Archive for August, 2016

A Week In The Life (Give Me A.. T)

August 28, 2016

T for tornadoes.

Indiana was hit hard this week, we had 5 tornadoes touch down pretty much all at the same time in different places spread out through our state. If that wasn’t enough, we were awoken by the sound of sirens going off yet again the next morning; thankfully, no tornadoes this time, but major flooding instead. It was crazy, and lots of homes and businesses were destroyed, but no deaths; if you’ve seen any footage, that is an amazing thing.

Besides being a stormy week, we did manage to add a bit more lessons into our days. Especially, now that our garden is about done. As Sky likes to say:”winter is coming”. So that means, so are more lessons. 🙂

Little Sis started her own blog this week, which I will write more about under language arts, and inspired me to want to write my first monthly book wrap-up for the month of August. There really is so much more to me than being a homeschooling mom.

It is kind of funny though while helping Little Sis edit her blog posts, I discovered we really do have a lot more in common than what I thought. She writes a lot like I do, and loves lists, even though her interests differ from mine. I can write all day about books the same way she can write about makeup, and how Sky can talk about movies (Maybe, she should start her own YouTube channel.).

Anyway, I read 6 books in the month of August, well one I will have finished before the beginning of September; I’m halfway through it as of now.

I read Rebecca by  Daphne du Maurier, Horns by Joe Hill, Room by Emma Donoghue, At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen, Nightwoods by Charles Frazier, and Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (at least I am far enough to know how I feel about this book).

I’ve already written details about what I thought of each of these books in other posts from this month, so I won’t really go into a whole lot more here. I will say which ones were my favorites though if you could not already guess.

I do like to shake up my reading by choosing books from different authors and genres. I like to glean from various writing styles. You can learn from all of them, even if they are bad. I do tend to stay far away from romance though. It’s just not me.

So, my favorites books from the month are Rebecca and Room. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy both of these stories, I thought the writing was brilliant. These are not just my favorite August reads, but will most likely be added to my favorites list from the year, as well as to my all time favorite reads list. It will be interesting to read Room again farther down the road, to see if the writing will still hold up for me over time.

In second place is: At the Water’s Edge, and Circling the Sun. Both of these stories are really good, and I have enjoyed learning about Beryl Markham. I probably will not read them again, but I am interested in reading more from these authors. I do recommend them.

Lastly is Horns and Nightwoods. I really don’t want to write more negative complaints about these stories. I didn’t like them, some people might. Unless you can really tell someone didn’t give their best effort (I have read books like this before too), I don’t like to put other people’s work down (if you don’t like 50 Shades of Grey, then don’t read it). These authors worked hard on these stories, their writing style just isn’t for me.


Language Arts


Yes, we are still reading: The Scorpio Races. We also read: What Are the Summer Olympics? This was a really good summary of the history of the Summer Olympic games. I actually learned a lot from it.



I mentioned Little Sis’s blog up above. She asked me if I would help her start one, and I said sure. It’s called Glitter N Glam and is all about Little Sis’s favorite things. She takes all the pictures and writes it all herself. I just help with minor editing.

So here is the thing, a lot of parents ask: “How can I get my child to write?”. The number one answer is to not make them.

Writing does not become that important until high school. Then, they will need to learn how to write essays. Until then, let them write about whatever they want.

Sky writes fan fiction, and she leaves comments on YouTube videos. Before that, the girls played Animal Jam and Minecraft. At some point, there will come a time when they will want to know how to write, especially if they want to text. That is when you pull out your resources on grammar and punctuation. That is when you help them learn how to write.

One of the things that I have learned as a homeschooling mom is spelling will either come naturally or not. We have done spelling tests, I add subtitles on the television, and we read a lot. I have one excellent speller, and one not so much, regardless of what I do. However, by letting the one use the computer or tablet to look up words on her own because *she* really wants to learn, has helped a lot. She wants to go to college, she understands what she needs to do to get there. I don’t need to push her. I need to help her find what way works best for her.

I am better at expressing myself through writing, writing comes naturally to me. I have one child that is better expressing herself orally. Only society has chosen one to be the superior. Expecting everyone to be good at everything will eventually take its toll. I mean, even presidents need speech writers.

Health/ Nutrition

We watched and discussed: How the food you eat affects your brain – Mia Nacamulli…TED-Ed~ YouTube,

The Five Food Groups- SicShow Kids~ YouTube,

The Deal with Carbs – SciShow~ YouTube,

The Deal with Protein – SciShow~ YouTube,

and What Makes Muscles Grow- TED-Ed~ YouTube.


Besides swimming, which we had to cut short because of the storms, Little Sis started Cheer this week. She really likes it a lot. This is not a homeschooling league. The schoolgirls in her division do not even know she is homeschooled.

