Thursday, May 31, 2012

Homeschool Home Economics, Part 2.

Last month I began a series of posts for The Homeschool Classroom about teaching Home Economics in my homeschool.  Today, I have another post featuring menu planning and grocery shopping.  I explain in detail how I teach my girls to create a weekly menu and grocery list.  While this is part of our high school curriculum, the steps I teach them could be beneficial to a homemaker of any age.  Please click here to read today's post.

Also, if you missed the first post in this series, Creating a Household Budget, you can click here to read that post.

my current Home Ec students

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wrapping Up Your Homeschool Year

We are not through with our school year, but since it is the end of May, I still have the "wrap up the current school year" bug.  I am not sure when all of my children will be done with this year's school work, so I am going to work on wrapping up this year's school as I have time.

I wrote a list for this last year for The Homeschool Classroom.  You can click here to read the checklist.  I am using this checklist again this year for myself.

It's almost 9:00, and time for us to begin our current school day!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Menu and Miles

This week's running plan is 16 miles total:  5,4,4,3.

This week's menu is:

cereal or
smoothies or
curried rice EHH 168
refried beans tacos
chocolate zucchini muffins HH p. 45
marinara HH 259
white sauce EHH 293
sandwiches or
wraps or
smoothie or
Caribbean black beans, rice, mango salsa HD 223
peanut butter toast
pasta salad
cherry quinoa salad EHH 122
cereal or oatmeal
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
stir fry vegetables and rice
banana muffins HH 47
black bean cakes supreme 
HD 224

Mardi Gras Beans and Rice EHH 167


chips and salsa or guacamole
chocolate chip cookies
fresh fruit
pretzel chips and hummus
raw vegetables and hummus or guacamole 
ice cream 
ice cream sandwiches
all fruit popsicles

Please visit for more menu inspiration!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Our Trip to Boston

Over a month ago, our family took a six night trip to Boston.  We left very, very early on a Friday morning to fly out of Birmingham, and we arrived home the next Thursday, which was Olivia's birthday.  I finally looked through the 325 pictures that we took, and narrowed them down to 34 to share.  Many of the details of this trip are now a blur!  I have just been so busy since we got home, and I have finally taken the time to review the pictures and remind myself of our adventures in Boston.  

This trip served as sort of a bridge for me.  When we left, it was five weeks after my surgery, and I was still in the recovery mode.  I was resting some each day, and I had just been cleared to run one day before we left.  While we were in Boston, I walked miles and miles, I carried bags and my backpack, and I rarely rested.  I did get tired, but the change of scenery really distracted me from my physical discomfort. When we came home, I hit the floor running.  It was like I was finally back to my old self--full speed!

So here are some highlights, as best as I can remember!

 This is the subway station, The T, that was about a half mile from our hotel.  We walked to this T station every day to board the train to travel all over Boston.

Our first stop in Boston was the Boston Marathon Expo.  Jimmy was registered to run this race on Monday, and he had to pick up his race packet.  We also did a little bit of souvenir shopping while we were there.

 The next day, Jimmy had to attend an American Medical Athletic Association meeting.  While we was there for a day and a half, the children and I did some sight-seeing.  
We visited the New England Aquarium first.  It was a really nice aquarium, but it was so crowded!  I could not believe how many people were crammed in there.  In fact, the entire city of Boston was pretty crowded the whole time we were there, especially until the marathon was over.

 I don't even remember what this statue is!  But the children liked climbing on it.  It was was outside the aquarium.

 One of the children touching a stingray.

 This is taken on the exact spot of The Boston Massacre.

 Can you read the words at the top of the circle?

On Sunday Jimmy had to attend meetings again until early afternoon.  The children and I spent our morning sight-seeing again, and then we met up with Jimmy for a church service.....I found out before we went to Boston that the Christians that we wanted to worship with met at 3:00 PM.  That seemed like an odd time, but it worked out great for us.  The people were so nice, and it was evident that they loved the Lord.

