Thursday, June 30, 2016

Virtual Homeschool Co op #4: Do You Standardize Test?

What about standardized tests?  Do you participate? Why or why not?

This video is my part of the Virtual Homeschool Co-Op Channel Collaboration.You can find out more there:

The goal of the Virtual Homeschool Coop is to build the homeschool community of knowledge with collaborations to give voice to all experiences in homeschooling.

Here is the playlist

Contact us for business inquiries, reviews and collaborations:

FTC DISCLOSURE: This video is not sponsored.

Music Attribution:

Country Cue 1 by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (

I created this video with the YouTube Video Editor (

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Do It Yourself: Skinny Raspberry Lemonade Cake

*This post was originally published on 7/14/14.  Enjoy!

 photo IMG_2495_zps79a43606.jpg 
Yummy... It's summer time and that means lemonade.  Nothing speaks of summertime like sprinklers, chlorine pools, and lemonade.  So when I came across this Skinny Raspberry Lemonade Cake, it seemed like the perfect summertime dessert.

We had some trouble finding raspberry lemonade yogurt so we mixed lemon and raspberry yogurt.  I just started with half of each and adjusted the flavor from there.  Eventually I settled with a small container of raspberry yogurt and half of a small container of lemon.  The Crystal Light is pretty strong so the yogurt toned it down.

There were five kids in my house on this particular evening and four of them loved it.  I did too.  My husband and daughter, on the other hand, would have preferred chocolate.  :-)  Anyways, just a couple of thoughts:

  • Next time I'd love to make a poke cake out of this with raspberry jello.
  • How many other flavor options can we come up with?  yogurt and drink mix
  • I'm going to love playing with the basis of this recipe.
What about you?  What's your current favorite summer recipe?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Virtual Homeschool Co op #3: Boxed Curriculum or Not Boxed?

What do you think about boxed curriculum?  Do you use them?  Why or why not?

This video is my part of the Virtual Homeschool Co-Op Channel Collaboration.You can find out more there:

The goal of the Virtual Homeschool Coop is to build the homeschool community of knowledge with collaborations to give voice to all experiences in homeschooling.

Here is the playlist

Contact us for business inquiries, reviews and collaborations:

FTC DISCLOSURE: This video is not sponsored.

Music Attribution:

Country Cue 1 by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (

I created this video with the YouTube Video Editor (

Chicken Pesto Sandwiches {Pinterest Inspired}

 photo DSC_0100_zpsam5fghsv.jpg

Summer has arrived and it is HOT!  HOT!  HOT!  Things are heating up around here and with that, we're escaping to the lake, the pool, the splash pad,.... anywhere there's water and cooler air.  But what does that mean for coming home for dinner?

In a search for cooler meals, we came across these Chicken Pesto Sandwiches at The Food Critic.  Paired with fresh fruit or green salads, these sandwiches have been a welcome addition to our summer menu.

 photo DSC_0099_zpspgpqljmg.jpg 

Chicken Pesto Sandwiches

2 (12.5 oz) cans of chicken, drained; or 2 c. shredded chicken
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 c. fresh basil
1 clove garlic
1/4 c. grated parmesean
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
bread of your choice (we used sourdough)


1. Process the basil, garlic, parmesan, and olive oil in a food processor, adding salt and pepper to taste.

2. Combine with drained chicken and mayonnaise.

3. Assemble your sandwich as desired.  We spread a little mayonnaise on our sourdough and melted the mozzarella on the bread.  It came out toasty and creamy.  So good!  Then we layered the chicken with spinach and tomatoes.

I'm posting the original recipe, however, we weren't thrilled with the pesto portion of the recipe.  The olive oil was too strong and we couldn't get the other flavors to come through.  So for now, we're playing with the pesto portion, but very happy with the sandwiches.

You know it's a winner, when after the first bite, all three kids ask when we're having them again.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Friday, June 24, 2016

2016 June Bookmarks

 photo 001ee2ef-0f8c-4ed3-a21f-d69f34cee3ce_zps157ipvoh.jpg

*Bookmarks is an online book club hosted at Creative2xmom. Here we discuss the books we've read in the past month as well as the suggested reading. Our suggested reading for June was The Purpose and Power of Love and Marriage by Myles Munroe.

