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 .  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.


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.

PE is More Than Just Gym Class

PE is More Than Just Gym Class


PE is just as important for homeschooled kids as it is for any other students (and adults, for that matter).  But, the flexible schedule of homeschoolers allows for much more interesting activities.  My kids both ride horses (my in laws have two, and my sister in law teaches them) and we take advantage of various classes that come up.


One of the other homeschooling moms offered a 6 week archery course that my kids jumped at!  My family has a long history of archery…allegedly going all the way back to William Tell!  My grandparents ran a mail order archery supply company and I have many fond memories of shooting targets in their backyard.

Both Curly and Mouthy are loving it, and are surprisingly good for having never done it before. Mouthy said, “I finally found a sport I can do without hurting myself!”

Bow hunting is very popular in our area so the mom offering the course plans to continue with more classes in bow hunting, target shooting, and competition.

(My high school gym class program included line dancing. I kid you not.  I’m from Northern New York, so line dancing might as well have been Greek to this group of non-Southern red necks.)

If you have a skill in a certain area, or even just enjoy it, think about offering it for the other homeschoolers in your community. The flexibility of homeschooling schedules (or as my friend Julie calls it, “car schooling”, since we are all always on the go!) can allow your kids a greater range of experiences than line dancing in a room full of sweaty, bored teenagers!

If you need some ideas, here’s some that will get you started:

  • Tennis
  • Bowling
  • Badmintion Tournaments
  • Croquet
  • Fencing
  • Knife Throwing (with care of course)
  • Hunting
  • Volleyball/Walleyball (some local gyms have Walleyball on lunch break or in the evenings)
  • Relay Races
  • Kickball
  • Karate
  • Flag Football
  • Playground Play
  • 5k/10k
  • Biking (as a family is always good)
  • Hiking

What else?  I know there’s plenty that I’ve missed.  If you were going to host a PE gathering for your homeschool group, what would YOU do?  Share it here so that it may help the other readers!


Kathy LaPan is a homeschooling mom of two in Northern NY. She has an MBA in finance and teaches through Check out her blog at Simply Homeschool Living.

Making Yourself a Priority


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.




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.


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.


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.

Medication is Nothing to be Ashamed Of

Medication is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of


“He’s taking Ritalin,” she whispered to me behind a cupped hand. “It’s really helping, but I don’t want people to know.”

I didn’t ask her why not, because I know. I have gotten the sideways glances, the long winded speeches on addition and conspiracy, the explanations of standardized testing being the cause of the “ADHD epidemic”.

My children both have ADHD. They are, in fact, 2E, meaning twice-exceptional: gifted but challenged. My daughter is really 4E; she is highly gifted, with an IQ in the 140s, but she’s dyslexic, ADHD, and has Oppositional Defiant Disorder. My son’s IQ is about 5 points lower than his sisters (5 points she knows all too well!) and he has ADHD and an anxiety disorder.  This is largely why we homeschool. The public school simply wasn’t capable of teaching my kids. They weren’t equipped to deal with a 1st grader who couldn’t identify the letters of the alphabet but could name every part of a horse, including the internal organs, and their functions. Nor could they handle the boy who read better than the teacher but could not hold a conversation with a peer.

We thought homeschooling would solve the problems. Instead, it exacerbated them. My daughter’s ODD, which had formerly evinced in refusals to shower or go to bed or do math home work, became a minute-by-minute battle over every step of every task. Pick up your pencil. No. Please, hold your pencil. Pencil thrown across the room. Go get your pencil. No. Book thrown. You get the idea.

A psychologist, not a general practitioner, diagnosed the children. Our GP suspected ADHD, but we agreed a psychologist was better equipped to make the diagnosis. Medication and behavior therapy has helped immensely. The ODD has resolved for the most part. Both kids are happier and better able to concentrate. Both have coping skills learned through the behavior therapy to use instead of temper tantrums or screaming. Both are excelling in their academics and in their interpersonal relationships.

There is an epidemic of misdiagnosis with ADD and ADHD. There are most certainly children being medicated who should not be, and there are many reasons contributing to this…not the least of which are unrealistic expectations placed on very young children to sit still and get perfect scores on standardized tests!

However, an epidemic of misdiagnosis does not mean no one has ADHD. ADHD is a real disorder that stems from delayed growth in the frontal lobes of the brain. Medication can, in many instances, encourage the frontal lobes to grow so the patient no longer has ADHD symptoms in adulthood.

ADHD is not a five year old who cannot sit still for five hours straight and fill bubbles on a test sheet. ADHD is more like a five year old who throws her crayons at the teacher during circle time and stomps on another student’s hand because she’s annoyed. ADHD is more like a ten year old boy who sees nothing wrong with using a pencil sharpener while the teacher is speaking to the class because “my pencil is dull”, and does not understand why this upsets the teacher.

To be ashamed of utilizing medication for your child’s disorder is to show your child they are shameful. It says to your child, “There is something wrong with you, and it is so awful that people won’t like us if they find out.”

ADHD is no more “shameful” a disorder than diabetes, but it falls under the stigma of mental illness. Organic mental disorders have been stigmatized since time immemorial…many of the common insults are terms of mental illness: crazy, loco, nutcase, “ain’t right”, mental. But our kids are none of these things. ADHD is as simple, and as complicated, as something just not connecting the same way as other people’s. (In this way, it is no different than dyslexia).

I don’t want my kids to be ashamed of having ADHD any more than my daughter should be ashamed of dyslexia or my son of anxiety.  Or than I should be of my spinal cord injury. These are things their bodies do beyond their control. Medication helps me to walk, it helps my mother control her blood sugar, and it helps my kids control their racing thoughts. I am not ashamed of this. I am grateful.


Kathy LaPan is a homeschooling mom of two in Northern NY. She has an MBA in finance and teaches through Check out her blog at Simply Homeschool Living.

The Ultimate Library for a Homeschooling Mom!

Get The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle--Hurry: Sale 6 Days Only!

By popular demand, 100+ homemaking bloggers are bringing back The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, and it’s better than ever!

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is a complete library of great eBooks on homemaking—a truly valuable knowledge base you’ll use for many years to come.

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Good Mom – Bad Mom Battle Tips to Sleep



Swoosh… our head hits the pillow. It’s the end of a long day. Moments of the day flash through our mind. Suddenly, our heart is heavy as we remember the moments we blew it. Then gut wrenching guilt follows and overtakes our weary mind. Thus, the good mom bad mom battle wages war in our heart and mind.

Post contains affiliate links.

Many offer advice. Some dispense their counsel unsolicited, dumping their failures in our lap expecting us to follow their suit of negativity. Everyone evaluates our parenting, even strangers. However, we are often our own worst enemy.

We have our expectations of how we want to raise our kids. Then the added pressure to please family.  Finally, the ever changing of our community that seems to keep the bar raised just out of our reach.  Our pursuit of being a good mom comes from our deep desire to give our families our best. Therefore when we miss the mark, even slightly, we beat ourselves up.

Mothering takes sacrifice, homeschooling requires our vitality. We know this. To keep control and to stay on task we use scrutiny as a form of self-discipline. Typically fear is found at the root of control. Because our love runs so deep for our family we are tripped by control and fall into the bondage of fear.

We fear failing our family. We fear failing as a mother. We fear failing our kids and their education. Satan knows this, (he waited for Jesus to become weary in the wilderness). So he prowls at the end of the day when our hearts are tired and weary, and then at just the right moment he SNAPS at us with fear – in order to steal, kill, and destroy.

The good news is Jesus came to give life and give it more abundantly! We can be released from the bondage of fear and walk in freedom of grace.

Fear distorts our belief. We think to be a good mom:

  • We should spend every waking hour with our child, entertaining them.
  • If something is wrong with our child, it’s our fault.
  • We must over indulge our child with a full schedule and toys.
  • We need to be the one who cares for our kids, no one else, not even our husbands.
  • Complete all the household chores without help from our kids.

When our parenting is fueled by fear we lose the purpose God has for our life. To regain perspective, we need rest. Sleep deprivation comes free with motherhood. There are seasons that poor sleeping habits are unavoidable. During those seasons guard your heart and your mind, accept grace. You are a good mom!

Tips For Finding Rest.

  1. When you lay in bed and suddenly struck by fear, turn that fear into a faith filled prayer.
  2. Instead of scrolling through your social media at night, scroll through your bible app.
  3. Keep a note book by your bed, write down concerns, and let them go.
  4. Remember you good moments too.
  5. Count your blessings.

Momma, if God needed to rest on the seventh day…you definitely need rest! Long term investments do not bring instant results.  The work you are doing on a day in, day out basis seems monotonous. Keep in mind you are working towards a much bigger prize by investing in your family and it takes time. Your investment will pay off in the long term. Enjoy the journey. For more encouragement become a member of Schoolhouse Teachers and gain access to my daily column  JOY IN THE MORNING.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

Image Credit: “Worried Young Woman On Bed” by David Castillo Dominici


Michelle Pohl - BloomingwithJoy.comMichelle is a storyteller who encourages her readers to begin Blooming with Joythrough every chaotic moment, disappointment, and mess. Her readers keep her motivated to be real with life and laugh at her mistakes. Michelle is reformed coffee addict turned devoted tea drinker. She lives in Missouri, USA with her husband and homeschools her three daughters. Shas experienced God’s peace while enduring life’s many messes; childhood abuse, motherhood, miscarriage, and homeschooling. All the while, allowing God to trade her ashes for beauty. She has learned we can begin Blooming With Joy through every obstacle when our Hope is in Jesus!  You can visit her on her blog, Blooming With JoyFacebookTwitter and Pinterest.


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?




5 Homeschool Tips for When Mom Gets Sick

Homeschooling moms aren’t supposed to get sick, right? Wrong.

The bad news is whether it’s a quick-healing virus, major surgery, or chronic diagnosis, moms do get sick. The good news is this doesn’t mean that homeschool has to cease until she recovers. With a little bit of advanced planning, every homescho ol mom can be ready to keep things going when and if she find herself a bit under the weather.

mom get sick

1. Keep a book basket. Fill your basket with books and DVDs for whatever topic you’re teaching in science and history. Grab books from your own library shelves or check them out from the library. Most moms are able to read aloud no matter how bad they feel and if things are really going south, pop in a DVD. Pop in 5 DVDs if you must. Learning will happen and with minimal effort. If you never get sick, this basket will still serve as a great adjunct to your homeschool days.

2. Limit your subjects. Don’t worry if nothing else gets done but Bible and the 3Rs. Keep things easy and low-key. Fill in with the books and DVDs I mentioned above if you must.

3. Make room in your schedule for taking unexpected days off. This might mean starting your school year early or ending late, not taking as much planned time off during the year, or schooling year round. If you have a few extra weeks scheduled than is required, you won’t feel so guilty if you need to take time off.

4. Spend time now developing independent study skills in your older kids. Students in middle school and up (maybe even 5th and 6th graders) should be able to keep up with their schedule independently and not miss too much if you aren’t able to be as involved as usual. If your older kids aren’t working very independently, start now developing those skills.

5.  Let the older kids teach the younger ones. For your younger students, let the big kids help out. Older students will gain some great teaching experience (and maybe some patience and perseverance), and spending more time together will hopefully increase their sibling bond. 

More than anything, give yourself a break. No guilt is allowed when Mom is sick. And with these tips, you truly won’t have a reason to feel guilty anyway.

Marcy CrabtreeMarcy spent nearly 15 years as an Ob nurse, sometimes juggling homeschooling with the job she calls her first ministry. Grateful that her main ministry today is at home, she has been married to Tom for 16 years, and is Ben’s proud momma. Her homeschool style is delight-directed with lots of unit studies, lapbooks and notebooks. She is greatly influenced by Charlotte Mason’s love of  living books. If she ever writes a book herself, it’s likely to be entitled, Homeschooling by the Field Trip Method.