 We went to the beautiful Boston Public Garden.  We rode a swan boat, just like the swan boats in Make Way For Ducklings.

After our church service we went with Jimmy to a pre-race pasta dinner that was part of his medical meeting.  We heard three interesting athletic speakers, including Lorraine Moller, the 1984 female Boston Marathon winner and the bronze medalist in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

Meeting with our dear friend and marathon Koach, Kenneth, and another running friend, John before heading back to the hotel for the night.

On Monday, Jimmy left our hotel room early--he had to take the T to Koach's hotel, take a cab with Koach and some others to the Boston Common, and then join 20,000 (or maybe more!) people in boarding school buses for the 26 mile ride to the Boston Marathon starting line.  

This was not a typical marathon experience for Jimmy.  He had been sick with an cough and cold before we left for Boston, and by Saturday afternoon he was very sick.  He was running a pretty high fever, and his cough was terrible.  Our cousin-in-law (is that such a thing?  Joe is married to Jimmy's first cousin) diagnosed him over the phone with pneumonia!  He called him in some medications.  At that point Jimmy did not think it was any way possible for him to walk around, much less run a marathon in record breaking heat.  It was predicted to be in the upper 80s on race day.  Anything above 60 is really too hot for running a marathon. 

Jimmy and Koach waiting to begin the marathon

The medicines (which took me multiple T rides and over two hours to find a pharmacy that was open!) seemed to be working very well, and Sunday morning Jimmy felt well enough to attend all of that day's activities.  He was still running fever Sunday night though.  When he woke up Monday morning, he decided that he felt well enough to run....but he chose to run at a pace that would keep his heart rate under 160.  That was a smart decision!  He ran slower than he ever has in a marathon, but he had negative splits, and he finished the marathon in good shape!  We were so proud of him!!  We tracked him online for the entire race, and we cheered him on in the park where we were when we tracked him across the finish line!  It was just too, too crowded for me to try to take five children to anywhere on the race course.  We watched most of the race on live TV in our hotel room!

Leah, playing at the park near our hotel while waiting for Jimmy to come back from the marathon.

 Julie and Olivia--waiting and crocheting!

 This is what Sam does when he sees a camera!

 Isn't that lovely?

We spent the remaining days of our time in Boston touring the city's historical sites.  We did a trolley tour of Boston, and we also walked parts of the Freedom Trail.

inside the U.S.S. Constitution

 our family

 the U.S.S. Constitution

 playing on hammocks inside a children's museum

 waiting for the trolley

 with Mrs. Quack and her duckings (from Make Way For Ducklings) in the Boston Public Garden

 Leah, Sam, and Mrs. Quack

 Sam and Clay

 all of the children

 trying to pick up some heavy chain

 Paul Revere's house

approaching the Bunker Hill monument
There are 294 steps to the top of this monument.
I walked all the way to the top!

Sam on step 75

 Leah, tired and almost to the very top step!

 resting at the top

 We made it to the top!

 the tortoise

 and the hare!

 the Boston Public Library
We spent some time looking around inside, and it was beautiful!

 a kind policeman visiting with Sam

It was a very fun but extremely exhausting trip!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Our Meeting

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
1 Corinthians 15:58

Me, Lynn, and Heather

Well, our meeting went great!  It's just that four hours was not long enough!  We are still continuing to share ideas via email and texts.  We spent a good bit of our time meal planning and recipe sharing.  Before we ended our meeting, I think each of us had a list of 10 supper meals planned plus numerous breakfasts and lunches.  Heather has since expanded her supper list to include 24 meals!  She chose six categories, and then listed four meals under each category.  I have not added any meals to the original 10 that I planned, but I did add to "try a new recipe" once a week.  I will add new meals to my supper list as I try out new dishes.

If Heather doesn't blog about her categories and meal planning, I will!  I know that a few of the categories were things like:  pasta/sandwiches, soups/crock pot, and Mexican.

