Growing Into Me

Life. Love. Family. Our Perfect Imperfection. Living life as a Catholic, homeschooling family with three amazing, unique boys, a too-oft serious, frustrated and anxious but also loving momma, and a fun-loving, hardworking dad.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

My problem-solver husband

Just need to share this:

A couple of weeks ago I bought a new, larger whiteboard for our school room. Jason had to travel two weeks (5 days gone, 2 days home, 4 days gone) in a row for work. Due to that fact, we finally got an opportunity to hang it yesterday. In the process of removing the packaging, it was discovered that a piece of double-sided tape was on the surface of the board near the center. I attempyed to carefully remove it but it ultimately tore some of the surface off. We returned it immediately to the office supply store, the only one within a twenty minute drive. Of course, they didn't have any of the 36"×48" in stock, only the 24"×36" like we have. So we left empty-handed. Jason and I looked online yesterday for other options. However, I quickly gave up, figuring we'd just use the smaller one for now and replace it eventually.

After a rough night for me (stomach bug), I was still not feeling well so the boys and I stayed home from church. When Jason woke up, he gave the dog a bath, Jackson a shower - because what 5 year old wants a bath... - and proceeded to look through the fridge to determine tonight's dinner. Seriously the best help ever! (Leftovers, by the way.) Then he spent the next hour or so researching and trying to locate a whiteboard, even asking me stuff and making suggestions. After searching, he proceeded to call another branch of the office supply store to verify they have one of that size in stock. He is currently driving 30 minutes each way via the turnpike to get a new whiteboard for the wall of our school room so we can start our year tomorrow as planned right. 😍

Sometimes, he drives me crazy trying to "fix" my problems when all I need in the moment is to complain and rant. But today? I needed exactly what he did. And you know what? I think by him being able to fix this for me and help me so much, he was able to show me he loves me in the way HE needs to show it. I tend to forget that. I sure do love that man!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Family Game Night and Birthday Plans

We played a couple of card trivia games last night which both fit in perfectly to the history time period we are going to be starring to focus on! Professor Noggin's Medieval Times covers 1066-1453, and our history syllabus this year covers 1066-1700. We also played Professor Noggin's Explorers, which obviously many explorers were during that time period as well. 

I always find it amazing what my kids know and what they learn from simple things like this. I bought the games originally to reinforce history and science topics for Ethan as well as to help him with his communication skills and executive functioning. I never thought about that added benefits it would have on the other two (similar as Ethan) but also the potential to help our family dynamic. 

Something this simple brought us together last night - and trust me, it wasn't that perfect togetherness you see in old photos and movies, but it was our version of togetherness, complete with laughter and yelling, some crying from the little dude, silliness and seriousness, Jason doubting my explanation, and me being right 😂, the boys each surprising in turn with some little known fact or tidbit of knowledge.

I will never again doubt that reading a random book will instill knowledge. Ethan, who is 15 today, knew the answer to the question "What Norwegian explorer was the first to reach the South Pole?" In surprise, I asked him how in the world did he know that, as none of us had ever heard of the person. (The answer by the way is Roald Amundsen.) He matter-of-factly stated, " Oh, I read it sometime on the Guniess Book of World Records."

While everyone else guessed a country, Alex knew that Marco Polo wrote his book The Travels of Marco Polo in prison! He told us he remembered because of a report he had written way back in 3rd or 4th grade at his old school.

Jackson knew some of the answers, but was really enjoying reading the questions and answers aloud. Some of the words were really difficult but he tried his hardest and did very well.

I'm so glad we let the boys stay up later than normal and had a family game night.

Today we get to celebrate the oldest boy's birthday. Ethan asked to go spend his birthday money from his grandparents on a new 3ds game and some clothes, and also to pick out what he would like from us. For dinner, he asked to go to a local Italian/pizza restaurant with some close family friends. 

The perfect end to his day? He asked for a chocolate crazy cake with homemade dairy-free chocolate "buttercream" frosting. I used this recipe for the frosting, but substituted Earth Balance buttery spread for the butter, and water for the milk. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Pardon the tears, my kids are growing up...

Who knew getting rid of toys that have been in our home for nearly 13 years would be so hard?

It's not even about the toys, it's about the memories made with them and the little boys who are now young men (or just bigger boys on Jackson's case at only 5).