These are the books I read this month:

The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau--  The third book in the City of Ember series, the Prophet of Yonwood is actually a prequel giving further background information on how the city came to be.  I don't usually like prequels, but this one gave some great information about Ember and set up the series for the fourth book.

The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau--  The conclusion to the City of Ember series, Lina and Doon return to Ember in search of resources to help Sparks.  Winter is upon them and food is short.  And when Doon's father is injured, the duo return to find medicine as well.  But in a turn of events, there's a kidnapping, a mysterious jewel, and an undiscovered source of power.  If you've read The City of Ember, this is a satisfying conclusion to all that's happened.

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise--  I've been trying to read more educational philosophy throughout this summer.  This was the first book I've read and honestly, I'm thinking about stopping there.  This one so deeply resonated with me and how we view education.  I'm taking some time to incorporate lots of classical ideas into our homeschool.  As with all books, balance and common sense are needed.  However, The Well-Trained Mind gives a wonderful guideline for utilizing classical education in the home.

What We Read with the Kids:

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George-- Both Noah and Lydia loved this one.  And, bonus,... My Side of the Mountain is on Netflix right now.  We finished the book just in time for family movie night.

Our suggested reading for June was The Purpose and Power of Love and Marriage by Myles Munroe--  This book was ok.  I agreed a lot with what Munroe had to say.  Although his language can really rub against the feminist viewpoint.  For example, Monroe doesn't hold back when talking about submission, but neither does he hold back when talking about the husband's responsibility to love as Christ loves.  That's a pretty heavy order when you take it seriously.    My struggle with the books is that it was repetitive.  All good information, just repackaged throughout several chapters. 

So what are your bookmarks this month?

Tell us in the comments about the books you're chewing on. Or link up a review from your own blog. Let's share the books we're finding, good and bad. And give us your thoughts on The Purpose and Power and Love and Marriage by Myles Munroe.

And come back July 29th as we discuss Rising Strong by Brene Brown.

*Linked to these Parties

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made:  I'm still working away at Josiah's 1st year photo album.  I'm so close to finally being done with that one.  I also started sketching out some birthday ideas for that boy as well.

What I'm Reading:   I just finished the City of Ember series.  It was so good.  Youth fiction yes, but it had me hooked after the first book.

What I'm Doing:   We spent some time at the lake this week and taking kids back and forth to swim lessons.  Planted a hydrangea and tried a new craft.

What I'm Watching:  We watched the Grace American Girl movie a few weeks ago for family movie night.  We like those.  The girls are normal, loving, don't sass back to their parents... that's my kind of movie.

What I'm Enjoying:   Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie... Air Conditioning... lake days... 

What are you up to?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Virtual Homeschool Co op #2: Conventions or Not?

Do I attend homeschool conventions? Why or why not? Find out my reasons in this Virtual Homeschool Co-Op video.

This video is my part of the Virtual Homeschool Co-Op Channel Collaboration.You can find out more there,
collaborations to give voice to all experiences in homeschooling.

Contact us for business inquiries, reviews and collaborations:

FTC DISCLOSURE: This video is not sponsored.

Music Attribution:

Country Cue 1 by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (

I created this video with the YouTube Video Editor (

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

No Bake Eclair Cake

* This post was originally published on 6/25/15.  Enjoy!

This is the perfect dessert for sharing on a hot summer day.  Easy and no-bake, this dessert will impress without heating up your kitchen.  And your guests will never realize how easy it truly is.

 photo IMG_9935_zps62a52649.jpg

No Bake Eclair Cake

1 box graham crackers
2 small boxes vanilla pudding
3 1/2 c. milk
8 oz cool whip
1 container chocolate  frosting
  (or your favorite frosting recipe)

1. Mix pudding and milk until completely combined.  Fold in cool whip.

2. Warm chocolate frosting until spreadable.

3. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with non-stick spray.

