william whitley house

Kentucky Field Trip Diaries: William Whitley House

The Second Installment in our Field Trip Diaries: The William Whitley House, Stanford KY

Our visit to the William Whitley house was the second official field trip in our second term this year. You can read about our first field trip–to Camp Nelson–here

The House

The William Whitley House is an impressive brick home, nestled in the rolling hills and valleys of Lincoln County, Kentucky. Built by William Whitley between 1787 and 1794, it was the first brick house built in Kentucky. During the time of its construction, there was still frequent fighting with the Indians and Whitley built this house to be a fortress for his family and guests.

It was built 2 feet thick, in the Flemish bond style, with white bricks added to make a very unique pattern on the ends of the house. The windows are all raised significantly, so that nobody would be able to shoot directly through them. For similar reasons, though there is a front porch now, when Whitley built the house he chose not to add porch or steps. Family and guests entered the house by way of a rope ladder cast through the front door.

Although the house is clearly unique as a stronghold, the inside was carefully crafted to be comfortable and stylish. The decorative wood trim throughout the house is both symbolic of his Irish heritage and shows patriotism towards his new country.

The People

William Whitley and his wife, Esther, came west to Kentucky from Virginia. In 1788 he put in a circular race track and declared that his races would be run counter-clockwise, rather than in the British tradition. The great racing tradition began in William’s front yard, where he would invite friends from miles around to gather for races in the morning and an extravagant breakfast on the front lawn after. He gained fame as a frontiersman and for his success in battles with the Indians, served a term on the Kentucky General Assembly, and volunteered in the War of 1812. It was there that he died, in service of his country.

william whitley house
The House

Esther was a wonderwoman of the time. She traveled on horseback through the Allegheny mountains with her two young children tied onto her for safekeeping. When they reached Kentucky, she raised those two children, plus NINE more, and was frequently the sole protector of the household when William was away. During the late 1780s and 1790s while the big house was being built, she lived at various forts in the area and fought alongside the men when the forts came under siege. By all accounts, she was a crack shot and a pillar of early society in Kentucky.

Of course, I have only barely glossed over the known facts here. For more historical context and details, check out the brochure here.

The Site Today

Today, the William Whitley house is open for tours Tuesday through Sunday, April to October. Admission to the house is $5 for adults, $3 for children, and children under 6 are free. I highly recommend touring the house. The docents are very knowledgeable and share so many wonderful facts about the house and the people who lived there. After you’ve finished touring the house, make sure you walk to the small graveyard, and then to Sportsmans Hill.

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The Graveyard

The opportunities for nature study abound here too. There are many trees to identify, common wildflowers, and various berries. And that’s not even mentioning the wildlife! This place is saturated with wonderful learning experiences–from history, to science, to civics and political science, to household economy. Check it out!

field trip diaries camp nelson

Kentucky Field Trip Diaries: Camp Nelson

The Debut of our Field Trip Diaries: Camp Nelson, Nicholasville KY

In light of my new goal to make sure we’re getting our field trips, I’m going to share them. This was the first field trip of our new term. The Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park is a huge 500+ acre park and museum. The camp was created in 1863 and originally covered more than 4000 acres and sprawled from the Kentucky palisades and Hickman Bridge (the only bridge across the Kentucky River in the area at that time) up to the Heritage Park currently stands.

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Fall 2016

It was created to be a supply depot for the Union Army in Kentucky. However, while the camp was very defensible, it’s efficiency was hampered by the lack of railroads. Even though it’s purpose was to get supplies to different contingents of the army in Kentucky, it was difficult to do so in a timely manner. The camp served another purpose though and became the largest recruiting station for African Americans in Kentucky, and the third largest in the union. Many former slaves received their emancipation by joining the army and working at Camp Nelson. Many of them brought their wives and children along as well, and the camp also became a refugee camp.
The white house aka the Oliver Perry House

That’s the history in a nutshell–a seriously limited nutshell. There is so much more to it! For further reading, check out this history by Dr. Stephen McBride.

