Saturday, August 31, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal - 8/31/13

I'm not real good at doing this weekly, but it looks like I'll get 'er done for this week!

Government schools are back in session where I live. All the local schools are up and running. However, our home school marches to its own beat. In one way or another we have continued our home schooling most of the summer.

But my daughter is getting married this weekend, and this week's school was relegated to a lower priority than will be true in the future. Things that JD could do mostly on his own were fine, but things that required my assistance mostly didn't happen. So, here's the run-down:

For this week I suspect this week contained no Bible. My son is not self-moving on personal quiet times at this point, family life just didn't include group reading times. Just being real. Didn't happen.

Absolutely blessed, I am, to have the opportunity to review Videotext Online's "Algebra: The Complete Program" in exchange for a review. We have had the program just over one week now, and it is not one that I will be able to just hand to JD to have him do on his own. Between that fact and the fact that he does not accept or adjust to change well, it has taken us six school days to: 1) watch Lesson 1, Video 1; 2) review and study to lesson notes that correspond to the first video; 3) get JD to do problems that correspond to Video 1; 4) re-review and study the lesson notes to convince him that, yes, I am serious that he is going to do this program and needs to take it seriously; 5) get him to take a new shot at different problems from the Lesson 1 Worksheet; and 6) take the quiz to the first lesson. Since he is in 8th grade and can do the "slow track", this can be considered two days worth of work. But it had to be done more slowly because if he doesn't "get" it, I need to wait a day and try again. He did not need to watch the video again, because that wasn't really the issue. He just didn't want to cooperate because he didn't want to change math programs (even though he wasn't understanding Horizon's Pre-Algebra at the end of last year).

He knows I'm serious now, and I think we're off to a strong, albiet slow start.

This week did not include any Grammar. We did not do any read-alouds this week. JD has previously not been doing any independent reading, and desperate to get him to engage in this activity we pretty much said, pick a book and read or you don't get computer. Any book.

He has older siblings, so sometimes he has access to materials that other homes with a 13-year-old might not have to think about his picking, so don't judge me please. His book of choice was Hunger Games. I've seen the movie, haven't read the book yet, so on many levels I am not comfortable with this choice, but I need to get him going on reading and it seems to be doing the trick. (His sister, similar situation, had been a lover of the Harry Potter books, and is now a very strong Christian. Ideally I would have loved it if his choice had been Lord of the Rings or something, but it wasn't. I'm moving forward.)

He has also been working his way through a handwriting program that we were blessed to receive to review, from the "Logic of English" people, so you'll hear about that one soon. I've been pleased with the way he has been able to take that one on and work independently.

The only science he got this week was watching some YouTube videos that interested him. If you think that's odd, go back to the beginning of this blog entry. ::sigh::

Like Science, we set History aside for a few weeks to prepare for the wedding.

Yeah... no.

Zip, zilch, nada


HEALTH:  Are you kidding me? No, seriously, there were some unfruitful conversations about choices he is making in his eating. Still working on it. Can't force him to be healthy; need to help him make that lifetime choice on his own.

The good news is that I can really and truly start school next week. The bad news is that... In my little house... I had to stash all the school work to have the house clean for company.  It will take me a while to get school functional again. I'm in transition trying to get my daughter's room empty to rearrange my house. But she owns more stuff than she can fit in their new apartment. She needs to go through her stuff and make decisions on stuff to part with, but she just hasn't had time, so I'm in limbo. I can't make those decisions for her. So it's really hard every time we "clean up" to get back to normal. Right now, "normal" does not include every item having its own place where it belongs. We're in transition, and it's really a difficult time. But a good thing.

So that's my summary. How was your week? This post is linked up with "So you call yourself a home schooler?" Visit her blog and read more folks' entries!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Diary of a WW II Soldier --Think Back Thursday

Debbie's Digest seems to be taking a break from Think Back Thursday, but I'm going to continue calling these posts by that name. I guess, maybe, I just won't be able to link up to her weekly page if it doesn't exist...

I always post these to the beat of my own drummer, anyway, not according to the themes she had been creating.

This week my Think Back Thursday post will focus on my dad, Herbert William Hall. 
 Born August 25, 1925 to Herbert Hall, Jr. and Dora Elaine (Morris) Hall, Herb was the oldest of three boys.
 I will have to insert birth dates later, but Bob (standing above) was a couple of years younger, and Eddie (seated with Dora above) was born about ten years after Herb. Herb is seated on the right.
Herb was always very industrious, with a strong work ethic. He was a Boy Scout, and made the rank of Life Scout,

Monday, August 26, 2013

Menu Monday for 8/26/13


Here is my vegan/carnivore blend menu plan for the week of 8/26/13.

Asian Chicken Stir-Fry and Rice (Vegan substitute tofu or faux chicken):
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 medium carrots, cut into 2" julienne pieces
1 bunch green onions, chopped;
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced;
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced;
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped
option: skip some of above fresh veggies to use leftovers from crisper drawer or a frozen package of stir fry vegetables from freezer
1/8 cup soy sauce
season with pepper, chopped cilantro, and/or sliced toasted almonds

In a large skillet, stir-"fry" the chicken in a thin layer of water, adding more as you cook if necessary. Remove to bowl and stir-fry all the veggies the same way, adding water as necessary. Return meat to pan when veggies are finished and heat again til meat is hot. Add final seasonings of choice. Serve over brown rice.

Spaghetti & Meatballs, salad, garlic knots:
Today we're pushing the "easy" button. Cook spaghetti noodles til done. Meanwhile, heat frozen meatballs in oven or fry pan. Heat 1 jar of Prego spaghetti sauce. Make a salad, and heat frozen garlic knots in toaster oven. Serve all hot. (My fat-free vegan choice will not include the meatballs or the garlic knots. If whole wheat noodles with sauce and side salad is not enough for me, I'll make some whole wheat toast on the side.


Asparagus Soup, salad, rolls: back, at my son's request, but trying a different recipe:
2 lbs asparagus, divided
1 cup sweet onion, diced (I dice onion and freeze it so I can pull out what I need for recipes)
1 potato, peeled and diced (I'm using a baking potato)
2 vegetable stock packets 
lemon juice
black pepper

In soup pot, saute onion by itself (no oil, let it carmelize). Set aside six stalks of asparagus to steam; cut the rest of the asparagus into 2" sections. Add the asparagus, potato, and 4 cups water to pot; bring to a boil. Add vegetable stock, cover, reduce heat, and simmer about ten minutes, until potatoes are tender.

In a separate pot, steam the six stalks of asparagus that you had set aside until just done. Remove from steamer to a colander and run cold water over them (so they don't continue to cook), then set aside.

Puree the soup in small portions in a blender (do not fill more than 1/2 full, and hold lid on with one hand while running blender). Pour each pureed section into serving bowl, til you have it all done. Add lemon juice to the soup and stir. Top with pepper.

Serve with steamed asparagus (each bowl is filled with soup and topped with one asparagus spear). Serve with rolls and salad.
Barbecued chicken, stuffing, green beans: (vegan faux chicken)
Grill chicken leg-thigh quarters, separated, then top with barbecue sauce. Serve with boxed stuffing mix (for the carnivore; some leftover brown rice for the vegan) and green beans
Spinach pie, Italian bread, salad 
Bisquick originally had an Impossible Broccoli Pie recipe that I adapted to have spinach, but I can't find it on the web. So here is my recipe:
10 oz. box chopped spinach
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup Bisquick

Pop box of spinach into microwave for 3 minutes to thaw. Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Pour into sprayed 9" pie pan; bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Serve with Italian bread and side salad.

This is not vegan, so the vegan will be eating something else or leftovers.

Family cook out: hamburgers, Amy's quarter pounder for the vegan,  hot dogs, chips, store bought cole slaw, maybe macaroni salad, another easy button night.

