Pizza Muffins

What a great recipe to get the kids involved with!

In Dianes Kitchen

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These Pizza Muffins make a great grab and go snack or a meal! I made these as a meal with the Grandkids but my husband is the one that loved them the most! I made these with pizza dough, a lot of pepperoni, cheese and a little sauce. I left the rest of the sauce to dip the muffins in after they were baked. YUM!

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Ingredients – (I ended up not using the butter)

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Cut the pizza dough in half making two equal pieces.

Unroll each piece.

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Sprinkle the chopped up Pepperoni evenly on both pieces of

dough keeping it away from the edges.

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Sprinkle cheese on top of pepperoni.

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Use a spoon and put a thin line of sauce over the cheese.

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Roll up both pieces of the dough starting at the

short end and going to the other short end.

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Using your hand gently squeeze and make the

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Having It All Together

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As a new homeschool mom, I am constantly bombarded with questions about how the kids are getting a proper education. In the past, I would immediately put my guard up because it felt like an attack on my personal ability to be able to fully educate my children. Then I learned that education can mean different things to different people.

To some, it’s important for children to be in a classroom all day learning with a teacher and dealing with their peers. And I totally get why this is “normal” to them. It’s a safe way to make sure your kids are getting their education and they don’t somehow fall through the cracks of society. Afterall, most parents have demanding work schedules and who has time to even help with homework after a long day? I know that struggle we lived it for years. That’s when we finally decided enough was enough with the rat race.

In my opinion, the benefits of homeschooling are just enormous. The kids are free to pursue what their interests are and have time to develop them. Core subjects can be discussed at length and broken down to suit the needs of each child. The field trips can be designed around which subject we’re studying, which causes the subject to become real. Here is an example of our Sea Turtle field trip. This trip made a lasting impression on the kids and they became more sympathetic to not just the delicate balance of marine life but of animals all over the world.

I used to dislike homeschooling families. I thought they looked down on us parents who put our kids in public school. They seemed to have a perfect little life spending time with their kids and creating memories, while I was stuck in an office all day wishing I could be at home. But once we became a homeschooling family I learned that it’s a not a perfect life. It’s a real struggle every day to provide all three meals, keep on task with school work, making sure the kids help with housework, keep them socialized and on and on. It can be tough but the benefits outweigh the negatives by far.

We have become closer as a family. I have learned so many things about my children that I probably would not have discovered if we held to our old way of life just to have that extra income. I know Audy is really into science and engineering. Bri loves art and wants to make video games. Mavi wants to work with animals. These are things we never talked about before because we were too busy. If you’re thinking of homeschooling don’t let self-doubt creep in. Talk to your kids about it and see where they stand. It took us a full year to decide if we were ready.

There is no such thing as having it all together. We take each day one at a time. Each moment as it comes. Why not the next time you encounter a homeschooling family ask questions of course, but also give the kids some words of encouragement?

Because honestly the best thing any of us can do in our lives is just hold it together.

What about you? Have you had to defend your decision to homeschool?

Being Present Doesn’t Mean You’re There

My children have been asking me to spend more time with them more recently. I thought this was an odd request due to the fact that we are always around each other. Choosing to be a stay at home mom was not an easy choice to make. It meant we would be down one income but on the flip side, it would create more opportunities to guide and educate our kids. Our kids will not be so little forever and will eventually grow up and move on with their lives. Work can wait.

Choosing to be a stay at home mom was not an easy choice to make. It meant we would be down one income but on the flip side, it would create more opportunities to guide and educate our kids. Children are only young once and will eventually grow up and move on with their lives. Work can wait.

I told my husband that the kids mentioned they wanted more time with me. He suggested that perhaps I was not as present as I thought I was. Turns out he was right.

The kids and I held a meeting the next day in order to determine what the real problem was. Their number one complaint, drum roll please, was me spending too much time on my phone. The second was not really listening when we are having a conversation.

OK, what parent is not guilty of one of these or both? Back to being a stay at home mom. If you’re honest with yourself, you can admit that it can get pretty boring and repetitive. My phone is an outlet or

Back to being a stay at home mom. If you’re honest with yourself, you can admit that it can get pretty boring and repetitive. My phone is an outlet or a type of escape from the mundane things around the house. However, I never have it out during school hours. The time we spend learning is very important and the kids and I both respect that boundary.

It is the rest of the day where we all seem to go our separate ways, right through dinner and until bedtime.  I do in fact get my “me” time by carving it out. The early morning hours is my time to focus on myself. This includes workout, meditation and Bible reading. I am by no means a morning person but I found this was the best time to focus on me.

So after our meeting, we decided to put a few things into practice:

  • Absolutely no electronics at meal times.
  • If someone is speaking, put down the phone and be engaged and give a thoughtful answer.
  • Understand that at times we may not be heard and that is OK.

Kids need to know the world does not revolve around them. So, naturally, there will be boundaries in place that are aimed to help them understand that nagging is not tolerated. If I said no once then don’t ask me another million times in an attempt to try and wear me down.

Also, they understand that not every moment of the day can and will be spent with them. They need to use their imagination to play and create moments for themselves.

I am confident that moving forward that I will be able to be more present and not just merely there.

Have you had to overcome a similar challenge? Sound off in the comments!

Back To School

This summer has been filled with fun times and some boring times.

Regardless, the kids and I had a very relaxing time off from our busy homeschool schedule.

School for us starts in August and we’re ready to get back to it…or at least I am ready.

As I have mentioned before I need structure throughout the day and having the summer off has been a little bit of a challenge for me. It’s almost like I am lost without my schedule.  We follow a very loose schedule each day but with our many activities it can be tough to stick to it. Obviously, my kids have no problems being wild and free!

I am starting to see more and more back-to-school sales and am relieved I don’t have to come up with the cash to spend on uniforms, shoes, supplies and backpacks for all three kids. We buy school supplies as needed throughout the year. However, I am not against taking advantage of the sales to bump our supply cache.

Last year, for our first year of homeschool, I bought a ton of supplies because I didn’t know what we would really need. I ended up writing a post about what items we decidedly couldn’t live without that you can check out here.  Decorations is on the list but you really don’t need them, it’s more of a want.

Some supplies for this year include:

  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Erasers
  • Printer Ink
  • Printer Paper
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Magnets ( I make my own magnets that you can purchase. Please and thank you!)
  • Basic Art Supplies such as paint, glue, scissors, markers, paint surface paper

I have to schedule the field trips for the year and that shouldn’t be too hard. There is always something to do around here.

Are you looking forward to school starting? If you homeschool what do you look forward to the most this year?

 

Meal Time…Now What?

When the kids were attending public school it was so easy to put money on their lunch accounts each week and send them off! Now, that the kids are home and I am no longer working, I have had to come up with easy yet filling meal options. All the while keeping in mind general dislikes and likes of the family. It was not easy at first to come up with lunch and breakfast ideas but with tips I got from other moms and things I remembered from my childhood I was able to make it work.

We like to keep breakfast and lunch very simple. I scoured the web for easy lunch ideas but everything involved cooking or meals with too many ingredients. I came up with this standard menu but we try to switch it up.

Here are some things we do for breakfast and lunch:

Breakfast:

  • Monday – Breakfast Tacos
  • Tuesday – Oatmeal (whatever toppings or mix-ins)
  • Wednesday – Eggs, Black Beans and Fried Plantains
  • Thursday – Bagel with Cream Cheese and Yogurt
  • Friday – Eggs and Bacon with Toast

Lunch:

  • Monday – Quesadillas, Avocado and Chips and Salsa
  • Tuesday – Ham Sandwich with Chips and Fruit
  • Wednesday – Humus with Pita Chips, Turkey and Cheese
  • Thursday – Pinto Bean Burritos (there are some seriously good recipes out there)
  • Friday – Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup

Snacks

  • Smoothies
  • Apples, Oranges, Grapes, Mangoes, Kiwis, Berries
  • Walnuts, Almonds and Sunflower Seeds
  • Crackers, Pretzels, Pita Chips

 

We have been so much happier cooking our food at home. We can control the ingredients and customize them to our tastes. Meal times are so much more enjoyable because they present opportunities for us to talk about the day.

So there you have it! Quick, easy and simple!

What are some breakfast and lunch ideas that you would like to share?  Share in the comments!

 

School’s Out For Summer But Not Foreva

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That’s right! School is out! We get to be lazy and lounge around the house. Who doesn’t like that?!

When we started the school year, as a family we agreed that our homeschool structure would be year round. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

In May of this year when we were gearing up for the next round the kids told me they wanted to have the summer off.

We sat down and discussed why they felt having the summer off would be a good idea. I was hesitant to accept this route but decided to listen to their thoughts.

All three kids said they worked so hard during the year they wanted time off to spend with their cousins and friends. They just wanted to relax and celebrate their hard work and the end of our first year of homeschool. It was that simple!

How could I say no to that? The kids expressed their opinion and wanted to modify our previous plan. After all, isn’t this what homeschool is about? Having the freedom to change your schedule and meet your child’s needs? Why are we doing this if we aren’t listening to each other?

So, I expressed my concern to the kids about them possibly being bored and they brought up the point that when they were in public school they had the summer off and things were just fine.

Point taken so we changed to a “traditional” school year and the kids are really happy. We have more freedom to play around or be lazy. Having the summer off will also help with not feeling burned out.

That doesn’t mean the kids don’t have any work to do. They still need to read 15 mins a day and do XtraMath two times a week to keep their skills sharp.

We are a little over half a month into our vacation from school. Not having a scheuled day was really killing me and I decided to do something about it.

Each morning during the school year I write our schedule on the dry erase board. It isn’t rigid but mainly a guideline to make sure our work gets done. This guideline has a two-fold purpose. One is to help the kids to be independent in reading the schedule and get the task down without me asking.The second reason is so the day makes “sense” in my head.