Admission to the heritage park is free, and tours are available to go through the white house. Volunteers do the majority of the tours and I would dearly love to volunteer some time! Maybe when the kids are older… There are trails all through the acreage, and signs explaining where different elements of the camp would have been. There is so much history and natural beauty here that I feel perfectly justified in my regular visits.
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Camp Nelson is one of my very favorite places to take the kids locally. There are wide open fields, lanes lined with trees, signs to read, a brook, a spring and hills to climb! And that’s all outside. There’s also a museum set up with scenes from camp life and archeological finds from the area. We do go to the museum, but the main appeal is in the grounds for us right now. Last time we went, Eva was terrified of the wax figures in the museum. It’s slightly more difficult to read all the signs and see all the things when there’s a 19 month old clinging to your neck and whimpering any time you go close to the exhibits.
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There are so many wonderful opportunities for learning, all tied up in this beautiful, (FREE) heritage park! I love Camp Nelson, and if you’re in the area you should definitely check it out!


First Term ~ Homeschool Year 1

First Term

Our first term of the school year ended last week. We plan to school year round, with a 8 week term. Most terms throughout the traditional school year won’t have much break between them, because ultimately we want to be able to take our breaks when it suits our family. Anyways, all that to say, the term is mainly for my own organizational purposes. Before we started school, I planned our first term and set our larger goals for the school year. However, I held off on the specific term lesson plans until 2 weeks before our new term starts.

The biggest reason for this is simply self-evaluation.

I did not want to put all my hours of planning into our terms and eventually realize that for whatever reason, “the plan” wasn’t working. This gave us an opportunity to get into the flow of our homeschool days and then critically evaluate them. More than just assessing the material we’ve actually been able to cover, I also check our family schedule. A lot can happen in two months! Obligations come and go, but by reevaluating every 8 weeks, I can be more mindful of how our days need to be structured.

Things I’ve Learned in 8 weeks

1. Keeping lessons brief and poignant is essential to holding and building the attention of a 5 year old. Charlotte Mason frequently talks about developing the habit of attention. The ability to remain focused on any subject for much longer than 20 minutes is not innate in a child and must be carefully developed.

2. The habit of attention is not developed over night. It’s far too easy for me to think that progress should be immediately apparent, when the truth of the matter is that it takes time to see fruit. We’re not looking for an instant fix anyways–we’re on a journey that will have many changes and last for many years.

3. Probably most important and most obvious of all (though somehow I’d missed it): My children’s interests will not necessarily be the same as mine. I am utterly fascinated by world history. We’re using Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer, and I love it. Without even realizing it, I found myself expecting my kids to be enthralled as well. When they weren’t quite as obsessed as I was, it was quite a shock to my system. The truth of the matter is though, Sophia is not very interested in world history right now. She is mildly interested. We’ll give her that. But she is much more intrigued by her math and science work.

4. Different fascinations are not a bad thing. I’m finding myself so much more engaged by math and science than I ever was during my own “school years”. My goal isn’t to raise carbon copies of myself anyways, but to engage my children and help them learn how to learn.

5. Learning truly never stops. Once begun, once engaged, the world becomes a classroom, abounding with unanswered questions and untapped stores of knowledge. Charlotte Mason famously said, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” In other words, education is not confined to a physical space where it happens, but it is encompassed in the attitude with which we greet the world. Do we plod through life’s routines, not daring to learn outside the classroom? Or do we greet each moment of the day as an opportunity to develop our understanding?
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Things I’m changing in our second term:

For the most part, I’m really pleased with how our first term went. Our days weren’t overfull or empty, and we’ve made good academic progress. Overall, I’m not happy with how much we’re getting outside. I want to be getting out for nature walks at least once a week. But it just hasn’t been happening. I feel like the time we’re not spending in school is eaten up trying to catch up on housework. Ultimately, I don’t want to lose the joy of discovery in housework, so while the weather is still decent we’re going to try to be better at getting outside this term.

So that’s our first term! If you’re interested in my planning process check out this post! Are you homeschooling? How is your year going?
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Family Schedule Product Bundle Review and Giveaway!

**UPDATE: This giveaway has ended! Please check your email inbox if you entered! Thanks for participating 🙂

Today I’m reviewing a family schedule and chore chart from Love My Schedule. I think you’re going to love this magnetic family schedule as much as I do! Spoiler alert: They’re magnetic, wet-erase, and they don’t fall off the fridge!