We also discussed housekeeping.  The three of us have different needs in this area.  I have three older children that can help me out a lot, plus I have a housekeeper that cleans the main floor of my house weekly.  That leaves us to thoroughly cleaning the basement and upstairs and keeping the main floor neat and tidy.  Lynn has a housekeeper that cleans her entire house every other week, but she doesn't have older children, especially older girls to help her in between.  Heather has neither older children or outside household help, but she has lots of energy!  No really, she has two daughters that are a huge help to her.  We all realized that we should not plan housekeeping jobs on the days that we have "out of the house" activities (things like piano/violin lessons, Spartan running practice, home school co ops, etc.).  This left Heather and Lynn with three days at home and me only two. So we worked with it!  We consolidated our weekly housekeeping chores to fit in those afternoons that we are home.  We also decided that after supper and the kitchen was clean, we are done!  No folding clothes or vacuuming after supper.  That will be family time and down time.  Our "work" will be done at 7:00 PM!

We scheduled our days.  This is the rough outline of the schedule that we plan to follow.  Of course each of us will tweak this to fit our individual family, but this basic plan should work for each of us.  All three of us have schooling to do for most of the summer (with vacations, camp, VBS, etc. interspersed), so on the days when we do not have school, we will work on our summer projects list.

6:00-7:00 AM:  personal quiet time (Bible reading, prayer, etc.)
7::00-9:00:  exercise, children wake up during this time, breakfast, shower (if time!), morning chores, begin laundry
9:00-12:00:  school
12:00-1:00 PM:  lunch, supper prep, laundry, make bread, kids have some free time
1:00-3:00:  school, check schoolwork, kids begin chores if time
3:00-4:30:  out of house or when home, major housework days
4:30-6:00:  supper prep, kids complete afternoon chores
6:00-7:00:  supper, kitchen clean up

Once the children are done with their schoolwork and daily chores, they are free!  For most of our children, it does not take them 5 hours to complete daily schoolwork....but it takes the mothers 5 hours to do school with all of her children.  Does that make sense?  Sam does not do school for five hours!  But I do.

Our housekeeping goals for each day whether we are home all day or not:

  • keep house neat and tidy
  • prepare 3 meals and clean up
  • keep laundry going (folded and put away each day)
  • routine morning and afternoon chores
We briefly touched on homeschooling.  Most of our discussion in this area is taking place right now.  I am trying to decide which method of daily planning I want to utilize for Leah and Sam next year, and I have to do a better job of daily checking Olivia's and Julie's work.  We all agreed that during school hours (9-12 and 1-3), we are not going to do laundry or anything else, and we are going to leave our phones in a room far away from where we are doing school!

I will be happy to share my specific lists, chore charts, an

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Meeting of the Minds

This afternoon, my friends Lynn and Heather are coming over and we are having a meeting of the minds.  That is, a major homemaking planning session!

The three of us believe that as Christian women, we CAN do it all!  Not in the sense that the world, even the homeschooling/homemaking world thinks women can do it all, but in light of the fact that as servants of God, and followers of Jesus, we can truly do all that He commands us to do.  And we can do it cheerfully and efficiently.

Over the years each of us has utilized our own systems of housekeeping, chores, laundry, menu planning, grocery shopping, preparing meals, exercising, homeschooling our children, and many other tasks as well.  We want to share what has worked for us in the past, what is working now, and what needs improvement.  We are hoping to learn from each other in order to improve each of us.

I used to think that if I completed all of my homeschooling duties for the day, then I would have not time for housecleaning.  Or if I got caught up on my laundry, then I would have to skip a lesson with a child or haphazardly throw dinner together.  I felt like I could do some things well on my list, but not all things.

I have changed my mind.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men," Colossians 3:23

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Colossians 3:17

I believe that if my priorities are in order, if I am seeking to serve God first and foremost, then my roles as wife and mother, homemaker and homeschooler can be successful, and that I can serve God in all of these areas.

But it will take some careful planning.  I hope to set reasonable, attainable goals.  I want to tweak my systems and routines so that I can be the best wife, mother, homemaker, and friend that God wants me to be. 

3 moms.
13 kids.
Lots of healthy snacks.
One big pot of coffee.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Which Vitamix?

I am going to purchase a Vitamix mixer, and I can't decide which one to get.  We are wearing out our trusty Kitchen Aid mixer and the Magic Bullet with all of the smoothies we are making each day.  I have a NutriMill to grind my grains in, so I will be using the Vitamix only for fruits and vegetables.

Which model do you recommend?
Which accessories, if any, do I need?
Which of the the cookbooks do you like or use?

Thank you so much for your input!

Here are a couple of pictures of my hard-working boys!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Running and Eating

A friend of mine asked me to post my running plan each week, because she wanted to follow it.  I am using the Mileage Buildup Schedule from until October 8.  Then I hope to begin my marathon training for the Disney World Marathon which is in January.
I am on week 2 of the Mileage Buildup Schedule, and this week's runs are:
4,4,4,3--for a total of 15 miles.

Another friend asked me yesterday what I was fixing for supper this week, so I told her that I would try to begin posting my weekly menus again on Mondays.  She, another friend and I are all trying to eat a plant-based diet, so we are all sharing menu ideas and recipes.  Here's my plan for this week:

Breakfasts: (all served with fresh fruit)

  • oatmeal
  • blueberry muffins
  • pumpkin bread
  • granola 
  • peanut butter toast
  • smoothies
  • maple muffins
Lunches: (all served with salad made with spinach and lots of fresh vegetables)
  • leftovers from suppers
  • wraps made with veggies and guacamole or hummus
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • rice (alone or with beans, raw vegetables, guacamole, etc.)
Suppers: (all served with salad, just like at lunch)
  • Caribbean black beans, rice, and mango salsa
  • veggie burgers (we like Boca and Amy's brand), oven sweet and regular potato fries
  • sauteed fresh vegetables (squash, onion, zucchini, asparagus, carrots, broccoli, red, orange, yellow and green peppers), rice
  • tacos--made with hard shells or whole wheat soft tortillas, refried beans (homemade), tomatoes, corn, black beans, spinach, salsa, and guacamole
  • BBQ wraps, baked onion rings
  • minestrone, cornbread
  • Aztec corn soup
  • chips and salsa or guacamole
  • popcorn
  • smoothies
  • chocolate chip cookies
  • fresh fruit
  • muffins
  • pretzel chips and hummus
  • raw vegetables and hummus or guacamole
For more menu inspiration, please visit

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tie Dye 5K

Here are a few pictures from yesterday's race.

I just realized when I read the race results in today's paper, that Clay set a PR!  I knew that Leah did, but I had forgotten that Clay's goal for this year was to break 21 in a 5K.  He ran a 20:47!  Go Clay!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Fun Weekend

Yesterday and today Lynn and I attended our state's Homeschool Conference at Mississippi State University.  It is always fun to visit State's campus since we are both graduates from there.  We went to three sessions led by Tina Farewell, and her husband, Bob, joined her in the last presentation.  This is the fourth time I have heard the Farewells speak, and I am always encouraged and motivated by them!

This morning Jimmy took the children to a local 5K race, the HealthWorks 5K.  Jimmy ran with Leah, and she ran a PR!  32:30.  I was so happy that they ran together!  Olivia and Clay both ran the 5K too, and Julie ran the 1 mile fun run with Sam.  After the race, they joined Kelly and his children and about 40 other people for a CrossFit Boot Camp.  More fun!

Yesterday Lynn and I shopped at the conference, enjoyed supper with some friends at Oby's, and then we went to a movie before retiring in our hotel room.  We really had a great time!  This morning we attended one more session about choosing quality books for your homeschool, shopped a little bit more, and then headed home.

I was so happy to find that my family had kept our house in great shape while I was gone!  The kitchen was clean!!  Jimmy and I sat by the pool for about an hour, and then I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning my basement.  I did a little bit of decluttering in my schoolroom and my storage/craft room.  I feel so much better now!  Straightening, vacuuming, purging, and organizing make me happy!

