Monday, May 22, 2017

Homemaker's Journal: Monday, May 22, 2017

Dance season is officially over!!!! No more lessons or rehearsals until the fall. We love dance, but the rehearsal and performance schedule at the end of each season wears me out. My dancer slept 'til almost 8 o'clock this morning. I think she's happy to be able to relax again.

T-ball season is still in full swing and we have another game this week. I'm happy that we're not still juggling dance and t-ball together. Having only a game once or twice a week is a nice and welcome change.


Thunderstorms are in the forecast for this week, finally clearing up on Friday. Temperatures will be in the upper 70's and lower 80's, a welcome change from last weeks scorching upper 90's temperatures.


All of the children slept in today and the household seems to be quite lazy. The kitchen needs tidying up (as it always does).


During some of our downtime last week, I managed to do quite a bit more de-cluttering in our school room. I love throwing things away, but not the process of having to go through every little thing. My husband has suggested the idea of taking the boxes and plopping them into the trash bin, but I'm not too keen on throwing out all of my children's keepsakes and memories.


The dancer on her Saturday performance of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses".


"Fatigue is the common enemy of us all--so slow down, rest up, replenish, and refill."
—Jeffrey R. Holland


Leftovers, hot dogs and hamburgers, french fries, and whatever else is in the pantry and freezer. I will resume with menu planning in June. For now, I'm going to rest.





Rest, catch up on school work, and set up second graders first annual standardized test. If the weather clears, we'll work in the garden and finish our backyard landscape border.



Friday, May 19, 2017

Week in Review {Week #35}

Another week done!


Bridget completed her second grade handwriting book in which she learned to write in cursive. Now to keep her practicing over the summer...

She also completed a spelling lesson, in which she spelled a particular word correctly on the pre-test, spelled it correctly in her workbook and oral quizzes (which I do immediately before the final test to make sure she's ready), but when it came time to do her written test, she spelled the word incorrectly. It was more aggravating for me than for her because I knew she could spell it correctly, but I had to mark it wrong for the sake of honest and fair grading.


Bridget had her dress rehearsals on stage this week and her performances will be this weekend. She is so excited and nervous. On Wednesday, she told me she was sad to have had her last in-studio practice because it meant that the dance year was over and she wouldn't see her teachers or classmates until the new season begins in the fall.

George had two t-ball games, one on Saturday morning in which my parents joined us, and another on Thursday evening. His life right now revolves around t-ball. He constantly talks about it and he probably dreams about it.

And finally, this cute napper has been a real trooper as we've shuffled his big brother and sister to their activities. After we dropped Bridget off at her dress rehearsal on Thursday, we drove 15 minutes to Daddy's office so that I could hand off the boys and George would make it to his t-ball game on time that evening. When I parked the van and we were waiting for Daddy, I turned around and caught him snoozing. Liam has taken a nap for 3 days in a row now. I love how he can just fall asleep anywhere. I think the heat we've been experiencing lately (a whopping 98 degrees on Wednesday!) has made his extra sleepy. 


Friday, May 12, 2017

Week in Review {Week #34}

I am making a slight change in my end-of-week posts. Instead of counting the 52 weeks from January, I'm going to use the week we're on for school. Much easier to keep track this way. So if you're wondering why I jumped from Week #2 (the last time I posted about our week) to Week #34, this is why.

We are finishing up Week #34 of our school year! Or at least that's what my schedule says. We are supposed to be done with grammar, handwriting, and math but we're not. We're also supposed to be finishing up with science, writing, and spelling. We're not. We're not even close. It looks like we'll be schooling through summer. My advice? Don't move during the school year, and especially don't do it twice.


This week, Bridget covered two math lessons, two spelling lessons, and quite a few grammar lessons. She is also almost done with her handwriting book. She learned cursive this year and is doing well. Her cursive writing is not perfect, and sometimes barely legible, but she's trying her best and I see it improving the more she practices. We still have not started back up with history and science, so I don't have any "fun" pictures to post from our school week.


