Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Tuesday, Oct. 28th,

Outside My Window...
the sun is shining through the tree limbs and making patterns in the grass

I am thinking...
that AH and I should spend some time outside today

I am thankful for...
my friends

From the kitchen...
I'm smelling the wonderful scent of coffee brewing

I am wearing...
a grey zippered sweatshirt and jeans

I am creating...
a cozy, loving home

I am going...
to play with my 3 year old niece today!

I am reading...
The third book in the Twilight series: eclipse

I am hoping...
to start planning a unit study on Rocks and Minerals

I am hearing...
the washing machine churning away

Around the house...
I am still cleaning up from our bonfire on Saturday night

One of my favorite things...
an unexpected hug from my AH

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Read, play, love

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Monday, October 27, 2008


Today is the first weekday of my voluntary unemployment. I just loved my job at Starbucks. It was fun and I was privileged to meet so many wonderful people that I would otherwise probably never meet. I have friends for life from that one little store. I consider myself blessed. When I was at work, it was pure fun and it was all because of my co-workers and customers! And it was perfect in that I could leave any worries at work and not bring it home. However, all things have a time. It was getting very difficult to plan our home-school days, work, chauffeur, and take care of a house and family all at the same time. I have been stressed for weeks. I was reaching a breaking point and the closing of our store was a blessing for me. I say that with some reservation, however. I won't have the opportunity to spend so much time with my friends again and that is very bittersweet.
Today I am looking forward to making a nice dinner and sitting down to dinner as a family again. What is on the menu? I'm torn, but I think I'll go with the ultra popular tacos! I feel like it's too easy and that I should be fixing a traditional, labor intensive, meat and potatoes kind of dinner. But my boys love tacos and it's really the act of sitting down and talking with one another that is important.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Today was tough. We are trying out this Orton-Gillingham method of reading and spelling. I've given AH the assessments and now we are working on his lessons. He really knows most of the sounds, it's just getting him to really sound them out. He only made one mistake today and when I asked him to look more closely at that word, the tears just flowed. I don't think I really know the depth of his hurt or frustration in learning. He is an absolutely brilliant boy. He is detail oriented with a fabulous memory! He is creative and thinks outside the box! He is definitely my nature boy! It broke my heart to see those tears. He really didn't make a terrible mistake, but I think he feels like such a failure when he is not right. I really hope it isn't me. I want so much to help him. I try so hard not to say the words "you're wrong, no, etc" I just asked him to look at it again and he didn't say anything, put his head down and I saw the tears stream down his cheek. I think he is wounded and a whole year after leaving school, the hurt is still there. We switched subjects and I told him we would continue tomorrow with the reading and spelling. He seemed fine when we were listening to Story of the World later. I guess I bring it up only because I am worried. I wanted this to be a happy blog, never a complaint. I wouldn't trade our decision to home-school AH, but this threw me. Ah, well. Most everything seems better after a long nights sleep. Wish me luck...

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, October 20th

Outside My Window...
a sea of red, orange, and yellow leaves under our sugar maple

I am thinking...
that I really, really hate to rake!

I am thankful for...
the opportunity to stay at home and focus on my family

From the kitchen...
it's left-over night: pizza slices, homemade mac and cheese, tuna casserole, served with homemade bread, a salad and cheesecake

I am wearing...
a pink polo shirt and jeans

I am creating...
a cookbook of our favorite recipes for my husband, who loves to cook!

I am going...
to pick up the next book in the series of books that I'm reading

I am reading...
I just finished the first Twilight book and can't wait to read the second

I am hoping...
to finish planning our next unit study on Vikings

I am hearing...
Austen putting together a lego set and car doors slamming. AD must be home.

Around the house...
I am painting AH's old dresser with chalkboard paint

One of my favorite things...
the quietness of a late afternoon before the bustle of dinner preparations and Doug and AD get home.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Read, decorate for Halloween and finish that unit study

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

The St. Croix River at dusk

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Life can be crazy

What a wild week! Painting, working, learning and an emergency room visit!
Seriously, I don't think I could possibly fit anymore into this past crazy week! I am so sorry that I haven't posted. I've got all these ideas for posts bouncing around inside my head, but first I have to get this week off my chest!
We had been painting AH's new room most of last week and into this week. I close my eyes and see black and blue! But we are finished and here is his new room...

