Homeschooling Older Kids – – MUSIC

A question came up recently on a homschool board I’m on about kids listening to music when they’re doing their daily studies.

When my kids were younger I usually had some relaxing music on when we did our work. I am a music loving person, so it was soothing to me. I’m not sure if that started it, but now one, and sometimes both of my kids like to listen to music when they work.

I am 100% fine with it as long as it’s appropriate, and they get their work done (with retention). I have one that can listen to music and read. Not instrumental – more like Owl City. To me that’s super weird. But, they’re relaxed and they retain like crazy, so I’m good with it.

I also have a “not so loud I have to beat you with a broom to get your attention” rule. I hate having to scream at the kids to listen. So, reasonable volume is a must.


Needless to say, we fight over who gets to use the Pandora One account. Normally, it’s me! And NO (no, no, no, no!!!) I didn’t pick all all the channels on the screen!! I prefer the likes of George Winston, The Piano Guys, and Fernando Ortega during the day.

How about you? Do you prefer silence or music when you work?


Teen Boy Bible Study / Devotional


With the new semester I’m changing up a few little things. I’ll share here done new stuff, and at some point I’ll do a summary…

One thing I’ve done is added a new devotional for Little. He’s working through the Bible Study Sampler in Core 100, but I wanted him to have more application. A couple of years ago we bought and read through the Bob Schultz devotionals Boyhood and Beyond and Created for Work. They’re EXCELLENT. I decided we’d pull then of the shelf and have Little work through them again.

Twice a week this is his assignment:
1. Read a section.
2. Write out the answer the section questions.
3. Write a paragraph summary of the point of the section.
4. Find 2 other verses to support your conclusion.
5. Write out 1-3 action points for him to work on toward the biblical truth learned.

We’re only two lessons in, but so far I LOVE IT. I think he likes it a lot too, and it’s definitely not a “fill in the blank” system for him. I’m excited to see how this challenges him in his walk with the Lord!!! If you’re looking for a new way to challenge your teen son, I highly recommend these books!

Do you have any other great teen boy bible study or devotional tools? What’s worked for your family? 🙂

Landry Academy – Registration Opens Today for Fall 2016-2017

I’ve blogged a few times about our experience with Landry Academy.

Here are a couple posts about our experiences so far…

Landry Academy Week 1 (Pre)review

Landry Academy Mid-Semester Review

and less helpful – but important to know they run AMAZING discount specials:

Landry Christmas Specials



If you happen to have purchased some generic semesters and want to register for classes for the fall – registration opened this morning. I’ve already stalked the site and signed up both kids for a year long core course (one foreign language, one English), and one elective each for the fall semester (one programming, one art). I’m super excited about the picks the kids and I made (I helped with the core requirement).


Again, I’m not sponsored in any way by Landry. (I am always open for options, LOL!! I’d love to do a give away!) I’m just a fairly cheap homeschool mom looking for cool options to keep my teens engaged – and Landry fits the bill marvelously!!

The Smoothie Secret

As part of this whole foods 100 Days of Real Food challenge, we have to eat 2 fruits and/or vegetables with every meal. For breakfast the easiest way for me to do this is with a smoothie. I made it the first couple of days with blueberries, fresh pineapple and almond milk. Then the pineapple ran out. I had fairly sour smoothies for a couple of days when I decided to throw some grapes into the Ninja.


Yes, pineapple is better tasting but WOW grapes sweetened up the whole smoothie. It was like ice cream.


I threw all the grapes we had into a zip lock and into the freezer before they went bad. From there I’ve been sticking a few (5-6?) in with my fruit and almond milk and it’s perfect. Fruity. Sweet. Not bitter. Today I even added unsweetened homemade yogurt and the grapes stood up to that!


Who knew? GRAPES!!!

Have you tried grapes in a smoothie before?

Whole Foods – Week 1

We’re still on the plan. Mostly. Honestly, we’re working hard to follow the 100 Days of Real Food plan, even as we taper in with the 14 week mini course.

Here’s our week in review from Week 1:

Friday- Unplanned road trip. Healthy breakfast at home. Lunch, while shockingly salty, on plan at Tazakis. Dinner was pizza. I think they use some local tomatoes.

Saturday – Healthy breakfast. Lots of chips. “Healthy” chips. But, way too many. Chocolate. Junk. Not as much as usual, but still.

Sunday – Healthy breakfast. Healthy lunch at a local Kabob place. Yums. Pizza for dinner. Nothing local. After 5 hours of driving we were all beat and starving. I need to meal plan better.

Monday through Wednesday – Pretty solid on plan. Lots of baking. Lots of cooking. Lots of salads. Lots of smoothies. I need to find my mojo.

Thursday –  I didn’t eat 100% plan. A friend is retired from the Air Force so we went out for lunch. There really were NO healthy options. None. So I winged it and did the best I could. Light oil on my kung po chicken. Ate mostly veg. Only ate half the rice. Which was white, but better than fried. Then there was pizza (seriously – the third time this week).

I was starving after lunch. DS and I had a binge…



Some new things I learned this week:

  • Planning is pretty key. I had a lot of good food from a Costco run, so as long as we were home, we were good.
  • Ruthless cleaning out of junk in my house has been SO AMAZINGLY helpful. I think I would have broken if we had anything “yummy” in the house.
  • I think I’m mostly through the sugar cravings. We’ve baked some (a couple recipes to follow) but we seriously cut sugar in the recipes. It still tastes sweet (and I am a JUNKIE for sugar).
  • I am sick of pizza. I even made some from scratch Friday. Ick.
  • We’re also working on portion control and I’m seeing that it’s working. We ate fewer potatoes this week than we normally would.
  • Eating fruit or a salad before we eat dinner (we’ve introduced a “YOU MUST EAT THE FRUIT OR VEG BEFORE THE MEAL” rule) fills you up with good stuff so you eat less. Really. It works. (Yeah, I realize that I sound like an idiot.)


A couple of recipes I tried:

Easy Cheesy Crackers – Delicious. Kind of heavy. I’ll make them again.

Homemade Wheat Thins – 100% do over. Delicious. I’ll use hard wheat next time.


A couple of recipes I tweaked to make me happy (and that I now LOVE):


Banana Bread:

  • Cream together:
    • 1/4 c. butter
    • 1/2 c. sucanat (if you like banana – you could go to 1/3 c.)
  • Add and cream:
    • 2-3 ripe bananas
    • 1/2 c. full fat sour cream
    • 2 eggs
  • Stir in:
    • 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour (soft white)
    • 1 t. baking powder
    • 3/4 t. baking soda
    • 1/2 t. salt
    • 1 t. cinnamon
  • Lastly, add:
    • 1/2 c. pecans (toasted is yummier)
  • Bake at 350. For bread – 45-55 min; for muffins 15-18 min.


Chocolate Chip Cookies:

  • Cream together:
    • 1 c. butter
    • 2/3 c. sucanat
  • Add and cream:
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 t. vanilla
  • Stir in:
    • 2 3/4 c. whole wheat flour (soft white)
    • 1/2 c. oatmeal
    • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
    • 1 t. baking soda
    • 1 t. salt
  • Lastly, add:
    • 1 1/2 c. bling.
      • For “bling” I recommend chocolate chips, white chips, dried cranberries, toasted nuts. I would not use more than 1 c. chips to keep the sugar down.
  • Bake at 350. 9 min.


Things I’ll be working on next week:

  • Improving variety.
  • Working on meal planning still. I did pretty well this week. We used leftovers effectively. I need to keep that up.
  • Reduce waste. That’s huge for me. Eating this way is expensive and I need to keep a lid on it.

So that’s Week 1. Our mini goal was “2 Fruit and Veg with every meal”. We hit it most meals. We also hit about 95% of the other mini goals. On to Week 2!!


Over Thanksgiving our family made a road trip to Austin, Texas. It was a blast. We have family in Austin and it’s always great to get to spend time with them.

During the road trip (and OBVIOUSLY pre 100 Days of Real Food challenge…) we tried out some new dining spots…

SMASHBURGER was a good stop. The burger was fresh and yummy. The fries weren’t my favorite. I think that’s a good thing since looking at this picture might depress me otherwise. LOL!!


I LOVE LOVE LOVE REI‘s stance on Black Friday. We shopped there because it’s an awesome store, and we wanted to vote with money. Go REI!!


I picked up a new cookbook at the Book People in Austin. If you’re in Austin and you like books – GO!! It’s an awesome independent book store.


A go-to stop for us whenever we can make one… IN n OUT Burger! Big and I made a stop on Black Friday when we went out to grab some deals. It is ALWAYS fun to chill with Big and we had a great time eating greasy burgers.


I’m hoping next year our review will be different. Lots of veggie places. Lots of locally sourced, organically raised meals. Fewer burgers. More whole wheat. I’m actually looking forward to it!!

Tuscaloosa, AL – A COOL Teen Stop


While road tripping through Alabama recently, the kids spied this SWEET jungle gym structure. They called for a stop, and my friend and I (with 4 squirmy teens in the car), gladly obliged.


If you are in Tuscaloosa AL – STOP. It’s awesome!!!! The structure is in Snow Hinton Park (on 82 – near the mall) and at 38 feet the slide is the tallest in the Southeast. It’s free, and so worth the time to stop. My kids LOVED it. It’s such a cool tween/teen thing to do. I high recommend a stop! (They loved it so much that I had to text our scoutmaster – it’s an awesome teen boy leg stretching break for scout troops!)