Author Archives: Amy

Menu Plan Monday

ThanksgivingI enjoyed doing this so much last week that I thought I’d do it again! The funny thing about menu planning is that I find it tremendously helpful, but I don’t always follow my own menus.  For example, last week we had a change of plans and ended up having company for supper on Friday night instead of Saturday night.  This meant that my plan to have leftover or takeout or go out to eat changed, and instead we had what I had planned to have on Thurday night:  creamy chicken and black bean enchiladas Mexican rice, plus Mexican cornbread, pintos, homemade cheese dip (something like this), and 4 layer chocolate dessert.  That meant on Thursday night we had breaded tilapia (frozen), pintos, cornbread, and Zatarains seasoned rice of some variety.  Flexibility!  :-)


Mexican cornbread is one of my favorite things! I ate this for supper Saturday night, all by itself. :-)


This week will go something like this:

  • Monday–chicken stew, cornbread, crackers, cheese.  I made this on Saturday night and mostly followed the linked recipe.  Chicken stew is a southern staple for sure, but this recipe is not really like the kind I grew up on.  I’m used to a lot more vegetables!  We like it, though, for a change.


  • Tuesday–bookclub for me; everyone else eat with Nana
  • Wednesday–breakfast foods for supper (bacon, eggs, toast or pancakes) or eat out if I’m particularly pooped
  • Thursday–crockpot porkchops, roasted broccoli, potatoes of some kind (?), English peas (frozen), cornbread.  This is Lulu’s favorite pork chop recipe!
  • Friday–company supper again! :-)baked spaghetti (I usually use my homemade spaghetti sauce from the freezer), bread, salad, and dessert as linked above
  • Saturday–who knows?  Sometimes we eat with my family.  I usually buy groceries on Saturdays, so I’ll have a new plan percolating in my brain by then, too.  :-)

What’s cookin’ this week at your house?

Odds & Ends


It’s early Sunday afternoon, and Steady Eddie has taken all four children with him to his office while he works on some work and school stuff so I can have three uninterrupted hours to work on my stuff.  Blogging is perhaps not the most beneficial use of my time, but I do find that keeping a narrative record of our weeks helps me to see the big picture, so I am setting our new timer (more on that in a minute ;-) ) for thirty minutes and am going to attempt to hit the high points of our week, bullet-point fashion.  1, 2, 3. . . Go!


  • This was our first week back in the saddle after a week’s break from formal lessons.   I was very pleased and thankful to notice that I really felt refreshed and ready to tackle homeschool again.  This was a welcome change from the burnout and exhaustion I felt last spring!  Thank you, Lord!
  • I’m still struggling with organization and scheduling due to our compressed M-W schedule.  Last weekend Steady Eddie sat down with me (and mostly just listened to me!) and helped me think some things through.  Last Sunday night I wrote the above schedule on the whiteboard in the school room, and believe it or not, we followed it pretty well.  The left-hand column is for Lulu and the right one is for Louise.  This was Monday’s schedule, so they had already done their math that morning before CBS leadership.  It worked well enough that I continued a similar schedule for the rest of the week.   Thank you, Lord!


  • Louise passed a milestone in math this week:  she started RightStart Level D.   Yippee!  It was an easy week of calendar review as we delved into her new book.
  • Lulu also passed a milestone in math:  she started working through Math Mammoth Multiplication & Division 3 as her main math curriculum.  This is a worktext and as such is quite a bit different from RS which is very teacher-led.  I inquired on the WTM forums about different methods of handling this sort of curriculum an decided to go with using a timer and having Lulu work for 45 minutes (with intentions to work up to 1 hour eventually) each day on math.  There’s a bit of  a learning curve–I had Lulu read the explanations herself and then explain them to me, instead of the other way around–but by the end of the week things were going fairly smoothly.  We also offered her an incentive for NOT melting down over a certain type of problem–if she remained calm and worked through her frustration (which she DID!), she earned a day off from morning chores.  Extrinsic motivation works for this girl!