4. Layer graham cracker, pudding, and frosting, ending with frosting on top.

5. Refrigerate overnight or 24 hours to soften graham crackers.

6. Try not to eat the entire pan. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

7 Summer Tasks for the Homeschool Mom

 photo IMG_7431_zpsu7pybcep.jpg

We've been out of school for three weeks.  THREE WEEKS!  Already?  That's amazing.  We've made our family trip to the lake, finished up the dance season, and started trampoline lessons.  VBS has already come and gone and yesterday, we had a family BBQ for Father's Day.  How is it that we're already three weeks into vacation?

If you're like me, you're soaking up the summer, and not ready to think of the upcoming school year.  But as we all know, time stops for no one and the new school year will be here before we know it.  Still before you panic, there are some low stress ways you can prep for the fall,... without ruining your summer vacation.

These are just 7 tasks you can complete this summer to set your next school year off to a great start!

1. Organize school books--Now that we've had a few weeks off, I'm ready to look at that stockpile in the garage.  Somethings we'll hang on to, some we won't.  Near the end of the May, we were just stacking books and manipulatives here and there.  So it's time for me to get back out there, organize by grade, see what I need to replace or sell.  Sometimes I even find some great curriculum that I forgot about.

2. Take stock of what you need next year--Most years I have my curriculum list ready by the end of May.  Not this year.  This year, I've still got a couple of holes.  It's time to finish my buying list.  Summer sales will be happening in the next month or so and and I don't want to buy anything, but what I really want and need.

3. Order any necessary items--Facebook and craigslist are full of used homeschool curriculum groups.  That's where I look first.  After that, Ebay is a great option for finding curriculum, as well as sales at Christian Book Distributers.  Now is the time to purchase to ensure that your packages arrive in time for the start of a new school year.

4. Start planning next year's calendar--Begin thinking about how you're going to schedule your new year.  What worked last year?  What didn't?  Do you need more field trips, more down time, more time for art/music/experiments?  Are you adding a new student?  (I am and I'm not sure how that's going to work)  What do you need to adjust to make the next year successful?  Plan the first 5-6 WEEKS!  You can adjust as you go, but having a several week plan will save you as your adjusting to a new year.

5. Read--Read education philosophy for how better to reach your students.  Read Christian parenting books about how to reach your children's hearts.  Read some of your student's books ahead so you can help with lap books.  Read fiction to just give yourself a break.

6. Play--Schedule some free time in your summer to play.  Swim!  Go to the beach!  Join a new workout group!  Try some new recipes in the kitchen!    Just take some time to let go of the teacher mindset and play!

7. Rest--By the end of May, I was struggling.  I was tired: mentally and physically.  I needed some mindless fiction to rest my brain.  I needed about 24 hours sleep and a mom's night out for coffee.  I needed to rest.  So this summer, I'm resetting my bedtime routine and getting more sleep.  Our schedule has opened up and we have time to lounge at the lake or have lazy mornings at home.  I'm taking advantage of it.

What about you?
How are you preparing for the next school year?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Virtual Homeschool Co op #1: Intro to Our Homeschool

There's a new collaboration channel start for homeschool parents to meet, support, and encourage each other.  I'm so excited to be a part of this collaboration and hope you'll join us as well.  Enjoy!

Watch this video from Just Sew Trish to find out more

Assignment #1:

Other YouTube collaborators' intro videos:

subscribe at
read at
like me on
follow me on

Contact us for business inquiries, reviews and collaborations:

FTC DISCLOSURE: This video is not sponsored.

Music Attribution:

Country Cue 1 by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (

I created this video with the YouTube Video Editor (

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mother's Day {Scrapbook Pages}

 photo IMG_8199_zpshsaz1bmy.jpg

With school out for the summer, I've had more time to scrapbook.
And when I came across this photo from Mother's Day 2015,
I wanted to do something special with it.

So I took these scraps from a variety of floral papers,
and created some borders of different width,
keeping the rest of the layout simple.

Sometimes it just takes the little things.

