Monday, December 30, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

I have another week off from work, so I hope to get some organizing done. The Christmas turkey is almost gone. I have 3 quarts of broth in the freezer. The Historian will finally get a break on January 1. He's been working almost every day this month except for Christmas Day. Fortunately we have no required activities this week.

Monday: Mexican rice chicken casserole thing made with leftover turkey, sliced apples

Tuesday:  Mac and Cheese with hamburger and spinach

Wednesday: Hoppin' John Soup, collards, cornbread

Thursday: Loaded baked potatoes, leftover soup, salad

Friday: Buffalo or plain chicken wraps, broccoli, oranges

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Lasagna, salad, garlic bread

More ideas can be found at Menu Plan Monday.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

Here is my second edition of Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie.

This weeks is a bear. It's finals week at the college, and I have to get grades turned around very quickly. To make matters worse, almost every activity we have is having a Christmas party this week and of course we have to take food. I'm trying to keep our suppers simple.

Monday: (Didn't get to this one last week) Olive Garden Sausage Soup

Tuesday: Bean and cheese quesadillas 

Wednesday: Garlic Lime Chicken and mashed potatoes

Thursday: Crock Pot Roast Beef

Friday: Leftovers

Other cooking: Bake a bunch of potatoes to have for quick lunches, make batch of crock pot granola, make ginger snaps

Monday, December 2, 2013

Menu Plan Monday--First Entry

Why haven't I been blogging? No real reason. We've been busy, but that's our normal these days. I guess I just got used to not blogging.  I'm going to try to make more of an effort by linking up with some weekly themes.

Menu Plan Monday is hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie. Menu planning is trouble area for me, so I hope this helps me to be more organized.

Here's my first menu:

Monday: Moroccan Spiced Stew with chicken. It's a Campbell's Slow Cooked Sauce packet. The Historian bought it. I try to stay away from processed stuff, but it needs to be used.

Tuesday: Ham Casserole  

Wednesday: Salmon Patties and leftovers

Friday: Homemade Pizza--probably ham and pineapple

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What? High School? Already? NOOOOOO!!!!!

So here I am in the trenches of planning 9th grade for the Crafter. That's high school. How did this happen? Seems like yesterday when she sat in my lap sounding out Mat and Sam in the Bob Books while Wild Thing napped in his bouncy seat. Now she's almost grown up.

When it comes to homeschooling high school it's do or do not. Going to regular school midstream is a frustrating proposition at best. And I'm scared. Terrified. I've always worried about doing enough, but there was always time to catch up. Until now. Now everything counts. Now the subjects have to be done. There's more record keeping and more pressure and more demands on time. The Crafter and I are butting heads over her leisurely work pace frequently. Sigh.

So far we've thrashed out a few subjects.

  • Algebra I using Jacobs Elementary Algebra and Life of Fred. She started algebra in the winter, so I hope she's ready to start geometry after Christmas.
  • English I:  Analytical Grammar, Vocabulary from Classical Roots, Literature from Tapestry of Grace Year 1, IEW Elegant Essay at co-op
  • Health/PE using BJU's Health for Christian Schools, Red Cross first aid class, yoga and pilates DVDs, clogging class, 5K training
  • Fine Arts I: Music appreciation at co-op, Introduction to Art MOOC from Coursera (half credit)
  • Theater I: Christian Youth Theater Class (half credit)
  • Biology: work in progress. I plan to follow the Campbell aligned AP syllabus on Hippocampus, but we're having trouble affording the book. I hope to snag a copy from one of the biology instructors at the community college where I work part time.
  • World History prehistory-fall of Rome: TOG Year 1
So there it is. A tentative beginning for high school.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What's a MOOC?

MOOC stands for massive open online course.

I started exploring these for my personal continuing education. I hope to get my Master's in something after homeschooling. I will probably have to do much of the work online. MOOCs are a way to dip your toe into online education without shelling out hundreds of dollars in tuition. I started out easy with something I already knew, physics.

