Check it out!

Out of last week’s post came a new idea. What if I had a site that had nothing to do with my kids? Wow! What a concept! I love writing so I decided that I would make another site that’s just for me. Book reviews, recipes, rants, raves, whatever. I would love it if you wanted to follow that as well, but if not I totally understand. My challenge to you last week was to find something that makes YOU happy. This is one of the things I’ve found that works for me. I hope you’ve found something for you.

The new site is called Another Kyla. I hope you’ll check it out but don’t judge to harshly right now since there is only one post at the moment.

An American Classic: Tuna Noodle Casserole

I’m not sure why, but I can never spell “casserole” correctly. Anyway…

I love tuna. I love egg noodles, and cream cheese, and mushrooms. So this was perfect and very easy for a crazy day! The kids feasted on Kraft Mac & Cheese (I’m not winning any parenting awards tonight and I don’t care. Seriously, zero craps given.) I think Monster A would have eaten the casserole, but he was hungry and the orange powder goodness was done much more quickly and apparently was calling his name. Oh well, more for me!!!! Cody has calc tonight so it’s a long day for him. I think he’ll like it and if not, well, he can eat a sammich, and still more for me!!! This stuff is good. I don’t want to share. It’s easy enough I could probably make more. We’re kind of a tight budget this week since we’re “bracing ourselves for winter is coming” and the coats you need for living close to “the wall” or ya know, the Canadian border, are ‘spensive, so this is pretty budget-friendly! But here it goes… my soon-to-be world (my house is now the world?) famous TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE (sorry for the cruddy pic. Maybe some day I’ll have one of those fancy schmanzy cameras.)

photo (1)Ingredients

8oz cream cheese (I used the bar form, but you could probably use the tub kind too. Perhaps even the whipped kind.)
1/3 c. milk
1 t. Garlic Powder
3 c. wide egg noodles, cooked according to package
2 – 5oz. cans of tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
1 c. frozen peas (I should have only used 1/2 c – 3/4 c, but I probably need the peas anyway.)
4 oz. can of mushrooms, drained
2 T grated parm cheese
8-10 Crackers (I only had the Toll House Flatbread Crisps and they worked fantastically!)
2 T butter (just use the real stuff), melted

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 while cooking noodles.
2. Combine cream cheese, 2T milk, and the garlic powder in a small bowl. It doesn’t have to be smooth as the hot noodles will help it melt a bit.
3. Drain the noodles and add the tuna, peas, mushrooms, and the remaining milk. Stir together. Add the cream cheese mixture and mix gently. 
4. Spoon the mixture into a 2 – qt. greased dish. Cover with foil  (or if you’re like me and out of foil, a baking sheet. It works the same. I may never buy foil again) and bake for 20 mins.
5. Mix together the melted butter, parm cheese, and crackers to make a crumble of sorts. 
6. Top casserole with the cracker mixture and return to the over, uncovered, for 5-7 mins. or until the cracker mixture is golden brown.

Seriously, so easy-peasey and it tasted incredible. I was in some need of some comfort food tonight and this hit the spot. 

 

 

 

 

Rainy days and Mondays…and a new reading program

Alright it’s not a rainy day and typically rainy days make me happy anyway. However, the Monday part is really gettin’ me down today.

The kids were gone last week. They went to my grandparent’s house in Southern Oklahoma. Grandparents = they got whatever they wanted. So getting back in the swing of things today was rough. Getting them to understand that they have responsibilities here was even more rough. It was late when we got in since we made the five hour trek from Minneapolis, where they flew in. That being said, EVERYONE was EXHAUSTED! I decided to alter our schedule for today based on whenever they woke up and got around. So we got started about an hour late which made me feel rushed all day long. I’m a type A personality. I need structure. I NEED a schedule! And I NEED to stick to it! I also felt like we had so much to make up from them being gone for a week…and we do. I sent a little bit of work for Monster A (math and some spelling/reading worksheets) but not a whole lot got done, which I didn’t expect it too. It’s going to be a long week, playing catch up.

Also, Cody is going to be leaving soon so I want to make sure we’re taking advantage of the time with have with him before he’s off on an “adventure”…yeah, that’s what we’ll call it. Getting ready for his first “adventure” is also stressing me out. But we’ll be okay. Always are.

We’re also trying out a new reading program…next week. We were going to start it this week and I am really excited about it, but I’m going to hold off until we’re back to what passes for normal around here. It’s called “Reading Reflex: The Foolproof Phono-Graphix Method for Teaching Your Child to Read” by Carmen and Geoffrey McGuiness. Honestly, I picked up this book from the library, not expecting much but hoping to get some pointers for my children who aren’t quite getting the phonics thing. This book makes total sense to me. It’s main premise is that letters don’t have any purpose outside of words and that letters don’t make sound. They are a symbol of the sound. Once we got past that this morning, which didn’t seem to take long, they were on a roll. (I did try to do a little bit today just to see how they responded to it.) I really think it looks promising. It explains that phonics requires a TON of memorization and is really only applicable to about 40% of words, e.g. the word “rain.” Yeah, that particular<a> makes a long “a” sound. So, we memorize <ai> makes a long “a” sound. What about captain, mountain, fountain, chaplain, etc.? We then have to memorize the rules for that, except phonics offers no rule for that situation, it only states that it’s an exception and never explains why. Makes sense, right? NO!!! Anyway, fantastic idea and I hope that I can implement it well. If it doesn’t work, well, back to the drawing board but the reviews are good enough to at least try it out. It’s a full curriculum and you can find it for around $10 on Amazon. May not be for everyone, but it certainly resonated with me while I was reading it. 

Well, y’all, it’s going to be an early bedtime around here. I know I’ll be met with complaints (which they normally go to bed with no problem at all) but if it makes for a better tomorrow I’m willing to do whatever!

I may post a recipe in a little bit however. Because this amazing tuna noodle casserole I’m eating right now deserves it!

The long promised post

The most daunting thing about home schooling was finding the curriculum that would fit my children’s needs most. I did a TON of research. I mean, it’s a lot of money up front, kind of like that time I decided to use cloth diapers (good idea, by the way.) I found a lot of great websites to use and luckily found an amazing group of veteran home schoolers, even if only for a year or two, that helped me out. So, please allow me to introduce our 2014-2015 curricula (cue the music!)

Monster S (Pre-K): I’m only using one curriculum for her. It’s totally interactive (puzzles, games and the like) instead of all book work. Confessions of a Homeschooler is incredible. I know I’ve talked about her before, but I cannot say how much we have enjoyed using this curriculum. I knew as soon as I saw the A Beka package that it wasn’t for us and I returned it. Gotta say I’m not too thrilled with their customer service. They’ve had the product back for a week and a half and I still don’t have a credit back on my card. But I digress. Her K4 Curriculum is so easy to use and for a much lower price ($15). It includes everything! Math, phonics, handwriting, Spanish (although we’re learning German), lesson plans. You end up printing A LOT though! I printed some in color and some in just black and white to save on ink. There are 34 weeks of complete lesson plans and although it takes some prep work on the parent’s end, it’s worth it! We also use her Letter of the Week Curriculum to fill in some holes where Monster S seems to have some problems. I think it was also $15.                                                        IMG_0483

Monster A: (Kindergarten) He’s got a lot of stuff…
Math: We’re using Math Mammoth in the Light Blue Series. It’s another print out, but I did it all in black and white to save on ink. There is an option to order a hard copy, but meh, I like instant gratification. I’m working on that patience thing. I was a little concerned about this because it seemed a little boring and maybe more advanced than I wanted for Monster A, but the price was good enough I decided I’d try it. He flies through these worksheets like they’re nothing. Seriously, 5-10 minutes at the most. It’s been awesome. It’s really 1st grade math, but he was ready.

IMG_0484Phonics: I’ve actually been using worksheets off of a website I found http://www.free-phonics-worksheets.com/. So far, I’ve found everything I’ve needed. He’s also using A Beka Letters and Sounds K5. I also got him the Number Skills K5 from A Beka but it’s too easy so I’ll add it to Monster S’s when she’s ready.) 

IMG_0486Logic: We’re using A Beka’s Think and Learn, which is probably my favorite thing from them so far. Honestly, I’m not impressed with A Beka for the most part. At least not for my kids. But of course, that’s where I got the majority of their curriculum. We’ll give it a shot. 

Science/Social Studies: Again, using A Beka but only as a supplement. I’ve ordered two subscription boxes for science and social studies. For science we’re using The Magic School Bus subscription box. We’ll get one box a month, which is great for my little ones. I’m also ordering the Little Passports subscription box which will also come once a month. I have no doubt that I can come up with stuff to keep them busy. 

Reading: Well, I still haven’t ordered an actually program. We just go to the library a lot and get easy readers. He actually finished his first book ever this week and was so proud of himself. I am so proud of him too. Reading is like breathing to me, so I hope I’m able to break it down into an easy format for him. 

Literature: He and I are actually doing the Classical Literature Vol. 1 Unit from Confessions of a Homeschooler (the site is literally on my “most visited” screen.) So far, we LOVE it!!! Okay, I probably love it more than he does, but he’s getting there. We’ll cover The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Little House in the Big Woods, Charlotte’s Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a few others. Again, an amazing price! We’ll make an awesome lapbook for each book!

Handwriting/Spelling: We went with A Reason For Handwriting and A Reason For Spelling. They’re great! They correlate with one another. All we’ve been doing so far is review but looking ahead, it looks like a great program. I’m excited about it!IMG_0487

 

So, this is it for now. We also have a Composer and Artist study but I’m going to wait for a little bit to introduce it to them. I’m not entirely sure that this list is what we’ll end up with at the end of the year, but it’s what we’re starting with. I’ll probably do reviews on each as time goes on and we get more familiar with each product. 

Alright, y’all. I’m turning in before I turn into a pumpkin. Good night!

 

Have I lost my mind?

Hi. My name is Kyla and I think, just maybe, I have lost my mind.

Snapshot_20140802_5

I have decided, rather quickly I might add, to home school my four and five year-old. Alright, to say quickly is an understatment. It’s always been in the back of my mind and my husband, Cody, has always been on board with it. So what pushed us over that edge? Well, let’s see…

1.) We’re a proud USAF family currently stationed in North Dakota. The kids and I just arrived a little under a month ago. Monster A was enrolled at a wonderful, small, Lutheran private school for Pre-K last year. He thrived. The kid is scary smart, ya’ll (I’m from Oklahoma, by the way. Get used to the “ya’ll”s.) When I started researching the ND schools I was shocked to find that you’re not even required to have any kind of education until you’re seven. Huh? So, where does this put my five year-old who had a hard time staying out of trouble caused (mostly) by boredom last year? Do I put him in a class that will basically repeat EVERYTHING he just spent the last year mastering? I think not. His sister, Monster S, is also incredibly bright and since there’s not a Pre-K program at the schools here I might as well throw her in the mix. I don’t want to push them too hard, but I know they’re capable of more than what they’re offered.

2.) Cody has different reasons. Well, not really different because I believe them too. It’s just not my primary reason for taking the route. We’re a Christian family, like the majority of home schooling families, and we want to have more control over the influences in our young children’s lives. I think it’s a good thing to have them interact with people of all faiths or lack of faith. I just want them to be well equipped to know what they believe. Also, I don’t trust the parents of other kids sometimes. I honestly believe that teachers and administrators do the absolute best that they can do (in most cases) but with the rising number of students being shoved into classrooms, it’s no wonder kids get lost in the fray.

3.) I found an amazing group of home schooling families on base. They have a co-op that meets on a weekly basis. Sometimes even more than that. I don’t think I would have ever made the decision to home school if it hadn’t been for the support of that co-op. People worry about the socialization of home schooled children. Well, between the twenty kids that were at the co-op and ballet and other sports, I think they’ll be just fine. Plus, they need to interact with all ages. Not just peers their own age.

There are actually many reasons why we decided that this was the right path for us. Those are just a few of them. I’m sure in the coming months we’ll find even more reasons that we love/hate home schooling.

My main reason for starting this blog is just to encourage other families and to share resources. Also maybe to document the losing of my mind. In the coming days I’ll be discussing the snags and triumphs of our adventure. As soon as I have all my curriculum delivered I’ll have a better idea of how to proceed. We are dedicating an actual room of our house to be a classroom. It’s a work in progress and will continue to be for a while. That’s okay. As long as we have the essentials, I’m not too concerned.

P.S. The thought of not having to get them to school in the ND winter doesn’t suck either.