This Week!

This week has gone so well!  I know it’s only Wednesday, but I thought I’d share a few things that have happened so far!

We have such a nice routine.  We are up by 8:00, I do my Bible study and drink coffee, then shower, then eat breakfast, then we all do chores.  We start school at 9:30 and finish by lunch time or shortly after.  After we finish, I finish up my chores and the kids play outside!  Then I have nothing left to do until we make dinner!  So… I either blog, read, take a nap, or watch Gilmore Girls while the kids play outside.  Life is good!

The special thing about this week is that the kids are actually telling people that they love school!  Levi wants to do extra work, and both the boys’ reading has improved greatly!  Levi’s writing has also improved a lot in just 5 weeks.

We also started history for the boys and science this week.  It has gone SO well!

Karis absolutely LOVES her history.  Every single day she tells me how much she loves it.  When I told her that she was going to be using it from now on, she got all giddy!

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Levi started the next level in math!  He’s officially in first grade math.  The other two kids congratulated him as he was jumping up and down!

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Ethan and Levi are on level two of Explode the Code.  We started at the beginning and are moving through it pretty quickly.  They are doing really well!

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We listen to this during school.  It’s nice and calming (along with my pumpkin candle!).

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I’ve been using these readers along with Saxon fluency readers for the boys.  I love these, but I wouldn’t buy them again because they were SO expensive!  They work well now that I have them.  The fact that Ethan can read this means that he has come a LONG way!

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Levi’s writing has come a long way in five weeks!  This is his copywork from week 1 and week 5.

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He did both sentences by choice.

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The boys started their new history this week and they’re learning lots!

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We also started science this week and they all love it so far!  We’re doing our first project Friday!

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Karis is learning how to take notes while I’m reading.  She’s new to it… this will get better over time :-).

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The one thing I will be working with Karis on is writing complete sentences!  This will look different in the coming weeks!

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I thought I would share what the kids’ spelling looks like because no one ever talks about this particular curriculum.  It’s called Building Spelling Skills and it’s by Evan Moor.  I really like it and the kids have been doing well with it!

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Homemade BBQ Sauce

Robert and I had some country pork ribs ($6 for 4lbs from our local grocery store!) to cook and our favorite way to do it is with BBQ sauce in a slow cooker.  Unfortunately, all BBQ sauces have sugar in them.  So, Robert decided to come up with his own.  It does have some molasses in it, which is allowed in smalls amounts on THM.  It’s super yummy!!

Just mix these ingredients and enjoy!

  • 1, 14oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 can of tomato paste
  • 5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 3 tbsp melted butter (yep!)
  • 1 tbsp Franks hot sauce
  • Splash of worcestershire
  • Sprinkle red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp sea salt


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Every Day is a Learning Experience

Today I learned about grace and flexibility.

I had everything planned out “perfectly.”  My lesson plans were written for the month of August, the schedule has been adjusted multiple times, and I had everything ready for Monday morning.

Monday was perfect!  I got up early, had my time with Jesus, made the kids a healthy breakfast, they did their chores, etc before we started school.  We did every subject and were finished at a decent time.  It was so great!

Then the next day happened… Yesterday I slept till 9:45!!!  WHAT?!  For some reason I was soooooo tired.  I couldn’t pry my eyes open.  We didn’t start school until like 10:30, and it was full of tears.  I’m pretty sure that the kids thought we wouldn’t be doing school since I woke up so late.  They were NOT happy with me that we had to do school.

We only did a few things and stopped by lunchtime anyway.  I just didn’t want to push since it was my fault that we started so late.  I decided at that time that I would get up early the next day as to avoid the struggle that we had.

Fast forward to this morning.  I woke up at 7:45!!  Got myself ready and everything.  All the kids were up and moving by 8:00.  I decided to give them 30 minutes of chill time before we started school, so I just went to lay down “for 30 minutes.”

That 30 minutes turned into TWO HOURS.  Apparently I’m just really tired.  I’m not sure why?!

