Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day of Homeschool

It's back-to-school at my household. I sent my younger 3 kids off to the elementary school across the street and Sarah and I started our first day of homeschooling. Let me say in the beginning that it gives me a new respect for those moms and dads who have been homeschooling for years. It's not always the most popular thing to do. I've had people say very negative things about it, but it hasn't deterred us from still wanting to go with it.  The one concern that most people bring up is whether the child will have interaction with other children.  My children see other children all the time outside of school.  And the children in school are not always the best role models for my children. 

Our public school system is not in very good shape as anyone who is involved with it can tell you. My husband and I are blessed in the fact that our elementary school across the street is a decent one though. We have had excellent teachers for all of our children, partly because we were allowed to request the ones we wanted.  Sometimes, we've wondered how the children learn anything in a class where the teacher spends most of their time dealing with problem children. It all goes back to the home! There are so many children out there that have no respect for authority because their parents have no respect for authority.  I feel for the teachers because they cannot do much to correct the children.

That all said, for years, we've tossed the idea of homeschool around. We knew that the elementary school would be okay. But, junior high and high school was our main concern. The schools in our district aren't good at all and there was no way we'd send any of our children to them. Yes, we could have transferred Sarah, but there was no guarantee that we'd get the school requested. Private school is incredibly expensive (especially since we have four children). And sometimes, the private schools are no better than the public schools. So, the decision was finally made in February of this year to homeschool Sarah. After we made that decision, I started doing heavy research on curriculum. And I always came back to one that we really liked - Abeka Academy. So, we purchased the material at our local homeschool bookfair back in May.

When trying to schedule class times, I didn't want her classes to go any longer than 50 minutes. This has allowed her to keep moving on to another subject without spending excessive time in one. We finished early since most of her teachers were just introducing the subjects today. In addition to the subjects being taught by Abeka, I've included music (piano & violin) and art class. She will alternate music and art. I found some excellent art curriculum online.

When asked if she liked it, she said,"Mom, I'm never going back to public school until I get to college!" We'll see if she sticks with that motto! 

Happy 2009/2010 School Year Everyone!

Friday, August 21, 2009

15 meals and counting...

My favorite website to read is the Happy Housewife. It is packed with many useful frugal ways to do things and many recipes. One of the things that is encouraged is menu planning. I've been menu planning for years and try to come up with new things all the time. The Happy Housewife has given me many new recipes which are becoming favorites at my house. My way of planning out a meal involves sitting down at my computer. I have many saved recipes and rely on the internet for the rest. I've considered doing away with my shelf cookbooks because I rarely use them. She has asked us to plan 15 meals and link it from her website. I just finished mine for the next two weeks yesterday. I actually plan 14 meals because I buy groceries bi-weekly, but have added an extra one which is also good to have in case grocery day needs to be moved. It includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. I find it easier if I know exactly what we're going to eat every meal. As for following the days exactly - I don't. Once my menu is planned I print it off and post it to my cork board in the kitchen. As we eat what's on the menu, I mark it off. Please note that many of these recipes come from other blogs which I will include links to.

Day 1:
Breakfast - Breakfast Cookies, milk
Lunch - Sandwiches
Dinner - Hamburgers, baked beans, potato salad

Day 2:
Breakfast - (small snack before church - we eat breakfast at church)
Lunch - Roast, carrots, potatoes
Dinner - Ham & Cheese Pockets

Day 3:
Breakfast - Pancakes, bacon, juice
Lunch - Turkey & Cheese biscuits, carrots, milk
Dinner - Chicken & Rice w/veggies

Day 4:
Breakfast - Griddle cooked eggs, toast / fruit, milk
Lunch - Tuna salad, peaches, milk
Dinner - Stew (made with leftover roast) cornbread

Day 5:
Breakfast - Banana muffins, fruit, milk
Lunch - Ham & cheese quesadillas, apple slices
Dinner - Eggs, English muffins, fruit salad

Day 6:
Breakfast - Scrambled egg burritos, applesauce
Lunch - Homemade pizza
Dinner - Yummy Chicken Legs, potatoes, mixed veggies

Day 7:
Breakfast - Oatmeal, juice
Lunch - Chicken nuggets, green beans, grapes
Dinner - Homemade pizza