It was a busy week for after school activities. Bridget's dance season is winding down and their performance is next weekend. She had practice three days this week. 

George is playing t-ball this year and had his very first game on Tuesday. Before his game, the team had team pictures done as well. I don't know when we'll get those back, but I couldn't resist taking a few of my own. 

This is the first activity George has done by himself. He's always had to share the spotlight with his sister, but now it's all on him. Score isn't kept in t-ball, everyone gets to run the bases, and both teams "win", but it was still fun to watch all of the little four and five year olds run after the ball. He had a great time! He has another game on Saturday and I'm sure it will be just as fun and entertaining.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What We're Reading {May 2017}

I love seeing what people are reading and I wanted to start sharing what we're reading, and hopefully it will help us get back into a better routine.


It feels like it's been ages since we did a read-aloud. The children love them, especially, Bridget (7). While I am not ready to start back this month, I intend to pick a read-aloud for June.


In February, I thought it's be a great idea to read clean Christian romance books. Honestly, they were more funny than romantic, which I appreciate. I'm not into the sappy romance stuff, but enjoy a romantic comedy. While this was great for February, it actually continued through April. I'd read one, only to realize it was part of a series, and then of course I had to read the next books.

This month, I'm finally at a point that I have added back more of a variety in my reading.

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

A story about a young midwife intent on becoming a surgeon during a time when the profession was exclusive only to men. Takes place during the American Civil War. So far, I am enjoying it. The story is told through the perspectives of Mary Sutter, two other male surgeons, Dorothea Dix, President Lincoln, and various other characters, both historical and fiction. While I enjoy various perspectives, I wish the book would focus more on Mary and her journey to becoming a female surgeon. I'm over 3/4 of the way done and while the story has taken may twists and turns, I have yet to see where the story is headed. 

Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

I started this book in March but couldn't get into it. It's a good story, but didn't mesh well with other books I was reading. I fully intend on picking it back up this month and finishing it. It's a biblical fiction story, taking the character of the woman who stole a touch of Christ's garment in order to be healed.

Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas

I like to have an easy reading "feel good" book that I can turn to when other books get a little intense or long-winded. I chose this one, a book about a woman in the 1950s, returning to West Virginia's Appalachian mountains with her young daughter, hoping for a fresh start.

Silence by Shūsaku Endō

A couple of months ago, a trailer popped up for a movie based on this book. It looked extremely violent and bloody, but I was intrigued by the history of it. While I may never see the movie, I wanted to give the book a chance. This book may be the reason I turn to my "feel good" happy books. It is the story of two Portuguese Jesuit priests in 1600s Japan, a country showing great hostility toward their religion. 

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

I have been working on getting through the other library books so that I can finally start on this series by Philippa Gregory. It is the first of 15 books in the Plantagenet and Tudor series. This is only my favorite period of English history. The series starts with the story of Jacquetta, the Duchess of Bedford, wife of Richard Woodville, and future mother of Elizabeth Woodville who married Edward IV, King of England.


Bridget is looking forward to being baptized later this year, and so has taken it upon herself to read the scriptures. This is a daunting task for a 7 year old who is still learning to read. She was off to a very good start when I could sit down with her and help her with the hard words (which there are many), but lately she has slowed down, as I haven't been able to spend as much time helping her. However, she's still trying and I am proud of her for doing so.

Bridget also falls asleep reading ballerina picture books or the Berenstain Bears (which she will also read to her brothers as a bed time story.)


This is a little misleading, because neither George nor Liam can read yet. Right now, they have to have Berenstain Bear books in their beds at night. They love the pictures and know the stories by heart. Sometimes George will "read" them to Liam. It has been awhile since I have taken them to the children's library to pick up some new fun books. This is on the to-do list.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Homemaker's Journal: Monday, April 24, 2017

Last week was busy and productive. This week, I hope to be just as productive but spend less time going from place to place. I am most happy and relaxed when I'm in the comfort of my home.


Current temperature is 60 degrees and and it will be raining all day. It was in the low 50's when we woke up so I turned the fireplace on for the kids. By the end of the week, the temperatures should be back up to the 80's and 90's.


Chaos. We were gone over the weekend and the house did not get tidied up before or after we came home. While I had loaded the dishwasher last night, I forgot to turn it on, so that is now running this morning. Nothing like starting a new week and already being behind.


We purchased desks and bookcases from IKEA on Saturday and were able to put them together. Now I have everything piled on to a work table to be put it its proper place. My day will consist of organizing everything in the room while making sure my 7-year-old completes her school work. The television is on to keep the boys occupied.


We took our littlest one with us to IKEA while the older two spent the night with my parents. It was fun to have some quality time with this kid. 


"It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all."
—Laura Ingalls Wilder


No meal plan this week as I was unable to make it to the grocery store over the weekend. I should be able to manage a couple of days with what I have in the pantry and the freezer and go to the grocery store mid-week.




T-ball practice has been cancelled this evening due to rain. Later in the week we have another t-ball practice and dance classes. We were able to plant corn on Saturday evening after we got home but still have more vegetables to plant. I will need to wait for a day that it is not raining so that we can finish planting our garden. This week will hopefully be less chaotic than last week, and I hope to be spending most of our days at home.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Baked Mochi {Recipe}

Mochi is a sweet and tasty Japanese dessert made from sweet rice flour. Typically eaten on Japanese New Year, but also made for other holidays. In our home, I like to make mochi for Hinamatsuri, or "Girls Day" and also on Boy's Day (now known as Children's Day). Because mochi is so delicious, it is easy to find other reasons to make it throughout the year. 

Mochi is very easy to prepare, but the instructions need to be followed exactly. I cannot stress enough that Japanese rice flour must be used. Just any rice flour will not work! My favorite is Koda Farms Mochiko. It is also important to monitor your baking times. If left to cook for even a minute or two too long, a crust will form on the bottom of the mochi. I've admittedly have had this happen to me more than once. Every oven is different, and it is very likely your first batch of mochi will not come out to perfection.

Once your mochi is baked and cut into pieces, it is very important to coat it in potato or corn starch. This will prevent the pieces from sticking to one another. Store prepared mochi in an air tight container (assuming there are any leftovers).

Baked Mochi

1 box mochiko (sweet Japanese rice flour)
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
2 c. water
2-3 drops of food coloring
1 c. coconut milk
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Mix dry ingredients, add water and coconut milk until well mixed.
3. Add vanilla and food coloring. Mix.
4. Pour into greased 9 X 13-inch pan.
5. Cover tightly with tin foil and bake for 60 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and remove foil right away.
7. Cut into 3.4 X 2-inch pieces.
8. Roll in potato starch (corn starch also works).

Monday, April 17, 2017

Homemaker's Journal: Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring is in full swing around here. We were able to spend a relaxing Easter with my parents. I feel somewhat refreshed after a two and a half month break from the blog. We moved into a new house at the beginning of February and I've come to terms with the fact that we won't be completely settled for quite a while.


Current temperature is 65 degrees and we may experience thunderstorms later this evening ans through the night. Temperatures this week are warm, with highs in the mid-80s. There may be more thunderstorms on Friday.


The house is more messy than I would like. Easter festivities took over and did not get picked up before bed last night. Today I will need to pack up the Easter decorations and do something with all of the goodies from the Easter Bunny and my parents.


Aside from Easter clean-up, I need to tidy up our homeschool room in anticipation for new desks later in the week. I'll be doing this while I homeschool my second grader.

I'm hoping to plant the rest of our vegetable garden this afternoon. One half of our garden is beautiful soil, the other half is clay. It's back breaking work to build rows for vegetables in clay soil, but I've read that vegetables such as green beans and lettuce thrive in it, and that planting carrots and potatoes will do a great job at breaking it up.

I also need to make a trip to a sports equipment store to buy George his own helmet for t-ball, because head lice is not an option.


Last week, the kids and I began ripping up our front landscaping. I did not like what the builder put in and half of it was already dying (what can you expect when you plant shrubs in January?). We purchased plants that we like on Thursday and got to work. We ran into a small problem when we uncovered a pipe that was hidden under the landscape paper the builder put down. The copper ring was not clamped on it properly and it was leaking. The ground was very moist and as we uncovered it further to get a better look, the volume of water increased. The plumber came over and fixed it right away, at no charge to us. We took Friday off from landscaping to allow the ground to dry, and finished our landscaping project on Saturday. Liam helped to water the flowers, the grass, and the sidewalk. 


"He is not here: for he is risen."
—Matthew 28:6


I've been a slacker on meal planning since it has been just the kids and I. With tax season about to end, I'll be able to get back into things. My goal is to have a plan for May. Until then, we'll play it by ear.

Sunday: Leftovers
Monday: Pasta alla Norma with Ricotta
Tuesday: Macaroni and Cheese, Baked Beans
Wednesday: TBD
Thursday: TBD
Friday: TBD
Saturday: TBD




While Bridget is off for the week from dance due to the public school systems spring break, George is starting t-ball and will be having two practices this week. After Tuesday, my husband will be around again to help with the children. We're also planning a trip to the "big city" to pick up our homeschool furniture.



Monday, January 30, 2017

Tuscan White Bean and Kale Soup {Recipe}

Soup season is in full swing! The weather is chilly and it is the perfect time to break out your favorite soups and stews. This recipe is one of my favorites. The fennel adds a unique but wonderful flavor in this light soup and it a perfect way to use up any extra kale. It also does not take hours to make, like many soups do.

We enjoy this soup with a toasted baguette or French bread, drizzled with olive oil or butter.

Tuscan White Bean and Kale Soup


2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large gold potatoes
2 cans of cannellini beans
1/2 tsp. crushed fennel seeds
1/2 bunch of kale (about 5 large leaves), stemmed and chopped
6 c. water
salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat olive oil in a pot and add onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until they begin to get tender. Then add garlic. 
2. Add potatoes and water to the pot and bring to a boil. 
3. Using a blender, puree 1 can of the canellini beans. Add 1-2 ladles of the soup broth to the blender.
4. Add the other can of beans and the pureed beans to the pot.
5. Add fennel, salt, and pepper, and stir.
6. Add the kale. Cook the soup until the potatoes and kale are tender.
7. Serve with toasted bread.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Week in Review 2017: #3

Not a whole lot got done this week. My husband and I had a meeting with our builder on Tuesday to walk through the house and find any last minute touching-up that needed to be done. We learned that the floor was worse than we had originally thought (air pockets underneath when it was supposed to be completely glued down). Our closing date was scheduled for Friday and I knew that only by some miracle would that still happen. The following day, we learned that the builder was tearing up the entire floor and starting over and that our new closing date had been moved to next Friday. My husband has been going by the house every day and so far, they have torn up the floors and put down some sort of cement thing that is not self-leveler, and looks totally uneven. I really hope they put self-leveler down or I am afraid they will be re-doing the floors for a third time. We are so ready for this building process to be over.

We had a couple of nice days that the children took advantage of and went outside to play. I was also able to get a decent amount of school work done with Bridget, even though we took off on Tuesday and Friday. We spent all day Friday watching the inauguration of President Trump. The children watched bits and pieces of it, then went off to play, then would come back to see if anything cool had happened. 

I hope next week will be a more productive one for us. Hopefully, we will be moving into our new house on Friday, though I won't hold my breath.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New House Update #8 (Last Update!)

This will be my last update before we close on the house. We were supposed to close on the 17th, but there were so many things that needed to be redone to the house (tile in particular) that the closing is now on Friday.

Pictures are from a few different days. I finally took another picture of the exterior of the house. Unfortunately, the garage was still open. I had upgraded the garage door to something I liked. They need to add the accent decor pieces and then it will be finished. All of the shutters have been painted and I chose to leave the front door white, which is apparently very unusual for the neighborhood.

 Cardboard has been removed from over the hardwood floors. Pictures of the foyer, one facing the door and the other facing the opposite direction.

Stair rail has finally been stained. Unfortunately, it does not feel like they sanded it beforehand so they will be doing that and re-staining it. I really don't want to hold a child down to dig a tiny splinter out of their little hand.

View from the far corner of the dining room.

View from stair landing down toward the foyer and dining room.

The top of the stairs. I am very pleased with the color of the stain and the matching bronze light fixtures.

 From the hall and looking into the master bedroom. Double doors open into the master bathroom. Second picture is of the inside of the bathroom facing the closet door. Shower is on the left. They had busted up the tile shower to relay it at a better slope. This was not something we had noticed or requested so I'm guessing that it must not have passed inspection.

This is a picture of the shower before it was redone. It's all the same tile and the same doors and has since been cleaned up.

Soaker tub tile work. Very happy with it.

Back downstairs and in the kitchen. We finally have a stove!!! I went with a 5-burner electric glass-top range.


More of the kitchen. I wanted to have a little desk area. This will probably become our "dumping zone", though I hope to keep it tidy. When the children are older, I may put a computer here that they can use during non-school hours that can be completely out in the open. In other words, Mom is always watching.

The living room from two slightly different angles. We tested out the gas logs and the house didn't blow up. Win.

It has been awhile since I shared a picture of the homeschool room. It's pretty plain but will be one of the most used rooms in the house. I am sure I will have no problem filling it up with desks, bookshelves, posters, and timelines. If there is space, I am hoping to give Liam his own little preschool corner.

As I have already mentioned, we are supposed to be closing on Friday. However, the hardwood floors have a problem. They are supposed to be glued down, and in many places they are, but in many places they are not. In a spot in the living room where I plan to put the piano, the floor moves up and down when you walk on it. The weight of a piano would no doubt crack it. There are spots ALL OVER the house just like it! This is what happens when the builder does not want to pay for self-leveler. I feel really bad for the flooring guy. I don't know if they will need to rip up parts of the floor to fix this or if they'll be able to use a syringe for most of it. My husband purchased 25 cent "bouncy balls" from the grocery store to test the floor. Every time the ball hits a part of the floor that is not glued down, you hear a hollow sound. To give you an idea of how bad it is, this is just one corner of the homeschool room. Every place the ball hit that sounded hollow got a little red sticker. I will be surprised if we end up closing on Friday.

Over the weekend, my husband and I went to the property because we knew there was something wrong with the size of the lot. It seemed very narrow in the back but the builder was unwilling to help correct this. The builder had placed sticks with pink ribbon where the property lines were for all of the lots. Unfortunately, these were not accurate. Under each marker, one should find a metal stake that the surveyor put into place when the parcel of land was subdivided. Where one end of our property was supposed to end (according to the builder), there was no metal stake, but only a wooden marker. With the use of a simple 100 ft. tape measure, it was very easy to find where the metal stake should be according to the county's geographic information system website. Measuring 80 ft. from an adjoining lot, we were able to find our metal stake and also found an extra wood stake laying around in the bushes, which we used to mark the location of the metal stake (and our new property line). The metal stake was buried under about 2-3 inches of dirt, but my husband was able to find it very quickly. See the tiny metal stake next to the wood marker? All this aggravation over that tiny piece of metal.


This next picture shows how much more property we now have. Blue is our original backyard and the red is what is also supposed to be ours. Their guess to where the property line is was off by 16 ft.! Needless to say, the builder will now be coming by with more dirt and grass seed to level out the remaining portion of our back yard. If we're going to be paying tax on x-amount of land, you bet I'm going to claim it!

For good measure, I also told the builder that I want all of their workers' cigarette butts and other debris removed from our lawn before we sign on Friday. I had counted around 15 cigarette butts just walking around the front and right side of the house. Gross.

I am not yet at a point that I can look back on these house updates and laugh at all that has gone wrong, but hopefully anyone who has read it has learned of what to look for if they were to have a house built. And if not, maybe you at least found a little humor in the situation.

Friday, here we come!
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