This is an issue very near and dear to this homeschooler’s heart. Hopefully every state will allow it before TBM reach adulthood. I have my fingers crossed and my eyes on the candidates who can make it happen!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Professor Chaos celebrated another birthday this week. Oh how time flies. Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

I seem to always have something in the works. From our school planning to family vacations there is always a plan being hatched. The current plan I’m mulling over in my mind is our garden. This is the space we have for it:

I know…that’s a lot of space *somewhere around 1300sqft*. Since its grass-less I’ll be relying heavily on container gardening, as well as decorative plants in the flowerbeds on the first floor of our property. While these pre-existing beds *which I will showcase later* would be great places for herbs; the previous owners had a dog which defecated in most of these flowerbeds *eww...doesn’t begin to describe it*. I refuse to plant anything that we would use for food in an area where someone’s animal eliminated. Once I have tackled the fecal issue in these beds *through layered burying of the substance in question using mulch and dirt*, I’ll tackle the issue of planting while keeping The Spouse’s bee allergy in mind.

To help with the planning of the actual garden I’m using Mother Earth News’ Garden Planner. It’s free for the first 30 days and then after that it’s 25$ a year *not a bad deal if you manage to produce most, if not, all the fruits and vegetables your family needs in one year!*. It appears fairly easy to use; I’m just getting started so as I move through the planning/planting process I will share more on it.

It gives you the option to set frost dates for your region *not an issue where we currently live*, and then you plug in the measurements for you planting area, at which point it produces a space for you to work with. From there you add in the various shapes of the beds/plots/containers you plan to use, as well as walkways, fountains/ponds (using their drawing/shape features), and just about anything else you could think of needing in your garden. After you have all that squared away you add in what you plan to plant. It gives you the option of crop rotating and planning ahead for the following year. You can also receive emails about frost dates and planting days.

This planner pretty much makes planting a breeze for a busy family like ours. I just plug in and go. If only it did all the planting and maintaining for me!

How is your garden planning going?

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Menu planning was a foreign concept to me until about five years ago, when I actually sat down and thought out what we would have for dinner over the course of a given month. I didn’t venture into any real details, and usually got off track towards the middle of the month. Then things got extremely hectic in our home and menu planning or any sort of planning, outside of the commitments that The Spouse and I had, didn’t exist. Once we boarded the plane for here though, The Spouse and I became determined that our lives would claim down as much as the military would allow them to.

So I set out scheduling, planning, and looking into various ways to tackle our family life. For a family of just four people we stay rather busy, between karate, piano, time with friends, schooling, my own personal endeavors, and The Spouse’s obvious work commitment, we manage to fill a month up before it even hits. Once I managed to work out a sleep schedule that at least TBM could adhere to, I had to work out something to ensure we were eating home cooked meals and not a metric ton of take-out food.

So I tried a few different things, like pre-planned weekly menus from various online sources or magazines. Those didn’t pan out since they didn’t always have things we liked or items we couldn’t get our hands on. When that tanked I looked into 30 Meals in One Day, that was done for only one month…and not because it was a bad idea, we just don’t have the freezer space for such an endeavor. We not only have to plan out 30 dinners, but 30 breakfast meals, and 30 lunch meals, plus snacks. If we owned a large freezer I could see doing this full-time. Spending just one or two days knocking out a months’ worth of meals sounds like a dream come true, and maybe I will jump back into it when we purchase a large freezer one day…but for now it just won’t work. So where did leave me? Back to square one of course. But I had learnt a valuable lesson, planning out ahead saves time, money, and energy.

Now tackling the planning ahead, that created a challenge, how would I ensure we wouldn’t get into the rut of eating the same thing over and over again? Home cooked meals are wonderful, but not if you are eating the same thing constantly. I figured if I designated each day to have a certain kind of food cooked, it would eliminate the mundane. I started with dinner, then expanded to breakfast and lunch after reading The 5$ Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook. After figuring out what will get cooked on which day I then sat down to actually plotted out what I would cook on those days. After a couple of weeks I had eight weeks of menus featuring breakfast, lunch, dinner, two snacks, and plenty of variety!

