Who I am...

Just more rambling from yet another homeschooling mom. I hope that I can honestly share my struggles and triumphs in this journey. I would love to inspire and encourage others, because if I can do it - so can you!!


schooling, cooking, baking, studying, working, photographing, eating, writing, playing, learning, praying, loving, imagining, creating, crying, hugging, laughing, giggling, mess-making, sleeping

Trying out this audio uploader thingamajig

Melody surprised me last night by reading the first book from the K12 phonics readers that came for Liberty (they send the whole program, not just the level she is on!). Its great because its a very comprehensive phonics program, and will be great for Melody and Liberty. Anyway, this morning she wanted to read the last chapter of the first book, and I had my laptop on my lap with its little bit in microphone. I thought it would be fun to record her reading the book :) So here is my four-year-old reading! I made 4 recordings, but the last one broke down into silliness . . .

Crossing my fingers that these audio clips work. :)

What a morning. . .

I cannot believe the ridiculousness that has been this morning. Ugh ugh ugh. Was shocked out of bed by massive shattering glass. In my suddenly awakened brain, I saw flashes near the skylight of our bedroom and thought it was the skylight crashing down on us. I screamed, and had a near fatal heart attack. Then I hopped out of bed and realized the cat had knocked over the door mirror which had recently been dislodged from its home on the back of the bedroom door. The next hour, until around 6 am, was spent in gloves and shoes cleaning up tiny shards of broken glass spread up and down the staircase, upstairs hall, our bedroom, the landing, the main floor, and the sitting room next to the stairs. My vacuum was doing overtime, and apparently had recently been lowered so it tore up little bits of carpet while I used the hose. I need one of those vacuums that turns of the stupid brushes when the hose is engaged. Crap.

My girls woke up cranky and fighting. I am cranky and fighting. I have too much to do, not enough time to do it, and am blogging instead because I can't seem to get my brain to actually function properly. The only thing keeping my eyes open is the fact that I was asleep before 10pm. Was supposed to have a date night with my husband, but am not really feeling it, we have to be at Focus on the Family at 6:30 in the morning tomorrow. Think I am going to be dropping off my girls for the night, going straight home and going to bed.

In the meantime, I am crossing my fingers that I can win a free handbag from http://www.handbagplanet.com/ My purse from Target is falling apart, and the strap is set to break any day now. And since I am not a purse person, and don't care too much about my purse looking fashionable, the only way for me to get a stylish replacement is to win one! Maybe you could win too, just don't pick the same bag as me! :)

On the mend, for now. . .

Liberty seems to be getting healthy, though she was still cranky and needed a nap today. She probably could take a nap every day! She even fell asleep in my arms today. It was so sweet, even if she is almost 50 pounds!

The girls also have a new little friend who comes over almost every day asking to play, and its been a good encouragement for them to get their work done early in the day so that they can play with her in the afternoon. It helps Ainsley the most, as she is the one who has both the most work to complete, and is the slowest worker.

Last night's dinner was quite yummy too. I made a cross between swedish and italian meatballs. My girls will never eat meatballs in spaghetti, even though I've tried to convince them that meatballs are just like little balls of hamburgers! So, I thought maybe I could introduce them to meatballs at home like the ones they used to love at IKEA. Only we didn't have sausage, or ingredients for cream sauce. So we just baked up the meatballs in the oven and had a variety of dipping sauces. Of course Ainsley said at the beginning of the meal that she didn't like meatballs and wasn't going to eat them. She knows she has to try everything on her plate, but she was convinced that it would take her eating them many more times before she would like them. Well, all it took was a little A1 sauce for Ainsley to eat both the meatballs on her plate and ask for more! Victory :) All the girls had seconds, and are looking forward to the mini meatballs that I made for their lunches tomorrow.

On the school front, the girls are doing well. They had a Scantron test last week, and though I haven't officially gotten the results, I know Ainsley did very well. She did MUCH better on her math than on her placement exam! We've really been working on Math this past month, and I feel like she suddenly has the confidence in her ability to do math. It is just wonderful! Its very similar to the way she started reading, actually. And I knew that the moment would come, but it feels like its been a long time coming. In fact, she missed so much in the placement test, even on the second grade level (yet scored 100% on things like multiplication!) which is why I asked for the second grade level to be sent. I hoped we'd be able to get through 2 years of math this year. And just yesterday, she did the end of the year test in the second grade Math book and passed it!!!! I saw the areas where she needs work, and we will go over those couple of areas while we wait for the third grade Math to arrive. I asked the teacher to order it yesterday! Now I am hoping that we can get through third grade Math by December, and then maybe we will actually begin 4th grade Math this year!