History/ Geography


I printed off Indiana cover sheets for their American history timeline notebooks,



and a color page of President Benjamin Harrison.


We watched two short videos about him, and the girls added notes.

Disney The American Presidents: Benjamin Harrison – YouTube,

and #23 Benjamin Harrison YouTube.

We also watched: Geography Now! Brazil – YouTube.

The Arts

We watched Disney’s animated movie: Snow White,

and Sky is illustrating a version of Little Red Riding Hood.



Hoping for a less stormy week.

Peace for the journey.


A Week In The Life (Hoosier Hospitality)

August 24, 2016

I really miss writing my blog on Fridays. That usually was our free day, and I had plenty of time to think about what I wanted to write about.

Like most writers, I carry a lot of information around inside my mind, and I need to write it out or I will dwell on it to death. My insomnia has gotten worse since perimenopause, so I don’t need added thoughts lingering around in my mind. Writing my blog on Friday, also allowed for me to put our school week, along with any other thoughts, to bed.

Now, we go swimming on Fridays, which we enjoy very much, but leaves me no time for writing. The weekends are busy catching up with Papa, and I have a hard time writing on Monday, because my brain has switched over to a whole new week, and I’ve forgotten everything I wanted to write about (because I needed to put all my focus on the new week).

I like keeping a blog for several reasons. One, it helps me to stay focused or holds me accountable. What did we do all week? Well, I’ll show you.

This also helps me to see if we are doing enough and points out any weaknesses. Every year, when I look at past posts, I am constantly amazed at how much we accomplish. I also like the idea, especially when we first started out homeschooling, of having a record of our lessons if ever the need should arise. Before WordPress, I used Myspace (does that give away how long I’ve been homeschooling. 🙂 ).

Two, I will be using my blog posts to write Sky’s transcript. Since I’ve chosen to educate Sky differently than traditional school (because I can never do anything that is “normal”), I need to keep track of what she has completed giving her credits.

So in other words, not writing, is not an option. I’m sure I will figure something out, I usually do.

Did I mention Little Sis starts cheer practice this week?

In other news, we harvested the rest of our garden. We actually had to go buy more Ball jars to hold all our tomato sauce. I think we had a good year. Honestly, though, I am kind of glad it is all coming to an end (with the exception of apples, and pumpkins); I am ready to reap the rewards.


Language Arts


We are still reading: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and are really enjoying it. Sky loves her writing. “I can visually see everything she is writing about. I also like how real the characters are.” I really wish I waited to read the Raven Cycle with them; maybe we can fit it in next summer. I don’t mind reading them again.

Sky has been writing and illustrating her own story. Using mythology, it is about a fallen angel.

As for myself, I finished: At the Water’s Edge by by Sara Gruen. I really liked this book. It kept my interest, and I was truly interested in the characters. I love historical fiction anyway. If the plot line doesn’t hold my interest so much (kind of like Frog Music), the historical aspects usually keep me reading. This story was a win, win.

I wish I could say the same for Nightwoods by Charles Frazier. I will say, this is my first time reading Frazier; I have not read, nor seen Cold Mountain.

Okay, I am all for beautifully written prose; one of the reasons why I like Maggie Stiefvater’s writing. However, when it takes two pages to explain tomatoes, or a tree, or anything that is not relevant to the plot development, my mind wonders. I caught myself several times watching television instead of reading the book. I literally had to force myself to finish it, because it was under 300 pages and I was already halfway through the book; it was not worth it. I was so disappointed with the ending. The characters were bland, everything was bland, except the prose. I don’t know if I want to give Cold Mountain a try. My “to be read” list, is already longer than my lifespan. 🙂

I am reading Circling the Sun by Paula McLain now.



(Yes, this is the same photo as last week. Well, because nothing changed.)


We finished chapter four of The Way We Work. Sky took a test on the digestive system, and everyone is glad to be done with that. 🙂


(Using What’s Inside You for Little Sis)

We watched:

The Digestive System (National Geographic 5 mins video) from Inside the Human Body- YouTube

Why Is My Poop Green?, and What’s the Best Position for Pooping? from SciShow- YouTube.

Yes, we went there.


Besides swimming, the girls had homeschool gym.


(Little Sis’s team deciding where to hide the flag, for capture the flag.)

American History/ Geography:

We watched: Indiana Weekend – Episode 20 “Hoosier Roadtrips” – YouTube

Then, in honor of it being Benjamin Harrison’s birthday, they gave free tours of his home and birthday cake.





(Photo of Harrison by T.C. Steele)


We also watched Disney’s Frozen and The Nanny movies(because I am on a Bette Davis kick).

Peace for the journey.