I enrolled in How Things Work I from the University of Virginia offered through Coursera. The class "met" for 6 weeks. What happens is that you watch a series of video lectures. Some courses have reading assignments. This one did not. Then you complete the assignments. In my case it was a 10 question quiz each week. Boy were those quizzes hard. Anyone who says that you don't need grammar for science is mistaken. I diagrammed some of the questions to figure out exactly what was happening.

After the course is over, you get a certificate of completion if you meet the minimum requirements. Does it mean anything? Probably not to anyone except me. There are a few courses that a few colleges will accept for credit, but those are not free.

Pros: free, lots of choices, easy unenroll if the course doesn't suit you
Cons: credit not recognized, forums can be nasty places with mean people, very little or no instructor interaction

Some other MOOC sites are Udemy, ItunesU, and EdX. I haven't explored them.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Harry Potter Party

The Crafter is 13. She has been for a while. She's actually closer to 14 now. I'm a bad blogger. Anyway, here is her very elaborate Harry Potter Party. It should be noted that the Crafter wants to have a bake shop and party planning service when she grows up. She did much of the food prep work herself. I was in charge of decorations and beverages.

First, the guests picked up a wand before they entered the house. I missed getting pictures of the wands. Then, everyone needed to be sorted. I found and printed a house quiz for this. The guests took the quiz. I checked them and announced their houses. The hat is a regular black witch's hat from Target. The Crafter used brown craft paper to cover it.

Not Slytherin...Not Slytherin....


Another Hufflepuff!


After the Sorting Ceremony, it was time for the feast. We couldn't pull off the great hall, so we turned the kitchen into Three Broomsticks.

The feast consisted of Golden Snitches, chocolate frogs, acid pops, licorice wands, pumpkin pasties, cake, chilled pumpkin juice, and hot butter beer. We found most of our ideas and recipes on Pinterest.

 The Golden Snitch

 Chocolate Frog

 Pumpkin Juice

 Deathly Hallows Mugs for Butterbeer

 Side view of Cake--Note: Next time use cardboard when stacking asymetrically.

 Top View of Cake

We couldn't leave the bathroom out. Fortunately, no one attempted to flush themselves in.

Everyone had a great time. The Crafter promised to have an easier party next year.

Monday, May 13, 2013

All Hail the Queen

The Crafter to Wild Thing: I'm a nerd because I like to read a lot, and I like fantasy and costumes. You are more of a geek since you like science and taking things apart.

The Chemist: What does that make me?

Wild Thing and the Crafter exchange puzzled looks.

Wild Thing:  Queen?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pinterest Project: Iced Coffee

I've been on Pinterest for a while. It has been the source of many wasted hours and some really good ideas. I thought I would post some of my successes and failures.

Here's the pin:  

The Pioneer Woman has a great idea, but I don't trust myself with that much potential iced coffee at my disposal. I created a scaled down version. At night I put 2 TB of coffee and 2 cups of water into an old jar. Then it goes in the fridge overnight.

The next day I filter it.

Add some half and half and ice, and there it is--premium iced coffee.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

In Which the Chemist Runs

Way back in January 2012 I made a commitment to changing my diet and exercising regularly. After reading  Wheat Belly, I gave up eating wheat and most other grains. I guess I could be classified as almost paleo. Since that time my health has improved a lot. The constant joint pain is gone. My anemia is better and my iron stores are almost where they should be. My knees still predict the weather, but I digress. I have much more energy. I'm not bursting with energy, but I no longer fight my way through a haze of fatigue each day. My last check-up was good. My total cholesterol is down 30 points and my ratios, according to the doctor, are fantastic. I'm wearing a size smaller though I still haven't lost any weight.

That brings me to exercise. Easier said than done. The closest gym is 20 minutes away. I couldn't justify the time, gas, or gym fees. Doing exercise videos with the kids around is nerve wracking. They like to point and giggle. We also had an ancient treadmill. I started with 30 minutes of walking. Slowly I increased to a slow jog, a very slow jog. As the summer of 2012 approached I had the tread mill going as fast as it could which was only a little over 4 mph. Then it happened--the squeal of death. I was without my machine. God provided me with a this baby. I found it at the Habitat Store for only $50. Happy birthday to me.
They said it made a bad noise around 6 mph, but I figured I would never get it going that fast.

I kept at it through the summer. Then one day a friend from co-op said that she and her daughter were going to run  the Color Me Rad 5K in October, and would anyone like to join her. I signed up with the Crafter and Wild Thing. We made it through the clouds of colored corn starch. I had to walk several times and both children beat me handily. The race wasn't timed, so I'm not sure how we did. I do know that we will not be doing another color run. It was too dusty and crowded.

Fall turned into winter. Christmas came and sickness came with it. I didn't run for almost two months. Then around the end of January, a Facebook friend of mine asked if we could go running together. I said sure. Panic. I hopped back on my trust treadmill and almost managed two very slow miles. We finally managed to get together the second week of February. We ran two miles in 25 minutes. It was a record for both of us. Feeling confident with a good time and a new running buddy, I signed up for my 2nd 5K. This one would be timed.

As it turned out, my new running buddy had some job changes and our schedules became completely incompatible. I was on my own. I started doing some longer runs near home as well as increasing my speed for a minute or two on the treadmill. I found out that it does indeed make a troubling noise when it gets up to 6mph.  All was going well until I got food poisoning 11 days before the race. I couldn't exercise at all for 4 days. I wasn't feeling confident at all, but race day waits for no one. I think I did very well. I only walked twice on the bigger hills. My time was 37 minutes 48 seconds.

 After the Race 
  With the Historian and two friends from church who walked

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Uh-Oh, I Think I'm an Egg

I have been facing some spiritual trials lately. It's not anything new. It's the understanding of how bad some situations were and how deep they ran. Now that it's out in the open, it must be dealt with. The dealing with it is extremely painful. In the mix, I have also come to realize that a church we previously attended was spiritually abusive. I am not able to write about it now. I don't know if I ever will. The end result is that I may have become an egg.  Read on....

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, "Tell me what do you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft.She then asked her to take an egg and break it.

After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked. "What's the point,grandmother?"

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity--boiling water--but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her granddaughter.

"When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?

Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?


. . .For when I am weak, then am I strong.
see - 2 Corinthians 12:10

Monday, February 25, 2013

The World According to Wild Thing

Wild Thing has a unique take on life. Enjoy.

On the topic of animal behavior:  I believe you will find that most animals are cute unless they are trying to kill you.

In response to a math problem: If Matt drinks 6 cups of water, 1 cup of soda, 4 cups of milk, and 3 cups of juice how many pints does he drink? (There's a graph showing the previous info.) Mama, isn't that too much? How much time would he spend peeing?

Overheard conversation with Princess Pink:  I have the best idea! And most likely it will be painless!

At the hotel:  If we're on the 14th floor but there's no elevator button for the 13th floor then we're actually on the 13th floor. That makes no sense.

On the occasion of The Crafter's Harry Potter themed birthday party:  I don't like pumpkin juice or butter beer. I prefer a Muggle beverage.

When questioned about career goals: I want to get a job where I can blow things up.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Letting Go

I had an image in my mind of what homeschooling would look like and tried my best to get my family to fit into that image. We were supposed to snuggle on the couch reading and listening to soft classical music. We were supposed to go on exciting field trips. We were supposed to enjoy learning together. We were supposed to have outside lessons. We were supposed to draw and paint. We were supposed to do cool science projects. We were supposed to learn Latin together.

Time to let all of that go.

My children do not enjoy school. Not one. It's a constant battle to get the work done. They even whine about drawing lessons. I have tried everything. All the schedules and reward systems have not helped. Punishments don't help much either, but at least least the work gets done. I know that homeschooling is the right choice for my family. I know that they are getting a sound, albeit basic education. I just wish it could be more.

I have to let go of my dream and the discontent it breeds in my heart. I have been relying on myself and my dreams of the ideal homeschool to get in the way of what God wants for my children. It's a new year. Time to seek first the Kingdom of God. Past time.

Friday, January 4, 2013

And We're Back

Stay turned for the newest happenings at Bradford Academy as well as some flashbacks from the fall.