Tulips and turkeys (Weekly wrap-up)

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Tulip Festival

We took a drive into Holland, Michigan on Saturday for the tulip festival. It was our first time going up there – the kids and my first time in Michigan overall, another state I can check off my list! – so we didn’t know quite what to expect. The first big part of the trip was that the baby managed a 4-hour car ride without having a major meltdown. Yay! I was worried we would get halfway there and decide to turn around because the baby wasn’t digging the long hours in his carseat, but he was a trooper, even getting in a decent nap before we got there.

DSCN0321The Dutch village was quite a bit more expensive to get into than we were expecting so we wandered around Holland, looking at tulips (they were everywhere). We walked through the craft fair portion of the festival until the husband and I got tired of the kids asking to buy everything they saw, then we jumped in the car and drove to a park on the shore of Lake Michigan. None of the kids had ever seen one of the Great Lakes before, so we braved the chilly wind and walked along the beach until the baby got fussy. The trip wasn’t exactly what we thought it would be, but it was still a lot of fun.

DSCN0338On the Homestead

We added 6 animals to our homestead on Monday – turkeys! Turkey poults are adorable! Last year we raised a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner and it was an all-around fantastic experience, so we decided to repeat it this year, but with more turkeys. Our chicken coop is full, so we need to build another coop for the turkeys, but we have several weeks to do so. Turkeys are very personable and fun to be around, and it’s nice to have more of them.

Homeschooling

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Photo by my middle son

I have to admit that not a whole lot happened on the homeschooling front this week. My boys are working on writing research papers. My daughter’s new writing curriculum came in at the start of the week – we’re going to try Writers in Residence by Apologia – but my week was so busy that I haven’t even gotten it out of the box!

Other Happenings

We need some roosters to help protect our layers, so on Tuesday I ordered more chicks from a hatchery. They’ll be delivered next week. Wednesday was my husband’s last day of school, but he didn’t sign up for the graduation ceremony so it felt a little anti-climactic. I finished reading Thirteen Reasons Why this week to figure out what all the controversy is about, and wow was that book terrible! This is my review on Goodreads. Tonight we’re going to a friend’s house for pizza and games.

That’s it for my week. How was your week?

Weekly Wrap-Up
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Mostly about chickens (Weekly wrap-up)

Weekly Wrap-Up

This week was very hectic but somehow uneventful at my house. It felt like we were going and going and going – and yet, looking back, we actually did very little.

Homeschooling

We are taking a bit of an unscheduled break this week. My daughter has kept up on her schoolwork, but she has less to do than my sons, who decidedly have not been keeping up – and the weather has been so nice that I haven’t had the drive to make them stay in with their books! This is one of the reasons we homeschool year round. We can take nice spring days off and school during the hot and humid summer days. I love the flexibility of homeschooling!

DSCN0280Homesteading

This was a big week for our homestead. We are what I like to call amateur homesteaders – we do some of the homesteading stuff but aren’t really throwing ourselves into it. We keep chickens and have a garden, but that’s it. We bought some chicks last month and have been keeping them in a brooder in our garage, letting them get big enough to be outside in the coop. They had more than enough time in the brooder, and on Wednesday we clipped their wings and moved them into the coop!DSCN0274

My husband had the hard job – picking up each chicken out of the brooder. Sounds easy, but they were mad and scratched him up a bit. My big kids helped clip the wings and carry the chickens to their new home. Even the baby and I got to help a little – although mainly by overseeing and taking pictures. Today we’re opening up the coop and letting the chickens have the run of the yard. I can’t wait until our new ladies are big enough to lay eggs.DSCN0282

Other stuff this week

I had two meetings with ladies from my church this week. I am doing a Bible study with one and reading a book with the other. We’re almost at the end of our Bible study on Philippians and will be moving on to Joshua. I haven’t studied the Old Testament very much, so I’m pretty excited to start our new study.

My middle son made lasagna for dinner on Tuesday, but unfortunately I forgot to take pictures. It was delicious! He even made the sauce from scratch. Yum!

