Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mile Long List Check In #3

Today is the last day of July.  It's time to stop thinking about back to school and put the finishing touches on our new school year and to complete this mile high to do list once and for all, or at least til next summer. Over this summer I've been working through my action plan and recording my progress here on the pages of my blog. I wish I was further along this list but that's my life folks.  I will continue to check items off the list and post the results but my time is much more scheduled and routines have to be followed in order to keep this homeschooling mama's plates spinning. 
  1. Purchase school curriculum and pay all fees for Classical Conversations. (to be delivered to our foundations direct upon her return from vacation). 
  2. Prepare a month of menus for breakfast, lunch and supper that concentrate on whole foods but are family friendly (This one took a couple of hours but it's done and saved in one-note and Excel). Yay!
  3. Use freezer cooking methods to restock the freezer for the school year. (So far I have sloppy joes, cranberry chicken, prebrowned hamburger, meatballs, and crockpot fajitas completed but with every meal I am trying to double or triple it and freeze the others)
  4. Prepare for this school year
  5. set up weekly assignment files
  6. photocopies made and filed
  7. props and room decorations, bulletin boards and science board
  8. supplies purchased
  9. schedules and routines in order and ready.
  10. Transform family room from storage room to classroom (check out this post to see this work in progress -http://monilynlu.blogspot.com/2012/07/mile-long-project-list-update.html
  11. Prepare lesson plans for my four students at home
  12. Prepare for Challenge A: watching webinars and the portal and tweaking lesson plans
  13. Prepare for July's wedding (I'm a bridesmaid).
  14. Prepare for July's trip to the General Assembly (for my husband's work).
  15. Clean up in and around our house - major declutter for us.
  16. Clean out the garage.
  17. Clean out closets, drawers, cabinets. (finished the boys closets, my closet and Mike's)
  18. File home office paper work pile
  19. Dentist, Vision, Physicals - make these appointments for family members starting with my own!
  20. Plan Mike and my monthly date nights for the new year.
  21. Organize photos on laptop

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Feeding the Family without a Kitchen

We love to pack up the van and head out of town, but the continuous rising cost to travel together keeps us and other families taking creative measures for vacations.  This past week, we've been staying in the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville, KY. while my husband, who serves as the ITS Director for the Church of God of Prophecy and logistics coordinator for our International General Assembly, unfortunately works long hours. Because this is a business related trip, our hotel is covered but feeding a family of 6 (my nephew tagged along) means using some unconventional cooking methods or taking out a small loan just for eating out.  Restaraunts, when feeding a family with teenage boys, can be extremely expensive and unnecessary. With a small amount of creativity, you can also enjoy meals in your hotel room instead of the local restaurant scene.
First survey your hotel accomodations.  We have a mini fridge, a coffee pot and a sink available for cooking but no microwave.  That makes this more of a challenge, but not an impossibility.   


When you are packing for your trip, make sure to pack a few kitchen necesities to help provide meals that consist of more than cold sandwiches and junk food. For this week, my crockpot and a sandwich maker with interchangeable plates (sandwich maker, waffle iron and panini grill) are my main appliances.  Most of you will have a crockpot but if you don't this could be a much used investment.  The sandwich maker could be substituted by an electric skillet or griddle as well.  Along with these small appliances, don't forget to bring a serving spoon, can-opener, small cutting board and knife, and ziploc bags.  I would probably add a strainer, a plastic bowl and lid to this list. My menu plans for feeding all of us on the cheap follow with a couple of my favorite recipes!



Breakfasts:

Cold cereal, bananas and milk
Toasted Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches using the sandwich maker
Chocolate Oatmeal creatively made in the room's coffee pot
Sweet Rolls made with the interchangeable waffle plates following a pinterest recipe

Lunches:

Turkey sandwiches with lettuce, tomato and cucumbers, potato chips w/ dip, oranges, and cookies
Pizza Pockets made in the sandwich maker using canned biscuit dough, pizza sauce, mini pepperonis, and mozzarella cheese, served with marshmallow fruit salad. 
Ramen noodles cooked in the coffee maker and PB&J grilled sandwiches with either apple slices.
Last day leftovers .
   


Suppers:

Crockpot Lasagna, Caesar Salad and Garlic Toast
Chicken Cheese Tortilla Soup and Chicken Quesadillas with chips and salsa. 
Spicy Chicken Patty Sandwiches trimmed with lettuce, tomato, and cucumber. 
Hotdogs grilled on the panini plates with chips and dip, pudding treats, and fruit
Fend for yourself Leftovers Sunday or pizza while mom and dad go out to eat. :0
I'm thinking Sunday will be fend for yourself while mom and dad go out for supper to celebrate another Assembly finished. 

Even a few friends have come for dinner!
There are quite a few Crockpot meals to consider when eating in a hotel room or any other unusual circumstance. I went with ease and what I thought my crew would eat without leaving leftovers!  Here's the recipes for our meals.

Crockpot Lasagna

2 bags of frozen ravioli (I did half cheese and half meat filled)
1 large jar of spaghetti sauce
1 pack of shredded motzie cheese

Dump the ravioli in the crockpot, cover with the sauce and top with the cheese. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve this with a caesar salad kit and french bread.  I just mix the salad together right in the bag and dished it out into our disposable bowls.  I sliced the "everything" seasoned french bread, buttered both sides and placed on the panini grill plates.  It was so tastey.  By morning even the left over slices were gone. 

This is our favorite soup!

Chicken Tortilla Cheese Soup

2 cans of cream of chicken soup
2 cans of cheese soup
2 large cans of chicken
1 large can of red enchilada sauce
2 soup cans of milk

Dump all the ingredients into the crockpot, and stir.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Serve with crushed tortilla chips.  I don't always remember to take pictures but here's one of the soup after everyone has helped themselves! 

We also made cheese and chicken quesadillas to compliment our soup as well as chips and salsa.   The quesadillas were made on the panini grill using a bag of ready to eat grilled fajita chicken and co-jack cheese.  I just buttered the tortilla, folded it in half and stuck it in the sandwich maker. 

Mmmmm Good!

Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

Frozen Chicken Patties
Buns
Lettuce, tomato, and cucumbers
mayo and mustard

Defrost the chicken patties.  Grill the patties on the panini grill.  Assemble sandwiches.  Set out the chips and dip, and fruit. 

This has been a favorite this week with everyone eating seconds.  Glad I bought two bags of chicken patties!


These were a huge hit with our crew! 




Pizza Pockets

Canned Biscuits
Mini pepperoni
Pizza sauce
Mozzarella cheese

Using your fingers press the biscuit dough into a flat circle. Spoon sauce, toppings, and cheese in the middle. Fold over and pinch around the edges to seal. Place up to four into the preheated sandwich maker and bake.

This lunch was eaten as fast as I could make them so I didn't even bother to break out the salad or fruit.  But it would have complimented these nicely.

This week has gone well and I've kept my hungry crew and their friends fed.  My sons have felt independent roaming back and forth between the room and the conference and yet still checked in like clockwork at lunch, supper, and after church for snacks which means less worry for this mama.  I plan to have my crockpot and sandwich maker accompany me on vacations and business related trips for years to come.


 




Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mile Long Project #10: Check

With a summer's projects list a mile long I've waited much later than I probably should but with your encouragement I'll continue to cross out the projects until the list is complete.  My month of menus is complete and I've been able to freezer cook while prepping for the evening meal.  My freezer meal list so far consists of 3 meals of sloppy Joe filling, 2 meals of crock pot fajita filling, one meal of cranberry chicken, and 1 quart size bag of cooked chicken breast (just enough to add to stir fry or chicken fried rice).

This week will be preempted by project number 13.  My friend's wedding is this coming Saturday and since I am one of her bridesmaids that means I get a manicure, a pedicure and my hair done all in the same week! I have to go pick up my shoes, and buy the jewelry set we are all wearing. My husband is performing the ceremony, my Chris is handing out programs, and my Jeff is helping to film.  This is a family affair, even my Tim was suppose to sing in the children's ensemble but his stage fright got the better of him so finding a babysitter is now imperative.  I will try and convince my friend to let the bridesmaids take her out for dinner on Thursday night or to my house for a low-key girls night.  She is very stubbornly saying no on this. 

Last week I spent most of my extra time transforming the unused family room/storage room into a school room.  The room was floor to ceiling furniture with my dining room furniture, a twin bedroom suite, bookshelves, storage cabinets, tables, and lots of boxes and junk.  I so wish I had taken a picture, well maybe not as it would have been embarrassing.  I did however take some photos of the process.  The room is small for my four students so it's a little crowded but who's complaining I have a school room! 

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one corner of our classroom including a game table turned computer desk
and my dining room buffet server transformed into our command center! 
On these walls will hang our calendar, our morning meeting board, a dry erase board, our history timeline, our Classical Conversations memory board, and whatever else I need to display. Planning what hangs on the walls is much more fun than clearing out the room and arranging the furniture! Our mini tramp and exercise ball will need to find a more out of the way home but as an experienced mom of boys I know there will be many days that that ball will be our chair and the trampoline our floor!   Next to our time line, just outside of the picture stands our supply cabinet. It is chocked full of math manipulatives, science materials, teaching props and fun learning tools.
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the opposite corner of our classroom, this will be where most of
kindergarten and fun takes place. 
On the long walls of my room stand my Grandmother's china cabinet (I can't bear to part with it but I don't have a dining room) and opposite is our 3 bookcases housing our library, complete with storybook characters to listen to us read and first edition Nancy Drew mysteries that held much too much nostalgia to pass on to someone else, after all they were my grandmothers.
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Storage for games, arts and craft supplies,
fine arts curriculum, and media.

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Three bookshelves designate Pre-K/K,
youth books, and mom's books
The plastic drawers hold mostly office, art and school supplies.  These will transfer to the china cabinet and then maybe using these for our workboxes again. We used these when Tim was three and then a bookshelf with baskets when he was four.  I also considering doing a work folders system instead of boxes, after all there are 4 students using this room plus one mom. The verdict is still out on this for now but I better hurry because school supplies are on sale now!
In the center of the room I have placed my desk/table and a white resin banquet table in an L shape.  My chair is on the inside of the L and then chairs are on the outside of the L for my boys.  I still have a table full of papers, supplies and miscellaneous stuff to sort through before this room is ready for our eager or not so eager learners.


From this angle you can also see our supply cabinet and side door.
I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of our little space.  As this project winds down it makes room for the next.  Next in line: getting those bulletin boards, props and decorations ready for the start of a very busy year or maybe organizing all my pins on my CC Cycle 1 board and Kindergarten boards into my weekly file folders.  
I'm not all that sure if following along on my mile high projects list is the most exciting posts recently but it sure makes me feel some accountability during this crunch time.  Do you have a list of projects you're working on?  Here is my updated accountability list so fill free to leave a comment or a link to your own mile long summer projects list.  

  1. Prepare a month of menus for breakfast, lunch and supper that concentrate on whole foods but are family friendly (This one took a couple of hours but it's done and saved in one-note and Excel). Yay!
  2. Use freezer cooking methods to restock the freezer for the school year.
  3. Purchase school curriculum and pay all fees for Classical Conversations.
  4. Prepare for this school year
  5. set up weekly assignment files
  6. photocopies made and filed
  7. props and room decorations, bulletin boards and science board
  8. supplies purchase
  9. schedules and routines in order and ready.
  10. Transform family room from storage room to classroom
  11. Prepare lesson plans for my four students at home
  12. Prepare for Challenge A: watching webinars and the portal and tweaking lesson plans
  13. Prepare for July's wedding (I'm a bridesmaid).
  14. Prepare for July's trip to the General Assembly (for my husband's work).
  15. Clean up in and around our house - major declutter for us.
  16. Clean out the garage so we can walk around in there.
  17. Clean out closets, drawers, cabinets.
  18. File home office paper work pile
  19. See our life group's service project to completion - a mini extreme makeover for one of our group members. (Our life group is one of the small groups our local church provides for people to connect, encourage and support each other).
  20. Dentist, Vision, Physicals - make these appointments for family members starting with my own!
  21. Plan Mike and my monthly date nights for the new year.
  22. Organize photos on laptop

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Mile Long Projects List

I mentioned in a previous post that my summer time projects list seems to stretch further than a highway mile when you're in a hurry.  Some tasks are long over due projects that need attention, but most are new ideas, thoughts and plans for this coming homeschool year.  By accomplishing as many tasks on my list as possible my hope is when fall approaches and it's time to get back in the groove of school it will be a seamless transition.

 Projects To Start and Finish List


  1. Purchase school curriculum and pay all fees for Classical Conversations.
  2. Prepare a month of menus for breakfast, lunch and supper that concentrate on whole foods but are family friendly (This one took a couple of hours but it's done and saved in one-note and Excel). Yay!
  3. Use freezer cooking methods to restock the freezer for the school year. 
  4. Prepare for this school year
    1. set up weekly assignment files
    2. photocopies made and filed
    3. props and room decorations, bulletin boards and science board
    4. supplies purchase
    5. schedules and routines in order and ready.
  5. Transform family room from storage room to classroom
  6. Prepare lesson plans for my four students at home
  7. Prepare for Challenge A: watching webinars and the portal and tweaking lesson plans
  8. Prepare for July's wedding (I'm a bridesmaid).
  9. Prepare for July's trip to the General Assembly (for my husband's work).
  10. Clean up in and around our house - major declutter for us.
    1. Clean out the garage.
    2. Clean out closets, drawers, cabinets.
    3. File home office paper work pile
  11. See our life group's service project to completion - a mini extreme makeover for one of our group members. (Our life group is one of the small groups our local church provides for people to connect, encourage and support each other).
  12. Dentist, Vision, Physicals - make these appointments for family members starting with my own!
  13. Plan Mike and my monthly date nights for the new year.
  14. Organize photos on laptop

Time to break it down and plow through the tasks to get this done ASAP. My curriculum is purchased for the most part and I know what I want to happen during the school year. My menu is nicely typed into an excel spreadsheet and I've began to cook a few meals for the freezer. School starts in August so follow along if you're interested or just want to encourage another mom, namely me! 





Toothfairy Caught In Action

T just turned 5.  How is it possible that he could have already lost 2 of his baby teeth?  It's not. Yet that's where we are, hiding gold coins under pillows and talking about the tooth fairy.  I saw this idea on Pinterest and just couldn't resist.  A little of photo shop and the skillful hands of my dear husband and voila - the Tooth Fairy has been seen exchanging your tooth for a gold coin!  I can't wait for morning! 

Summer Wouldn't Be Summer Without a Week at Camp

Today Chris and I finished his summer camp shopping, rounding out his wardrobe to include a couple more pairs of shorts, a new pair of swim trunks, a few toiletry neccesities and of course a couple of cans of silly string!  His overwhelming enthusiasm for time to move faster burst out during the ride home. He pleaded with time, "Please go faster!" as he sat staring straight into the digital display on our van's console.  Teen Camp is the last camp of the summer at Camp Hickory Hills so I understand his lack of patience.  He's already listened to his brother's camp stories which only fuel his excitement for his turn.   
Jeff and his cousin Jon with their Cabin at Senior Camp!

This week long summer camp experience has been in our family for several generations and I can get extremely nostalgic remembering my own weeks of summer camp.  I started when I was just 6 years old and spent two whole nights in a cabin filled with squeals and giggles, living the scenes from the Disney classic movie "The Parent Trap."  My summers of youth camp continued each and every summer for as many weeks as were available and well into adulthood.  At some point I just switched roles from camper to staff and continued until having kids of my own. 
 
Cousins at Camp - It's a family tradition!

Jeff and Chris both have spent at least a week at youth camp each and every year since they were 6. For both of them, it truly is the highlight of their summer. They come back sharing stories of new friends, practical jokes, catching crawfish in the creek and sliding down the plastic water slide.  I listen intently, reliving my own experiences through their stories.  I don't want to miss a single detail. When they pause for breath, I pose questions to stear our conversation towards the nightly chapel services, the cabin devotions and their classes. It can be hard to cheer from the sidelines knowing there isn't anything that quite compares to a hundred plus kids experiencing a mighty move of God's Spirit in their lives and in the lives of their friends. 

Tomorrow morning, after we swing through the ATM machine for trip money, we will pack our Chris with his sleeping bag, duffle bag, backpack, and pillow into the church bus. Somewhat resembling a can of sardines, he and his friends will make the three hour drive to Camp Hickory Hills.  Before they drive away, parents will gather around the bus and pray for traveling mercies, health and safety, and most importantly for their week to bring spiritual growth.  Church camp is life altering.  It's part of what shaped me and is now shaping my sons into Godly young men.  I am so thankful my boys have the opportunity to participate and look forward to next year when we can take our Tim to Big Shot Camp.  Big Shot is for the younger campers and their parents so next year I will be trying to coax time to move faster right alongside my boys!