Friday, August 31, 2012

Back to School Picnic Party

Yes, I am crazy. And yes I did invite everyone we know with kids to a back-to-school picnic that we're hosting the day before we start school.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Ok, really. It is a good idea! I want to make going back to homeschooling just as fun as seeing your friends all in one place in formal school after a long summer break. So thus, a party.
And yes, there will be more than 30 kids there.
Thankfully, I have my wonderful hubby to help me and we have nothing else planned for that day except party prep. And all our school stuff is ready to go for the next morning, so
It's going to be loads of fun!!!
For the party, the hubby is going to have his grill and a borrowed grill all warmed up and ready to go, so everyone is bringing their own meat plus a side or dessert.
I'm making my easy guacamole with inexpensive Aldi avocados and our favorite kind of tortilla chips. I'm also going to try these easy homemade brownies:
They look yummy, I have all the ingredients to make several batches and brownies are a good crowd pleaser. 
I'll also have a big container of lemonade
(like what we had at the youngest's Garden Party)
For decoration we're going to have red tablecloths and I'd love to find some of these tiny baskets when we go out today
to stand pinwheels up in (that we've already made, thank goodness!)
Other than that, my only prep job is cleaning (of course) and setting up some fun yard games.
1. We'll have pillowcases out for races. 
2. My mom made the boy a cornhole set (with bean bags to throw in a hole on a board), so we'll have that to play.
3. We might do some kind of frisbee golf--just a couple of "holes" of it.
4. And yay! We're going to use these "sponge bombs" one more time before fall...
Oh, and we've asked some college friends to come and help out with the yard games AND we bought a lot of school supplies to give away as prizes.
Check back for pics of the party next week. : )
Happy Partying!

This whole week has been about prepping for homeschool:
Thursday: How the plan has changed so far
Today: Back to School Picnic Party

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Home School Plan

Plans change. That is one thing as a planner I have spent a considerable amount of time regretting, learning from and growing into. Plans change.
Probably my easiest lessons on that came in China. The second summer I taught there, we were in a particularly Chinese section of China (if you don't know what that means, just think farther in = a lot less Americanized, etc.) and we learned very quickly that whatever plans we thought were going to happen might never actually happen. For instance one time we were called in for a meeting that turned out to be an overnight trip. We had no idea until about two hours into the bus ride where or for how long we were going!
But I digress. What I'm really here to post is our new and improved schedule. Because plans change.

The old one:
M1: 9am History-Bible/10am Math/11am Science Experiment/Home work for grammar and literature
T1: History-Bible, Math, Spanish, Writing, Grammar, Geography
W1: Bible/Swimming/Art/Choir/Reading/Homework
R1:History-Bible, Math, Spanish, Writing, Grammar, Geography
F1: History-Bible, History Project/Homework
M2: 9am History-Bible/10am Math/11am Science
T2: History-Bible, Math, Spanish, Writing, Grammar, Geography
W2: Bible/Aquarium Science/Art/Choir
R2: History-Bible, Math, Spanish, Writing, Grammar, Geography
F2: Free for group learning, field trips, etc.

The new one:
7:30 Breakfast
8:00 Family devotion
8:20 Oldest out the door for carpool to Horseback Riding Class
8:30 Reading with the boy
9:00 Reading with the youngest (She loves for me to sound out words slowly while she guesses them. It's her most exciting schooling right now!)
9:30-12 Run errands and pick up oldest from Horseback Riding Class
12-12:30 Lunch on the way home
12:30-1 Quick Math lesson
1-1:30 Science Experiment, written work using one of these awesome Science graphic organizers
1:30-2 Read Alouds
2-2:30 Written "homework" i.e. daily sheet, language, reading comp, and daily science worksheets
2:30-4 Rest time/Individual Reading

7:30 Breakfast
8-8:50 Family History Lesson 
8:50 Get hubby out the door to take youngest to pre-school and to go to work
9-12:30 Daily sheet, Math, Grammar, Spanish, Language, Reading, Typing, Daily Science, Journaling
12:30 Lunch
1-1:50 Read aloud
2 Pick up youngest from pre-school
2:30-4 Rest time/Individual Reading

