Thursday, June 30, 2016

Homeschooling: Can I Adequately Prepare them for College?

As the school year ends for so many there are always many questions when it comes to homeschooling.  Can I really do this?  Can I prepare them for college?  And doubts and confusion are very strong.  Mama...  if you homeschool your child/children..  don't doubt yourself or your conviction.  I wrote this a couple years ago..  You can do this..  think outside the box..  and relax.. it will be ok..  

I received a comment on a previous article I'd written: “My Homeschooling Advice to my Daughter”. I was going to reply to her in the comment section but my reply got so long that I decided to share my thoughts on a blog post. ~smile~ Here was the comment/question:

“This was my approach to homeschooling too. My girls are now 9 and 6, and I'm worried about how to homeschool for the next 10 years. I don't know if I have it in me to homeschool for the next 10 years, and I don't know if I would do a good enough job preparing them for college. A future veterinarian and doctor.... as a mother who has "been there, done that" I hope you'll share your insight.”

When I began homeschooling my kids I honestly never worried about the next year or the next and certainly not 10 years. You see I felt that God had led us to homeschool our children. It became and still is a matter of conviction. I determined in my mind that there was no obstacle that was greater than my conviction. I believed that what God had brought me to, he would see me through. Homeschooling for me has been a lifestyle of learning.

And after 26 years of homeschooling, with 7 children graduated, God has seen us through each and every step of the way.

Here is the rundown of my children and where they are today: I have one son who is currently working to get his degree in software engineering (he also has his aircraft mechanics licenses and spent 5 years in the Army), one daughter in the Army, one daughter who is a homemaker and raising her 3 beautiful babies, one daughter is working as an Accountant (earned her degree in 2 ½ years), she was just given senior account status at her firm, and she also spent one year in Denmark working as au pair because she wanted to travel and see the world before she settled down, one daughter who has an English degree (earned in 2 ¾ years) and worked as an English teacher in S. Korea for one year and has since come home and been working as an ESL teacher and pursuing her desire to teach special ed students (something that has been on her heart for many years), a son who is working on his college degree in computer information & technology and currently has his A+ certificate (IT certificate) and will help anyone in a heartbeat solve their computer issues, a daughter who is currently in school to be a dental assistant and finally a son who is still being homeschooled.

Did I prepare them for these pursuits? Can I take credit for the direction their academic life has gone? In one way, yes, in another more important way... no. I can't take credit for where they have gone in their lives or what they have endeavored to do.

You see... I took it one year at a time, I taught them the basics. I taught them to read, write, mathematics (at least the younger grades, hubby handles the upper levels of math), I read classic books to them all the time.. we read all summer long, we read through the fall and winter evenings (we did not have TV reception and that is how we spent our evenings), I taught them to look and explore the world around them. I taught them to have a love for learning.. and here is the most important part.. I gave them the time and opportunity to pursue the things in life they had a passion for. I taught them HOW to learn, how to educate themselves on topics of interest, and this showed them they could learn anything they desired. I remember my oldest son as a teenager checking books out of the library on chemistry, because he was so fascinated with it.

When my children reached their young teen years or even before this and showed an interest in something, I sought opportunities for them to be able to enjoy what it was they were interested in. I let them have time enjoying the wonders of whatever topic they were curious about. I kept most outside busyness out of our lives and gave lots of opportunity for them to learn and love learning.

I encouraged my children to work and seek ways to help others and make money. They had their own businesses, they worked for neighbors, they volunteered their time. I taught them that life was not about what you don't have, but making the most of whatever it is you have. And each of them have gone on to prove this. I could never have adequately prepared (in today's sense of the meaning) a software engineer, an accountant, a teacher, an IT man, a dental assistant, and so on... this has to come from within the child. This has to be their will and their hearts desire, not mine. What I saw was that when my children decided on their path, they were more than adequately prepared to do whatever it took to achieve their goal.

I like to look at the job of a homeschooling parent as one who teaches a child how to learn. If I did not have what it took for a child to pursue something, I found someone who did. Piano teachers, computer volunteer time (my computer fascinated boys volunteered their time at a store in the city that refurbishes old computers), photography lessons, and so on.. and sometimes they found opportunities for themselves.

There are so many options out there today to learn, it is never just relegated to what a formal school could teach. There are classes, homeschool co-ops, dual enrollment in colleges, online courses, (My 2 daughters with degrees earned them without ever stepping into a college classroom), and there are tons of helpful websites and books that can walk a parent through every step of homeschooling in high school. Any mom that desires to, can lead and provide opportunities to allow their children to reach whatever goal they desire!!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Menu Monday!!

Well we are still waiting on Hannah to have her baby. She has a history of being late (as I did) and so I'm going to try and keep the food planning simple as I don't know when I will need to drop everything and go and help welcome my newest grandbaby into the world.

Tonight we are having Texas Beans. I'll use my crockpot recipe (HERE) and adapt it to use in my Instant Pot. Basically I will do the recipe as written and cook it on manual for 25 minutes.

