Monday, June 25, 2012

A Few of my Favorite Things - CHEK

CHEK is an organization that assists Kentucky homeschoolers and partners with HSLDA. Each year they host a homeschool conference in our area, encouraging our parents and students with inspiring workshop sessions and giving us the opportunity to browse through and purchase curriculum in the Vendor Hall.

Favorite Moments:
       This is could not be one moment, but many.  Because what I truly love the most is simply the fellowship of seeing so many of my homeschooling friends, catching up with those I haven't seen in a while, and meeting new homeschool families. 
        I was totally blessed to meet The Old Schoolhouse Magazine publishers Paul and Gena Suarez and even go out to dinner with them!  By the way, did you know that you can now read The Old Schoolhouse magazine free each month on the new TOS apps?!  Plus, you can join the new and get new daily lesson plans for a wide variety of subjects!

Favorite Scripture Quoted:
       "And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." ~Luke 1:17

Favorite Speaker Quotes:
       "I exist to know, love, and serve God and to love and serve other people."
       "The first people we are called to love are our family, but that is not an end! The purpose of loving and training your children to love the Lord is so that collectively you will rise up and serve other people."
        "The homeschooling process is a wonderful tool of sanctification. The "pressure cooker" environment causes you to come to the end of yourself, humble yourself before God - which is exactly where God wants you."
                                                                                        -Israel Wayne, Wisdom Gate Ministries

Favorite Purchase:
       YWAM Publishing was running a conference special for the Christian Heroes: Then and Now Series, which was lucky for me since I was wanting to pick these up to use as our Read Alouds this school year.  I bought 10 at a discount and even got 1 free!!!  So excited to dig into these.  I think we will start with Eric Liddell since the Summer Olympics will be starting soon.

Since we usually start school in July, the CHEK conference often serves as a kickstart to my year.  This year was no exception.  I'm excited about our new school year and feeling ready to get back to the books...well, almost.  We still have a couple weeks of our summer break to enjoy!

Pin It Now!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Freezer Cooking Exchange

I'm going to admit something to you that I am not particularly proud of...

I really don't like cooking.  No really, I really, really don't like it.

Nonetheless, my family still needs to eat and ordering pizza every night simply isn't in our budget or our healthy eating plan.  So, I am always looking for ways to make cooking for my large crew easier and quicker. 

We will often double up meals that are easy to freeze to put an extra in the deep freeze.  But occasionally, I like to go one step further and have a cooking day, cooking and freezing several meals at once.  A couple weeks ago I even talked a couple of friends into a Freezer Meal Exchange!

The idea was simple enough.  Each of us would make five different meals times 3(number of families involved) for a total of 15 meals.  We would keep one set of meals for ourselves and exchange the other 10 meals with each other so that we would end up with 15 different frozen meals.

I made two of my meals on separate evenings just by tripling our dinner for the evening.  But I wound up making 3 of my meals (times 3 for a total of 9...are you still following my math?) in one evening with the help of Chad and A10.

Below you'll find some pics of our experience along with the recipes I used.

All lined up!  It took just 3 hours to get 9 meals made.

Lots of chopping! I chopped and separated the ingredients in bowls.  Above is cooked and cubed chicken and squash in the background. 

Sauteing squash and zucchini.  Polish Sausage to mix in for yummy jambalaya.

I think it's best to write instructions directly on the lid if you have a disposable lid.  Be sure to include the name of the dish, instructions for cooking/reheating, and the date it was prepared.

And for the dishes I made.  Please note I am including instructions for one meal only in each recipe.  You will need to double your recipe (or triple it, etc.) to participate in an exchange or freeze extra.

1. Jambalaya

1 box of Instant Brown Rice (14 oz)
1 zucchini, washed and sliced
1 squash, washed and sliced
2 lbs of Turkey Smoked Sausage, sliced 
Creole Seasoning (We use Tony Chachere's)

1. Prepare rice according to package instructions.
2. Saute squash and zucchini until tender.  Add in smoked sausage and cook until warmed through. Drain.
3. Mix rice and sausage/veggie mixture and add seasoning to taste.

Reheating Instructions:
Let Dethaw.  Transfer to stove top and heat through.  Can add cheese if desired when serving.

 2. Poppyseed Chicken
You'll find this recipe here.

3. Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3 cans (14.5 oz) reduced-sodium Chicken broth
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz) beef broth
1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
2 cups cooked, cubed chicken breasts
2 cups frozen corn
2 tsp dried parsley flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder

1. Saute the celery, carrots, and onion in oil until tender.  Stir in chicken broth, black beans, beef broth, tomatoes, corn, chicken, and seasoning.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes uncovered.

2. Serve with tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream if desired.

Reheating Instructions:
Let dethaw.  Transfer to stove top and heat until warmed through.

4. Cowboy Casserole

You'll find this recipe here.

5. Pizza Bake

Sorry.  I didn't get a picture of this one before we ate it all up.

1 box of rotini noodles
1 package of pepperoni
1 lb of breakfast sausage
2 jars of pizza sauce
4 cups of shredded mozzarella

1. Cook noodles according to package.  Drain and pour noodles into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
2. Fry and crumble sausage. Drain.  Mix in pizza sauce.  Stir and pour over pasta.
3. Add a layer of pepperoni.
4. Top with mozzarella cheese.

Cover and freeze or continue to bake.

Cooking Instructions:
Let dethaw.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until warmed through.

 Do you have freezer meal recipes that you love?  Let me know!

Pin It Now!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What have you pinned lately?

Oh, how easy it is to get lost in the online world of Pinterest.  From the moment I pinned my first pin, I was hooked.  So when Marcy from Ben and Me decided to post a linkup to share our favorite 'practical' and 'playful' pins,  I knew I definitely wanted to join in.

Below are a few of my favorite recent finds...


Ok, so this isn't exactly a recent find, but it is definitely one of my favorites.  The 100 Workout is an awesome workout that Chad and I (and even the kids) will do often when we can't seem to make it to the gym.  It's excellent cardio, only takes about 30 minutes, and you will definitely be feeling the effects the next day!

Just found this cute seat belt pillow tutorial that I might just even break out the sewing machine to try.

Just made these oatmeal bars again this week.  Be sure to check out the comment section for all the variations.  Delicious and totally healthier than all of our other breakfast-on-the-go options.

I ordered this Child Training Bible the same day I found online. Excellent, excellent parenting resource!!

Oh, it's just so pretty, I want to crochet up a gazillion of these 10 Minute Bracelets.

Flatten a slice of wheat bread, cover it in peanut butter and roll it around a banana. Slice like sushi and drizzle with honey! :)

Super fun play for toddlers (and all ages!)

25 Alphabet Ideas.  Perfect for my Preschool lesson plans I'm working on!

I'd love to see your great pinterest finds!  Be sure to link up at Ben and Me and check there for more!

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Lesson From the Woods

A couple weeks ago Chad and I took a day trip to see the Natural Bridge in Red River Gorge, Ky. thanks to my MIL, who came and stayed with the kids all day.  It was an amazing day that started with our very first canoe trip...

 The first lesson of the day:  A front seat driver in a canoe is just as under appreciated as a backseat driver in a car.  We decided that the next time, we will get kayaks so we can both be in control of the boat. :)

After 4 miles in the water, we drove over to the trail to Natural Bridge.  2 miles up and 2 miles down. 

It wasn't easy.  You can see from this picture that beyond the tree, we go UP.  Way up.

 And more up.

But we saw some really amazing sites along the way...

And at some point, I got to thinking...
I never could've done this a year ago.  As a matter of fact, I can't think of any other point in my life when I was healthy and strong enough to do this.  In the past 11 months I have lost 65 lbs, I've started exercising, muscle conditioning, running, and I've run a half marathon.

My father passed away a year and a half ago.  He was a strong man, but a tragedy that occurred when I was very young left him with only one lung and unable to do the active things he enjoyed.  He would've loved this hike.  He would've loved that I was doing it.  But he wouldn't have been able to climb that trail.  His physical limitations would've stopped him.

A year ago, my physical limitations would've stopped me too.  But my tragedy was that I was just too lazy... I wasn't taking care of my temple.  And I can not ever be that way again.  I have to always be able to do this.  Because there are some people can't....really, really can't...and it's not their fault.  I should take care of myself, simply because I can.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

 We made it to the top of the trail at the base of the bridge...

Here is the view from underneath...

But we certainly weren't stopping there!  We climbed to the top to walk over the bridge...

 Amazing view!

And on our way back down, on the side of the gorge we saw this rock with all these beautiful markings in it...
I only got a fuzzy picture, but it looked just like giant fingerprints.  Can't you just imagine God leaving them there as he molded this place?
Pin It Now!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fun in the Sun - Top 10 Summer Field Trips

We, here at Integritas Academy, are set up on a year round school.  We take a summer break, but it is a little shorter than most...only about 6 weeks.  This allows us a more flexible schedule throughout the year and longer holiday breaks.  That being said, I have to favorite kind of summer learnin' is the kind that takes place out of the classroom.

It's so much easier to get our crew out the door and to a field trip when I'm not worried about the daily schedule.  And who really worries about a schedule in the summer anyway?!

So, without further ado, I present to you our Top 10 Summer Field Trips...

10. Willy Wonka Chocolate Tour
A few summers ago we participated in a field trip to a local fondue restaurant.  You can read more about it here, but basically this restaurant hosted Willy Wonka themed field trips, teaching the kids about the history of chocolate and letting them do taste tests.  I don't think I really need to tell you why this one was a fav...I mean seriously, it was yummy!!

9. Aquarium
Summer is the perfect time to head to an aquarium.  The closest one to us is a little over an hour away, but a summer was made for day trips!  I don't need to convince you of the educational value here.  Your kids are going to learn without even realizing it an aquarium.

8. Zoos and Wildlife Centers
Now, I have to admit, I am not one of those year-long-family-zoo-pass kind of mamas.  One zoo trip a year is really kind of enough for me.  Toddlers are really the best to take to the zoo.  I love watching their faces light up when they are seeing those big, strange animals for the first time.  However, if you have a wildlife center in your area than you have a real treasure.  The one near us is free, has a great education center, and is rarely crowded.

7. Confectionery Tour
I'm aware of two different candy shoppes within driving distance of us that offer tours that teach about the candy making process.  And then of course you get samples as well!  Another great idea for summer is to tour an ice cream shoppe that makes their own ice cream.  We have a Graeters shop that does this near us.

6. Boating and Fishing

Now, we have not always been the best at this but seriously, summer should not be complete without a boating and fishing trip.  And why not add this cool, free Fish and Fishing Unit Lapbook from Homeschoolshare to your Summer fun studies?

5. Children's Museums
Take a break from the heat and head inside a children's museum or science center.  Try this site to find one near you.

4. Walking Tour of your City
Last year we had the awesome opportunity to participate in a walking tour of our city.  We joined with some other homeschool families who were setting up this field trip, so I'm not really sure who you contact to get this done.  But it would so be worth the investment of your time to find out how to do this.  We were blessed with an awesome guide who shared all sorts of history and explanations of the architecture of the buildings, etc.

3. Living History Museum
We never miss a summer without heading to Conner Prairie in Fishers, Indiana to enjoy their living history museum.  It's a long drive for us, but no one in the family complains.

2. State Fair

Oh yes, the State Fair is always a favorite of the summer.  Last year, our daughter entered several sewing projects into competition.  It was great to see her work and she earned several ribbons.  Plus, we got discounted tickets!  Woo-hoo!

1. Hiking
It's free. It's awesome exercise.  All ages love it. We could hike every single weekend of the summer without complaints.  Need I say more?

Not convinced walking in the woods is educational?  Well, than you should definitely check out the nature study resources at .

So what are you waiting for?  Grab some sunscreen and head out the door!

Pin It Now!

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Shout Out to Local Moms

So, if you are local to Kentucky than surely you have heard about the CHEK conference scheduled on June 22-23.  But perhaps you're wondering if you should attend?

Lucky for you, I have the answer.

YES!  Absolutely, you should be there.

This year CHEK's speaking sessions will feature several tracks for you to choose from:

Children's Track
Teen Track
America's Christian History Track
Heart for Missions Track
Biblical Parenting Track
Practical Homeschooling Track

in addition to the Vendor Hall.

I know that life can hectic with our busy homeschool schedules and once you attend 3, 4, or a dozen or so homeschool conferences it doesn't seem so high on the priority list.  But I'd like to encourage you to move it up. 

While we are homeschooling away, CHEK is an organization that is working on our behalf at the government level to assure our rights to educate our children at home.  If anything, we should attend this conference just to support them since they already support us!

Would you like more vendors and speakers?  Awesome!  So would CHEK!  So here's the deal...YOU can make the difference by attending and making purchases in the Vendor Hall.  Higher attendance this year means more vendors and speakers will be willing to come next year.

And for you out-of-my-state readers that can't worries!  Check this out!  Yes, that is me listed on the Conference Bloggers page.  I'll be posting live updates through Facebook and Blogger during the conference.  Are you excited?!  Because I am!!

Pin It Now!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Boys and Books

I can remember having many fears as a new homeschool mom.  Mostly I was worried that I wouldn't know how to teach certain subjects because I wasn't naturally inclined towards them.  However, I was quite certain that there were some things I would have no problem teaching.

I mean certainly, in no time at all, I would be producing a slew of artsy, crafty, book loving, young authors.  After all, those were all things that I excelled in.

Alas, my children were not exact replicas of me. 

And at the end of 2011, only one of my large brood had really caught "the reading bug".  However, they were all enamored with techie gadgets.  And this gave me an idea.

For Christmas, we decided to purchase our crew a Kindle.  Since I already had the Kindle app on my IPad, I knew the convenience of e-readers firsthand.  I loved being able to instantly download a book and have an entire library at my fingertips.

The Kindle was the turning point for G11.  He immediately began devouring books.  Generally, we limit access to any "screens" (tv, computer, handheld games, etc.), but he pretty much had free reign over the Kindle which he obviously thought was super cool.  Also, I know he used to be intimidated by thick novels thinking they were too long for him to read.  But with the Kindle, that wasn't an issue.  He didn't realize how big the books he had read were until we saw some of them at our library.  He is now reading both print and ebooks at a pace that I certainly cannot keep up with. 

I quickly realized that I needed some help as "boy books" were a bit of uncharted territory for me.  I searched the internet and made a SOS call to our local homeschool group and came up with a list of books that should keep my young man busy for awhile. 

Gregor the Overlander was the first book that really hooked G11.  This five book series is full of fantasy and adventure, not to mention including a fair amount of battle gore.  Unlike The Hunger Games, which Collins also authored, however is that the battle scenes take place between a brave, young hero on a quest to rescue his lost father and giant, talking rats instead of kids battling kids to the death.  Now, I'm not saying I don't recommend reading The Hunger Games trilogy...which I thoroughly enjoyed...but I didn't feel that G11 was ready for that material.  Gregor the Overlander has appropriately been marketed for a younger audience....though, I thoroughly enjoyed reading these as well. 

The City of Ember is a four book series that G11 and I also enjoyed.  This one has both a young hero and heroine living in a small community surrounded in darkness.  The city stays in existence because of a large underground generator which provides electricity to the entire city.  But the generator is quickly breaking down and no one knows how to fix it.  The only option is for the two children to brave the utter darkness beyond the city limits on a search for help.  

I haven't read Peter and the Shadow Thieves but E8 has really been taken with this series.  Based on the story of Peter Pan, these adventures apparently take place before Peter meets Wendy so that the reader learns more about the Lost boys, how the feud with Captain Hook started, meeting Tinkerbell, etc.

This type of fantasy is really beyond my realm of interest, but The Ranger's Apprentice Series comes highly recommended by G11.  It's a relatively new series, but with multiple books.  And we've heard a rumor that a movie is in the works.

Other books that came recommended, but we haven't read yet are...

Redwall Series by Brian Jacques
The Wolves of Beyond by Kathryn Laskey
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carmen
The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason
Crispin and the Cross of Lead by Avi
Hatchet by Gary Paulson
Mismantle Chronicles by M I Acallister
The Children of Red King by Jenny Nemmo
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Kingdom Series by Chuck Black
The Cooper Kids Adventures by Frank Peretti
Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

Also, check out Jenn's post on this topic: Summer Lovin'-Boy's Favorites .  (She also has Girl's Favorites and Mom's Favorites.)  And Marcy has posted tons of Free Kindle books for Kids.
. I'd love to add your suggestions to this list! What books do your boys love?

Pin It Now!


Related Posts with Thumbnails