Monthly Archives: February 2013

Goals for 2013

I, along with the rest of the world, am not the greatest at keeping my New Year’s resolutions or goals. So this year, I decided to set goals that were very do-able.

1. Watch all movies featuring Jimmy Stewart. (Three down, about a hundred more to go or something.)

2. Grow out my hair. (I’m in Justin Beiber territory right now, and it’s scary. But it keeps growing.)

3. Take one portrait of each of my girls, every week. (This will be the hardest, I’m bound to forget. Remind me, please?)




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First Day of School


Guess who is going to Paraguayan school in the mornings?

And she loves it.

She is my busy, extrovert and this extra outlet for her has been a huge blessing to our home.

She always comes home in time for lunch, and then ready to settle down for some quiet time.

Happiness all around.


Changing things up





That is a picture of our school room. And our church’s sunday school room. And storage room. And spare bedroom/guest room. The organization is inspiring, isn’t it? Notice, please, the high chair holding pots of soil, the door falling off of the wooden bookshelf, the crib hidden behind the stack of plastic chairs. 

I recently shared on Facebook about big changes to our homeschool day and one of the first things we had to do was get out of that room! How can anyone think in there? 

I HATE being locked away in a room doing school. I much prefer having the kids working at the kitchen table while I cook or clean. So, first big change was pulling all of our daily work assignments OUT of that disaster zone. I placed all their daily work in one small basket (keep in mind, I have a 1st grader and a 5 year old. Not much work is needed.) 

Second big change, was to change the hour. I did not like spending all morning doing school. Mornings are when I have most of my energy, and the girls do too. What would happen is that we were all wiggly and cooped up in that room when we would rather be outside or roaming the house. Now, mornings are for chores, cleaning, riding scooters, watching Sesame Street in Spanish, getting meals cooked and stored for the day. Next comes quiet time, I nap, then wake up feeling ready to sit, read, learn…etc. Morning school doesn’t work for us. Again, my girls are young, and we don’t need hours and hours of school yet. 

Third big change, switching curriculum. We were using Rod and Staff Phonics and Math for the first grader. And she cried. And cried. And cried.  The Phonics was too easy and was boring her, so we threw out the first book (actually, gave it to the three year old for her “school”) and started on book 2. She is now engaged and happier. To Elena, there is NOTHING worse than being bored. The Math, however, was too hard. So I put it away and took a few weeks off while we waited for Math U See to arrive from the USA. I had been gifted the Teachers book, the DVD, and the manipulative blocks. All I needed to purchase was the student workbook. Now, Elena (who is 7 and struggles with math) and Abbie (5 years old, excels in math) are working through Math U See together, at the same pace. Two birds with one stone and everyone is happy. 

Fourth change, instead of planning out a school year, I plan out the week. One week at a time, because our life is very hectic, unstable and plain crazy. Every week is different, so trying to plan out a whole school year is ridiculous for us.  

The lesson plans change on a weekly basis, I make my weekly photocopies, and change or tweak whatever didn’t work that well last week. Flexibility is key for us. 

Fifth change, we do our together subjects first, then separate into one-on-one time after that. Otherwise, someone gets bored waiting for the other student to finish a copywork sheet before we can read together, etc. 

So here is run down of what we’re doing right now:

Bible: We read a Bible story from one of their children’s Bibles and then work on our memory verses from this app.

History: Reading two chapters a day out of Little House on the Prairie series and then asking questions at the end, to see what they heard and learned. They draw what they are hearing as I read. Questions come out of my Prairie Primer. We do not do all the activities and projects, because I am not Super Mom and I don’t feel like building a wagon out of a paper bag and popsicle sticks. Not this year anyway. (Also, we have been reading through this series for three years…it’s okay. We’re not in a rush, as long as they are learning.)

Math: Math U See Alpha. One lesson a day…we just keep plugging away, we’ll finish when we finish.

Geography: We are currently doing a lapbook on How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, but it is too much cutting and pasting for my taste, so I will be looking for something new when we’re finished. 

Phonics and Reading: With the 5 year old we are working our way through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and Bob Books. The 7 year old is doing Book 2 in Rod and Staff Phonics Grade 1. She also reads to me once a day from many of the books we have laying around the house and this Bible.

Literature: They are listening to an audiobook of Little Women at night as they fall asleep. They love it and they’re falling to sleep faster and sleeping better! Score!

