10 April 2015

End of the Week Wrap-Up {Week 29}

I don't know about you, but I think spring fever has hit our house.  It has been a struggle to focus around here!  I can remember when I was in school and the weather began to warm up, it was SO hard to think about my lessons.  And when you're at home I can only imagine how much harder it is for my kids to focus on these warm and sunny spring days when they're just dying to get out and play.  So I'm trying to be much more flexible these days and remind myself that it just as important as their studies some days.

In fact, I feel as though I am in a process of relearning how to teach my children.  Their learning styles are growing and developing and I am learning so much more about how they learn--especially my son.  Since discovering some of his learning struggles I am having to rethink how I do things with him.  Even small changes can make big differences and get much better results!  I have to say that this past week and a half have been SO MUCH better than maybe the whole year thus far has been.

This may be the year that I truly come to grips with the reality that we don't have to do everything in our curriculum, too.  Not that we actually do everything.  But mostly everything.  But I'm being more realistic this year and keeping the bigger picture in mind.

This week our homeschool group hosted our 2nd annual Literature Fair.  So we have primarily focused on our projects for that for the past few days.

The Princess did her project on The Case of the Counterfeit Coin: a Brains Benton Mystery.  Mr. B did his on The Lemonade War.

My daughter had a difficult time just narrowing her choice down to one because she (like me) has so many favorite books!  My son needed a lot more encouragement (like me saying "you have to participate") but in the end he got excited since he'd just read this book and did a great job on his as well.  He especially enjoyed serving lemonade at his display board:)

Now I'm ready for a relaxing weekend after a busy week!  I just might be in my pj's by 6pm on a Friday tonight!  LOL

06 April 2015

What's For Dinner {April 6th}

First of all, I have to say that we had a lovely Easter weekend and I hope that you did, too!  We enjoyed a relaxed Easter brunch with our family following our morning worship service.  SO much nicer than standing in line in a crowded restaurant!  

My kiddos were excited about their baskets--although waiting until after church was a bit difficult for my oh-so-impatient son :)  That's what happens though with your dad is a pastor and has to leave super early in the morning.   

Last week's meal plan went so very smoothly~made my week so much easier!  After the busy weekend I haven't been much in the mood to plan yet for this week, but I'm pressing though.

Here's what's on the plan for this week:

Monday:  Sandwiches & chips (made with an amazing fresh loaf of sourdough bread!)

Tuesday:  Dinner out at Bob Evans since the kids can eat free :)

Wednesday:  {small group night} I'm taking Baked Cavatini

Thursday:  Cheesy Ham & Potato Bake with Salad

Friday:  Cheesy Stuffed Pasta Shells, Garlic Bread & Salad

Saturday:  Breakfast for Dinner (probably waffles & bacon)

Sunday:  {leadership potluck luncheon}  I'm taking Goulash (my Grandma's recipe, which is more liked a baked spaghetti)

04 April 2015

Happy Resurrection Sunday {and Our Easter Brunch Menu}

I love Easter!  Not only is it in the lovely season of spring, it represents all that makes life worthwhile--HE LIVES and because of that I can live in fullness of life, too.  Not just in Heaven, but even here on earth.  I'm so thankful for that!

As long as I can remember Easter has always been a "busy" day for me.  I grew up in a minister's home so my dad was always preaching somewhere on Easter--whether as a guest minister or in the church he pastored for several years.  Then I married and my husband and I have also been in ministry full-time for 14 of the 18 years we've been married--the past 4 years as senior pastors.

And the Easter weekend just gets busier.  But it's a good kind of busy.  Like today, we were at our church nearly all day for a fun event we like to call Easter Eggstravaganza.  It's a fun day for our church to simply bless our community with free food, games, petting zoo, some fun giveaways, and an egg hunt for the kiddos.  It is a blessing to me to see so many families come for a fun family time and go home with a smile on their face, some candy in their basket, and maybe even a desire to know Christ more.

However, by the end of the morning service on Easter Sunday the last thing I want to do is go wait in line at a restaurant--while my kids get tired and, dare I say, cranky.  Personally, I love a family meal at home on Easter but sometimes that just not doable and I'm just not up for it.

But this year I'm giving it a go again ...in 'brunch' form.  I talked my mom (who never wants to cook on a Sunday) and my sister into my plan, too :)  And so I created a delicious make-ahead Easter brunch menu and, as I type this on Saturday evening, it is all finished and ready to take to my parents' for tomorrow's meal.