Week In the Life (Sixty Pounds of Tomatoes, and What Do You Get?)

August 15, 2016

A stiff back, that’s what.

Over the weekend, Papa and I gathered all the ripe Roma tomatoes off their vines and made a sauce. If you are interested, 60 pounds of tomatoes makes about 13 jars of tomato sauce.


If everything goes right, we should be able to get at least 30 jars from our plants this year (judging by the rest of the crop that is left). That should last us until next year. So note to self, 20 Roma tomato plants are the perfect amount.

We also harvested most of our potatoes.


Not bad, Papa was hoping for more. They did, however, fill a 25-pound box.

We are trying to decide if we want to add a few raised beds to grow our broccoli and peppers in and plant only potatoes at the top of the hill next year. Our broccoli is not quite finished yet, but getting close. So far, we’ve managed to fill 4-gallon size bags. We would like to plant twice as much next year; which would be about 14 plants. To plant more would mean, we would need more space.

We are for sure, going to add one raised bed to grow raspberries next year. So, I guess we will just figure it out then.

So let’s see, that makes garlic, tomato sauce, frozen strawberries, strawberry jam, frozen broccoli, potatoes, green and jalapeno peppers from our garden to help get us through the winter. Check.

With the help of local farmers: frozen corn, frozen peaches, peach jam, frozen blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries to get us through the winter. Check.

I think all that’s left is apples; which we just happened to purchase our first 5-pound bag of Ginger Gold over the weekend. I see applesauce and apple butter in our near future.


Language Arts


We are still reading: The Scorpio Races. The girls are enjoying it so far; it is another perfect novel for summer.

We also watched The Little Prince animated movie on Netflix. We liked it okay. I thought the first half of the movie was great; the second half went a little off track for me. Though, I actually was thinking about why the creators of this movie might have taken the story in the direction they did. I have always thought that The Little Prince was a fairy-tale for grown-ups to read. I think the message can get lost on children. Maybe, the creators wanted to make the message clear for all ages. It will still always be one of my favorite stories.

I finished Room by Emma Donoghue. Wow, is all I can say about this novel. I have read some complaints, that people don’t like that the story is told from a five-year-old’s point of view, I beg to differ. I thought, telling the story from Jack’s perspective was brilliant.

I think it would have been too easy to relate to Ma’s struggle from her point of view. In fact, many of us have battled our own demons and understand quite well how that feels; but to experience Ma’s struggles through a five-year-old, gave me a completely different perspective. One that, we are not able to see when going through those same struggles. Sometimes, I wish we were able to see things from a child’s point of view.

I also watched the movie, heart-wrenching.

So, to read something completely different, Room is one of those novels that will stay with you a very long time, I am reading: At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen. I am not usually big on historical romance stories, but I needed cheese. However, this story really surprised me. I wouldn’t really call it a romance story, but more of a historical coming-of-age story. I will probably finish it tonight. I mean, I don’t need sleep.


Health/Nutrition :

We watched: What Really Causes Sunburns by PBS Gross Science- YouTube.


More swimming.

The girls created their own movie theatre.


Not to sound like a broken record, but this is why children need to have time for themselves. Yes, academics and even real socialization ( not forced assimilation) are extremely important, but so is creativity.

We’ve pretty much had the whole swimming pool to ourselves these last couple of weeks, and they open after school hours. Which is cool, my laps have been getting faster. I also find this a bit sad too, I mean it is still summer. If you didn’t know, a heatwave hit the Midwest. Yet, instead of being able to cool down in the pool, the children here have been stuck at school.

Then, while walking to the pool, from the parking lot, we can see the children having football practice. After this, I’m sure it is dinner, homework, and to bed, just to get up and do it all over again tomorrow. Oh, and I’m not talking about high school students here.

When do children ever get to be bored? It is no wonder when children do have a little free time, they want to spend it online or watching television. ( I am not anti “screen-time” by the way.) It would drive me insane, and I’m an adult.

Oh well, the only thing I can do is give my children a little time to grow in.

Peace for the journey.

Week(s) In The Life (Bicentennial)

August 9, 2016

I had something that I was going to start my post with; whatever it was, it’s gone now. That pretty much sums up perimenopause for me. That, and lots of hot flashes.

The girls get frustrated that they can’t interrupt me when I’m on a mission. This morning while making granola, Little Sis asked if I could cut her bangs; while talking with her, I put the peanut butter in the refrigerator, they couldn’t find it later.  Quite frankly, it stinks.

So, I guess I will just start writing about our garden and see where that goes.

Our Roma tomatoes are really starting to turn red now.