  • This is the timer we purchased or Lulu’s math lessons, as well as timed reading.  Yes, we have lots of other timing devices.  The girls have always used a kitchen timer or an ipod for their piano practice.  However, I like the fact that this one is visual and doesn’t provide nearly the temptation for “fiddling with” as the ipod.  One thing it has worked exceptionally well for is the DLM’s rest time.  Some days I’ll have him move up to the living room with audiobooks, blocks, etc. while Benny naps so the girls and I can have some quiet concentration time for lessons.  The DLM isn’t particularly fond of this, but the novelty of the timer (plus the fact that the light on top actually tells him when time is over!  Yellow means “just a few more minutes” and red means “time’s up!”)  made rest time go a bit more smoothly.  All in all, it has been a very good purchase for us.

  • My favorite purchase, though, is this little, tiny portable bluetooth speaker pictured above.  One problem I’ve always had with my ipad (an old one, an early model we bought used from Steady Eddie’s cousin) is that the speaker on it is pitiful.  We used it, but we missed a lot when the DLM would talk or when Benny would start fussing or chattering.  This little speaker (once we learned how to use it!) enabled us to all hear the Classics for Kids podcast we like to listen to at lunchtime (the girls’ composer of the month is Handel, so listened to the ones about him).  I was also able to listen to several chapters of Jane Eyre as I cooked and puttered around in the kitchen.  I even kept the ipad with me in the school room during the DLM’s rest time and put the speaker up in the living room with him and was able to play numerous audiobooks for him using the OneClick Digital service through our library.  Ah, technology!  I love it when it works!  :-)
  • We started using Boorstin’s A Landmark History this week for history, and I have to say that I finally feel good about what we’re doing.  That could change, of course, but for now, it’s good.  :-)  I had Lulu do a one-level outline one day from her reading and written narrations every other day (for four days total).  Louise made oral narrations while either I or Steady Eddie acted as her scribe.


  • The girls got to dissect frogs at co-op this week.  The best part of it all was when their teacher (one of my really good friends and just a fun person all the way around) pulled out a bowl full of “frog eggs” and all of the adults in the room volunteered to sample them.  The kids were really grossed out, of course, until they learned it was pearl tapioca.  ;-)


  • Circle Time went well this week, and it seems we’ve gotten over the hump with the introduction to the Declaration of Independence and are making progress with it once again.  I hope to share this term’s plans soon!




  • I pulled out the DLM’s letter sensory bin and let him find the magnetic letters and put them in order (but he did it backwards. . . on purpose ;-) ) on the cookie sheet. Then Benny was really fussy and really interested in what the DLM was doing, so I got a dishpan and dumped the contents of the bin (letters + dried butter beans) and put it down in the floor for Benny to explore.  He LOVED it!  I kept an eye on him to make sure he didn’t try to eat a butter bean, yes.  This was definitely a winner and worth the extra clean-up it took when he learned it was lots of fun to take the beans out of the pan.  I hope to come up with some baby-safe sensory bins soon.



  • The DLM is most interested in learning now and insisted that we learn our next letter sound (the letter G) on Saturday.  Earlier in the week we had talked about the letter C.  Most of the books we read have already gone back to the library, but the topics were cars, cowboys, and gardens.  The DLM is such an eager learner right now.  I wish I could spend lots of time with him each day, but I keep telling myself that he’s only four and he has plenty of time to do all the things he’s itching to do now.  It’s fun!



  • This summer I organized a busy bag swap, and I am so glad I did!  It was a little bit of work, but the return has been great.  The DLM doesn’t pick out a busy bag every day, but using them once a week or so keeps him from getting tired of them.  The one above is obviously a writing one, but we have several different kinds, and all of them are fun for him and educationally worthwhile.
  • Steady Eddie was off on Friday for fall break, which was good because we had company for supper Friday night and I needed all the help I could get!  We had an abbreviated Fun Friday and then after lunch we all pitched in to get the house shipshape and supper cooked.  One of Lulu’s current interests is baking, so she made homemade rolls.


  •  Altogether it was a good, solid week of learning (most of which I’ve left out here due to time constraints).  It was also a week of spiritual and relational blessings, and for this I am most grateful.

How was your week?

WWW: Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright

Our nighttime read-aloud is the last of The Melendy Quartet, Spiderweb for Two, which is essentially the story of one long scavenger hunt put on by some anonymous person for Randy and Oliver Melendy after their older siblings have gone away to school.  The catch is that they must keep it a secret.  It is so good.  One reason I read aloud to my children at night is in hopes that it will help our little resident insomniac relax into sleep.  Spiderweb for Two has provided more than a few laugh-out-loud moments, so I’m not sure it always works.  ;-)  At any rate, at least she (eventually) goes to sleep with something funny on her mind.  Here’s one such Melendy moment:

Willy came slopping along in his slicker.

“Hi, Willy, how big are your feet?” was Oliver’s greeting.

“Size twelve,” replied Willy amiably.  “My feet expected to support a larger man.  They outdistanced me.  Why?”

“We’re taking a sort of a–sort of a foot census,” said Randy.

“Well, anything to kill time on a bad day,” said Willy.

There are so many things from this story that are too good not to share, so say tuned for more!  :-)


Bear, Mouse, and Penguin: Two new picture books

We’re Bear and Mouse fans at the House of Hope. We read the first in the collection, A Visitor for Bear, and followed up with all the others:  A Birthday for Bear, Sniffles for Bear, and Bedtime for Bear.  We love Bear, with all his blustering bravado, and Mouse, “small and grey and bright-eyed.” Bonny Becker’s newest offering, A Library Book for Bear, continues the adventures of Bear and Mouse.  This story has Mouse introducing the very skeptical Bear to the library.  It opens like this:

Bear had never been to the library.

He had seven very nice books at home:

three about kings and queens, three about honeybees,

and one about pickles.

Bear was quite sure he had

all the books he would ever need.

Mouse, as always, knows what’s best for Bear, and Bear warms up to the idea of leaving his home to visit the library after only a few gaffes, including being shushed by a mother squirrel and an old raccoon.  Like all the Bear and Mouse books, this one makes a terrific read-aloud because of Bear’s huffing and puffing and Mouse’s dignified and loving demeanor.  Kady Macdonald Denton’s illustrations are perfectly lovely–classic is the word that comes to mind when I study them.  The bottom line is this:  what’s not to love about a book with the words Library Book in the title?  ;-)  A Library Book for Bear makes a welcome addition to the series.  It has been nominated for a 2014 Cybils Award in the picture fiction category.  It’s too early to say how I feel about that, though I’m almost always wary of ranking a book from a series high up on the list for an award because it’s often hard to distinguish one from its predecessors.  Still, this is a very fun book that shouldn’t be overlooked.  Highly Recommended.  (Candlewick, 2914)

Related links:

Have you ever seen a cuter cover?  Oh my goodness! When I saw Flight School by Lita Judge in the new books bin at the library, of course I couldn’t leave it there!  It’s the story of Penguin, the positively adorable bird on the cover, and this is how it opens:

“I was hatched to fly,” said Penguin.

“When do classes start?”

“But you, dear, are a penguin,” Teacher replied.

“Undeniable,” said Penguin, “but I have the soul of an eagle.”

Penguin does learn to fly, with a little help from Teacher and his friends.  The story is about optimism and friendship, and it’s just delightful.  The ending is funny, too, which is a definitely bonus if you’re reading this one to older children.  The sweet story, couple with Lita Judge‘s adorable bird illustrations, make this a winning package.  Highly, Highly Recommended.  (Atheneum, 2014)

***This book has not yet been nominated for the Cybils, but it should be! If you haven’t used your picture book nomination, this would be a great one to nominate.  Pretty please?  Nominations close October 15.***

Related links:

Menu Plan Monday

ThanksgivingI’m trying something new here today at Hope Is the Word, or at least something I haven’t done in years. Today I’m participating in Menu Plan Monday! I read Susan’s Menu Plan Monday posts faithfully each week, so I thought someone might enjoy reading mine.  I’m always interested in new recipes, too, so maybe I’ll add a few to my repertoire by doing this.  Here goes!

Knock-off Wendy's chili--my favorite!

Knock-off Wendy’s chili–my favorite!

What’s cookin’ at your house?