 Wedding tomorrow. Tonight we eat at the rehearsal dinner.


So, that's my week. Hope you enjoy the recipes. Sorry I don't have more links or photos, and sorry I'm not really "making" dinner much this week. Just a real life busy week in my household -- a rarely busy week, beyond normal. Have a great week!

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Menu planning 101

I've been menu-planning weekly now for 2/3 of the year. I thought I would post an entry about exactly how I menu plan, and how I make dinner successfully (and mostly on time) most nights of the year.

The first step I take before starting my week's plan, I grab my calendar, which contains my busy life, day by day, for the upcoming week, month, etc.

I also grab a blank sheet of paper. I fold it in half, top to bottom, and turn it sideways with the crease on the left. I write the days of the week spaced out from top to bottom. Then, considering my commitments for the week, I start my plan.

Each week, for my carnivores, I try to spread out the weeks options so that we have a lot of variety. I will be trying for one beef, one chicken, one seafood, one vegan or vegetarian, one soup, one pasta and the last one varies.

Obviously there is inevitably some overlap, because sometimes the pasta will have meat or chicken, or the soup will. So I definitely try to not have the same meat-type three times in one week. I used to also include turkey as my 7th meal, but my carnivores informed me they don't want it anymore. And sometimes I can serve pork, but they seldom want that either.
So, I allow basically an hour when I will be preparing dinner. If I won't be able to have that much time to cook, I need to make sure I plan a "fast fix" for that night. Some of my favorite fast fix meals are sloppy joes, cheese burgers, get the idea.

Most weeks the seafood (fish) lands on Friday. I'm not Catholic; it just turns out that way. I seem to like to serve soup on Tuesday... 

I think I'm getting off track...
In addition to spreading out my meat selections, I like to do the same thing with my starches and my vegetables.  Salad is an exception; we like a lot of salads.

So think about your starch selections:
potatoes, yams, winter squash, muffins, rolls, bread, pasta, orzo, rice, risotto, stuffing, get the idea.

Vegetables -- you don't have to be in a complete rut... Our favorites are broccoli and green beans (and salad), but we also like summer squash, zucchini, beets, cooked carrots, asparagus, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and raw vegetables: red, green and yellow peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, various greens.
The next step, after you determine seven dinners, is to flip paper and determine your shopping list for those meals.
Now, my Sweet One in particular for whom I am really writing this is just starting out. Getting married, working late hours, she has asked for my help. So here is my best shot.

First, right now this is not intuitive for you, so you'll need to plan for breakfast and lunch as well. If you want there to be leftovers each day for you to eat for lunch, then you need to prepare quantities for four to six people. I say this knowing that your Sweetie does not eat the way you do, so one serving for him might be the same as two servings for you.

First, with J's input, determine what will be for breakfast for two people for seven days. For instance, I like to buy rolled oats for myself. I guess I use about 1/2 cup of oats a day, I can't be sure. I like to buy my oats from the bulk section at Whole Foods, but a large size of Quaker Oats is relatively good and relatively inexpensive. (Don't but the store brand. It's not worth what you will save.) I eat this with frozen blueberries. I buy a three pound bag at Giant for less than $9. Between what I and other family members eat, the oats and blueberries last about two weeks. For you it will last longer. If J wants bagels or English muffins, I recommend you keep them in the refrigerator because of the roaches, and because they go bad quickly. I'd also recommend you keep your oats in the fridge; same first reason. Write what you need for breakfasts onto your grocery list.

Second, determine with J what is for lunch. One method is to cook six servings each dinner, and eat leftovers for lunch every day. Or you might want to buy a loaf of bread and lunch meats, cheese, condiments. You have to figure out how much to buy -- 1/2 pound of two meats? Three? Four? None? Cheese sandwiches? Clausen pickles? Oranges? Bananas? Requires that you decide. Write what you need for lunches (and snacks) on your grocery list.

