Vegan Mofo 2015!

September is Vegan Month of Food, or Vegan MoFo for short. Once again, I’m not really in a position to do much “from scratch” cooking – we are moving next week! So while I won’t be sharing any recipes on the blog until I have my new kitchen set up, I will be sharing pictures of our vegan food all month on Instagram.

Follow me on Instagram – you can click on my Instagram link on the right side of the blog. And be sure to check out the hashtag #veganmofo.

New to Vegan  Mofo? Not sure how it works or what it’s all about? Wondering which blogs to follow? Check out the main Vegan Mofo website here.

A Fresh Start – Our School Curriculum 2015/2016

KyriEnder2015schoolWe’ve had a hectic year with selling our house and living somewhat as transients in Georgia while we figure our where our next home is going to be. We haven’t always gotten all of what I had planned (for school) done, but I think we’ve had a productive year.

I shared this past fall our plans for the 2014/2015 school year, how I prepared for the entire school year to help keep us on track during the upheaval. I just posted how I’ve revised my 36-week folder system to instead use an Arc Notebook. But I’d like to share the specifics of our academic plan for the upcoming year.

Fourth Grade


Saxon 5/4 - we started this curriculum in 2nd grade and have been slowly working through it. We are on “schedule” to finish the book this school year.
Usborne Dictionary of Math (3 book series) - not a curriculum but a great resource. Colorful and engaging, these are fun to read and glean knowledge. Click here to check them out.
Living Books - We have been investing in Greg Tang books this summer and will include them for use during Kidschool as a way to get our “Math” brains working. Kyri also loves reading these on her own.

Language Arts

First Language Lessons – Level 4 Teacher’s Guide and Student Workbook.
Evan-Moor Daily Reading Comprehension Grade 4 - daily reading selections that include several questions that reinforce understanding, finding the main idea and supporting facts. 
Evan-Moor Nonfiction Writing Grade 4 - weely lessons that introduce nofiction writing and puttig together topic sentences, supporting facts, writing, and the various types of writing
Evan-Moor Building Spelling Skills Grade 4 (continuing) – weekly spelling lists and activities to reinforce spelling, phonics and                   other areas such as synonyms/antonyms and homophones.


Story of the World 4 – We stepped back from SOTW this past year to focus on American History, but we are picking up with SOTW 4, which also includes later events in US History.
Story of the World Activity Book – We will mostly be working on the outlines and mapwork for each chapter.
Beautiful Feet History of the Horse - Kyri is OBSESSED with horses and when I came across this literature-based study guide, I knew she would love it. The curriculum pulls from a large selection of both fiction and nonfiction books about horses, so I won’t list them all out here. I will be putting together a separate post as I get all the texts together and organized.


Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding  - We started using this curriculum last year. Volume I is geared toward K-2, and we have been moving through these topics fairly quickly since we have seen much of the material in previous years (though not always in as much depth). Volume II is geared toward Grades 3-5 and we will be moving back and forth between the four “threads”, including topics from Volume I as prerequisites as needed. 
Carson-Dellosa Just the Facts:
     Earth and Space Science (4-6 grades)
     Life Science (4-6 grade)
     Physical Science (4-6 grade)
This is a great series that provides in-depth activities and puzzles. I will be pulling from all three volumes to go along with our BFSU lessons.
Evan-Moor Daily Science Grade 4 - This is a great resource for exploring concepts in earth science, life science and physical science. Each week has a Big Idea and daily readings and activities introduce and reinforce each concept. I am planning on using these as a supplemental science reading for Kyri’s independent study time. While our main focus will be on our topics in BFSU, these daily readings should be interesting without going into too much depth.
Evan-Moor Daily Geography Grade 4 – we started using Evan-Moor Daily Geography for 3rd grade and Kyri just loves it, so we will be continuing the series.
AWANA - Kyri finished her third year in Sparks this Spring, so she will be moving to TNT in the Fall, and is very excited!
Bible Road Trip - This has been a great study this past year. We typically do the daily reading and discussion in the morning during our Kidschool. This year I would like to put a little more emphasis on Notebooking for each week’s reading.
Additional Resources:
Health and Wellness
The Care and Keeping of You Book 1: Book and Journal (American Girl) – discusses body changes and emotional changes, and geared toward girls ages 8-10.
The Feelings Book - Book and Journal (American Girl) – deals with feelings, emotions and communicating about feelings through journaling and talking to others.
Vintage Remedies for Tweens (continuing) – covers a variety of topics from food, natural health
Raising Vegetarian Children -  more of a guide for me, but we will be pulling recipes and discussing healthy habits.
Laying Down the Rails Book and Workbook.
For writing practice and mastering the Alef Bet we are using a couple of different resources:
For reading and speaking we are using:
Mango - Biblical Hebrew and Modern Hebrew
Character Development
This may go along with Health and Wellness, but I will list separately for organization.
Beautiful Feet Teaching Character Through Literature – this includes a wonderful reading list appropriate for both Primary and Intermediate Readers, as well as Study Guide lessons geared toward Primary and Intermediate Reading Selections.
Laying Down The Rails - this is a compilation of Charlotte Mason’s writings, organized to cover wellness topics (such as Cleanliness) as well as Character topics such as courtesy. There is a book for parents/educators along with a student book that includes discussion topics.
Art and Music Appreciation
While we pull projects from our DK Book of Art, I have been keeping Art and Music as an area of interest-led study. Kyri loves being creative and doing crafts and I try to provide outlets for this – with craft supplies and ample opportunity to check out art books at the library. As far as music, she was gifted an acoustic guitar which she loves, and she is slowly becoming more comfortable with holding it properly and using her hands correctly. Once we relocate she will have more time and space to spend working on learning chords.
Classics Reading
One of the shifts we have made in our homeschool approach is to spend a lot more time just reading together. I am always looking for excellent book suggestions to work into our reading schedule, and we usually have two or three titles we are working on at any one time. Over the summer we have been working on the Little House series, and I have a list I’m putting together for this school year. With the Beautiful Feel study guides, I have even more books to include. I will be putting together another post with our reading list later in the fall.

Preschool/ PreK 

We started off slow last fall, mainly just to get Ender interested in learning and working on “school” work together. This year, he is ready to go! He is always asking me to do school work or to read to him. I am looking forward to an exciting year with him! His younger brother Julian is only 2 1/2 but I am expecting him to tag along a bit and participate a little. Julian is already able to count to 15, so he may end up being fairly interested in some of our school work.


Saxon Kindergarten - As with Kyri, I am starting out early with the Saxon curriculum to allow us work at a slower pace if needed. Saxon K covers a lot of basics like patterns, shapes, and counting, as well as Calendar basics.
Confessions of a Homeschooler – Letter of the Week. I use several of the resources from this curriculum for teaching number recognition and basic counting skills. I have laminated flash cards and put onto rings for easy review.

Language Arts

Confessions of a Homeschooler – Letter of the Week for letter recognition and basic writing skills
Starfall - this is a wonderful resource for teaching the ABCs and phonics. Ender, like his sister, really loves the interactive games that introduce phonics and simple words.


While I expect Ender (and possibly Julian) to tag along with Kyri’s science lessons, I want to have some simpler activies planned as well.
More Mudpies to Magnets – a great book with age-appropriate experiments for ages 2 through 6.
Evan-Moor Learning About Animals (Science Works for Kids Series) Grade K-1 – A great introduction to animal basics. Includes simple worksheets and coloring and gluing pages.
Miscellaneous Resources
For practice, we use a variety of flashcards – these are a fun way to practice letters, numbers, colors and shapes!
For handwriting practice (numbers and letters) I love to pick up little workbooks from Target – Busytown workbooks are our current favorite around here.
Notebooking Pages
This spring I took the plunge and purchased a lifetime membership to This is a wonderful resource for notebooking pages on a wide variety of subjects. I have been incorporating notebooking pages into our history and science reading, as well as character and nature study. The site membership also includes a web app that allows members to create their own notebooking pages, from start to finish, or simply including their own clip art or images in preexisting pages. While I enjoy making my own notebooking pages, it is great to have so many pages available ready to go.
While Kyri is growing out of Starfall‘s content, she still loves to explore the site with her younger siblings. They continue to add new content, and they do have multiplication and division activities, as well as basic geometry and probability activities to explore.
Nature Study
We don’t follow any schedule or planned curriculum for Nature Study. Instead, I make sure we have a wealth of resources available that encourage exploration and discovery, along with sufficient identification guides. Local park and rec programs are a great way to round out our home nature study program. I will be putting together a separate post where I share the variety of resources I have put together over the past couple of years for the children.



The End of Summer

We are wrapping up our summer, along with our extended stay in Georgia. We’ve got a few holdouts in the garden, like the grape tomatoes, green peppers and our zinnias, but the cucumbers, squash and watermelons are done.


Our green pepper plant has been productive too. Along with the tomatoes, it is one of the last plants still going strong in the heat of the summer. The new Rosemary plant is growing quite well!

Kyri has been eating the grape tomatoes straight off the branches as they become ripe, so no one else has had much opportunity to enjoy them. Maybe next year I’ll do two different tomato plants!


Kyri won’t touch a cooked tomato, but she can eat fresh tomatoes all day long. We have had a very productive grape tomato plant this summer, and she has eaten most of them straight from the branches!

I honestly didn’t realize how popular zinnias were with  butterflies until we visited the Butterfly Exhibit at the Chattahoochee Nature Center in July. I shared some of our pictures on Instagram (my favorite site for sharing pictures and keeping up with people!), but will share them here on the site as well.


Zinnias were Kyri’s choice for the garden this year, and they have been quite popular with the butterflies! We’ve had such a wonderful range of butterfly visitors to our garden this summer.

We will be heading back to Texas in a couple of weeks, just in time to start planning a fall garden!


Arc Notebooks for Homeschool

At the beginning of the school year, I knew we would be having a challenging year, with back and forth trips to Atlanta while we were in the process of selling our house, and being in a state of flux. In what can only be described as a Herculean effort (for me at least…), I spent a couple of days getting the ENTIRE school year planned out, printables prepared and organized into folders for 36 weeks. Each week all I had to do was reach for that particular week and distribute any printables between our daily folders. 

This has worked well for the most part. The one drawback I have had, though, is not being “with it” on a Sunday to fill the upcoming daily folders. Some weeks I have scrambled on Monday to get our week started out right.

I had a friend recommend the Arc Notebook system from Staples recently, and seeing how I am always looking for ways to be more efficient and productive, I decided to try it out and see if it meets our needs. The Arc system uses a special punch and the pages slip onto a series of discs via openings along the edge, rather than closed holes that are bound by rings. This system allows for easy removal and placement of papers and notebook components. 

Ready-made notebooks can be purchased in letter and junior sizes, and individual components are available separately.

(left) the press and various components for making Arc Notebooks. (center) discs are available in two sizes. (right) We’ve made several notebooks recently, for school, personal bible study and weekly planners. They work great!

I have prepared arc notebooks for Kyri, my rising fourth grader, and now for Ender, my 4-year-old starting pre-K. 
For Kyri, I have made sections for each of our subjects.  Rather than our weekly folders, all of our printables are now contained in a single notebook, organized by subject. A full year of spelling printables, spelling test pages, math printables and facts practice sheets, geography printables, etc. Now I don’t have to worry about filling daily folders on a Sunday to prepare for the upcoming week because everything is already organized in our notebook. 

(left) We used the larger discs for Kyri’s school notebook. (right, all panels) Kyri’s notebook contains all printables and consumables for her math, spelling, history, geography, bible, and science.

At the beginning of Kyri’s notebook I have included blank checklists, where I list daily tasks I would like her to complete. While most of our morning is spent reading together during Kidschool, she does have independent work as well as some guided work she does in the afternoon (and this material makes up the brunt of her notebook). 

(top, left) We have made junior notebooks for general note taking. (top, right) Weekly planning pages for Kyri’s notebook. (bottom, left) One section of Ender’s notebook contains several Arc zipper pouches. (bottom, right) One section of Ender’s notebook contains letter and number cards for daily practice.

For Ender, his notebook is more for organizing laminated activity packs in zipper pouches. I have letter cards, and matching games, puzzles and sorting activities, all printed and laminated. I have one section for many laminated letter and counting cards, followed by a section of zipper pouches that contain printed and laminated preschool activities. Lined paper and printouts are in another section. I’ll go into specific resources for each grade in separate posts.



Spring is for Plants!

In my previous posts, I have mentioned using Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding for our elementary Science. We have been working through A thread (Nature of Matter) of BFSU Volume 1 all year. I had originally planned for us to start in Volume 2 and continue A thread (this is the Classical schedule coming through…), but over the past several weeks there has been a lack of interest in continuing with atoms and molecules. I think the beautiful weather outside has a lot to do with it! So I did some thinking and decided to reevaluate how we are doing our science. 

Bernard Nebel, the author of BFSU, encourages moving between the four “threads” or disciplines (Nature of Matter, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Physical Science). I’ve resisted this only because we’ve followed the classical schedule for the past several years, with one subject each year in a four year cycle. But as we move away from the classical schedule a bit, I find myself wanting to jump around a bit (though in an organized way so not stress out my Type A personality). 
With that being said, I decided to cover Plants this June. Everything is in bloom, the weather is nice, and we’ve got a great garden in our front yard to study as well.
Over the past week or so, we have been studying the basic structures of plants. The core of our lesson has been B10: Plant Science I – Basic Plant Structure. We started with the three basic parts of a plant – roots, stems, and leaves. We discussed how even vastly different plants all have these parts, though often in a modified form. She was fascinated to learn that the spines of a cactus are actually highly modified leaves. 


We have a membership with, and I printed up several pages from the Plant Study collection. Over the past week, we have been working through these pages, identifying various plant parts, margin types, leaf arrangements, etc. The Visual Dictionary of Plants is a wonderful resource for learning plant parts.

Kyri and I went on a Plant Walk this week, armed with a few nature books and plant identification guides. As we explored, we discussed the three basic parts of a plant, and I asked her to identify various aspects of plants we found, such as:
type of leaves – simple or compound
arrangement of leaves – alternate, opposite, whorled, fascicled, or clustered
leaf venation – parallel, pinnate, palmate or arcuate
leaf margins – smooth, serrate, dentate, crenate, sinuate, lobed, or cleft
On our plant walk, she was particularly interested in finding a Sweet gum tree, because she had read about it and its identifying features in one of her books. We wrapped up our walk with the triumphant discovery of a Sweet Gum tree at the end of our street.
We have built up quite a collection of nature study books, and Kyri absolutely adores them. I can often find her with one or more tucked under her arm. Here are some of our favorites:

Here are several pictures from our walk!

plantwalk_combined1 plantwalk_combined2 plantwalk_combined3 plantwalk_combined4


Vegan Super Bites

This is a simple and delicious treat to make for a grab-and-go breakfast or snack. It’s full of superseeds so it packs quite a punch in the morning. 

Vegan Super Bites
Combine all ingredients in a stand up mixer (or use a sturdy wooden spoon).
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup quick oats
5 Tbsp agave syrup
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/4 cup ground flax seeds 
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
3 tsp maple syrup


After mixing together well, scoop out one spoonful at a time into the palm of your hand and form a compact ball. Set aside on a parchment covered cookie sheet. When all the mix has been formed into balls, move the cookie sheet into the fridge to let them chill and become firm – around 20 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.