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).


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Banana Muffins w/ Maple Glaze

Banana Muffins w/ Maple Glaze

Makes 12 muffins

2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
2 bananas, mashed
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. plant-based milk
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, oil, plant-based milk, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.
5. Fill the cupcake liners with about 1/4 c. of batter.
6. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.

Maple Glaze

1 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. plant-based milk

1. In a bowl, whisk all ingredients together until well combined.
2. Either dip the top of the muffins in the glaze or drizzle it over the muffins.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Homemaker's Journal: Monday, March 9, 2020

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


Currently 71 degrees this afternoon and partly cloudy. Temperatures will remain in the 70's through the week, with a high of 79 on Friday! The weekend will be cool again. Rain is expected for Wednesday afternoon and possibly Sunday. I love this weather!


The children are playing in their rooms after a busy day. We woke up late (thank you, daylight savings time) and had to get going on chores and schoolwork, so I haven't had the time to sit down at the computer until now. Springing forward always sets our schedule back even more. The dining room floor has been swept, the table cleans, and a load of dishes are running. Two loads of laundry have been washed and dried. The kitchen counters are semi-clean, but I'm honestly too tired to do any more house work at the moment (a good reason for a blogging break).


We did our school lessons, piano lessons, and later tonight we have the my older son's first baseball game for his pre-season tournament. My children got a treat this afternoon when their piano teacher showed up with two of her grandchildren. They've been here before and the children love playing together. They're also homeschooled, so they've got that in common.


The garden coming back to life


Giving our all doesn't mean that we will be continually enveloped in blessings or always have success. But it does mean that we will have joy. Joy is not fleeting pleasure, or even temporary happiness. Joy is enduring, and is founded on our efforts being accepted by the Lord.”

-Terence M. Vinson


Monday: Sandwiches (at the baseball game)
Tuesday: Burritos
Wednesday: Lentil Loaf, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
Thursday:  Sub Sandwiches (at the baseball game)
Friday: Cheeseburger Pizza 
Saturday: Falafel, Pita, Hummus
Sunday: TBD



The pre-season tournament for baseball begins tonight. If we win tonight's game, my son will be playing again on Thursday. If he wins that one too, we'll have another game on Friday. Oldest daughter has ballet on Tuesday and tap on Thursday. It is parent's observation on Thursday since the original date was cancelled due to snow. Tomorrow, I'm hoping to take the children to the local plant nursery to purchase some lettuce and other vegetable plants for our garden. We will hopefully get them in the ground this week, preferably before the rain on Wednesday. The baby's outdoor swing arrived this morning, so we'll be able to put that together for her. I hope she likes it!


Friday, March 6, 2020

Homeschool Confessions

I have a confession to make...

We've been slacking off in our homeschool lately.

We've been doing our math and language arts lessons but I'm embarrassed to admit that we've stopped working on history, geography, and science.  Those subjects are our favorites, but they take a lot of time to prepare.

Last school year, we started off strong with our study of ancient history. It included a lot of reading from the Old Testament and books from the library. Then we switched our study to the life of Christ to follow along with our church Sunday School curriculum. While this was enjoyable and the children learned a lot, we didn't stick to our original plan. This school year, we picked up where we left off on our ancient history curriculum. That lasted until October when our sweet Juliette was born. We have not done history since! Needless to say, we'll have to do a bit of reviewing before moving forward.

We do a lot of restarting in our homeschool. Major events happen that put us behind, and then we try to catch up, which never works. Next week, I plan to restart our "fun" subjects again. The children miss them and so do I.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Time for Mother

My children and I recently watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie in which Ma is asked to bake pies for a church bazaar. She and her family had planned on heading out early, but she insists that Pa take the girls and she'll catch up in a few days. She's happy and smiling and Pa jokingly tells her that she must be looking forward to her time alone. She insists she'll be busy making pies but does acknowledge that sometimes mothers enjoy a bit of quiet time.

I think we can all identify with Ma in this instance. While I love my children dearly, and truly enjoy their company in the home, it is nice to have some time alone. I would often have alone time when the children were much younger and they would take naps. It was a glorious time. I would get some uninterrupted cleaning done, perhaps work on dinner prep, catch up on e-mails or blog reading, or simply sit on the couch in complete silence and enjoy those few moments to relax.

My children are older now and the only one who naps is the baby. They are always on-the-go and we keep ourselves very busy. Before our sweet baby was born, my husband would occasionally take the children with him out of town to visit his parents and I would have the day to myself. It allowed me to catch up on housework and take things slow. I missed them very much when they were gone and had an excitement build within me when I knew they would be home very soon.

Motherhood is strange in that way. We spend the first season of our lives thinking mostly of ourselves, only to be followed by the joyous season of marriage and family, in which we begin to think mostly of others. I believe it is part of God's design that mother's miss their children when they are not around; a longing of the heart. It encourages us to be better mother's when they return.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


A healthy taste of New Orleans!


1 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more, for desired heat)
4 c. vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
2 c. brown rice
1 can kidney beans (optional)
1 tsp. sea salt (optional)

1. In a large pan, saute onion and garlic in a splash of water (or oil) over medium heat until tender.
2. Add celery and bell peppers and cook until just barely tender.
3. Add diced tomatoes, spices, and vegetable broth. Bring to a slow boil.
4. Add brown rice and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
5. Once the rice is tender, stir in kidney beans and salt, if desired.
6. Serve warm.

*This recipe is intended to be healthy and meat-free, but feel free to add cooked chicken, shrimp, or sausage for a more authentic New Orleans jambalaya.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Homemade Hot Cocoa

Homemade Hot Cocoa

8 c. unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. sugar (or 3/4 c. for extra sweetness)
pinch of sea salt

1. In a large pot, combine almond milk and vanilla and heat over medium heat until steaming.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, cornstarch, sugar, and sea salt.
3. Once the milk is hot, add a ladle full into the bowl with the cocoa mixture. Whisk until mixture is smooth and creamy. This is to avoid clumps in your hot cocoa.
4. Pour the creamy cocoa mixture into the pot and bring to a boil. Whisking frequently, boil for about 5 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Our Weekly Menu: February 17-23

Here is what we're enjoying this week!

Monday (President's Day)

Breakfast: Tofu Scramble, Toast w/ Fruit Preserves
Lunch: Cheesy Roll-Ups, Side Salad, Cucumbers, Roasted Beets
Dinner: Chik'n Fricassee w/ Biscuits (Lincoln's Favorite)*
Dessert: Apple Pie*

*On the menu last week, but our day got away from us


Breakfast: Blackberry Smoothies
Lunch: Chili w/ Brown Rice, Peaches, Corn
Dinner: Sub Sandwiches


Breakfast: English Muffin w/ Sausage and Cheese
Lunch: Cheeseburgers, Pickles
Dinner: Smokey Cheese Pasta
Dessert: Apple Pie


Breakfast: Cinnamon Toast, Fresh Fruit
Lunch: Vegetable Lo Mein, Tofu Bites, Mandarin Oranges
Dinner: Corn Chowder


Breakfast: Biscuits w/ Preserves
Lunch: Macaroni & Cheese, Baked Beans, Broccoli
Dinner: Pizza


Dinner: Balsamic & Herb Tofu, Couscous, Roasted Vegetables


Brunch: Waffles
Dinner: Cheeseburger Wraps, Chips, Corn on the Cob

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A Day in the Life of a 4-Month-Old

Often I read blog posts titled "A Day in  the Life of..." and enjoy them. My day is not so entertaining so I chose to document the day of my baby as yesterday she turned 4 months old! 

8:20 a.m. – Mommy awakens me from my beauty sleep

8:40 a.m. – My diaper has been changed and I get set down for some playtime

9:18 a.m. – I begin to fuss because I’m hungry

9:23 a.m. – Mommy getting ready to nurse me
9:35 a.m. – All done! I managed to spit up all over without getting a drop on myself.

9:38 a.m. – I finally give Mommy the big burp she’s been waiting for
9:44 a.m. – Mommy changes my bib and tucks me into my swing for my morning nap. This is my favorite time of day. I don’t like to suck on a pacifier, but I love to gnaw on it for a bit to settle myself. 

12:26 p.m. – I’m awake! The piano teacher will arrive soon. I like to stay in my swing and relax for a little while. 

1:15 p.m. – Big sister is done with her lesson so Mommy warms up a bottle of milk for big sister to feed to me. I’m finally taking a bottle but Mommy is still my favorite. 

2:22 p.m. – I got a diaper change and Mommy changed me into my outfit for the rest of the day. She said we’re going outside. I can’t wait!

2:38 p.m. – Mommy brought my jumper outside again so that I can have a safe place to play. I love being outside with everybody.

3:25 p.m. – I got a little fussy in my jumper so Mommy and I went for a walk around the backyard. We found these pretty peach blossoms!

4:11 p.m. – I’ve been back in my jumper for a while now but I’m beginning to get sleepy. 

4:36 p.m. – It was time to come inside for a snack. Mommy nursed me and within a few minutes I was fast asleep. She put me in my swing so that she could make dinner for the big people. 

6:36 p.m. – I’m awake! Mommy took me out of my  swing and fed me again. Then I got to snuggle with my big sister.
7:15 p.m. – Daddy is home! It’s so nice to see him.
8:00 p.m. – Everyone else has gone to bed but I get to stay up with Daddy while Mommy takes a shower. I fell asleep again in his arms. 
9:06 p.m. – I’m dressed for bed and ready for more milk. I eat a lot at night. 

10:21 p.m. – It was a big day! I am worn out and fast asleep.

Good night.