Saturday, February 25, 2023

Alysia's Moving Up!

 Hello, Friends!

So another week has passed and I'm trying to still regain my energy after Covid. This time it definitely hit both Aaron and I worse than last time. We were both down for days, and struggled with breathing issues. My breathing is better, but I still have zero energy. It is hard to just get through the day without a nap. Aaron's breathing is better, but not 100% yet. He has returned to work now, but is struggling. I will be glad when we are both back to full capacity.

In the meantime, I am super proud of Alysia. She has moved into a new grade. While still a bit behind, she is progressing nicely.

Let's back up a bit...

Alysia at Her School Desk

When we first got Alysia in November 2020 she was very behind in school. She was in 3rd grade, but couldn't read really at all and her grades were terrible. Yet the school kept pushing her forward in grades even though she couldn't do the work. 

In September 2021 we put her through placement testing to see where she truly tested out. She was at pre-kindergarten level on her reading, and 2nd grade level in most everything else. We made the decision to pull her out of public school, set her back to second grade with me helping her with reading until she got to where she could do it herself, and start working hard to try to catch her up.

Studying the Birth of Jesus in Bible

We decided to use Alpha Omega Publications Lifepacs. It splits the grade into 10 booklets for each subject, with each booklet designed to last 3 weeks. In addition we used Abeka Books for art with Art 3. I supplemented it with my own worksheets, projects, field trips, etc.

Good Grades in Language Arts and Spelling

Between September 2021 and now she has completed two full grades as we worked ahead through last summer. And now, she is beginning 4th grade! I realize that is still a bit behind, but if we work ahead through the summer again, we may have her caught up to where she needs to be by end of spring 2024.

Crystals Grown in Science

It has taken awhile to get her here, but we have worked hard, and her reading is doing a lot better. I am super excited about where we are heading in this next grade.

She is working on multiplication, longer spelling words, philology, world geography, botany...all sorts of fun stuff! And I think that she is starting to really see why it is so important to work hard.

A Day in the Life of a Homeschool Mom - Checking Over Work

All in all, although it hasn't been easy, we have definitely been successful in our homeschooling adventures thus far.

Looking back at highlights of the past grade in school, I'm reminded of how much fun we've had, which has made up for the time when things were more difficult.

Alysia's Self-Portrait in Charcoals

Here are some of our highlights...just to name a few!

Daniel Boone, George Washington Carver, Abraham Lincoln, Clara Barton and Neil Armstrong...along with lots of glitter and sequins...represent Our American Heritage

As you can see, we've had a lot of fun...and most importantly, Alysia has learned a ton. There are days I get discouraged while homeschooling...days I feel like I'm not sure what I'm doing or I'm not doing good enough. But when I look back at the last year I realize how far we've come...and it's a lot farther than it seems on a day-to-day basis.

Studies in Color

Well...all in all...a successful year and another one starting. I am truly excited about what this year will bring. And the more she learns the easier it is going to be. Once she is truly fully comfortable with her reading I don't think I'll be able to stop her. She may not be mine biologically...but God knew he was making her for me because she easily could be my child. She is SO MUCH like me...which brings pros and cons. LOL.

Well, my friends...enough for tonight. I have used up what little energy I have. I pray that my energy will return soon. I have too much to do to stay down much longer.

Talk to you soon!


Friday, February 17, 2023

Catch-Up: Warning! Long Post

Hello, my friends!

I am going to attempt to backtrack a couple of weeks and get ya'll caught up. It will take awhile, but if you will read all the way to the end you'll understand why posting has been so sporadic. Thank you for bearing with me.

My wonderful husband was preparing to celebrate his birthday at the turn of the month, and my mother and sister invited us down for the weekend. It was the first time I was feeling decent in weeks, and he wanted to go. Since we were going to be going to southern Missouri on his birthday I decided to make him a birthday "cake" the day before (February 2nd) for his dinner before he went to work. 

Now my husband is diabetic, so while he can have sugar only in small amounts on occasion, he is a major carnivore. One of his favorite meals is meatloaf with mashed potatoes. So...I decided to make him a meatloaf cake. The filling between the layers was my special meatloaf sauce. The "cake" layers were meatloaf. The frosting was mashed potatoes and the ganache was brown gravy. He absolutely loved it!

