Monthly Archives: June 2008

Tried and true recipes

(This post is part of a meme at Heart of the Matter.  To find more tried and true recipes, visit here.)

I’m having a really hard time trying to decide what my favorite (and best!) recipe is.  I am debating between pecan pie, Easter cheesecake, and sweet potato rolls.  I think I’ll have to go with the pecan pie, mostly because I made it last night.  This is my grandma’s recipe, and she and my grandpa own and live on a pecan orchard, so I think they know pecans!  Here it is:

Pecan Pie

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 T. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups pecans

Mix together above ingredients and pour into an unbaked pie shell.  If you are picky like me, you can turn over all the pecans to make sure they are facing up before it bakes.  Bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes.  Presto!  The very best pecan pie ever!  I’ve never had this recipe turn out bad.

If you are looking for a pie crust recipe as well, the one I use is from The Pioneer Woman – here is a link.  It’s a great recipe and you can freeze the extra dough to save time later.

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Tougher than a $2.00 Steak

I’d like this to be wordless, but I think it needs some explaining. When we were at King’s Island a few weeks ago, we saw a guy (this guy) wearing a shirt that said “Tougher than a $2.00 steak.” I thought it was really funny, so I pointed it out to my little sister (age 16), who also thought it was funny. Then she kept saying it, over and over, and finally this guy heard us and gave us a “look.” So then, while we were waiting in line for a roller coaster, Anna says “I’m going to go over and take a picture of that guy’s shirt.” Okay. So she goes over there (with my camera, of course) and asks if she can take a picture of his shirt. He says “Only if you’re in it with me…” Okay. So his friend takes the picture while he does a muscular pose. I was cracking up.

Okay, it doesn’t sound that funny now, but I promise it would have been really funny if you had been there!

How I Schedule

When I started homeschooling, I set up an excel file with pages devoted to a few topics:

  • My overall 12 year plan
  • Year Overviews for each grade
  • A Price Guide for each grade

My 12 year plan is fairly vague.  I wrote down a general idea of what I want to cover in each subject each year, and what currculia I plan to use.  This is based largely on what is presented in the Well Trained Mind.  As I am exposed to other curriculia, I frequently go back into this file and change my plan, or add suggestions for things to check out when I get closer to that age.  Having this general plan gives me conifdence in where I am headed and a little assurance that I am not going to forget anything.

On the year overviews, I have a column for each subject and have planned them out by week.  I list the week number, what I plan to cover in each subject (i.e. Bible lessons 12-16, Math lessons 32-36, etc.)  I also schedule our breaks on this chart.  Then I print it out and put it in a page protector in my teacher notebook.  I love to plan on the computer, but it is easier to keep track on paper.  Each week, I highlight what we got done.   This way, if we get ahead or behind, I go back into Excel, update the sheet and reprint.

I don’t worry about finishing a workbook or unit each year.  For example, the Bible study we are doing is 104 lessons long and we are about to finish it.  Even though I don’t plan to start Kindergarten till August, when we finish, I will just start up with Unit 2, since this is a subject I plan to do year round.  So on our math schedule, we will end up doing just a little bit more than one grade level each year, since I plan to school for 44 weeks total instead of 36, which is what curriculum is generally written for.  I think this gives me a little bit more freedom too, to take a week off if we need to.

I plan a four day schedule (Friday is reserved for field trips), schooling 36 weeks each “school year” and 8 weeks of “summer school.”  This gives us 8 weeks off each year.  I eventually plan to use Tapestry of Grace, which is divided into four quarters, each nine weeks long, so that is what I used as a basis for my weekly schedule.  In between each quarter, I plan to take a week off for planning, and then take two weeks at the beginning of the summer and two weeks at the end.  We also plan to do quite a bit of traveling while we are in Japan, so I may move those summer weeks around if I need to.

As far as our summer school is concerned, I plan to continue to do bible, math, and phonics (the basics) because I think reviewing at the beginning of the school year is kind of a waste of time.  I really believe in year round school because I think students forget too much over the summer that has to be retaught in the fall.  It is something I witnessed as a teacher and was the basis for my Master’s thesis.  (And now I’ll climb off my soapbox and get back to the topic at hand…)  The rest of our summer studies will be delight directed, probably unit studies that I will plan based on what Madison is interested in.

The other page in my excel file is a price guide.  When I decide what curriculum I want to use, I add it to this list with the price as well as where I found it the cheapest.  Then when I am ready to order, I just go down my list and buy it all at the same time.  I also add other supplies I think we will need for the next school year, like oil pastels, board games, etc, and also memberships I want to purchase (like to the zoo or the aquarium).  Then I have a comprehensive list to present to my husband.  One thing I do think I will do for next year is add a homeschooling section to my budget so that when we run out of printer ink, finish an ETC book before the end of the school year and want to buy the next one, go on field trips, etc, I will have the money set aside to do that.

During the actual school year on a day to day basis, I use a weekly lesson plan book (the same as I used when I taught).  This is where I write down what I plan to do each day in each subject and check it off when we have finished it.  I have decided not to write out my schedule more than two weeks in advance because things can change.  When I started using this book, I wrote out a schedule for nine weeks, then we got a little behind on reading lessons, and that is really annoying.  I don’t want to rewrite everything, but I don’t like having to flip back a week to see what we should be doing for reading lessons.  I guess I have learned my lesson.  I plan to purchase a new one of these books each year.

In the front of the book, I have converted one of the grid sheets into an attendance chart by month where I record days we have school, field trips, and when we are out of town, as well as “professional education” days for me.  I keep a running total of days we have had school on this chart.

So that is probably a good overview of how I plan.  Hopefully it makes sense… I am sure the longer we homeschool, I more I will refine this process until it is a well oiled machine, but for now, I am very pleased with the system I have.

This post is part of a meme at Heart of the Matter Online.  To read more posts about how to schedule, visit this link!

The longest trip of my life…

Does that sound negative? I’m sure I didn’t mean it that way… but this is going to be a very long post (with lots of pictures). My mom and sister were planning a trip to Kentucky to visit their two best friends (also a mother and daughter) and they invited me and Madison to tag along. Since they have both been out there a few times, they also gave me the authority to plan a few things to do while we were out there. That was probably a bad idea for them, but it worked out great for me! We did get to do a LOT of stuff and we did have a really good time.

Since my parents live in Kansas, we headed up there on Thursday afternoon, then left for Kentucky Friday morning. On the way, we stopped at Whiteman AFB in Missouri, which is where I used to live. I told my mom, if you all get to visit your best friends, surely we can stop and visit one of mine? It wasn’t too far out of the way… and we got to eat lunch at one of my all time favorite resturants, Oriental Cuisine. I left my camera in the car, but lucky my good friend Stacy not only took pictures, but also emailed them to me! She has five adorable kids now, and Madison absolutely LOVED playing with them – even though she didn’t remember who they were. We moved away from Missouri when she was two.

On Saturday, we continued the trip to Louisville and on Sunday we went to the Louisville Slugger Museum, which – to my great surprise – was very fun. They have a gigantic baseball bat out front that you can take a picture with, and each visitor gets a free mini bat.

Monday we went to visit the state capitol in Frankfort, which was about an hour drive. That takes our state capitol count up to eight! Not too shabby. The inside was actually closed for Memorial Day but we knocked on the door and a security guard let us in to look around. Madison said that he probably let us in because she’s so cute, but it could have been that he’s never seen a four year old so excited to visit the capitol…

We also took a tour of the Rebecca Ruth Candy Company, which was featured on the Food Network. They are famous for their bourbon balls, but I did not like them. I did try to refrain from spitting mine out since Madison and my sister already had.

Then in the afternoon, we drove to Shaker Village for lunch. It is a very neat place, kind of Colonial Williamsburg like, and if you are into that sort of stuff and in the area, I would recommend a visit. Definitely bring money for the gift shop. It was really neat.

On Tuesday, I went to King’s Island (without Madison). I saw them on the Travel Channel and have been wanting to go for so long. I know Madison would have really enjoyed it, but without Matt or my mom along to help with her, I didn’t think I should bring her. She is still too short for almost everything thing there, but we had an awesome time and I would bring her back someday if she likes rollercoasters (like me). It was about a 2 hour drive from Louisville, but definitely worth it. It was sprinkling most of the day and the kids up there were still in school, so it wasn’t busy at all and we had a great time.

On Wednesday, we went to the Kentucky Derby Museum and toured Churchill Downs. Horses are not really my thing, but the tour was neat. And Madison read a sign while we were there! I was so proud of her – I didn’t prompt her or anything. It only said “No food or drink” but she read it on her own, then said “Mom come here! I can read this sign! I know the word no and the word or, and I sounded out food and drink!” She was so excited and I was so excited.

Thursday was our last day and we crammed it full – we went to Schimpff’s Candy Store, Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, the Louisville Glassworks, and the Waterfront Park. I loved Schimpff’s. They make red hot candy, and if you go in at the right time, you can watch them make it and taste one while it’s still warm – and they are so good. I am already hoping they ship to Japan because my tin is almost gone. They were featured on the History Channel on Modern Marvels.

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe was featured on the Food Network on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. You are going to think all I do is watch TV, but I didn’t even know about these last two until they told us. I do love Throwdown with Bobby Flay though. I ordered the Kentucky something Scramble, which is what they made for the show and it was SOOOOOO good. Looked disgusting, but it was really tasty.

The other two places, the Glassworks and the Waterfront Park were okay. Fun, but I’d skip them next time. I thought Madison would like the glassblowing more, but maybe she was a little burnt out by the time we got there. And she was probably all sugared up from the candy store. I spent more money on candy on this trip than anything else I think… except gas, but let’s not go there…

I think I can safely say I’ve done Louisville.

Now be honest – you thought that was the end didn’t you? Nope. On the way home, we also stopped at the Arch in Saint Louis. Not sure what I expected there but it didn’t live up to my expectations. To get to the top, you ride in tiny little pods. Then when you get up to the top, you can look out the window. That’s it. And it was so full of sweaty people and general stinkiness, I was ready to go as soon as I peeked out one window. I am glad I did it, but I don’t think I need to do it again. Ever.

And now I’m done. And you can understand why this was a great trip, but also the longest. trip. of. my. life.

PS – you can review the rest of the picture from my trip (all 248 items!) at Flickr.

Back from Kentucky (and other ramblings)…

We officially got back into town on Sunday night, but it seems like I have needed the last two days to recover from 11 days away from home…  It’s cliche, but I really did need a vacation from my vacation.  I am planning to post pictures from the trip tomorrow.  For now, I’ll just say we had a really great time, did some really fun things, but I am so glad to be home.

This is the longest break we have had from homeschooling since we started. I tried to schedule our other vacations so we still had half weeks of school and I always took work for us to do at the airport, but this time, we drove and we were gone for a longer period of time.  When we started with school again yesterday, it was hard to get back into it – especially reading.  And we are going to be going out of town again next week for about 5 days.  I have toyed with the idea of just taking a break for the summer, with the vacations we have scheduled and our upcoming move to Japan, but I really don’t want to do that, especially after seeing what happens after a week break.  I am going to try to keep going with a toned down schedule until we actually get to Japan (which I have an update on…  keep reading 🙂 )

I think part of our problem getting back into the routine this week is swimming lessons.  I signed Madison up for lessons which started yesterday.  They are in the morning and by the time we get home, the morning is gone, I am starving for lunch and it is really hard to start school.  BUT… she loves her lessons so far.  We go everyday for the next two weeks for this class, and I plan to keep signing her up until we move.

And now, the news you have all been waiting for – or at least the news I have been waiting for… since December…  After being in Oklahoma for more than six months (two months longer than expected), Matt told me yesterday that we are almost done here – it looks like we will be done the beginning of July.   Then we will spend a few weeks with family in Kansas and Matt will leave for Japan the end of July.  Madison and I will have to wait for Matt to find us a house since the lodging on base there is being renovated, and then we will come over, hopefully sometime in August.  Part of me is saying “YEAH!” and the other part has really started to like Oklahoma and the proximity to our family.  And a big part of me is not looking forward to being homeless for a good chunk of the summer…

But today I cycled into “move” mode.  I made a list.  I ordered Vonage phone service, since we are able to use that in Japan if we set it up before we move.  I sorted Madison’s toys into keep/sell/give piles.  I cleaned out the hall closet.  I started to figure out what I can make with the groceries I have left and planned to give our apartment notice tomorrow.  I really REALLY started to get excited.  I mean, as much as I like OKC, I am ready to get to Japan.  I am ready to have all my stuff back and be able to paint my walls.

Then Matt came home and told me there was another delay.  But hopefully, even with that delay, we are still on the same schedule.  I’ll let you know (and hopefully it will be soon, but this is the Air Force, so…)

So, we are back from vacation and getting back into our groove.  Don’t forget to look for pictures tomorrow!