The trains and Bob the builder duplos were some of the first real toys E ever had, really connected with and brought us into his world with. He would sit and watch the Bob the builder videos over and over and knew the song by heart (he probably still does!). He played with the blocks and trains daily, at first mostly in his way of just lining them, and later by building elaborate cities with Jason and his brother, Alex. Later when Jackson came along, the older boys would play with him, too, showing him how to make the world's and playing for hours. Now they've moved on to Legos and those items have sat collecting dust for a few months. When I asked if they would like to keep them or pass them on to a friend's 2 year old, they readily agreed.

It's the end of a chapter and as silly as it is, I'm over here holding back tears, thinking about all the things past and all the things in the not-so-distant future. E will be working on his second year of high school, Alex is starting his last year of middle school, and Jackson will be doing his first formal year of school, too. When I think about all the time that has passed so quickly, I am sad that I didn't live in those moments more and grateful for the memories I have. I am looking towards all the great things on store for our future and hoping to slow down and enjoy these crazy teenage years with my older 2 and early years with the little guy and not put off the things I want to do with them any more. In other words, find a way to experience life more fully with them before it's too late.

Friday, July 21, 2017


Sometimes it's hard not to dwell on things or focus on the bad or rough things going on in our lives. Sometimes it's hard to find the positives in the situations. But today, I'm looking back on a few things from the last few days, attempting to do just that.

Last week, Brutus (our year and half old pup) swallowed a bouncy ball whole - leading him to need abdominal surgery on Friday. He had all the necessary blood work and when Jas took him back on Saturday for a follow-up, we were informed he also has hookworms.

Had he not eaten a toy, we may not have known before he got really sick that he had hookworms. In addition (and to me, worse yet!), my children or any of our friends' children could have gotten them by playing in our yard barefoot!

Brutus refused to eat the special diet he was prescribed, even going almost 24 hours not touching it. He would eat the high-fat store-bought canned food, but really needed the low-fat stuff so I had to make him some homemade food. Frustrating and a bit time consuming.

However, we could afford to, and I have kitchen utensils like the instant pot and food processor to make it easier.

Ethan's laptop power button stopped working. No powering on, no putting in or waking from sleep mode. Not responding at all. The same laptop we purchased for him in December and needed repairs in January for a defective battery... And that he uses for math and German as well as research and other school things, and he was still finishing some things this week.

It's still under warranty for 3 months and is definitely a manufacturer warranty issue. The laptop worked otherwise (emergency power button worked but not recommended...). He only had 4 math lessons and one test left of Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2 to finish and we were able to transfer it to the other laptop to finish. Geek squad handled the repair drop off and shipment smoothly and the parts are already being replaced! Should have it back in a few days.

Jas dropped his phone on the driving cracking the back of it.

When he dropped it, it fell just right so the cracked area is small and on the back. It's not affecting the function.

The truck's brake lights and rear turn signals keep going out due to connection issues. The truck's a/c keeps going out due to a faulty water temp sensor. In summer. In South Florida.

Jas is pretty handy around vehicles thanks to my awesome father-in-law teaching him, and he can fix them both for fairly inexpensive. Oh and the a/c is currently working again without the repair, so at least it's only randomly going out and usually only for a short time. Plus he will likely be able to replace the sensor this weekend.

We aren't finished with our 2016-17 school year and July is almost over.

I planned to go year round so this isn't really an issue. 😃 But also, we are finishing it up today! E finished math yesterday. Today they both finished writing their final history essay, their final creative writing paper and their final draft of their lesson 6 paragraph from writeshop 1. We may not be as far as I'd hoped with writeshop, but they both struggle some with composition, especially Ethan. In regards to that, I am happy with the progress we've made and know that we will pick it back up in September.

Since this week ends our official 2016-17 school year, we are taking next week off, followed by - by request, as I was willing to take more time off 😉 -  a few weeks of lighter work: A unit study on Ancient India and another on Ancient Japan (both of which include some history, science, art, language arts - we will try our hand at poetry and myths! - and even a little practical math) plus some life skills. A couple of neat field trips that go with our unit studies might be in the works. Oh and throw in a microstudy of the upcoming solar eclipse on 8/21 for which we may just take a road trip north to South Carolina and turn it into a mini vacation too. After all, we have a National Parks pass and that has me wanting to visit some parks. Anyone up for a camping trip to Congaree NP (which by the way has no entrance fee)?

