Monday, October 27, 2008

It came today!

The Story of the World: Volume I came in the mail today! We dumped all of our other school activities to engross ourselves in this book!

We already love it. Evan and I have never delved into ancient history before, so we're already enthralled. The last time I read about this time period was when I took my history classes in college.

I am kind of wishing I had bought the activity book to go with it. I was so sure I could come up with some ideas on my own, but now I'm wavering. I might check out Ebay to see if I can find it cheaper.

This book is going to make history our favorite subject this year!

Menu Plan Monday (Birthday Week!)


My son's birthday is tomorrow. He asked his dad to bake his cake this year (what's up with that?). My husband has made this Southwest Georgia Pound Cake several times and Evan really likes it, so that's what he's chosen for his birthday cake. To make up for it and to remind my son that I am the best cook in the house, I have offered to give him a week's worth of his favorite dinners.

This is really no big sacrifice, because he's not a picky eater and his favorite dinners are our favorites too. I am trying to make it seem like a big sacrifice on my part, however. Hee hee.

Here is our meal plan for Birthday Week:


Steak sandwiches --- recipe from The Pioneer Woman, except I only salt and pepper the steak. I don't add the sauces. It's become my son's hands down favorite meal.


Barbecued meatballs, mashed potatoes, corn, salad --- my down to earth mother-in-law's meatball recipe.


Meatloaf, veggies, fried potatoes


Hamburgers, veggies


Leftovers --- there will be many to choose from and by Friday I will be all cooked out!

My son is quite the carnivore. He does like chicken, but he's mostly a red meat kind of guy --- just like the husband.

Check out what everybody else is cooking this week!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I made Sweet and Tangy Sloppy Joes last night for dinner. It is the best sloppy joe recipe I have ever used and it was my first time making sloppy joes with ground turkey.

I got nothing but raves from this dinner, which totally made my night. Sad, but true!

Thanks, Chocolate Fingerprints! Keep up the good work!

Internet homeschooling helps

I'm going to be honest here. My local library stinks. I know it's not for lack of trying, but I really think it could be better. What are they doing with all my tax money? Using it for our public safety? Well, I guess that is more important.

But trying to homeschool without a good library is difficult. I have to search out books that I want several weeks in advance of when I need them. I have to check to see if that book is in our library system somewhere and then ask the librarians at my little, dinky library to request it from them, so that we can use it, thankyouverymuch.

Well, that's a lot of complaining, but truthfully the Internet makes all that searching easier. What did homeschoolers ever do without the internet?

I'm going to share a few ways in which my friendly little Internet connection has been a big ol' help.

I use ABeka for Language Arts. I bought the student's workbook new, but I bought the teacher's workbook (with the answers!) and the lesson plan book used at a local homeschool store.

This week my son was learning about pronouns in the subjective and objective case. I had the teacher's information right in front of me, but it didn't explain the cases very well. I could tell my son wasn't getting it and I was at a loss, so I turned to my good friend, the Internet.

I have several sites I pull from in times of trouble, but the Scott Foresman Reading site is my hands down favorite for Language Arts. I just clicked on the fifth grade material and found what I needed and printed out the magic pages. The next day, Evan and I went over the material and the light bulb went off! I was so impressed! With Evan and with Foresman!

I love ABeka and have used it in some form for every homeschool year. For some reason, though, this particular lesson wasn't cutting it. It was nice to have something else to turn to for reinforcements.

Typing (or keyboarding) is something that I try to focus on. I think handwriting is very important and focus on it too, but, let's face it, kids are going to use computers more and more. I love the BBC Schools Dance Mat Typing. Evan practices with it frequently. My goal is to have him do that at least once a week. Sometimes we meet that goal, sometimes we don't. Regardless of our dedication, it is a very helpful learning tool.

The BBC Schools site has some neat stuff too. I've pulled things from history off this site. Last year we learned about children in England during World War II. Evan loves reading and learning about World War II. That was a lot of fun for him.

We started school in early August, so we were learning about the Olympics (and watching the Summer Olympics!). I used that to talk about Ancient Greece and let Evan explore information about Olympia, and other Grecian places. He enjoyed exploring these areas of the BBC schools site.

This year I plan to do a unit study on Ben Franklin using this site. A couple of years ago, we learned a little about him and read some of his Poor Richard's Almanack online. This year I'd like to go a bit further, hopefully using the almanack to talk about journalism, writing newspaper reports, etc. It's a subject near and dear to my heart because my degree is in journalism and I wrote for a few publications pre-baby. I thought it would be fun for Evan too, with him possibly making up his own little newspaper as a project.

All of that is still in the works, but today I purchased Story of the World, Volume 1 by Susan Wise Bauer to help us with history. I didn't purchase any type of history curriculum at the beginning of the school year, because we kind of prefer to go our own way with all of that. It's possibly Evan's favorite subject. I'm very excited about this purchase. I didn't purchase the activity book. I'm hoping I can come up with some things on my own. We've never tackled ancient history (with the exception of the Olympics study), so this will all be new to us! So even using the Internet for online shopping is a lot of fun!

Book Adventure is a website we just started using this year. When Evan was in public school one of the things I disliked greatly was the Accelerated Reading program. I actually believed it turned Evan off reading for a while. For those not familiar with AR, children are required to earn a certain amount of points by reading books and then testing on those books. Evan's class was told they could be held back in second grade if they didn't reach their goal, which was a lie.

It's funny to me, because I disliked AR so much, that I really have enjoyed the Book Adventure website. We haven't done anything with the prizes they have available on the site, and I don't think we will, but Evan really enjoys the little quizzes they have for the books he has read. I like using the booklists to get ideas for books for him to read. Then I have to scour my library system's website to find them!

Another thing I love about the Internet is the access to classic radio shows. We have Sirius radio in our van and often listen to the Radio Classics channel. When we're home I often play something from this list. We love Fibber McGee and Molly and really enjoy listening to the old programs. There are plenty of other shows to choose from. We've listened to lots of them together and haven't found a clunker in the bunch. Fibber and Molly is my personal favorite, though! Dad and Evan like that show, but also love The Lone Ranger. There are other free OTR sites, but this is the one I visit most often.

The internet gives us access that really helps our homeschool. I could list a ton of other sites that I have used in the past or have bookmarked to use in the future. The ones I've talked about are the ones I have been using most this year.

What I'd love to have is a good website for science ideas. I have several science textbooks, but I need some hands on science activities. I've looked at a few places, but nothing has really stood out. Anyone have some ideas?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chicken and noodles

Tammy asked about my recipe for chicken and noodles. I'm so thrilled someone actually wants to know! Bless your heart, Tammy!

It's such a simple recipe, but it really is delicious. My husband grew up eating these and used to make them. I just started making them, but my last pot was superbly delicious.

It's my mother-in-law's invention. She is notorious for never having a recipe. She's also the queen of simple, but absolutely delicious food. As a farmer's wife with 7 children, she has tons of cooking experience.

Here are the ingredients:

No Yolks Egg noodles
chicken broth
onion, optional

I like to use breast meat on the bone. I salt and pepper the chicken and cook it in my crockpot and after it's all tender and wonderful, I shred it, making sure to get it nice and bone free! I keep about two cups of chicken stock to cook my noodles in.

I cook the noodles with the chicken stock, some water, and usually one can of chicken broth. I can't be specific about the amounts, but remember you won't be draining the noodles. We don't like the chicken and noodles real soupy. It's best if you have enough liquid remaining to keep them moist, but not soupy.

If you want to add some chopped onion, you can add it as you are boiling the noodles. I forgot to add it last time and it came out just fine.

After the noodles are cooked, I add the chicken and put butter in and stir it around, so it gets all melted and lovely. You could skip the butter too. You could, but I can't. I think there would be a mutiny on my hands. I add 3/4 of a stick of butter. When my husband fixes it, he puts in the whole stick.

Then I salt and pepper to taste. It always tastes better the second day. And since I have a small family of three, we always have leftovers for at least one more meal.

Embarrassingly simple, but it really is fantastic!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Menu Plan (is it already) Monday!?!


The weekend is over and I feel so unprepared! Emotionally, anyway.

My cupboards, however, are full!

Lots of simple meals this week because I did absolutely no housework this weekend and I have a lot of catch up to do. Plus the usual baseball games/practices, guitar lesson, schoolwork, interacting with family...


Hot dogs with homemade chili




Chicken and noodles (made it last week and it was requested again --- so soon!)


Leftover chicken and noodles (it makes a HUGE pot!)


Hamburger Helper something
roasted veggies

Simple and easy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Christians and politics

I always forget how ugly election years can get. Now I remember why every four years I get a really bad headache.

I have a friend who hasn't spoken to me about politics for years, because she knows I voted for George Bush in the last election. When he got re-elected she told me she didn't know how she was going to make it for the next four years.

I remember thinking how strange it was that a woman with a husband and three kids would look at the next four years as some kind of trial she has to endure because of who was in control of the White House.

Then another election year comes and it looks like "my candidate" seriously might lose and for a few weeks I have thought the same thoughts. How am I going to handle having Barack Obama as president for four --- or possibly more --- years?

This post is my attempt to slap some sense into myself.

You can really drive yourself crazy listening to all this political talk. I would classify myself as a Republican and, like a good little Republican, I get the majority of my national news from Fox News. But I also like to see what others are saying. (Yeah, yeah, I know Fox is "fair and balanced" but who are we kidding?) I'll watch some news from CNN and have even watched Bill Maher. I guess it's really Bill Maher that triggered many of the ideas that will come out in this post.

Boy, he seriously doesn't like Christians. I think it was on his show that I first heard someone say (and I'm sorry I can't be more specific about the source) that Jesus was a community organizer, in reference I'm sure to Obama's service as a community organizer.

I was offended about it for a few minutes and then it made me sad. Anyone who knows the Bible knows that Jesus was not a community organizer, as I understand the meaning of the phrase. His sole purpose was to glorify God and He had no interest in politics. Remember that the disciples were disappointed because they expected the Messiah to restore the Jews to power on earth. They didn't understand His purpose.

With all of this election craziness, I wonder if some of us Christians are kind of missing the point too.

Listening to Bill Maher was kind of an education to me. I think it's good to hear someone say horrible things about your beliefs because it can really help you think more clearly and act more purposefully in your beliefs.

As I said before, after hearing Bill Maher rail against Christians, I was more sad than angry because I saw the big picture, which is Bill Maher doesn't know Christ. I think that's what we forget sometimes. These people, who we only see as political opponents, are lost in the worst possible sense of the word. And what are we doing to bring them the message of the Gospel by waving our Bibles at them like maniacs and shoving Sarah Palin down their throats?

**I know it sounds like I'm saying only non-Christians would vote for Obama. I don't believe that. My friend, who I talked about at the beginning of the post, is both a Christian and a Democrat. The phrase "these people" is specifically referring to people who don't like Christians and see conservative Christians as controlling the Republican party. If I was less clumsy as a writer, I could word that better.**

A couple of years ago, the leaders of the church we used to go to urged us to boycott Wal-mart. It was a pretty extensive campaign. I remember getting the email from the Christian political action group. I thought it was strange and I honestly couldn't figure out the reasoning behind it, no matter how many times I read the email.

My husband and I participated in it for a while, but we had two dogs and a cat at the time and, frankly, pet food and cat litter is so much cheaper at Wal-mart. So, we went back to Wal-mart and I think most Christians followed shortly after. I don't think the "boycott" had an effect at all on the low price super giant.

I wonder what effect it had on homosexuals. I wonder if they think that Christians hate them so much they don't want them to have access to low prices. And I wonder if, as Christians, that is the kind of message we want going out to people who don't know Christ.

(I'm also reminded of a youth minister I spoke to once about a Christian bookstore I like to go to. He told me that newly opened bookstore wouldn't stay in business long because they were open on Sundays and Christians wouldn't shop at a Christian book store that was open on Sundays. This gave me pause because we had this conversation in a crowded restaurant after Sunday morning service.)

Frankly, I'm afraid that a lot of this stuff makes us look stupid. It also makes us look like we don't read the Bible. Either way our witness to unbelievers is shot.

Bill Maher said another thing that I can't stop thinking about. He mentioned that you can't get elected as president in this country without claiming to be a Christian.

I don't want my president to fake salvation, because salvation is something that non-Christians need. If they believe that fake Christianity can win them my vote, they might believe that faking it can also get them to heaven.

Honestly, I don't know exactly where I am going with this post. I am thankful that I can vote in the election, and I'll use the vote as best I can. I don't, however, think that Christ was real concerned about personal liberties. When you read about Paul, and all the other persecuted Christians in the New Testament, you never hear him talk to anybody about his right to speak publicly about Christ. Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember him saying "You can't lock me up! I have a right to speak my beliefs!" He took those opportunities to speak about Christ, not to rail for his personal freedom.

So ends my ramblings on an early Sunday morning.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Menu Plan Monday Week #2

Okay. Last week did not work out that great, because we didn't stick to the menu every night. We did eat most of our meals at home, however, which was kind of the point.

This week I'm only planning dinner and breakfast/lunch will be whatever is in the house. That works, right?


Eating out


Chicken and noodles


Chicken fajitas




chicken and pasta

There was a really good sale on chicken this week. Can you tell?