The rest of the week is looking like this:

I have one in the freezer so that makes it super easy. French bread and salad from a bag will be a quick meal.

Summer Pasta
This is a quick and easy meal to make. Basically you boil chicken (breasts or thighs), veggies of choice, spices and pasta all at once. Drain and serve. I'll serve some watermelon to go along with it.

Chicken Tacos
Cook chicken breasts any way you want. I'll do mine in the Instant Pot. Shred the chicken and add some salsa. Serve in taco shells with all the trimmings. Fresh summer fruit will be served on the side.

That should do it for the week.. and if the week is crazy busy and I need to add something else I think it will be take out pizza.. ha, ha.. hopefully I will have exciting grandbaby news to share this week! :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My Dad

I'm a little late with this Father's Day Post but wanted to share this again.   This is a repost from a couple years ago about my father.  I miss him very much and think of him often especially this time of year....  

This last weekend was Father’s Day. I reflected on what an awesome husband I have. He has been an amazing father to our children, and I am certainly blessed. I am thankful that my children have grown up with a good, hardworking, loving and caring father. I had this as well in my childhood.

Father’s Day also made me reflect on my own father. He was a wonderful father. He was always there for me no matter what happened. He believed in me. He always told me I could do whatever I set my mind to do. He encouraged my life’s endeavors and supported the decisions I made. He was an independent thinker, always thought outside the box and passed this trait on to me. I learned from him that being my own person, having my own thoughts and ideas (even if they go against “mainstream”) is ok. I see this trait in me in many ways.. I homeschooled when no one else I knew was doing this, back in the day when people would find out I homeschooled and ask, “Is that legal?”. I and my hubby had our own conviction, and felt it was what God wanted from us. I home birthed when no one else around me was doing this; and so very many other things such as this.

My father had a love for the great outdoors. He loved to hike. Even into his 60’s (and up until he died at age 72) he would set out into the forest with a backpack and camp and hike for a week or two at a time. I have many memories of dropping him off at his favorite hiking spots and picking him back up when he was done. Sometimes he went with friends or family. His grandchildren enjoyed hiking with him. Sometimes he went alone because he craved the peace & quiet that only time in the mountains would provide him. He was my real life example of a modern day “mountain man”.

He loved to garden and this is where and how I learned to garden and love it as much as he did. One of his joys was coming to my house and helping me weed and rototill my garden. He also loved to can and had no problem helping me during canning season.

He loved his grandchildren and would often come to my house just to be able to spend time with my children. Take them for walks, help them with their chores and spend time talking with them. My older children (and nieces) have loving memories of time spent with him. He loved to read and would always spend time with his grandchildren reading to them.

He was a good friend to many. He was always there for his many friends being the first to lend a hand and help them. He could fix and repair anything. He often befriended older people and would help them with simple things like grocery shopping or mowing their yard. Not only did he give of his time to many people, he had very little financially but what he had he would give without hesitation if he found someone in need. He had a huge heart.

My father at age 72 set out for one of his hikes late one summer. When he did not return when he should have we contacted the Ranger Station near where he had gone hiking. They knew who he was from his many trips into the forest. A friend of my dad’s knew one special place he liked to go. They got a search team and followed his friend into the forest. They found my dad, sitting in a camp chair with a book in his hand. He had passed away quietly, without stress and right where he loved to be. I know for a fact that this is exactly how my dad would have wanted to go if he had been able to make the choice.

I miss him so much. So many times I just want to sit and have coffee with him (he & I shared a love of a good cup of strong coffee :), or even have a phone conversation with him. Today I cherish each and every memory of him.

My Dad… all packed up and ready to head out on one of his hiking adventures:

Monday, June 20, 2016

Menu Monday!!


Hope everyone had a nice Father's Day and it was a relaxing day for dad. :) My hubby had to work, as usual on the weekends but he did enjoy a little relaxation and attention from the family over the weekend.

I've been desperately waiting for summer to start. It has been a lot of days of wet and cool temps. After hubby and I got back from our little trip I had planned to get the rest of my garden in. However it has rained so much that garden planting has not happened. Today, finally, the sun will be out and the weather much better and I hope to be out in the garden!!

I have quick and easy pork chops planned for tonight. Twenty minutes in the Instant Pot makes pork chops that are falling apart tender. I'll serve rice and a salad to go along with the meal. That should make it a hassle free dinner after I finish my garden work.

This is my plan for the rest of the week...

Roasted Chicken
I want to make another batch of bone broth this week and figured the best way to get my chicken bones is to make roasted chicken for dinner. I'll “roast” the chicken in my IP. I'm planning potato salad (IP), and watermelon to go along with the meal.

Chicken Pot Pie
Using leftover chicken and some of the chicken broth from the chicken bones I'll make a pan of chicken pot pie. I'll serve a nice salad or coleslaw on the side.

Sub Sandwiches & Soup
I have a couple jars of my homemade tomato soup base still on the shelf. I'll make a pot of tomato soup and sub sandwiches. Some kind of summery fruit like watermelon, cantaloupe or strawberries (or maybe all 3 for a fruit salad!) will round out a yummy and colorful meal!

That should do it for the week! How's your menu planning coming along?


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Instant Pot Potato Salad

Just when I thought I'd read all the Instant Pot {affiliate link} can do (if you are not familiar with the Instant Pot you can find my original post HERE), I find something new. I had no idea I could make potato salad so easy and quick. The old days of boiling a pot of potatoes and eggs is officially over. How great to not heat up the kitchen as well. Potato salad for us is a summer food but I don't like how boiling potatoes can warm up the house so much in the middle of summer.

Basically you peel your potatoes and put them in the IP on top of the trivet that comes with the IP or a steamer basket. Set the eggs on top. Cook them for 4 minutes (plus the time to come up to pressure and back down, which is not long). Then after the potatoes have cooled down it's time to add the dressing and you are done. Super easy!!

You can use any type of potato salad dressing. If you have a favorite dressing you can just use that recipe. Below I've shared the recipe that I have used for many years.

Instant Pot Potato Salad

3 ½ to 4#'s potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks
4 eggs
1 ½ cups water
¼ to ½ cup chopped pickles: these can be either sweet pickles or dill***
¼ to ½ cup chopped sweet onion

1 ½ cups mayonnaise
¼ cup pickle juice (from your jar of pickles)
1t salt
½ t seasoning salt
1t granulated garlic
1T yellow mustard
½ t pepper

Insert the trivet (that comes with the Instant Pot) or a steamer basket into the Instant Pot (IP). Add water. Place potatoes on the trivet (or steamer basket). Make sure the potatoes are not in the water but above it. Set the eggs on top.

Put the lid on the IP and set it to “Sealing. Press the “Manual” button and set timer for 4 minutes. When the IP beeps turn the IP off. Do a “Quick Release” of the pressure. Remove lid and put the eggs in cold water and peel. Put the potatoes in the fridge to cool down.

While the potatoes and eggs are cooking make the dressing. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

When the potatoes have cooled down, chop the eggs and add them to the potatoes, add the pickles and onions. Mix the dressing in and let it sit in the fridge for a while to combine flavors.

***If you use dill pickles and you prefer a sweeter potato salad you can add sugar according to your own taste preferences to the dressing. If you use sweet pickles the dressing will have a slight sweetness.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Menu Monday!

This week life will get back into a little more routine for us. Hubby and I went out of town for a few days and it was great, but always nice to be home.

I made last week's chili on Sunday and we have leftovers for tonight. Which is great because I plan to get out in the garden and do some work today. After being gone for a few day the weeds have taken over. So dinner already done is perfect.

The rest of the week is looking like this...

Mississippi Pot Roast
This is a delish Instant Pot beef roast recipe. The IP makes this a pretty quick and easy meal. I'll serve some veggies and potatoes on the side.

Sweet Pork Tacos
Another Instant Pot recipe that I made once before and am looking forward to trying again. I'll serve this with corn tortillas, pico de gallo, lettuce, cheese and sour cream.

Chicken Vegetable Soup
Simple & easy to make. Chicken vegetable soup and toasted garlic bread will make a good match for dinner.

That should do it for the week!

Happy Menu Planning!!!


Friday, June 10, 2016

Hands that Labor & Love

My hubby has been working very hard this spring on our homestead. He also works a full time job and commutes 45 minutes each way to work. His weeks are often very long.

Last winter we had a huge tree fall during a storm. This spring he began to clean up the tree. The tree was so big it will provide all our firewood for this year and much of what we will need for next year. It has been a big project. He has just kept working at it day by day. Sawing the limbs off one by one, bringing the wood up closer to the house and then cutting it up and splitting it by hand.

The other day he said to me that his hands were aching a bit and could I rub them. I of course did. And as I rubbed his hands I just started noticing them even more so. They feel rough and have cuts and callouses from the work he has been doing. I spent time thinking about those hands.

These are the hands that work a job to provide for us. The hands that work our homestead to keep it looking nice, to make improvements, to gather in the firewood each year. The hands that have remodeled parts of our home, built chicken coops and repaired an old barn. The hands that fix the cars when needed, the hands that have fixed broken toys and bicycles for children, fixed broken equipment, lawn mowers, string trimmers, even microwaves, ovens, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers and the list could go on.

Those strong hands are also the hands that have held our newborn babies, wiped tears and hugged crying children, cleaned up messes that little ones made, changed a lot of diapers over the years and taught children how to drive a stick shift and change a tire on their car before letting them get a drivers license. Hands that today hold is grandchildren's hands as they come here to visit and see Grandpa.

They are also the hands that have held me when I cried, wiped my tears, held my hand while we walk, given me amazing back rubs, hands that wrap me in his arms and whisper “I love you”. Hands that have cared for me when I was sick, hands that have loved me and our family in many ways through many years.

Hands that show to me all the labor and all the love that comes from his heart. Much of life can be seen through our hands.