I'll leave you with three of the best reasons I'm am trying to change my perspective and focus on the little ways things are good. These three amazing young men may drive me crazy even in our best days, but I love them so very much and they teach me as much as I do them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Homemade with love

For Christmas, I got a bread machine from Jason and the boys. Well, truthfully, I didn't ask for anything and just ordered it for myself because I knew what I wanted. But Jason totally would have bought it if he had known and so it was from them.

Ever since we started following the Feingold diet, we have had a hard time finding approved bread. In fact, only two stores near us - one of the Walmarts and Winn-Dixie - carried an brand we could have and liked and their inventory was inconsistent at best. There was one other brand but none of us really liked it and it was expensive. Whole Foods is a bit too far to drive every week, sometimes twice a week, for bread and a few other staples. So the homemade bread journey would start just after Christmas.

Searching through recipes my mom had given me years ago and after having tried several I found online, I chose one from my mom's pile. I made it a few times as read but it wasn't quite right for sandwiches. After making an adjustment, we have found the best ever homemade white bread and it's amazing for sandwiches.

Here's the recipe:

White Sandwich Bread (for a bread machine)

1 1/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons salted butter
4 cups bread flour (I use King Arthur's brand but any BREAD flour should be fine)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons instant dry or bread machine yeast

Place all ingredients in bread machine in the order listed.
This makes a large or 2lb loaf so choose the correct setting on your machine.
We have found it best to adjust the crust setting to light.
The bread type is basic/white bread.
Press start and wait until it's finished baking.  If your machine lets you know when you can remove the paddle, I highly recommend it as it makes a much nicer looking loaf/slices. Let cool slightly before slicing. Or save it for the next day or two even!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Today, the boys and I are going to see Disney on Ice for the first time. We are heading out in just about 15 mins! It's the Follow Your Heart show. All three boys were up, have eaten breakfast and are either showering or getting dressed before 8am! This is significant because lately we've been very lazy in the mornings. Partly because we are still.on break and partly because we can 😂

When we get home, I have to make dinner, which will be marinated pork chops in the Instant Pot and either rice or mac and cheese and a veggie (Jackson will likely have a couple of no thank you bites and then some microwaved chicken nuggets. Sigh.)

While dinner is cooking and we eat, I have to cook 2 pans of sliders (18 burgers and 18 bbq chicken) to take to the potluck for the Troop meeting. We did a trial run of the burger ones last night and they were fantastic. I just hope they stay hot enough during the meeting until it's time to eat. I'm baking them in foil pans that have lids but have no way to keep them warm at the Troop Hut - it's basically a pavilion outside in a wooded area and a field for parking and playing in.

Tonight's the Court of Honor and Alex was recently voted in as new Patrol Leader for his patrol plus should be getting his first merit badge tonight. I feel really bad that he didn't go to summer camp this year as he is so "behind" on merit badges already.

Tomorrow we are going to the science center and aquarium for a field trip with friends and will get to explore the Grossology exhibit!! I might be as excited as the boys are to go here! In anticipation Jackson and I read "My Visit to the Aquarium" by Aliki.

(affiliate link)

It's such a good book that I am now on the lookout for more by this author! I know for sure there is a zoo one that I'm thinking of getting.

On Saturday, Alex and Jason are helping to cleanup the Troop Hut for the annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser in 2 weeks.

It's going to be a fun few days!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Our Curriculum Plans for 2016-17

This year, we are keeping some of our favorites from our first year, adding in some new subjects, and changing out some things that weren't a good fit for us.

For starters, we enrolled Ethan and Alex in Kolbe Homeschool Academy using their homeschool courses. With the flexibility they offer, we will be using some of their courses and some of our own choices, while also taking advantage of their transcript services and future use of their diplomas. 

Ethan's officially a high schooler now (we basically repeated 8th grade last year to give him a chance to mature, hit some areas where he struggles and find our groove since we were coming from a public school setting.) I felt it would be good to have some guidance on certain courses, a way to track his grades and write a transcript that would be from an accredited school since he will - hopefully! - be my first homeschool graduate in approximately 4 years, and I am a bit nervous about the transcript portion. We will be starting to do career and college research this year, and look into PSAT/SAT/ACT testing as well.

Alex did almost all 6th grade work last year, save religion and wordly wise which he did at the 5th grade level. Since he is officially a middle schooler, and starting 7th grade, I thought it would be good to also use Kolbe to have some guidance in courses, and tracking grades. Plus if he takes Algebra 1 in 8th grade, I believe he can get high school credit on his transcript! He will be doing 6th grade religion and possibly level 6 of wordly wise.

I didn't enroll Jackson in Kolbe this year as he won't be 5 until January and even then I will likely wait to enroll him until he is in 7th grade if we go that route. However, he has really surprised me the last few months with the amount of learning he has done and continues to want to do, without formal schoolwork! We will be doing K4 together this year - basically preschool/kindergarten combo - and then K5 next year, unless he seems ready to just dive into 1st. Jackson is able to write letters and number fairly well, attempts to spell simple words by sounding them out and asking for help, and can write his name. He is trying to read words by sounding them out. In addition, he can draw and identify shapes, add 1+1 and can count to 20 consistently. We won't be doing a really formal curriculum this year with him.

English Language Arts
Since Ethan and Alex are both naturally good spellers, there's really no need for them to use a formal spelling program anymore.

We will continue to use Wordly Wise 3000 online for vocabulary. We purchased a yearly subscription through Homeschool Buyers' Co-op a few months ago, and the boys really like it. Ethan will be doing level 9 and Alex will do level 6.

For our grammar lessons, we will continue using IEW's Fix it Grammar books. Last year, we used book 1 and about half of book 2. This year, we will finish up book 2 and move on to book 3.

We decided to try something new for composition and writing this year with all three of the boys. WriteShop 1 will be used by Ethan and Alex for their main English curriculum. If you are able to print, and have more than one child using it, or have other children who will use in the future, I highly recommend buying the workbook in e-book format. You can print as many as you need for single-family use!

Jackson will be using WriteShop Primary A over the course of the next two years.

Although I like IEW's Student Writing Intensive B, it didn't feel like a great fit. We may revisit it later in the year to continue to glean more from it. It did help the boys learn how to pull out key words and take notes, as well as expand their word usage by giving them the banned word lists.

For additional essay topics, I plan to use the 100 philosophy questions from Westvon Publishing, as well as history essays.


Alex will be using Kolbe's Junior High Literature Course over the next two years, and has already planned out which books he would like to read for both years! There's always the chance he'll change his mind for next year, but there are plenty of wonderful options.

Ethan will be using a number of selections on the book list from the JH Literature even though he will not be taking that particular course. The choices are just that good!

Ethan and Alex will both be reading the following (as well as several other books that are history related):
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  • The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson 
  • Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha by Evelyn M. Brown
Alex's list also includes:
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • St. Benedict by Mary Fabyan Windeatt
  • Short stories
    1. The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry
    2. The Last Leaf by O. Henry
    3. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
    4. The Story of the Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke
    5. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
    6. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
    7. The Red Headed League by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    8. The Devil and Daniel Webster by Stephen Vincent Benet
    9. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Ethan will also read:
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Little Women by Louis May Alcott
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway 
  • Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
  • Perelandra by C.S. Lewis
Jackson and I are going to be using Five in a Row Volume 1, as well as using it for inspiration to "row" other great picture books. It really covers more than just reading for him. It also gives science, geography, social studies, etc suggestions.


We really enjoyed RC History Connecting with History Volume 1: Ancient History and the Old Testament and have decided to stick with it. We have one unit left from last school year that we will start with. It's a chronological program so we can just continue right on into Volume 2, which is Early Medieval history through 1066 AD, the New Testament and the Early Church.

The book list for RC History is extensive and includes many non-fiction and historical fiction selections.

Ethan will mostly use the Logic level books, but will also use a couple from the Grammar level. Alex will use a mix of Grammar and Logic level books. Jackson and I will read a few of the Beginner level books together as well.

We also have some hands-on books about castles and the Middle Ages and animated versions of Ben-Hur and The Odyssey that we will use to enhance our studies.


Geography is a new addition to our home school this year, even though I've had the curriculum for about a year. Using GeoMatters Trail Guide to World Geography, Ethan will do the Secondary level, and Alex will do the Intermediate level, and both will use the student notebooks.

To enhance our geography study, and to include Jackson, I purchased Give Your Child the World. There are so many great books listed in it, and I'm currently matching up different choices from the age groups to the places from each week of our formal curriculum.


Ethan finally seemed to find his groove last year once we switched to Teaching Textbooks. He'll be doing the Algebra 2 course this year.

Alex finished the year with Saxon 7/6 but found it boring. He practically begged to use Teaching Textbooks like his brother, so he'll be using their Pre-Algebra.


Ethan will be doing Kolbe's Introduction to Physics and Chemistry (Physical Science) course, which uses the Prentice Hall Physical Science textbook.

Alex will use the Life Science course from Kolbe, that uses Holt Life Science short courses A,B,C and E.

We will likely do some nature study as a family as well.

Foreign Language

Ethan and Alex will be learning German, using Kolbe's German 1 course. Jackson will learn some simple German words, like colors, numbers, animals, and food. Things that I remember from my high school German classes ;)


Ethan is going to be confirmed in the Spring of 2017, and has chosen his Confirmation Sponsor, and Patron Saint. Our Parish requires that he use the same religious education curriculum that they do, and they would like him to attend the classes as well as the youth group meetings. I don't believe they can require the class/youth group portion though, and I explained that as homeschoolers, we have the chance to do religious education daily, just as a private Catholic school does. The new DRE said that we can do the classwork at home, but she didn't seem extremely pleased about it. The class is on Wednesday from 6-7:15pm, then a quick snack that they provide (that he won't be able to eat due to the Feingold elimination diet we follow), followed by the mandatory youth group meeting from 7:30-9:30pm. I know my kiddo, and there's no way he could handle basically a 3 and a half hour class in the evening, starting right at our dinner time, and ending after his normal bedtime. All of our kids are in bed by 9 or just after, with Ethan usually being the first one choosing to go to bed! He is an early riser, and is usually quite tired by 9pm. In addition to the Parish's required Confirmation Religious Ed text, Ethan will be working through the Didache Series' Introduction to Catholicism, which we may break into a 2 year course. It's a fairly thick textbook, with an in-depth study of Catholicism, and since he's going to be doing double-duty for formal RE this year, I feel it's only fair.

Alex will be using Faith and Life 6: Following Christ this year, following Kolbe's 6th grade religion course.

We are planning to start attending daily Mass on Wednesdays for a couple of months, and transitioning to going on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They will also be reading several books about Saints throughout the year, incorporated into History as well as just extra reading assignments.

Also new for this year, we will be using the free Virtues in Practice from the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia - Nashville starting with the Faith year. Ethan and Alex will both be doing the 6-8 grades level, and Jackson will do the Pre-K/Kindergarten level.

Life Skills

Having finally decided that they really need to learn HOW to clean and cook among other independent living skills, I've purchased and printed out both the Complete Girl's Guide to Home Skills and The Boy's Guide to Home Skills: The Young Man's Handybook as well as the lesson plans for each. Some of the skills overlap, and some we may not use at all (building a cabin or hosting a dinner party, for example), plus they are a bit "old-fashioned" in a sense, but we'll use what we feel will be useful. The whole part about one being written for girls, and one for boys doesn't really fit us, hence the reason we will use a combination of both.  They need to know how to keep a clean home, cook, and manage a budget, among other skills to run a household after they move out and I hope that any possible future daughters-in-law will appreciate that I tried to teach them these things.

In regards to managing a budget, Dave Ramsey has a financial literacy program called Foundations in Personal Finance. He's written a curriculum for both high schoolers and middle schoolers, both of which we will use. Ethan will start the high school one this year, and I may have Alex start the middle school one next year, after I get a chance to really read through it. For Jackson, and possibly Alex, I also bought Financial Peace, Jr, which is for ages 3-12.

In an effort to really help them, and make it fun, we also chose to buy the Act Your Wage board game at the same time as the above. Homeschool Buyers Co-op had a fantastic deal on all of them, so it was definitely worth it.

The best laid plans. We'll see how it all plays out. Two 18 week semesters, broken into either 9 week quarters, or 6 week sessions. I really need to write down our weekly lesson plans in my book for at least 6 or 9 weeks and see where that leaves us. I'm starting to, but keep getting distracted!

I hope everyone has a great school year, whether your kids go to public, private, or charter schools, or are homeschooled! They all deserve the very best, and it isn't going to be the exact same for any child.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Why I am Calling It Quits.

I quit. I can't do it any more. I'm tired of thinking about "must finish every page, every lesson, every unit." I'm tired of hearing "Is it September yet?" We need a break. And I tell you truthfully, it is a well-deserved break! These boys have worked hard and learned so much this year. They have tried different curriculums to find a good fit and read countless books. They did math almost daily and learned grammar rules I never knew existed. They are ready to be done for the school year and eager to start the new one after a break. There's no reason we can't take a holiday starting now and still start back up in October, no reason we can't take a 7 week "summer" instead of only 4. Next year we have 36 weeks of school planned with 4 weeks off between each trimester of 13 weeks. In the middle of the trimester is a one week break also, making it 12 weeks of school. 180 days with extra time in August next year if we really need it. We shouldn't. But it's there if we do. That's the beauty of homeschooling. We can make it fit us, not fit us into it.

I woke up this morning questioning this next 3 weeks and shoveling so much into it, just for the sake of finishing and saying we had completed every page of every book and feeling like they got everything they could out of it. Then I read an article about how people aren't using their vacation days. The end of the Washington Post article entitled "Why you should use your vacation time" really spoke to me, specifically the last paragraph with a quote about being burnt out. It's a really good post that I feel could benefit anyone who reads it.

After everyone was awake and had breakfast, I made a decision. I had Alex take Teaching Textbooks pre-algebra placement test. He got 4 of 30 wrong which means he's ready for it. Also, Ethan took TT Algebra 2 placement test and he got 6 out of 30 wrong making him ready for it. We were supposed to start our last unit for history today. Since we are doing world history chronologically, we will start with it at the beginning of our new school year, essentially adding it to the Volume 2 of RC History Connecting with History.

Therefore, I'm calling it. We are done with school after Friday for the year. If we need to go back and do some Algebra review in October, it will be there waiting for us.

One map, a creative writing assignment, some clay projects, science reading, a few Algebra lessons, the final religion lessons and tests, and this week will end on a fantastic note. Just as public school starts up (and most of our fellow homeschool friends! 😂) We'll finish reading Swiss Family Robinson and Swallows and Amazons in our free time together. And finish our science unit as we wish.

Here's to a fabulous 7 weeks of break and renewal and hopefully a true family vacation somewhere.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Success - Delicious Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs

 A few weeks back, on Amazon Prime Day, there was a great deal on this Instant Pot (affiliate link), so I decided to snag one. To be honest, I was a little nervous to try it for the first time. I've never used a pressure cooker of any kind before and didn't want to ruin a meal, especially baby-back ribs!

After going on a Facebook group for fellow IP users, I took some suggestions shared on others' posts and ran with it, changing it to fit our preferences and needs.

Since we avoiding apples, and the boys all like pears, I scoured the cupboard for any canned pears in 100% juice. Our stand-by seasonings for most things are sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder so that was what I intended on using. After gathering what I needed, I set to work.

Baby-back Ribs with Teriyaki Sauce

2 racks of baby-back ribs
3 cups 100% pear juice (I used the juice from canned pears, and just served the pears on the side)
1 cup white vinegar
fine ground sea salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
onion powder, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
teriyaki sauce (we used Veri Veri Island Teriyaki Sauce ( affiliate link) this time. We've actually liked all of their sauces.)

  1.  Set the IP to saute, and pour in the pear juice and white vinegar, letting them warm while you prep the ribs. (This helped to bring the pressure up quicker later as it was already warmer.)
  2. Remove the membrane on the ribs, and slice into smaller sections, approximately 3-5 ribs each. Then, season liberally with sea salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders on both sides. 
  3. Place ribs in IP, and press Meat. Adjust time to 25 minutes. Place and lock the lid.
  4. Preheat the grill to low/low medium heat.
  5. When finished pressure cooking, vent, watching closely in case of splatter, or you could probably let it naturally release.
  6. Once the pressure is released and you are able to open the lid, remove the ribs carefully.
  7. Brush teriyaki sauce on ribs, and grill over low heat until browned to your liking.

Easy peasy! And delicious, juicy, fall-off-the-bones ribs, in about an hour! There were leftovers but only because it was so filling with our side of mac and cheese and green beans. Alex actually wanted them for lunch the next day, but told him we should save them for leftover night ;)

Last night, I made a chicken in the IP as well, and it was the absolute juiciest bird that I've ever made! I used this recipe from Paleo Gone Sassy. Everyone LOVED it!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day! (and a menu plan, too!)

Happy 4th of July, everybody! I hope today is a great one for you! We are ending our first full year living in South Florida today and it's been interesting to say the least.

The boys and I have all made some great friends in our homeschool community, including the family that lives in our neighborhood currently. We've almost finished up our first year of school - just 8 more weeks, as we finish our history and math curriculum up. Since it took us so long to find an Algebra one that was a good fit for Ethan, it extended our year some, but worked out in the long run, since we still have 2 units of our 10 unit history program left and are going to do a 7 week science unit study on weather with some friends during that time as well! As you can imagine, it's very hot in Florida, especially down near Miami, and that means a lot of indoor time anyway, so that's conducive to us doing school in the summer too.

We are taking September off for our "summer" break and starting the 2016-17 school year fresh on October 3rd. I already have an idea of what our lessons will be but no set schedule yet, and we don't have ALL of our curriculum or books yet. That will definitely be a late Aug/early Sept post. :)

The older boys are off playing with friends until they are hungry for lunch, and the little one (I won't be able to call him that much longer, he'll be 5 in SIX months!!) is washing the truck with Jason while I am in here actually writing! There's a good chance we will go to our town's fireworks show this evening after dinner, as all 3 kiddos want to watch them. I'm just dreading the heat and bugs...

It's the first Monday in July and the first week of us following the Feingold program. We attempted this for awhile, a very long time ago, maybe 9 years ago? The only thing was I didn't make us do Stage 1. We sort of skipped over it and when it got "too hard" and too expensive, without change (and lack of will power), we just stopped. Over the years, we've made many improvements in our diet, choosing different things, and slowly finding better alternatives. This seems like the next logical step, to try again, but fully jumping in, doing stage 1. Especially since some of the eliminated items were already off the menu - or mostly off the menu - around here.

To better help us stay on track, I planned out the next 2 weeks breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Our breakfasts will be on repeat until eternity (or something like that) and actually have more variety than usual! Our lunches will mostly be repeated, with changes for the leftover "this or that" depending on the previous day's dinner. Dinners will have some repeats, such as Taco Tuesday, pizza on either Friday or Saturday, and leftover buffet on Sundays and possibly one thrown in on a Wednesday here and there, since garbage pick-up is Mondays/Thursdays and we can clean the fridge out Sun and/or Wed night then.

Here's this week's menu plan. Sorry, no recipe links, but most meals are pretty easy. If you are knowledgeable about or are a member of Feingold, then all the meals are adapted for S1 and you know what that means :) *on that note, I totally screwed up this morning and made pancakes with S2 mix, because when we were at the store, I used the PDF and typed in the brand, saw it was approved and bought it, without noticing where in the book it was. I didn't double check and after making half the pancakes, happened to glance at the ingredients to see a S2 ingredient! Oops! Not a great start, but better than bisquick ;) and they were GF, and the kids AND hubby liked them!*

Breakfast - Pancakes with maple syrup
Lunch - Beef and cream cheese roll-ups, chips/crackers, banana
Dinner - Cheeseburgers, baked mac and cheese, corn on the cob, watermelon

Breakfast - Smoothie: banana, mango and pineapple with yogurt, oatmeal muffins
Lunch - Leftover mac and cheese, salad, watermelon
Dinner - Garlic grilled chicken, homemade fries, roasted broccoli

Breakfast - Oatmeal, homemade pork sausage patties, pears
Lunch - Peanut butter & honey "sliders", canned pineapple, chips/crackers
Dinner - Tacos (tortillas, beef, crockpot refried beans,lettuce, onion, cheese, sour cream, olives), watermelon

Breakfast - Eggs, toast with butter, banana
Lunch - Leftover tacos or cheese quesadillas, watermelon, carrots
Dinner -Teriyaki chicken, twice baked potatoes, green beans

Breakfast - Cereal, milk, pears
Lunch - Grilled cheese, chips/crackers, banana
Dinner - Pizza (pesto chicken, white cheese, mac & cheese), canned pineapple, salad

Breakfast - Waffles, syrup, canned pears
Lunch - Peanut butter and honey sandwiches, chips/crackers, carrots
Dinner - Hamburger patties w/gravy, rice w/butter, broccoli

Breakfast - Oatmeal muffins, sausage, yogurt
Lunch - Beef and cheese sandwich, banana, chips/crackers
Dinner - Leftover buffet

Find more menu plans here at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Here's to a great week full of yummy food, lots of school getting done including our first Science co-op meeting, some outside time towards our 1000 hours outside total and a fun Thursday movie get-together!