Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Not-Back-To-School Blog Hop

The last couple of years I have seen various bloggers posting link-ups on this blog hop.  Usually, I have already blogged about my upcoming curriculum and my school room by this time, but this year is different!  I am going to do the blog hop this year!

The above photo tells you the schedule, and the website visit in order to participate is at the bottom of the photo.

One question I have:  Why is it called the not back to school blog hop? 

I hope to see some of your blogs in the link up each week.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Alice in Wonderland Unbirthday Party

My mother is super talented and creative, and that gene skipped me!  Thankfully, my girls seem to inherited both my mother's and Jimmy's mother creative genes.

My mother's latest interest is creating tablescapes.  I had no idea what that was, and you can google it too if you need to.  Apparently, it is taking a fun theme for a party or dinner......and running with it!  My mother began collecting Alice in Wonderland items for her tablescape, and we all decided to give Julie an Unbirthday party to utilize my mother's talents. 

My mother boxed up many, many boxes full of party supplies!  She and my daddy hardly had room to ride in their vehicle!  

While Mims, Olivia, and Julie unpacked and decorated both my kitchen and my dining room, I prepared the tea party food--four different little sandwiches, fruit kabobs, chocolate dipped pretzel rods, and Julie made cupcakes. 

 the kitchen table

 signs made by Olivia

 a precious centerpiece

 I wish you could see the attention to detail!

 Alice and her tea party

 the dining room table

  Julie and Mims
My mother made Julie this Alice in Wonderland dress.

The next few photos show some close ups of various decorations.

 Pops, Mims, and I served the guests.
I also sat down for a little bit with the mothers in the dining room.

 during the party

 The Mamas sat in the dining room.

The boys sat at the bar!

Mims worked so hard at creating such special memories for Julie and her friends!  We are all so appreciative!  It was such a beautiful and fun party.  A special 16th birthday party for a special 16 year old girl!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Julie's 16th Birthday

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Julie's 16th birthday.  (I am so behind in my blogging this summer!)

(She also had a fabulous birthday party, in addition to our traditional family celebration, and I will blog about that another day!)

The Family Day
Jimmy was unable to get off work for Julie's birthday, so we stretched her celebrating over more than one day.  The night before her birthday, we took her out to dinner at our local Indian restaurant.  Delicious!
The night of her actual birthday my parents came for an overnight visit.  We were so happy to have them here for the birthday celebration!  We enjoyed a birthday supper and dessert and present opening.

 the table

 a gift from Sam (yarn)

 a gift from Leah (a handmade journal)

 a gift from Mama and Daddy (a new Bible with her name on it)

 a gift from Olivia (a handmade yarn bag)

 Pops and Leah

 a gift from Mims and Pops (an owl teapot to match the owl mugs that my parents had already given her)

 Pops and Sam

 The birthday girl! (wearing the "sisters" necklace that Olivia gave her)

 The birthday cake (blueberry cobbler)

Clay and Pops

The next morning we all enjoyed a birthday breakfast together, and then we began getting everything ready for the party.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gatlinburg Zip Line Fun

Our zip line pictures!

We had such a fun time on this adventure in Gatlinburg.  We actually did a ropes course and a zip line adventure.  The ropes course was first.  It involved going through 20 (I think) stations, very high in the air.  I really can't explain it, but it was like an obstacle course hanging in the air.  It was challenging and tedious.  I survived.  We had really nice, calm guides, and overall it was a pleasant experience.

And then we met Spurlock and Crow.
The zip line guides.  I'll just say that they were not calm.  They were exciting and hyper and daring......and a whole lot of fun!  They were not concerned with my hesitation at plunging off the platforms into mid air!  They enjoyed my anxiety!  Really though, they were excellent guides!  

Here are some highlights:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Last Few Days

I have gotten my schoolroom 99% ready for our upcoming school year.  The fresh coat of paint really brightened things up in there, and I rearranged the pictures and posters on the wall.  All I lack is one large painting--to be hung above the piano.

I also have our schoolwork just about ready as well.  I need to watch a portion of two IEW teacher videos and print out the lesson plans for one of the courses.  Everything else is all ready!  We begin our new school year on August 5.  I haven't decided which day we will have our Back to School Treasure Hunt.  I may do it on the first day!  I also haven't chosen what the treasure will be this year.  Any suggestions?

Saturday I ran my long run (15 miles) with the Lunatic Fringe runners on Hwy. 350 in Corinth.  We had about 25 runners, ready to run those hills at 5:55 AM!  Jimmy rode his bike and took pictures (he currently has a tough case of plantar fasciitis, so he cannot run), and Olivia, Julie, and Clay ran their long run of 8 miles with the group.  I met and made a new friend, and I ran 5 miles with her.  I wish we could have run all 15 together!  The other 10 miles I ran alone, and I ran most of them too hard.  The last mile was the hardest of all, because I had run too fast in the middle.  Live and learn.  After the run some of the runners enjoyed breakfast together.

Saturday afternoon we joined Russ, Megan, Millie Janalee, and many other family members and friends to celebrate sweet little Millie Janalee's first birthday!  It was a spectacular party!  Lynn and I agreed that it was Pinterest Perfect!  You can visit Megan's blog to read all about the fabulous party.

Yesterday I finished up working in my schoolroom and caught up on many loads of laundry.  AND--
I went to the dentist to have my temporary crown put on.  My root canal was back in early June, but I just now have been able to schedule this follow up dental appointment.  I have two wonderful dentists!  My primary dentist is my brother, Dr. Simmons.  His office is located about 1.5 hours from my house. Rhett does Jimmy's, Olivia's, Julie's, Clay's and my basic dental care.  He also has done one crown for me and one or two for Jimmy.  He fills cavities, but refers us to an endodontist when we need a root canal.  My second dentist is Dr. Ritter.  His office is located about five minutes from my house, and he does all of Leah's and Sam's dental care along with "dental emergencies" for both Jimmy and me.  We love both of our dentists!  Dr. Ritter has been the dentist for my recent tooth problem, and he has taken very good care of me.  Yesterday's procedure was painless!  He and his office staff were super sensitive to my dental anxiety, and they went above and beyond to try to make me comfortable.  I go back to see my brother in a couple of weeks, and then a few days after that, back to Dr. Ritter to get the permanent crown put on.  Then I will be through!

Today I am finishing up my errands for the week (I hope!), and then I have another batch of tomatoes to make into salsa.  And then can them.  My hairdresser asked me this morning why it was called canning when actually you processed the salsa (or whatever) in jars.  She thinks it should be called jarring!  Ha!  So I am going to jar salsa today, but not as much as last week.  I am predicting 15-20 pints.

Someone asked me about canning spaghetti sauce.  I make large batches of spaghetti sauce, but I don't can it, I freeze it.  In 2 cup portions in quart size zip lock bags.  I am pretty sure I have posted my Spaghetti Sauce recipe before, but here it is again.

Spaghetti Sauce

1 chopped onion
6 oz. tomato paste
1 28 oz. can tomato puree
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 Tbs. fresh parsley (or 2 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. salt.

Saute onion in a little bit of olive oil, water, or broth until soft.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer until desired thickness (about an hour or more).  You can also put it in the crock pot after cooking the onions and cook on low all day.
If you are using fresh tomatoes, I would use about 5 cups of chopped tomatoes (with their juices).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saxon Algebra Homeschool Edition

I had a post yesterday at The Homeschool Classroom  describing how I am using Saxon Algebra 1 and 2 for our high school math.

I wrote this post several weeks ago, and since then I have actually planned our upcoming school year.  I realized that I don't have enough school days scheduled for Clay to take two day to complete one Algebra lesson, so I will follow the schedule that I used last year for Julie.

We will take one day per lesson, but we will not work all of the problems each day.  On the odd numbered lessons we will work the odd problems, and on the even numbered lessons we will work the even numbered problems.

I am almost done preparing for our school year!  We will begin August 5.  I have gotten most of my schoolroom put back together after the painting.  All of the furniture is in place, but I still have a few things to put back on the walls.  It's so nice and clean in there!

Click here to read all about Saxon Algebra!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Salsa Recipe for Canning

This a slightly different recipe than the one I used last year.  I had such a large quantity of tomatoes (52 large, some very large tomatoes), that I had to tweak my recipe a little bit.  The following recipe is based on 10 cups of peeled and chopped tomatoes.  I had 30 cups of tomatoes yesterday.  For the first time I chopped my tomatoes in the food processor rather than by hand.  This saved me a lot of time, but my salsa is soupier than last year.  It is the consistency of what you are served in a Mexican restaurant (at least what we are served in Mexican restaurants where I live).  If you want a chunkier salsa, then you have to chop the tomatoes by hand.

One note:  I had to buy a 6 gallon bucket to mix my salsa in!

I ended up with 27 pints of salsa at 11:30 last night!  Here is the recipe:

10 cups peeled, chopped tomatoes
5 cups bell peppers
5 cups onions
1/4 cup jalapenos, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
4-6 Tbs. sugar

Wash jars in hot soapy water.
Place in 300 degree oven until ready to use.

Cook salsa on stovetop for 30 minutes or longer (on simmer setting). I just cook mine while I am getting everything else ready.

