Outside my window... An absolutely gorgeous fall morning. The air is still and the neighborhood is quiet. I hear the occasional crow...
I am thinking... about how the Pope moved so many people this week. I'm not Catholic, but his words are for all of us. I hope Congress listens. I hope the nation listens. I hope the world listens.
I am thankful... That the cub scout meeting that I led last week went well. We have 10 little boys - and they are all full of life yet very sweet. The object of the meeting was to create *something* out of recycled materials. Boys this age are not big on crafts... (are they ever?) but I did find a cool project on Pinterest where the boys could create a wolf head, since they are wolves right now. They were actually excited! I have all the pieces and parts that they have constructed, now I just need to glue it all together and spray paint it. They then can add details this coming week.
From the Learning Rooms... Rylan has finally clicked with multiplication, Owen is really getting into math as well - MEP is a very good fit for him and his problem-solving style. Colin is spending lots of time on ABC Mouse and really enjoying it. On Friday, I watched a fantastic online discussion given by Julie Bogart from Brave Writer on Periscope, called 'When it all goes wrong in your homeschool'. It was just the shot in the arm I needed for positive thinking after the first month of slogging through work with the kids. Even though this is our 8th year homeschooling, sometimes you need to hear that it will all be OK over and over and over again. This particular discussion is no longer available on Periscope (they only remain for 24 hours), but Julie indicated that she would put it up on the Brave Writer site in the near future.
In the kitchen... I figured out a quick and easy way to create beef stew this past week. I purchased two packages of Hormel's Beef Tips in Gravy (which would be about the same price as getting stew meat), 32 oz beef stock, bottle of beer, baby carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms and baby potatoes or sweet potatoes. First saute the onion and mushroom in some butter or oil, and after a few minutes add in some chopped celery. While the veggies are sauteing, I put the carrots and potatoes (cut into 1 inch chunks) into a pampered chef microwave steamer with a little bit of water, and steamed them in microwave for about 7-8 minutes. This will cut down on the cooking time, overall. As soon as the onions turn golden brown and most of the liquid from the mushrooms has cooked off, sprinkle a generous amount of flour over the vegetables and stir until it is mixed in well. Then pour in a little beer to deglaze the pan, scraping all the good bits off the bottom. Keep pouring in a little more beer, stir, and then a little more, until the entire bottle is mixed in well. Add the beef stock, stir well. Add in the carrots and potatoes - plus the water they steamed in! Finally, open up the two containers of Beef Tips and scrape all of it into the pot and mix well. Add a little pepper. I would nix adding extra salt, there is plenty in the stock and Beef Tips. Any part of this process can be tailored to what you have on hand veggie-wise. You can also add some Worcestershire, a bit of tomato paste... whatever. When it is all mixed in, cook for about 15 minutes and it should be good to go. I actually made it twice this week. Dean needed to take stew with him for Fall Camporee this weekend, so I made a second batch. It goes together from start to finish in about 30 minutes. Yummy and kid-approved!
I am wearing... blue silk(ish) pjs from this past Mother's Day.
I am creating... Minion costumes! Do you know how hard it is to find a large piece of egg-crate foam?? I gave up after visiting five different stores looking for a twin-size mattress foam pad, and just purchased a roll of foam from Hobby Lobby and used a 40% off one item coupon on my phone. It's not quite as thick as what I wanted, but it will do. Can't wait to get started. :)
I am going... On a fall hike very shortly. There is a family fall colors hike at the cub scout camp about an hour away, so we are picking up my dad and then heading up there to join the other families from our pack, and Dean and Jordan will join us as well, since they will be ending their camporee stuff just down the road at the boy scout camp. Should be a beautiful day!
I am wondering... If you still get monthly cramps after a hysterectomy. (?) Three weeks and counting...
I am reading... I visited the Pottermore site yesterday, and read the new bit on there about Harry's ancestors. Loved it!
I am hoping... That even though I really do love the sunshine, I hope that it starts to cool off a bit and feel more like 'fall'. I also hope that Rylan's loose tooth comes out today. It is her first molar tooth to come loose, but it is wedged against her wire band of her braces, so she can only wiggle it in one direction. She is complaining. Loudly. All the time.
I am looking forward to... This coming week. No extra stuff on the schedule. It is also my dad's birthday and my FIL's birthday (same day). I am thinking about taking my dad to the Denver Botanical Gardens.
I am learning... How to shape foam with scissors this week. Minion teeth...
I am hearing... Clone Wars on Netflix (I think they are actually really good!).
Around the house... Tons of dog hair. Still! I hope Abby finishes her seasonal shed soon.
I am pondering... All the advice I heard on the online discussion I mentioned earlier. Lots of good stuff there - especially the advice that homeschoolers (the parents, really) need to offload the tendency to feel like society's perception of homeschooling rests on their shoulders. (I do this to myself all. the. time.) Yes, it is a non-conventional educational choice that we've made, but don't feel like you have to live under the constant pressure to always perform at a higher standard in order to prove the skeptics wrong... This includes making comments to public school parents that your homeschooling experience is above par, even when it isn't. Even homeschoolers can have bad days (weeks)(months)(year?) and it is okay to be honest with yourself and those you converse with. Don't put yourself in the position that you must uphold the entity of 'Homeschooling' and push yourself to emulate an impossible, and mythical standard. Keep it real. Embrace your messy house, your lack of exercise or balanced meals and the children that refuse to produce stellar work, and just enjoy your choice to be with your children and homeschool them. You are so lucky to have this opportunity. Children grow up way to fast, and you need to treasure these years, not be a slave to them. Good advice!
One of my favorite things... Telling my youngest, as I put him to bed, about the exciting thing that he will be doing the next day. He is so cute when he is excited. :)
A few plans for the rest of the week... A hike today, and possibly the Botanical Gardens mid-week. Then the usual roundup of activities: Lego robotics, ballet, jazz, violin and Nutcracker practice for Rylan, piano and cub scouts for Owen, and boy scouts for Jordan.
Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...
Rylan helped me pick out a fall wreath yesterday, for the front door. I love fall!!
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