Friday, December 16, 2011

2012 School Year

Believe it or not, in the midst of all of our Christmas decorating, gift-making, gift-wrapping, cleaning, cooking, baking, stories and celebrating, I've also been planning our upcoming school year (2012). I've done a lot of thinking, researching, meditating and praying about this. As you may know, we had a rocky start to the fall of this year. We've dabbled here and there with various ideas of Unschooling and Oak Meadow, but hadn't found our niche or groove. I'm happy to report, though, that after much thought and prayer, I feel like I have a solid plan for 2012. I thought I'd share some of that here. I'm in the process of purchasing and organizing materials, but we will be starting FRESH  in January. Items with one * will be used only in Term 1, ** Term 2 and *** Term 3. If there are no *s, we will use the resource all year. Each term will be roughly 12 weeks. Here's what we have planned:

Family Subjects:

The Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos (Old Testament)
Wisdom and the Millers (Proverbs for Children)

Work on learning and following our family's rules.

Oak Meadow Fairy Tales *
The Aesop for Children by Milo Winter
Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit ** & ***
Seven Little Sisters **
Snow White and Other Fairy Tales by Grimm *** 

Robert Louis Stevenson *
A.A. Milne **
A Family of Poems ***

Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography

Child's History of the World, Hillyer (Narrate, Map and Timeline)
The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History
Life in the Great Ice Age *
Boy of the Pyramids *
The Librarian Who Measured the Earth **
Trojan Horse
Growing Up in Ancient Greece
The Greeks
A Living History of Our World Volume 1 (Chapters 1-16)
The Very First Americans
Holling C. Holling Book of Indians
Eric the Red
D'Aulaire Leif the Lucky
D'Aulaire Pocahontas
D'Aulaire George Washington
D'Aulaire Benjamin Franklin
The Lost Colony of Roanoke
A Lion to Guard Us
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims                                    
Liberty's Kids DVDs

Outdoor Secrets and Companion
Burgess Bird Book along with coloring and listening to their calls
Weekly Nature Study

Orchestra, Peter and the Wolf *
Opera, Mozart's Magic Flute Opera, Hansel and Gretel Opera *
Bach with Opal Wheeler's Sebastian Bach The Boy from Thuringia **
Beethoven with Opal Wheeler's Ludwig Beethoven and the Chiming Tower Bells ***

Renoir *
Cassatt **
Cezanne ***

* Little House in the Big Woods
* Twig
* Five Little Peppers and How they Grew
* Understood Betsy

** Wise Enchanter
** The Voyages of Doctor DoLittle 

*** A Little Princess
*** Wind in the Willows
*** The Door in the Wall

Beautiful Feet Teaching Character through Literature, Primary

Continue our weekly Waldorf Handwork Group & Homeschool Adventures Playgroup 


Math Lessons for a Living Education
Life of Fred Elementary Series
Dreambox Math
English for the Thoughtful Child (orally with me)
Queen Language Lessons for the Very Young Vol 1
Cursive *
Copywork from various school books ** & ***
Free reading during Quiet Time
My America Copywork

Math Lessons for a Living Education
Dreambox Math
Delightful Reading Lessons
Reading practice from Treadwell, Lobel, Cobweb the Cat & other readers
Queen Language Lessons for Little Ones Vol 3
Finish Oak Meadow Letter Introduction via Fairy Tales & Drawings *
Copywork of words and short sentences ** & ***
My America Copywork


Of course, we will always add books from the library to our Book Basket and I may include some a little more "officially", but these are the resources I know I want to use.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Please forgive the quality of the pictures. These are from the 80s. Even if I were to try to give you some more recent pictures of these amazing people, the pictures would still be fuzzy. Why, you ask? Well, two of them went to be with their Heavenly Father before the "digital age".

Here we are. December 10th. Smack in the middle of my favorite time of year.

Really. It is. Always has been.

I loved the Holidays as a child.

Thanksgiving in Louisville. The longest day ever, but oh so worth it. I didn't watch football back then, so it bored me to tears to have an entire day of waiting to eat the food that was smelling up the house so wonderfully. Football in the background. Smells swirling through my Nana's home. W.A.I.T.I.N.G.

Then, finally the fellowship of family. My aunt and uncles. My cousins. My near 100 year old GrandMomma. My dad. My mom. My little brother. My Nana & Grandpa. Stuffing balls (hehe), olives, sweet gerkins and SHIRLEY TEMPLES. Oh the SHIRLEY TEMPLES.

Christmas at home. The earliest day ever, but I'd venture to say it was also oh so worth it for my parents. It was the one day we could wake them up before dawn. Now that I am a parent, I have a whole new respect for their willingness to get out of bed SO VERY EARLY, just for us. I remember trying to wake my dad up at 4:30 a.m. once. He just nicely told me it was a bit too early. I waited patiently until about 6:00.

We woke them up EARLY. They made us W.A.I.T. while they got their coffee (Of course, I TOTALLY get that now). They wanted to see our faces as we came into the living room. Beautiful, amazing, wonderful memories.

I simply L.O.V.E.D. the holidays.

I still do. Now, I'm the one making them wait while I get my tea.

The only problem with this time of year is how it brings my childhood memories to the surface. They are wonderful. But, they are bitter sweet.

You see, those memories include four people ~ my mom, my dad, my brother and me.

As I sit here today, only two of us remain ~ my mom and me.

I can't help but get a little weepy this time of year. I turn into a big baby. I miss my Daddy. I miss my little brother. I want to wake my Daddy up at 4 in the morning again and have him tell me ever so sweetly that it is just a little bit too early. I want to wait for my Daddy to make his coffee. I want to squeal in anticipation with my little brother as we are both about to climb out of our skin. I want to hug my Daddy and feel his rough fingers as they squeeze me back. I want to see that joy in his eyes as he spends Christmas morning with the greatest thing he's ever done ~ his family. I want to joke with my Daddy and my brother in Louisville as we wait for dinner at Thanksgiving (my immediate family were the only ones who didn't watch football in those days). I want to watch as my brother makes jokes that no one gets but us. I want to watch as my Daddy shows my almost 100 year old Grandmomma the most attention she's seen in a while, as he patiently listens to all of her stories of "way back when", simply because he loves the elderly as much as he loves children and animals.

I want to step back. Just for a minute, please. I want to smell them. I want to hug them. I want to feel their arms around me.

But, I can't.

I just have to accept that and move on.

And, thankfully, God has blessed me with a beautiful distraction.

He has given me the gift of a family of my own. He has given me the opportunity to make those same memories for my own children. I must look forward. Always remember and appreciate the past, but move forward, making memories for my own children.

So, here we are.

I'm making memories for my girls. We are decorating our tree. We are making them Shirley Temples and watching football on Thanksgiving. We are making them wait just a bit longer on Christmas morning as we fix our hot beverages (Daddy drinks coffee, Momma drinks tea).

And, we're making new memories for them.

We're taking them to The Nutcracker Ballet. A real ballet. But, we're reading the book first and listening to Tchaikovsky first, so that they know what they are seeing and making connections on their own.

We're taking them scootering around the Friendship Fountain while listening to Christmas music on the loudspeakers (maybe that's Florida's version of Ice Skating in New York???).

We're taking them to Bethlehem. To see the Roman Soldiers and listen to them demand your taxes. To see the people of Bethlehem, selling their wares. To see and smell and pet all of the animals, goats, sheep, chickens, ponies, horses, donkeys and of course the camel. To see the little children of Bethlehem cooking over their fires, weaving on their looms. To hear the shofar as the Rabbi calls people to the temple. And, to the inn that had no more room. To the stable to see the live baby Jesus.

We're taking them to friends' to celebrate the season with a beautiful Advent Spiral.

We're taking them on Christmas bike parades and Christmas hay rides.

We're helping them make and wrap gifts and making hot "cocoa" (carob) and Silk Nog with nutmeg.

I will forever cherish the sights and sounds and smells of my own childhood memories.

My Daddy.

My Brother.

My Momma.

And, I can only pray that my girls will forever cherish the sights and sounds and smells of their childhood. All I can do is move forward and give them the same LOVE that I always felt from my family.

It's a beautiful time to have a family!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

'Tis the Season

One of my blogger buddies recently commented that they "missed my posts". Sorry about that, folks. The Holidays are in full swing around here. And, when I'm not doing or thinking about something related to the holidays, I'm doing or thinking about something related to school. Up to now, my thoughts have been so muddled, I didn't think anyone would care to know what they were.

So, have you started your holiday preparations or celebrations?

I don't know about you or your kids, but my girls have been rather obsessed with Christmas for a while now.

Christmas music is playing almost constantly. If it isn't playing, they are singing it.

They have watched every Christmas special that has come on so far.

We've listened to Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" many times and read the book, all in preparation for going to see the actual ballet next week.

We've checked out almost every Christmas book our library has and have been reading from our Christmas basket frequently.

Daddy has strung the lights outside, complete with the tell-tale frustration of "The Twelve Pains of Christmas".

We've put our household decorations out.

We have the cinnamon pine cones and a vanilla candle smelling up the house.

The girls have made and wrapped their gifts already (without direction or prodding from me).

This time of year reminds me how great it is to live in a family-oriented, small beach community. Yesterday was our town's annual tree-lighting celebration. We all got onto our bikes and rode over to where the town center meets the ocean. There's just something so magical about celebrating Christmas amongst palm leaves blowing in the breeze.

We rode our bikes in the Christmas bike parade.

The girls played on the bouncy slide and made Christmas crafts.

We took a hay ride around town.

We got some hot beverages ... yummy Pumpkin Spice Latte.

We watched the local children dance.

We watched in anticipation as it grew darker and the mayor announced that Santa was on his way.

We listened to the mayor speak, counted down and cheered when the tree was lit.

We watched and listened as the high school band led the way for Santa and Mrs. Claus on their sleigh.

We cheered. We smiled at the joy on our children's faces. I smiled at the adorable little girl in front of us. Tiny ones are so dang cute!

Then, we loaded back onto our bikes, rode home in the dark and then piled into the car to head over to our favorite Christmas tree lot.

We've gone to the same lot since before the girls were born. We don't go because they have the best trees or the best prices. We go because of who they are and what they do with the money. We go there because we know that our money goes to help the less fortunate in our community. Isn't that what Jesus would do?

The girls ran around, flowing in and out, in between trees as they have done every year. We picked out a modest tree for our modest little living room. The girls had a candy cane, we gave the charity our money, talked about football and headed home.

Today is all about the decorating of the tree with Silk Nog and Christmas music playing ... well, after a family bike ride to the beach, of course.

Some other things we have in store ...

We're starting The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (the book) for our family read-aloud tonight.

We'll be celebrating the Winter Solstice with friends on Thursday.

We'll be going to The Nutcracker ballet on Friday.

We'll be going on a Bethlehem visit, a live, walk-through Nativity next weekend.

We'll be going to a friend's house for "cocktails" to celebrate the season.

We will be looking through our Samaritan's Purse catalog to pick our gifts that our family can give to others around the world.

We'll keep reading Christmas books and watching Christmas specials and making and wrapping Christmas gifts.

We'll make cookies and cards and go out as a family to look for homeless to deliver them to on Christmas Eve (we did that last year and also brought them all warm jackets and socks and blankets and it was amazing).

And, of course, we will be celebrating the birth of our oldest daughter, the best Christmas gift I ever received!

What have you been up to? How are you celebrating this lovely time with your family?


Saturday, November 26, 2011

So what DOES a Vegetarian family eat for Thanksgiving?

People often wonder what in the world we eat for Thanksgiving.

It's such a silly question to me ... we eat what you eat, just not the turkey.

And, we LOVE it.

Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year.


What did we have?
  • Stuffing
  • Mashed redskin potatoes
  • Gravy
  • Green beans
  • Squash casserole
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • Rolls
  • Olives, sweet gerkins
  • Shirley Temples for the kiddos
  • Death by Chocolate
 Interested in recipes?

Mashed Potatoes

1 bag of redskin potatoes
sea salt
sour cream

Chop potatoes and boil until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and mash with the remaining ingredients. Keep taste-testing and adjusting seasonings until it is perfect.

Amazing Vegetarian "Turkey" Gravy

I got raves and raves on this one, especially from my meat-eating friends. They couldn't believe I made it without any drippings. :-)

1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 teaspoons nutritional yeast
4 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos
2 cups vegetarian vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon "chicken seasoning"
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Melt butter in a small sauce pan. Saute onion and garlic in melted butter. Add flour, nutritional yeast and Bragg's and combine with the butter. Slowly whisk in the broth, combining with the flour mixture to avoid clumps. Add seasonings and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes. YUM.O.

