Friday, July 31, 2020

Our Homeschool Highlights: Week #1

It is the beginning of a new school year! The first day of school always seems to sneak up on me and while I've carefully prepared the lessons, I never feel quite ready. We don't really do grade levels anymore, but according to their ages, Bridget is in 5th grade, George is in 3rd, Liam is in 1st grade. Juliette, being nine months old, is just along for the ride.

Morning Basket

We started our day with a prayer and our morning basket. I'm making it a priority for the children to memorize scripture and other great works. George and Liam are also working on memorizing the Pledge of Allegiance. Also, since Juliette is getting older and more attentive, we've begun singing a couple of songs with her so that she can feel included in our school day. This along with some stories is how we start our mornings.

Things of Beauty

Music Study

We began studying our first composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. We listened to his piece, "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik". The children were familiar with the tune but loved listening to it all the way through. We continued to listen to it multiple times throughout the week. It is Juliette's personal favorite and she jumps up and down in her bouncer when she hears it.

The piece is written for strings only, and it's wonderful to hear how the violas, violins, and cellos sound so well together. The lack of an entire orchestra makes it a simple piece, but so lovely. Perhaps it is because we've listened to it so much this week, but it is now one of our favorites! To learn more about Mozart himself, we read Young Mozart by Rachel Isadora.


Robert Louis Stevenson is our poet for this first term. We read his poem, "Farewell to the Farm". The children did some drawing while I read.

Artist Study

We read The Garden of Monsieur Monet by Pia Valentinis as we began our study of Claude Monet. This week, we're focused on his Water Lilies series. In lieu of our personal development projects, we spent the afternoon painting. The children did their best attempts at painting their own water lilies. George wanted to make an attempt to resemble the painting I had printed off the computer. I think he did a good job. Bridget and Liam also did well with their painting. They all used water color paints instead of the oil paints Monet used. I felt this would be easier for them. I don't think of myself as an artistic person, so this goes to show that even talent-less parents can teach their children the arts!


We were supposed to learn about Egypt on Thursday, but due to an unexpected family thing going on, we skipped this. Hopefully we'll study Egypt on a random day next week.


Since we're including the scriptures as part of our study of ancient history, we picked up where we left off in the book of Exodus. The children love dressing up for history lessons and were eager to put on their costumes. We reviewed how the Israelite's came out of Egypt, read the story of the Ten Commandments from the scriptures, and discussed each commandment. We also read about the golden calf (I bravely let the children use glitter for their golden calf) and the Tabernacle, finishing off the book of Exodus. The children watched a short documentary about the Tabernacle, and then to end our week we read the story of Aaron's staff/rod blossoming, found the book of Numbers. The children made a "budding staff". We'll later learn how this rod was included in the Ark of the Covenant that the Israelites kept with them for centuries to come.


We studied animals habitats, created a new habitat board, and learned about animal diets. I used the same board from the first time we studied habitats when Bridget was in first grade! It's mostly the same but with a fresh new look.



The children do quite well in math. Our math book contains 30 lessons but our school year consists of 36 weeks (or 42 weeks when we include a light summer session), I'm stretching the lessons out by having the children complete only one page per day, rather than two. Bridget was especially happy about this, as her math problems take a bit more time to complete. Liam and George have still completed extra pages on their own.

Juliette sometimes keeps the children company under the table. She's a busy body!

Language Arts

We scrapped our old language arts curriculum and are now using McGuffy Readers. During the beginning of the quarantine period in March, the children watched and completed all nine seasons of The Little House on the Prairie. If you're familiar with the schoolhouse scenes, you may remember Miss Beadle (and later Miss Ingalls/Mrs. Wilder) telling the children to turn to page such-and-such in their McGuffy's. My children had so many questions about these so we bought one to see what it was all about. The children took to them and begged that we give them a try. I bought the entire series and we began using them formally this week. We're able to use them for reading, copywork, handwriting, dictation, spelling, and grammar. So far, all of the children are very pleased with them.


During COVID-19 and my husband being home for lunch, we had switched to a large midday meal and a light supper. Now that school has begun, the children have requested that I go back to making "school lunch". I took my teacher hat off and put on my lunch-lady hat and prepared lunch. I only took a picture of their first day of school lunch. We had family over on the weekend and had leftover ingredients for sub sandwiches. It is one of their favorites, so they were happy with their meal. 

Personal Development

We're done with school by lunch time but the children are always asking for something to do to keep them busy while the baby naps. Bridget has asked to learn how to sew and George wants to learn how to build things. Liam didn't want to learn anything special and has chosen to take this time to play in his room.

Afternoon Tea

Tea time is back! We had cucumber sandwiches, turkey and cheese on crackers, and cookies along with herbal tea. This was Juliette's very first tea time and she was excited to join in. She was well-behaved and quiet as I read a story from The Complete Collection of the Brothers Grimm.

Monday was the only day we had tea time. On Tuesday, Bridget went back to the office with my husband after lunch to watch the last of the Harry Potter movies, as she had finished the book the night before. Things got a little crazy after Wednesday with some family stuff.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our first week back at school!

Monday, June 29, 2020

Homemaker's Journal: Monday, June 29, 2020

Joining Sandra over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy Homemaker Monday. 

I've had a bad last few weeks with a lot on my mind. I'm happy for the most part and enjoy my days, but I have a heavy sadness on my heart concerning someone I love so very much. I'm hoping that through blogging I can work though my worries, or at the very least distract my mind from sad thoughts. I cannot share details right now, but prayers for this individual would be appreciated. 


Monday: 90/71 Partly Cloudy
Tuesday: 89/72 PM Thunderstorms
Wednesday: 85/70 Thunderstorms
Thursday: 84/69 Scattered Thunderstorms
Friday: 89/70 Mostly Sunny
Saturday: 90/71 Isolated Thunderstorms
Sunday: 85/70 Scattered Thunderstorms

The weather seems to be a bit reflective of my mood lately. Ha!

Over the weekend we were affected by the Saharan dust. The children were expecting a dust storm, like those of the 1930s over the plains, so they were disappointed. My husband is irritated because the dust is clogging up the pool filter. I didn't notice much other than the beautiful blue of the sky blocked by a haze.


Earlier this morning as I got dressed and made my bed, the children were all playing in the boys room with Juliette. She is always the center of attention and they're going to regret turning her into a princess. After coming downstairs and having breakfast, I've set the children up in the living room and told them they can have a Harry Potter marathon.


Finish laundry, clean the kitchen, meal plan, catch up on cleaning I neglected over the weekend. I also need time to focus on school lessons, which we'll be starting back with at the end of July. The older three kids have dentist appointments at 3 and my husband will be coming home from work early to watch the baby. I haven't been taking her with me when I go out. Our state requires that everyone 12+ wears a mask in public, so I've been limited on going out as I hate wearing a mask. The children are not required to wear one, but are too afraid not to.


"A Princess On Her Throne"

Juliette brings so much joy to all of us. I love how the big kids include her in their play time. She is not often allowed in the boys room because they have toys she could choke on, but they worked hard cleaning up last week. It's still pretty clean so they brought in her princess chair and let her be part of their fun. As you can clearly see, she's tickled to be in there with them this morning. 


This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
-Psalm 119:50 (KJV)


I don't know yet. Menu planning has not been a priority lately.



I'll also learn more about my loved ones situation tomorrow, and I'll be spending much of the day in prayer.

George, my 8 year old, has his first baseball game tomorrow evening as long as the weather holds out. Only one parent is allowed to attend, the boys are not allowed in the dugout, and no one can sit on the bleachers. I don't know how they plan on playing the season with so many social distancing rules. Liam, my 5 year old, has baseball practice on the same night. My husband will be at the game and I'll be at practice with Liam and will need to bring the girls with me.

George has practice again on Friday, weather permitting.

Saturday is the Fourth of July so we'll do something special for that, though I don't know what. Maybe spend the day in the pool, enjoy some hot dogs and/or burgers, watermelon, etc. Too bad we don't own a grill to do all the cooking outside.


Friday, May 15, 2020

Our Homeschool Highlights: Week #35

If you followed my old blog, you'll remember I used to do a homeschool week in review. I've missed it and I want to start doing it again! It's week 35 of our homeschool year so we'll just have to begin here. 