Family Scheduling and Management Tools

This post is a collaboration with Love My Schedule.  I was given this product for review and giveaway.  However, all opinions expressed are my own.  

Staying organized and productive is a strong focus for me here.  With a 5-year-old, 3-year-old, and 1-year-old, embarking on our first year of homeschool, and still trying to tackle personal goals… well, organized is the only way to be.  We generally keep to a routine, rather than specifically time based schedule.  It usually works better for me to have a more general flow to my day.  If you’re interested in my take on establishing routines and habits, read my post here.

This post is directly related to that, and it is about a scheduling tool that is totally versatile.  Maybe you’re wanting to have family plans accessible everyday so that people can be prepared.  (Does that work?) Or you may need a visual reminder to keep your day on track.  Maybe you have kids that enjoy being able to tell for themselves what is coming next.  Either way–if you have a strict time-based schedule or if you’re on more of a routine flow–this family schedule will work for you.

The Family Schedule

The Love My Schedule products are all magnetic and wet-erase.  Each basic chore chart has 6 different blocks that can be assigned to specific people and coordinated with the 5 colored strips on the family schedule. (Expansion packs are available too, if you have a bigger family or more lists.)

I’ve tried a few different magnetic, dry erase boards for family schedule or to-do list purposes and there are a few reasons I like this better than any of those.  First, it’s Wet-Erase, which means if I can manage to give it a few seconds to dry, it will not smudge.  Dry erase is handy, but it is not forgiving.  Kids fingerprints, inadvertent smudging… I end up having to reprint it nearly every day.  Wet erase holds up so much better to daily scrutiny.  Second, the entire product is magnetic.  It’s not a board with a couple magnets on the back; every single segment is a flexible magnetic strip.  I cannot even tell you how many times my dry erase boards have been jostled and gone spinning off across the kitchen floor. There is no chance of that with this. Third, it is specifically designed for multiple schedules.  It’s especially great for us homeschoolers coordinating multiple kids activities all day long.  I think it would be useful even if you don’t homeschool, particularly if you have kids with different extra-curricular activities.  It’s a great way to lay it all out there and see who is doing what and when.

I have mine set up now with hour blocks.  An hour is far more than we need for most things, but when we finish the kids get to go play and burn off some steam between events, and I get to bust out some housework.  Additionally, I’ve found that it helps to have certain things that are strictly bound to a time.  They work as mini-reset buttons throughout the day.  We try to always start morning time at 8:30, and nap/quiet-times are almost always at 2.  If things have gone askew, reading books together fixes it.  Of course, you could set yours up with any amount of time segment that suits your family.

The only thing I don’t like about the schedule is that it is difficult to set up for different days of the week.  For example, we have a different schedule/flow on Tuesdays than we do on Mondays.  I would have to erase everything every day and set it up new each morning.  The other thing I may try is using the different colored strips for the different days of the week.  We don’t really need all different schedules right now.  The little ones either do what we’re doing (kind of) or I channel them off into other activities for a work period.  But, I’m not sure it’s that big of a deal to me right now either.  I still keep my bullet journal list and that accomodates the differences in the day just fine.

The Chore Chart

These chore charts are the first we have used consistently.  Part of that is probably that we’ve just reached ages where chores work, but the other part definitely has to do with the design.  I picked up a Melissa & Doug chore chart a couple months ago.  It’s cute, but the chores were already listed, some weren’t relevant, and there were SO many little magnetic pieces to distribute if the chores were completed.  Eventually, I threw away all the “reward” magnets because they kept ending up on the floor and I have a child that tries to eats everything.

I’ll do another post soon about how we’re encouraging our kids to help around the house.  It’s new right now, and I’m sure it will change in the coming months (years) but we’re trying to get there.  Slow and steady! We’re currently using this chart to keep track of the jobs the kids do and what we’ve agreed to pay them.  They don’t do all of these things in a week, usually just a few of them, and we encourage helping out in other ways too.  I also have my week of house-cleaning focus points up here.  Lastly, there’s a block where I put jobs that I’m having trouble getting to.  Josh helps with what he can in the evening and it all gets done eventually.

You can find the family schedule and the chore chart here from www.lovemyschedule.com.