Squash Casserole

6 yellow squash, diced
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 onion,chopped
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup crushed Ritz crackers

Turn your oven to 350 degrees. Saute squash in the EVOO in a deep skillet for about 15 to 20 minutes. At the same time, melt the butter in another skillet and saute the onion in that butter. Add the onion, butter, sour cream and cheese to a big mixing bowl. When squash is finished, place a clean towel in a colander, add squash to towel and squeeze as much liquid out of the squash as you can. Add the drained squash to the mixing bowl. Mix your 3 seasonings together in a separate bowl or cup. Now, measure out 1 teaspoon of that and add it to your bowl of goodies (throw the remaining seasoning into your mashed potatoes). Combine all of the ingredients well and then add to a square baking dish. Top with crushed crackers and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. ENJOY

Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 8 oz package of cream cheese (or Tofutti if you are vegan)
12 oz light firm tofu
1/2 cup sugar (organic evaporated cane juice, no white stuff)
2 tbsp corn starch (non GMO)
1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned)
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 graham cracker crust

Turn your oven to 350 degrees. Place the first set of ingredients (six) into a food processor with the s-blade. Process until smooth, scraping the sides and processing some more. Spread 1 cup of this mixture into the bottom of the pie crust. Now, add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until smooth, scraping the sides again. Smooth the pumpkin mixture over the white layer in the crust, leaving a slight heap in the center. Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes.


I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving with people you love, food that was delicious and more to be thankful for than you can even list. I know I did!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday School

So, when I returned from my little vacation, I talked about my plans for our homeschool. Then, I gave it some thought and wouldn't you know, I've changed my mind.

I am in my third year of homeschooling and I learned a long time ago that we do not get much done in the way of "real school" between about Thanksgiving and New Year's. After learning that, I decided long ago that I would create a school calendar that reflected that fact. I decided long ago that we would not even attempt to "do school" between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

Fast forward to this year. Even though I knew myself and my family, somehow I lost sight of that and fell victim to the pressure to "catch up" because I felt like we were "behind".

So, I made these grand plans to get X amount done between now and Christmas.


Not sure what I was thinking. Please excuse that momentarily lapse in judgement. I've since come to my senses and remembered what I knew to be true.

Who can concentrate on "lessons" when there are Christmas decorations and Christmas music and Christmas stories to read and goodies to bake and gifts to make and wrap and lights to string and lights to go out and look at and live nativities to visit?

I mean, really.

So, my new and improved, revised plan is this: CHRISTMAS SCHOOL in December.

We got our feet just a tad wet with Thanksgiving ~ we read (and narrated) The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh and are focusing this week on getting our groceries for Thursday and cooking.

As for Christmas, my plan is to get started with CHRISTMAS SCHOOL next week (after Thanksgiving has come and gone). Some of the things I have in mind:
  • Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker ~ We are listening to it, reading the story, will watch the DVD and are scheduled to go see the ballet in December.
  • Read Aloud "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"
  • Read Christmas Stories 
  • Make gifts, make cards
  • Baking, decorating
  • St. Nicholas (the real one)
  • Jesus
  • Solstice
I'm thinking that we will try to maintain a couple of things (like math and cursive and reading and the OM Fairy Tales), try to alter a couple of things (like copywork from the Christmas stories and our Bible time being focused on the story of Jesus and his birth) and just try to relax and enjoy.

From the library:
  • Country Angel Christmas, Tomie DePaola
  • The Clown of God, Tomie DePaola
  • Jingle, The Christmas Clown, Tomie DePaola
  • Merry Christmas, Strega Nona, Tomie DePaola
  • The Nutcracker, Jane Mason
  • The Nutcracker Ballet, Deborah Hautzig
  • A Visit from Saint Nicholas, and Santa Mouse, too!, Clement Clark Moore
  • The Legend of the Poinsettia, Tomie DePaola
  • In November, Cynthia Rylant
  • The Night Before Christmas, a Visit from Saint Nicholas, Clement Clark Moore
  • Michael Hauge's Family Christmas Treasury
  • A Christmas Treasury, Very Merry Stories and Poems, Kevin Hawkes
  • The Kingfisher Book of Classic Christmas Stories
So, we are finishing up The Wizard of Oz at night and when that is finished we will read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. We are reading The Nutcracker during the day and will read the other stories throughout the next few weeks. Some more I need to look for, I guess, would be The Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

How do you homeschool during the Holiday Season?

Monday, November 21, 2011


It's what I'm grasping for, desperately.

This has been a very difficult year for our family.

Don't get me wrong, we chose the struggle when we chose to go a different way. We knew when we decided I would be a stay-at-home Mom that we were giving up material wealth. We knew when we again decided that I would educate our children at home that we were again giving up material wealth.

But, it was to be worth it.

And, of course, it is worth it. I wouldn't trade one moment of my life for one that meant that my husband and I both went to work every day and my children had their own separate lives.

I wouldn't.

I choose this struggle because I believe that the reward of putting our family first is worth any struggle.

But, that does not make the struggle easy. And, the struggle seems to be getting tougher by the day. You see, we chose to give up much in the way of monetary gain, but we chose it when things around us were okay.

Now, even the people who didn't choose this life are struggling.

That means that those of us who did choose it are struggling even more. A family of four (plus four animals) that attempts to survive on a blue-collar income that fluctuates with the economy, in THIS economy, STRUGGLES. in. a. BIG. way! I mean when our one paycheck depends on the paychecks of everyone else, in a time when their paychecks seem to be shrinking as well, we hurt.

We've been "poor" for as long as I can remember.

But, again, we CHOSE to be. I get that.

But, this has been the "poorest" year yet. And, I don't see a light at the end of the tunnel.

We are living paycheck to paycheck. We are behind on most bills. Each week I am making choices between needs. "What is more important this week? Toilet paper or toothpaste?"

When you are struggling to meet needs each week, obviously any sort of want is so far down on your list of priorities it has almost fallen off the piece of paper.

That's hard to accept. But, you get used to it. Sort of. Well, not really. But, you deal with it. What else can you do?

Then, you realize it is November. Thanksgiving is days away, before another paycheck and the money is already spent on bills.

Then, you realize that if it is Thanksgiving now, that means that Christmas is only weeks away.

You realize that not only do you want/need to buy Thanksgiving groceries, but you also want to buy a Christmas tree as soon after Thanksgiving as possible. And, heaven forbid, you might want to give your children a gift or two.

You know in your heart of hearts that the meaning of Thanksgiving and the meaning of Christmas both revolve around family and being together. That the meaning does not revolve around money. But, that does not take away the sting of wanting to give to your children (and your nieces and nephews) and thinking that you might not be able to.

When you sit down and try to figure out exactly how you can pay your rent and electric this month, you realize that there doesn't appear to be room for the Holidays.

Your heart weeps. You feel sorry for yourself. You feel lost, hopeless.

Then, you are reminded of the simple blessings.

Your children know that you love them. They know that times are hard and they don't care. They don't expect anything more than your love and guidance.

Your children hug you and assure you that everything will be okay.

"I can teach you how to knit, Mommy. Then, you can just make us something."

What really matters?

Is it hard to struggle so much financially? ABSOLUTELY

But, in the end I must remind myself of the reasons that we CHOSE this struggle.

They are smiling right in front of me! We love each other. We have a beautiful relationship. We will make it through the tough times and will remember being together more than what is or isn't under the tree this year.

And, as always, I need to remember to trust GOD.

He has not let me down yet. Why would He start now?

Wouldn't you know, as I am realizing that I do not have the money to buy groceries to cook on Thursday that God is lining up a side job for my husband to do tonight. That will give me just enough to get the groceries for Thanksgiving.

As I am realizing that I do not have the money to buy a Christmas tree, God is lining up another side job for my husband to do some time this week. That will give us just enough to get a tree.

One step at a time.

If I trust in HIM, He will provide what we NEED.

Possibly nothing more.

And, I must learn to be content with that. I must learn to be thankful for what I DO have right here in front of me.
  • A wonderful marriage to an amazing man who works so hard to ensure that I can be at home with our girls.
  • Two healthy children who are a shining light in any room they enter.
  • A home with real floors and running water and a roof that keeps me warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
  • Love and friends and family and life.
  • Freedom to make the choices we've made. Freedom to live the way we want to live.
  • A family that can be together for the holidays, which matters most.
Give thanks for what we DO have. Find contentment and acceptance in the little things.


One . step . at . a . time

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