The first couple of weeks we didn’t have this schedule was driving me crazy. This week I made a loose schedule and it has worked so well!

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The “Did you know” fact is changed out twice a week.  This is an example of our summer day.  It changes from day-to-day depending on what activities we have planned.

Initially, I thought having the summer off would be a bad idea but as it turns out I love it and so do the kids.

If you homeschool or send your kids to public school what activities do you have for them to keep busy? Share in the comments! 

Done! On To The Next One!

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We began our first year of homeschool in August of 2016.

It has been an incredible ride! There have been many ups, downs, good days and bad days.

I always wanted to homeschool. However, many people were telling me that our children would be better off in public school in order for them to make friends and to learn how to stand up for themselves. My husband and I tossed the idea around for a couple of years before our oldest was school aged.

Here is a little bit of background on us.

Public school seemed like a good idea the more we weighed the two options. Off to public school Bri went. She had a very difficult time adjusting but we made sure to be there every step of the way. Then came the bullying problem. I am a parent who knows the difference between harmless teasing and outright bullying. What Bri was experiencing was not normal and after some time we decided to take action because it did not look like the situation would resolve on its own, even after supplying Bri with the tools to try to defuse the situation. It finally died down once we stepped in and the other child’s parents were informed but it left lasting scars on Bri.

Our twins Mav and Audy had a much better time in school but it was not without challenges. Audy had a difficulty in class because of how quick her mind is and students would call her names. Mav just could not keep up with classes because he tended to day- dream. He wanted his teachers to slow down and teach him one-on-one. With classrooms as full as they are today we knew it was not possible for him to have that.

Standardized testing was another issue. Mav in particular would vomit and get really nervous when it was time for the state issued test. He would cry because he did not want to let himself or his teacher down if he received a poor score.

So, taking all of this into consideration we sat down with the kids and asked them what they really wanted. We were surprised at what they said.

They all agreed that school was not meeting their needs. Audy wanted to be challenged. Mav wanted one-on-one time and Bri wanted more art and creative time. My husband and I weighed the pros and cons of homeschooling and it took over a year to make the decision.

Decision time.

Over the summer of 2016 we sat the kids down and told them we would remove them from public school. They were excited but worried about leaving friends behind.

We made the jump and never looked back. I feel proud of the progress the kids made. Bri gets her art time, Audy gets her challenging subjects and Mav gets one-on-one time.

Are you thinking of homeschooling?

Here is a list of things we learned during our first year of homeschool:

  • Getting along is tough…in the beginning. Once homeschool started we were always with each other and the kids began to test my patience. I  had to overcome their whining, stubbornness, laziness and disrespect. It took a good three months for the kids to understand how our schedule would work, who was the teacher and what was expected of them.  Nine months later I have hardly experienced any instances of the kids acting out. They know the plan and they acted in harmony with it.
  • To schedule or not to schedule. Not every family who homeschools is on a schedule and that is O.K. In order for me not to lose my mind and for the kids to know what was expected of them I had to create a loose outline of each day. We also are very social and have lots of family and friends who we hang out with so sometimes our schedule gets thrown off. I have to plan everything so I don’t mix things up.
  • Curriculum decisions. Depending on your state’s requirements you will pick your curriculum or choose to unschool. (Unschooling is an educational method that supports learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning.) Whatever you pick do not worry! Your child will learn no matter what. Billboards on the side of the road are even opportunity to read. Grocery shopping trips can teach about budgeting or calculating pounds on produce. Don’t get so hung up on curriculum that the real world slips by.
  • What about friends?  This is important to lots of kids. Getting the kids out of the house and interacting with other kids is a must. We go to parks, museums, the beach and many other places where the kids interact with others. It is important for the kids to have some contact with other kids to play and sit and talk. We found that the park is the best place for this but it may be different for other families.  Our children have life long friends from our congregation which most certainly contributes to their happiness.
  • Supplies oh my. When the year started I bought every supply I could think of. By the end of our school year we used the pencils and sharpener more than anything. We have art supplies and books but we mostly do school work on the computer. I learned that you don’t need very many supplies to homeschool.
  • Self doubt. Yes, it crept up on me several times. I think the biggest challenge to anyone considering homeschool is overcoming self-doubt. I almost wanted to quit but I reasoned within myself that these are my kids and I am the best person to teach them. It is my right and privilege as a parent to educate my children. I stuck with it and made changes to our schedule and curriculum as needed in order to keep us happy and on track.

I am not vilifying public school at all. It is a great option for working full time parents and care givers. There are kids who love public school and that is wonderful!

However, if you’re thinking of homeschooling but doubt yourself, why not sit down and think about your strengths and weaknesses.  You don’t have to be creative or have a lot of money. But you do need to love your child and have confidence in yourself. Those two things will carry you through your homeschool journey.

Check out my other blog posts about our field trips and class projects!