They also do worksheets and copywork pages that I print out from the internet, depending on what I feel they need to work on that week (math, clocks, alphabet…)

So, let’s re-cap the adjustments we made to fit our family. 

1. Get out of the school room!

2. Change the hour of school! Afternoon school is where it’s at, for us.

3. If a curriculum isn’t working, dump it!

4. Together time first, one-on-one time later.

5. Accept that my life is too hectic to plan a whole year of school. Flexibly plan one week in advance. I homeschool year round, so this takes a lot of pressure off of me to follow a schedule. If we need a day or day off, because a mission team is here, or we need to make a church visit, or Mommy needs to go to youth camp for a week, we take it. 

Basically, we’re doing what works for US and OUR lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to do the same in your house. 🙂

(FYI: I have recently cleaned out and organized the school/storage/sunday school room. It’s not so terrifying anymore.)

Blog Crush

Have you seen “You Are My Wild” ? It’s amazing.
A group of photographers who post breathtaking pictures of their children.
I’m inspired to get more pictures of my girls!

Menu Monday

This weeks menu has a theme…”eat from your pantry because we had a lot of unexpected expenses and good thing I did a lot of freezer cooking last month.” 🙂

Monday-  B: Frozen pancakes and fruit. L: Chicken and Sausage Pasta D: Popcorn and fruit salad

Tuesday- B: Fruit Salad. L: Veggie Omelettes, fruit slices and homemade juice. D: Black beans and brown rice

Wednesday- B: Eggs with homemade salsa. L: Veggie stuffed baked potatoes D: Lasagna, Salad, and No Knead Bread

Thursday- B: Coffeecake, fruit. L: Chicken tenders, salad and sauteed brocoli D: Pinto beans and brown rice

Friday- B: Instant Oatmeal, fruit. L: Meatloaf, Veggies, Salad D: Chicken and Sausage Soup


I am almost constantly trying to cut costs on my grocery list (who isn’t?) Using what I had in my pantry and freezer all I need to buy this week is produce and some ground meat. We buy our butter and cheese in bulk to freeze. I also freeze chicken carcasses whenever I make roast chicken for dinner. Then I use it to make soup and/or chicken stock. Beans are cheap and I can get about three meals out of one bag, so I cook the whole 2 lb. bag and freeze it in three batches. We are going to start cutting back on flour and sugar, because it’s healthier and one less expense. Of course, that means we’ll be doubling up on produce, because lets face it, lettuce is not as filling as bread. Tomorrow we’re going to do our produce shopping at  local farmers market and we’ll see what the bill is.

So share, what are ways you cut back on your grocery bill, without using coupons?

Also, how cute is this planner? 




“Some people dream at night, but I think I dream more in the day time. Like when I’m playing, or looking at books, or coloring. I guess I’m a night-sleeper and a day-dreamer.”  – Abbie


A not-so-lame New Years Eve



I finally decided to get real this past New Years Eve. Normally, having turned down all invitations to late night dinners because the kids need to go to bed early,  we would put the girls to bed at 8 and then watch some movie and comment on how lame we are on New Years Eve. Then we go to bed at 10 and wake up to loud fireworks at midnight. Then we spend January 1st grumpy and tired with well-rested, bouncy children all around us. Again, so lame.

This time we dragged mattresses into our room (the darkest room in the house) and let the girls stay up till midnight watching old movies like White Christmas and the Little Colonel.  Then they slept in till 10 AM! Which is the PERFECT way to welcome in the New Year!


Best New Years Eve. Ever.

It is now tradition!



I see a gold medal in her future



It’s been a few months since the summer Olympics ended, but we’re still dreaming…

Why must we eat breakfast?

The other day I mentioned on Facebook that I was making some breakfast items to freeze. School is getting ready to start in a few weeks (bye Paraguayan summer!) and I dont. like. making. breakfast. I especially don’t like making it in the morning…when we’re rushing. Ugh.

So, I’ve been baking and scrambling up a storm in the afternoons to be prepared for the morning rush that is to come. 

Here’s what I have made so far:

DIY frozen french toast sticks

DIY Instant Oatmeal packets

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Pancakes

DIY Egg McMuffins

I also made some banana muffins, and some banana bread.

Next on my list: Baked Oatmeal. 

Any other ideas? Help me out!Image