Homeschool around the world study is really all about the food

Happy Monday! I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day weekend. We had a lot of fun, and my hunny and I ended it last night with his epic cooking (the boy can cook a steak, y’all) and then I made him answer all sorts of questions from Jennie Allen’s book I’ve been reading Restless.  Because, what’s more fun than eating a lovely meal and spilling your soul across a table? right? exactly. he played along well, and I love how much I learned about him that I didn’t know before even after all these years

So, as you may know, we’re homeschoolers. That comment usually gets an odd look from those not acquainted with it, but from those who do, it usually gets lots of questions like “what curriculum do you use,” and things of that nature. We are a bit different in our own house, simply because I’m super laid back with things…you wouldn’t know that from looking at my array of planners (I have 6 that I use for different things), but I am! So…we use worksheets and curriculum for reading and math, but all the rest is unit study that can change with the wind, y’all. Usually, it changes with whatever my girls are currently interested in. So, for now? We’re pulling London’s love of her geography work into an Around the World unit study. Can I just be transparent? I’m in it for the food.

She loves learning about other cultures, the way they dress, what they look like, what their houses look like…everything. And I love learning about what they eat and mimicking it. We all have our strengths and passions, right? So, we have spent time doing worksheets and crafts and reading and watching documentaries. We have covered Africa, Europe, and North America so far. And while it’s been super fun and we’ve learned a lot, I am loving the meal planning for it. Because 1) I get to incorporate lesson planning and meal planning together and kill two birds and all that. 2) It gets rid of that dreaded, “what should we have for dinner” question. oh my word, do you hate that topic as much as me? 3) it makes me excited about dinner so we are less likely to cheat and eat something cheap and easy, or eat out (eating out is the big one).

So, I just wanted to share some of our favorite finds so far! I’ve had several meals that were okay. One or two we didn’t like at all. Lots that we loved. My heart beats hard now for Chicken Fricassee. I’m not even kidding. We actually ate it when studying North America even though it’s not from this area, because it was Abraham Lincoln’s bday and it was his favorite meal. After making it, I decided I liked him even more. We could be friends, Abe and I..

I have an entire pinterest board here full of our Around the World themed food, but here are some links to my favorite recipes.

From Africa, we really loved these recipes>>> West African Chicken Stew and Ghanaian Jollof Rice and Beef Kabobs (sadly, it did not occur to me to ask people I know who are from Africa or whose parents are for their own amazing recipes until I posted a picture on fb one night and a friend said she’d send me her mom’s recipe! African theme re-do!)

Europe we loved these most>>> Irish Nachos (Oh my word, guys. This is not a drill. Make these. Think American Cheese fries at outback but better.)  Swedish Meatballs, Irish Beef and Stout Stew, Chicken Fricassee (of course), Cornish Game Hen with veloute sauce (VELOUTE SAUCE! that is all.) I feel like I’m missing some favorites. But I am also so incredibly happy to be able to say that we aren’t actually finished with Europe, so there will be much more European favorites I’m sure. The sauce addiction this has created is a serious problem, guys.

North American favorites>>>> Iron Skillet Apple Pie (I should probably be embarrassed to say this, but I make this enough that I don’t even use a recipe anymore. This pie is very forgiving in any mistakes and is SO good. It’s my husband’s favorite dessert so we have it more than we really should but I say it’s all in the name of submission and loving him and serving him and all the other things that make apple pie sound godly)  Mexican Enchiladas, Canadian Poutine, Navajo Tacos with fry bread (I first had navajo tacos on a reservation in Oklahoma years ago. I’ve never been the same since. so. good. Plus, the fry bread is really fun to make with the kids!)

Okay..I feel like that may be enough recipes for now…and only three of the seven continents! (but we all know Antarctica doesn’t count there) Several of these meals will make their way to our regular meal rotation. Also, I’ll reassure you that I don’t do super difficult recipes. ain’t nobody got time for that. These are all very easy meals that do not take forever. In fact! soo many of them are ONE POT MEALS! yay! less dishes!

