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Laura
Follower of Christ. Wife to Adam. Mama to Joshua (9), Abigail (8), Esther (7), Hannah (6), Noah (5), Joseph (3), Peter (2), James (9 months), and Blessing #9 due late August. Soli Deo Gloria!
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Adam and Laura

Adam and Laura

Joshua Addison

Joshua Addison

Abigail Lauren

Abigail Lauren

Esther Rebecca

Esther Rebecca

Hannah Ralene

Hannah Ralene

Noah Evans

Noah Evans

Joseph Patrick

Joseph Patrick

Peter Edwin

Peter Edwin

James Emil Robert

James Emil Robert

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Arrival!

My good, real life friend Nikki asked me to post when her baby arrived. So "hi" to all of Nikki's readers! :) Baby Sister arrived at 12:16 pm and both mother and baby are doing great! Nikki will probably be online sometime on Thursday, so be sure to check her blog then for Baby's name and all of the other good details!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday and Almost Done!


So this is our last week of eating from the pantry!!! Can you tell that I'm excited? I'm really glad that we did it, and our freezer, refrigerator and pantry are all pretty well cleaned out. I had to learn to make do and be creative several times too, which was good for me. I am rather tired of having semi-boring meals though, and I've already made the meal plan and grocery lists for February. :) I managed to stay under my budget of $100 for January...by a few cents. I really wanted to go over it today at Sams, but I made myself put some things back so that I wouldn't. The pears, pineapple, and fresh salsa were calling my name, but they'll just have to wait until next week!

Here's what we're eating from the pantry this week.

Monday - Lasagna (from the freezer), Tossed Salad, Homemade Bread
Tuesday - Breakfast Burritos with Homemade Refried Beans
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Bean and Cheese Quesadillas
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Pasta with Pesto, Green Beans, Bread
Sunday - Turkey and Wild Rice Casserole (from the freezer), Green Beans (lunch); Leftovers or Sandwiches (dinner)

Visit Laura for more Menu Plan Monday ideas!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Curricula

Several people have asked me what we use for homeschooling and I am finally getting around to sharing. I guess I've been too busy using it to talk about it! I'll start off by saying that I don't feel totally qualified to give really good reviews and recommendations. We've just started homeschooling this year. I know that a lot of my readers have been doing this for a whole lot longer than I have, and some of you have successfully graduated your children (hi Mom!). :) That being said, here is what we are doing and why.

Cursive First - this is a penmanship program that teaches cursive before manuscript. It sounds strange, and I wasn't too interested at first, but I really like it and definitely plan to keep using it. Learning cursive first basically eliminates the dyslexic tendencies that a lot of children have. I'm not an expert, but it seems that a lot of children have those tendencies to some degree even if they are not officially "dyslexic". Cursive enforces left-to-right movement, helps with spacing between letters, and teaches words as a unit. I posted pictures recently of Joshua (5) and Abigail's (4) handwriting. I'm very happy with how the program is working and I think that their handwriting is nice! I honestly can't think of any negative aspects of Cursive First.


Spell to Write and Read - this is a program that teaches children how to read as they learn how to spell. They may not read quite as early as they would using another program, but they understand why words are spelled the way they are. Everything is very logical and there is little rote memorization. They start out by learning the sounds of the phonograms as opposed to learning the names of the letters (like in the ABC song). For example, the letter "A" says /a/, /A/, and /ah/ and the letter "Y" says /y/, /i/, and /I/. They learn the sounds of the phonograms and how to write them before they learn to spell, and therefore read. There are a lot of rules that apply to the spelling words, which seems at first to be a little overwhelming, but they are introduced one at a time and the children pick them up really fast. They are very helpful in reminding the students how to spell the words. For example, the word "by" is spelled with a "y" and not an "i" because English words do not end in "i". The rules are constantly being reinforced by repetition of the same words and with new spelling words. This program requires a good bit of initial preparation on the part of the teacher, but once that work is done it really is easy to use and produces great results. Another plus to us using SWR is that my Mom has tutored using this for years and knows the program inside and out, so help is only a phone call away!

The only drawback to SWR that I can think of is the delay in reading, but that really shouldn't even be an issue. I think we all know how much of a temptation it is to compare our children to other children their age, and when a lot of the other 5 year-olds are reading fluently of course I want mine to be too! I have to remind myself not to compare, that there is nothing wrong with my child if his friends can read a little better than he can, and that he is still only 5! I'm convinced that this method of learning will be better for them in the long run and that they will have a great understanding of the English language.


RightStart Math - this is a wonderful math program! It teaches math as something to be understood and applied to life. There is very little rote memorization. It uses some great manipulatives, including the abacus, which help the child to understand what is going on. The lessons are laid out very clearly and are easy for the teacher to understand and teach. And it's fun! I love teaching it and Joshua and Abigail both love learning it. I definitely plan to keep using this one!


The Principle Approach Noah Plan - I really think that this is one of the absolute best homeschool resources out there. The whole program is based on Biblical principles and its primary goal is to teach each subject beginning with the Scriptures. Each of the subjects are saturated with the Biblical Christian worldview, and the methods of teaching are much the same as those that our founding fathers learned from.

That being said, I'm not totally convinced that this is the right thing for our family. There is a whole ton of reading, preparing, studying, etc. involved for me, and while I enjoy doing it, it takes up a lot of time. Sometimes I think too much time. Adam and I haven't had a chance to really sit down and discuss how school has been going and how happy we are with our curriculum choices, but this is one area that I would definitely like for him to re-evaluate with me during his break in May. Just because something is really good doesn't mean that it is necessarily the best for us in our particular season of life. Maybe some of that study and prep time would be better spent with the children in the kitchen or just sitting down and reading to them. This has especially been on my mind lately with Baby #6 arriving in a few months.

So there you have it! I'd love to hear what my homeschooling readers are using. Are there things that you just love and plan to use with all of your children? Are there things that you've tried and would not recommend?

Giveaway Winner!


Thanks so much to everyone who entered my giveaway! Random.com just picked a winner for me, and it is Chris and Amy! Be sure to email me at adam and laura @ bellsouth dot net with your address and I'll get the apron and chocolate off as soon as possible. :)


Monday, January 18, 2010

Eating From the Pantry Week 3


We took advantage of the beautiful weather and the holiday and spent the day in a small town and at a national park about an hour from here. We did a little thrift store shopping, played miniature golf, went fishing, took a walk, and got milkshakes at a quaint little drug store soda fountain. No one was really hungry around dinner time, so we just scrounged around and ate leftovers. I ended up overspending my $25 per week budget a little both last week ($29.37) and this week ($28.93), but I only spent $13.60 the first week in January, so I'm still under budget by $3.10. Woohoo! So here is what we're eating for the rest of the week.

Tuesday - Turkey Noodle Casserole (using leftover frozen Thanksgiving turkey), Salad, Bread
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Country-Style Venison (recipe below...thanks Ruth Ann!!), Rice, Salad, Bread
Friday - Basic Ham and Bean Soup (using leftover frozen Christmas ham)
Saturday - Homemade Pizza
Sunday - Russian Crockpot Chicken, Rice, Salad, Bread (lunch); Leftovers (dinner)

Country-Style Venison Cube Steak
4 venison cube steaks
Salt and pepper to taste
Flour
Vegetable oil
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 cup water
1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire

Salt, pepper, and flour steaks. Brown in oil. Add soup mix, water and Worcestershire. Simmer 1 hour until tender, adding water as needed. Serves 4.


For more Menu Plan Monday ideas, visit Laura.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Giveaway!!!

I believe I've only hosted two giveaways on my blog and I've been blogging for a little over three years. So it's high time for another one!

I am giving away a handmade apron and some chocolate! I bought the Marie-Madeline Studio Chic Sisters Apron pattern from Fashionably Modest Patterns when they had it on sale a month or so ago. A brand new Hobby Lobby opened not far from our house last week, and I thought that this fabric would be perfect!


And since most everyone likes chocolate, the apron comes with a bag of Russell Stover Private Reserve. :)
I don't like messing with giveaways that are hard to enter, so I'm going to make this easy. You can enter by simply leaving a comment here. If you would like to put your name in the hat twice, then blog about this giveaway, come back here, and leave a second comment with a link to your post. Entries will be accepted until midnight on Wednesday, January 20th. Random.org will help me pick a winner the next day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday



Monday - Lentil Rice Casserole, Green Beans, Freshly Baked Homemade Bread
Tuesday - Beef Sausage with Creole Rice, Spinach Salad, Bread
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Chili (with ground venison) over Rice with Cheese, Bread
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Beef Stew, Bread
Sunday - Elegant Pork Loin Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Spinach Salad (lunch); Leftovers or Sandwiches (dinner)

I need to make a grocery run soon for milk, eggs, and produce. I only spent $13.60 on groceries last week though, so I'm under budget ($25 per week) so far! Woohoo!

For more Menu Plan Monday ideas, visit Laura.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Progress

I haven't blogged much about school since we officially started, but it's going very well and we're actually a little ahead of schedule. I really want to be done with Kindergarten by the time the baby comes at the beginning of May, so we're keeping a pretty strict schedule. Joshua and Abigail are doing wonderfully and they really enjoy school...usually. We have our frustrating moments, hours, days, etc. Most of the frustrations are related to Joshua not focusing, Abigail having a bad attitude (which she tends to have when she doesn't get something right the first time), and me not having enough patience! But for the most part they're both picking things up quickly and progressing well.

The pictures below are of the spelling test that they took at the beginning of this week. Joshua got all of his words right, though we had to work on making a few of them neater and getting the loops on the "f" and the "J" heading in the right direction. Abigail's penmanship is very neat (especially for a 4 year-old, I think!), but she missed two words that we later worked on and filled in. All in all I'm very proud of them and think that they're doing great!




Noah has been working hard on his walking! I took this video yesterday, at which point he was still mostly crawling with a few spurts of walking thrown in. Today is the opposite. I think I've only seen him crawl twice all morning!

video

Monday, January 04, 2010

Menu Plan Monday



Here is what I have planned for our first week of eating from the pantry! I usually end up with more leftovers than I think I will have, so that is why I have them on the menu so often. I haven't been to the grocery store yet in January, but I will need to go at some point this week for milk, bananas, and possibly some other produce. I plan to post a running total of this month's grocery bill here every Monday when I post our menus. So far it's $0. Woohoo!

Monday - Savory Pork Roast with Apple Stuffing (recipe below, thanks to my Pampered Chef consultant friend, Karrie!), Tossed Salad, Homemade Bread

Tuesday - Turkey and Wild Rice Casserole (from the freezer), Corn, Bread

Wednesday - Leftovers

Thursday - Venison Stroganoff (with Homemade Cream Soup), Green Beans, Bread

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Grilled Cheese, Tomato Basil Soup

Sunday - Lunch at Church; Leftovers for Dinner

Savory Pork Roast with Apple Stuffing

2 medium red apples, chopped (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix
1 cup apple juice
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary leaves, crushed
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 boneless pork loin roast (2 1/2-3 pounds)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine apples, celery, onion and stuffing mix in large mixing bowl. Drizzle with apple juice and butter; toss well to combine. Spoon stuffing mixture into Deep Dish Baker. Combine garlic, rosemary, sage, black pepper and salt; mix well and rub evenly over pork. Place pork, fat side up, over stuffing; loosely cover with aluminum foil, sealing tightly around edge of baker. Bake 1 hour, 30 minutes; carefully remove foil. Bake an additional 15 30 minutes for medium (155°F) to well (165°F) doneness. Let stand, covered, 10 minutes; carve on Reversible Bamboo Carving Board. Serve pork with stuffing.

For more Menu Plan Monday ideas, visit Laura.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Eating From the Pantry


I've decided to join Crystal and Fishmama in their Eat From the Pantry Challenge! I've been spending a good bit more on groceries in the past few months than I would like too. I guess I can say that I have some "excuses"...morning sickness and running to the store to get the one and only thing that sounded appealing for dinner, having a good bit of company, five children that eat a TON, etc. All of those things did play a part in our grocery bills, but the lack of having a good plan and sticking to it didn't help me either. So, here are my goals for January.


1. Go to the grocery store no more than once a week, and hopefully just once every other week.
2. Spend no more than $100 on groceries in January.
3. Only buy milk, eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
4. Plan all of our meals around what we have in the refrigerator, pantry and freezer.

I'm not totally sure about my first goal because I don't know exactly how fast we go through milk or how long the fresh produce will last. I'm going to try going every other week and see if that works. If we run out of those staples, then I'll have to go more often. I have to admit that I'm a little nervous about the $100 limit. We eat a lot...especially the children! But I'm going to do my best and it would be great if I could spend even less than that. My freezer is pretty well stocked with a few things that I had frozen last month, as well as with venison from Adam's deer. I've already planned out our meals and I'll share them every Monday.

*The picture above is not my pantry. I just liked it. :)