Third you need to plan your seven dinners. If you want to use the crock pot, dinner will be ready every night when you get home, but you need to allow time to set it up each night or each morning. Decide what you are eating and put it on your grocery list.

Important, that I learned the hard way: Keep a wall calendar in your kitchen with the dinner plans on it. Make sure you freeze meats that won't be used on shopping day or the two days after shopping day. Each morning take something out of the freezer to defrost for what you are cooking two nights away.

So, lets say you shopped today. Your dinner plans might be steak and cheese subs. You'd cook Steak-ums, fry onions, slap it all in a hoagie roll, top with provolone cheese, maybe add mayo and chopped lettuce. This doesn't make a good leftover lunch, so tomorrow might be PBJ sandwiches for lunch. Put the items you will need on the grocery list.

Monday you might plan a crockpot chicken and rice. If you stick a whole chicken in a pot, it cooks up nicely but with a lot of grease from the skin. So, if you want to cook rice I recommend you cook skinless pieces of chicken OVER two cups of water with a cup of rice (or brown rice). When you get home, cook some veggies in a pot and dinner is ready. Once you get a microwave you can cook veggies in the microwave in six minutes! Put the ingredients you'll need on the grocery list.

Tuesday you might plan beef vegetable soup (recipe says for two, so double or triple it). Plan to serve with rolls, maybe salad, and put ingredients you need on the shopping list.

Wednesday might be your next day off, so you could go with a non-crock meal choice, like hamburgers or sloppy Joes, or whatever. Write what you will need on your grocery list.

Thursday you are thinking another crock-pot meal. Maybe you'd like chicken paprikash. This makes six servings. You'll need to cook noodles when you get home, or in adance, and decide if the veggies in it are enough for your preferences or if you want to cook a veggie, like a can of green beans. Add what you'll need to your grocery list.

Well, I could go on, but I need to start dinner. I think you should be able to get the idea. Pick a dinner, look at how much it makes to decide if you want to double or halve the recipe, add what you need to your shopping list.

When your food list is done, think about other things to put on your shopping list: milk? Eggs? Half and half? snacks? paper towels, napkins, TP, tissues, bathroom cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, window cleaner, Dawn, SOS pads, etc. Plastic bags, sandwich size? Quart? Gallon? Storage containers?
When you are all done, make a once-a-week shopping trip. Try to limit it to this; it will save you money. Every time you go into the grocery store to buy one thing, you will usually end up buying five. It's better to tell yourself that you need to do without until shopping day when finances are tight. Recipes can skip an ingredient; it will usually turn out fine anyway.

When you get home from shopping get your food put away as quickly as possible. Rest if you can before you have to start dinner. Get J's help for both grocery shopping, putting away, and prep, or whatever he will help with, if you can.

So, I hope you have found this helpful. We can still sit down together sometime, if you get a chance, but in the meantime I thought I'd put this together to help you out.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Menu Monday for 8/19/13 (Yeah, late again)


Sorry I'm running late again. Busy days: County Fair now ended; some school still in session; gearing up for a wedding; helping bride pack up her life; continuing goal of summer decluttering. Anyway, here's where we've been, where we're going:

 Fried chicken (faux chicken patty), mashed potatoes, broccoli;

 Antipasto, fresh French bread;

 Ravioli (whole wheat gnocchi) wit Prego sauce, salad, Texas toast

 Beef enchiladas (bean burrito); salad; chips;

 Hamburgers on rolls (veggie burger on whole wheat flat) with lettuce, tomato, onion; fresh garden vegetables;

 Fish sticks, french fries (black beans and rice); veggies

Ribs, coleslaw, rolls (vegan leftovers for me)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Understanding Child Brain Development - A TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

This summer I received a copy of Understanding Child Brain Development, a DVD set of a seminar by Matthew and Carol Newell of The Family Hope Center, free to me for purposes of review.  This DVD set is distributed by Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW), and not only has an Introduction by Andrew Pudewa, but also has Andrew Pudewa sitting through the seminar, interacting at various times.
Understanding Child Brain Development is a DVD seminar that everyone should watch (if you are a parent, will be a parent, are looking forward to grandchildren, work with children, etc.).

Monday, August 19, 2013

George Washington's Rules #12

Rule #12 and its translation:

12thShake not the head, Feet, or Legs roll not the Eyes lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.

Do not shake your head, feet or legs, nor roll your eyes, nor cock your eyebrow or make a wry expression on your face. Do not spray spittle on anyone's face when you speak by speaking too close to him.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Shhh!!! It's Almost Here!!!

"What's that?" you ask. "What's almost here?"

Schoolhouse Expo
That's right! The Old Schoolhouse Expo Special Event is almost here!

It starts Monday. From Monday through Friday, from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern there will be speakers, inspiration, and refreshment galore for the small price of $24, which includes recordings of the sessions, so you can listen later to what you can't manage to listen to next week.

Plus, if finances are tight, there are some ticket giveaways here and there that you can try to snag. I read about on at Ben and Me -- go read and see how to try to get a free ticket!

Think Back Thursday - Jesse David Hall

Usually, as I do geneology studies, I find myself uncovering amazing historical information from the past, like a huge treasure hunt.

Today, though, I uncovered information that brings me to tears.

In previous records I have written about my "Kissin' Cousins". My mother, Ida (a 3rd born) was married to my father, Herbert (a 1st born), and Herbert's next brother Robert, a.k.a. Bob (2nd born to Dora and Herbert Hall) was married to my mom's older sister, Carole (1st born to Theodore and Esther Holien). Carole and Bob's kids were as close as genetically possible to being our siblings without actually being our siblings.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Menu Monday (late) for 8/12/13

So I meant to post this Monday... I really did... but we're having a really busy week (county fair week). In addition to that, I put my plans on the shopping list. Hubby went shopping, didn't give the shopping list back to me, and I've been "winging it" ever since. 

That said, here is my carni/vegan blend that we have been eating this week, with guess-work on how this week's meals will end.

I think this was the day we had the antipasto -- a mostly no-cook salad with hard boiled eggs, rolled cheese slices, and rolled lunchmeat slices. Also included fresh vegetables from the garden, black olives, and vegan protein of beans or garbanzos, I can't remember which.
Spaghetti and meatballs, salad (whole wheat spaghetti with sauce)
Tonight I served black beans and rice. I added some baby spinach leaves so there was more vegetable matter.
Ham steak, steamed potatoes, yellow squash. I (the vegan) could have eaten just potatoes and squash, but my black beans and rice was calling me, so I had squash with black beans and rice.
Barbecued chicken (vegan faux chicken patty), rice, broccoli.

I can't remember why, but I don't think we planned anything solid for this night. Leftovers?

Roast, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, rolls (vegan leftovers)

So, this week was not a stellar week when it comes to nice vegan variety, but it was a low cost week, which is helpful occasionally. The next few weeks may be hard to plan and execute. My daughter's wedding is looming, and there is a lot going on. We'll have to see how things go. I'll probably try to plan, and try to follow the plan, but no promises.

Have a great week. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

America the Beautiful - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

 In early July my family was blessed to receive a package containing the America the Beautiful Curriculum Package, by the Notgrass Company, for us to use and review. 

Notgrass Company is a family owned and operated family, and the core materials have been written by Notgrass family members and published by Notgrass Company. That is huge. It blows my mind!

In our package we received both the America the Beautiful Student Workbook, geared toward grades 3-6, and the America the Beautiful Lesson Review, geared towards grades 7-8.

Monday, August 12, 2013

George Washington's Rules - #11

Here is Rule #11 from George Washington's Rules for Decency and Civil Behavior, and its translation:

11thShift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.

In other words, when you are where someone can see you, sit still (do not squirm or shift), and do not chew on your nails. 

I shift when I need to in someone else's presence; I need to when my back hurts. I guess one might infer, by part 2, that George thought it was okay to "attend" to your nails by chewing, just not when someone was watching...?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

2013-2014 Curriculum Plans

It seems like I already did this, somewhat, recently. But a bunch of folks seem to be doing this this week, so I thought I would join. I'll try to keep it interesting.

So, in the state of   
we are required to teach eight subject areas (Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Art, Music, Physical Education and Health), and we are required to be reviewed either by the county or by a private "umbrella". Since I don't like the county's oversight, our home school is under a church school's umbrella, and the umbrella also requires that we document religious education/Bible.

So here are choices I am currently kicking around for this school year (I am kind of squishy this year and not firmly decided...):

Bible is easy:

Math is finishing Pre-Algebra (several curriculum choices) and rolling into Algebra I (several choices). I'm trying to get my son to finish Horizon's Pre-Algebra and move on into Horizon's Algebra I, but he doesn't seem to be getting it. So, on the back burner I've pulled out Mastering Essential Math Skills: Pre-Algebra Concepts, which we used some at the end of last year. He's still not strong on some important concepts, though, so rather than plow ahead or continue to flounder, I bought Math U See manipulatives, and a friend is lending me the DVDs and letting me have the student book. On the back burner, you'll also see Princeton Review Step-by-Step Method to Mastering Algebra, a DIVE CD/DVD, and VideoText Algebra I. So, I guess basically I really don't know what we're using for Math yet.
Science is Apologia Physical Science, and/or Supercharged Science with Nature Studies added in.

Social Studies will be Notgrass America the Beautiful:


Language Arts combines Notgrass Literature, writing programs, grammar, spelling and handwriting. This is also where Latin falls:



Art and Music:

Physical Education: Family Time Fitness

Health: Boy Scouts... Daily living and instruction...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Old Schoolhouse Expo Special Event Reminder

Last week I posted to tell you that the Old Schoolhouse Expo Special Event is coming! I can't wait! So don't forget.

The Old Schoolhouse Expo Event is your own personal Home School Convention piped right into your own home! Through your computer you can listen to the guest speakers, every single one, any time you want to!

The guest speakers are:

So, two of the speakers are Adam Andrews and Andrew Pudewa. I already told you about Adam Andrews. I "fell in love" with him when I was reviewing Teaching the Classics for Institute for Excellence in Writing. I loved his presentation in Teaching the Classics, and I can't wait to here his talk(s).

And then there is Andrew Pudewa... Andrew introduces Adam Andrews inTeaching the Classics. He also has some recordings I've watched on YouTube. And he also is involved with The Family Hope Center, and a product I am currently reviewing. Looking forward to hearing what he has to say as well. He is associated with Excell


  So, buy a ticket for $24 or win a ticket, but don't miss it!  

************DISCLAIMER: I get to receive on ticket to attend this event for free in exchange for telling my blog readers about this event. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulation 16 CFR, part 255, "Guides Concerning the Use and Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

Purchase your ticket for the week-long Schoolhouse Expo Extravaganza!
Ray Comfort expo banner crew
- See more at:
Purchase your ticket for the week-long Schoolhouse Expo Extravaganza!
Ray Comfort expo banner crew
- See more at:

  expo banner crew

Think Back Thursday - Sleep

The focus of today's "Think Back Thursday" is Sleep/Sleepy/Tired.

What is it about the sleeping family member that makes the camera-holder think it would make a good photo? My son was sleeping yesterday, and I restrained the urge to snap the shot. It would not have made a nice photo.

That aside, there are so many beautiful sleeping-person photos in my arsenol that I MUST pull them out!  First one from the 80's of my nephew:
 Then a couple of years later, photos of my first born sleeping:


But I can't find a single sleeping photo of my 2nd daughter! So funny. I know I have one I can't find, but mostly she was colicky, so whenever she fell asleep I was so thankful I would never have risked waking her by taking a photo!  So here's my 3rd born:
 and here's one of my 2nd born holding my sleeping 3rd born: