Menu Planning for August 29, 2015

This last week went by in a blur.  All three kids were sick, one at a time, for about three days each, so for the last nine days, someone in our house has been sick.  I finally took PB & J Girl (who got sick last) to the doctor because she didn’t seem to rebound like the other two did.  She tested positive for strep, even though she hadn’t had the typical look in her throat of strep.  I brought the other two kids in for a strep test, and Cuddle Bug had it, too.

But now, both girls are on medicine and life is back to normal, thankfully.

Here’s our menu plan for the week:

Lunch–Sushi lunch (We were supposed to have this last week, but because the girls had strep throat all last week, they definitely didn’t feel like eating sushi!)
Dinner–Chicken “Pot Pie” (another recipe from last week we didn’t get to make)

LunchSlow Cooker Pinto Beans, Hot Dogs & Peppers

DinnerMomma Neely’s Pot Roast, green beans, sweet potatoes

Split Pea Soup w/Ham Hock

The Best Liver Recipe Ever (I sure hope so!), green beans, diced potatoes

Hamburger Soup homemade garlic bread

Spaghetti with Jamie Oliver Sauce, homemade garlic bread (with gluten free bread)


Salsa Soup

For more meal planning ideas, visit Menu Planning Monday and Gluten Free Menu Swap.

11/22/63 by Stephen King: A Book Review

Think for a minute about the worst thing that’s ever happened to you.  Think of all the “what ifs” that crowd your mind.

Now, imagine if you had the ability to go back in time and make changes.  What would you do?  Would you go?

How much of your life would you sacrifice to make the changes?  How would the change you make in the past affect the future?

These are the implied questions Stephen King asks in his novel, 11/22/63.

This book is a whopper at 840 pages.  I started it last summer but only got 140 pages into it before I had to give it up because we were getting ready to move to Arizona, and I got too busy.

I requested it through interlibrary loan several months ago and got it three weeks ago.  I immediately dove in, and I found myself annoyed that I couldn’t spend more time during the day reading it.  If only I didn’t have teaching, mothering and working obligations!  (Just kidding!)

As it was, the book is so long that I am a week overdue to return it, and I’ll have to pay a fine, but it was worth it to finally get through this book.

Jake Epping is living in Maine in 2011.  He’s a divorced, lonely high school teacher.  School has just ended for summer break when the local diner owner, Al Templeton, summons Jake.  Al is just a few days away from dying of cancer, and he has a task for Jake.  A monumental task.

Al explains that there is a rabbit hole of sorts in the back storage room of his restaurant.  Al himself has gone down the rabbit hole many times.  Each time, he finds himself back in time, September 9, 1958.

At first, Al used the rabbit hole to buy his meat at 1958 prices.  That’s how he can offer his burgers for such a steal, not by using meat from stray animals, as the town residents suspect.  Initially, Al only stayed briefly, but then, he realizes if he stayed longer—five years longer—he could change the world by stopping Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating President Kennedy.

However, Al doesn’t get to complete this mission because he develops lung cancer and must come back to the present.

He recruits a reluctant Jake to travel back in time and do what Al didn’t have time to do—kill Oswald before he can kill Kennedy.

Jake spends five years in the past to complete the mission, but his life changes in ways he’s unprepared for.  He even contemplates staying in the past when his task is complete.

King’s book is intriguing.  How does one change, be it small or major like preventing the Kennedy assassination, change the world?  Is our world one fragile house of cards where the slightest change can bring things crashing down?  Even if we somehow had the power to change the past, should we?

Don’t let the length of this book deter you.  It’s well worth the time investment for an excellent read that will leave you wondering long after you finish.

The only negative I have about this book is I got bogged down a bit in the middle when King focused heavily on Oswald’s life, communism, and the politics behind his life and motives.  However, that was only briefly in an otherwise excellent book.

5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide by Sharon Watson – TOS Crew Review

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

As much as it freaks me out (just a bit!), Bookworm is now in 6th grade.  I know he still has 2.5 more years until he gets to high school, but I want to set a course of action for the rest of his education now.  Part of that involves figuring out what classes he will pursue in high school.  The TOS review crew recently had the opportunity to review Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide by Writing with Sharon Watson.  Although Bookworm is too young to review this, as a hyper-planning mom and an English major, I asked to review this myself.

About Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide

This program contains 70 lessons and is to be used for two semesters.  At the end of that time, your student will have earned one credit for language arts or English.

For review purposes, I received all parts of the program in addition to two of the eight novels required for the class.  The materials included:

Writing with Sharon Watson Review
Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide (Student Book) $39.49
The student book, which is 284 pages long, is truly the heart of the course.  It is written in a conversational tone that is easy to understand, and there is so much good information here!  The first several lessons explain the goals for the course as well as common literary terms like protagonist, antagonist, foreshadowing, irony, conflict, etc.  These are explained thoroughly and using examples students can likely relate to.  For example, the many different types of conflict are explained using Bilbo Baggins from J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit.

Then Watson dives into Pudd’nhead Wilson and does an excellent job summarizing the highlights from Mark Twain’s life as well as setting the context for Pudd’nhead Wilson, which is so important since the story is set almost 200 years ago!

All of the lessons for each book follow this format.  There are several lessons first explaining different literary terms, and then there is information about the novel and the author.  After the student has read the book, there are discussion questions as well as other activities to do.


Writing with Sharon Watson Review
Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide: Teacher’s Guide $16.49
This book contains answers to the activities throughout the course.  It also gives information for discussion with the students as well as a schedule the teacher can choose to use.  Another great feature is extensive information about how to use this material in a group or co-op setting.

Writing with Sharon Watson Review
Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide: Quiz and Answer Manual $8.49
The quiz and answer manual is optional.  All of the quizzes can be found online, submitted, and graded for you.  The online quizzes are free.  The student gets the results immediately, and the results are also e-mailed to the teacher (if you use the teacher’s e-mail address.)  If you or your student prefer taking quizzes with paper and pencil, you’ll want to buy this book.

Writing with Sharon Watson Review
Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide:Novel Notebook (Free PDF Download)
Students are instructed to keep a notebook to answer certain questions about each book.  However, if they’d like something jazzier, Watson offers a free 101 page downloadable novel notebook complete with the questions for each novel as well as graphics.

In addition, I received the novels Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain and The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.

The course covers eight novels (of which I had only read one!) including the two above and the following:

  • The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
  • Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie
  • Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Sharon Watson offers all of the books for sale on her site, and they’re all very reasonably priced–from $1.00 to $14.27.  Buying these editions is wise because Watson has used them to reference pages numbers, etc. throughout the course.

Students are expected to complete lessons and readings for one novel per month.  Typically, the month looks like this:

Week One:  Complete the preliminary lessons (in Pudd’nhead Wilson, this was lessons 1-4)

Week Two:  Read chapters I – XII (half the book) of Pudd’nhead Wilson

Week Three:  Read chapters XIII – XXI (the rest of the book) of Pudd’nhead Wilson

Week Four:  Decide on an activity and begin working on it.  Complete lessons 5-7.  Hand in your activity.

In addition, the course is very easy to grade for the teacher.  Grades are comprised of the following activities and points:

  • “Yes I Read It” Quiz:  1-10 points
  • Literary Terms Quiz:  1-10 points
  • Participation in Opinion Quiz:  1-10 points
  • Quality of Participation in Discussions:  1-20 points
  • Successful Completion of Lessons and Assignments:  1-20 points
  • Successful Completion of Activity:  1-10 points
  • Finished Reading the Book:  1-20 points

How I Used Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide

I first approached this course as a student.  I read the student lessons that preceded the first reading assignment, Pudd’nhead Wilson.  Then I read Pudd’nhead Wilson and took the quizzes online.  They were easy to take, and yet they did truly test the students’ knowledge and understanding of the story.  Then, I completed some of the questions and activities that were assigned after reading the novel.

Next, I looked at the teacher’s manual and spent some time looking at how Watson approaches the class for those who are teaching in a co-op or similar setting.

My Thoughts on Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide

I really enjoyed this curriculum and think that most high school students will, too.  Watson offers plenty of activities for students to complete that will appeal to a wide range of learning styles.  For instance, at the end of the Pudd’nhead Wilson unit, students are to choose one activity to complete.  Activities range from watching the movie version of the book and comparing the book to the movie; to researching your genealogy; to writing a short essay on fingerprints or twins, to making a painting or drawing a scene or character from the book, etc.  There are so many varied activities that at least one will appeal to each student.

I’m tucking this curriculum away to use when Bookworm is ready, probably in 8th or 9th grade.  I’m sure he’ll really enjoy it!

I was one of 40 people to review Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide.  To read more reviews, click on the link below.

Writing with Sharon Watson Review
Crew Disclaimer

Our Homeschool Wrap Up, 2015 – 2016, Weeks 11, 12, 13

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a wrap up.  I wish I had something exciting to share, but, well, not so much.


In week 11, Bookworm finished up his first quarter of 6th grade.

He’s flying through his Veritas Press history, so my husband and I had several discussions about which history program to use next.  After a few nights of research, we decided on this history program.  New it costs $104, but I found the complete set on eBay for $50.  I’m hoping it comes in the next week so I can start planning and be ready when Bookworm finishes Veritas Press (by the end of September, I’m sure!)

The Sickness Cometh

Mid-week in week 12, some weird stomach flu/cold took down Cuddle Bug for 3 days.  She had a 102 degree fever and was very lethargic.  The couch was her best friend.  There may or may not have been lots and lots of television for her.

Just when Cuddle Bug recovered, Bookworm got it.  He was only down for the count for 2 days, and he, too, may have watched lots and lots of television.

We had a brief 12 hour respite when no child was sick. . .until it hit PB & J Girl.  She’s been down and out for two days now.  I’m hoping she will be better tomorrow because she hasn’t been able to keep down any food or liquids for 48 hours.  She’s naturally very thin, so I can notice any drop in her weight right away.

These last 1.5 weeks, not much has gotten done.

¿Spanish?  ¡Sí!

We are managing to squeeze in a little school, though.  The girls are trying out a fun Spanish program (more details on that to come), and Bookworm is trying out a middle school Spanish program.  I really want all three kids to learn Spanish, so I’m glad they’re liking the programs so far.

My Home Project

On a different note, a few weeks ago I noticed a welcome sign on the side of our house that was badly sun faded.  (Yes, neither my husband nor I remember noticing the sign before.  It must have been the previous owners’ that they left when we bought the house.)

So, I hand painted it.  Now, I’m not an artist by any means, so while it might not look that good up close, it looks good from the street.  :)

Here’s the before:


And the after:


How is your week going?

Weekly Goals, August 25, and an Update on Last Week’s Goals

8e19e6985e054cdcacd758f0f95328caThe Tucson bus strike continues, so once again my husband will be taking the car for most of the week.  I’ll admit, we’re all a little bit crazy staying at home all the time, but I am getting a lot done!

I’m trying to enjoy this time at home because how long can a bus strike last?  It’s already on day 20.  How long can this continue?  (Please don’t let these be famous last words!)

Here are my goals for the week:

  • Write five posts for clients.
  • Write two Crew Review posts.
  • List more clothes and curriculum for sale on Facebook and eBay, if need be.
  • Cut out the material for one of the Christmas presents I plan to make.  If I have time, start sewing it.
  • Read the two books I have for upcoming reviews and giveaways.
  • Plant more seeds for the garden.
  • Exercise for at least 10 minutes 3x this week.
  • Buy and eat these addictive chocolate honey patties only once a week when I go to the grocery store.  (Lately I’ve been eating them daily, which could explain my recent weight gain.  :))

And here’s an update on last week’s goals:

  • Write three posts for clients.
  • Write two Crew Review posts.  (I just wrote one because the deadline for the other one got pushed back.)
  • Figure Bookworm’s end of quarter grades.
  • List more clothes and curriculum for sale on Facebook and eBay, if need be. Now if only it would sell!!
  • Cut out the material for one of the Christmas presents I plan to make.  If I have time, start sewing it.
  • Make a two week (frugal) grocery plan and go shopping for the next two weeks’ worth of groceries.
  • Decide if we can afford to buy 1/4 side of beef.  If we can, send out the deposit check.
  • Finish reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63.  Look for a review this Friday.  What a good book!
  • Start an indoor garden.  I planted lettuce.

What are your goals for the week?