What have you been crafting lately?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Glowing Bubbles {Pinterest Inspired}

A couple of weeks ago, we loaded up the kids and drove out to Tahoe to spend a few days with family.  And while we were there, Nana brought glow sticks and bubbles to try out these glowing bubbles we keep seeing on pinterest.  They looked like a fun, inexpensive idea for keeping the kids busy.
 photo DSC_0092_zpsw7z3s8yt.jpg 

The idea is simple.  Break out a glow stick and pour the mixture into your bubble bottle.  Both items can be picked up inexpensively at the Dollar Tree. 

  photo DSC_0096_zps6oq7amnj.jpg

And the mixture did glow.  Pretty bright actually.    Now the test of taking them outside and let's see what happens...

 photo DSC_0093_zps2l0kwpow.jpg 
  photo DSC_0095_zpsbjdf0wy2.jpg


We were all pretty disappointed.  When the bubble solution glowed so nicely in the bottle, I thought it might have a chance of working.  But... it didn't.  It didn't ruin the bubbles.  They still blew really well, but they didn't glow.  Oh, well.  For a couple of dollars, it was worth a try.  But don't waste your time on this one.

What pinterest ideas have you tried lately?
Did they work?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made:  I'm scrapbooking again.  I completed several pages in Josiah's baby album and hoping to get a bunch more done this weekend.

What I'm Reading:  Oh, my... what am I NOT reading?  :-)  I"m working on June's reading challenge, as well as reading the Well Trained Mind.   Do you know how thick that is?  It's overwhelming me, but so good.

What I'm Doing:  Trying to get back into a workout routine... playing at the park... making ice cream... scrapbooking... editing a vacation video...

What I'm Watching:  J House Vlogs... American Ninja Warrior... our pet gecko... :-)

What I'm Enjoying:

What are you up to?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What We Have Planned for June

 photo a8d369bc-4b11-444f-8edb-e3a59966347e_zps9w3qcuqn.jpg 

 June is flying by already.  Can you believe it's the 8th already?  Over a week gone.  May was busy with finishing up the school year and looking forward to long summer days.  We squeezed in a field trip, played a ton of baseball, and cleaned out the school books.

As fun as May was, I've really been looking forward to June.  Time to read or scrapbook... a chance to organize gymnastics lesson in the kitchen... we've had several ideas tossed around about how to spend our time.  Here are some of the things we're working on:

Getting back to decluttering--  Back in Jan and February, I was vlogging our journey of decluttering the house, searching out those hidden spaces that needed some TLC.  But as school really ramped up in the spring, decluttering fell to the wayside.  While we have the time over the summer, I want to focus on decluttering the main living spaces of our house and the kids' bedrooms.

Updating chore charts--  We've always had chore cards in our home, but as the kids are getting older, they need some updating.  So I'm going through my chore lists for the kids, adding ideas and updating cards.

Finishing Josiah's baby album--  This is one of my personal goals.  I keep a baby photo album for the kids until they're a year old.  But with each kid, it's been harder and harder to get it done.  I'm so close with this one.  A few days ago, I laid out the final page ideas, printed the photos, and gathered embellishments.  I'm hoping to get a few pages done a week and finish his album this month.

Swim lessons--  June means swim lessons in our house.  Noah's getting older and done very well on the swim team this year, but Lydia and Josiah haven't been in the pool for quite awhile.  They're both really looking forward to lots of swimming at the pool and the lake.  But swim lessons first.

Cooking with Mom--  The kids love being in the kitchen.  Especially Lydia.  And for the past couple of years, I've thought that I needed to do more intentional cooking lessons with them.  So this summer, we're planning a meal or baking idea a week to work on together in the kitchen.  I know my youngest would enjoy it, but I'm really going to focus on working with the older two.

What are your plans for June?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made:  School is out and I'm scrapbooking.  One of my summer goals is to finish my little guy's 1st year album before his next birthday.

What I'm Reading:  I'm still reading The Well Trained Mind and started the Power and Purpose of Love and Marriage.

What I'm Doing:  Hiking... reading... planning next year's history units... 

