Homeschool

Homeschool Blues

We live across the street from our church, which also happens to host a school. Every weekday morning, around 7:45, I see vehicles turning down the street to pull into the drop-off line at the front of the church. Lots and lots of vehicles pull in, dropping off energetic kids with smiles. Ok, so I am too far to see any kids’ expressions, but they just appear to be super excited as they all run in to the building.

About this same time over at our house, my kids are sitting at the breakfast table with whatever creations they have put together for a meal. While I watch the vehicles outside, I sometimes think about how our mornings would be if my kids went to school there. Usually my thoughts tend that way when the kids are at the table arguing about whether they want Chilly Willy or VeggieTales for a breakfast show on the laptop. I remind them it doesn’t matter, as breakfast only lasts about six minutes anyhow…but they carry on with the arguing. I give warnings and threats and things always escalate to someone losing electronic time. I become incredibly frustrated that we can’t just get through breakfast without an issue. And then my mind starts to wander. I think about waking them up to eat, dress, and get out the door to run across the street before the school bell (I don’t actually know if they use a bell over there to signal the starting of the day. But in my daydream they do.) I envision having a whole day to myself to prep food or run errands or just READ. ALL. DAY. Some mornings I really let my mind wander, and I play out a whole day, without the kids, in my head. And sometimes I like how it looks. No fights to break up. No big lunch meal to think about and fix. No arguing with them when their time on electronics is over in the afternoon. No demanding they actually do the school work they need to do for that week. It seems glorious…and relaxing!

But then I really start to think of what wouldn’t be here – no giggles during the Chilly Willy episodes or singing during the VeggieTales. No pleasant “good morning” from them as they roll out of bed whenever their bodies are ready and with no rush to be anywhere. No snuggles in the morning with my youngest, as we await the other kids coming out of their rooms. No help with making lunch or a long chat while I cook and a child tells me all about their school work or library book. I wouldn’t get to see their struggles and work to find resources to help them understand challenging new concepts in math. Or help my seven-year-old hold his pencil correctly (for the millionth time) as he works to write words. (Honestly, I would probably worry all day because he is “behind” for his grade. But here at home we get to work with when he is mentally/physically/emotionally ready….less fights and better comprehension for him that way.)

There wouldn’t be any midday discussions about the most random topics (poop, clouds, slime, calories – the list is so random but amazingly interesting!). We wouldn’t be able to crowd around the computer at 10:00 AM to watch a video about whatever topic we want. I wouldn’t have been able to see the moment when each of my kiddos figured out how letters come together to make words…and then take off with lightning speed to read all the books they can! I would have missed my middle child’s day-to-day struggle with phonics and words. I wouldn’t have been able to dig deep and be patient with her brain in figuring out word structure. I love that have been able to sit by her and work with her and encourage her to take it slow and just do what she can. And I would have missed her progress to now where she can’t stop whizzing through all kinds of library books!

All these things that I love so much about homeschooling I would have missed if they weren’t here.

BUT, every Winter I find myself longing to send my kids to school. Honest. Without fail, I daydream about it every Winter. I know it is a phase, and I do not really want to send them to school. I also know that it is usually because we have been stuck inside due to sickness or weather that my mind goes to that place, and I get super selfish with my time. It’s those days where one or more of the kids really needs my attention for an extended period, and we aren’t able to get outside or take a long break.

We spent the first six weeks of this new year passing around a mysterious illness. Fevers, coughs, congestion, achiness, all kinds of symptoms. We missed a couple Sundays of church and had to cancel some plans with friends. I was the first one sick, which made it worse, I think. I had big plans to start off the year strong with schoolwork and decluttering the house, but I literally couldn’t move the first two days. I was so grouchy, too, because these kids still wanted to talk to me! πŸ˜‰

My yearly homeschool blues were so exaggerated this year. It was a tough couple of weeks to recover from, mentally. We still haven’t gotten to all the awesome resolutions I had planned for our home and our school. And I am having to just accept it and move on.

But, I guess the reason I am writing all this (other than because I feel bad unloading on my husband too often) is because I think homeschool moms get forgotten some times. We are mom/teacher/principal and more all day long. There is no switch to turn on teacher mode at 8:00 and turn it off at 3:00. We are literally parenting and educating and homemaking all at the same time.

Obviously we chose this life because we like it.😊 I know this is the path God wants for our family. I have zero regrets about it. But some days it is hard! When we have a hard parenting issue, it isn’t set aside to then go on to school. Nope, it is front and center til resolved. We have to deal with it in order to get anything else done. Meltdowns, sibling rivalry, messy rooms, undone chores…all those things affect our schoolwork.

It is so hard some days! I know nothing is getting done in my own power and that the Lord is the One fueling our homeschool. But my sin nature likes to try and control too much or get prideful about what we’ve gotten done. My sins, the kids’ sins, it all affects our school. When we can get past the sin, we have some truly awesome days (praise the Lord!).

There is a lot of balancing that moms have to do and adding in homeschooling really upsets the scales some days. The kids we teach and mentor are also the ones we have to nurture and parent and discipline. Progress reports aren’t written to update other parents…we simply just see that some days there is zero progress because of attitudes or illness or whatever. And then we are left to figure it out – the parent/child side and the teacher/student side…because there is technically no separating the sides.

So, check on your homeschool mom friends. It is February. We are struggling to keep going. The snow/cold/illnesses/cabin fever are all getting to us. We need someone to just check in and see how we are. There’s no 3:00 bell to ditch these kids and change the scenery and go home. We’re home. All day. With the same kids. And the same problems. And we’re all sinners.😬

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

(Psalm 121:1-2)

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Household

What’s in a Name?

Shakespeare had a good question in Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name?” I have been asking myself this same question. Not about roses or anything, but rather about media sites.

So, this blog, obviously, has a name. Our YouTube channel also has a name….a different one (Eat Learn Love). I just can’t figure out if the two should have the SAME name.

I had not thought about coming back here to write when I created the YouTube channel. But now that I have both going, I wonder if I should make them the same in name.

So let me know what you think:

  • Same name, as Eat Learn Love?
  • Same name, as Life As Mom Knows It?
  • Same name but something different than those two listed?
  • Different names – as they are now?

I started them both, in different seasons, to just share what we are up to with homeschool and baking and life with a bunch of kids. I kind of feel like they should have the same name. But I don’t know if I am loving either name right now. Eat Learn Love sounds a little like that movie with a very similar name. Life As Mom Knows It kind of excludes Dad. Neither seem to really encapsulate everything we’re about. I feel like a name should do that. I mean, my name is Angela….hello, “angel; messenger of God”…this is sooo me. Hahahaha. Totally kidding. I am not that full of myself. πŸ˜‰

You should also know I am the MOST INDECISIVE person on the planet. So there is that to consider, too.

Leave me a comment with what I should do. You are literally deciding it for me. LOL.

β€œWhat’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Household

Like Riding a Bike…..?

Wow. It has been almost two full years since I shared anything here. I think of the blog every couple of weeks. Usually when I am attempting to record a video for our YouTube channel Eat Learn Love. As you’ll notice if you watch any of the videos, being on camera is not a natural thing for me. πŸ™‚ My eyes are everywhere…except looking into the camera. My camera holding skills are lacking. And the content? Well, I always FEEL like it could be super helpful for another new or stressed mama, but then after recording it I have serious doubts about being allowed to be a mom myself. Ha!

But two years since writing on here. That is a long time in motherhood. So much happens in two years. We have moved to another state. My husband has a different employer. We attend a different church.

The one thing that has stayed the same is that we still homeschool. And I still love it.

So, after finding our groove in the new home/town/church, I have decided to start writing on here again. Not sure what all that will entail or how well it will be written, but I like sharing. I could probably talk for hours about homeschool and food and mothering and cleaning and all that really exciting stuff, but I just never get the chance to talk for hours. πŸ˜‰ So, if I can type it all out here, that should satisfy my need to blab.

No official topic for this post. Just…Hello again! I hope to find a routine on here to share what we are up to. If you want to see my beautiful face, check us out on YouTube. And then come back here once I collect my thoughts.

Thanks for reading!

Gluten-free · Menu Plan

Menu Plan

We are working back into healthier dinners this week. I have slacked for the past couple months just because we were busy, and it was a challenging Summer for us. Now that school is back in session, our regular menu planning will commence. My husband was off this week, and we did a lot of appointments and running around. I was able to plan out some delicious dinners and grocery shop…ALONE! πŸ˜‰

So, here is the lineup for this week (fingers crossed we stick to it!!)…

DINNER

Cauliflower Pizza “Bread”, Salad, Green Beans

Parmesan Chicken Bake (with either rice or quinoa…no pasta), Salad, veggies and ranch

Turkey Taco Quinoa Skillet, Tortilla Chips, Salad

Portabella “Steaks”, Rice, Carrots

Marinated Lentils, Smashed Crispy Potatoes, Salad

Breakfast (eggs and hashbrown skillet)

LUNCH

Leftovers

PB&J

Chicken Salad pita pockets, salad

Snacky

Smoothies, fruit, veggies and ranch

BREAKFAST

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins, fruit

Eggs

English Muffins, fruit, yogurt

Baked Oatmeal

Cereal

SNACKS

Energy balls, yogurt

Muffins

Homemade Larabars (dark chocolate brownie flavor…mmmm)

Fruit (this week we have grapes, apples, bananas)

Homemade granola bars

I am also working on being more consistent with avoiding gluten (mostly in processed foods). My belly has not been happy after a weekend of bread items (although sooo yummy). 😦 I feel better all over if I avoid it, at least in store-bought items like bread, pasta, and snacks. Oh, getting older stinks! πŸ˜‰

Menu Plan

Meals for The Week

Even though I was away from here, I continued with meal planning. It is definitely a necessity for us. Between classes through the park district for each kiddo, doctor appointments, work schedule changes, and so on, we NEEDED a meal plan each week in order to not be eating PB&J every night. (To be honest, most of my kids wouldn’t have minded that, but those of us with normal palates needed more.)

Here is what we’ve got for this week:

DINNER

Cheesy Chicken Fritters

Pizza

Risotto

Chicken Parmesan

Pork Chops

Cauliflower Pizza

BBQ Chicken Tostadas

LUNCH

PB&J

Hardboiled eggs, yogurt, crackers, fruit

Leftovers

Cream cheese and crackers, ham slices, fruit

BREAKFAST

Cereal

Oatmeal

Scrambled eggs

Breakfast bowls (eggs,sausage,hash browns,cheese)

Energy Balls, yogurt

SNACKS

smoothies

fruit

pretzels and ranch

chocolate oatmeal bars

energy balls

banana chocolate chip bread

We are keeping it simple. Lots of chicken this week because it is easy (and I had a bunch in the freezer!). The breakfast bowls are supposed to be a make-ahead freezer item, but I doubt I will get that done….so, we will probably eat them the same day I make them. πŸ˜‰

Anything exciting in your menu this week??

Homeschool · lessons in love

It’s Time

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”

(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

 

I’m back. After some much-needed time away from babbling, I am returning. I am finding this was the perfect outlet for me, and so I am coming back to babble some more. Even if no one ever reads, I need to write. Even if my writing never gets any better (I have sort of lost hope for that one…), I need to write.

It is August. Schools are starting back up after a strange Summer….I mean, what crazy weather patterns this Summer! Hot, cold, rainy, overly dry – we had it all! My garden was less than cooperative, and I am certain it was mostly just confused as to what it was supposed to do because of the ups and downs in temperature. So, here it is August and my tomatoes are FINALLY ripening. Our corn produced ears that had no kernels, and the peppers had stunted growth after having such a good start. We are left with naked corn cobs, miniature peppers, and lots of green tomatoes. Oh well…

We are entering our SEVENTH year of homeschool! I just cannot believe we have been at it that long. Doesn’t seem possible. I will probably dedicate a whole post to what we plan to do/learn this year in school, but I just wanted to mention how much in awe I am of how long we have been schooling at home. Every year is stressful and requires more patience than I have, but every year I come away so thankful for the time I have at home with my kids. I will certainly miss this season when it is over. *sniffle* Ok, on to more positive things…

 

The weather today is AMAZING! We have all the windows open and are enjoying this slightly crisp fresh air – a sort of taste of Fall. I am looking forward to sweatshirts and tea (I drink it in any weather, but I love cinnamon tea in the Fall!) and pumpkin muffins and fires in the backyard wearing blankets and hats and snuggling. I could go on forever. I love something about every season, really, but after a sketchy Summer weather pattern I am looking forward to Fall.

That’s really all I have for this post. I have been working on this little bit for a few days, sadly. My posting probably won’t be regular, but I hope to get up my menu plans, some homeschool posts, and some thoughts on what I am learning in my quiet time. I have so much I could share on my spiritual growth, but I will save that for a few posts in the future. My husband and I have done several Bible studies (just us, together) this Summer, and we are learning a lot about seeing God in the small things, the big things, and everything. He truly is amazing.

Now, off to make some tea and get dinner started!

Recipes

Recipe: Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup

 

I have said it many times before but I LOVE my slow cooker (or crock pot, whichever you call it). It is a huge help on busy days, tired days, or days I just don’t want to think about prepping dinner at 4:00 PM. As a home school mom, the slow cooker really helps me be able to focus my efforts on school and not feel rushed to plan out work in the afternoon and fit in dinner prep. I often find myself searching online for a slow cooker version of a favorite meal; it is pretty safe to say there is always someone who has attempted the slow cooker for any and every meal.

One of my favorite meals growing up was ham and bean soup. My mom’s ham and bean soup was so delicious, and, paired with some cornbread, it was a super filling and the best on a cool day. Honestly, I could say that about any of my mom’s soups, but ham and bean was my absolute favorite.

I realize Spring is here and the weather is (or SHOULD BE) warming up soon, but I am still in soup season here. With chilly days or chilly evenings, soups just hit the spot for me. So, I found and have used a slow cooker version of the soup. And it is delicious!

I should mention that online people always say not to use the water that dry beans soak/cook in because that is was causes gas. For me, I live with 6 other people and (not to be gross) but someone always has gas here. Ha! πŸ˜‰ So, the increase in gas potential doesn’t bother me. If you want to avoid the gaseous broth, use canned beans or soak and cook your dry beans separate and add them to the slow cooker later in the day. Either way, this is a deliciousΒ soup that everyone should make….often.

Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup

  • 1 pound dry cannellini or great northern beans (or, really, any beans you like…i just prefer a white bean for this soup)
  • 1 ham bone with meat on it or 2 cups chopped ham off the bone (I typically freeze a ham bone with meat left on it after a meal, so we have it for use in this soup later. The meat falls off the bone in the slow cooker and the bone adds tremendous flavor.)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 chopped sweet onion (or onion powder)
  • 1 clove minced garlic (or some garlic powder)
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed (or chopped celery pieces)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt….I wait until the end to salt this. Between the chicken broth and the ham bone/meat, it can be salty enough already. If I taste it around 3PM and it needs more, I add it then. If it is TOO salty, take the ham bone out for the remaining cook time. Sometimes I do that.

Add the beans to the bottom of the slow cooker. Set the ham and other dry ingredients on top. Pour in the liquids, making sure all beans are in the liquid and not on top of the ham bone uncovered. Cook on low 7-8 hours, tasting the salt flavoring about 5-6 hrs in. If short on time, cook on high for 4 hours, making sure the beans are tender.

You could also add some chopped carrots to this for more flavor. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Just depends on how much time I have to get it all in the slow cooker before the kids get restless here.

Serve with a giant piece of cornbread. πŸ™‚ We like to sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top of the soup, too. But we have a cheese obsession, so it gets included in every dinner!

Enjoy!

Menu Plan

Menu Plan

IMG_0245

I am a little behind on posting my menu plan, but we have been sticking to it! Menu planning has literally saved my behind some days….when life gets a little crazy. πŸ™‚ This week we are sticking to some simpler meals because of our schedule. We have a couple out-of-the-normal events this week, and I didn’t want to plan any meals that required a lot of thinking!

When the weather is nice, I plan to be over at our local historical farm/park with a picnic lunch as much as possible. It gets the kids outside and running around….AND the other schools are not out yet, so the lines for the attractions are super short. πŸ˜‰ The kids will be doing one class each this Summer, and our chances to be over at the historical farm/park will go down. So, the more days we can get over there now and get our money’s worth for the season passes the better!

Here is our lineup for the week:

Breakfast

Cereal

Bagels/Toast

Eggs

Oatmeal

Lunch

Snack/Picnic

Leftovers

Sandwiches, salads, hardboiled eggs

Dinner

Ham and Bean Soup, cornbread

Spaghetti and homemade meat sauce, salads

Chicken Tacos, Salad, Corn

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole

Pizza/Salad

BBQ Shredded Pork Sandwiches (or over rice/quinoa), salad, green beans

Chicken Chowder, salad, bread

Snack Options

Yogurt

Fruit

Energy Balls

Flourless PB & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brownies

Gluten-free · Menu Plan

Menu Plan

Consistency. Still my word for 2017. And I have definitely had consistency with menu planning. It has been a real lifesaver some days. We are finishing up our school year, cramming tons of things in to finish up strong. Lots of fables and myths and history and math. Such a conglomeration of subjects to finish the year. Some days are a struggle, with the warmer weather, but we keep talking about how we can be outside even more each day if we can finish up our stories and lessons. πŸ˜‰

This week’s menu has no new items/recipes. Trying to keep it simple, as my husband will be working nine days straight! Hoping to just keep my sanity. Everything but the pizza is gluten-free, so I am just planning a big salad with some leftover chicken for myself that night. Avoiding gluten right now has been great for me. I don’t know if I will continue like this forever, but for now i just really like how my stomach feels each day, so I am sticking with it. I miss bread….a lot. But making it for the kids has been nice. Typically now I have been making both versions of bread items – regular and gluten-free. Most of the time, all five kids want to try the gluten-free; often they all like that version. So, if I did decide to go gluten-free for them, too, it wouldn’t be that hard, I suppose. But, without necessarily needing to, I don’t know that we would. Plus, when they eat elsewhere – friends’ homes, church, extended family’s homes – it might mess up their tummies to be off of gluten and then indulge. We’ll see how it goes. For now, experimenting is fun. Trying new gluten-free recipes has been great. And I haven’t had to increase our food budget, so all is well. πŸ™‚

Breakfast

Pancakes (regular and a gluten-free) x 2

Crustless Quiche w/bacon

Cereal or Eggs

Banana chocolate chip muffins (regular and gluten-free)

Scrambled Eggs, bacon

Quiche with sausage

Lunch

Leftovers

Mac and Salad OR Salad

Snack-type lunch (possibly park picnic, depending on weather)

Mexican Tuna Boats

Dinner

Grain-Free Chicken Parmesan, zucchini coins, carrots

Pizza OR Salad

Ranch Chicken Stuffed Peppers (or just the filling over rice, for my pepper hating family members), salad, veggies

Super Simple Crockpot Roast, Green Beans, Salad

Ham, Potatoes with gravy (sweet potatoes for me), Zucchini, applesauce

Breakfast for Dinner

Bolognese over pasta (spaghetti squash for me), salads, applesauce

 

Snacks

Energy Balls

Fruit (grapes, apples, bananas, strawberries)

Trail Mix

Granola Bars

What’s your menu plan look like? Trying anything new this week? Just hoping to get by? Feel free to share!

Gluten-free · Menu Plan

Menu Plan

 

I just cannot believe we are almost done with our school year! The last few months have been packed with schoolwork, church, family time, and even a Spring Break vacation with friends! It really has been a great year so far. School will be wrapping up for us in less than 3 weeks! That is one week ahead of schedule….because I am just ready to be done. πŸ˜‰

We have been really good about menu planning (and sticking to it!) lately. I had these tummy issues somewhat under control, until we went away for Spring Break. We were able to eat a lot of homemade meals, but I did eat a lot of things I had been avoiding to help my stomach.Β So, by the time we got home I was back to being bloated, constipated (or the very other side of that spectrum!), and my skin being broken out. I am now a full week back to being gluten-free and starting to feel much better. My skin still looks awful, but my bloating has gone down. I am blaming this all on age – I did not have these issues when I was younger!

This week’s menu has some new meals from some of my favorite paleo cookbooks. It had been a while since I used them for meal planning, but I needed to look up a recipe and found some others that I had meant to try a while back and never did! We are sticking to a gluten-free menu for almost the whole family this week; I found several recipes I could double inexpensively to feed us all, without anyone complaining there was no bread item. πŸ™‚

Breakfast

Cereal (kids), Eggs

Swirly Crustless Quiche

Pumpkin Pancakes (dad will have just eggs), bacon

Blueberry Lemon Muffins, Cereal (kids)

Bacon and Egg Salad

@ my parents’ house for Easter

Eggs and sausage, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (kids)

Lunch

Mexican Tuna Boats

@ my parents’ for Easter lunch

Buffalo chicken lettuce wraps (pb&j for the kids who won’t eat that. lol)

Leftovers x 2

Salad (me), PB&J Β x 2

Dinner

Citrus & Herb Roasted chicken with carrots, quinoa (basmati rice for kids), roasted sweet potatoes (leftover from lunch), green beans

Broc-Cauli chowder with bacon and cheese, gluten-free biscuits(trying out Aldi’s GF baking mix), salad

Turkey Meatballs, Cauliflower Mash, Green Beans

Cumin spiced pork tenderloin, cilantro cali-rice, salad

@ my parent’s house

Pizza (dad and kids), Salad with chicken and other toppings (me)

Banger Sausage Patties, sweet potato mash w/onions, Β salad

Snacks

Herbal tea gelatin (ok, only Lily and I like it, but it is a super yummy snack!)

Vanilla Almond Sponge bread (gluten-free, new recipe I want to try out)

Yogurt and fruit

Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies (THIS recipe I got from a friend….it is AMAZING.)

Energy Balls

Homemade granola bars