Wash bands and rings in hot soapy water. You can reuse rings, but you must buy new lids every time you can.
Simmer in a pot of water until ready to use.

Bring water in canner to boil. Once water in canner is boiling, fill hot jars with salsa, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use a plastic knife to remove any air bubbles. Use a clean wet washcloth to wipe the lids of the jars. Place lid on jar, tighten lightly with a ring.

Remember: hot salsa, hot jars, hot lids!

Process for 30 minutes. My canner will hold 9 pints at one time. Place on dish towel to cool. Cool for at least 12 hours. If bands do not pop down, store in refrigerator and eat within a few days.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Just Checking In

  • Our Vacation Bible School is this week.  Fun!  Fun!  But lots of hard work and preparation.  Olivia recently told me that VBS was the highlight of her summer when she was younger!  That makes it all worth it.  Our theme is the Fruit of the Spirit, and I am helping Leanna teach the 1st and 2nd grade class.
  • I am in the middle of canning about 25-28 pints of salsa.  My neighbor brought me a box of tomatoes yesterday, and she said that they needed to be canned either yesterday or today.  I canned 60+ pints of salsa last summer, but not all at one time!  This quantity has about overwhelmed me.  I had to run to Walmart to buy another canner, a huge stock pot to simmer the salsa in, and a "bulk storage" bucket to mix it all in.
  • I got a new food processor yesterday--just in time to chop all of those cups and cups and cups of tomatoes, onions, and peppers.  My old food food processor finally broke last week.  The motor was just fine, but the handle on the bowl broke into several tiny pieces.  It has been about to fall apart for some time now.
  • I am almost ready for our upcoming school year, as far as planning is concerned.  However, I lack a schedule (very necessary for me to see on paper how I am going to spread myself around next year), and a clean schoolroom.  I had the schoolroom repainted, and I need to decide how I want to arrange the furniture in there tomorrow when the paint is dry.  I have already cleaned out all of the cabinets and closets.
  • I still have some beautiful pictures of Julie's 16th birthday party.  One day I am going to find some time to sit down and blog!
I hope your week is going well!

Friday, July 12, 2013


Why does a 43 year old woman do speed work?  Especially on a hot July morning on a highway in Mississippi?  I asked myself this question repeated this morning.

Hill Repeats.
That's what I just finished.

In case my summer wasn't challenging enough, I have set a time goal for the Tupelo 14.2 Miler in September.  In order to hopefully reach this goal (which is more mental than physical), I have been following a Bart Yasso half marathon training plan.  Since my race will be 14.2 miles instead of 13.1, I have been adding one mile to each week's long run.

This plan includes weekly speed work, which so far has been either running on a "hilly course" (I ran our trails on these days), or 1/2 mile repeats (which I have done once).

Today's workout was hill repeats.  I planned a workout that somewhat resembled what Bart Yasso described in his book.

I warmed up for almost 2 miles.  Then I ran up a short hill (.15 mile) and jogged down it.  Next I ran up a long hill (.43 mile) and then jogged back down it.  I tried to run really hard on the uphills, and I walked until I caught my breath and then jogged down to the bottom of the hills.  I repeated this three times, and by the 3rd long hill, my legs were jello!  I did my last two repeats downhill (ran hard down, and jogged up to recover).  The last part of the workout was a 2 mile cooldown run, and that was torture too!  The run was 8 miles in all, and it was difficult!

Today is a special day!  We are celebrating a birthday tonight and tomorrow.  I will share pictures of the big event hopefully in the next couple of days.

One more thing-----I am considering getting back into scrapbooking.  I have so many supplies, and my children enjoy looking through the very few scrapbooks that I have made.  When I get all of my school planned for the upcoming year, I hope to get out my supplies and make a scrapbook!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Homeschooling With Toddlers and Preschoolers

Recently someone asked me about homeschooling with little ones underfoot.  It's hard to believe that I am past those days!  I knew that I must have blogged about this challenge since I lived it for so many years.  As I was looking for my Mississippi History post, I found this!

This was originally posted in 2009.

Homeschooling with toddlers......is it even possible??

1-3 year olds... When mine were that age, I just kept them on my hip! :) Also, I planned our school day where each older child had a 30 minute block of playing with the baby. Each child played with the baby in a different location (Clay--outside; Julie--in the child's room; Olivia--in the playroom or den). 

Then for each location, I typed a list of what they could play each day. 
Outside--M-chalk; T-balls, etc. 
Child's room--M-play kitchen; T--baby dolls, W-legos, etc. 
Playroom--M-lincoln logs; T-wooden train; W--balls; etc. 

