Sunday, August 31, 2014

Homeschool Week in Review (week 1)

This summer has been tumultuous for my family, with 5 major, life-changing events between June 1 and August 31.  We got through the last heartbreaking event of the summer on August 21, and I had planned to start school after Labor Day so we could enjoy one week of peaceful, relaxing summer. Apparently that was too much to ask. My son announced on Sunday, August 24, that he didn't want to wait until after Labor Day; all his friends were starting school on the 25th. Since I never, ever, ever (EVER) expected my middle schooler to complain that he wasn't getting to start school when everybody else did, I compressed my planning/enjoy the summer week into a planning/enjoy the summer DAY and we started last Tuesday.

(Of course, Life in the Button Factory is never as simple as just starting a school year on 24 hours' notice. My daughter decided that she was fine with waiting until after Labor Day, so we're have two different start dates. I tell you what, I have the lunatics running the asylum here.)

So here's what our first week looked like:
Bible: We are continuing our study from last year on the names of God. This week we learned about God's name Adonai, which means Lord or Master. Adonai has the connotation of being the name a servant would use to address his master. My favorite verse that we found was Luke 1:38, where Mary said to the angel, "I am the Lord's servant. Let it be to me according to your word."
Math: We are using Teaching Textbooks again this year. Will completed his first lessons; Katie will start hers on Tuesday.
Grammar: We are using Growing with Grammar again this year. Just like Math, Will started his lessons, and Katie will start them this week.
History: We read about Puyi, the last Emperor of China, the French colonization of Indochina and Phan Boi Chau, who started the Vietnamese thinking of the possibility of independence.
Science: Will is taking Apologia Physical Science at a local co-op; Katie is taking Apologia General Science at the same co-op.
Institute for Excellence in Writing: they're also taking this class at the co-op. I love this program, but I was really having a hard time teaching it myself. The cobbler's children have no shoes, and all that.
Literature: planning to start our literature studies in the next two weeks.

I plan to post a weekly wrap-up of what we're learning throughout this year. I always seem to lose steam with gradebooks and such, so my hope is that having a narrative-style record of our year is something I can enjoy and stick with.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 8/25/14

Since I haven't blogged in more than two years, I'm going to start slow. You know, like going back to the gym after a long absence. Sharing our menu plan for the week was always an easy way to ease back into blogging and Lord knows I like to talk about food.

Monday--Skillet lasagna. (The kids like it better if it's called lasagna. It's cheese ravioli with meat sauce with mozzerella melted on top. I've had REAL lasagna lessons and have felt guilty about the name of this dish ever since. It's so far from the same thing that I pretty much live in fear that my Italian friend is going to find out and never speak to me again.) 

Tuesday--Beef and broccoli. This one is a crowd-pleaser. The recipe is here. The only change I make is to double the sauce, because the sauce is the boss!

Wednesday--Salmon over pasta. Easy & quick: a thin spread of Grey Poupon over salmon filets, bake it and serve atop fettuccine that you've stirred a little pesto into. 

Thursday--Red beans and rice. I recently had a life-changing epiphany. (Is that redundant? Are all epiphanies, by definition, life-changing?) I've been making red beans & rice wrong for the last twenty years. My cajun friend Robin finally convinced me to put in the time and make them right, from dried beans, soaked overnight and cooked all day. Seriously, they taste like heaven this way. Add some cornbread and some sauteed spinach, and we are all blissed out.

Friday-- Matthew West is doing a concert at our church this Friday, so we won't have time to do our normal homemade pizza & movie thing. Guessing we may grab some restaurant food. We've really been into this place called Cosi lately. 

Saturday--Homemade pizza night, because I forgot about the Matthew West thing while doing the shopping, so we already have all the ingredients. It would be a shame not to use them, right??

Sunday lunch--Chicken broccoli pie. Recipe here. She does individual pockets for her family; I just load it all into a pie plate. I use my grandmother's pie crust recipe instead of using a packaged one. Using a pre-made crust saves a ton of time and mess, but c'mon, this is Sunday lunch we're talking about.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Day One of LOAD


LOAD1, originally uploaded by Wendy.A.
LOAD stands for "Layout a Day" and for the month of February, I am participating in a challenge to create at least one scrapbook page each day.  Each morning I get a prompt via email. Using that as a springboard, I came up with this layout about cooking with my kids.

Just between you and me, I fully expect to tweak this page a little before it goes into an album. It needs a little something-something to make it pop.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Some Unwelcome Excitement and an Epiphany

You may have heard that Texas is in need of rain. Oh, that doesn't even touch it. We're basically 261,797.12 square miles of tinder. While we have been relatively far out of the way of the wildfires, the level of devastation in Bastrop has weighed heavily on everyone.

So you can imagine how my heart came up in my throat when I pulled out of our garage and saw this:

Since we were already in the car and headed out, it seemed best to keep going with that momentum. So off we went to get a new football helmet. Fiddling while Rome burned, and all that. Within a mile of the house, about 15 fire trucks raced past us. My blood pressure jumped up a few more points and I decided there was no reason for me to be freaking out all by myself when I have a perfectly good husband--with firefighting experience, no less--who should definitely be let in on this.

His advice was to go on and get the helmet, then go ahead and go to football practice. Because, you know, this is Texas, and you don't miss football practice because of the mere THREAT of disaster. And thank goodness for smart phones, so that I could keep up with developments via Facebook. One of Katie's classmate's grandmothers lives in the neighborhood next to us, so through the miracle of social networking, I was able to see that they were being evacuated. (If you're tracking my blood pressure through all this, add three more points here.)

And then, as I was waiting in the Whataburger drive-thru, I thought about all my stuff...the things that could be literally going up in smoke while I ordered us dinner-by-number. My antiques, my books, my Christmas decorations, my scrapbooks. I expected to feel another surge in my blood pressure.  I felt, strangely, nothing. Will & Katie were in the van with me, as was Krypto the Superdog. I would be sad to lose the stuff--I'm just sentimental like that--but I knew in a really profound way that as long as what was in the van was okay, everything was okay.

And that, my friends, was a holy moment.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Daybook September 2, 2011


For today, Friday, September 2, 2011

Outside my window... it's hot. It's dry. Enough said about that.
I am hearing... Will and Katie are working on their math assignments right now, so I only hear the whir of the fan and the scratch of pencils on paper.
I am thinking... that my phone has gone AWOL (with a dead battery, of course) and I'm going to be in a world of hurt if I don't find it quick.
I am thankful for... AIR CONDITIONING!!
I am wearing... a brown skirt and white tank top
From the learning rooms.... School is back in full-swing, and it is going to be a great year! We are studying Rome to the Reformation in history. Will loves it; Katie hasn't quite decided yet. I can really tell that our work over the summer paid off--their basic skills are much stronger this year and their confidence is nice and high,
I am creating.... I haven't scrapbooked in weeks. :(  I've still been scouring Pinterest and finding all kinds of creative ideas. Actually, I've tried a number of the ideas with varying success. (Let's just say the tie-dye swirled manicure where you float polish in water and dip your nails in was an unmitigated fiasco.) I hope that I'll have time this weekend to download first-day-of-school pictures from my camera and maybe do something scrappy with them.
From the kitchen... It's Friday, so we're making pizza. Everybody has their own highly-customized version. Right now I like pepperoni, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and garlic. Mmmmm!


Around the house...  Things are running fairly smoothly, given that we're in the midst of back-to-school chaos. I'm keeping up the day-to-day stuff surprisingly well, but no guesses on when I'll have the time/inclination to tackle the backlog of clutter and projects.
Looking ahead this week: Football starts!! Will is on the same team with his best bud so it's going to be fantastic!  Katie is also playing a sport through the Y this year--volleyball. We don't know yet who is on her team but she is plenty excited to get started.

A picture to share:
No, we don't have a new kitty, but after 7 years, I'm starting to feel ready. Katie saw me looking at kitty profiles on the Humane Society website and saw one she loved. "Look how cute! Get that one, he's winking at the camera!!" I didn't have the heart to tell her that he only had one eye. Is it bad that I laughed? 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

my latest scrapbook page


(I'm terribly disappointed that I can't make this look better online, but every single bit of technology in my house is conspiring against me at the moment.)

I've been on a West Wing kick the last couple of weeks. (I do this from time to time, obsess over a TV show and watch the whole series from beginning to end. Thank goodness for Netflix.)  In one of the episodes I recently watched, somebody said something in the midst of a volley of witty banter and it caused me to remember a moment from my childhood. It was more of a micro-moment--definitely not one of the moments we retell and retell. ("I didn't fall, I was tripped!" and "The lady gave me a free hamburger for being able to write my name," would be examples of stories that get told ad nauseam.) Even though I would bet all the guacamole in Texas that I am the only one who remembers this little exchange, I remember it with perfect clarity. It makes me smile, and anything that makes me smile is great scrapbooking fodder.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Daybook for July 14, 2011

For today, Thursday, July 14, 2011

Outside my window... From inside the house, it looks gorgeous. The sky is blue and there are just a few puffy white clouds. After quickly checking a weather stats, I'm surprised to report that it's only 91 degrees, with 39% humidity, 

I am hearing... the hum of the air conditioner and the dog sucking her teeth. My life is SO glamorous.

I am thinking...  about what to make for lunch.


I am thankful for...children who, although they are growing up much too fast, have reached the age where they'll let me sleep in.  


I am wearing... a black knit skirt and purple top.


From the learning rooms... even though we're on our summer break, we're working consistently to maintain and strengthen fundamental skills. One thing that has been both fun and beneficial is a little CD called Sequencing In A Flash. It helps improve memory and concentration by having you reproduce random strings of numbers, in both visual and auditory modes. 
I am creating...new routines around the house. Hopefully this will soon translate into some free time to scrapbook and cook!  


Pondering these words... "
A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner, so if one's life is cold and bare he can blame none but himself." --Louis L'amour



From the kitchen... Last night we spontaneously had friends over for dinner, and it was so much fun. Tonight it's just going to be the four of us and some chicken. I need to flesh that plan out a bit, obviously. Some fresh corn sounds really good, but a trip to the store sounds really not good. 
Looking ahead this week: We're meeting my niece and nephew at a Children's Museum about halfway between our place and theirs. Should be lots of fun! Scott also has the afternoon cleared on Sunday to watch the soccer game. 

Saw this cake on Pinterest and made it for Will's birthday. It was cute and it was yummy, but y'all!!! Too much sugar!!