Meatloaf Cake

On the morning of the 3rd (Aaron's actual birthday) Aaron had to go get his driver's license renewed, and then we headed to southern Missouri. We stopped on the way down to get lunch at our favorite Mexican Restaurant in Butler, Missouri. (See more about it here!) 

Lunch at Tu Casa Mexican Restaurant in Butler, Missouri

My mom and sister had decided to throw a small party for him. They made cheeseburgers and chips, and my sister had even decorated a Civil War themed cake with cannon sparklers. For those of you who know my husband, this was the perfect theme for him! Overall he had a great birthday!

Aaron's Birthday Cake

We made our way back home at the end of the weekend. The next few days passed with Aaron working and Alysia doing school. She had developed a bit of a cold...nothing too bad. I stayed busy trying to get some stuff caught up.

On the 8th of February our federal tax refund arrived. I was excited to be able to get my emergency fund put back, as well as get bills caught up. It was great to get the refund, but it only took a few days to use it all, as it was all earmarked for specific items. I was able to get one bill paid completely off, as well as a decent payment on a second bill. Yahoo on the progress towards financial freedom and debt payoff!

Debt Thermometer Pay Off

A few weeks ago I had gotten another call from Miss Bonnie with another catering job...this time a church Valentine's banquet for 32 people. I was super excited, and the date was set for the banquet on February 10th. 

On February 9th I started preparing by making a large sheet cake and some sugar cookies. It was the first time I had made frosting roses and I think it turned out ok for someone who is not a professional cake decorator. The two projects and school with Alysia took the entire day up.

Sheet Cake

Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies

On the 10th I catered the meal at Kearney Bible Church, and it went over swimmingly. I believe everyone at the church was happy with the meal. They had a choice between garlic cheddar chicken and pulled pork, along with mashed potatoes, tater tot casserole, green beans, salad, rolls and dessert. 

The next morning Aaron and I had an early morning class at church from 8:00 a.m. to noon. Afterwards we headed back to southern Missouri as my sister had decided to host a Valentine's party on Monday and we were trying to avoid the city during the Super Bowl commotion, so we decided we were leaving Saturday and going to stay a few days.

We arrived and went to my sister's. We stayed Saturday night with my sister Amber, her husband and their 5 kids. 

On Sunday I decided I was going to provide dinner for my family as they normally do the cooking while we are down there. When they left for their church service, which is an hour from where they live, Aaron and I went to the nearest grocery store (20 miles away) and got food for the evening. I then went back to my sister's and prepared the dessert, which was a new recipe and had to set for a few hours. Aaron and I listened to the service at our church online, and then I did some light cleaning and a few loads of laundry to help my sister out. I don't get to help her often, but you can imagine how busy she stays with 5 children. I enjoy being able to help when I can.

In the afternoon I started cooking dinner in order to have it ready when everyone arrived at my sister's at 5:00 p.m. I made garlic cheddar chicken (they had never tried it), parsley potatoes, green beans and my berry mousse dessert, which is a new favorite! My mom, my family, my sister's family and one of my brother's family was there...a total of 16 people. It was super fun.

Late that evening, I started feeling pretty cruddy. I just thought I was big deal. I went to bed, and woke up in the middle of the night sick...AGAIN! 

The next morning I felt bad because my sister was up prepping for her party, and I was in bed for awhile. I finally drug myself out of bed and into the shower just a few minutes before people started arriving. Pretty much the same crew from the night before, plus a cousin and another brother's family...a total of 25 people this time. I managed to hold out for awhile, but ended up laying down and falling asleep again.

I woke up and in the afternoon went over to my mom's house while the guys continued to hang out at my sister's for awhile longer playing with my brother James' 3D printer. We ended up staying up til late into the evening, and then I went to bed. 

The next morning we woke up to rain, and a few minutes later I realized it was raining at home, too. And I had curriculum ordered that said it had been delivered. Which meant that I had a cardboard box full of boxes of books sitting on my porch in the rain. Since we were to return that morning anyway (Tuesday), we went ahead and loaded up. We had to stop by my sister's on the way out of town to get a flash drive from my niece Audrey, and we headed for home.

When I got home the box was indeed sitting in the rain. We brought it inside where the box disintegrated. The boxes inside were wet too. I didn't have much hope for the books, but when I opened the boxes, for the first time ever, the books were wrapped in plastic and they were perfectly dry! God knew they needed protection!

This was the first Valentine's Day that my husband has been off work in the evening since we got together, so we had planned on going out, but since I was sick we ended up staying in. However, my husband went out to grab something, and came back with some beautiful roses for me. How sweet!

Valentine's Day Roses

The next day Aaron had to return to work, which brings us up to yesterday morning. When he got home at 6:30 a.m. he was ok. He went to bed. He got up at 3:30 p.m., and was VERY ill. He ended up having to call in, and as the evening progressed he kept getting worse. By 11:30 p.m. he was in severe pain and had a fever of 103° F. We loaded up and headed to the ER, with fear that with the location of the pain and the fever that he might have appendicitis. They ran some tests, and ruled anything bad out, but he DID test positive for COVID. They chalked all of his pain up to that, and sent him home. We got home at 4:00 a.m.

After we got home I got a cough drop...and I couldn't taste it. Earlier in the day I had taste and smell. And then all of a sudden it was gone. We slept for awhile and then I got up and took a home COVID test...and of course it was positive. 

So here we sit...not only sick again, but both of with COVID. I feel bad for those we were around this week and pray that God will protect them from getting it as well. I'm also praying for a quick recovery for Aaron and myself. Alysia seems to be back to normal, and I'm thinking what she had was actually just a cold and not COVID. I'm praying she doesn't get it from us.

In the meantime, Aaron and I have just been hanging out on the couch this afternoon watching John Wayne movies....apparently one of Alysia's new favorite actors. I introduced her to him in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence" a few weeks ago. Today was "The Alamo", "El Dorado" and now we are a quarter of the way through "McClintock". 

So...that's where we are now. I'm sitting here thanking God for His provision and protection, and praying for strength and quick healing.

I hope and pray that you are all well. I love you all and will check back in with you all again soon!


Thursday, February 9, 2023

Recent Adventure: National Toy and Miniature Museum

Hello, my friends!

I have come to the realization that I am never going to have time to keep you guys updated on a daily basis, so I am going to have to resign myself to keeping you up-to-date with recent goings on.

Today's thoughts have turned to a recent adventure that took place last month.

One January Sunday afternoon Aaron was off work, and we had been stuck in the house for awhile since my health was not great for a few weeks. We wanted something not far away that wouldn't be overly tiring, so we decided to go to the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures here in Kansas City.

Aaron and Alysia Enjoy the Toy and Doll Floor

Now let me preface this by saying that I have always been fascinated by miniatures...especially extremely well crafted ones. Recently while talking to my mother about this adventure, she shared with me that my grandmother had this same fascination, and collected a lot of miniatures. Maybe I got it from her? Anyway...

It was one of the most fun things we've done in awhile. I was truly fascinated. The entire downstairs of the museum is all miniatures, while the upstairs is all "vintage" toys. Vintage apparently means everything from 1800s to my own childhood. LOL. I guess I'm now this what your late 30s feels like?!

A Miniature Violin Maker's Workshop Inside a Violin

Most of the miniatures are made in 1:12 scale, meaning they are made to scale of 1 inch per foot. There were so many cool things to see...and since so many things are so small they have magnifying glasses throughout the museum that people can use as they peruse the exhibits. There are also educational resources throughout the space showing how different fine miniatures are made.

Scale Comparison - Normal Size setting Vs. Miniature Setting

This is by far one of the coolest things in Kansas City to go see...a total of 33,000 sq feet with 93,000+ objects. And it all started with two women who were just collecting things they loved. Barbara Hall Marshall collected miniatures, while Mary Harris Francis was collecting dolls, large doll houses and other vintage toys. 

The ladies eventually met, and somehow an idea presented itself to start a museum. And it sounds like their husbands were happy to get more space in their houses when the collections found a new home. 😂

Noah's Ark

Miniature Cottage with Miniature Garden

All in all - it was a great leisurely afternoon trip, and highly recommended. Now I want to start my own miniature collection!

In other news I've been super busy preparing for another catering job. This time it's for a church Valentine's Banquet of 32 people. The dinner is tomorrow. Stay tuned for more news on that! 

Have a great weekend, and I'll be back to visit soon.


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Saturday's Date

Hello, my friends!

First off, let me apologize for my long absence. Health issue after health issue continued to plague me, leaving me dealing with one issue or another from Christmas to this past week. At long last I am FINALLY starting to get back to normal. Since it has been two weeks I am not even going to try to catch you all up on everything that has happened, but I do want to go back to this past weekend. 

On Saturday Aaron was off and I was feeling a bit better for the first time in awhile. We decided we wanted to do something, and I pulled out our date book. 

Now if you know Aaron and I and our relationship up to this point then you know that we have both been through a lot in life, and finding each other was literally a God-send. And we have both shaken off our pasts and a lot of the baggage and we find our strength in God and each other, as well as a determination to live each day to the fullest, and embrace every adventure that comes our way. 

As such, last year I ran across a book called "The Adventure Challenge: Couples Edition", and I bought it for Aaron for our First Anniversary. The traditional first anniversary gift is paper, so it fit perfectly! 

The way the book works is you scratch off a date, and whatever it is, you have to do it. It gives you clues ahead of time on what it might entail...such as leaving the house or staying home, if it is going to cost money, if you may need to get a babysitter or visit the grocery store, etc. 

Past dates have included me having to non-verbally direct a blindfolded Aaron through the process of baking a pie, building a blanket fort in the living room while making s'mores over a can of sterno and watching a romantic movie, recreating my parents first date at Corinthian Hall while wearing similar clothes, and going to the thrift store to pick an outfit out for each other and then going out for dessert. It has been a blast...things you would never think of doing on your own, but so much fun! Highly recommend!

SO...back to Saturday. We scratched off our next date adventure titled "Recipe for Disaster". 

Recipe For Disaster Date

The date entailed going to a bookstore and picking out a cookbook, and then finding a stranger to pick a recipe for you to go home and make.

Aaron and I loaded up in the car and headed for Zona Rosa to Barnes and Noble Booksellers. When we got there we stepped into the middle of chaos, as nothing can ever be normal with us. LOL.

The fire department was there, and we were like "Oh boy". Once we got inside we could easily figure out what was going on. The elevator was stuck with two young ladies inside, and the firefighters were desperately working on trying to get them out.

Fire Truck at Barnes & Noble

Fire Fighters Working on Elevator

We quickly found the cookbook section where I found a cookbook by one of my favorite online cooks, Ree Drummond (AKA Pioneer Woman). The book I chose was "The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime". 

Now I had to find a stranger that looked like they might have a minute or two to help. Everyone looked like they were on a mission or were so grumpy that I didn't think I would get a good a response. But finally I spotted her...our new friend Kaitlyn. 

Kaitlyn Chooses A Recipe

I approached Kaitlyn and asked her if she might have a moment to help us with something. She did, and I explain what we were doing and all about our book. She gladly took the book and looked through it for a moment before settling on a recipe...Bow-tie Chicken Alfredo. Good choice, Kaitlyn...good choice!

After we left Kaitlyn I had another mission. Alysia has struggled with reading since we got her. I have slowly been teaching her to read, but she has never enjoyed it, and would only do it when absolutely necessary, while hating every second of it. BUT! This week she has finally took off with confidence, and has been reading daily on her own accord before and after school. She went to the bookshelf one day, picked up her first on-her-own chapter book, and started reading and she couldn't put it down. Since then she has finished that book and is halfway through another one. I am so proud of her, so I had to get her a reward. I searched out one of my favorite books from when I was a child to present her with a gift.

Charlotte's Web

Book Inscription

Ok...back to our date. We left the bookstore and headed to the Sunfresh that was closer to home to pick up a couple of items we needed for our recipe. Since I had most of it, and we took a picture of the recipe instead of buying the book, the entire date cost us about $15. 

We got home and Aaron and I cooked the recipe together. It turned out delicious, and we had a great day! Alysia was thrilled with her new book, and couldn't wait to start reading it so has been reading snippets of it in between the book she was already reading. Book included, our cost for the entire day was $25. Cheap entertainment for a day so full of love and togetherness.

I highly recommend this book for adventurous couples. There is also a singles version, but I have no idea what it holds. And I believe there is a family edition as well. Who knows....someday when Aaron and I finish this one (probably a long time from now), maybe we'll have to start that one.

Well...that's all I have time for right now. Stay tuned and in a day or two I'll fill you in on Sunday's adventure! Have a great day!

Sour Dough Biscuits and Upcoming Changes

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