And her writing is improving, and its not such a struggle to get her going in the morning. All around, this is shaping up to be the best year of homeschooling yet.

Oh, the recipe for the meatballs!

Around 2 pounds of ground beef
2 eggs
enough bread crumbs to bind the meatballs, approx 1/2 cup
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
sprinkle of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs dried onion
A dash of chili pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly spray cookie sheets with Pam
Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl with your hands
Roll into small balls, about 1 Tbs or less of mixture (we did large ones for dinner and small ones for lunches)
Bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes turning about halfway through
Serve with a variety of dipping sauce, make extra to add to spaghetti sauce, and for lunch the next day! We ate ours with cheater baked potatoes (I microwaved them first for 15 minutes then through them into the over with the meatballs.)


Its been a looooong week . . .

We have been dealing with a feverish, cranky kid all week. Liberty was feeling really yucky on Monday, but Tuesday she seemed to be on the mend. She was fine on Wednesday. But halfway through co-op on Thursday, she started complaining that her ear was really hurting. She had a fever and a seriously painful ear, even on two types of painkillers. Poor kid! We even had to skip a meeting with the teacher :( She still has a touch of a fever today, but her attitude is much improved, and she has been running around a playing today, which is a huge improvement over several days spent sleeping, eating, and coloring in the big blue chair.

I have a post hanging out in the cue about the recent birth I attended, but I have been waiting 'til I got the pictures processed before posting. Whoops, have had ZERO time to sit at my computer!

Oh and Molly has been catching mice in the basement. EEEEeewwww. But at least she is earning her keep, I just wish she didn't HAVE to. I hate rodents. I really really really need to get them out of my house. Yucky. Eww. Gross. Ick. All the more reason to not sit at my computer. . . too close to the mice!!!

Ummm, what else can I ramble about?

Oh yes, pancakes!

Each weekend I have been making up a batch of a different type of pancakes for us to try out. The first week we tried applesauce pancakes. I used a simple pancake mix that added applesauce and cinnamon for a "moister" pancake. They were okay. Not fabulous. Better than plain pancakes, but took a long long time to cook, and had a funky texture. Last weekend, I made pumpkin pancakes. These were a LOT better than the applesauce ones. It was a much thinner batter with soy milk and eggs, pumpkin pie spices and canned pumpkin. These were almost like eating pumpkin pie for breakfast! They made the house smell delicious, and I had plenty of extra that we toasted up for breakfast a couple more times during the week. The girls declared them the best pancakes ever, and I had to agree. But this week we had the very best pancakes yet! We had German Pancakes, or popovers, or pop-up pancakes. We used this recipe, but modified it with soy milk as my tummy is growing more and more lactose intolerant. I probably should also have added a bit more flour for our altitude. As it was they took over twenty minutes and didn't get quite as lovely and golden. We ate ours with jam and powdered sugar, and a few with syrup and butter. They were so tasty! A bit like the crepes we love, and a bit like waffles. Super easy, and the only thing you have to make sure to have on hand is plenty of eggs.

Its been an eating sort of a weekend. I just cooked up some spinach and popcorn for dinner. Yes its weird. But it was yummy, and since we had salad and corn dog muffins for lunch, none of us were super hungry. And we have fresh made green tea ice cream for dessert tonight, so why fill up on other food when you can have ice cream?! About that lactose intolerance, yeah, I give up. Do those Lact-aid pills work? Or are there any good soy milk ice cream recipes out there?

Have sick child . . .

Will trade for chocolate!

And it is so hard to get motivated to get out of my computer chair when there is a soft, warm, and cozy sleeping kitty on my lap.

This week we have co-op, DIBELS testing for Liberty, and lots and lots of school work to do. I need to be more intentional about having my kids write, especially in their handwriting books. I feel like we are still getting into the groove with schoolwork, and I just don't know what I need to get accomplished everyday. We are doing well with the core subjects, and the co-op is helping a lot with Art, Science, and History which can easily fall by the wayside in the day to day subjects. But I still find it hard to motivate them with spelling and handwriting.

And I am having a hard time finding enough to keep Melody occupied with work she can do on her own. We are also trying to do reading every day, and she loves it, but I know she could do more if I had the time.

I think we will also do some baking today. Yesterday, between fevers, sneezing, coughing, and general ickiness, we did a whole lot of laying around in front of the fireplace trying to stay warm. I can't believe I actually am at the point where I need to clean out all the vents so that we can run the HEATER! Right now warm clothes, socks, and blankets are doing the trick, but it won't be long before we will need the heater too. Isn't it technically still summer? Our leaves are already changing color. I think we may try to eat outside this afternoon and then sketch pictures of the changing leaves. I'd like to do a quick 4 part series by each of them, one with most of the leaves green still, one with most of the leaves changing color, one with the leaves on the ground and the branches bare, and one of the trees covered in snow. Then in the spring we will add to the series. I was thinking about making the sketches small and then framing them in a series. So we will see how it goes today :)

And now that it is nine o'clock, we really ought to get our school day started!

Just a quick note!

I have added a second blog to my list of things to keep up with! This blog will feature the bento lunches I pack for the girls each week for co-op, and any other time I decide to pack them like field trips, picnics, etc.
You can find it here: http://weeklybento.blogspot.com/

first bento

Mmmm, yummy

Or, "Why I Will Never Ever Buy Canned Sloppy Joe Mix Ever, Ever Again."

I have always like sloppy joes. It was one of my comfort foods growing up, along with fondue, refrigerator biscuits, pigs in a blanket, macaroni and cheese with tuna, and artichokes. But a few months ago I had a hankering for sloppy joes with nary a package of mix or can of sauce in sight. I knew it had to be fairly easy to make from scratch, but wasn't sure where to start. Then I sat down to watch 30 minute meals with Rachel Ray. Lo and behold, she was making Sloppy Joe Dimmaggios! She added hot dogs to hers, which I knew my kids would never go for. And I was missing a few ingredients that she used. So I have now made it quite a few times since that first craving and tweaked the recipe more and more.

Here is my super duper yummy sloppy joe recipe:

2 lbs hamburger meat or ground chuck
Several sprinkles of dried onion
A generous sprinkling of mesquite steak rub
1 can organic tomato paste
1/2 jar spaghetti sauce, not w/ meat
4 Tbs worchestershire sauce
1 Tbs Soy Sauce
3 Tbs Ketchup
1 Tbs A1 sauce
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar

Enough water to create a sauce, usually about 1/2 cup

Brown the meat, either with a bit of olive oil or without, crumble it into the pan and let it sizzle to create a nice browned layer on the bottom, simulating grilling it on the barbeque (usually 6-7 minutes). Toss in the dried onions and the steak seasoning while the meat browns. Then flip it, break it up and let it cook through on the other side (another 4-5 minutes). Drain the fat if necessary. Pour in the tomato paste, sauce, sugar, etc. Stir to cover the meat, adding enough water to create a nice sauce, a little thinner than you think you want the final product to be. Then simmer for about 7 minutes.

Toast buns, put on plate, dump a heaping amount of sloppy joe mix on the buns. Eat yourself silly and swear off pre-packaged sloppy joe mix!

A Sunday Drive

We took a little Sunday drive to a spot we had visited a little over two years ago on Rampart Range Road. We stopped and recreated a family portrait that was our first taken in Colorado. The girls thought it was quite fun and they remembered taking the picture two years ago. We also stood at the top of the mountain and could see down to highway 24 and the North Pole. Its such a fun (an bumpy) drive, but was much more enjoyable this time in Kevin's 4wd instead of my poor van. We also stopped this year at the reservoir. Its beautiful! We need to go back with our fishing poles! I'd love to camp up there one weekend next summer as well. It was a very enjoyable trip, and I am glad Kevin dragged us out of the house in spite of the cranky attitudes.

This is the picture from two years ago I cannot believe we've lived here for over two years! The kids have gotten so big! We've decided that we need to keep up the tradition of taking a family shot on the very same rock every year.

New Colors!

How's this? Gone is the blazing red, and welcome is the soothing teal. Now if I could only figure out how to add the purty background pattern . . .

Edited to say . . .
Figured out the background and changed the picture. I am trying to figure out a way to get a rotating picture up there just to make it more exciting :)

I'd love to hear your opinions about the changes!!

The feeling of fall

I love the fact that every morning we have been awakening to a chill in the air, sleeping with blankets on, and wearing sweatshirts this week! I love that my husband brought home firewood last night. I love the cloudy skies, the rain, and the wonderful red tint some of the tree leaves are beginning to show. Fall is definitely my favorite season, especially so since we've moved to Colorado. In California we joked that there were 2 seasons; it is so enjoyable to experience each season in a unique way! I love the promise of snow that fall brings, yet the days are still clear and lovely for bike rides, hikes, and outdoor activities. Even though summer is fun, I find myself tolerating the heat less and less. While I enjoying playing outside in the water, riding bikes, picnics and barbecues, I miss my blankets, sweatshirts, and cozy fires.

Today we are going to go for a drive and enjoy the last remnants of summer. We might even go fishing or hiking. Who knows? But it will be a nice day to be together as a family, and store up a few more memories to carry us through 'til springtime.

The laundry will have to wait, the dishes will have to soak, and the floors will have to remain dusty for a few more moments; we are off on an adventure!

Post Co-op exhaustion

Is it just me? Actually I know it isn't just me because Kelly and I have already commiserated about it today. In years past, when I did co-op, it was always on Fridays, so we always had the next day off from school. We could sleep in. Daddy was home. We didn't try to get a full day of school in.

Oh my goodness, today was a nightmare. My children were grouchy and cranky and just plain mean to each other. It isn't helping that Liberty has a nasty cough and isn't sleeping well, and her sister woke her up this morning rather rudely. Its chilly outside, and I think we would all have preferred to stay snuggled under the covers this morning. Almost everything I asked Liberty to do today was met with resistance. And when I say resistance, I mean a knock-down, drag-out, screamfest. Oh my migraine.

Ainsley finished up her scantron testing today though, which is one burden relieved for the beginning of school for her, she just has her writing sample to finish and send off to the teacher. Liberty did about 3 questions on the scantron in Math and had a complete meltdown. I have no idea how she is going to finish the whole test. I tried stressing to her that it is just trying to see what she knows, but she just cannot fathom answering a question wrong, and has no desire to even try if she is going to get it wrong. Ugh ugh ugh. How is she going to survive testing in the spring?

And Melody is a good little student, but she is requesting my full and complete attention at all times. Which I am of course unable to provide, which means yet another meltdown. I don't have the luxury of not schooling on Fridays, so we are going to have to work through this as the weeks go by. But this is a challenge I did not anticipate.

So now, we are off to run a few errands, and I am sorely hoping that I do not soon regret this decision to leave my house.

Getting ready for tomorrow

Running the dishwasher and the washing machine. Have lunches packed. Getting clothes laid out for the morning. Kids are bathed and sleeping like babies. Still need to pack their backpacks with folders, notebooks, and pencils. Still need to pack my bag with my laptop and stuff I need for teaching music class. I really have NO idea what I am going to do tomorrow! I have 45 minutes to fill with 10 third graders, and I can't start their regular lessons until next week. I think I am going to spend the time getting to know them, and assessing what they already know. Some kids are going to be veterans of K12's music program, and others will be completely new. So I have no idea what I am getting myself in for.

And now I need to get myself to doing instead of thinking about it!

After all that debating . . .

I am sure everyone is dying of curiosity about how we spent our day, right?

Future Olympian

Playing volleyball in the backyard, reading, jumping, watching a rented movie, eating bacon cheeseburger baked potatoes, more movie watching to finish what we started, and eating mint cream pie. A full and fun and relaxing day!

And now its time to snuggle with my hubby and watch a previously recorded Star Trek Marathon. Now that's love.

Happy Labor Day!

I was planning to go to the last morning of the Balloon Festival, but I turned off my alarm instead. Amazingly enough, I slept in until almost nine! Woohoo :)

I think we are going to eat some lunch and go bowling. Or maybe mini-golf. Or maybe to the park. We still haven't decided. Maybe we will just rent a movie and lay in the grass and have a picnic in the back yard.

Eventually, I will get around to uploading the girl's pictures. Ainsley ended up only taking about 5 pictures and the rest were movies. I had no idea, lol. I haven't watched them yet.

Time to go fix lunch!