And now… the Giveaway!!!

If either of these things sound like something you’d like to try, you’re in luck!  Today, I am so excited to be teaming up with Amy over at Love My Schedule to bring you a fantastic giveaway that will help you schedule ALL the things!  This is my very first giveaway on the blog, so if you’re reading this, welcome to the action!

We are giving away a Love My Schedule bundle which includes: 1 family schedule and 1 family chore chart.  Both are magnetic, and wet erase–absolutely customizable to your family. The giveaway is running for a week (August 10-17), so be sure to share it with your friends! Simply enter the giveaway with your email address and check out Minding My Peas and Love My Schedule on Facebook. I’ll be selecting a random winner on Thursday, August 17th. Winner will be notified via the email address used to sign up. Good luck!

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Homeschool Planning Series: Homeschool Curriculum 2017-2018

Today in homeschool planning: The homeschool curriculum we will be using during the 2017-2018 school year!

The why, how, and what of it all…

Since that definitely wasn’t too dramatic, I’ll just jump right in to our homeschool curriculum choices for the year. We actually had our first day of school yesterday. Sophia is very excited, and I am too. I’m glad to have a point where the planning has to taper off, and work actually begin. Anyways, let’s start with the three R’s, shall we?


For reading, we’re going working through the McGuffey Reader series. (Ebook versions are available for free through the Gutenberg ProjectWe’re partly through the first reader right now. I will say that I am not a stickler about mandating that she ALWAYS read this particular book. Sometimes she would rather read a book from the library. I don’t always let her choose, but I am inclined to if she has a specific desire to read a certain book. After all, the point is to learn and love reading, not to work through some arbitrary checkpoints. She also reads a few verses from the Bible at our Morning Time. I’ll be reading aloud a selection of classic kids books. The Secret Garden, Grimms Fairy Tales, Aesop’s Fables, Fifty Famous Stories, and Just So Stories. This is mainly following the course from Ambleside Online. However, we were reading The Secret Garden before school started and are loving it!

Math Homeschool Curriculum

This year, we are using Saxon Math 1. It is a very organized approach with manipulatives and opportunities to make it a hands on learning experience. I think Sophia is nearer to the middle in terms of her skills, but I’m having trouble gauging where to jump to. I’m going to spend some time poring over the manual this weekend to figure that out though…

Writing/Copywork Homeschool Curriculum

For our writing curriculum, we’re using Handwriting Without Tears, and we’re using the printing book. Sophia enjoys writing, and especially likes to write little notes to people. I love that and encourage it! However, some structured formation practice is well in order. We’ll also do short copywork sentences based on narrations.

The other subjects…

Honestly, I’m most excited about our peripheral subjects. I think everybody is. Not that Math and Writing and Reading are boring by any means–I love them too–but I get so EXCITED about Geography, History, Science, and the great literature we’ll be reading in those subjects that I just can’t help myself. Throw in some music, art, and nature study? Yes, please…

History Homeschool Curriculum

For history this year, we’re using Story of the World, Volume 1, and studying Ancient Civilization. I spent a lot of time going back and forth between Story of the World and the Mystery of History for a curriculum, but we ultimately picked this. I’m so glad we did! I’ve been reading through the Activity Book and it is just fantastic (although I think I’m going to have to pass on mummifying a chicken…) I just finished prepping for our first activity (an archaeology dig) and it’s like Christmas. The history that we read will be supplemented by literature from the library that fits into the time period we’re studying or illuminates the scientific/mathamatical advances of the time.

Science Homeschool Curriculum

We’re following the science program from the Well Trained Mind through the grammar stage. That means that our first year (this year) will focus on studying the natural world. This ties into our first year history, because science in Ancient Times was based on what was observable to the naked eye. We’re spending our first semester on animal classification and the different families within the animal kingdom. In the new year, we’ll move on to the human body, and botany. We’re using encyclopedias for this, as well as lots of library books. We’re also going to be working through this book of science experiments for kids, and encouraging observation and discovery.