On Saturday I attended a workshop on the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching reading and spelling. It was fantastic. The instructor, Kathy Fears, described my son to a "T" and she has never met him. I teared up because for the first time, I met someone who knows what AH and I are going through. She is a homeschooler for the same reason I am. She pulled her daughter out of public school because they just couldn't help her daughter and she became more and more frustrated with school. Even with the one on one that homeschooling provides, she couldn't get through to her daughter until she found this method. Her daughter is now a college graduate and is self-employed. I am hoping this method will also help AH. He knows his phonics, but needs some help putting them together and I think we have found a way. Wish us luck!
Right after the workshop I worked an 8 hour shift at my part-time job at Starbucks, went home, slept and worked another 8 hour shift on Sunday. I hadn't been home more than 45 minutes when the phone rang. My father was in an ambulance on his way to the emergency room at his local hospital! I couldn't make this stuff up! The poor guy was putting out his garbage when his knee gave way and he landed head-first on the concrete driveway. He ended up in the operating room where they cleaned up and repaired his wound. I think I spent about 5 hours with him and my mom at the hospital. He is recuperating at home now, but he has a couple of serious black eyes and a large scar.
This week we have been putting the finishing touches on AH's room, such as painting his closet doors with dry-erase paint as shown here (Who knew there was such a thing!):

Painting magnetic paint on the back of the door to his room in preparation for the chalkboard paint!
And a new bookshelf needed filling:

Well, things will be slowing down here in the next few weeks as we close our Starbucks coffee shop and I no longer work outside the home. It will feel good to concentrate on my family and home once again.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Changes in our home

AN, our daughter, graduated from college earlier this year. She has her own apartment in the city along with a new car and a new job. I'm finally coming to grips with the fact that she is on her own and most likely won't be living with us anytime soon. I've managed to avoid thinking about this until recently. AH is moving into her old room. As long as her room was set up the way she left it, I guess a part of her was still here. There was possibility. Don't get me wrong, I know my job as a parent is to prepare my children for life on their own. But change is hard. Our family dynamics have changed. This change is hard on all of us, but, especially so for AH, our youngest. When we have dinner together (which, unfortunately, isn't every day because of work and football schedules) I have commented how nice it is to sit down with the whole family for dinner. AH corrected me and told me the whole family was NOT together. AN wasn't here.
All this introspection really has to do with the fact that we are painting AH's new room. He picked out the colors, the design, and helped me to figure out how much paint we needed for the room. (hands on math!!!) I thought I would share some pictures. Our goal is to be finished painting by Friday afternoon (before the varsity football game!) Hopefully we can start moving furniture into the room this weekend. AH's old room will become a learning/project room. I'm looking forward to a place we can leave projects while we are working on them (we need that dining room table for dinners!!!). Also a place for all the books and supplies will be nice! Here is a picture of the room today (we've got quite a lot of work to do before tomorrow evening!) Wish us luck!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I must confess that I am crazy about crafting with my kids. Of course the only one left to craft with is 10 year old AH. Lucky for me, he also enjoys crafting. We like to take walks in our local parks, so when I saw this idea for walking sticks, or as they call them, wilding sticks, at Full Circle, I knew AH would have a blast creating one for himself. AH had a great stick ready in our back yard (he collects them, I guess!!) Here he is beginning his project.

Here he is with his fantastic finished wilding stick!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Acorn Squash Recipe

The squash is ready! Even though it was rather warm today, I couldn't resist making a roasted free range chicken and acorn squash. My mother-in-law, Mary, gave this squash recipe to us about 20 years ago (how time flies!). Our kids have learned to love squash thanks, in part, to this recipe. I believe she got it from a microwave cookbook. Here is that recipe with some of our tweaks. Enjoy!

Acorn Squash with Cranberries

2 medium-sized acorn squash

2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine
1/3 cup butter or margarine
3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Whole cranberry sauce

Pierce each squash several times. Microwave 10 minutes. Cut squash crosswise, remove seeds. Microwave the squash 10 to 12 minutes more, or until done. Remove stems and cut ends so the squash doesn't tip.

Mix all filling ingredients. Fill each squash half with filling (the recipe calls for 1/2 cup for each, but we prefer a little less). Microwave on high until filling is hot, 3 to 5 minutes. Top with cranberries. Serves four.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fall Means Football

At our house, fall means football. Not just once a week football, but we eat, breathe, and live football! Monday and Friday nights mean watching AD play high school football. Saturday is Big Ten Football and on Sunday we watch the Vikings. As if that isn't enough, each boy has a fantasy football team he manages. Over the course of a week the conversations between the two boys usually center on who they'll be playing the next weekend. I decided a long time ago that it would be far better to learn to love the game than not join in on the fun. So, you'll find me reading the sports page every day just so I can keep up with and participate in the conversations around this house. Plus, sitting in the stands on a cool fall evening with a GrandePumpkin Spice Chai Latte is heavenly!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Why Blue Skies?

I have always been inspired by my children. I am a rather timid person and have always been more concerned with pleasing others rather than asserting any of my opinions. AN, my oldest, has, despite being raised by me, become a tactful, vocal woman. She has the ability to truly listen to others, but calmly assert her views and back them up. I really wish I was more like her. AD, my middle child, has a natural curiosity about the world. He is truly a renaissance man. Whether it's math, cooking, art or writing he ventures into it without fear and with enthusiasm usually with great success. Since I tend to be timid, I find this refreshing. I wish I could be more like him.
AH has never had an easy time with "school." He attended public school until the beginning of 4th grade. He has inspired me with his perseverance and attitude. I think I would have given up and withdrawn from the world had I gone through what he did. I wish I was that tough. Homeschooling allows him to shine and work at his own pace on his own terms(which includes a very large exercise ball...a topic for another post, perhaps!) He is also very creative and sensitive. During his kindergarten year an artist in residence worked with the kids on a peace project using poetry and art. When it was all over each student had a poster they had made which described their Peace of Peace. The artwork was displayed in our local co-op and finally assembled into a beautiful book with a poem written by the artist. It is still my favorite of AH's artwork. It hangs in a frame in a prominent position in our home.
Can you guess what AH's peace of peace is?

Thursday, October 2, 2008


AH and I are really enjoying a subject I decided to incorporate into our days. Logic. His reaction when I told him my plans was this, "You mean, for a half hour EVERY DAY, I get to do puzzles? COOL!" High praise, indeed, from a 10 year old! We've been using Mind Benders, which we enjoy, but I bought a logic puzzle game from the MHA convention last weekend that has us addicted! Safari Rush Hour from ThinkFun. We had been cruising through the beginner and intermediate puzzles since Monday, but that all came to a screeching halt today when we realized we were in the advanced category. It took us quite a bit longer to solve, but we are proud to say we solved it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Hot Chocolate Kind of Afternoon

AH and I took a walk after lunch this afternoon. Solvay, our rambunctious Samoyed, "walked" with us. (More properly stated, perhaps, would be that she walked me!) There is definitely a crispness to the air. Fall has set in here in the north. Some leaves are turning orange and yellow, but the majority are still green. I can't wait for the vivid autumn hues! Hot chocolate seemed appropriate, but I was out of mix. Here is the recipe I found on the side of the Hersey's Cocoa Powder container:

Favorite Hot CocoaTop of Stove
Six Servings:

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
Dash Salt
1/3 cup hot water
4 cups milk
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in saucepan; stir in water
2. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils; boil and stir 2 minutes.
3. Stir in milk and heat; DO NOT BOIL
4. Remove from heat; add vanilla

I topped the cups with real whipping cream. AH says he'll never drink the ready mixes again!