Monday, May 25, 2015

Summer is Here!

Each year as the summer begins, I like to make a master list of fun things and projects that I hope to accomplish over the short summer break.  Two years ago I wrote this article for The Homeschool Classroom.  It details how I make my summer list (with the kids' input) and how I implement the list. You can click here to read the post.

My list this year includes lots of canning and deep cleaning of my house and garage. Plus next year's school planning, getting Julie all ready to move to college, and doing a few things for Olivia's new (much larger) dorm room too.  Plus a vacation to the Smoky Mountains, Vacation Bible School, Rustic Youth Camp, and maybe even some sewing…..Oh, and I am probably going to teach a high school level English class (very small) for some homeschoolers this fall, so I have lots to plan and prepare for that.

Have fun planning and enjoying your summer!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Some Randomness

  • We finished school today, but we still have a few loose ends to tie up…..Clay needs to complete a works cited page for his research paper and also make his final corrections to this paper.  I am so pleased with his very first research paper.  His topic is Japanese sword making. I have three more chapters to read in Moccasin Trail for Leah, and we have 1.5 chapters left in our Apologia astronomy book (Leah and Sam).  I am really happy that is all we have left.  We tackled two Apologia science books this year:  botany and astronomy.  Next school year we are only doing one--the human body.
  • We almost have all our "spring" yard work completed. Clay will get us more mulch tomorrow to put around our little playground area, and I think that will do it!  We lost count, but Jimmy estimates that we have spread well over 100 bags of mulch. Sam is now an expert mulch spreader, and he has done a few of our flower beds all by himself.
  • Our garden is coming along nicely. It was getting overtaken with grass after several days of rain, so I took it upon myself to hoe up that stubborn grass.  That is back breaking work!  I worked over 2 hours and got only 3 rows done.  The next day Jimmy used our small tiller to get in between the rows, and then all 5 children helped me hoe around the plants.  It looks great!  And my plants are really beginning to grow.  
  • I'm having a small reception for Julie Sunday--for family and friends, and so we have been cleaning the house all day.  Thankfully Olivia, Julie, and Leah are all big helps.  Clay and Sam worked outside most of the day, mowing the grass and mulching flower beds. Leanna helped me with some simple but very cute graduation-themed decorations.
  • I finished reading Alas, Babylon, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Olivia and Jimmy have both finished reading it now too.  Currently I am reading The Fellowship of the Ring and Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. I really like reading.
  • It's that time of year….VBS and RYC (rustic youth camp) preparation!  I am 99% ready for VBS, but I am just beginning to plan and prepare my RYC materials.  I am teaching with ladies that I love to be with, and so we will have a wonderful week.  As usual, Lynn and I are staying at the same house together, so that is fun too!
  • Running…. I am doing well one week, and then not so well the next.  I guess I do need a race on the calendar to motivate to me get the miles in. That is part of what I am learning from the habits book. It's almost easier to do something every day (or 6 days a week), than to do it 3 or 4 days a week. A couple of weeks ago I ran 6 days in one week (resting on Sunday), and while I did not do a large amount of miles each day, I did manage to get 26 miles for the week. This week I have run only 3 days. I'm going for 6 days again next week. 
I think that is all for now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bento Bowls

When we were in Japan in Epcot at Disney, the girls and I found the cutest cookbook ever….Bento Boxes.  It had beautiful photographs and recipes for the most fun and precious lunches ever.  I read a little bit about bento boxes when I got home, and I discovered that it is the thing in Japan. Apparently, Japanese mothers spend lots of time creating these lunches for their children to take to school each day. The foods are cut into all kinds of shapes and even fashioned to resemble animals!

When we got home, I ordered two bento box cookbooks--the one I saw at Disney as well as another one with recipes for adult lunches.

I have not tackled making a bento box.  I could tell that it takes a good bit of time, and our lunches are usually whatever you can find in the refrigerator or pantry.

But Olivia decided to tackle the bento box lunch.  Except that we don't have any cute Bento boxes, so she used my cute Fiestaware bowls.  

Olivia spent about two and a half hours this morning creating six beautiful and delicious bento bowl lunches from scratch!  

A labor of love.

And it was a fantastic lunch!  Just fantastic!

a boiled egg cut in a tulip shape
brown rice
sesame spinach (so yummy!)
homemade "pickles"--cucumbers in flower shapes with vinegar, etc.
homemade sushi!
and various fruit cut in fun shapes

Isn't this the most precious lunch?

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Good Monday

We have had a good, productive day.  We have only 6 more days of school for this school year!  Hooray!  Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and Tuesday-Friday of the next.  We are celebrating Olivia's 20th birthday on Thursday.  Her birthday was back in April while she was still at college.  She asked if we could have a family celebration when she came home, and this Thursday is the first day that Jimmy is off this month. So.  A birthday party on Thursday!  :)

Kelly is taking his four children and my three youngest on a little road trip to Florida this Friday-Monday.  Fun!  Lynn and I are going to a homeschool conference Friday.  We plan to attend a few of the meetings, browse the vendor booths, and enjoy a meal or two together.  Mostly, we plan to just enjoy one another's company and have fun.