After I got up, I decided that we would just do afternoon school today.  No biggie.  Flexibility, right?

Then I realized that I had to run to town to drop off some time sensitive mail.

My friend suggested having them do their math in the car.  I didn’t think that would fly with my boys, but I decided to do it anyway.  To my surprise, they both agreed!! (Karis does hers on the computer so she couldn’t)  Ethan (the one who was crying over a page of math yesterday) did FIVE PAGES of math in the car!  WHAT?!  Levi did two.  I only told them they had to do one.

Then we got home and the kids busted out the rest of their school.  I did decide to not do history or science this week, but they did everything else (phonics, reading, grammar, writing, handwriting).  We’re also starting spelling next week.

I learned a lot through today.

Biggest thing is that even when things don’t go as planned, that doesn’t mean I should just throw the day away.  It was so tempting to just decide not to do school because we started so late.  I pushed through and we did it anyway, and it probably turned out better than it usually does.  Maybe we should do school in the afternoon in the future?  We’ll see.  One day at a time.

Flexibility is key, and having grace for myself is so important.

Also… I’m realizing that I need to give the boys some more independence in their learning.  I usually sit at the table with them, even when they are doing things that they can do independently.  I learned today that by letting them do it on their own, they were more successful!

What have you learned through times that felt like failures?

A few other things…

We got the completed curriculum in last night for reading.  We are using Explode the Code (phonics) and Beyond the Code now (reading comprehension/language).  We started it today and it went really well!  It’s simple!  The boys enjoyed it.  I think this is going to be the key to not having as much frustration from Ethan!  It’s early to tell, but I’m hopeful!

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Yesterday’s lunch was so simple and yummy!  My kids were having mini pizzas and I REALLY wanted one myself.  Robert suggested making my own mini pizza, and it was easy!

I just took a Joseph’s pita, spooned a little bit of homemade pizza sauce on it (I have a container that I just keep in my fridge), mozzarella cheese, and a few pepperonis.  Bake on 400 for 10 or so minutes!

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I made an amazing dessert last night!  I ate a few spoonfuls with some decaf Texas Pecan coffee!  So yummy!  It’s called Peanut Butter Cup Dip (Mrs. Criddle is one of my favorite THM bloggers!).

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Also… the kids and I had an itch to decorate for fall early… so we did (I know, I know… Just call me Hobby Lobby!).

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Garlic Spaghetti Squash

This is a great side dish!  We had it with our cheeseburger pie, along with a salad.  We have tons of leftovers!

First, slice the spaghetti squash in half and drizzle extra virgin olive oil.

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Second, I sprinkle our homemade all purpose seasoning on them and turn them over.

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Bake for 40 minutes on 400 degrees.

Turn them over and use a fork to fluff out the spaghetti squash.

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Place spaghetti squash in an 8 x 8 casserole dish.

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Stir in 1 tbsp minced garlic.

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Cover with mozzarella cheese.

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Bake until cheese is bubbly (about 15 minutes).

Enjoy!

Here is my plate of cheeseburger pie with a tomato and creole mustard, a salad, and garlic spaghetti squash!  This is considered a THM Heavy S meal because of all the cheese!  I don’t have this type of meal every night… maybe a few nights a week.

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Homemade All Purpose Seasoning

Pre-THM, we generously used a seasoning called Nature’s Seasons.  We stopped using it because it has sugar in it.  So, we made our own!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp pepper

Mix and store in a shaker container (we just use our old Nature’s Seasons container!)

We use it on EVERYTHING!  Eggs, side dishes, even our homemade ranch.  It’s super easy and yummy!  It gives everything flavor.

A Little of This and That

Today we started day one of our official fall semester!  It went so well.  We did everything before noon.  The boys finished before 11.  We started at about 9:15!  So our first full day of school only lasted 2-3 hours!

I’m sure over time some subjects will take longer (like when we start our note-booking journals and experiments for science, etc), but so far so good.

Here are a few pictures of the kiddos!

We started our day making sure our beds were made, breakfast was eaten and cleaned up after, teeth were brushed, and everyone was dressed.

Then, we started school with math (for Karis) and calendar time for the boys.

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Levi loves math!

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Ethan drinks coffee every morning because it helps with his attention.  He bought this mug at family camp last week :-).

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See that smile?  He usually cries when it comes to phonics/reading.  He SMILED about it today!  Granted, we started on the first book/level so that I can make sure he doesn’t have any holes in his understanding, but still.  He smiled about it.

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I bought Saxon readers for the boys.  They are perfect!  I started with first grade fluency readers.  We also have second grade fluency readers and second grade decodable readers.  Ethan and Levi are on about the same level.

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Writing today was just copy-work for the boys.  They do well with Writing with Ease!

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Karis started her new history today and it went really well!  She really likes it!  NotgrassFrom Adam to Us is the perfect fit for her!  Today she read the lesson and worked on vocabulary and timeline.  Tomorrow she’ll be doing the lesson review (questions) and thinking biblically.  Soon she’ll be doing literature along with it.  For now she’s reading Tuck Everlasting.

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Karis’ writing today was reading an excerpt from Mr. Revere and I and writing a summary (narration).  I had to help her a bit (asking her questions to pull out the summary), but she ended up doing really well.  I love how gentle Writing with Ease is!  It’s giving her more confidence.

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We also started science today!  All we did was read a few pages today introducing what astronomy is!  I’m looking forward to what’s to come!

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On another note…

Last night I made some amazing bread that I can eat with all THM meals!  It’s low fat and low carb.  It’s called Nuke Queen’s bread.  The point of it is to make a bread that you can microwave, but I actually baked it in the oven (on 350 for 50 minutes).  It’s still SUPER simple.  It took 5 minutes to mix up.  This morning I had it with butter and about 1/2 tbsp (3g of carbs) of Stevia Kitchen jam.  I had it with my amazing leftover frittata that I made for dinner last night.

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Tonight we are having cheeseburger pie, roasted brussel sprouts, and garlic and olive oil spaghetti squash (I will type this up tomorrow).

I will also be making some banana/pumpkin cake for breakfast tomorrow.  Yum!!

Now I’m off to do my one load of laundry per day and to bake!

Steak and Bacon Frittata (THM S)

I had every intention to make the THM Cookbook‘s BLT Frittata last night and it turned into its own monster!  Ha!  I ended up loving the creation that I made (with lots of changes from the original).  I’ve had lots of people ask for my recipe, so I thought I would type it up.  Like I said, the original idea came from the THM Cookbook, so I can’t take complete credit.

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Ingredients:

  • 15 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes sliced in half (I used red and yellow)
  • 1 1/2 tsp each of salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder (I didn’t measure this exactly, so you can use however much you would normally use)
  • 1 large handful of kale/spinach mix (I buy mine at HEB)
  • 1, 8 oz steak, sliced thin (you can use sausage, etc)
  • 6 oz bacon

(our meat was all leftover)

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So this is what I did:

  1. Heat meat in cast iron skillet (cook if not cooked already… we had grilled our steaks the night before).
  2. Mix eggs, seasonings, cheese, kale/spinach, and sliced grape tomatoes in a bowl.
  3. Pour egg mixture over meat.
  4. Cover and cook on medium for about 10 minutes (until the egg starts setting on the sides).
  5. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  6. Uncover and place skillet in oven for about 20 minutes (check it to see if it’s cooked thoroughly).
  7. Broil for 3-5 minutes if you want to brown the top.
  8. Enjoy!

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We had some leftover, so I had some for breakfast this morning!  It’s a wonderful treat!

Just Thankful

Today, when I was working through my household notebook (budgeting, daily docket, etc), I realized something.  For the first time since we’ve been married, I am right where I want to be, doing exactly what I want to be doing.  I have an amazing husband.  I have the best kids a mama could ask for.  I’m living in a great little house with character.  It’s small, but it’s easy to keep up with.  I rarely feel overwhelmed by it.  I am homeschooling my kids.  That is something I NEVER thought would happen because Robert has been so against it.  But being where we live, he agrees that it’s the best option for the kids and he is 100% on board.

I am thrilled by the curriculum I have landed on, and I feel it’s best for all of our kiddos.  It’s simple and easy to follow, they understand it well, and it is growing them in their understanding of the material.  I am learning that complicated isn’t better, and the less complicated the more they understand.  It’s also easier on me since I am teaching 3 kids :-).

We live at the best camp ever, surrounded by an amazing community of Christ followers.  We are truly family here.  The kids have tons of friends to play with and they are always outside playing with these friends!  All of the families here homeschool, so they are always together.  There are 12 school aged kiddos here!  I have some of the greatest friends here that a girl could ask for.  People just love so well here.  I cannot imagine being anywhere else!

We have a wonderful routine to our day, and evenings are now my favorite (after dreading them for years).  We eat healthy food, clean up together.  Then before the kids go to bed we do our read aloud and Bible time/prayer!  It’s beautiful.  We don’t do it every night, but we do it more than not.  That’s all I can expect.

I am mentally stable and have been for months.  This is the longest I have been stable, so I feel like this is for good.  My doctor worked with me since October to get me to a stable place!  I haven’t been truly depressed (more than a couple days) in about a year!  I haven’t struggled with anxiety for months now!  I’m thrilled!  I can just live and enjoy life now.

We also have enough income to pay bills and buy food and gas!  In our whole marriage the only times we have had enough were when I was working full time.  And even then, we barely made it because we were disorganized and over spent!  I am slowly learning how to budget and stick with it (one day at a time), and I feel like we are in a great place!  We will SLOWLY build up our savings and lower our debt.

I have learned to love eating the Trim Healthy Mama way, and I have made it into a lifestyle.  I feel so energized and healthy eating this way.  Another positive is that I eat until I’m satisfied, and I eat every 3-4 hours so I’m never hungry!  In the past I have done the 21 day fix or counted calories on My Fitness Pal and I was starving myself!  I’m now eating tons of yummy food and it is nourishing my body!  I get to have sweet treats whenever I want using either THM Gentle Sweet or Pyure sweetener (or just plain stevia).  But I am sugar free!  Best of all, if I eat off plan, I just try again in 3 hours.  Food freedom and no guilt!  It doesn’t get much better.

I lost 5 pounds in a month (which is considered a healthy loss), but I gained 3 back this past 1 1/2 weeks due to eating off plan for a week straight (because of family camp).  I am back on 100% as of Saturday!

Life is good!

Family Camp Part 2

Family camp was everything our family needed and more.  But I will say I’m so thankful to be home.  We left early so that we could have two full days before school/work begins again.  We have today to just rest, and tomorrow will be a full day of unpacking, laundry, house cleaning, etc.  In the meantime I’m still working on organizing!  It’s my favorite thing to do :-).

The second half of the week was just as relaxing as the first half.  Honestly, we did a handful of activities, but the majority of the time the kids were happy in the game room.  We spent a lot of time in there!!

Robert, Karis, and Ethan went mountain biking twice.  They also did the zip tour.  Levi can’t ride bikes and he was too light to do the zip tour so he can I just hung out.  It was really nice.

Wednesday night was date night.  It was beautiful in the prayer garden; each couple had their own little table separate from everyone else.  We enjoyed steak with colorful veggies, finished off with some cheesecake.  It was nice to be able to just sit and talk with my love without distraction.  Throughout the meal there was a young lady playing violin, walking up and down.

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Levi blew me away with his passion in worship this week!

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Karis and I did the “Madhatter’s Tea Party” Thursday after they did the zip tour!  We had so much fun!

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Thursday night was Route 66 night!  The kids had a blast!  They bowled, hula hooped, drift triked, had a pie eating contest (just whip cream of course), and ate a ton of yummy unhealthy food!

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The last day was pretty low key.  Levi played black light dodgeball and had a little dance party in the black lights while the older kids were with their daddy.

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The bouncy house was open again.  They loved this obstacle course!

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They got to do some crafts, then they went into the nerf room (no pics).

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Our time at camp came to a close at about 3:30 when we left.

We will definitely be back next year!  Lots of memories were made!

Santa Fe and Family Camp, Part 1

We’re at family camp at Glorieta in New Mexico right now.  We are currently having rainy day activities which means the kids are in the nerf room and craft room.  The adults are hanging out in the coffee shop and doing a bunch of nothing.  I have been reading, but I decided to take a break and write :-).

Before family camp, we enjoyed some time with my in-laws.  We went to the children’s museum in Santa Fe and ate some really yummy food.  The next day we drove up into the Santa Fe National Forest and had a picnic in the Holy Ghost canyon.

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This is a green chile cheese burger (without a bun) and green chile stew.

Tacos

This is quinoa and poppyseed crusted avocado tacos (with corn, lettuce, and salsa), amazing pinto beans, and rice.

 

We’re only on day 3 of a 7 day family camp.  It’s been pretty awesome so far.  The first day was so fun as the kids got to play fun games, play in a bounce house, and do an obstacle course with a blind fold.  Then, they got to play in a foam pit for a few hours (which is amazing by the way).  Yesterday involved a guided hike to the lookout, relaxing, and more time in the foam pit (they can’t get enough).  Yesterday evening we had dinner with just adults.  We had amazing food and a couple of hours just chatting with our old and new friends.  Today has been so amazing because we have been so relaxed!  Everything about this family camp is relaxed.  I was dreading it for a long time because I expected it to be go, go, go, but it has been just what we all needed.  Another perk is that anytime through the day, we can drop the kids off in child care and do what we want.  So far we have taken advantage of that twice and took naps.

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I love watching Karis worship.  Beautiful.

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This is Sydney, our counselor this week!

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These girls are best friends for ever.  They are always together at home and at camp.

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This is the greatest invention ever!!  A foam pit!!  The kids have spent much of their time there.  It is fantastic.

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Top of the look out!

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The kids leading Levi through the obstacle course.

 

Tomorrow Ethan, Karis, and Robert will be going mountain biking while Levi and I play in the game room. Thursday we will be doing the zip tour (probably just Robert and the big kids).  We have western night and route 66 night coming up as well as date night tomorrow night.  Date night involves steak :-).  Everything about this camp is perfect.  I look forward to next year already!

So far the worship and speaking have been fantastic.  The worship leader is great and the speaking has been so applicable to our family and marriage.  Yesterday we talked about having a purpose in discipling our family.  The goal with this is to figure out what each of the family members is gifted with to bring others to Christ, and come up with a purpose statement for our family.  Today they talked about bringing others to Christ and discipleship through relationship.  The biggest thing I got out of this is that our children are PEOPLE and we need to treat them as such.  They used a teaching tool to help us learn how to listen to our spouse and children better to overcome obstacles and disciple our children.

Then, while I was reading while it rained, I ran across this (reading the book For the Children’s Sake):

“Take a small child on your knee.  Respect him.  Do not see him as something to prune, form, or mold.  This is an individual who thinks, acts, and feels.  He is a separate human being whose strength lies in who he is, not who he will become.  If his choices made now and in the future are to be good ones, this person must understand reality and see the framework of truth.  In the shorthand of language, we called this “knowing.” The child is a person who needs to grow in knowledge.”

“Charlotte Mason was, however, a realist.  She accepted the little child as he was.  She did not romanticize him, but she appreciated him and looked with wonder at what she found.”

 

So for now, the biggest things that I have gotten out of the speaking are that we need to have a purpose as a family for discipleship and bringing others to Christ.  Also, I need to treat my children as people… listening well and loving them well.  I often am short tempered and shut them off instead of listening for a chance to disciple.

I can’t wait to see how the rest of the week plays out!