Playing Hooky – Again

Yes. It’s true. I played hooky – again.

I’m becoming a habitual offender! 🙂

At least this time I brought the kids with me!

the moms We met up with several other home school moms and their kiddos at a local park to enjoy one of the last wonderful days of fall.

While the kids played and played and played –

The moms sat and talked – catching up on life, sharing ideas, and just soaking up the sunshine.

Our biggest entertainment –

babiesWatching the babies be cute.

It was one of those “easy” kind of days that makes me so glad to be home schooling.

kiddosI’m thinking the kids were kind of glad, too!


Our First Day of School & Other Surprises

We started school this week.

Okay – pick yourselves up now.

For those of you who know me well – you know that I don’t like to start school until at least after Labor Day.  I want a really long – very s t r e t c h e d out summer.


Yet – here we are starting school in the middle of August – before even the public schools have started.

What’s up with that?

Well…usually I’m up to my eyebrows in veggies to can and freeze right now, but this year the garden is really behind.

And…for years we didn’t have air conditioning and it was just too hot to even think – let alone do math.

But…mostly we started early because we have something really exciting planned.

I mean really exciting!

Are you ready for this?

In September, we’re going on a massive 10 day trip out west – with all five kids – and we’ll be camping.

That’s right – all seven of us for 10 days – camping.

But not in this RV – no, that would be too easy. It has a kitchen and an indoor bathroom.

No, that’s not us. We’ll be the ones driving a 15 year old suburban pulling a 35 year old pop-up camper.

Think Brady Bunch.

We’ll see the Tetons, Yellowstone and the Black Hills while enjoying the comfort and lack of indoor plumbing of a 35 year old Starcraft pop-up. It sleeps eight, is very clean and most importantly – it’s free.

Vintage Coleman Pop-Up

Did you notice that I called this a “trip” not a vacation? A vacation happens when you stay in hotels and eat in restaurants and don’t have children with you.

No – this is most definitely a trip – an epic adventure that will go down in the annuls of family history.

It will be a major memory making event and the excitement is building!

But for now, we have an entire week of school under our belts. Then in a few weeks – when everyone else is doing math problems and diagramming sentences – we’ll be hiking in the Tetons and watching Old Faithful.

Just one more reason to love home schooling!

RV picture courtesy of Michael Gil.

Civil War Days

Our weekend got off to an unusual start – we stepped back in history!

We attended a local Civil War Re-enactment – complete with period clothing, guns, and attitude!

First we checked out the Union camp (not just because that’s where our sympathies lie – but it was closer!)

After a demonstration on how to load and fire an authentic civil war rifle,  we moved up to heavy artillery.

While we were admiring the big guns, an older gent in Union blues came out and asked the kids if they would like to shoot the cannon.

Their eyes got big!

“Really – we can actually shoot it?”

And they did!

Do you have any idea how many steps were required to fire out one shot from the cannon? I lost count at 8.

It took 4 men (in our case – 4 kids) – and they had to remember all these steps while the enemy is shooting at them.

Civil Wars Days Then we moved on the northern entrenchment – which is basically a big hole in the ground with places to shoot from.

The northern one was nice – but not nearly as nice as the southern one!

We were very impressed with the quality of the work on the southern workmanship.

They had deluxe accommodations –

Civil Wars Days Trench – sod covered tarps to protect the men.

-reinforced walls

-gradually earthen steps down into the entrenchment (they Northern one was just a slope – that I slide down of course)

-lots more room

It could have almost graced the cover of a home improvement magazine (okay – so I exaggerate a little – but my pride is still a little bruised after my fall into the Northern one!)

We next traveled on up the hill to the Confederate Camp. It was there we learned that these re-enactors actually take the role of a real regiment in the Southern army.

They study these regiments – reading books and journals – until they know the history well.

Most of them had relatives who fought for the South – and all are proud to wear the Confederate grey (if only for a weekend).

And they all really got into this!

But then – so did we! My history loving – sword fighting – very imaginative family – all loved seeing the past come to life.

And the sweetest part of all – we could count it as school!

Thoughts From the Home School Conference

We had a wonderful weekend at the NICHE Home School Conference! As always, the Lord sent just the things we needed to hear to encourage and motivate us.

Here’s just a small sampling:

  • Todd Wilson: Be real. Show the chinks in your armor and be understanding when others do the same. There is no “perfect home school family”, every one has their share of trouble.
  • Zan Tyler: Kids have to talk. Conversation builds tissues in the brains. My home should be bursting with language.
  • Todd Wilson: If a plant loses some leaves, it can still grow, but if the stem of a plant is broken, the plant will die. My marriage is the stem. I need to cultivate it and be careful with it. Almost everything else (curriculum, money, houses, even home schooling) are leaves, there are just not that important.
  • Zan Tyler: “Fold them the way they’re bent”. I need to adapt the training of my children to the way that God created them, their natural abilities and interests.
  • Sarah Mally: Five goals for our home school: 1. Godliness 2. Wisdom 3. Knowledge 4. Skills 5. Ministry. Spiritual goals always come first!
  • Sonya Shafer: Habits take up 1/3 of education. “The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children.” ~Charlotte Mason
  • Jan Bloom: Great books help your children to practice emotions. They should nourish the mind and the hearts. They should broaden our understanding and develop our imagination.

It was just the weekend that both my husband and I needed!

Time to Feed a Crowd: Chocolate Sheet Cake Brownies

Chocolate Sheet Cake BrowniesI love to feed a crowd! I had the opportunity last week end when our home school group got together for an informal potluck and time of fellowship. Since I had a partial package of Valentine’s M & M’s hidden in the freezer, I decided to make a frosted brownie and use them to decorate. ( I know it was a sacrifice, but what’s a mom to do!)

This recipe was given to me years ago when I was student teaching in Kansas City. It’s a classic that I use again and again. Although it isn’t as fudgy as some brownies, the buttermilk gives it a very rich cake-like texture that’s always a huge hit!

Chocolate Sheet Cake Brownies
(or Buttermilk Brownies)

Combine: 2 cups flour, 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 tsp. of salt. Set aside.

Combine: 2 stick margarine, 1 cup water and 1/2 cup cocoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over the flour mixture. Add 1/2 cup of buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1 tsp. soda, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Mix together.

Pour into a greased sheet cake pan and bake 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees. (I used a 17″ x 12″ pan.)

Remove from oven and immediately frost with buttermilk frosting.

Buttermilk Frosting

Combine: 1 stick margarine, 1/4 c. cocoa, 1/3 cup buttermilk in sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 1 tsp. of vanilla and a dash of salt. Pour over warm brownies.

I added a handful or so of the chocolate raspberry chips to the brownie batter for added flavor. You can substitute regular milk for the buttermilk in the frosting, it will still taste great.

The brownies disappeared quickly at the potluck; but the M & M’s on top disappeared even faster! That is until we caught a couple of 2 year olds carefully removing them from the brownies and eating them! But this chocolate lady didn’t mind. I just wish I was young enough and cute enough to get away with it, too!