work diligently, because they already know what they want to choose the next time they visit The Treasure Box.  

I explained to them that we would not have The Treasure Box indefinitely.  When its treasures were all chosen, the box would not be refilled.  I want to encourage them to be good workers, and I like to reward their efforts, but I will not be bribing them for always!  This is just a tool to help them (especially Sam) focus on learning to complete their work in a timely manner.  I also use lots of verbal praise and hugs!  

Pokey--He had is one week check-up yesterday.  He gained 1.5 pounds in a week!  Hooray!  He is so much better!  He received his vaccinations, and the vet x-rayed his hip.  For now, we are watching his hip, and will decide on the course of treatment as he grows.

Housework--Our school days are so filled with schoolwork and then cross country practice three days a week, that most days I cannot get any housework done.  We do keep the beds made, the dirty clothes washed, and the house tidy and in order, but I rarely have time to vacuum or clean a bathroom.  On Jimmy's days off, I try to do housework, fold clean clothes, iron, run errands, keep appointments, etc.  I can get behind very quickly!

Yesterday, while Olivia, Leah, Sam, and I were at the vet, Julie worked, worked, worked!  She washed, dried, and folded several loads of clothes!  She also ironed, cleaned the basement (workout room, schoolroom, bathroom, foyer, and stairs).  She dusted, vacuumed, and she had to tidy up down there before she even began cleaning.  What a blessing!  When we got home from the vet, we all got busy and helped Julie finish cleaning our entire house!  Hooray!  Olivia bathed Pokey and administered the monthly medication to all 4 dogs.  Then she, Clay, Leah, and Sam all helped with the remaining vacuuming, dusting, and bathroom cleaning.  I cannot express how much better I feel with a clean house!

Today I plan to shop at Walmart (monthly stock-up), Sam's, and Kroger--with Leah, Sam, and Clay in tow!  We also plan to work in the flower beds at our church building, and we are meeting  friend of Leah's and Sam's for lunch.

Running--I will complete my final miles for Week 1 of marathon training tomorrow morning.  This week's total was 26.  In the running world, the weeks begin on Monday, and run through Sunday.  Monday will start my week 2, I have 30 miles next week.

Bible--I have gotten a little bit behind in my B90 reading plan.  It's ok!  I got behind twice the last time I did this, and I was able to catch up and still finish in 89 days.  I plan to spend some time this weekend reading extra, and by Tuesday, I hope to be back on track or even ahead.

Other News--We visited my brother, our dentist, last week for our check-ups.  We are all in the no cavity club!  We shopped at Target on our way home.  I love Target!  I have heard that Tupelo may be getting a Target.  We'll see!

I hope to carve out some time next week to blog more regularly.
Have a super weekend!