After writing out the menus using a template from the Donna Young’s printable site, I laminated them, punched a hole in the top corners, tied on some string, and I was done! Eight weeks’ worth of planned out meals, I almost can’t believe it!

The best part of all of this is the ease in which I make my grocery list. Instead of debating on what to make and then hunting everything down, or just going off of what is in my head while I’m shopping, I actually have a full week already planned out. I just go to the recipes, jot down the ingredients I don’t have and then buy ONLY those things I need. Yes, I still splurge here and there for treats, but pretty much everything that ends up in the cart was deliberately planned out. Saving our family money and saving mommy time!

Also due to the change in planning out our meals I changed when I acquire our groceries as well. Since I have every week already planned out I figured I could just pick one day a week to go shopping and then go. So I’m using Monday *which is generally our “light”/run around day* to tackle the grocery shopping. I only buy a week’s worth at a time, saving space in the fridge for leftovers, and allowing me to have one day a week when I KNOW I will be grocery shopping *and can plan everything else accordingly*.

So how does our menu planning breakdown?

B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner, I also plan two snacks a day out usually fruit, smoothies, or some other nice healthy munchies they don’t have certain themes to them though like the other meals do.

Sunday: B/L- Brunch Extravaganza *this is a big deal in our home on Sundays we usually stay in our PJs and everyone pitches in doing something*, D- Crockpot Night

Monday: B-Cold Cereal Morning, L- Meat-Free Meal, D- Meat-Free Night *As you can tell we are meat-free on Mondays, now the meals also include other things like fruit to go with their cereal, I’m just going to hit the core food item/theme to give you all an idea of what I have in place*

Tuesday: B-Muffins/Biscuits Morning, L- Sandwich/Quesadillas Meal, D- Italian Night

Wednesday: B-French Toast/Toast Morning, L- Chicken/Beef/Turkey Meal, D- Seafood Night

Thursday: B-Pancakes/Waffles Morning, L- Noodles/Pizza Meal, D- Curry Night

Friday: B- Hot Cereal/Egg Morning, L- Salad Meal, D- Chinese/Mexican Night

Saturday: B- Cold Cereal Morning, L- Dine Out, D- Grill Night

These are the core things I meet on the various days, adding in sides and other items to round out our meals. Various days also alternate the type of core item served to help ensure variety throughout the month. At the end of the day well-balanced meals have been served and I can start on meals for tomorrow that heat up nicely, saving me even more time and allowing for an extra five minutes in the shower! WooHoo!

So how do you tackle meals in your home?

Copyright(c) 2011 Rayven Holmes

Oh history. It can be a thrilling subject; I’ve spent hours engulfed in the History Channel. I adore that channel, it happens to be one of the few reasons I would ever consider getting cable or satellite again. While watching the History Channel is great, teaching history, on the other hand, can turn an interesting subject into a total nightmare. When you take away the trained narrator with his/her amazing voice inflection, leave the re-enactments on the cutting room floor, turn off the well-rehearsed musical piece, you are left with just the bare bone facts. And facts…well they can be rather boring, especially to children.

Now in an ideal world I would be able to turn on the History Channel, or acquire one of their many DVDs, and just allow TBM to sit and soak up all the history knowledge they could ever possibly need. We don’t live in an ideal world though…we live in reality, and in reality TBM find the History Channel to be just as dull and boring as ever history class I was ever forced to sit through. Those were actually genuinely boring, a lot of note taking, monotone documentaries, and tons of dates to remember. Did I learn anything in those classes, no not really, I spent my time lost in daydreams or reading the stuff I wanted to learn about. I didn’t appreciate history until I became a regular History Channel watcher, years of knowledge missed because of the way the subject was presented in school. I don’t want TBM to miss out on the experience that is historical learning, because I failed to present it in an enjoyable way.

So I’ve mulled over various ways to go about it without feeling like I’m sacrificing certain ideals we hold dear*i.e. purchasing curriculum materials that go against the core values in our home*. After a good six months of book buying, internet searching, review reading, and scheduling I think I have found what will work for us.