Day 8:
Breakfast - Whole Wheat Pancakes, milk
Lunch - Sandwiches
Dinner - Ham & Potato Chowder

Day 9:
Breakfast - (small snack before church - we eat breakfast at church)
Lunch - Nachos
Dinner - Sandwiches

Day 10:
Breakfast - Scrambled eggs, oranges, bananas, milk
Lunch - Grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup
Dinner - Pink Pasta, salad, corn on the cob

Day 11:
Breakfast - Peanut butter & honey toast, apples, milk
Lunch - Sandwiches, fruit salad
Dinner - Tacos

Day 12:
Breakfast - Oatmeal, juice
Lunch - Taco Salad (from last nights leftovers)
Dinner - Tator Tot Casserole, green beans, fruit salad

Day 13:
Breakfast - Cereal (children can choose oatmeal or boxed)
Lunch - Sandwiches
Dinner - Tuna Casserole

Day 14:
Breakfast - French Toast, milk, fruit
Lunch - Macaroni & Cheese, green beans, fruit
Dinner - BBQ Chicken, potato wedges, carrots

Optional Meal # 15:
Breakfast - Cereal
Lunch - Sandwich bread pizza
Dinner - Grilled Chicken, Veggie tray (whatever we have availabe)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer's End

I'm amazed at how fast summer vacation has gone by. It seems like the children just finished '08/'09 school year. And suddenly it's time to start all over again. This year will be a little different since I'll have 3 elementary students and 1 junior high student. But we are just about ready to start. Sarah will be home schooled and she is very excited. We've even planned our very first field trip.

I received a bookshelf from my neighbor and it will work for the present to keep our books in. However, at some point I want to replace it because I can't place any of the books vertically because the shelves are not tall enough. But other than that - Year '09/10 - here we come! Stay tuned for more details!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My attempt at bread making...

One of my goals in life is to be a very frugal shopper for groceries and find cheaper ways of cooking. But in all the hussle and bussle of life, it's been rather hard for me to break down and cut out convenience foods. But here of late, I've forced myself to at least try. So, today, I decided to bake a loaf of bread since we had no store bought bread left. I have several recipes and recently got a book called "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day". I can't wait to try those breads, but still need to purchase a few items before I can. So, to save $ and still have baked bread, I baked a loaf today. The total cost for all ingredients was about $10.00. The flour alone will last for 7 loaves and all other ingredients will last much longer, so my guess is that I probably spent around $1.25 to make a loaf. However, it is half the size of a store bought loaf of bread so will only last for one round of sandwiches. So $2.50 for a full loaf? That's a little less than the brand I normally buy so I am saving a little, but not much considering I'm also using electricity to bake it.

The bread turned out beautifully and is way more delicious than store bought bread. It also has less ingredients and no preservatives. So, I guess I'll continue to make bread now and then, but to heat up my kitchen for one little loaf doesn't seem worth it to me. But, maybe with the artisan style bread, I'll change my mind. Who knows?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Today, I am posting something written, not by myself, but by my dh. I love to read his writings as they are often very thought provoking. The men of our church write a daily devotion to go along with the chapters they are reading as a group. Todays chapter is James 2. Although this was written to the men, it applies to us ladies too.

As I compose this thought, it is not intended as a finger pointing accusation but questions I have asked myself.

James 2 talks about faith. Not so-called faith but genuine faith. I have a friend that says he would rather witness to unbelievers with questionable life styles, and dress than to believers. He thinks the "unbelievers" are easier to talk to. Now I think most of us look at these particular people and automatically judge them; not right but I think this happens quite often. In our society people are trying to stand out, be different. For some standing out is expensive clothes, cars etc. and for others it's piercing and tattooing. But what happens when these societal "unbelievers" come into our church services? Pretend they are not there maybe? If so we have just exercised respect of persons which according to James is not genuine faith. Jesus did not give his life for the "believers" looking only. "For God so loved the world..." even the "unbelievers". So why not show our genuine faith by our works? The next time we meet a "unbeliever" can we show grace? Can we find him a good seat in church; maybe next to one of us?

Douglas Dunn