Especially in Nature

Moving on down the rabbit hole, we’re also delving into nature study. Again, something I’m really excited about. I’m using Nature Anatomy and the Handbook for Nature Study, and we’re setting aside Fridays for nature walks. We’re arming the kids with a pad of paper, a pen, and a magnifying glass, and I can’t wait to see what they turn up! Nature Study is pretty quintessentially Charlotte Mason, and I love her attitude towards children in the outdoors. She encourages observation deftly, but the emphasis is always on stoking the interest of the children and being certain they have a wealth of ideas and knowledge at their fingertips to satisfy questions and fuel the imagination.
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And if the world in our own backyard, why not the WORLD?!

Again with the segue… We’re memorizing the continents, and learning about important countries within each continent. We’ll get into some mapwork too. This is another subject that I am SO enthusiastic about. Josh and I have a basically insatiable desire to travel, and I’m sure some of that will rub off on our kids. I was really inspired by Jamie Martin’s ‘Give Your Child the World’. So, in addition to our maps and globes, and pins-on-places-we-read-about, we’ll be reading through her booklists for each continent. Plus, there are incredible documentaries on Netflix that we’ll use occasionally, and we’ll be trying our hand at making a special meal from various countries. Honestly, this is one of those subjects where I probably have too many ideas and too little time. Only time will tell, though!
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And the arts…

We’re doing a little composer study and art study in our Morning Time as well. Dvorak and Mary Cassat will be our composer and artist study this year. I have fond (probably too-fond) hopes for music. I would love to see the kids start playing the piano or another instrument, but it is not something I am going to force at this age. I’m getting the Thompson book for young children, will offer to teach them… and just see where it goes. I’m personally taking advantage of our composer study as a little direction for my violin practice, and intend to focus on learning the music to a few of the pieces we play.

So, that was basically a book… Bravo to you for sticking with me!

Are your curriculum choices made? What are you most looking forward to in this homeschool year?

This post contains affiliate links.  This in no way changes the price you pay, it simply means that I may get a small kickback if you purchase through my link.  Thank you so much for your support.

5 Books That Influence My Homeschool

Homeschool Books to Develop your Homeschool Vision

If you are considering homeschooling, or wondering how it can possibly work, these are some of the homeschool books I have found most helpful. I’m not a veteran homeschooler by any means. (Unless you count being homeschooled myself from k-12 as something…)  But the one thing I am certain about and SO glad I started doing early is reading about different homeschool methods long before my kids were school age.

I loved being homeschooled growing up.  It was such an exciting, empowering, delightful way to learn that I have been excited about the prospect of giving my own children that experience for years.  Like, since I graduated high school myself.  So, since I became mother, I’ve tried to see these pre-schooling years as a preparation time for me.  This is the time that I have to educate myself about learning styles, teaching styles, programs, and methods.  I try to always be reading one “homeschool book” aka a book that is about some aspect of education.  They aren’t all great, but there are a few that have really stuck with me and become the foundation stones of my goals for our homeschool.

If you’re considering homeschooling, especially if your kids are little, I strongly encourage you to read about it!  Even if you were homeschooled yourself!  There are so many more wonderful resources available to homeschoolers now.  Even if the homeschool method you wish to use hasn’t changed, the resources available definitely have.

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#1. Discover Your Child’s Learning Style: Children Learn in Unique Ways–Here’s the Key to Every Child’s Learning Success by Mariaemma Willis and Victoria Kindle Hodson

This book is a great guide to recognizing different learning styles.  It made it very easy to identify my own learning style, and introduced me to other learning styles.  My kids will probably have some variance in their learning styles–almost everybody does. This book began the education that need to know how to meet their specific needs as a teacher.  This book is not just geared towards homeschoolers.  In fact, many of the examples given were of ways that parents helped their public-schooled children break past learning obstacles.

This book is just the beginning, of course, but it is is a great place to start!  You’ll learn all about auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners, as well as how those learning types fit in with personality types.  Additionally, Discover Your Child’s Learning Style goes into the ways you can help your child become a more effective learner by working with them in ways that embrace their learning styles and help them cope with different learning styles.
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#2. The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer

This was one of the first books I read on homeschooling.  I fell in love with the classical homeschooling method and the uniquely connected way it presents the world to our children.  The idea of teaching all subjects so that they become an integrated knowledge base, not just memorized, random facts was (is) golden to me.  The Well-Trained Mind guides you through the entire schooling process, 1st through 12th grade, by dividing the years into the different orders of the trivium (elementary, logic, and rhetoric).