Monday was great. Why? We were ALL CAUGHT UP!! Having a baby during the school year is not something I'd recommend. We took a lot of time off or did very little work during school. It got overwhelming at one point when I saw how far behind we were. So I stopped the extra subjects and focused on math and language arts. The children worked hard and now we're able to bring back the fun subjects. We worked on Liam's science unit (on the floor, because I began rearranging the school room over the weekend and our table is still a mess), which the older kids are adamant about participating in. We studied seeds, trees, leaves, and flowers. I had planned to do this unit weeks ago, but never did. Fortunately, I had already borrowed the books we needed before the library shut down. 

On Tuesday, our Amazon packages finally arrived! As the children are currently watching Little House on the Prairie, they've asked questions about McGuffey Readers. I ordered books one and two. Liam got right to work when they got here. Book one is very easy for him, as he's already a reader, but it didn't stop him from opening it up and doing the reading lessons anyway. I've got another little one that will be using them in a few short years so I'm sure it will be money well spent. 

Bridget's violin also arrived. We purchased an inexpensive but highly rated violin for her to see if it is something she's interested in learning to play. She really wanted a harp but those aren't cheap so the violin was her second choice. I have no experience with violins and had never so much as held one before it arrived. However, I was able to add the bridge, tune it, rosin the bow, and get it in full working order before handing it over. I purchased a violin book to go along with it and we've both been studying the lessons. Fortunately, Bridget can already read music and understands rhythm well. We're having to learn the symbols for "bow up" and "bow down" and things specific to the violin, but we're doing it.

Liam is wishing now that he had a violin. I asked him what special instrument he wanted to play and he said he was happy with only playing the piano, but he also wanted to play the trumpet like Daddy. We got him a trio kids music kit of clarinet, trumpet and saxophone that he's played with all week, but they're still not real instruments. He's been asking permission to play on Bridget's violin, even though it's too big for him. I'm considering getting him one, along with one for myself so I can teach better. Bridget's violin is too small for me, and very uncomfortable to use when I'm demonstrating something to her. 

On Wednesday, George's guitar arrived. He really wanted a rock guitar but I'm making him learn on an acoustic one. He loves it and I'm finding it much easier to teach than the violin. I honestly never thought I'd be a music teacher along with being a homeschool mom. 

Also on Wednesday, we got out of the house for the first time as a family since March 13th! I wanted to take the kids on a short nature hike since we had been studying trees. We went to a park we were already familiar with and the kids let loose. I enjoyed watching their excitement of being out of the house and back in nature. We saw lots of water birds, turtles, and a couple of caterpillars on the path.

The trail goes along a lake and then crosses over to a swamp. I find this landscape fascinating. I do wonder how old those water tupelo trees are. Some of them were huge!

This morning, we went strawberry picking! I'm still leery about going out so we went first thing in the morning. We shared the field with only two other families, though by the time we left more were arriving. Juliette got her first taste of strawberries while we were there. She has no teeth yet so she just gums on it and sucks the juice. She had three of them before it was time to go, though I know she wasn't ready to be done. 

Well, that was our week! We don't have anything special planned for next week as this pandemic makes planning anything quite difficult. I'm hoping for another field trip, but we'll have to see.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Photo Books

I've been working on unfinished projects during this down time, one of which are these family photo books. I've been working on them for years, though never got around to finishing and printing them. I design them on the computer and will order a hardcover copy for our home. It's a large undertaking, going through the thousands of photos I've taken of the children, along with my Instagram and Facebook posts that help me to document what was going on at the time.

While compiling these photo albums/journals, I've also revived our old family blog. The goal is to have a hard copy and virtual copy (blog) of our family life that the children can one day look back on. While we have fond memories of family vacations and major family milestones, I wanted to make sure I documented the day-to-day moments like these as well.

What have you been taking the time to work on during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Monday, March 30, 2020

Homemaker's Journal: Monday, March 30, 2020

Joining Sandra over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy Homemaker Monday. 

Good morning... we're on day 17 of our self-isolation/quarantine at home. It feels like forever. My husband began working from home last week and while it has been nice having him home all the time, he's also still busy working so I have the extra task of keeping the kids away from the "home office" he has set up in Juliette's nursery.


Monday: 77/50 Mostly Sunny
Tuesday: 61/44 PM Rain
Wednesday: 55/42 AM Showers
Thursday: 64/42 PM Sunny
Friday: 66/42 Mostly Sunny
Saturday: 68/47 Mostly Sunny
Sunday: 71/50 Partly Cloudy

Tree pollen is reportedly very high, and grass pollen is moderate. I have fortunately not been suffering from allergies so far this year. I am beyond grateful for that.


The older children are currently working on math and Juliette finally went down for her morning nap in the swing. I did some writing work with George this morning before he started on his math lesson. We managed to read three chapters in our scriptures this morning before Juliette decided she was done and wanted to start crying loudly.


We'll continue on with math and writing this morning and then work on science and history after lunch. The children are excited they get to watch two scripture videos this evening to go along with what we read. Bridget has her virtual dance classes this afternoon. They began them last week with ballet at 2:30 on Tuesday and tap on Wednesday, but the schedule changed this week to accommodate the students that are doing "online school" and do not get done early enough. Now she has ballet and tap back to back, beginning at 4:30. I set up an area in her room that she can dance in, with the laptop set up on her dresser. I'll probably send the boys outside to play since the weather will be nice.  We'll have dinner without her, as her class will not get over until 6:30.


"Brown headed cowbirds"
We've been doing some bird watching lately, as there is not much else to do around the house. We see a lot of sparrows and finches at the bird feeder and doves eating the fallen seeds on the ground, but this weekend these cowbirds came by for a meal. There was one female and two males. 


Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
-Isaiah 26:20 (KJV)



Breakfast: Banana-Orange Smoothies
Noon Meal: Macaroni & Cheese w/ Baked Beans, Yellow Squash
Supper: BLT's or leftovers


Breakfast: Banana Muffins w/ Maple Glaze
Noon Meal: Sesame Tofu w/ Brown Rice, Green Beans
Supper: Garlicky Tomato and Zucchini Soup w/ Breadsticks


Breakfast: Chocolate Oatmeal
Noon Meal: Smokey Cheese Pasta w/ Garlic Bread
Supper: Sandwiches or leftovers


Breakfast: Crumb Cake
Noon Meal: Black Bean & Rice Enchiladas
Supper: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches w/ Tomato Soup


Breakfast: Tofu Scramble w/ Toast
Noon Meal: Leftovers
Supper: Pizza

Saturday (General Conference)

Breakfast: ---
Noon Meal: Pizza Bagels, Fresh Fruit
Supper: Corn Chowder

Sunday (General Conference)

Breakfast: ---
Noon Meal: Burgers, Baked Beans, Potato Salad
Supper: Leftovers



About the same as everybody else. We'll do school lessons, the kids will play outside, we'll eat our meals, watch a movie on Friday, and we'll keep doing it week after week until this virus dies down.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Sabbath Day Worship at Home

Self-imposed quarantine is hard, and many of us around the country are having a difficult time adjusting to a "new normal". Sundays can be especially hard when you have a habit of attending church as part of your Sabbath day. For some, church was cancelled last week at the beginning of the COVID-19 precautions, but for many tomorrow may be your first Sunday at home. As our days seem to run together during this time, it is important to never forget the Lord.

"Family Worship" by Nathan Greene

For the most part, we've kept our usual Sabbath day routine, but when it came time to go to church, we got dressed in our Sunday best to meet together in our living room. Why did we wear our Sunday best? Well, the answer is simple. When we wear our best, we behave differently. It sets aside the time spent playing and the time spent in worship. It would be easy to continue wearing our pajamas and to lounge on the couch when we gather together, but is it being reverent? Is it being respectful? What we wear reminds us and our children of the sacredness of the occasion. 

We kept our service last week rather simple. An opening hymn, an opening prayer, the administration of the sacrament, testimonies, and a closing hymn and prayer. This week we're expanding on that a little bit more by having scripture readings, more hymns, and a time to also sing the children's church songs that they would typically be singing during their Sunday school hour. 

We don't know for how long we will be needing to worship in this way, but we are making the most of it. It is important to never forget that special time with the Lord, on His day, and every day. May God bless you with health, peace, and happiness as we wait to see what's in store for the future. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Miso Ramen w/ Baby Bok Choy & Shiitake Mushrooms

Ramen is a great food storage item and something to have on hand when you don't feel like making dinner. However, the same old flavors can get rather boring after awhile. I've begun jazzing up our ramen lately with fresh vegetables and tofu and it's a total game changer.

Miso Ramen w/ Baby Bok Choy & Shiitake Mushrooms

1 block of tofu
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
3 small baby bok choy, chopped into 1" pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp. white miso paste
1/3 c. soy sauce
3 c. water
3 pkg. ramen (throw the flavor packet away)

1. Prepare tofu as desired*, and set aside.
2. In a wok or large pan, heat sesame oil and saute the bottom portion of the baby bok choy until slightly tender.
3. Add garlic, the remaining baby bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, miso paste, and soy sauce. Continue cooking until mushrooms begin to get tender.
4. Add water and prepared tofu and bring to a low boil.
5. Place uncooked ramen into the water. Continue boiling until ramen is done, stirring occasionally and letting the ramen absorb the broth.
6. Top with black sesame seeds, cilantro (Chinese parsley) or green onion. Serve hot.

*I cut mine in strips and pan fry in oil until light browned. It can also be baked.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Homemaker's Journal: Monday, March 16, 2020

Joining Sandra over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy Homemaker Monday. 

Good morning! We've officially started our "social distancing" to minimize the effects of COVID-19, though my children have been referring to it as "house arrest". We're a homeschooling family, so staying home is nothing new, but having no interaction with anyone but our little family is going to be a challenge. Usually my parents visit at least a couple times a week but my mom works in a hospital and has no other choice but to keep going to work (a major downside of the medical profession), so I've had to ask them not to visit during this time to protect the 5-month-old from getting sick. I've heard that children bounce back pretty quick from the virus but I haven't seen any data on babies, so I'd rather not risk her getting sick so young. Better safe than sorry, but I still hate it. Moving on...


Monday: 62/45 Partly Cloudy
Tuesday: 65/51 Cloudy
Wednesday: 70/57 Partly Cloudy
Thursday: 81/64 PM Showers
Friday: 86/65 Partly Cloudy
Saturday: 70/41 Showers
Sunday: 54/42 Partly Cloudy

Tree pollen is reportedly high, which troubles me. Pine tree pollen is the only thing that causes my allergies to act up, but I'm hoping I can avoid having any problems this year.


The children are upstairs taking a break. I'm downstairs with time to myself. The baby is asleep in the swing. I'll need to prepare lunch soon. I have not yet cleaned the kitchen or started the laundry. With everything cancelled, I feel like I have extra time to get things done. I need to work on not becoming lazy during the next few weeks.


We are reviewing history and working on organizing our notebooks before we move on with new lessons. The sun is shining so I'd like to send the children out to play. I'd also like to go out and continue working on a project I started on Friday of transplanting our blueberry bushes. They're currently in raised bed garden boxes but I'm going to move them along the fence. The soil there is horrible (mostly clay), so I'm needing to build a trench to fill with good soil before replanting the blueberry bushes.


Juliette enjoying her new swing!


These unique challenges will pass in due time. I remain optimistic for the future. I know the great and marvelous blessings that God has in store for those who love Him and serve Him. I see evidence of His hand in this holy work in so many ways.

So, during these uncertain times, be comforted by this promise from the Savior. He said, “I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say.” I promise you that joy is always within the reach of everyone who will hear Him and obey His laws.”
-Russell M. Nelson


Monday: Baked Eggplant, Marinara w/ Angel Hair Pasta, Salad
Tuesday: Cabbage, Peas, and Potato Pie (St. Patrick's Day)
Thursday: Teppanyaki-Style Tofu and Vegetables with Brown Rice
Friday: Cheeseburger Pizza
Saturday: Minestrone w/ Bread sticks
Sunday: Falafel w/ Pita, Cucumber, Hummus



We're going nowhere. That's pretty much it. I'm hoping the children can spend a lot of time outside burning off energy so they won't get grumpy. We're homebodies anyway, but we've always had a couple of activities to attend every week. This week feels very strange and I know it will be difficult for all of us. Even our public library has shut down until March 31st (or later).