Well, that’s it for my week. How was yours?

Menu Plan Monday #8

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The name of the game this week is cheap and easy. I already have all the meat and most of the dairy called for in this plan, so most of what I have to buy are vegetables. The Italian beef sandwiches are a slow cooker recipe, and while our Sunday night dinner might sound complicated, most of it can be preped the night before and finished on Sunday. Here’s what’s on our menu this week:

Monday – Cauliflower soup, ham and cheese sliders

Tuesday – Lasagna, salad, garlic bread

Wednesday – Sausage with cabbage & potatoes, rolls

Thursday – Italian beef sandwiches, mac and cheese, green beans

Friday – Baked potato bar

Saturday – Lentil and sausage soup, rolls

Sunday – Country ribs, southwest pasta salad, cheesy potatoes, green beans, corn bread

For more menu plans, head over to I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Easter weekend (Weekly wrap-up)

Weekly Wrap-Up

This was a busy week. Between the holiday and homeschooling and regular life stuff, it feels like the week just flew by. Here’s what we did:

Holiday

IMG_0202[1]It was Easter weekend! On Saturday we had a nice brunch with bunny pancakes. Brunch may be my favorite meal, so I try to make it for holidays when we’ll be eating dinner mid-afternoon.

Later, my family came over and we had Easter dinner and an egg hunt with the kids. My big kids are egg hunt experts, but it was the baby’s first egg hunt. He just learned how to walk a few weeks ago, so I envisioned him walking in the grass and picking up eggs for his little basket – but that’s not how it worked at all. Instead, he found one egg and parked himself in the grass, trying to eat the plastic egg. My mom and I brought him more of the eggs that we specially put out for him, and he would crawl and grab them if they were close enough, but he wasn’t really into it.

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Hunting for the last eggs

The big kids managed to not find 4 eggs, probably because they were yellow in a lawn of dandelions. We combed the lawn looking for them, but eventually gave up and went inside to eat turkey. Yum!

Homeschooling

School went really well this week. Last week, my middle son started using Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1 and this week we found a groove for how to best use it in our house. New curriculum always takes a little bit of time to figure out how to make it work for us, and I’m pleased that we figured this one out pretty quickly.

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One of my son’s pictures for his restaurant review. He’s such a goof!
My oldest kids have their first papers due today, and both handed them in yesterday. We’re coming to the paper-writing thing a little later than some, but my boys seem to be picking it up quickly. I found a red pen and went to work grading their first drafts. I also found a free grading rubric online that I gave the boys with their corrected first draft. They’re also writing restaurant reviews in their Cover Story writing curriculum, which has been such a fun assignment. My middle son is doing a review in pictures, and we went to a ice cream place for his review. They had all sorts of flavors of soft-serve, something none of us had ever seen before.IMG_0203[1]

My Big Happy Planner came in and I started using it for homeschooling this week. I’m so excited! I’ve been using Homeschool Planet’s online planner and will keep using that for the kid’s assignments, but I’m going to use the Happy Planner to keep notes on when long projects are due, homeschooling stuff that I have to do, notes on projects and field trips. I also bought a punch so I can use the planner partially as a scrapbook of what the kids have done, like my daughter’s family newsletter.

Other

I’m reading the book In Harm’s Way. It’s the story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, something that I knew a little about but not much. What a gripping book! I stayed up until late reading last night, but when I realized at 1 am that I still had 100 pages left, I made myself put the book down and go to bed.DSCN0260

The baby is getting his 5th tooth. He struggles so much with teething – runny nose, fever, crankiness – which is new for me, because none of my older kids did. Poor baby. It’s been rough week for him.

I realized this week that my husband only has three weeks of technical school left, which is kind of bittersweet. It will be nice for him to go full-time at work, but I’ll miss the days that he has extra time at home with us.

Well, that was my week. How was yours?

Menu Plan Monday #7

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It’s “clean out the fridge” week for us. We had a turkey for Easter dinner that I want to use up, and for the rest of the meals I went through my fridge, freezer, and pantry and planned around their contents. Two of my kids are making a dinner each this week as well, and I let them pick anything they wanted to make, so this is a minimal shopping week for us instead of a no shopping week. Here’s what’s on my menu this week:

Monday – Turkey gnocchi soup, rolls

Tuesday – Italian beef sandwiches, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, green beans

Wednesday – Creamy turkey soup, grilled cheese sandwiches

Thursday – Lasagna, garlic bread, salad

Friday – Sloppy joes, cheesy potatoes, broccoli

Saturday – BBQ country ribs, tex-mex pasta salad, cornbread, cauliflower gratin, peas

Sunday – Salmon, baked potatoes, green beans, rolls

For more menu plans, head over to I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Is the week over yet? (Weekly wrap-up)

Weekly Wrap-Up
 So I’m going to be honest – I’ve had a terrible week. The baby smacked my eyeball with a pointy plastic toy, I found out that the funding I was counting on to go back to school in the fall isn’t going to come through and I probably won’t be able to go, our power got turned off for half a day because of a mix-up with our bill, my middle son and I had a some contentious moments over homeschooling, I fell down on some sharp rocks while taking a walk with my kids and ripped up my knee, my fibromyalgia flared up, and the chronic depression I battle seems to be winning right now. While none of this is unrecoverable, it was a rough week once everything was added together. Lots of tears were shed and ice cream consumed.
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The coming storm

But, as is generally true, there were some bright spots this week. The weather this week has been lovely. We’ve gotten a lot of outside time, and the baby especially has been enjoying running around on the grass. Hubby and I have taken walks almost every night, and the kids have been riding their bikes. We did have one evening storm, but there is something about a storm that I like, when the sky gets turbulent and greeny-blue and the temperature drops so fast you can feel it getting colder.

On Wednesday I met up with a friend for a Bible study we’re doing. We meet most Wednesday mornings at Panera, and it’s such a good time of fellowship and talking about Jesus. We’re doing a study on Philippians called Joy!, which is a topic I need help focusing on right now.

On Thursday I met up with another friend, again at Panera, for a discussion on a book. We started meeting irregularly in February to discuss a book we read together, and we’re on our second book now. She is such a good friend, even though our friendship is a bit unlikely because we are in completely different places in our lives. Talking about Jesus and what he’s done for us (and eating Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup) was so good.

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My son browning the veal patties on our electric griddle
My oldest son made dinner one night – veal parmesan, portobello mushroom caps with marinara and mozzarella, spaghetti with marinara, garlic bread, salad. It was so tasty, and it’s an amazing thing to watch my children slowly grow independent and capable of caring for themselves and others.

Today we cleaned the house in anticipation of celebrating Easter with my family tomorrow, and tonight we’re going to relax with Rogue One and Hawaiian ham sliders. I can’t wait for some down time with my family! Here’s hoping next week is better.

How was your week?

Menu Plan Monday #6

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Last week was chaotic for us. We had a convention and guests and a bad test result at the veterinarian…it was a rough week. We ended up not eating anything on the meal plan, so this week I’m simply repeating last week’s with the addition of a few new things. Here’s my plan for this week:

Monday – Leftovers

Tuesday – Veal parmesan, spaghetti w/ marinara, garlic bread, salad
*Made by my oldest son

Wednesday – Tuna noodle casserole, broccoli, applesauce, rolls

Thursday – Pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls

Friday – Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad
*Made by my middle son

Saturday – Easter dinner with my family!
My parents are bringing the meat, my sister some side dishes.
I’m making sweet potatoes, pistachio whip, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, stuffing, and dessert.

Sunday – Italian beef sandwiches, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, green beans

For more menu plans, head over to I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Menu Plan Monday #5

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When my sons, who are each cooking a meal this week, chose their meals, they chose very similar dinners – but I don’t want to discourage them, so we’re going to have two spaghetti-and-meat dinners this week. Then, I decided to make this an Italian food week. Pasta always goes over well in my house, and the Italian beef can be made on Saturday and reheated on Sunday for ease of meal prep after church. Here’s what’s on my menu this week:

Monday & Tuesday – Going to a convention and will be eating out.