You get the idea. Now, I did not REQUIRE that they do the scheduled activity, but it gave them an idea of what to do if they couldn't think of something better. The suggested activities were typed and taped inside the closet of each room. When about 5 minutes were left, I would instruct them to clean up whatever they played with. They were also taught not to destroy the room, but to play with one or two things at a time, and clean up the activity before moving to the next one. 

I alternated sibling playtime with time in the room with me, either with no scheduled activities (I could just hold them or supervise them playing with the toy basket or book basket in our schoolroom), snack time, or playtime with specific toys stored in the schoolroom (like Little People sets, stacking blocks, anything developmentally appropriate.)

Small children (well, really children of all ages) appreciate order and routine to their day. The predictability of playing with siblings and being with Mama, in the same order each day allowed the toddler to happily participate in our day.

This has always worked for me and my homeschool!

Friday, July 5, 2013

So Far In July

Yesterday we enjoyed a fantastic 4th of July celebration.  We began the day bright and early by running the Tupelo Running Club's annual Green Street Mile.  The race began at 7:00 AM, but we arrived at 6:30 in order to have time to register and warm up.  The race participants park at the finish line area, and then walk or jog 1 mile up the road to the starting line.  I actually warmed up 1.6 miles, and I wished that I had time to warm up more.

All seven of us ran the Green St. Mile, and everyone was happy with their time.  This was my first time to race a mile---in the past I have either pushed the double jogging stroller or ran with Leah and/or Sam.  My friend Scott graciously agreed to run with Sam, and Leah is fine to run by herself.  So, I ran! And I was happy with my time too!

After the race I bought groceries while my hard-working daughters prepared a delicious lunch!  We invited Scott and his family over for lunch, and we had a fun time!  As usual, when the Doles come over there is much laughter and usually hymn singing as well.

After the Doles left, I was spontaneous!  Jimmy asked me if I wanted to go see Monsters University--in about 15 minutes--and I said YES.  So I told all the children, excitement ensued, and we all went to see the movie, in 3D.  It was fun!

So Far In July

  • We hosted a young man from the preacher training in our home for the weekend.  He was a pleasure to have around and to get to know.  We also invited the two teachers of the preacher training for supper, two Saturdays in a row, and that was such a fun time as well.  The men enjoyed a tour of Clay's forge and seeing his handiwork, and they all had a blast riding four-wheelers on our trails.  We made many fun memories last weekend!
  • I had a semi-nervous breakdown earlier in the week when I realized the length of my summer-to-do-list, and how the summer is rapidly slipping away!  This list coupled with the fact that it looked like something exploded in my storage room and my schoolroom just about put me over the edge.  I had a therapy session with my good friend Heather on Tuesday morning, and then I was good to go!  I came home and cleaned, cleaned, cleaned in my storage room and schoolroom, and with my girls awesome help, we have it looking good as new!
  • I have been plugging away at my race training.  I cycle through being discouraged about all that I have to do and how in the world can I even imagine trying to train for a goal pace for the 14.2 Miler, and being confident that I CAN DO IT.  My mental status concerning running and training varies from day to day.  We will see how it all pans out on September 1. (BTW, this race is on a Sunday, and as a rule, our family does not race on Sundays--so we don't miss our worship service--but the Tupelo 14.2 Miler begins at 5:00 AM, and I am always finished in plenty of time to get home to get ready for Sunday School which begins at 9:30.)
  • I tried to recall my focus word for 2013.  Sad, isn't it?  I must not be focusing on it anymore since I can't even remember what it is!  I will have to look at my January archives of this blog to see what my focus word is supposed to be.  However, I am choosing a new focus word (and it may be my original one!), and that is SIMPLIFY.  I am not setting any concrete rules for simplifying, but each day, each challenge or task that I am presented with, I am going to consider how can I simplify this.  Simplifying my life right now may involve cutting some activity, or scaling back my involvement.  I am still pondering how to simplify, and what I want to simplify.
  • I have begun my 2013-2014 school planning.  I cleaned out the children's work buckets from the previous school year.  I averaged grades.  I filed samples of their work.  Now I am ready to tackle the upcoming school year.  I plan to order all of my schoolbooks and supplies for the upcoming school year in the next day or two.  I don't really have that much to order.  Now that I have graduated one student, I have all of the curriculum that I need--I just have to order consumable items.  I now own all of the Sonlight Cores PreK through Core 100, plus select books from Cores 200, 300, 400, and the upper level literature courses.  My biggest purchase this year will be two DVD courses from IEW, one for Julie and one for Clay.
I think that is all for July so far.  Oh, I finally finished my homemaking binder, and I am so happy with it!  I will take pictures of it and share the details soon!