Even though we are not through with this year's school work (and will not be though with everything until late July because of the extended break we took in February and March due to my health), I am already excited about the upcoming school year.  I plan to make a few changes, and I am really looking forward to deep cleaning my schoolroom and getting things all planned and organized.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Visiting With My College Friends

Stephanie, Me, Sharon, and Jean Ann
Sharon and I did NOT call each other and plan our outfits....we just happened to wear basically the same thing!  Ha!

Almost 25 years ago, the four of us, plus several more sweet girls all met at Mississippi State.  We were all freshman, and we all pledged the same sorority, Phi Mu.  For the next four years, we all lived with each other in various dorms, the Phi Mu House, and off campus in apartments.  We hung out together, ate our meals together, listened to each other's problems and dreams, and generally had a whole lot of fun together!  

We graduated in May, 1991, and beginning with my wedding in June of 1991, we were all bridesmaids in each other's weddings for the next few years.  I think one summer we had 6 weddings!  The only wedding that I missed was Kim C.'s.  I unexpectedly gave birth to Olivia five weeks early, and she was still in the hospital in the NICU on the day of Kim C.'s wedding.  Sadly, Kim C., who was my roommate on the Phi Mu floor of Hathorn Hall our sophomore year, passed away in October of 2006 from ovarian cancer.  

After we graduated 14 of us would get together at least once a year, usually at someone's wedding weekend.  As more of us got married and moved to various places it got harder to coordinate a weekend together, but for about 15 years or so, we still did it.  We gave wedding showers and baby showers to each other.  So far, we have not had any of our children get married (Lori has the oldest child, and he will be 18 this month).  We have had weekends in New Orleans, Nashville, Jackson, Columbus, and Tupelo (and maybe more places, but I can't remember right now).  The last time we all got together was for Kim's funeral.  

After my bout with breast cancer, I think we all realized that time is flying by, we are getting older, we are not invincible, and we needed to get together!  A couple of weeks ago, Sharon arranged for us to meet the night before the now annual Kim C. Gee 5K Race for Awareness--in memory of our dear friend Kim C..  Because we now live all over the place, and also because this is baseball season, most of our group could not come.  There were lots of baseball games for young men being played, but thankfully, five of us were able to make it.  Lori joined us Saturday morning for the race and also for lunch.  

Stephanie, Jean Ann, Sharon and I had the best time eating at our favorite college restaurant, Oby's for supper.  Then we stayed up very, very late talking and laughing and catching up.  It was like we were still in college!  Except now we had more things to discuss.  Things like our children, our work, and cancer.  It was such a special time, and we dearly missed all of our friends who could not come.  We already have the same weekend on our calendar for next year.  I hope that next year everybody in our group can come---Geri, Julie, Caren, Wendy, Pam, Sharon B., Kim W., and Marla--we missed you!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sam's Kindergarten Graduation

 Sam, the Graduate!

 my sweet, silly Sam!

 The graduating class

 Sam receiving his diploma

All done!

Each year our local homeschool graduation exercises are a special event.  The current kindergartners open the program with a couple of songs and Bible verses.  This year, each child was asked to recite a verse he had learned.  We memorize a lot of Scripture here at our house, so I asked Sam which verse he would like to quote at his graduation ceremony.  He thought for a moment and then said,
"Keep your tongue from evil." 
Psalm 34:13
At first I thought about encouraging him to chose something a little bit longer.  I mean, he knows a lot of Scripture.  But then I decided that if he stuck with something short and simple, he would have a less chance of forgetting or messing up!  The rest of the children did choose longer passages--things like Psalm 23 and the Lord's Prayer.  However, Sam did a super job!  He quoted his passage loud and clear, and he did not stumble over a single word!

I am a little bit sad that my youngest child is completing kindergarten.  But, time just keeps marching on!  Next year I will have a 12th grader and a 1st grader, and a few grades in between.  I will be finishing homeschool with my oldest child and beginning with my youngest.  That is hard to think about!