Truth Quest History! ...JUST KIDDING!! I promise that was a joke! Ok so what I have I really found? Well, a combination of various materials with lots of hands on stuff thrown in, hopefully this will produce enough information for a solid foundation on this year’s history topic while allowing things to be fun as well.

This upcoming school year we are tackling the Middle Ages! If only we lived near a Medieval Times! There is a lot that can be learnt during this time period, but I honestly don’t see the point in cramming a bunch of facts into small children’s heads. They need to experience the material first, so when the time comes to learn the facts and figures they are actually eager to do it. That’s the way I see it anyways.

Using History Odyssey as my guide I went through and plucked the items I felt would produce a well-rounded understanding of the Middle Ages for elementary level students. Considering how we will be revisiting this time period again due to us using the Classical approach in relation to history, I see no need to sweat the small stuff right now. I did make one major tweak to our studies; I will be weaving the study of various religions in with history this year unlike last year.

Christianity and Islam both play major roles in the shaping of our world during the Middle Ages, I feel I would be doing a disservice to TBM’s education if I continue to ignore the religious element of human history. I of course planned to hit it head on later down the line, but I’m starting to see that the present is as good a time as any to start the enormous task. I’ll break down what I intend to cover and then touch on how I’m planning to work in the religious element.

For the 2011-2012 School Year we will be covering:

The Roman Empire

“The Dark Ages”

England & France


The Crusades

The Black Death

Queen Elizabeth

William Shakespeare *we will be reading some of his various works for our language arts studies*

China & Japan


The Middle East

The Americas

These will be broken down over the course of our year *we school year round with our year broken down into seasonal quarters (summer, fall, winter, and spring…we start our school year during the summer)*. We will still do our hands on “day in the life” geared learning this year, with us having actual outfits (that I intend to sew before the 4th of July) to go along with our learning. Being the Middle Ages there are tons of fun things to do from castle building to epic swordfight battles. The possibilities are endless and I’m really looking forward to our hands on work this upcoming school year.

Now comes the “fun” part, bringing in the religious study. It won’t be too in-depth, more of a taste of what people believe and a building of the groundwork that will help them understand the impact these beliefs had on the world.

I’m going to start first with a study of Judaism, followed by Christianity, then Islam, and lastly a brief overview of the religious beliefs of various American civilizations (Mayan, Inca, Native Americans, etc.), Buddhism, and Shinto. These studies will correspond with the main history topics being taught. I’ve figured out which religions to teach and when to teach them, the materials for teaching though still elude me.

As much as it pains me to do it I think I may purchase children’s study books for the major monotheistic religions, this will give me something to use as a core spine for those three. I will just have to deal with the issue of each painting itself in a picture perfect light as we make our way through the books. The others though I will have to do some digging *and a few library visits* to find what I’ll use as my guide. I think as long as TBM walk away from their studies with a basic understand of these religions I’ll be happy. I still plan to go more in depth with the big three at least, so just like with our core history studies I won’t be sweating the small stuff when it comes to the religious studies this upcoming school year.

That pretty much sums up our history for this upcoming school year. Wow that turned into an extremely long post! Now to finish sorting the supplies and hunting for fabric for our period themed garments!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

TBM and I spent the day lost in our little island paradise with some wonderful friends of ours. Curious as to what we could possibly get into other than our regular school work? Well check out the video below *and yes I am still avoiding the last of our 2011-2012 planning…I’m so close to being done that I need to not think about it for a bit LOL*.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Have you heard about Wave At The Bus? It’s a blog by a family in Utah who decided that waving at their son’s school bus every morning should be done in a humors fashion. And for that we say Thank You! Check out their blog if you are in need of a laugh today! Seriously, his costumes are AWESOME!! And their blog is serving as a great distraction from things I need to do…like the rest of our 2011-2012 lesson planning.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

And the winner is *drum roll please*:

Comment # 1

Congratulations to Domestic Diva!! I will be emailing you this evening to get your shipping address so St. Louis Homeschool Resources, Inc knows where to send your wonderful goodies!!

Don’t forget folks there are still TWO more giveaways! I’ll be setting up a poll on our FB page in the next couple of weeks to see what goodies would interest you all.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes