Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Stir Fry

Spaghetti Squash

It isn’t always easy giving something new a try, but I had heard about spaghetti squash a few times now and figured if it would help us eat better, we might as well try it.  My son is a bit of a processed food junkie and I will give in and buy some now and again, but I cringe, as I have never had some of these things (pasta in a can, I just can’t).

While at my local grocer, I picked out a medium sized squash and showed my hubby. He’s not a squash fan, so I received a funny look.  I bought it anyway.

When we got home I began googling how to cook the spaghetti squash and found easy instructions online at http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-spaghetti-squash-178036 .  Preparation was simple and my chickens were happy for the seed and stringy innards treat. I found it looks like angel hair pasta when ready, but it has a little crisp to it and almost a nutty essence.

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After preparing the squash I set out to make it into my dinner. I used half the squash, five grilled chicken tenders, and about 1 1/2 cups of frozen mixed veggies as the base. I put this all into a frying pan with 2 Tbsp of soy sauce, 1 chicken bouillon cube, 1/2 cup water, and 1/4 cup of margarine.  I then cooked this on low until all the flavors had mixed well. When almost done simmering, I seasoned to taste with cayenne pepper, ground mustard, and ground ginger.

Dinner was delicious and I had two containers leftover for the next days of lunches. My leftovers the next day tasted even better!  That hardly ever happens in our house.

I now have half a spaghetti squash left to make something else with. I’m having trouble deciding between an American chop suey, with sauce and meatballs, in a soup, or in a spaghetti bake.  My sister-in-law even suggested a “pasta” salad with it.

What is your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash?

 

Melissa ReadMelissa is in her first year of homeschooling her teenaged son, while working part-time.  She enjoys the simple life, but her husband is a super techie.  It’s an interesting balance as Melissa strives to learn more homesteading skills, while her husband is playing the latest Xbox game.  Find Melissa’s Facebook page:  Minor in Homeschool.

Making Yourself a Priority

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Following a 70 hour work week, when I was scheduled for only 20, and still keeping up with my homeschool mom duties, I knew something had to give.  I do not do enough for myself and I feel that now is the time.

The first thing I did, after thorough research of course, was order Shakeology.  I have wanted to for awhile but didn’t want to spend the money.  I couldn’t use that as an excuse after all of the overtime I had just put in.  It is fantastic and delicious.  In less than two weeks, I feel my skin is softer and my insides are singing.

The next thing I did was put on my sneakers.  I was already signed up for a 5k and was hugely ill prepared. I walked 4.25 miles every other day for two weeks until 5k day on May 17, 2014. I was getting stronger and faster at walking every day. The first week of walks had me grumbling to myself, “I hate walking.”  The second week of walks had me thinking, “oh, I feel stronger.”  The day after what was supposed to be the 5k, turns out someone miscalculated and it was a 5-miler, I got back out to my 4.25 route and jogged some of it.  It has been 6 years since I last tried jogging and back then I mostly erupted in giggles.

It is not easy at all, but I feel so great after I finish. I upgraded to some nike lunarglides in hot pink, invested in some calf compression socks, moisture wicking exercise pants, and FEETures socks.  I bought them in super fun colors:  sherbet, fuchsia, and aqua. I needed to upgrade from my sad black and gray.

Although we did the charity 5k in May as a family, my son left us in the dust. We are signed up for the Color Run on his birthday in October and I hope to keep up then.  In the meantime, I will be preparing for the ROC Race in August.  It appears to be a cleaner, safer version to the game show Wipe Out and looks like tons of fun!

While we are all very busy being parents, homeschooling, working and whatnot, make sure you take time to learn what you love to do for yourself.

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Melissa ReadMelissa is in her first year of homeschooling her teenaged son, while working part-time.  She enjoys the simple life, but her husband is a super techie.  It’s an interesting balance as Melissa strives to learn more homesteading skills, while her husband is playing the latest Xbox game.  Find Melissa’s Facebook page:  Minor in Homeschool.

A Letter of Love, Faith, and Coping

A Letter of Love, Faith & Coping

My son’s girlfriend, Gillian, passed away from cystic fibrosis on February 20, 2014. This was one of the toughest times for my family and I am ready to now share the letter I wrote dear Gillian a month after she passed away:

It matters not how many days have passed since you left this world, it is too new, too raw, and seems we’ve grieved a lifetime already, but it’s still not enough. The absence you left when you passed from this world to the next has sucked all the air from our lungs. It is devastating and confusing.

I misplaced blame and anger wrongly at what happened before you left. I am sorry. I prayed my hardest, but the results came out differently. I accept God’s plan and my faith has been healed. I know you are dancing, free from struggle, and joyful in heaven, but we are all so lost without you. You healed my son and left him broken at the same time. I pray now for everyone left behind to obtain peace within, to live through their feelings and conflicts, no matter how difficult, and to find the gift of joy you left with us all.

When my Grandfather passed years ago, I lost my faith. I walked through the motions trying to find understanding and peace with God. I attended church, taught catechism, and more, but it mattered not. I saw my grandmother so alone and lost, childlike almost, so sad. I lost hope in heaven and belief that there was anything beyond. I internalized that death was final, dust was just dust, and the soul did not move on. You, dear girl, changed that for me. It was completely indirect, you could not have known. You passed your faith to my son, transferred so perfectly, while keeping just as much for yourself during your beautiful relationship. I will be eternally grateful.

It happened on February 18, 2014 when my faith returned as Chris transferred his energy to you, hoping it was enough to heal your earthen body. I could see before you woke, the transfer of power being willed from his hand to you, while holding your hand. I will be forever thankful that against all odds, you woke that day, and you shared your love with all once more. It was a blessing to have those moments with you and witness such unconditional love in the room. We miss you so much and can not begin to heal fully from your physical absence, we cannot even understand where to begin. You have been fully healed, no pain, no struggle, no worry, no nervous cuticle picking, no more needle poking, no surgeries, no endless pills, and no vest.

I pray for Chris’s peace, I ask him to give this pain to God. He keeps running, spirit runs, which worry me, not for his mind or body as I know it does him good, but for his safety. I hope it gave you a chuckle when that coyote was spooked by him in the wee dark hours of morning. This young man has a passion and fire that most his age can not even comprehend, never mind adults. You got him so completely, thank you for that love. He will carry you with him forever and the brokenness he has currently may mend, but he will be forever altered for having met you, loving you, and being loved by you.

A Letter of Love, Faith & Coping

 

Melissa ReadMelissa is in her first year of homeschooling her teenaged son, while working part-time.  She enjoys the simple life, but her husband is a super techie.  It’s an interesting balance as Melissa strives to learn more homesteading skills, while her husband is playing the latest Xbox game.  Find Melissa’s Facebook page:  Minor in Homeschool.

Extracurricular Activities Available to Homeschoolers

Extracurricular Activities Available to Homeschoolers

 

We are all about fun in this family. We fit in fun whenever we can.   This most often happens with extracurricular activities.  When my son was in public school, we limited him to a maximum of two activities at a time .  Since he is a kid that needs his sleep, sometimes had to say no, depending on the time or day of the week. No more limits, as long as our wallet can afford it, now that we homeschool.

Climbing

My son has been in Boy Scouts for the past 8 years, which has offered him opportunities for numerous adventures, volunteer work, and socialization. Adventures have included camping, climbing, white water rafting, zip lining, traveling, and hiking, to name a few.  My son’s troop has an honor guard and they serve the community at Memorial re-dedications and Veterans events. We have volunteered giving out water at race events, Christmas meal deliveries to shut-ins, and improvements to cemeteries and parks in the community.  As a member of the Boy Scouts honor society, The Order of the Arrow, my son was able to finally join the Native American inspired dance team last year. The team has performed all over Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as well as, at a recent Pow Wow in New Jersey.  Because of the relationships he has established with scouts from other Troops, he was invited on another Troop’s upcoming trip to West Point in May.  This trip would have normally interfered with a public school schedule, but not any more.  Yay!

Honor Guard

Native American

As a family, we love to ski and snowboard in the winter. Homeschooling allows us a flexible schedule, so if the weather is perfect mid-day, we can get in some treks at the nearby mountain anytime 8am to 10pm during the season.

My son recently began swing dancing. He loves the big band jive and all the fancy moves. The crowd is mostly an older mix and he’d like some ladies his own age to mix with, but he has a blast with his best friend all the same. Swing dances are held locally Sunday nights 7 pm to 11 pm, so we could say yes to this opportunity with the flexibility of homeschooling.

The track coach at the area public high school would love for my son to join the team. The great thing with homeschooling is that students where we live can participate in all extracurricular activities and sports at the public high school, too.  Although my son loves to run for recreation, he is not into competition at all.  He is still undecided, but it is awesome to see the opportunities that are available.

Airsoft

Another activity my son enjoys with his friends and my husband is air soft.  I know guns are a touchy subject for many, as well as, hunting people or war. My point here is about activities, opportunities, and finding what your kid enjoys. My son plans to join the military and rather than just attacking zombies in a video game, my son gets to role play, team build, and strategize in a safe environment.

Keep your kids engaged, find out what the enjoy, and live life to the fullest!

What extracurricular activities have you found for your homeschooled kids?

 

Melissa ReadMelissa is in her first year of homeschooling her teenaged son, while working part-time.  She enjoys the simple life, but her husband is a super techie.  It’s an interesting balance as Melissa strives to learn more homesteading skills, while her husband is playing the latest Xbox game.  Find Melissa’s Facebook page:  Minor in Homeschool.

Organization by Balancing Life

Organization

 

The key to my organization strategy is to create balance in whatever I do: homeschool; employment; house work, etc.  Often I find myself making a bigger mess, before I get to the point where I am at peace with whatever I’m attempting to organize.  Does that happen to you too?  I can’t imagine that I’m the only one.  Is my home spotless?  No.  Is everything just right?  Probably not nearly so.  Am I all right with this?  Absolutely!

Home School Organization

My son is in his High School years, so I find that my method of tracking his progress very straightforward.  I organize his schedule in a Word document, write the daily lessons on his white board, and use an Excel spreadsheet I created for recording graded material.  I split up each quarter by subject. I then have a master Excel spreadsheet that I found a Microsoft Office Template for, called Grade Tracker.  Grade Tracker compiles the data from the subject spreadsheets and figures out grade point average (GPA), credit hours, and assigns letter grades, so we will have a High School Transcript ready for when my son begins applying to Colleges.

For any paper schoolwork completed, I simply sort it by date and subject, use my 3-hole punch, and file the material in a binder by school year.  In this same binder is the copy of the letter I submitted to the School System to home school my son, as well as, the letter of approval the School System sent to me.  Documentation is helpful if ever there is a question on what was done when, so I record everything!

You really can organize your home school on a budget.  I had a friend refer me to Transcript Pro and another friend say, take the reins yourself because you can be so much more creative and really personalize their transcript.  I have the time, I like to save money where I can, so I went for the Do-It-Yourself approach.  The choice is yours as you have to find the right balance for your homeschooling or unschooling style.

Work Organization

In addition to homeschooling my son, I also work part-time for a local credit union on their telecommuting team.  I am not anti-social, I promise!  I am only required to go on-site once a month and I have a fixed schedule that works perfectly with my son’s education.  My husband was kind enough to support me in working part-time hours so I could be more available for my son beginning when he was in public elementary school.  I’m sure many moms do it in reverse, work part-time or not at all outside the home when their children are young and return to full-time jobs after their kids go to school, but for our family the reverse was the perfect balance as I reduced my schedule over time from a 40 hour work week, to a Management position, then 30 hours, and now an average of only 23 hours per week.

Household Organization

This is an area where I make the big mess.  For example, I just tore apart my entire pantry two days ago, just so I had somewhere to store our endless stack of egg crates.  I do not refuse free egg crates.  I am not a hoarder (ha ha)!  We have chickens, they lay eggs, sometimes way more than we can eat, and I’m not paying $0.39 each at the store for something to simply contain eggs neatly until they are used.  Plus if I get the plastic crates, I cut the trays and use them for paint cups!  I love reusing things with good purpose.  We even have a spaghetti jar repurposed into my son’s favorite milk cup.  No crying if or when that glass breaks.

My son’s bedroom was the typical teenage boy’s room disaster until a few months ago.  It had gotten beyond him in knowing how to dig out, so I decided it was time for an intervention.  I had to make the mess way bigger by making piles and moving piles, deciding what was trash, what he was saving, and what was to be donated.  Two months later, it is still nearly as we finished.  We took a minimalistic approach and he gained a lot of space in his fairly small bedroom and we had the talk about “a place for everything and everything in its place.”  He’s too old for the Barney the Dinosaur’s “Clean Up” song now, but I used to love that when he was younger.

I don’t have a schedule for cleaning like all the best organizers do.  If the laundry baskets are full, I do laundry.  If dishes are dirty in the sink, and the piles bug me, I wash dishes (I like to leave this to hubby as I really don’t like doing silverware, but I’ve been good lately).  I don’t vacuum or dust every day, I just don’t find it a priority or maybe I like to see that there is an accumulation before I’m jolted into action.  We play a lot, so putting off some household chores is fine with me.  I actually should have gone grocery shopping today as we are down to two clementines and one banana, but my son wanted a field trip today.  So what did I do?  I took my son and his friend to a nearby Historical Museum for something fun and different.  It was time well spent and the grocery store will be there tomorrow.

Melissa ReadMelissa is in her first year of homeschooling her teenaged son, while working part-time.  She enjoys the simple life, but her husband is a super techie.  It’s an interesting balance as Melissa strives to learn more homesteading skills, while her husband is playing the latest Xbox game.  Find Melissa’s Facebook page:  Minor in Homeschool.

Free Resources for Homeschooling High School

 

Free Resources for Homeschooling High School

Curriculum can be expensive, especially when you purchase a program or material that is sub par.  I love finding top-notch curriculum that helps meet our family’s homeschooling high school needs, while staying within our budget.  My son is taking Chemistry, Driver’s Education, Geometry, English Language Arts, US History, and Physical Education during the 2013-2014 10th grade school year.  Geometry, English Language Arts, and US History are all free!

Geometry

For Geometry, we are currently using Khan Academy, http://www.khanacademy.org/ . My son had used Khan Academy for several subjects when finishing up 9th grade.  I like that Khan Academy has a variety of interactive practice tools to aid in comprehension. If the student gets stuck, they can go through step-by-step hints to further aid in the development of skills.  Khan Academy is constantly adding more subjects and continues to enhance their site.  My son learns better with anything hands on and this is really the only area where Khan Academy, like many online based curriculums, is lacking.

Language Arts

With English Language Arts, I had several goals in mind:  increase vocabulary, learn to love reading, prepare for PSAT and SAT exams. I wanted to expose my son to a variety of authors and styles and I was excited when I came across curriculum for an Honors English 10th grade class in a surrounding town, which led us to the quest theme incorporating writing skills into his curriculum.  He’s read and written about Beowulf, Of Mice and Men, No Easy Day, and MacBeth so far. If we did not already have the book, I found the text online for free.  Free PSAT and SAT prep, as well as, ACT prep can be found online at https://www.collegeboard.org/ .  Here you can practice, register, and plan for these tests and get lists of vocabulary words to know.

US History

For US History, we are using the AP course on Hippo Campus, http://www.hippocampus.org.  The material follows along in a chronological order and there is a portion you read, a video, and usually document images to investigate and think about or answer questions about.  I am excited that they also have a variety of other subjects available, but I have not yet had a chance to review them.

Other Subjects

With my son’s other subjects, we are using pay programs, especially where we had to purchase all the lab materials for Chemistry. I realize Physical Education normally is free, but my son has taken up swing dancing,  $10 a week, and is on a Native American folk dancing team And we have put a fair amount of money towards his regalia.

 

Melissa ReadMelissa is in her first year of homeschooling her teenaged son, while working part-time.  She enjoys the simple life, but her husband is a super techie.  It’s an interesting balance as Melissa strives to learn more homesteading skills, while her husband is playing the latest Xbox game.  Find Melissa’s Facebook page:  Minor in Homeschool.

 

 

Teach Kindness and Your Children Will Rise

Teach Kindness & Your Children Will Rise!

It was an ordinary Tuesday.   I had finished working at noon, and my son had begun working on his lessons.  I headed into the shower and while washing my face, I heard my dogs going nuts downstairs.  They were barking, growling, and howling.  I knew someone had to be either on the porch, or in the yard, as they don’t get that excited otherwise.  This irritated me!  Maybe because I felt vulnerable due to the timing of a visitor.   My dogs were upset and my son’s lessons were interrupted, and I got myself all worked up and annoyed.  I hollered out to my son, to see if he could see what the commotion was and a man was leaving the yard.  I knew it must be the fellow pilfering through our trash and recycling bins, but I felt invaded as he was on the property.  After all, it wasn’t trash day, and he’d have his opportunity curbside, the following day.

When I finished my shower and got dressed, I stormed into our office and announced I was going to go locate this man and give him a piece of my mind.  I was going to tell him not to come into the yard again, as it upsets the dogs.  I was also going to let him know that I don’t recycle cans and bottles, as I return them myself, and there would be no need for him to return.  My son just looked at me and then I went off downstairs.

I Was Being Schooled and He Was 100% Right

Be Kind

A few minutes later, my son came downstairs and said, “Ok mom, we can go find him if you want.”  I glanced over and looked at him questioningly and then he continued, “I think instead of giving him a piece of your mind though, you should give him a granola bar.”  Huh?  “Well mom, if he’s looking for returnables, then that means he needs money, and if he needs money, he is probably hungry, so we should give him granola bars so he isn’t hungry anymore.”  I was being schooled and he was 100% right and then some.  Love this kid!  I agreed instantly and told my son we should bring him water too, because if he’s been riding his bicycle all day looking for cans and bottles, he’s likely grown thirsty.

We loaded up a plastic bag with granola bars and waters and filled another bag with bottles and cans to return. Then, we got in the car and drove around looking for this man.  He was not too far, only the next street over.  We turned around, pulled over, and my son hopped out and handed him our offering.  This man was so grateful and I was humbled by my son’s kindness.  I really felt a fool for having gotten so upset to begin with.  I was so thankful that my son was now homeschooled to be present at that time to rise above and teach me this lesson.

Being Homeschooled Has Allowed My Son to Overcome  Adversities

I taught my son to be kind.  He had learned this and was living this, but I was not practicing kindness or thoughtfulness at the moment of the dogs freaking out that day.  My son reminded me to see the good and take a different perspective with situations.  Being homeschooled has allowed my son to overcome the adversities he experienced from public school with bullying, assaults, a friend’s suicide, saving another friend from suicide, and overall high school drama.  During the roughest of times, I feared I would lose him to his attackers, but he is still with us and better than ever!

Have your children faced struggles or taught you invaluable lessons?  How did you overcome the struggles or learn from the lessons?