After school was finished for the day I read Alas, Babylon for 30 minutes before I went to town to run a few errands.  I asked Leah if she wanted to go to the library after her piano lesson.  Believe it or not, it has been about a year or more since we went to the library!  It is not convenient for me to go on a regular basis (it's about 15 minutes away, and nowhere near anywhere else I regularly go).  Leah asked me if she could get her own library card, and so we did!  We got one for Sam too.  She checked out eight biographies of various people.  I added a random fiction book for her and a large print copy of  Alice in Wonderland for me to read.

Also today Olivia and Julie shopped for ingredients and supplies and spent the afternoon making a coffee chocolate cheesecake for me--as part of my Mother's Day celebration.  It has to chill overnight (after baking for one hour), and so we will enjoy its deliciousness tomorrow night after supper.  I. Can't. Wait.
While I was visiting some of Olivia's friends while I was packing her up to move her home, Tom made the most delicious coffee cheesecake ever.  I guess I talked a lot about how yummy that cheesecake was, since Olivia and Julie are making one for me.

Today was a good day…..running this morning, laundry and school and cooking throughout the day (with lots of help from my girls), reading Sonlight books to Leah and Sam outside in the beautiful sunshine….watching Jimmy spray the garden, riding on the lawn mower with him for a few minutes…..the children crafting, and singing, and flipping around….

I am so thankful for my family.  I love being a mother.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Garden

Well.  I planted my garden a few weeks ago.  I kept waiting for an opportunity to get it in the ground, but we had SO MUCH RAIN in March and April, that every time Jimmy tilled it, it rained for days, and I could not plant anything.  Finally, I had a window of sunshine.

Jimmy expanded my garden size this year.  It is 30 feet by 30 feet.  Not too terribly big, but the biggest garden I have had.  It has 10 rows.  I planted 4 rows of tomatoes, 40 plants in all.  I will be canning tons of tomatoes this July!  I planted 4 bell pepper plants too. The rest of the things I planted were from seeds:  cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, crowder peas, and green beans.  I did not label my rows, and so except for the tomatoes and peppers, I was a little unsure of what was on each row for a while.  I tried to remember and write it down on my garden chart when I got to the house, but I got a little mixed up.  Surprise!  That's what I will have when the plants start growing.  I have figured out which plants are the green beans and squash.  A few seeds still had not sprouted earlier this week, so I replanted a few things.  Who knows what all will come up and where in a few weeks!  I am sure I will need to thin out some of my plants when everything sprouts.

In addition to canning tomatoes, I also hope to have enough peas and green beans to can as well.  We will see!

I am so happy to have Olivia home!  She and Julie and Leah too, when she is not doing school, are crafting like crazy!  We gave Julie a sewing machine for a graduation present, and she and Olivia have their sewing machines set up in our school room.  Julie has already begun piecing a quilt.

Leah, Sam, and Clay have just two more weeks of school!  Then let the summer fun begin!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Last Track Meet

This is the first spring that the Spartan Homeschool Team has participated in a full season of track meets.  They ran in 6 or 7 (I can't remember) meets in all.  It was so much fun!  We ran a meet with 22 other schools (and got home at 1:00 AM) and a meet with 3 schools (tonight, and got home at 10:00 PM--Yay!), and various sized meets in between.  All of our track meets have been in Tennessee because Mississippi public schools (and private schools that are part of the public school athletic association) do not allow our homeschool team to compete in their running events--both cross country and track.  So……we travel!  We pack picnic suppers and lots of drinks and snacks.  They runners and their siblings have enjoyed the fellowship so much.  And so have the parents.  It's been a great season!  Many personal records were set in various distances. I was a little sad that tonight was the last meet of our season.

Sam bought a ukelele with money he had in his savings.  A Ukelele!  I have no idea why he wanted one, but it came in today, and he took it to the track meet.  One of the older runners helped him tune it, and he is already making a little melody.  However, I  foresee his practice time being mostly outside.

I have a new book about teaching literature using the Socratic method.  It's called Reading Roadmaps by Adam and Missy Andrews.  I used Adam Andrew's Teaching the Classics course with Clay earlier this school year, and I really liked it. This summer I hope to pull together a literature/composition course for Clay's 11th grade year.  I will study Reading Roadmaps, the American history booklist from Notgrass curriculum, and the books from Core 100 in Sonlight.  I plan to choose 8 of these books for Clay to read over the school year.  Some of the books will also have accompanying writing assignments.  I am excited about formulating this plan.

Now that I am sort of back in the habit of posting regularly (3 days in a row!), I keep thinking of so many things I want to write about.

I hope to be back tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Beginning Running Plan

My cousin-in-law (is that even such a thing?? Season is Jimmy's first cousin….) asked me to help her get back into running.  She had a new baby recently, and now she is ready to get back into shape.  I told her that I had written a couple of blog posts in the past about starting to run, and that I would find a post and share it again.

Here it is! Originally written in 2013.

I have read many "beginning runner" type articles in magazines, in books, and online. Recently I found my favorite one of all. It is found in the January/February  2010 issue of Women's Running magazine. Most of the other plans I have seen start off fine, but after a few weeks, they seem to make too big of a jump in the routine. This plan gradually takes you from walking only to only running--over the course of 15 -18 weeks.

If regular exercise is one of your New Year's Resolutions, then I encourage you to follow this plan. All you need is a pair of running shoes and some good socks (not 100% cotton). You don't need a special place to walk/ can run up and down your driveway, around your block, in your subdivision, at your local walking track, on a treadmill, etc. One of the contestants of The Biggest Loser (I think this was in 2009) trained for a marathon (26.2 miles) by running from her front porch to her mailbox....over and over again!

Here's the plan!

Weeks 1-2: walk 30-40 minutes, 3-4 times a week
Begin each week's workout with a brisk 5 minute walk to warm-up
Weeks 3-4: Alternate 1 minute running/3 minutes walking, 7 times
Weeks 5-6: Alternate 2 minutes running/3 minutes walking, 6 times
Weeks 7-8: Alternate 3 minutes running/3 minutes walking, 5 times
Weeks 9-10: Alternate 3 minutes running/2 minutes walking, 6 times
Weeks 11-12: Alternate 4 minutes running/2 minutes walking, 5 times
Weeks 13-14: Alternate 4 minutes running/1 minute walking, 6 times
Weeks 15-16: Alternate 5 minutes running/ 1 minute walking, 5 times

After this, every two weeks add one more minute to your running time until you are running 10 minutes/walking 1 minute. You can eventually build up to continuous 30 minutes of running with no walk breaks, but if walking one minute after running 8-10 minutes helps, continue indefinitely!  When I ran my first half marathon, I walked a minute every mile, which was about equal to running 10 minutes/walking 1 minute. I also trained this way for my first marathon.  For my second marathon, I trained running 1 mile and walking 30 seconds.  For my third marathon (Disney), I trained running 1 mile and walking 1 minute.  For my next marathon training, I trained running the first 3 miles, and then walking for 1 minute after every 2 miles. Since I have been running for 8 years now, I can run shorter distances of 6-7 miles and less without any walk breaks, but anytime I am running longer than 7, I take the walk breaks.  It really makes a difference!

Actually now (now--May 2015) when I am doing long runs, I take a 45 second walk break after every two miles. 

The important thing to remember is to try to enjoy the run!  You should be running at a pace that you can talk to someone running beside you.  That's what makes it fun! If you are new to running, I encourage you to find a 5K race in your area.  It is a lot of fun to run a race!  Try to find a friend to sign up, train, and run with you, but even if you can't find someone to run with, try it alone.  You will feel such a sense of accomplishment when you cross the finish line.  And you will probably get a cool t-shirt!

I hope this plan works for some of you.

Happy Running!

p.s.  I am not a doctor or any kind of health care professional.  Please use your common sense when beginning to exercise, and seek professional help if you have any questions/concerns/injuries, etc.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Back to the Blog

As my 7 year blog anniversary approaches, I figured I better get back to blogging!

I also need to update my profile picture......I certainly have more gray hair than that picture shows.

So what all has been going on in the last month?

  • Olivia turned 20, and is home from college for the summer. I flew down there last Monday, cleaned out her dorm room and packed her up, and we drove all the way home on Thursday.
  • Julie graduated from the Johnson Homeschool last Friday night. We had 24 graduates in our local homeschool organization, and the ceremony was really nice and special.
  • I have taken the children to three track meets--one that was run well and ended at a respectable time, and two (same location) that lasted SO LONG that we got home a little before 1 AM each time! We actually have one more track meet this week at that same location. I can't wait. (just kidding). Watching my kids and their friends is lots of fun. Driving home when I am worn out....not so much fun.
  • We had our Keepers At Home end of the year dinner and pin awarding night. Leah earned several pins including laundry, cookie baking, etiquette, and patience. I forgot to order her a pin for general Bible memory, which is pretty important because she has learned a ton of Bible verses (one per week).
  • Jim (my father-in-law) finished his 6th chemo treatment yesterday. I haven't blogged about it, but he was diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct back in January. He has been in the hospital here in Tupelo a few times for various treatments, procedures, and surgeries, but he will be going to St. Louis later this month for further evaluation and treatment. His attitude has been super! We are all fervently praying for him and for Jimmy's mama too as they go through this trial.
  • Megan and Russ (and Millie Janalee and Smith) are moving 20 MINUTES AWAY FROM ME next month! Isn't that great?
  • I have read a few really good books recently, and I am currently reading a couple of more interesting, thought-provoking ones. I plan to share about all of them soon.
  • And. I hope to get back into the habit of blogging.......