I’ve already made my first batch of tomato sauce. From now until all the tomatoes have been harvested, I pretty much will have a pot on the stove simmering making sauce, weekly. I’ve already made some spaghetti and pizza sauce to store. I am also thinking of making some tomato soup for the winter. I already have some homemade chicken noodle soup put back.

I was able to harvest some more broccoli too.

My neighbor asked how I make my tomato sauce, so I thought I would post how to do it here, and who knows I may need to refer to it someday.

Step one: cut a small x with a sharp knife at the bottom of the tomatoes.

Step 2: in a large stockpot, add water (about 2/3’s full) and bring it to a rolling boil.

Step 3: fill a large bowl with ice water.

Step 4: add tomatoes, about 6 at a time, into the boiling water. When you see the tomato skin start to split, after about 30 seconds, take the tomatoes out, and place them in the ice water. After a few seconds, skins should peel right off.

Step 5: cut tomatoes in half and remove seeds, this doesn’t need to be perfect.

Step 6: place skinned, and seeded tomatoes into another pan, along with a little salt and pepper.

Step 7: once all the tomatoes are ready, place pan on the burner and bring it to a boil. Once the tomatoes come to a boil, turn heat down to a simmer, about medium-low, and cook until the water, from the tomatoes has evaporated, and the sauce has begun to thicken. This will take a few hours. Once sauce is condensed to your liking, turn off the burner and allow it to cool.

Step 8: add cooled sauce to a blender, blend until smooth.

Step 9: pour sauce into freezer safe jars and freeze until ready to use.

It’s been a few years now that we have moved away from store-bought canned foods. Now, with me making my own granola, and pancake mix we hardly buy boxed foods. I even make my own Balsamic vinaigrette for salads.

Since we’ve changed our diet for Papa’s heart, we’ve cut our red meat consumption down to once a week. Now, we eat lots of grilled or baked fish and chicken.

Besides salads, our other favorite summer meals are tuna burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches. I always make a double batch of both and freeze them individually to have on hand for quick meals. This also makes it handy for Little Sis, when she might need a substitute for dinner (the tuna burgers).


(Grilled chicken marinade: 1/4 cup water, 1 TBSP olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 cup low sodium tamari. Place 3-4 pounded, skinless chicken breast halves in a marinade for at least 1 hour. Grill until no longer pink. Place grilled chicken on a cookie sheet, that has been covered with wax paper, and freeze overnight. Store in freezer bags for quick sandwiches. These are also great for salads. You can do the same with cooked tuna burgers.

Another favorite summer snack is a mozzarella cheese stick, or a sliver of mozzarella cheese, and grape tomatoes. 🙂


Language Arts:


We started The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. So far, we are enjoying it.

I found Little Sis a pen pal. Sky had twins for her pen pals and actually got to meet them, about this age and I thought it would be fun for Little Sis to have some.

I finished the book Rebecca and loved it. Even though I knew the plot twist from watching the movie, the book was a bit different and still held an element of surprise. I give this novel 5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend it.

I read Horns by Joe Hill next. I was curious how good of a writer Stephen King’s son was. I am not one to compare styles; I judge the artist as an individual, and how their work appeals to me. With that being said, I can see how Hill could appeal to the younger audience. I am thinking a mature YA horror author. The story wasn’t bad, I personally just didn’t care for it.

At first, I thought the whole idea of the story was awesome. A boy grows horns to find out who killed his girlfriend (This isn’t spoilers, the story literally starts this way.). The first half held my attention; once the backstory started though, I started losing interest. I just didn’t like the novel’s pacing. We literally find out who the killer is fairly early, then need to read through lots of flashbacks before the conclusion. I feel this interrupted the flow of the novel. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

I am reading Room now by Emma Donoghue, and am halfway through. Oh my, what a brilliant idea to tell the story from the 5- year-old boy’s perspective. I’ll give my final thoughts after I’ve finished. (So far, I am really enjoying it.)



Continuing: The Way We Work, and we watched: How To Choose A Sunscreen from TedEd- YouTube.


P.E. Besides swimming, the girls attended the home-school gym.

American History:

Indiana is celebrating its bicentennial this year, and with our Governor Mike Pence running for Vice President, I thought it would be a good time to learn the history of our state. So, that will be our theme heading into our fall schedule, leading us into Sky’s Civics credit.

We finished the series: Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana that ran on our local PBS station.


We have been watching the summer Olympics when we can. Yesterday’s women cycling was brutal (what a horrible tragedy), but the girls have been enjoying the swimming competitions. We also learned there is a northern country in Africa called Tunisia.

Sky went ahead and purchased The Shinning movie for her collection, she also bought the original Poltergeist movie that we watched. We watched Disney’s animated version of Alice in Wonderland too.

Well, I think that is about it. I am sure I’m missing something, but I didn’t write it down, so….

peace for the journey.