Sunday, June 25, 2023

Next Up This School Year

     Our school year was off to a good start. This felt important since this is the last school year for my second oldest child. I can't even comprehend only having two kids officially homeschooling. In fact, I have to change the subject right now before I cry. Again. For the 30th time this year.

     Sis and I decided to use Labor Day weekend for a road trip. We bought a few car camping items, loaded up, and headed out for a few days. We were pretty comfy car-sleeping. The rechargeable fans helped a lot. These fans hold their charge all night; they were great! We ended up getting a hotel on night 3 out of 4 to reset. I had a free hotel night with credit card points. The main cities we explored were: 







 And...Pink Hill, North Carolina. It was in my heart to visit the resting place of one of my most important people of my entire life, my great aunt. I didn't want anything to dim the enormous amount of fun that I was having with my daughter. I didn't want a cloud or anything. But I did end up crying large amounts during different times of the trip. Mostly just this day. Also the day before - because I had been looking up her family members online...I had done this several years ago and was happy to see that most of them were still alive. I knew I wanted to visit them all and always had it in the back of my mind. It had been more than a dozen years since I had been here last.

     I mostly wanted my kids to visit them. Because they never got to meet my aunt. And her sisters sounded like her and looked like her. So it would be like they would be able to catch a glimpse of her somehow. When I realized they were all gone - and then when I realized one of their husbands, the one I knew the most and thought was still around, was also gone...I felt it deeply and cried and mourned. 

          I was saddened to see she had no flowers and that already her gravesite was worn from age. My aunt and uncle never had children. My parents, siblings, and I were their children. I know it doesn't really matter...that this isn't really where she is. But I want to go back or make arrangements for her to have a flower urn, too, like the other spots. 

  What We've Been Eating

    We felt inspired by all of the great food we had on our trip. So we made vegan Coleslaw. So good. I love crunchy, finely chopped vegetables.

     We tried to recreate a buffalo cauliflower sandwich with Coleslaw that we had on our trip, too. We got pretty close maybe.

    Tofu cream pie and apple pie. There was no occasion for this, but Little Man had requested to start baking more. He sat on the counter and rolled out the dough, etc. 

    I don't remember if this was Dash created bread or not. (He had been baking bread a lot during this time.) Plus: bean and potato soup.

     We were going to read "Who was Harriet Tubman?" So we had a charcuterie night and watched "Harriet." It was pretty good! I think we all liked it.

     Little Man read a "Nate the Great" book and really wanted to make the strawberry milkshake recipe that was in the back of the book. We will take any excuse to make a milkshake, of course.    


   What We've Been Reading

     This was Dash's request because he had read it many years ago in middle school. I must admit I always thought it was a Native American book by the cover and title, but I guess I wasn't analyzing it too much. I did not know it was a book that took place during the time of Jesus. This was a breakfast that Little Man (Ninja - I still haven't gotten into a flow of what to call him yet.) wanted to present to his siblings.

Out and About/Field Trip


trip to the local library

     One day we were in the Dade City/San Antonio (FL) area waiting on Brother at tennis practice, Ninja and I went to get some groceries from Publix. He brought this book to me and and asked me to read it to him (even though he could have obviously read it himself). So I, of course, did. It was a cute story with my favorite things, anthropomorphic animals and lots of love and sweetness.

    And the whole thing made him very cuddly, and I did not object to any of it.

     We went to a Little House on the Prairie themed event at Dade Battlefield Historic Park. This was our first time at this little nearby gem.

        After taking part in a few activities and listening to excerpts from the book…

    We took a guided tour of the park and learned more about the Dade Massacre and the Seminole Wars.

Cross Country

    more cross country meets and doing an amazing job, placing and earning medals

Just For Fun
    I saw these things sitting on the dining room table one day. I photographed them to remember how normal this is right now. My youngest has such a good imagination; I assume these were being used as weapons.

    This is the stone around our fireplace. Look at the big stone, middle right. Do you see the face? I pointed it out to Ninja one day. He said it totally freaked him out and wasn't happy I showed him because during this time, he had been going through a phase of choosing to sleep on the couch, which is next to the fireplace. Haha.

    I spent a month or more being obsessed with the Kennedys and listening to every audiobook, watching movies and videos, and reading so many books. I've done this before, years ago. I don't know what about them piqued my interest, but I also know I'm not the only one. I will say that biographies, people's stories, are my favorites. Once I learn about someone, I want to know everything. If I enjoy someone I don't know about in a movie or tv show, I immediately look them up and want to know everything about their personal lives. If we read a historic book about someone, I want to visit their home, read more books - find out everything.

play-dough day


    This is our fancy cat worth thousands. And when I say thousands, I mean THOUSANDS. This was her second operation. She's also had a lengthy, expensive hospitalization several years ago. (That was no fault of her own - we think she had a kidney infection of some sort. She almost died.) Her operations were completely unnecessary and are why we had to move all beloved Nerf guns out of the house to be played with outdoors only. (This actually took place after the first surgery, but we lowered our guard and after a fun impromptu battle, let one slip by us for her to find.) Both times, she ate Nerf bullets. The little plastic end of a Nerf bullet is the perfect size to get stuck in a cat's intestines. So that's what happened, poor thing. We were freaked out about how her paws looked after the IV and her legs wrapped up. You can't really tell in these photos, but they were super tiny. It took a day, I think, for them to go back to normal.

We love our Gerti, though, and are so glad she is okay.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Present Day: New School Year

      I had been showing my kids a few old blog posts that were cute or funny - things they had said when they were little, etc. My youngest has taken notice of the fact that their early homeschool was documented quite thoroughly and would like some fair treatment! I tried to tell him that my life was pretty manageable until he came along - in the nicest way possible. For starters, all of them slept in, and he has been an early riser from the start. Momma got tired! He's also my biggest talker. It's literally taken me a few weeks to finish this post because we talk a whole lot to each other. I told him I didn't even know if I remembered how to do blogger. But it seems it is all coming back to me -  mostly. It's a little more difficult going from phone to computer, but I'm figuring it out. Truthfully, though, I prefer this method of journal keeping than other forms of social media, and it feels more purposeful toward how I want to record memories - just for the sake of recording them and not the other weird things that can come with social media. So here's to you, Little Man, and may Momma always be fair to all. 

Back to School 

     We chose an official start day. This was actually the day after Little Man's first day at his homeschool academy - the second week of August. We usually have a theme to our "back to school" party. I chose Ancient Egypt because we were going to start an Egypt study. This was the coffee table. We called it "Pancakes and Prince of Egypt"...

      because we watched The Prince of Egypt while we ate. Having previously seen it himself, Dash had requested that his little brother watch it.

      I printed off a worksheet (from Teachers Pay Teachers) with questions to answer as they watched it and afterward. 

     We were joking because once he got set up on the couch with his tray, we had to wait on him, hand and foot. His big brother was very nicely serving him.

     This was the first day of his homeschool academy. My other three aren't going this year. My oldest graduated (sad face!). My Middles are too busy with extracurriculars and dual enrollment, etc. He was happy to see his pals and fave teacher.

     He is taking 3 classes: a fun economics class, Bible, and a hands-on United States study. This was the pine cone bird feeder he made during the Maine (The Pine Tree State) class. They have eaten pancakes and real maple syrup during the Vermont study. (They also had a guest speaker from Vermont.) During Connecticut day, they each got a Pez Dispenser. (Now I have the Pez Factory on my list of future trip destinations!) 

     He asked to keep a list of the books he reads this year. These were the books he read over the summer. Paddington was a read-aloud/book study he did with his oldest brother. We read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to go along with the theater production he and his sister did in the spring. (He was the White Rabbit and had some other ensemble roles. Sis was the White Queen, along with some other ensemble roles.) We did a book study on Sam the Minuteman.

     This was the Paddington book culmination party we had while we watched the movie. I particularly love my plates; they make me so happy. They are the same type I used for our William & Kate Royal wedding party so many year ago. (Looking that up is actually how I started reading through my blog again.) Also we thought the fresh marmalade was so delicious. 

    And these are the books he has read during the school year, so far. (The Long Winter was our family read-loud, and my youngest and I read King George: What Was His Problem? together. (I enjoyed this author's style and would have even enjoyed reading it by myself.) We did a mini-book study for Sarah, Plain, and Tall. He takes Book Adventure quizzes on all of the books he reads. We have been doing Book Adventure (although it used to be free, and now it's not) since the other kids were young.

     We finished our latest Little House book, so we will move on next to Little Town on the Prairie

     My two youngest kids are currently in rehearsals for their youth theatre production of Tuck Everlasting. Sis read the book this summer, and Little Bro, Tornado, and I finished up our book study. We all watched the movie together (rewatched for some of us) this summer, too, in preparation for their auditions.

     He has taken a few British themed Outschool classes taught by this fun woman with a lovely accent that I could listen to all day. He loves it.

   This was just a random school day, doing one of the things she enjoys most: reading. This is also her preferred schoolwork spot.

choosing to wrap himself in his comforter and get in a hamper during reading time

     If you ever see him in a shirt during home pics, it's only because he purposefully went to put a shirt on for photo purposes. He is mentally incapable of wearing a shirt around the house, no matter the temperature. I think it physically causes him pain, haha. 

     This is what I get sometimes when I take his photo. Like: Really? Now? Why? "Because I love you, Child!" 

And you might be leaving me next year! 

And I will never stop photographing you, no matter how much you protest!

     Thank you; that's much better. He doesn't reeeeally mind. Anyway, he's taking Spanish and American History for dual enrollment courses. And chugging away at his other senior year classes and unschooling interests, as always.

     During the first week of school, we did a Geode activity. It was mostly for Little Brother, but everyone joined in because I had these old geodes that needed cracking. It was actually great fun and totally harder to crack them than we thought it would be.


 What's Cookin?

     This is the Neapolitan Ice Cream that I made by basically blending up frozen bananas and a little almond milk - then adding chocolate protein powder to the chocolate and berries to the pink and putting it back in the freezer. I didn't have strawberries, so I got more of a purple than pink with blackberries. I was happy with how scoop-able it was.

quinoa and walnut "meat"

I loved this and will make it again.

hot dog charcuterie board during a family movie night

     Sis made a delicious coffee cake, but I didn't get a photo of it before we tore into it.

     Dash has become our resident bread baker. I think this was his third loaf he made that week.     

     On days that we don't have to be somewhere early, our routine is to meet at the dining room table earlier than they actually want to wake up - for breakfast while they try to wake up, and I read aloud.

      This kid truly loves to serve people. He LOVES to make snacks for people. He does it almost everyday. Like he will just be over there making toast with margarine to deliver around the house to everyone. He was on the way to give this popcorn and fruit bowl to his sister. He could have also been taking it to her so she would sit and watch old episodes of Survivor with him. He knows how to get what he wants, and I respect that.

     It's in this theme that he declared he wants to start making a meal - particularly a Mexican meal - once a week or at least a couple of times a month. 

     The first time he did this for us - being the flag-loving fella that he is, he obviously printed off a Mexican flag, cut it out, and taped it to the dining room window. 

     He told us we all had to wear brightly colored clothes, so we did.

     He chopped everything by himself and set the table, etc. I only helped him do a few stove-type things.

          He gave us a country lesson on Mexico while we ate. Because there is nothing he wants to talk about more than countries/geography/war, etc. 

     He made Mexican punch, complete with floating oranges.

And I helped him make vegan sopapillas.

     This was another one of his Mexican meals.

     This time, he even set up a learning video for us to watch while we ate.

     His lesson also included a talk, complete with props and white board 

Cross Country 

      Lots of running for this one and lots of cheering and race watching for us - 3 races, so far. She has far surpassed her times from last year when she was a beginner. I predict great success for her this season. And we enjoy her sweet little team and how good they are to her, the lone homeschooler on the team.


     Likewise, this kid has been doing great with tennis and should have a great season. He's been doing tournaments and taking extra lessons. He did have a bit of a setback this summer - he went to church camp for the week (which was a great time for him and Sis), caught covid, and then wasn't feeling his best for at least two weeks after that. He's building back up again, though. He's been playing with a local young man who played college tennis, and that's been a nice addition. 

          This was us sending a pic to Little Man to thank him for the bag of snacks and other cute things he packed for us to take to one particular tennis tournament. Among other things, he popped a bag of popcorn and also included the bracelet with his name on it for me to wear while we were apart.

playing with friends one day at the park

Out and About

We have gotten to do a couple of hikes this month.

     This was pretty cute. Blue and Gemma were so tired after 4 miles. There are times when Blue doesn't have patience for Gemma's puppy energy. There wasn't much room in the second row of the car for both of them, so Gemma just plopped right on top of him. And he seemed okay with it!

One day I had to take the car to a neighboring city to get new tires. I had a choice to sit there and wait...

or walk a mile and a half to explore Sprouts and to do some other errands. (I dropped off a return at UPS and even greatly splurged to get my nails done.) I don't always miss living in the city, but there are moments like this that I do. I can't really walk to any business where we currently live. Here are two of the new products I was excited to find.

Definitely good and would buy them again!

     Speaking of buying food, this is my amazing haul that I got for $80 at Smart Shopper in Tampa. They specialize in overstocks and slightly expired food. (I don't mind buying slightly expired cereal or frozen food - it's fine!) You can't even see all of the packs of rice cauliflower, organic spinach, organic mangoes, loaves of bread, etc. This would have cost at least $150 at other places, probably more. We never know what they will have each time we visit, and it's always fun to check for deals on packaged, organic items. (And it's close to places we have to go regularly which is helpful.)

Just For Fun

       My mom sent me a meme from the perspective of a teenager that I could relate to. It was about kids doing bad things like drugs or vandalizing - but instead, getting into trouble for having too many cups in the bedroom. This was funny because right when she sent it, my 17 year old was making his probably third trip downstairs with dishes. He's a really good kid! (But stop leaving dishes in your room!)

     I got a new fun thing for myself...prepping for a car camping trip! This is a self-inflating air mattress for the car; you use your foot to pump it up. It's pretty comfortable. (More to come later.)