Archive | August, 2011

Teaching Kids Life Skills

8 Aug

So, I’m crafting a “Life Skills” curriculum for my kids which would include the basics in cooking/baking/kitchen skills, laundry care, car care, household handyman tasks, and personal finances. I may throw in some basic first aid, gardening, and household organizing for good measure. These are the skills I have thought of so far:


  • meal planning
  • grocery shopping (including selecting fruits, vegetables, meat)
  • reading a recipe
  • timing the different components of a meal
  • boiling water (very basic, I know, but definitely a needed skill)
  • cooking pasta
  • steaming vegetables
  • cooking eggs (boil, fry, scramble)
  • chopping vegetables
  • making a salad
  • making a vinaigrette
  • boiling chicken
  • roasting meat & vegetables
  • using a crockpot
  • sauteing vegetables
  • baking: cake, cookies, biscuits, pie


  • reading labels
  • sorting
  • treating stains
  • folding
  • ironing
  • sewing on a button
  • hemming


  • checking & adding fluids
  • changing the oil
  • changing a tire
  • washing exterior & cleaning interior


  • drive a nail
  • hang a picture
  • use a drill
  • paint a room
  • clear a drain
  • fix a squeaky hinge


  • creating a budget
  • living by that budget
  • managing bank accounts (checking & saving)
  • paying bills (paper & ebills)
  • giving
  • saving
  • using a credit card wisely

Some of my kids already have a handle on some of these skills, but none of them have them all.  I know there are other life skills that they will need to know like how to shop for insurance, how to buy a used car, how to shop for an apartment/house, etc., but the ones above I can teach even to my 10 year old.  I figure if my kids leave our house knowing these fundamentals, they’ll be able to navigate many of the basic challenges of living on their own.  (Plus, I’ll be brushing up on my own skills in the process!)

If you were compiling a list like this, what would you include?


Pizza Hut Reading Incentive Program Available For Homeschoolers

7 Aug

Pizza Hut Reading Incentive Program

Did you know that, as a homeschooler of kids between kindergarten and sixth grade, you can sign up to participate in the Pizza Hut BOOK IT program?  For every reading goal your child meets, you can give them a Reading Award Certificate  of a free, one-topping Personal Pan Pizza at Pizza Hut.  This is a great program if your kids are motivated by tangible rewards!

Go to and sign up soon.  The enrollment is over for this school year on September 1st, so spread the word!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

3 Aug

This spring, we expanded our five raised bed garden to an eight raised bed garden, increasing our garden square footage from about 160 square feet to almost 300 square feet.  I use a modified “Square Foot Gardening” method.

Earlier in the gardening season when it was cool and rainy, my lettuce went gangbusters, the broccoli produced several servings for our family of seven, but the pak choy was a bust.  Now that we’re in the dead of summer with 23 days (and counting) over 100 degrees, my garden is a mix of failure and success. The summer squash is producing fairly well (although one plant succumbed to an onslaught by the squash bugs), the peppers are prolific (especially my Jimmy Nardellos) and the tomatoes have given us a few with great promise of more to come.

Lemon Squash and Jimmy Nardellos

I had hoped I would be a canning fool by now, but the high temps have really affected  the production of the tomatoes and beans. I’m not sure my pole beans are going to give me anything this year, but the bush beans have produced some (which I may end up saving to plant next year in hopes of better weather).

Hutterite Soup Beans

My winter squash is coming along, but I have lost about three plants to squash bugs.  They are REALLY annoying.  I lost ALL my squash plants (summer, winter, and pumpkin) last year to squash bugs.  I am determined to keep my garden as organic as possible, so I am trying to use organic insect prevention and control.  I started out this gardening season using Diatomaceous Earth to keep the squash bug numbers in check, but I was met with only minor success.  I have now moved on to a homemade insecticidal soap using Dr. Bronner’s Castile Liquid Soap (Eucalyptus).  I mix about four tablespoons of soap per gallon of water and spray it on the bugs directly.  It works quite quickly on the babies, but it takes a couple of minutes for the adults to succumb.  I don’t know if it has any effect on the eggs, but I think I may try the duct-tape-turned-inside-out-trick to remove the eggs off of the leaves tomorrow morning.  (The heat index is somewhere obscene like 115 this afternoon.)

Dr. Bronner's Liquid Soap

I’ll let you know the results of my new approach to squash bug control.  If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears!

So it’s now August…

3 Aug

It seems to me that August ought to be heralded as the New Year, because when you have school-aged children, it sure feels like it! I got off track with the blog during the holidays last year, but I am determined to pick it up again as we begin this new school year.
We are trying a few new things this year:
Alpha is utilizing a local co-op for his science (Physics) and math (Pre-Calc) as I did not take either in high school or college and am a little leery of tackling both of those without some outside help. He may also take a class in the spring at a community college if all works out well.
Bravo is continuing on in pretty much the same way as last year.
Charlie, however, asked if she could go to a local Christian school this year and had several good reasons why she would like to try it. We told her that certain doors would have to open for her to be able to do that, and they all have so she will be “going to school” this year. (Which also has an impact on the whole family as we will now be tied to an outside schedule/calendar…more on that in another post.)
Delta is starting fourth grade and may be doing more on the computer as he really enjoys that medium for school work.
Echo is quite proud to be a pre-schooler (he will turn four this month) so I need to start putting together some activities for him. I am hoping to utilize some montessori methods with him this year.

For some reason this year, I am needing to find extra inspiration. Usually I am raring to go by now, but I feel drained already. Perhaps it was the extraordinarily weird summer we have had here in Joplin. While our family was not directly affected by the tornado, our whole town has gone through some sort of collective Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I hope to get some free time to peruse some other homeschooling blogs over the next week or two to find some fresh ideas and garner some sort of inspiration. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!