I’ve heard classical education criticized for being too rigorous and not really age appropriate, but I disagree because of the ways it divides learning stages.  I love that it revisits big subjects at different stages of education development.  The goal is not just a passing score, but true understanding and retention of subject matter.  Bauer goes into all of this at much greater length and with much greater eloquence than I can here.  It comes complete with book lists and ideas for curriculum. More than just a one-time read, it is a resource I intend to keep going back to throughout our years of home education.  Also, even if the classical method isn’t for you, those booklists are gold, let me tell ya! 😉

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#3. The Original Homeschooling Series by Charlotte M. Mason (Home Education and School Education)

Charlotte Mason’s approach to education is all about meeting the individuality of each child and creating a nurturing environment so that a great deal is learned simply by doing.  There is a heavy emphasis on learning through nature, and spending lots of time outside.  I’m still working my way through the last of the six books and will probably reread them over the years, but in each book I’ve read so far I’ve gleaned wonderful insights into philosophies and methods of education. I highly recommend starting with “Home Education” and “School Education”.

I don’t see Charlotte Mason’s method as directly opposing the Classical Method by any means–I fully intend to piece together our homeschool with what I see as the best of Classical and the best of Charlotte Mason–but some do.  In any case, if you’re considering homeschooling, you should be familiar with the Charlotte Mason Method.  And again, even if you decide it’s not your cup of tea, there is a lot of wisdom in what Mason has to say about children’s development.

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#4. A Thomas Jefferson Education: Home Companion by Oliver Demille and Rachel Demille

The method presented in A Thomas Jefferson Education is really very classical, but focuses more on why this particular type of education is necessary as we raise the next generation of leaders.  The Demilles and Jeppson present a variety of essays that tackle various dilemmas of our education system–it’s beginning, growth, and demise–and how it has affected our society today.  They also delve into the differences between our statesmen and leaders today, and those who founded this country.  This book is not focused so much on curriculum, but expands on the beliefs we have that make us truly believe in the value of a classical education.

Booklist lovers, do not fear–there is also a booklist in this book.  It’s more geared towards high school, or, let’s face it, adulthood.  My education was incredibly literature rich, and I’ve read quite a few of the books on this list, but not nearly enough.  Tackling it is one of my next big reading goals.  If you’re more curious about the ‘why’ of a classical education, rather than the ‘how’, this would be a good book to start with.  For starters, it’s a much slimmer read, and probably not as intimidating as The Bauer’s tome.


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#5. Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp

I read this homeschool book to get a better big-picture look at the types of things my kids should be learning at different ages.  Home Learning Year by Year goes into standards and requirements for each grade level, along with some curriculum suggestions.  I took specific notes on the early years, but it is a book that I expect to revisit as a reference point.  If you are thinking about putting together your own curriculum rather than doing a grade-level kit this book will get you started.  We may end up doing a kit at some point but for the most part, I fall into the ‘Customize EVERYTHING’ camp right now.  Probably due to my inexperience, but I’m going with it! 😉


What Are Your Favorite Homeschool Books?

Anyways, those are my top five homeschool books for anybody who is considering homeschool.  Don’t worry about planning too early–just use your planning time wisely and educate yourself.  There are so many more books about homeschooling, learning styles, and mixing methods that I want to read.  I’m sure y’all have not heard the last from me on this subject 😉

What are your favorite homeschool books?  Any that should go into my Read-Next pile?  Let me know in the comments below!

Healthy Groceries on a Budget

For the last 4 years or so, first while we were saving for our house and again now that we’re in a preparatory job phase and living off of savings, we’ve been on a relatively tight budget.

Our grocery budget is $100 per week. This covers all of our food (for 2 adults and 2 children with good appetites) as well as household items like soaps and diapers. We have Eva in diapers full time, and also buy pull-ups for Klaus to wear at night.

I am not an extreme couponer. I do not have a huge stockpile of food and grocery items. I usually have a few staples on hand, but I replenish them here and there out of my normal grocery budget as needed. By the end of the grocery period the fridge is pretty empty… And that’s how I like it. Its a good way to track my progress with the budget and menu plan.