Here's what we're having (and when I made it):

Easter Brunch Menu

Baked Ham
(my mom is making this early on Sunday morning and simply
leaving it in the oven while at church)
(from the freezer--easy peasy!--my sister is bringing these)
Broccoli Quiche
(I made the crusts for these yesterday, then the
quiches today.  I'm refrigerating them overnight
and we'll warm them just before brunch time)
Hashbrown Casserole
(I put this together yesterday and refrigerated it.
We'll bake it right after church)
(I'll whip these up right before we eat
while the hashbrowns are finishing)
Fresh Fruit
(prepared by my mom)
Coffee & Juice

Oh--and I baked a Velvety Carrot Cake especially for my hubby.  
Just because I love him.

See, this is a very simply menu and it's pretty much all prepared ahead of time.  I'm so looking forward to relaxing with my family after services tomorrow!

I hope you have a wonderful and blessed Easter weekend!

03 April 2015

*Motivate Your Child* {a book review}


I know you may have already seen some buzz around the internet about this great new book, but I'm going to tell you about it anyway ;)

Motivate Your Child, by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, is an exceptional book.  They are the founders of the National Center for Biblical Parenting and have joined forces to write, as the subtitle says, "A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told".

Wow.  What parent doesn't need to know that secret?!

Believe me, I snatched this book up the minute I had the chance!

Motivate Your Child is divided into two main section: Moral Development in Children and Spiritual Development in Children.

"Internal motivation is a heart issue."
-Motivate Your Child

This book is all about giving parents biblical tools to teach and train their children in how to correctly navigate complex issues that we all deal with like the conscience, guilt, conviction, repentance, and internal motivation.

As I have been reading this book--and highlighting the whoo doo out of it!--I am struck by the thought that if all people could correctly handle the issues discussed in this book what a different world we would live.  Most adults I know, myself included, still struggle with these issues, if not all of the time, definitely occasionally.

"Remember that the most important conversation you have with a child 
in a day may happen during 
a correction time."
-Motivate Your Child

This book concludes with 'The Family Challenge'.  This challenge consists of three ingredients: building relationship, sharing Scripture, and practicing faith, with the final chapter outlining this excellently for parents who want to build a godly legacy with their children.

You can find this book for sale in bookstores almost anywhere.  Online it can be found at Christianbook.com for $12.49 in paperback and $9.68 in ebook form.  

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Disclaimer: I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest 
and unbiased opinion.  No other compensation was received.  

30 March 2015

What's For Dinner {Mar 30th} and some *Raddish* Greek Burgers!

Ah.  Meal planning.

My housekeeping salvation.

Last week went so smoothly (you know, after two straight weeks of chaos), it was lovely!  Here's hoping for another great week.

But first, I have to tell you about Raddish Kids!  I found their booth in the vendor hall at the Teach Them Diligently convention I recently attended.  It is an awesome *cooking club* for parents and kids!  I picked up one of their freebie recipes at the convention and we tried it last week.  We made their Greek Turkey Burgers--only with beef instead of turkey because I didn't look carefully into the freezer before grocery shopping.  Oops.  Oh well, we loved these with beef probably even better than turkey.  And get this: these burgers tasted just like a yummy gyro!  I love those things!

Anyway, you can subscribe to these cooking kits and they will arrive at your house every month with three of the recipe guides and all kinds of other cool stuff that your kiddos will have so much fun with they won't even notice that is *educational* ;)

Here is the recipe guide that we tried:

Greek Burgers
(tzatziki sauce)
1 cucumber
1 small Greek yogurt
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
Grate the cucumber; pat dry.  Then add the remaining 
sauce ingredients, mixing well.  Set aside and make your burgers.
1 lb. ground turkey or beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 cup feta cheese
In a medium mixing bowl combine the ground meat with the
salt, pepper, oregano, onion powder, and feta cheese.  Mix well, 
using your hands.  Divide the meat evenly into 4 section 
and form into patties.  
You can cook these patties for about 15 minutes in a skillet 
or you  can grill them like we did (yum!).  
Make your burgers with buns, lettuce, tomato, red onion 
and the tzatziki sauce and enjoy!  

Here's what's cooking this week:

Monday:  Shepherd's Pie with salad

Tuesday:  Garlic-Lime Chicken on the grill with baked potatoes and a veggie

Wednesday:  Taco Cups

Thursday:  Cheesey Stuffed Pasta Shells  (with half going into the freezer for later!)with salad and garlic bread

Friday:  Tuna Cornbread Cakes, twice baked potatoes and salad

Saturday:  {leftovers/snacks}

Sunday:  {Happy Easter!!}  We're having a brunch at my parents' after church.  Our menu is: baked ham, quiche, hashbrown casserole, biscuits, fruit, and mini waffles

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie

27 March 2015

End of the Week Wrap-up {week 27}

So I just realized how badly I have slacked this year on the weekly wrap-ups :/  Kind of feel bad about that. 

Okay.  I'm over it.  

This just hasn't been the year of the weekly wrap-up, I guess.

But there's always now and I thought I'd jump back in there.

Part of the reason I haven't been motivated to post our weekly wraps has been that so many of our weeks have been really hard this year.  You may remember my post last fall about how our 9-yr-old son, Mr. B, has been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.  We are still learning how that is effecting us as a family, how we can better help him succeed, and how to handle the daily challenges.  And there are many daily challenges.  Often in the evenings I am just emotionally wrung out (this explains my lack of blogging in recent months).  

I am very hopeful that we are learning new and better ways to help our son learn and grow in areas where he really struggles.  Focusing on school work is currently a huge issue at our house.  I have tried what feels like everything under the sun, primarily in the way of natural products and behavior modification.    We recently made the (very big for us) decision to try medication.  We are just at the beginning stages of seeing if it helps, but I am hopeful.  

As for what's been happening in our homeschool lately...

We started the month off with a weekend trip to Arkansas, then headed back home to celebrate Vince's birthday.  He was awesome and chose some super fun things to do on his special day (birthdays are school holidays here, btw).  

We went to the science museum in Nashville.

Next we went to a trampoline park.

Then along came our biggest snowstorm of the year (and hopefully the last!) so we cozied up at home for a few days.  

The Princess participated in her first-ever speech contest with our local 4-H chapter and did a great job!

We made a model of a lung for that chapter of our human anatomy study.

We attended a local international festival.  Mr. B was especially excited to visit the Japanese booth--he loves origami!

Our homeschool group enjoyed a special history program presented by a member of the local chapter of the Sons of the Revolutionary War.  

The Princess turned 12 and we had a blast celebrating her!!

And just yesterday we enjoyed a tour of the offices and production area of our local newspaper.  It was so interesting!

It has definitely been a busy month!!  In fact the first three months of this year have really flown by.  I am trying to figure out ways of slowing down the rest of the year~any ideas?!

We are plugging along with our studies with the end of the year looking much closer :)  We've made it far enough along in the year to know what's working well for us and where we would like to make some changes for next year.  Last week I attended Teach Them Diligently in Nashville and was able to get a head-start on preparing for next year.  You can read more about that here.  And I'll be blogging soon about some of those changes we'll be making.

And now we're looking at the end of March.  Whaaaa???  So much to do before our school year wraps up.

What have you been up to lately?

25 March 2015

Reflections on *Teach Them Diligently*

This past weekend my husband and I were privileged to attend the Teach Them Diligently homeschool convention in Nashville.  I have to say, I was pretty excited about going!  And my hubby was generous enough to come along, keeping me company while also enjoying some workshops himself.  

The convention was held at the beautiful Gaylord Opryland hotel although we didn't stay overnight there.  Since we live just an hour from Nashville we commuted instead.  The first couple of days we left the kiddos with the grands, but decided to take them with us on the last day since we wouldn't be there the entire day.  

If you've never been to TTD, or any homeschool convention for that matter, I would highly recommend going!  Until this convention I had only attended a couple of other state level conventions.  TTD has done an amazing job of putting together a well-thought-out, God-honoring event that they are bringing to 4 different cities in the US this year.  The atmosphere of this convention and it's attendees was so refreshing.    

I was super pumped to see so many familiar faces from favorite blogs, websites, and books as speakers for this event.  While it's impossible to attend every single session (my husband and I often would go to different sessions to make the most of our time!), you can always get the recordings ...or simply choose the ones that seem the best suited to your needs and interests.  I thoroughly enjoyed each workshop session I attended and was able to have nuggets of wisdom to take home with me.  The workshops were well-planned and included powerpoint presentations and some handouts as well.  You can take a peek at the session schedule here.  

Some of my favorite workshops were:

I can assure you that I will be reviewing my notes a lot in the near future!  

And, of course, I had an amazing time browsing the vendor hall ...off and on for three whole days!!  Bliss!!  My poor husband could hardly drag me away.  It's just always so helpful to be able to look at curriculum up close and be able to ask questions about it.  I definitely found some new things for our upcoming year that I'm excited about!

The only real disappointment of the weekend was that James Dobson didn't make it.  Apparently he was snowed in where he lives with all flights cancelled.  So that was a bummer.  

But it just meant more time in the vendor hall for me! ;)

If you've never been to Nashville and visited the Gaylord Opryland hotel, you really must!  Even if you're not staying overnight.  They have the most gorgeous conservatory areas!  Plus there are shops and restaurants, too (I recommend the gelato!).  Below are a few pics that we snapped while showing the kiddos around.

So ...all that to say ...if you get an opportunity to attend a Teach Them Diligently convention this year you should totally go for it!