So, I hope you have a great week! Let me know if you tried any of these, OR BETTER YET, let me know if I may have missed a really great recipe you know about! Exchanging recipes makes me feel like we should sit in my rocking chairs on my deck and knit or garden or something. love you guys <3 I’m off to find something great and American for dinner tonight for President’s Day 🙂



New Year and a clean slate—Free 2016 Printable!

Happy New Year! Did you have a great New Year’s Eve?? We had a fun dinner and celebration with our girls, ringing in the new year with parts of Greenland…ahem…thank you, Netflix, for giving us a countdown we can use at 8pm.

new years with kids

we had dinner with fancy glasses and new years tiaras…except there wasn’t enough for daddy, so we had to make him a crown

Even our Westie, Jazz got into it

new year dog

We bought lots of confetti poppers and made a balloon drop on our fan

balloon drop kids new year

Then, we played board games and filled out some kid friendly year end reviews, with all the big events of our year on the wall for reference…because lists are my life blood


When bedtime grew near and the smallest of us began to wane, we pulled up the countdown on netflix and had a big celebration with dancing and poppers and balloons! This was the entire floor of my living room by the end of the it all…


It was all really fun. I love celebrating holidays with kids. Everything is so magical and fun to them, and their lack of expectations keep away the fear of disappointment. After the girls were all tucked in for bed, Lance and I filled out our own year end reviews and looked back on our last year together. We have a really lovely tradition for New Year’s where we go to bed before midnight…I know, we’re so lame. But, after all that partying hard, we were tired! So, we went to sleep and awoke to a whole new year. And, the weekend was full of relaxation. He built things and I read books. The girls played and giggled and ran. And we began talking about what a new year means. Lance and I talked about how important it is to learn how to dream together, and we spent most of the evening discussing our own dreams for ourselves, each other, and our girls. Then, last night, we wrote them down. The thing I love about fresh starts, is that they can go any direction you point them to!

Clean slates. Just like a slate chalkboard wiped clean, yes it has the chalky white appearance of things erased, but it is ready for something new! So, what will you wipe off your slate? What will you determine to write on it? There are so many great printable lists online. I looked through so many just to find one for myself, but I couldn’t find any that contained all the directions I really wanted to go in my planning for 2016. So I made one for myself, and I’m making it available to you. 🙂

Here is the image, if you’d like to right click, save as, and download it that way!

2016 clean slate printable

and here is the pdf file if you’d like to download it that way>>>2016 clean slate printable

What will your slate look like this year? Will you be sure to wipe away ALL the old chalk first? What will be your big goal? What will you do for yourself? I’m still mulling over many of these questions, including food to eat. SO MANY OPTIONS! 🙂 But also, what is my big goal? What will I devote my time, energy, and heart to? Do you know yours? I wish I could sit with you over a cup of coffee and hear your answers. Have a happy new year and a first normal week back after the holidays!

oh, hello there, 2016–Free 2015 Year Review printable!

It’s a new year! I love autumn, deeply, truly. It speaks to my heart in ways other things and seasons can’t. But, oh my, oh my, how I love the season of new year’s leading to Easter.

I could use a second chance. I could use every opportunity of a second chance I can get. And New Year’s, Lent, Easter, all of it reminds my heart that I have just that each and every day.

But it’s hard to look forward without taking a moment to look back. Today, I grabbed 12 pieces of printing paper and wrote a month in the middle of each piece. And I’ve been going through my calendar, pictures, and social media accounts and making notes on important happenings in each month. I’m planning on taping them to the wall tonight for my family to read after dinner and maybe add their own moments. They’re not fancy, just like many of the moments we’ll add on later. But they meant everything to us.

new year's tradition

I also found a few kid friendly New Year’s pages we’ll fill out as a family, but I also wanted something for Lance and I to fill out together after the girls’ were in bed. So, I made us a cute little year end review, and I’ll make us a New Year 2016 goal list too that I’ll share with you. But for now, I wanted to share our year end review list as a printable for any that would love to look back on their year and breathe it in one last time.

Here is the printable as an image to right click and save as…

year end review

and here is the file as a pdf that makes it a bit easier to print ;)>> Year End Review

I hope you have a lovely (and safe!) New Year’s Eve! Now I’m off to go tape up a balloon drop to my ceiling fan and plan a yummy year end dinner for my family. You can’t end the year with mundane food, right??

When you’re hurting on Thanksgiving

It’s the week of Thanksgiving! Are you ready? I wish I was, but there’s a lot to do and a heart to prepare. It’s been less than a week since we laid my dad to rest, and we’ve decided to spend this Thanksgiving at home. Sometimes, grief needs to be cocooned and cradled, and for me, that looks like being home. Honestly, it’s just too soon for me to bear going “home” for the holiday and not taking an apple pie or homemade bread to my dad’s, particularly when I FINALLY remembered that he loved apple pie and hated pumpkin pie. I confused it so many times and would always either take a pumpkin, or have to take both refusing to admit to him before that I had forgotten again. haha


But, Thanksgiving will be a bit rough around the edges this year. I get to play hostess for the first time ever, which is something I will love to do the first year in our new home, but there will be an ache always conscious that someone is missing. But, last year, I learned something I found interesting, but this year is vital to my heart for Thanksgiving. I had been reading through the Bible, so I had passed on through Genesis and Exodus. I was aware of all the laws and requirements for worship for the Israelites, having just read through them again. Then, I ran across this:

With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving, he shall present his offering with cakes of leavened bread. Leviticus 7:13

Now, if you hadn’t just read through Exodus, that verse may not seem all that important to you. But, it is extremely important and all because of one word: leavened. The verse before that says that they would also need to bring unleavened bread (the pure and good), but then here we see for the first time that He was also requiring leaven this time. Leaven meant yeast, and yeast was strictly forbidden in any offerings made to the Lord with fire. In fact, He was so serious about the presence of yeast, that He insisted they throw out ALL yeast before celebration of the passover each year and not even have it in their homes. ummm….do you have any idea how difficult it would have been to get that yeast back? You had to grow yeast from yeast to have yeast….and you’re in the desert…and no one is supposed to have it. But, each year, they had to throw it out. Either, someone wasn’t all that honest about throwing ALL their yeast away, or they were going to great lengths for their bread. But, yeast bread vs crackers?

So, why was God anti-yeast? Because it was symbolic. Leaven symbolized sin or evil in the world. It’s deceit and hurt and pain and everything God doesn’t want for us. It’s cancer and divorce and yelling at loved ones in rage. And in the offerings, like the sin and other offerings, He required it out. Drop your issues, leave them out, repent, and come to me.

But for thanksgiving? He said, bring them in.

Don’t try to fix them. Don’t wash your tear streaked face and dust yourself off first. Bring it here. Because if you can only be grateful for the good, you’re cheating yourself in knowing Him more. Being thankful doesn’t mean you’ve got it all together. Being thankful means that sometimes, you hold it broken. You come before Him with your pain, and your loss, and your sin, and your fear, and you say, “You are still God. You are still good. and I will still follow you, in the harvest and in the drought.”

This Thanksgiving instead of styling our tables perfectly and putting on our masks so that we look like we aren’t broken this year in front of others (and our Lord), let’s just go to Him like we are, either with a harvest of happiness and blessing or with our arms cradling our broken hearts. It’s hard, oh my word, it’s hard. And I don’t know that I will be able to decide right here to offer my hurt with my blessings, but I can spend my week offering little bits at a time. But there is a reason God required it. He knows that we need to know He is gracious through it all. He is walking with us through it all. And through it all, He is good. And He has promised us so much. He’s promised that He does have a plan. He’s promised us that our pain and trials will produce perseverance and faith and so much more. And I want those things. So, I’ll take joy this year in knowing that He loves me and weeps with me and that hurt and pain is not what He wants for us. But, He’ll use that hurt and pain that comes in our fallen world, and transform it into something beautiful. And beauty from ashes may just be what I’m most thankful for this year.

What I want for you, my daughters..

what I want for my daughters

A few days ago, we walked through one of my favorite stores. You remarked about how I like to go up and down each aisle, and I whispered the excitement of something unique on so many shelves. I gasped over one piece, and you laughed at how I fell in love.

A few aisles over, you were the ones in love. There were dolls, and each of you found one perfect. Your heart yearned for those toys so badly, and faces dropped when I said we wouldn’t be buying them. I thought we were about to have a toddler show down, but it was resolved and you all shuffled away sadly, even as I reminded you how I, too, had just walked away from something my heart fell in love with.

But, sweet girls, our hearts are deceitful. They tell us that something (or someone) will make us happy, and though it may for a tiny bit, it is not a lasting happiness. The truth is, I wanted to buy you those dolls so badly. But, it wasn’t a wise choice, not just financially, but for your character, as well. To give you everything your heart desires would be to cheat you.

There are so many things I want to give you, things you can hold in your arms or play with all day.  But there’s a different list too. A better list. There is a list of experiences I want for you, and this is the beginning of my bucket list for your lives.


I want you to laugh.

not just any laugh. girls, I want you to laugh at each other. with each other. I want you to laugh when you nervously ride with each other as teenagers with big dreams and small experiences. I want you to laugh with joy when each of you comes to the others with life announcements of wedding bells being planned or sweet new life still hidden away.

I want you to laugh at yourselves when you realize you’ve taken yourselves too seriously. I want you to laugh when it’s late and I have yelled at you to sleep, but you cannot contain the mirth at the moment and you giggle away despite me.

I want you to laugh when it hurts; when your heart is breaking and it feels like your world is ending. I want you to laugh, and I want you to see that laugh as life inside yourself and hope that your world will still go on.


I want you to slow the rush.

I want you to slow down when the world hurries you on. I want you to slow down when mama hurries you on. I want you to listen, and not just hear. I want you to notice those the rest of us rush past. I want you to take your time and make the good choices. Even if it means we will continue being late for everything for the next 18 years or more, I want you to learn to consider choices and people. Consider God’s will and His perspective. Because sometimes, habits form small. What begins as considering exactly where the location of a shoe has the potential to blossom into “how are my words going to affect her?” Which leads me to the next desire…


I want you to be a friend

a good one. Yes, I want you to laugh and take your time as a friend, but more importantly, I want you to be a blessing. I want you to say the hard thing, in the gentle way.

I want you to swallow hard and die to self and consider others more important than yourself. Because being a friend isn’t the same as having friends.

I want you to show up with help when you are needed most. I want you to have the blessing of being a blessing. That’s why we’re blessed in the first place.


I want you to be hurt

now, stay with me a moment, because London, I can already see your eyes getting huge. We know that muscles cannot become strong without exercising them. You cannot be strong without the same.  And I want you to be strong. I want you to withstand the hurt of the world, to look past the lies and cheap shots and stand at the end victorious able to hear, “well done, good and faithful servant.” But, as hard as it is, I know you cannot do that without hurt in your heart, but I want it to be hurt that heals.

True strength is born out of those times when you answer, “I’m good,” but you really mean, “I feel like a crumpled up piece of paper left on the floor.” It comes from times when you have the wind knocked out of you from life’s hard hits, and sit alone processing how to pull yourself together. But when those moments come, that is when that laughter and those friends and each other will pour their own blessings out and anoint you with God’s grace. and, oh, I want you to have that anointing.

lady bug hands


I want you to feel insignificant

I want you to stand before a tree larger than you’ve ever seen. I want you to stand at the edge of the ocean, water pulling sand from beneath your feet. I want you to lie in the dark beneath a star filled sky. And in all of those moments, I want you to feel tiny, insignificant. I want your problems and our world to shrink and God’s majesty to boom. I want you to learn to number your days, and to make the most of our very short time on this very small planet.

Because it’s all a vapor. We are hear for a short breath of time, and then we are called away. You are all so little now, so far from giggling teens in a car or grown sisters whispering heartache over coffee. But, at the same time, it was so little time ago that I held you new in my arms. One eyes wide open, ready to take in the world. One, broken-hearted to be in a new place and away from the comfort you had known for 9 months. The other, so in need of the comfort of your people.

It’ll be here before we know it, girls, these moments of life that kick us when we’re down and make us laugh until we cry. So, I want you to be ready…not ready to take on the moments. You can’t prepare for such. But, I want you to be ready to hold tight to each other. To do the right thing. But mostly, ready to see God’s hand in every moment whether the tears made are from sorrow or joy.