Planning starts in the evening the day before I plan to go to the stores.  After checking what we actually  have left in the house I grab my phone and check the Kroger app for their sales and corresponding coupons. They don’t always have better prices than Aldis, but they sometimes have sales and they always have any specialty items I might need.

When I have the sales that I want to take advantage of listed in my notebook, it’s menu time. I try to follow THM and eat a low-glycemic, high protein diet with no sugar or processed flour.  I’ll specifically look for meals that utilize in season (therefore cheap) produce, and whatever meat is on sale. Pinterest and the THM cookbook are my main resources for meal ideas.

Breakfast is simple and always the same 2 or 3 things that we eat a couple times a week.

Lunch is also pretty simple but it’s the meal where we don’t all eat the same dish. The kids often eat different foods than I want to at lunch, and sometimes there are leftovers.

Dinner is our biggest meal of the day and where we have the most variety. I plan for 7 dinners a week. We don’t eat at restaurants, but there’s usually at least one dinner per week that we are visiting family and will eat away from home. In those cases I usually bring a side, and whatever I had planned as a main rolls over to the next week.

Snacks this week are: plums, berries, peanuts, sliced cheese, cottage cheese, and ice cream as an occasional evening treat.

This is what I bought this week:

I spent $80.70 at Aldi getting the majority of the stuff on the list.  Kroger had a great deal on strawberries so I went there for my last few items.

2 quarts of strawberries, a carton of Carbsmart ice cream, a piece of ginger root, 2 lbs of cheddar cheese, 2 oranges, a pint of heavy whipping cream, low carb tortillas, and one Kevita Lemon Ginger drink brought my Kroger total to 23.07.  Basically $3 over budget, and that was because of the drink.  The drink was definitely not on the list, but it was perfect and I was thirsty, so not really regretting it.

While I do plan A LOT, and stick to my grocery list for the most part, I also try to stay flexible.  If I get to the store and there is an amazing deal on some item I’ll go ahead and buy it, but pick something off my list that it will replace.

Anyways, that post ended up much longer than I meant for it to be.  I’ll keep it shorter next time, but I do intend to keep sharing our weekly grocery escapades and healthy menu plans.  Do you have a healthy, budget-friendly menu plan? Post a link in the comments!  I love seeing new menus and getting new ideas.

I’m including links to the main dishes I made was inspired by this week below.  I’m a shameless substitutionist when it comes to recipes.  I basically look at the picture and make something kind of similar with the ingredients that I have. It’s a little bit ridiculous.  The main thing that I made by the book this week was the citrus basil dressing.  It was THE BOMB.  Make it.

Summer Detox Salad with Citrus Basil Dressing (THM- E–we had it with chicken breast, and no honey in the dressing)

Coconut Flour Waffles (THM S)

Mandarin Orange Spinach Salad (THM E or XO, depending on how much dressing you use, again with the added chicken.

Siracha Lime Chicken Chop Salad (THM S, again with the substitutions.  I’m really bad at this you guys…)

Pizza Crust

KIDS BOOK REVIEW: Once upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

once_upon_an_alphabetBook:  One Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for all the Letters by Oliver Jeffers

Genre: Childrens, literature

Once Upon An Alphabet is a collection of short stories related to each letter.  Some of the stories are correlated, but most are not.

As a parent you might be able to imagine my horror at bedtime when I saw the thickness of the book Sophiapea selected and noticed that it was not a simple alphabet book (A… B… C…) but that it was a collection of short stories.  Not the words you want to see in those last five minutes of the witching hour before bedtime.  Of course, I prefaced the story-time with the words of warning, “We might not be able to read the whole book before bed tonight,” but once we started reading there really was no need.

The stories were brilliant and short.  They were so funny and strangely morbid that several times I busted up laughing on my own.  Honestly, I don’t think Sophia understood the humor, but she liked it well enough and enjoyed pointing out the letters and talking about the pictures.  Best of both worlds, in my opinion.  Great for the parent and great for the kid.

If you have a toddler or preschool age child, who is working on learning letters, this is a fun, educational addition to your reading repertoire.  It’s definitely one that I’m going to add to my list of books to buy for my own home library and schooling resource!

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars