Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dinner tonight

Please excuse the lackluster slightly unappetizing photo above. It was taken with my iPhone. But I assure you....this dinner was delicious!
I made roasted veggie Pasta Primavera. 98% of the veggies came straight from our garden. Our pea plants are about done so the peas are frozen from Trader Joes and my tomatoes aren't quite ripe yet, so the ones I used were mini organic heirlooms also from the Trader named Joe.
First I went out to the garden and picked a bunch of carrots, some zucchini, green beans and some green onion. Oh and I grabbed a small handful of fresh basil too. Then I cleaned and chopped everything up and added the tomatoes and some fresh garlic as well. Then I tossed everything with a little bit of EVOO and salt and pepper. Everything went one layer on a cookie sheet and into the oven at 450* for about 10 minutes. I flipped the veggies and roasted them for another 10 minutes.
Then I grabbed a bag of frozen fettuccine alfredo (also from Trader Joes). I know I'm a little obsessed with Joe. But he has really good food! And I've been diligently reading labels. This stuff is all natural. There's nothing I can't pronounce or don't know what it is listed on the ingredients. No chemicals, no preservatives. You could certainly make your own pasta sauce if you wanted, it's easy. Anyway, I followed the directions on the package. When it was just about done I added all my roasted veggies, plus the frozen peas, plus some fresh green beans I had previously blanched. And dinner was done. 25 minutes. Oh and that basil I picked? I tossed that in at the last minute too. mmm mmm mmm m m!!
Dang it was good. Roasting the veggies gave them such a sweet taste. The carrots were delicious. Zucchini--divine. Tomatoes-sweet, sweet. What an awesome summer time meal.
Oh and I also made pizza on the grill. Have you done this yet? I'm telling you, you're missing out if you haven't. Google it, there's all kinds of tutorials and instructions and recipes. There's nothing like it and it's so, so much better than store bought.
Do you have a good summer recipe you want to share?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Collins Lake camp trip

The fog had rolled back in last week so we were SO ready to get out of here and find some sun! It's funny how quickly the Bay Area can turn from warm summery days to butt cold in just hours! I had my heater on last week! Anyway, Thursday afternoon we rolled off the hill with our 5th wheel and off camping we went.
We weren't going to leave until Friday. But then all of a sudden Thursday morning Pete sends me a text and says "we can leave today if you want. I'll be home at 1:30". So I rushed to get everything in the trailer, make one last run for ice etc....and when does he finally show up home?? Um. 3:30. Two hours past when he said he would be home. I should have known. My husband is notorious for that. LOL! It all worked out in the end though. We finally got going around 4:30 and made it to the campground with just enough light left to set up camp.
This was the first time out in the 5th wheel, so I was really excited. Camping in the trailer is SO MUCH nicer than a tent. I had a pantry and a sink...and a toilet! And a real bed!
The campground kind of sucked though. I don't know that we'll go back to this place. The campsites were tiny. Basically just parking spots. Ours was so small we had to move the picnic table out of the way just to back the trailer in. And forget sitting around the campfire. At least in our spot there was just no room at all. Our friends got there before us and well....they basically took the better of the two spots. I don't blame them I guess!
Other than the campground itself, we did manage to have a great time. The boys slept in their own tent, which they loved. They were up at 6 am each morning ready to fish.

We spent most of the day Friday and Saturday at the swimming beach.

Us adults were outnumbered 8 to 4. Erin and Mike have 4 kids + they also brought their niece and nephew + our two kids. Luckily they all get along really well!
We also managed a S'more or two. Or three.

Saturday was Amanda's birthday.

Erin made the cake before we left. Yes, she MADE it. And brought it 3 hours in a Suburban full of kids to a campground! She's totally that kind of mom.

She even brought this stuff for the kids to play with. If you can't tell from the picture, she brought a whole little western play set complete with general store, sheriff office and cowboys etc...She's nicer than me. haha
I did manage to bring Hillbilly Golf with us, though. We discovered this at our church camp last month and decided it was the perfect thing to bring camping. We were going to make our own, but I couldn't pass up a set at Target for 20 bucks! But see....our campsites were so small we had to play in the road!

It was so nice to get away. I hope we can at least take the trailer out one more time before summer is over.

I have my surgery August 1st so I'm hoping to feel up to going again by mid-August? The doctor said I needed about a weeks recovery time so I think that should be good enough, right?
Swimming lessons started today! Oh how I love summer!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Homeschool past and future.

I realize that in my last post I was all gushy, gushy over summer and now here I am talking about starting school again.
I think I have ADD.
But really, I have just one month until we start school so it's time to get planning!
First, let me give my thoughts on our school year last year and homeschooling through a charter. I think most of you know that I really loved homeschooling. Like way more than I thought I would. First of all it's given me something to do. A job other than sweeping floors and folding clothes. Not that that isn't great and all...but I think I really needed something else to focus on, goals to achieve etc... I think I'm a happier person and better mom and wife because of homeschooling. And secondly, it's allowed me to step out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways. I've gone places, done things and met people all because of this homeschooling gig and for the sake of my kids. I'm a pretty shy person. I tend to always want to go somewhere new with someone I know because I get a little freaked by new social situations. I'm awkward. I'd rather just stay home all day. But I can't do that. My kids need to get out and see the world and meet people and socialize. (and they are not like me at all--both social butterflies!) So I signed us up for every field trip, class and activity I could get us in to. And it was fun. And I'm not scared to do it anymore.
As I mentioned we are homeschooling through a charter. A charter school is basically a 'parent run' public school (sometimes these schools are just like any other public school..sometimes they are more of an independent study program). The school receives funding through the state just like any other school and is held to testing standards results (among other things) in order to hold on to their charter. So the major plus to homeschooling this way (for me) is basic: money. The school gives each enrolled student a certain amount of money each semester for curriculum and classes. It sounds perfect. Someone will BUY all my curriculum for me?!! Well, yes... and no. Here's were some of the drawbacks come in. First there's a TON of homeschooling curriculum choices nowadays. Way more than there used to be. BUT a lot of them still lean towards a more Christian view, rather than secular. Which is fine by me...but not fine to the public school system. So I found that even though I had all this money to spend last year, I ended up spending a lot of my own money anyway. The other + and - to using a charter school is having to be held accountable. At first this seemed like the perfect thing for me-someone who was a little reluctant in the beginning-to have someone to help guide me and to know that I was being held accountable so that we wouldn't just sleep in till noon every day. I still view this as a plus and a minus. A plus because I really, really like our teacher. And because schedules and deadlines really do drive me. I am a notorious procrastinator. But knowing that I have to report to someone else, forces me to get going. So all that works for me. But...but, but, but....sometimes I just don't like being told what to do. LOL! Three categories that bug me every month (subjects that we have to list on our learning record that gets submitted to the state) are: special interests, PE, and life skills. Now, Jake's 'special interest' is archery. Doesn't that qualify also as PE and a life skill?? I think so. But apparently the school wants more. I have to list new life skills each month. And I have to show a progression in his special interest. And he needs to be doing other things for PE too. It's annoying. Especially when it's winter and freezing and raining. I do not care about PE in the winter.
But anyway overall I'm still glad to be going with a charter school because bottom line: we just don't have the money not to do it this way. Did I mention they also pay for classes like swimming, gymnastics, dance, karate etc...? Jake got to take this really cool outdoor explorer class that was very expensive and it was completely payed for by the school. It was an opportunity he would have never had if we didn't go through the charter.
So here we are with a month left until school starts for both Jake and Megan so I've been busy getting us ready. Here's our curriculum line up for the 2011-2012 school year:

Language Arts:
For Jake this will be a hodgepodge of things we'll put together. First I will be ordering several literature packs from a company called Moving Beyond the Page. The lessons use literature for comprehension, writing, spelling and grammar.
We will also use Writing Strands 3 (continued from last year) And I'm pretty sure I'm going to order All About Spelling for both kids. Spelling is by far Jake's worst subject. This program takes a phonetic method along with common spelling rules to teach spelling. I know for a fact that Jake has many gaps in his early teachings of phonics and was never taught any spelling rules at all until last year. So I'm hoping that by taking a small step backwards we can quickly make a giant step forward with spelling.
For Megan I am using Explode the Code workbooks for phonics/reading and handwriting. I will also use the All About Spelling with her along with a computer program we began last year called Reading Eggs.
For Jake we will continue with Singapore Math 2B, 3A and 3B. (each level takes about a semester and we've already started 2B) It's worked well for him and we're just going to keep going. For Megan....I'm still on the fence with this one. I'd like to just use Singapore since I already have it. But she's a different kid and numbers don't seem to a) interest her and b) I think she may just learn differently than Jake. We've begun the kindergarten curriculum, but I don't really like it. I'm thinking of starting Megan with Math U See.
History/Geography: We will continue with our study of Early American history and move into Western Expansion. We'll use Beautiful Feet Books for this again. The guide says this is for 4-8th grade, but I think we can make this work for us since we will be doing this as a family. And since this seems to go right along with the US and western expansion, we will be doing a geography study of the 50 states. I purchased a curriculum online that looks fun called Road Trip USA.
Science: My kids love science and unfortunately, last year was kinda boring. I tried to make it more interesting, but it was a lot of work gathering ideas and supplies for experiments etc...So this year I'm going to try out Nancy Larson Science. It's expensive, but it comes with everything. No hunting around for things or trying to come up with ideas on my own! sounds good to me!
PE/extra curricular/special interests:
Jake will continue to study archery and go to his outdoor explorer class. Pete also promised him he could play baseball this year so we will be looking for that ( in spring?) too.
Megan: for now we're looking for either a gymnastics or dance class (or both) for her and just kind of see where her interests lead her. I already know that she's extremely interested in horses. I'd love to get her into some lessons or something, but our school only will pay 30% (because they're generally so expensive) and a lot of the lessons won't start her until she's 7 AND a lot of the lessons around here are for English ridding and I'd rather her learn Western Pleasure. (i grew up with horses and it's what I would prefer her to learn).
And I think that's it. *Whew* It only took me 4 days to write that all up! I know it doesn't pertain to many of you, but I don't know...It's our life right now. :)
Now to go pack the trailer for camping!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Taking Summer by the Horns

I haven't been blogging much.
We are way too busy enjoying summer.
Oh yes, it showed up here finally and we are taking advantage of it...because who knows when the fog might roll back in!
We've been swimming.

my niece Caitlin and our friend Amanda
And gone to the county fair. Where Megan participated in a little show and got up and sang in front of everyone. (Oh my goodness that was CUTE!) She is fearless.

Our niece is here from Georgia and stayed with us for an entire week. That was so fun. I'd almost forgotten how much we all missed her.

We had a big party out our house for 4th of July. Lots of kids and adults and FOOD. Yeah, my friends and I tend to get carried away. But in a good way. The best part? Introducing the art of S'mores to some of the young'ns. Sticky, gooey, hot marshmallows + kids who've never even had them = funny.

The kids went and spent 2 days with Grandma and Grandpa. I'm not gonna lie, we missed them and kinda didn't know what to do with ourselves. (except eat dinner on the couch!) But it was a very nice and welcome break. When you homeschool, there just aren't as many breaks from kids. Most of the time, that's fine. But just need a break.
The rest of the summer is shaping up to look like this:
Camping next week
Swim lessons as soon as we return
The Big Wilcox Month of Birthdays (all of August--mine, Jake's then Megan's)
Camping again?
The start of our 2nd year homeschooling and Megan officially starting Kindergarten.
And.....Surgery. mmm mmm Yep. The 'ol gallbladder is coming out. I know, I sound like such an old lady! but I've got to get this thing out of me because the pain and annoyance of it all is becoming unbearable. It seems I'm having 'episodes' of passing a gallstone (not to be confused with passing a kidney stone-still painful, but entirely different) quite often lately. It is extremely painful, causes me to not sleep because it always happens at night, and gives me a lot of anxiety when it comes to eating. I just never know what is going to trigger an attack or what is not. Anyway...I want it gone. I met with the surgeon on Tuesday and though a specific date has not been set yet, he said the surgery should be sometime in either August or September. I'm a little bit scared, but I'm just really hoping that this pain will go away and I can go back to being normal. Whatever that is!
And well, that's that for now. I hope you are enjoying your summer as much as we are!