Wednesday – Pizza, breadsticks, salad

Thursday – Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad
*Made by my middle son

Friday – Chicken &/ gnocchi soup, creamy sun dried tomato pasta, garlic bread, salad

Saturday – Chicken parmesan, spaghetti w/ marinara, garlic bread, salad
*Made by my oldest son

Sunday – Italian beef sandwiches, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, green beans

For more meal plans, head over to I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Convention recap and more (Weekly wrap-up)

Weekly Wrap-Up

Last Friday and Saturday was my state homeschool association’s convention. I love the convention. I always find it so inspiring and invigorating, and this year was no different. I walked out the convention on Saturday exhausted and yet energized to go home and implement some of the new ideas I had heard.

One of the great things my association did this year was put up a mentor booth. A woman who has been homeschooling for over 20 years sat in the booth and took time to talk to moms who needed a shoulder to cry on, a bit of motivation to keep going, or both. Homeschooling is so hard, and it’s great to get wisdom from parents who have done it for a long time.

One of the speakers at the convention that really impacted me was Mark Hamby from Lamplighter Ministries. He talked about learning to love books and I was so convicted by much of what he said, especially about surrounding our kids with books and leaving space for them to read and explore their interests. I’m planning to write more about this in a separate post sometime soon.

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Kiddos with their new arsenal from SturdiGuns.

Of course, we stopped by the exhibit hall a few times and browsed. I love looking at all the vendors. We picked up a few things from vendors we’ve used for years – like the next in the Who is God? series from Apologia – and some fun stuff for the kids (anyone else buy from SturdiGuns? We love their stuff). We finally got around to purchasing a microscope, and this week we started going back through my oldest’s biology book and doing some of the experiments and demonstrations that we skipped because we didn’t have one. We also bought some new curriculum to try out.

New things we’re trying this year:
-Teaching Textbooks algebra 1
My middle son has been struggling with algebra, so we’re jumping ship on his current curriculum and switching to this.
-Master Books geometry
Oldest son is moving into geometry soon, and this curriculum come with an instructional dvd that shows the different concepts, something this geometry-challenged mom is really excited about.
-Master Books Foundations of Mathematics
-Introductory Logic
-For You They Signed
Biographies of the signers of the Declaration of Independance.
-Readers in Residence
A reading comprehension program that I’m going to use it with my daughter.

Other, non-convention stuff that happened this week:

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Trying to take a picture of a mobile baby is like herding cats. Sitting still and smiling for mama wasn’t his plan.

My oldest son has been struggling all year with algebra. This week he learned FOIL, and he nailed it! He was so excited, and it was one of the best math lessons we’ve ever had.

The baby decided this was the week he would start trying to walk. He’s turning a year old on Saturday.

I wrote a blog post about a reading challenge I’m doing this year, and I finished three more books on the challenge, bringing my total to 18 books so far.

We spent much of the week getting ready for next week, when my husband and I have a non-homeschool conference to attend and we have a guest staying with us for most of the week.

Menu Plan Monday #4

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We’ve had two busy weeks in a row, and next week is going to be another busy one, so this week I’m trying to take it easy. Lots of simple meals using what’s on hand this week. Last week we didn’t end up eating most of what was on my plan, so there’s some repeats. Here’s what’s on my menu this week:

Monday – Beef and noodles, green beans, rolls

Tuesday – Lasagna, salad, garlic bread

Wednesday – Tuna noodle casserole, peas, corn, rolls, applesauce

Thursday – Veal Parmesan, spaghetti w/marinara, salad, garlic bread

Friday – Lentil sausage soup, rolls

Saturday – Roast chicken, cheesy potatoes, broccoli, applesauce, rolls

Sunday – Grilled chicken, potato salad, mac and cheese, green beans

Head over to I’m an Organizing Junkie for more menu plans.