What I'm Watching:  Everybody Loves Raymond... I love comedy series and this is one of my favorites.  It's fun to go back and watch old sitcoms

What I'm Enjoying: time with cousins... smaller gymnastics classes... seeing my kids learn new things... ice cream!

What are you up to?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

15 Chores Your 5-8 Year Old is Capable of Doing

 photo IMG_8346_zpsvhjw50zu.jpg 

With summer right around the corner, we're all breathing a sigh of relief for lazy afternoons and
free mornings.  Our summer is stretching out before us with visions of lake days and ice cream potlucks.  I think I might be looking forward to this extra time to breath as much as the kids, maybe more so.

But summer is also a great time to develop new habits and routines.  New chores take time and summer is the perfect opportunity to work together in helping your kiddos learn new skills.  My little girl is growing up and loves helping around the house.  In this new phase of childhood, we're working on big girl chores, keeping it fun while also keeping it meaningful.  These are a few of the chores she's taking on these days:

1. Preparing simple snacks--the kitchen is a happy place for many kids.  Chopping, measuring, and mixing ingredients are among some of the skills your child will be learning at this age.  Additionally, children can also prepare simple meals and snacks like granola, fruit salad, and sandwiches.

2. Set and clear the table--setting the table with the basics, like napkins, forks, and bowls, is easily accomplished at this age.  Also serving drinks as the family is coming to the table.

3. Dry and put away dishes--washing and drying dishes is a two man job, and great for talking with your kids after dinner.  Hand your child a dishtowel, and let him dry and put away dishes.

4. Use hand held vacuum--hand held vacuums are great for cleaning out the car and not too heavy for little hands.  They're also great for cleaning out those little spaces that only the kids can reach.  Plus their compact size makes them fun to use.

5. Fold towels and washcloths--the simple folds of towels and washcloths make them great for learning to fold laundry.  Plus washcloths are perfect for little hands.

6. Empty dishwasher--sorting and putting away dishes is a great chore for this age.  My daughter stacks the lighter plates then leaves a stack of the glass dishes for me to put away.

7. Match socks--matting socks is my least favorite chore, but easily accomplished by the youngest of children.  The rolling takes a little practice, but your child will be proficient in no time.

8. Rake leaves--my kids love to help rake leaves in the fall.  They rake and jump, multiple times before finally stacking them in the green waste bin.  And it's a great way to get some fresh air and work together as a family on a bigger project.

9. Peel vegetables--peeling vegetables is a fun job for kids helping at meal times.  The kids will often help me with some of the softer vegetables like carrots and cucumbers, and work their way up to potatoes as their hands get stronger.

10. Replace toilet paper--this is a simple one, but essential.  And while you're teaching them to replace the toilet paper roll, also teach them to stock the bathroom cupboard when the toilet paper gets low.

11. Wipe down bathroom counters--this goes for the kitchen as well.  Learning to rinse out a rag, squeeze out the water, and wipe down a counter is great for quick cleans ups between scrubbing.  And if your child has a small spray bottle of cleaner, teach her to deep clean together on a regular basis.

12. Disinfect door knobs--another easy job, but so essential for keeping germs at bay.  Make the job easier by supplying your kids with disinfectant wipes.

13. Sweep common areas--at this age your child is finally tall enough and strong enough to maneuver a full size broom.  And since he's been practicing with a smaller brush broom, he's learned to look for crumb and clean around the dinning room table as well.

14. Gather trash--this chore has saved me so much trouble.  On trash day, ask your child to gather trash around the house and even wheel the trash cans to the curb.  In our house, I assign trash take out based on the size of the child and the size of the trash can.  So my older son takes the larger trash can, and my daughter takes out the smaller recycling can.

15. Sort laundry--this is for both before and after washing.  My daughter helps me sort by color and material to help get things washed.  And then all the kids help me sort by child as we fold in order to get things put away.

For more chore ideas, check out 15 Chores your 2-4 Year Old is Capable of Doing.

What chores are your elementary kids working on?
Related Posts with Thumbnails