Wednesdays every other week:
7:30 Breakfast
8-8:50 Family History Lesson
8:50 Get hubby out the door to work
9-10:30 daily sheet, language, reading comp, daily science worksheet
10:30 Leave for swimming at the Y
11-12 Swim at Y
12:15-12:30 Lunch
12:30-1:30 Kids play at Y while momma takes a walk
2-3:30 Rest time/Individual Reading
4:45 Choir class at church

Wednesdays every other week:
7:30 Breakfast
8:00-8:50 Family History Lesson
8:50 Get hubby out the door to work
9 Prep and leave for Aquarium Class
9:45-11:45 Aquarium Class and going through Aquarium
12:00 Lunch
12:30-1:30 Kids play at Y while momma takes a walk
2-2:30 daily sheet, language, reading comp, daily science worksheet
2:30-3:30 Rest time/Individual Reading
4:45 Choir class at church


7:30 Breakfast
8-8:50 Family History Lesson 
8:50 Get hubby out the door to take youngest to pre-school and to go to work
9-12:30 Daily sheet, Math, Grammar, Spanish, Language, Reading, Typing, Daily Science, Journaling
12:30 Lunch
1-1:50 Read aloud
2 Pick up youngest from pre-school
2:30-4 Rest time/Individual Reading
4-5 All 3 kids take 20 minute piano lessons at home (!!)

8:30 Breakfast
9-10:30 daily sheet, language, reading comp, daily science worksheet
10:30 Free learning time (Science experiments/Journaling/Writing/Reading/Field Trips, etc.)
12:00 Lunch
Finished for the week!

Today: How the plan has changed so far
Tomorrow: Back to School Picnic Party

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Notebooks

Because life is uncertain and an adoption could happen any day, it seemed good to do a little more prep work than I normally might have for our homeschooling process.
Enter the notebook.
In the notebook, each child finds their worksheets for every day from now until Christmas. (Actually, they wouldn't all fit, so I took out November and December and will swap them out when the time comes. November and December are already in order, though.)
The first section of the notebook is for these days that we are easing into school and for resources, like the map shown below. There are also these honeycomb story maps that the kids are going to fill out for each book they read.
The map will chiefly be used for these daily worksheets, each of which has a state shape to identify, abbreviate and name the capital.

There is a daily sheet for every day from now until Christmas--15 weeks of them (skipping a fall break and a few days for Thanksgiving.) I'm hoping these sheets will warm us up for the day of homeschooling and keep us on task.
In the pockets of the dividers for each month, we have the Saxon meeting book sheet for the month that we can fill in with the dates to use for reading the days date and filling out meeting strips when we do them. (The meeting strips have What was yesterday? and What will tomorrow be? type questions.)
So, the work copied and put in the notebook for each day looks something like this
1. Daily Sheet
2. Writing Worksheet
3. Reading Comprehension Worksheet
4. Science Daily Worksheet
5. Math worksheets (1 lesson on Mondays, 2 on Tuesdays, and 2 on Thursdays)
6. Notebook paper for extra notes and writing
We might also add work as we go along: our coloring/drawing sheets from history, some of these cool graphic organizers for science experiments or Spanish worksheets.
Oh, and the little one will have her own notebook for days when she is schooling with us. She'll have worksheets and coloring sheets for each letter of the alphabet and numbers up to 20 and lots of pre-math type worksheets (matching, finding the different picture, etc.)
Happy Learning!
Check out my whole week about school prep.
Today: School Notebooks
Tomorrow: How the plan has changed so far
Friday: Back to School Picnic Party


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

School Lunches

You might think that since we homeschool, packing lunches is unnecessary. And you might be right, except that when the cook is also the teacher, lunch seems to get later and later in the day as we try to learn just a bit more before we stop to prep lunch.
Pack lunches for home school.
So beginning next week, I'll be joining the ranks of moms around the world packing lunches at breakfast time. When we're ready to eat, we'll just pull out our lunch boxes and dig in.
(As always, my plans are theoretical and highly unlikely to work all the time. Just sayin')
And what should we pack in those boxes? Well in case you hadn't noticed, the world wide web is overflowing with ingenious ideas on this subject as well.
These are all from the talented Lisa Storms.
What I've learned from Lisa:
1. Cuteness factor does matter.
2. Healthy can be fun.
3. Cupcake toppers have duller points than toothpicks and make great skewers for little people.
Oddly enough, these lunches are from another Lisa over at 100 Days of Real Food.
From this Lisa I learned:
1. Apples can be used to make sandwiches instead of bread.
2. Leftovers can make great lunches.
3. Sometimes simple is great! (boiled eggs, why didn't I think of that!)
And now a few from various websites:
From top to bottom:
(we love anything in a tortilla, remember)

And then there are my own home made kids' meals:
first published here and here

There are all kinds of ideas at this website for school lunches as well.
1. Different kinds of noodle dishes can be made the night before.
2. Soups in thermoses make great lunch 
(for us home schoolers, just keeping the soup warm on the stove would work.)
3. There are ALL KINDS of sandwiches to make for school lunches.
One last idea that's pretty much everywhere over our dear old internet is that a school lunch is the perfect place to say "I love you" with a little tiny gift or a note--this would hold true even for us. For this I could make up a stash of different little cards saying "I love you" in many ways:
Happy Lunch-Making!

Check out my whole week about school prep.
Today: School Lunches 
Tomorrow: School Notebooks
Thursday: How the plan has changed so far
Friday: Back to School Picnic Party

Monday, August 27, 2012

Home School Room

So, we're starting in one week. Just one week from today.
Am I ready? you ask. 
Um, no. As a matter of fact.
But ready or not, it's coming!
One thing I am very thankful is set up and ready is a PLACE to learn.
At the beginning of the summer, I was whining about not having a separate room for homeschooling, when I happened to glance over to the other side of our family room and saw this:
Yep, that would be pretty much unused space. The hubby put his work laptop on top of that little table every afternoon when he got home from work, but other than that, this space was lonely and unused. 
It wasn't big, so I set off to find the perfect, smallish table for the space (on the internet of course).
And, lo and behold, ikea had just the thing--a table and four chairs for $150!
It was so easy to put together that even with the help of three children, it only took the hubby an hour to put the table and all four chairs together.
Woo hoo!

And the reveal...

I wanted a rolling cabinet of drawers, and again, ikea answered the call. This metal unit was a cinch to put together and cost $40. It houses scissors, markers, crayons, rulers, etc.
Oh, and that amazing roll of paper? That was free! My mom found it (long story) and passed it along. Some of that paper is gracing the top of our table and for the good of the pine wood top of the table and for the fun of coloring on it, we'll keep fresh paper there during schooling and beyond.
Notice that we have plenty of shelving. Right now there is a lot of fiction on these shelves, but those novels could find other homes as we accumulate more and more school books. And what better atmosphere for learning than surrounded by books?
It's not completely finished. To the left of this pic is a door frame that has a door attached that we never use. The hubby is planning to take that door down to leave a free wall in our schooling area. I'd love to put a huge home made chalkboard on that wall. 
There are tons of windows, too, so we have window chalk and paint for doing homework and lessons right on the windows!
Oh, and another thing I might eventually add would be a rug. This would make the space more cozy for cold schooling days. If this spot is visible as you walk in the front door, I would use a fun, colorful rug. But since that wouldn't really fit with the rest of the view from the front door, I'm stuck a bit on what kind of rug to use.
ikea table and chairs--$150
extra shelves--moved from another room
roll of paper--free
Total--$210 for the school room makeover

This week is all about school prep around our house, so I thought I'd make it all about school prep at the Of Such is the Kingdom abode as well.
Today: School Room
Tomorrow: School Lunches 
Wednesday: School Notebooks
Thursday: How the plan has changed so far
Friday: Back to School Picnic Party

Whether you are taking advantage of neighborhood schools, private schools, tutorials or schooling at home, HAPPY SCHOOLING!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Alligator Point

Introducing Brigadune at Alligator Point, FL

A different kind of beach vacation---one surrounded by loads of wildlife (and very few people):
sea gulls
sting rays
electric rays
horseshoe crabs
hermit crabs
jelly fish (the tiny kind)
bears (yep! even a bear in the woods near the house!)
and more!

And the sunrises, oh the sunrises!
Jumping the high and low dives at a local springs--water temp always 71 degrees
This was at a state park--and there was no zoom needed. This guy came right up to the edge of the water!

Every evening the water receded to reveal sand bars that stretched far out into the bay. We saw most of our wild life out on the bars.
And we also collected many (many!) sand dollars.

We are so thankful for our time at Alligator Point! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vegetable Tian

There's a chill in the air, a hint of what is to come.
I have a strange desire to get jeans out of the attic, to pull out school books and to make stew.
(And I know that most of those schools have begun!)
But wait, not yet! The tomatoes are still coming and the sun is still very warm.
So, we're going to enjoy the best summer has to offer, at least for a few more weeks.
And one of the joys of summer that I discovered this year and will revisit each and every year for many, many years to come is this lovely way to use those fresh summer veggies.
Vegetable Tian
Bacon pieces
Fresh basil
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Thinly chop an onion, a zucchini, a yellow squash and several tomatoes.
(I didn't have very many ripe for this particular pie, but if possible use more than shown here.)
Standing the vegetables up on their sides, pack them into a pre-baked pie shell.
(This is a great time to get the kiddos to help--it's fun to make the vegetables look as much like a swirl or rose petals as possible.)
Sprinkle all the vegetables with chopped fresh basil and bits of bacon.
Cover the whole pie generously with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is slightly browned and the vegetables are cooked but still crisp.
Yes, the directions are vague, but really other than super over-cooking, I don't think this dish can be messed up.
For best serving results, let the tian cool for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.
It is melt-in-your-mouth summer goodness!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Molly's Post

Do you know my friend Molly? If you don't, you should! She blogs over at A Foreign Land and she happens to have a great post from another of your favorite bloggers guest posting over at her site. : )
She instituted this great idea of a "Button Swap" and I've been sporting her great button on the side bar for the whole month. (Go ahead, click on it; I know you want to!) Thanks, Molly for swapping buttons and posts with me!

Here's the post she's sweetly written for Of Such is the Kingdom today...

Whenever I think of Olivia, I always flash back to a conversation we had about opening a dance studio. You see we share (among other things) a passion for dance. Though the conversation couldn’t have lasted more than maybe ten minutes, it burned its way into my heart and has found a permanent spot there.
We stood in an almost empty class room at the YMCA. We were sweaty from having just finished a class and our bodies were pumped full of exercise endorphins. We dreamed out loud together. We imagined where our studio would be. We talked about opening it up to the community and offering all different kinds of dance for a variety of age groups. I silently imagined stretching myself as an entrepreneur and making a living doing what I love. We were fearless in our dreaming. Olivia pushed me and encouraged me and because of her I believed it was possible. We were dreaming with abandon. For me, it was a special moment.

It shouldn’t have surprised me that Olivia and I might have that sort of conversation. She has a history of making my seemingly impossible dreams a reality.

I first met Olivia several years ago when I was working at a Non-Profit Pregnancy Care Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It had been my dream to create a class for the expectant mothers (and fathers) that we served. I wanted the class to provide practical infant care information. I longed for it to not only educate but to create community for these girls; many of whom had very limited support systems. I wanted the class to offer quality information without feeling super academic and stuffy.

But because I wasn’t a mother, I knew I didn’t want to teach the class and it would be very difficult for me to write the curriculum. I wanted it to be taught by real women in the community with real parenting experience.

Enter Olivia.

I knew from the moment I met her she was a force to be reckoned with.  In no time flat Olivia wrote the curriculum. Then she and one of our board members gathered a group of their friends, convinced them to volunteer their time to teach the class, and made it happen.

She took my dream and made it a reality. It was amazing. It was inspirational. It was a total gift. Olivia created a hands-on, hearts-open environment for our clients. They learned together, built relationships and in the process lives were changed.

You see, dreaming together is a powerful thing. But watching a dream come true is even more powerful. It is a true bonding experience. So you can imagine that while Olivia and I don’t get to spend time together now that I’m in Chicago, she will always occupy a special place in my heart.

Sometimes I wonder if I had stayed in Chattanooga would that 10 minute conversation about the dance studio have grown into something more? Because if I’ve learned anything in the short time that I’ve known Olivia, it is that she is a fearless dreamer who turns those dreams into reality.

Do you have a friend that encourages you to dream?

Molly is a social media junkie with a thirst for life long learning and an appetite for cupcakes. Currently she can be found falling madly in love with Chicago and chronicling the whole affair at her blog A Foreign Land. ( She also tweets up a storm under the guise of @mollypg. (

Though she doesn’t have that studio we dreamed of yet,
your little ones do have a chance to cultivate a passion for dance with Miss Olivia.
Learn more on the Miss Olivia’s Ballet ( blog.

I'm blushing. : ) Thanks so much for all your sweetness, Molly, dear! I hope everyone will promptly hop right over to A Foreign Land and check out Chicago. Oh, and if anyone else is interested in guest posting on Of Such is the Kingdom, please let me know. This is fun!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hot Days...Hit the Water

I have posted about our town's water steps before, but I finally remembered to take my camera, and boy, is it a picturesque spot! Everywhere I turned my camera, there was a beautiful shot just waiting.
This trip to the steps was a little different because right as we were arriving so was a huge group of campers. They were older elementary students and a group of them made quite a bit of noise and commotion. Our kids were pulled away from the chaos by the beauty of the big fountains and the boats on the river. Then from there they headed to some grassy steps that make up a walkway beside the river. It was hot, but quiet by the river, and we moms were grateful to follow our kiddos wherever they led us.
They, of course led us back to the water steps eventually. I love our town! 
p.s. Did I mention that all this fun was free? Since we moms packed a lunch (which we ate by more water in front of the aquarium) our whole outing cost us zilcho, nada, nothing. This is a sweet deal, if you ask me! Again, I say, I love our town!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

You Can Drink It

A new pin board.

You Can Drink It was recently begun and it needs your help!
It already has a few beautiful and yummy drinks, but it could do with quite a few more.
Do you have a drink recipe on your site?
I would love to pin it!
Leave the link in a comment and I'll hop right over, visit and pin.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Shout Out

Can I just shout out to all those towns who have taken the time and money to put in splash parks for their citizens and guests?
When a momma is meeting grandparents halfway so that the grandparents can take the kiddos for a few days and give the momma time to prepare for homeschooling, and the momma and kids get to the meeting town a few hours before the grandparents,
what can a momma and kids do?
Well, a momma can use her nifty iPhone to search for "splash pads" and "spray parks" in the area, and unbelievingly, find an awesome one. Then she can get her kiddos some food and take them, their bathing suits and some sunscreen to play outside in 100 degree weather.

So, thank you medium-sized town in Kentucky for having the wisdom, kindness and forethought to install this wonderful spray park!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Famous Footwear for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

The kids shoes have pretty much undone me this summer. If you're a mom, I'm pretty sure I don't even have to explain that statement, but I'll try anyway.

#1 It's really fun to buy cute styles of shoes for your kids--especially the girls. So when we were out shopping in the late spring, I bought a pair a piece for my girls of on-sale, slightly impractical but very cute, shoes.
#2 Kids need comfortable shoes to play in. So when I bought the inexpensive big-box version of the boy sandal for my boy, and he developed blisters, I needed to go and buy another pair of shoes for him immediately.
#3 There are not very many attractive boy shoes out there. So when we went back for another, more comfortable pair, he chose the ugliest pair possible and I let him get them, but I shutter every time he puts them on!
#4 Kids love to play barefoot during the summer. That means that the two other pairs of shoes I bought for my youngest spend a lot of their time lost in the yard or neighbor's yard or woods behind our house.
#5 Kids feet GROW! and quickly. So those slightly impractical but very cute shoes I bought in late spring? Yep, you guessed it, neither pair fits its owner anymore.
#6 Kids shoes are expensive! So even going by the "one pair of Sunday shoes, one pair of sandals and one pair of tennis shoes" can sometimes be completely overwhelming when you have three kids.
#7 Oh, and just for the record, when we were shopping at an outlet store and I found a very handsome pair of very on-sale boy sandals that the boy swore were comfortable, I bought those too. (3 pairs of shoes for a boy during summer...shameful, I know!)

So what's a momma to do when fall comes around and it's time to try the shoe-buying thing AGAIN?!
Well one solution is to find a store with lots of choices, lots of coupons, and a great BOGO 1/2 off deal.
That would be Famous Footwear for us.
I mean with the BOGO + 15% off Famous Footwear Coupon and the extra sales (some shoes are up to 50% off!) surely I can find some victory in this seemingly impossible shoe game for my kiddos!
And there's more! You can sign up for the Famous Rewards Program and save even more (20% instead of 15%) AND if you click over to ther website real quick, you can sign up for their email promotions and receive a $5 off coupon in your inbox. Sweet!
So click on the above coupon, print it off and redeem it in-store between 8/2 and 8/18 and breathe a sigh of relief about the whole shoe thing. At least until next season!
Visit Sponsor's Site