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Friday, May 17, 2019

Writing Prompts for Kids


We use writing prompts in our workboxes and during our summer routine. Our summer routine is 10 to 15 minutes of structured educational activity a day. Keeping this simple low pressure routine last summer reduced the amount of back-to-school whining when fall came around. It also helped reduce a lot of Summer slide.  Once a week we have "Writing Wednesday" where my children pick a writing prompt from a jar and write a half page.

 

WRITING PROMPTS

 Write about the day in the life of an inanimate object in your house. Must be written from the point of view of the object.


 If I live to be a hundred years old...


Last week I found a secret passage in my closet...


When I open my own restaurant...


Yesterday I was magically transported into my favorite TV show......


 My time machine is ready...


Hello, my name is the Sun.... (write from the point of view of the Sun)


Hello, my name is the Moon... (write from the point of view of the Moon)


It was a dark and stormy night...


 In my secret lair.....


If I had $1,000 I would buy.....


I found a genie lamp and my first wish is.....


The monkeys escaped their cage at the zoo....


You will never believe what I found in the swimming pool.


If I had a superpower it would be...


This morning I woke up with a mermaid tail...

 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Indiana County Map & Scavenger Hunt



We are finishing our My Father's World Exploration to 1850s with a state report. We chose our home state of Indiana.  I wanted to add more real-life state geography to help better orient my kids when we travel to see family. Children are inherently egocentric and they learn best when something relates to their own life, so we chose to map counties where people we know live.



I printed a free Indiana County map online, then made a list of counties where our family and friends live, or where my husband and I grew up. Have your children make a KEY on the side of their map, then find the counties!


The family and friends model was effective because it is meaningful to my kids, but if you don't have family or friends who live around the state, find your own county, then look up counties for sites and attractions:
  • Places you have visited with your kids
  • Indiana Dunes
  • Battle of Tippecanoe
  • Battle of Corydon (Civil War battle)
  • State Parks or parks you have visited
  • Famous Colleges (Notre Dame, Indiana University, Purdue, etc)

HOW TO HOMESCHOOL IN INDIANA




Tuesday, April 23, 2019

How to Homeschool When You Can't Afford It


I can't afford to homeschool. We are a one (lower) income household. On paper, I should be working, but with sacrifices and living a frugal lifestyle, I get to homeschool both my children.

If you have felt the tug in your heart to homeschool, then money is not an obstacle. Homeschooling is as expensive as you make it. I compared what I pay for curriculum for BOTH of my kids with a public school friend, and I pay LESS than what she pays in public school book rental for ONE child.

We have now been homeschooling for seven years, and we have learned many tricks to providing my kids with a well rounded education while keeping the costs low. Just like any budget savers,it does take a little extra work, but it is worth it!



1. Library, Library, Library! 
Take advantage of local library!!!!   I am on a first name basis with most of our local library staff because I pretty much visit every week.

  Libraries today are not just for BOOKS! We are lucky enough to have cards to two different library systems (our town's and the county's library).  We have access to free Local Museum passes, free tutors, educational classes, a 3-D laser printer and software lab, and rent-able Rosetta Stone curriculum.  YOU HAVE TO ASK!  Many libraries have a plethora of resources, you just have to ask someone how to access them.

Classes
My kids take a Minecraft Mania class every semester where they are able to play other kids on a CLOSED network for Internet safety.  Maybe have your high schooler enroll in a a free adult education class on how to use EXCEL, Microsoft Publisher, or even how to prepare their taxes.   If your library doesn't have a class you'd like, ask for it!  Librarians want people to come to their classes, so if you show there is interest, they may offer it.

Books
We check out 30 books every two weeks to go along with our My Father's World Curriculum, along with great workbooks for online coding.  If you use free Charlotte Mason Ambleside, you could get all your school books from the library!  Your tax dollars fund the library, and since we are not taking advantage of the local schools system, which your tax dollars also pay for, USE THAT LIBRARY!!! See this post on how to manage the many many books you get without paying fines.

How to Manage Library Books in Your Homeschool


2. Free Online Resources
 My kids take free piano, typing, and coding lessons online.  I don't personally like my kids being on computer for ALL their subjects because it limits parent/child influence, but the resources are there to help learn any subject you need.  Check out this post of all the Free Online Resources, for every subject you could imagine

WARNING Using ANY online resources requires adult vigilance about safety, but with a few safety precautions, it is worth it. No one is above temptation (even our 'good' kids) so please keep safety barriers in for your children when using online resources.

Free Homeschool Curriculum 


3. Don't Curriculum Hop 
Unused Curriculum is the biggest Budget Buster for a homeschool mom. A friend who uses my same curriculum told me she doesn't even look at other curriculum because there is just too much out there.  I have found that if a curriculum works well (or even just OK), then there is no point in searching for that elusive "perfect curriculum", because it doesn't exist. This little tip has saved me potentially hundreds of dollars over the years.

 The joke in the homeschool community is that all homeschooling moms have a shelf of unused curriculum somewhere, but we don't. I can't afford to buy curriculum we won't use. If we do end up buying a curriculum that doesn't work that great, we almost always finish it before buying a new one. My philosophy is unless it's making my children doubt their ability in themselves, it is good for them to learn that not everything in life is perfectly tailored to them, and to adapt accordingly.

I recommend new homeschool moms buy a boxed curriculum because it gives confidence and you don't spend money (and take years off your life) looking for the "perfect curriculum.  Do we love EVERYTHING about our My Father's World boxed curriculum.... no?!  It isn't perfect, but no curriculum ever will be. But it is a great base, and as I grew more confident and know my kids  better, I have branched out and bought other supplements that don't go unused.

Why I Chose My Father's World Homeschool Curriculum 

4. Try to touch before buying 
Be brave and ask other moms if you can look through their manuals and curriculum before buying.  Some people go to conventions for this purpose, but I don't have the money or patience to go to a convention. I prefer going through a friend's curriculum because I get a real review from someone I know and trust. Use Facebook groups to connect to other homeschool moms who use curriculum you are interested in, and you get to make a friend in the process!



5. Never Pay Full Price
I buy all my curriculum either USED or discounted from websites like Christian Book Homeschool Resources Other Great Places to Buy curriculum used or discounted:
.

  Christian Book Homeschool Resources  has deeply discounted prices
 and regular sales on every subject and most homeschool publishers 


6. Borrow/Swap/Trade 
Homeschool is a giant community of moms who care about each other, many who are willing to share their curriculum and resources. We piece together our curriculum each year through borrowing, swapping, and trading, and then buying whatever is left.

We borrow our teacher's manual and  Math U See  DVD from two different friends, then I buy the consumable workbooks from Christian Book. My boys' grade is in between another friends' children (she has one older and one younger), so one year we swapped Languages Arts curriculum for the grades we needed, then swapped back at the end of the year (then I sold that book).

 Our co-op also has a "free table" that has blessed us deeply. Women bring in their old curriculum and school resources to put it on the table, and you can take whatever you'd like!  It has been a God-Send to our family! I never sell any curriculum I was given for free, and always pay it forward by bringing back to the Free Table when I am done. 
Math U See


7. Homeschool Cooperatives
Join or start an inexpensive co-op. Homeschool Cooperatives pool their resources to teach a group of students, according to the gifting of the parent.

 Our co-op is only $35 a semester, and my kids get to take four classes; including classes like chess, gym, world geography, and show choir. I contribute by teaching the preschool-aged children all morning while other moms who are gifted in other ways teach the older kids!

If you don't have a co-op near you, invite 1 to 2 other families to join you in learning art, drama, or P.E., splitting the cost of supplies. I once started an art co-op with one other family.  We met once a month to do  art projects, like paper mache and pastels.  Splitting the cost of supplies was very cost effective.

What is a Homeschool Co-Op?


8. Combine any subjects you can across grades 
A One Room Classroom approach has proven successful for generations.  Combining the core subjects saves money while also allowing each child to learn at their own level. For example, you can have your 1st and 3rd grader do the same History, Science, Art, and Music. 

To illustrate, while learning about Ecosystems, your 1st grader may retain that polar bears are white and live in cold weather, while your 3rd grader will also retain the vocabulary word of tundra and your 5th grader can define ecosystem.

 In the individual subjects like Math and Language Arts, you buy each child their own curriculum so they can progress at their own rate. We love My Father's World because it is already designed for this approach.

9. Parks and Recreation Department
Follow your local Parks and Rec Department online, and check out their calendars!  You'd be amazed at all the wonderful educational opportunities that your tax dollars pay for! Visit free nature centers and attend free classes and events all put on by your local parks and recreation department.

Our community has a large enough homeschool community that we have even requested some homeschool classes and field trips at a local park during school hours, and they happily obliged.

 A few years ago, while visiting my Dad in Arizona I found a regional park that hosted monthly homeschool program. We went on a free mile long homeschool hike guided by a park ranger! My dad was amazed that we were joined by 12 other families from all over the state and country.

10. Call area businesses for Homeschool Discounts
Many kid-centered businesses will give a discount for homeschool kids because they can come during non peak hours.

Our local trampoline park has a homeschool hop every month from 2 to 3pm, with discounted rates. The local gymnastics center has an open gym from 1 to 2 every other Friday for only $5, a fraction of what they charge for after school classes.

11. Keep books to pass down or sell
Like I said before, I do not sell books we have been given, but I do sell any books WE BOUGHT!  I have twins in the same grade, so I can't pass them down, but if you are a multi-age family (like most are), save those books for your younger children, then sell when everyone is done.

To resell ALL our books, we try to use notebooks when using "consumable" workbooks.  You can buy cheap blank lined notebooks at Back to School Sale for ten cents a piece. Have the child answer their questions on the blank notebook to preserve the consumable for sale.  At the end of the year you can then sell the consumable workbook to pay for itself!
Back to School as a Homeschooler

12. Buy Partnering Memberships
Any educational membership you buy should pay for itself with partnerships to other museums. We bought a membership to an ASTC Science Museum. The membership was only $80 to our closest ASTC museum, and it also got us into 3 different science museums in Chicago for free! We used it last month when visiting a friend in central Illinois, and will use it again when we visit Alabama later this month. Most local zoos have a partnering membership with other zoos.

13. Free Bible Classes
Our main Bible curriculum is Awana and Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).  AWANA is a great kid's club where your child memorizes Scripture, plays with friends, and plays games. We pay weekly dues of 50 cents, which is very doable. My children and I also attend a local  BSF that has School Ages Bible Curriculum for older children. You can find a BSF Class or AWANA Club near you.

14. Dollar Tree 
Shop the Education section at your local Dollar Tree!  We have gotten math flash cards, white boards, easels to hold their books while drawing, and educational posters.  Many of these items are 10 to 20 times less than if you bought them in a teacher store.



15. Meal Planning
I know this doesn't seem homeschool related, but you can not afford to homeschool if you can't keep your grocery and restaurant budget under control!!!! Make a meal plan and KEEP IT SIMPLE. I see most moms fail at meal planning because they weirdly convince themselves meal planning will give them the time to make fancy meals!  The point of meal planning is not to try out new recipes, but to make sure you buy the groceries for the meals you plan to eat.  Our meal plan last week included Simple Spaghetti and Chicken Quesadillas.

  A lot of my meal planning happens through Freezer Cooking.

GOOD LUCK! I hope these tips help someone who is hesitating to homeschool because of money know that is possible! If you have any other tips to share on how to save money while homeschooling, please comment below.



Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Sermon Notes for Kids and Youth


I rely on these sermon notes to keep my children engaged in service, and I recently updated my design to work better for youth and kids alike! These are designed to help them ask questions about what they are learning, or what they don't understand. And now you can have the free printable!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD FREE SERMON NOTES PDF 









Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Beat Summer Slide



To beat the Summer Slide, we do 10 to 15 minutes of structured education a day during the summer. These activities are not designed to be long, but simple and fun way to keep them in routine of learning. Last summer we kept the schedule pretty faithfully. We missed some days each week but try to NEVER miss Math Monday. 

Math Monday
I pick one of the following, no more than 10 to 15 minutes.


Typing Tuesday
 3 screens of "Write Your Own Adventure" Story on Typing.com
Free Typing Lessons on Typing.com

Writing Wednesday
I try to keep writing all about fun during summer.  I don't check for structure and grammar as strictly because the goal is just to keep them using their creative writing muscles during the summer.


Thankful Thursday
We are thankful for summer vacation, and don't have any school work on Thursdays. Spend some time thanking God for His Creation today.

Fitness Friday
Pick 5 exercises from the Homeschool Exercise Jar
Homeschool Exercise Jar

Friday, April 5, 2019

The Right Reason to Love Mr. Darcy


Pride and Prejudice is again on my bedside table, for the upteenth time. I have to share a Book versus Movie pet peeve in regards to Mr. Darcy.

To those who have only seen the movie of Pride and Prejudice and swooned over how amazing Mr. Darcy is, remember that he isn't just shy and Elizabeth has to "get to know" him. In the book, he actually is quite an arrogant snob.

Yes, he is shy and improves upon better acquaintance, but he was also deeply spoiled and snobbish. I don't think Jane Austen wanted us to see him just as a misunderstood hero, but a man with the ability to change, which makes him a hero.

Opening his heart to Elizabeth changed his view on others below his station. Being rejected by her, and having to win her heart made him a better man.

Yes, we all need our own Mr. Darcy, but not because he was this perfect man she just didn't see clearly in the beginning. We need him because he is a good man at heart who is also willing to seek growth. Please, continue to fall in love with Mr Darcy, I certainly do, but love him for the right reason.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Dairy Free Carrot Cake & Cream Cheese Frosting

A crazy cake is a cake without milk, butter, or eggs. I started making these when I developed allergies, but they are honestly so much more moist than any cake I have ever made. 
And yes, one is missing because they were too delicious to resist.

Crazy Carrot Cake
Dairy, Butter, & Egg Free

Makes 8 inches cake or about 16 cupcakes

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cups flour + 3 Tablespoons (all-purpose)
  • 1 Cup sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

—————-

  • 3/4 Cup finely grated peeled carrots
  • 1/2 Cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup raisins

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar 
  • 1 Cup water 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line cupcake pan with liners or grease cake pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the first 8 dry ingredients and mix well. 
  3. Next, add carrots, walnuts and golden raisins – blend well.
  4.  Last, add the wet ingredients – vinegar, vanilla and oil, then pour the water over top – mix well. Pour in greased baking dish or 1/3 cup into each cupcake liner
  5. Bake on middle rack  for 35 to 45 minutes for cake OR 20 to 25 minutes for cupcakes or until toothpick come out clean. Allow to cool and top below cream cheese frosting. 

Cream Cheese Frosting
 Dairy Free

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 ounces plain almond cream cheese (I use Kite Hill, can be found at Meijer, Fresh Thyme, or Whole Foods)
  • ¼ cup Crisco Shortening
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened original almond milk 
  1. Combine all ingredients with blender until smooth. 



Dairy and Egg Free Pumpkin Scones 

Crazy Chocolate Cake


Monday, March 25, 2019

MFW Exploration to 1850- Pros & Cons

We have been using My Father's world since Kindergarten, and we still love it.  That said, we tweek it every year to fit our family.  Below are how some of the books that did and did not work for us. We only use the basic package, plus I gather the read alouds.


TEACHER'S MANUAL
PROS
  • Hands On Activities: This year was a little repetitive of second grade Adventures in History.  Some of our hands on crafts were fun of course, but we skipped some of the bigger ones that my boys still remembered from 2nd grade.  Some are worth repeating, but others, like building Columbus's three ships in Aluminum foil, didn't seem worth repeating. There were some new ones, and they are usually quite easy to implement, and only once every few weeks.
  • History Schedule: The schedule in the manual is again essential, because you will jump around so that the history study more sense; for example you will read all the chapters about Benjamin Franklin in George Washington's World in one week, even though the chapter's aren't consecutive in the book.
Mixed Feelings
  • History Schedule: My only frustration with the history schedule in the manual some of the choices about which chapter that are marked "optional"; i.e the chapters on the Native American General Pontiac are marked as optional, and were not covered in any other history book, but they are vital to American history. It my opinion, it's essential that we don't cover American history from only the English perspective.


HISTORY
PROS
  • Story of the World: Story of the World was engaging because it really is again told as a story. It provided perspective from many sides of historical events, which is appreciated in a living book. The chapters are also not too long, and hold your kid's attention pretty well.
  • George Washington's World: This is a living book that will replace your read-alouds for a while because the chapters are pretty long. I enjoyed the details and character development in this book, but I know some moms don't like it because of length. Like I said in the manual it is important to follow the history schedule in manual because the book does bounce around a lot. If we had to sit down and read this book cover to cover, I think that it would probably not make as much sense and would be harder to digest. Some moms chose to skip this book, but I think it's really important to supplement it with a different text if you're going to skip it because it is an important balance to the other books suggested.
  • In God We Trust: This is an interesting book about some of our founding members faith and how that affected their leadership. I think that the majority of the stories will start a good conversation, and many times discusses how one of the founding fathers didn't agree with an injustice that was happening, like Thomas Jefferson advocating for the freedom of slaves while writing the Declaration of Independence.
  • U.S President Flashcards These are a great resource that I would highly recommend, BUT we don't use them as the manual suggests.  The manuals suggest you glue to your notebook page.  Instead we choose to order one set of these cards for the family, then print our pictures of the presidents for each of our notebook pages.
  • Map of the World Placemat- We still had this from when we ordered it in 2nd grade.  It is still super useful, if you don't have it, order it.
  • The Last 500 Years- Easy to read and great visuals. Lots of great maps that will be used during your History Notebooking.
  • READ-alouds- All of the read-alouds this year are consistent with past My Father's World choices, really well-done living books that I highly recommend.
  • Writing a State Report- Simple easy to follow workbook to introduce kids to writing a resource report.
PROS/SUPPLEMENT
  • Liberty Kids DVD This is a must have supplement for this year! We all LOVE Liberty Kids, I even catch myself watching it with my kids.  I found a schedule in a Facebook group to align it with what we were studying. I appreciate the series because it's very kid friendly, but also age appropriately encourages the children to development critical thinking about the War. One of the main characters is a freed slave who bought his freedom, so there are some moments in discussing the irony of men fighting for Freedom yet not giving it to others, yet this is handled in a very child appropriate way. One of the characters is also a girl from England, so you can see the perspective  of Loyalists. The girl from England ends up coming to the side of the Revolutionary War, but she adds a great dialogue to the entire series. CLICK HERE TO Buy DVDs.

Mixed Feelings
  • Building a City on a Hill: This book reads more like a textbook. We struggled through anytime we had to read this book, it had names and dates and details that were not really realistic for elementary/junior high to retain.  Younger Elementary are really going to struggle with this book.
  • Exploring American History It's definitely a text book format, which does have its place in school.  Each chapter has a very helpful summary and comprehension questions, which are extremely helpful in writing your history notebooks.  But the American-as-an-idol bias was pretty strong in this book. 
Can anyone tell me what 3 words change the Battle Of Tippecanoe sentence in the above picture from a fact to an opinion? ANSWER "did much good". Thankfully my 6th graders can discuss the difference.There was a lot of American legend over fact in this book; from the historically inaccurate account of "not one soldier grumbled" during George Washington crossing the Delaware to the historically inaccurate fairy tale of how ALL colonists in ALL states were "of one mind" in declaring independence.
While part of me wants to recommend not reading this book, it honestly led to building really important critical thinking skills in my children. The beauty of My Father's World giving several  books for each subject is that with such different opinions, you get the chance to discern fact from opinion, discuss how history is never simple, and how history books are written by humans and is therefore always flawed and from a bias, which we can compare with God's Word which is written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. That said, I caution anyone reading this book as a textbook to make sure that you read several other historical resources alongside it to help balance out the obvious America-as-an-idol bias.

  • Student Sheets Same as last year, we had only about HALF of the sheets needed.  The other half I had to print off from the MFW Facebook groups.  Disappointing.




BOOK BASKET
 PROS
  • History Book Basket List- We enjoyed the book basket, and each week had at least one or two books that we were able to get from the library that really added to our study for History. My biggest criticism of the History book basket list this year is similar to the manual, I wish there were more options for the Native American perspective during the settlement of the colonies. For example, they recommend reading all the Felicity American Girl doll books, but miss out on recommending the series, also from American Girl, about Kaya, a native American Girl living the the same time.


MIXED FEELINGS
  • Science Book Basket List- I as a little disappointed with the science book list.  For Zoology, it sometimes had the topic listed the book basket (with no specific books, just the topic). When we got to Botany, no science topics were listed at all in the book basket list, and  I ended up taking the extra step each the week and finding the science topic myself, and looking up books. It's only an extra step of flipping back in manual, but it was a little disappointing.

SCIENCE
  • World of Animals- This is a wonderful book, lots of great info about lots of animals. It is very important you read the tips in the manual, especially the note to not read every word on every page! My kids are huge animal nerds, and wanted to read every single description of every animal, but there just isn't time
  • World of Animals- Answers in Genesis. This book is perfect for homeschooling different ages. The simple introduction for each chapter is clearly marked " Beginners" for 2nd-3rd graders, with more in depth information for older ages. The student sheets are fun and simple activities to learn the lessons, like making invertebrates out of playdough. The MFW teacher's manual is also needed  for reference  for the answers to the discussion questions at the end of each chapter.
  • Exploring Creation with Botany  We really enjoyed this book.  The writing was clear and conversational, and the boys learned complex science lessons on their level.  The activities were also very easy to implement, while also very educational. SIDE NOTE- Because we follow a semi-traditional school year calendar, meaning we begin in the fall and have a summer break, we flipped the order of studying botany and zoology. We live in Northern Indiana, and according the to the teacher's manual we would start our botany study in the middle of winter.  It was easily by using post-its in the manual, and maybe took me an extra half hour to update the manual. The student sheets & Botany Notebook I printed from the Facebook page all have the week and day on the corner, so it was very easy to reorganize those too.

BIBLE
 My boys go to Awana and, so we do not use the MFW Bible curriculum.



ART/MUSIC

N/A
  • Music Appreciation CDs  We did not have these because we just do the basic kit, so I can't review them.
  • God and History of Art- We did not have this book because we just do the basic kit, so I can't review it.
PROS/SUPPLEMENT
  • Draw and Write Through History-  Instead of MFW, add  these books because they tie in perfectly to the history study and are done pretty independently.  My children's drawing skills have really improved. We also love that they work perfectly with our work boxes.  CLICK HERE See our SCHEDULE on how to incorporate into MFW.

LANGUAGE ARTS
Thankfully you can easily choose your own Language Arts programs, but MFW does recommend some options.  After a few years of tinkering, we have found which of these recommendations do, and do not, work for our family.

Pros 
  • Language lessons for Today, Grade 6-  We again enjoyed LLFT, it continues to be is a gentle Charlotte Mason approach to language arts.  Some years past have felt almost too light, but I this year definitely dove into more grammatical structure at an age appropriate level. 
  • Write Your own Adventure Stories-  My kids hated writing after using Writing Strands, so we successfully switched to Write Your Own Adventures Stories.  This book, combined with the many note book pages, helped my boys enjoy writing again. 

  • Writing Strand- Level 4.  We had some mixed feelings about this book, and while we finished it, I don't think I will continue with these books.  At first the instructions were confusing to all of us, but once we learned the flow of the book, we got the hang of it.   My children were able to complete the Writing Strands assignments last year, but they never seem to be able to apply anything they learned to  their actual writing assignments.  In hindsight, I  felt the problem was that the lessons broke down & deconstructed writing so much, it became impractical for this age.   

MATH 
Thankfully you can easily choose your own Math programs, but MFW does recommend Singapore math. 

  • Math U See- We choose instead to use Math U See.  It is a wonderful DVD curriculum.



COMPUTER
My Father's World doesn't really have a computer skills aspect to their curriculum, so we have found free supplements.

  • HISTORY NOTEBOOK- after my boys have written their rough draft in pencil and I've corrected it, I've been allowing them to type it and print it on our desktop. It gives them some computer skills
  • Coding- We stumbled onto free coding with Scracth. CLICK HERE to see how we got started.
  • Typing- We use free typing on www.typing.com

Posts contains some affiliate links, thank you for using links to keep this blog up, at no extra cost you.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Chicken Shawarma and Tumeric Rice- Dairy Free


I am trying to incorporate cultural variety into our menu. My husband loves middle eastern, so we adapted this recipe for be dairy free and kid friendly.


CHICKEN SHAWARMA
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 ½ tsp cardamom
  • 1 ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tbsp dried minced onion 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb chicken breasts (boneless and skin less)

Garlic Yogurt Sauce

  • ½ cup Plain Almond Milk Yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. In a gallon Ziploc bag add chicken.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the spices, onion, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Add to bag with chicken and toss to coat.
  4. Marinate  in fridge for 3 to 12 hours.
  5. Add everything to a baking dish and cook in preheated oven for 45 mins. Cover with foil for first 30 minutes and uncover for the last 15 minutes. 
  6. Make Yogurt sauce while chicken cooks, stores in fridge for up to 3 days.
  7. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest covered for 15 mins before cutting it into slices.
  8. Serve over tumeric rice and drizzle yogurt sauce on, side of pita and hummus. I also have served with some shredded lettuce.


TUMERIC RICE
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1⁄2 tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  1. Melt 1 tbsp butter in saucepan, add onion and garlic, cook until softened.
  2. Add rice and turmeric; stir to coat.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, bring to boil, cover and simmer 17 minutes.
  4. Stir in remaining butter, remove bay leaf, serve.


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

How Homeschooling Changes your Friendships

The changes in my friendships took me a little off guard when I began this journey of homeschooling. I told a friend that as I wrote this post I thought it could honestly be a book, a book I don't have time to write, but a book none the less. Your journey will look different than mine, but I will share some of the changes I have seen along this road.


FRIENDSHIP CHANGE #1
Fewer shared experiences
 Parenting Intimacy levels change when you choose a completely different parenting lifestyle. You will not be able to talk about PTA schedules together or discuss your kid's teachers.  You can't moan over E-learning/Snow Days together. You won't understand the morning struggle of getting four kids ready to get on a bus.  You will feel left out of these conversations.

 Your public school friends may also feel left out of your life too. They won't understand the mind numbing struggle of choosing a curriculum.  They don't get the worry of making sure you are following state laws when you begin, the stress of finding a co-op, or figuring how to organize all your homeschool subjects.

 I know that when I share my parenting issues with homeschool moms, their reaction will not be "all those problems would be solved if you just put your kid in public school".  Yes, homeschool is not for everyone, but if you deeply believe God has called your family to this lifestyle, you need to have friends who encourage you in that goal.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT-Intentional conversation about Non-Homeschool Topics
There are parenting struggles that are universal, and it is ESSENTIAL to find common ground to maintain your friendship.   But to maintain an intimate friendship, you will need to connect deeper on subjects that don't necessarily involved your kids. PARENTING IS NOT THE ONLY THING ABOUT US LADIES.  We are mothers, but we are also wives, friends, daughters, and women. One of my best friends in the world moved to a different state last year and the last time she came to visit me, we talked for about 4 hours without stopping except to eat, and even then we talked while eating. We MAYBE spent 10 minutes of that time talking about our kids. She is a public school mom. She supports me, and I support her, but we just don't have all the same parenting experiences in common. We connect on so many other levels that it is OK that we don't share school experiences.

FRIENDSHIP CHANGE #2
Different schedules
I can't go to a playdate at 10 a.m. on a Monday, or attend a morning Bible Study. I can't meet for coffee after school drop off.  After summer, Back to School season is a another huge marker of our friendships changing because our schedules change drastically. Most of my public school friends understand this and still love me, but it does mean that I missed out on get-togethers of my mom friends a lot. Sometimes it can hurt to see everybody getting together when you know you can't join.  It can either breed doubt  in your choice, or bitterness at your friends. It is essential to recognize these feelings before that take root and lead to hasty decisions or more hurt. This is the schedule of the life that God has called me to, and I believe that the sacrifices are worth it.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT-Intentional Scheduling
Sometimes people ask me how my homeschooled kids make friends.  I always respond, "The same way all adults do, they have to be intentional about making plans." Sometimes homeschooling means getting creative with your schedule. I invited a friend over tomorrow and she's going to bring her preschool-age children to play with our stash of old preschool toys while my older kids can do their independent school work and us Moms chat. Sometimes it means blowing off school and making a friend connection a priority that day. And sometimes it means that a relationship drifts out of your life because that person can't accommodate your lifestyle. It's important that you surround yourself with people who encourage you in your goals, and if your goal is to homeschool then real friends will understand.

FRIENDSHIP CHANGE #3
Defensiveness on both sides. 
Parenting is one of the most personal things you will ever do. It is natural to see a friend's different parenting choice as a condemnation against our choice. It is so natural to mistakenly hear "I home school" as "I think public school is wrong", or vice versa.
Please note that there is a difference between 'defending' and 'defensive'. Defending is standing up for, or justifying a worthwhile cause.  Defensive is anticipating an attack, even before it comes. Defensiveness is taking  everything personal, like the above mentioned differences in schedules and experiences. Many things are very worth defending, but a quick jump to defensiveness can really hurt your friendships.


WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT-Security in your choice & Boundaries in Relationships 
 Honestly, I have no perfect answer for this because you can ONLY CONTROL DEFENSIVENESS ON YOUR SIDE. In my case, I deal with my defensiveness by addressing my insecurity and setting boundaries.

Security- I think we fight defensiveness by security in our decision. Read books about homeschooling, read articles, and pray about why you homeschool.  But this it is up to you.  If your friends choice to public school makes you defensive, that is on you to seek wisdom and healing in whatever if making you insecure. Surround yourself with moms who have done this before and ask them questions on how they dealt with their insecurity. We ALL have it, you are not alone.  I myself learned this lesson through my own deep insecurities that kept me from friendships with homeschool and public school moms alike. If your insecurity is keeping you from intimacy with women, then it needs healing.

If you  have a public school mom friend who is insecure and defensive, and it shows in her conversations with you, pray for her and adjust your expectations for that relationship

Boundaries & Expectations. It is OK to not talk about EVERYTHING in your life with EVERY FRIEND. Healthy filters , a.k.a. boundaries, are just realistic expectations of others.

My husband ,and about two other women, are my only friends with whom I have almost no filters. Even then I don't talk about some women issues with my husband, not because he'll judge me, but because he won't be able to help me the way I need. It would be an unfair expectation to put him the position to fill all my needs.

 I am not advocating inauthentic conversation, but having realistic expectations of other humans. It us unfair for a public school mom to expect me to vent with them over parenting choices I don't share, or just don't understand because I haven't experienced them, and vice versa.

All parents have the SAME GOAL, but we walk different roads to accomplish that goal. We can talk about the goals together, but be aware of how you talk about the roads you take to reach that goal.

 I need these types of boundaries on many topics, not just homeschooling. I have loved ones with whom I can discuss politics, and some the topic is off limits if we want to preserve our relationship. I have friends who have food allergies like me, so I know I can vent to to them.

 Boundaries help me keep amazing and wise people in my life, who happen to disagree with me on a few non-essential subjects. If we define ourselves completely by parenting choices, and make it a deal breaker in relationships, you will miss out on many amazing people who can give wisdom on other topics.

We need other women, and division over school choice is the last thing that should tear us apart.  Please see the other articles below on how  we can have more unity as women.

I truly hope this helps a homeschool mom out there!

Unity in Regards to Homeschooling


Defending or Defensive in my Choice to Homeschool

Satan is a Mean Girl, he wants to divide women