Author Study: Laura Numeroff

24173502_10160028596480221_1856968276018453742_oWe just completed our second author study of the school year; Laura Numeroff! It was so fun! In October, we studied Eric Carle and you can read about that unit and download the materials from it on the linked post above. I love that it started a “routine” in Abby’s head so now she’s always asking, “What author are we studying next?” (Spoiler alert: it’s Jan Brett in January.) She saw me check out about a dozen of her books from the library to finish writing the unit and already can’t wait to get started!

Abby also recently got her own library card. I thought children had to wait until they were 6, but apparently it’s only 5 at our library. A whole year wasted! ūüėČ They also have self check-out now, so she’s loving this! I feel like her newfound independence at the library goes hand-in-hand with the confidence she’s building in speaking about books and authors. She always talks about what we’re learning in school with such authority so it’s really fun to listen to her talk about familiar books and authors with other people.

IMG_20171116_085116We started the study with probably one of L.N.’s most famous books, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. GREAT excuse to make cookies, by the way! We then took a small poll of favorite cookies from our friends and family. Abby gave them only two choices: chocolate chip or sugar. Then she graphed her results. Chocolate chip won! We’re making a lot of Christmas cookies this year because that’s pretty much all I want to do–hang around the house in my yoga pants, watch Christmas movies, and bake. (Having a newborn kind of does that to you!) So we plan to take an even BIGGER poll soon and make a huge graph with those results! It isn’t exactly a part of the unit, but we’re adding it on because it seems like an appropriate time of year for it.

With each of our author studies, Abby has an accompanying journal where she writes and draws about each book we read. For this study, I created a separate section specifically for the circle stories where Abby would record the first full sentence of each book and draw a picture of her favorite scene. Then she had to do a story graph for each one. Every circle story has an animal character, a setting (like any story), a “thing” that starts and ends the story, and a big mess (or more than one) somewhere in the book. Abby determined and recorded all those elements for every circle story we read. I want her to be learning how stories are formed and the concept of outlining a work before writing it–this applies to more than just writing, but is an excellent tool for her to have in her “writer’s toolbox” as she moves forward in school. For some circle stories, I created an additional activity. If You Give a Moose a Muffin had a reality vs. fantasy chart, If You Give a Cat a Cupcake included a math game of sprinkles on cupcakes. Then there’s a game called “Spin a Word” which is fun to play and I added to the end of the circle story portion of the unit.

Then we moved on because L.N. has more than just circle stories. We read What Mommies Do Best and What Daddies Do Best and then talked about our family and she drew a picture of her family on large paper. We read Chimps Don’t Wear Glasses and Dogs Don’t Wear Sneakers and then she fantasized her own silly sentence of what an animal doesn’t do and wrote it down with a picture to go with it. (Hers was, “Hippos don’t dance.” and she drew a hippo in a tutu.)

Each author study also includes an author review page where the student can write what they learn about the author. Laura Numeroff made this easy for us with her book, If You Give an Author a Pencil. It was fun to read, had lots of photographs, and we learned a lot!

For the culminating project, Abby wrote her own circle story, which we outlined first with a story graph and then I recorded her ideas in an actual circle. As with her Eric Carle book that she wrote, I wrote the words of the story which she dictated to me, and then she copied my writing onto her book. I want her illustrations to be in the style of the illustrators, too, so for her Eric Carle book she used tissue paper. Felicia Bond illustrates Laura Numeroff’s circle stories and we researched to find that she uses watercolor for her illustrations, so that’s what Abby did as well. By the way, Staples binds these books spirally for super cheap, so it’s not hard to give your child a “professional” looking book of their very own! I have a laminating machine so I did that at home before bringing the pages into Staples. These are going to be great for us to look back on when Abby is older!

IMG_20171207_102046I’m including the lessons here for you to download, along with the student sheets we used. There is only one copy of each sheet needed here, so if you want to use a story graph or any other journal page more than once, keep in mind you’ll have to print the number of pages you desire. If you want to print the “Spin a Word” game, you should also laminate it and then insert a brad in each wheel and hook a paper clip to them as the spinners. I also laminated my word list so I can use it repeatedly as a “center” and she can use a dry erase marker to write down her words. I hope you find this author study as fun (and delicious!) as we did!

Laura Numeroff Author Study

LN Author Study Journal Pages

LN Cookie Graph

LN student sheets

Spin a Word game

Spin a Word Word List

 

Eric Carle: An Author Study for First Grade

IMG_20171017_104441735When I was a teacher in the public school system, my last year teaching was CRAZY! I was transferred mid-year from a 4th grade SEI (Sheltered English Immersion) classroom to a 1st grade one because they needed another licensed ESL teacher at that level. It was a challenge, to say the least. I was a little overwhelmed coming back from winter break to a whole new classroom, set of kids, and grade level! I knew the kids would be overwhelmed, too. I wanted to start our time together with something fun, light, yet meaningful. So I wrote an author study on Eric Carle because his books are just that: fun and light! His pictures are bright and colorful and happy and I knew his books would inspire some fun lessons and art projects. His works are what began our new relationship; the first graders and me. We loved it. So began a small series of author studies in our classroom. And I found that I loved teaching 1st grade.

Now that my oldest daughter is in first grade with me teaching her at home, I have revamped my author studies, added more detail, and composed them in a neat package so that more people than just myself can understand the lessons. (You don’t want to look at my old lesson plan books, trust me!) I am so excited for this year with her–I’ve planned a different author for each month, more than what I was able to do in school, and it’s going to be great!

IMG_20171019_150836The thing I love about doing an author study in the 1st grade is that this is the year children typically start being able to read more independently. It’s a pivotal year in the young reader’s journey. What better way to nurture a love of reading than to introduce a child to a multitude of books and authors and really talk about things like writing style, voice, illustrations, and more? I want to give my child something else to talk about when she reads a book other than just whether she liked “it” or not. As she learns to read, I want her to have the confidence to pick books that will interest her, to be able to talk about the meaning in stories, and even the desire to pick out a book simply because the illustration appeal to her. So along with our other core curriculum, we’re going to spend this year studying different authors, their lives, their writing styles, and their illustrations. We are going to practice writing our own stories in the style of different authors and we’re going to dabble in art the way these authors and illustrators do. We are going to talk about books until we’re blue in the face! And we’re going to grow our love of reading to a whole new level.

We started in the month of October with Eric Carle. I just had our fourth baby so I actually pushed our core curriculum aside for the month so I wouldn’t be too overwhelmed. We focused solely on our author study and added in a little math and reading practice here and there. We read many, many more Eric Carle books than what is listed in the study. I borrowed books from our local library and even purchased a few new ones for our collection. I have a feeling that by the time I come back around to this study with any of my other children, I’ll be adding more books and lessons to it!

IMG_20171017_110050719I’m including the author study, the journal pages, and the “extras” needed to complete this study as downloadable pdfs to this post. If you’d like to do it yourself, feel free! Since this was our first study of the year, I took a gentle approach and allowed it to just be what it was. When I was writing the study, I imagined such deep and insightful answers from Abby to the questions I was posing. I didn’t quite get those, haha! But that’s okay. It’s only the beginning of the year and this is our first one. I am hopeful that by the end of the year and after we’ve done several of these, she will be able to think about stories and books on a deeper level than she does now. I will say that we had a lot of fun! My kids LOVE his books and the pictures I’m sharing of them sitting on the floor “reading” his books are not at all fake or staged. They frequently just emptied our book basket unprovoked and dove into his world–The Wonderful World of Eric Carle. My heart is full when I look at the photos. If you decide to do something similar in your homeschool journey (or your classroom journey) I hope it does the same for you! Enjoy!

IMG_20171104_152539010

Eric Carle Author Study

Author Study Journal Pages

Pancakes Pancakes picture cards

Eric Carle stip book and ten frames templates

Eric Carle time journal and final booklet

*Parental warning: I picked up the book “Draw me a Star” from the Eric Carle museum when we went to culminate our study. I didn’t look at the pictures before bringing it home and reading it to the kids that night. There is a picture of a naked man and woman (in Eric Carle style) a few pages in. I was so surprised! Because his artwork isn’t very detailed by nature, it wasn’t TOO bad, but I wish I had known. Serves me right for not flipping through, first. I had seem some excerpts from the book on display in the museum which is why I purchased it. Caught my kids opening it up just to laugh at the picture a few times since reading it to them. Oops! ūüôā

IMG_20171103_150335

Starting Up the Homeschool Year

Starting up the school year as a homeschool mom can be exciting and stressful, just like for any other teacher. This year for me, it’s definitely been an even mix of both! Generally, I find the stress to be in the choosing of curricula and setting up the “plan” for the day-to-day scheduling. But once that’s settled, excitement sets in and I can’t wait to start! But sometimes, plans don’t go according to, ahem, “plan.” Here are some things I have to keep in mind when starting the school year, and they might be helpful to you, too!

  • Your schooling doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s! (Nor should it!) It’s so easy to play the compare game on social media these days and sometimes we get discouraged if our school room (or kitchen table) doesn’t look as nice as those in other people’s pictures, or our kids don’t seem as excited to start as someone else’s. But not only is it unhealthy to constantly compare ourselves to other people, it’s sinful. If you are heeding God’s call on your family to homeschool, your only focus needs to be on how HE wants YOU to raise and educate YOUR kids. I have to remind myself of this almost daily. Getting ideas from others is one thing, but thinking we need to do everything just like someone else is different.
I’m not the best with doing science experiments. I usually like to wait until Daddy is home and then we do a whole bunch at once! Here we are experimenting with water. It was actually fun! (For me, I mean, I knew it would be for them already.) ūüėČ
  • Let go of the “ideal.” Here’s my confession: today was the first day I did school with BOTH my 1st grader and preschooler. (We started 1st grade last week.) And the day itself was THE WORST. The school portion of the day wasn’t bad, but other factors led to the day being a “write-off.” The 20-month old has still taken 2 naps a day up until this point and picked today of all days to refuse the morning nap. I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when. Time to hash out a plan to keep her entertained during school (which I have plenty of resources for and I’ll be sharing in another post), I just wasn’t prepared for this today. During the off-school hours, kids were generally off the wall, a little disobedient, I was 36-week-pregnant-with-number-four-all-time-exhausted, I broke a dish filled with dip while pulling something out of the fridge, and even quiet time didn’t go smoothly. So the epic “first day of school” certainly wasn’t ideal, but when that happens, you absolutely cannot let it get you down! Life is messy. (But, you’d never know it if I just posted the pictures from our school time and never mentioned anything about the rest of the day. So, see, that’s another reason not to compare–you’re probably not even comparing your life to the true account of another’s!)
For Noah’s preschool year, we’re doing 1-week “units” that I’m pulling together from a bunch of different sources. Our first unit is on colors. He already knows them, but I like to start with something that’s reinforcing and not brand new. And we got to have this yummy snack of “rainbow” fruit with homemade whipped cream! We mixed our primary colors to make the secondary ones. It was fun AND delicious!
  • Curriculum is not “one size fits all.” If you have found an all-inclusive curriculum that meets all the needs of your family and you LOVE it, yay you!!! Honestly, our curriculum comes pretty close! Next year we’ll have to start supplementing in a few subjects but My Father’s World gives great suggestions for all supplements. (Click on the link to check our curriculum out!) This is our 3rd year using this curriculum and we absolutely love it! I realize not everyone has that experience, and that’s okay, too! And even if you’ve settled on a great curriculum, you don’t have to use it as is. I have to be flexible with our scheduling since I work part-time so I don’t always follow the curriculum’s outline exactly. Plus, my experience as a public school teacher gave me great supplemental ideas that I use all the time! I consider myself lucky that my oldest is mature and “advanced” enough that I could do kindergarten with her at age 4, no problem, and she loved it! That meant that I started first grade with her last year when she was 5, and could spread it over 2 years. So this year is technically our second year of 1st grade, but age-wise, she’s “officially” first grade! Taking first grade at a slower pace has meant being able to supplement with more fun activities, field trips, and make time for the toddler and baby on the way!
We ALL got into our colorful snack! So yummy!
  • Don’t be afraid to try something different! Homeschool parents can feel a lot of pressure to do things perfectly because the world’s eyes are on us for not doing things “conventionally” or not “leaving our child’s education to the ‘experts’.” This kind of pressure sometimes leads me to overthink my choices for fear of messing up and looking like I failed my kids. But I can tell you, even public school teachers have plans that fail! Lessons, and even whole units, don’t always go according to plan, so we have to adjust. Don’t be afraid to look into new curricula, supplemental materials, or to just reach out to other homeschool moms for support and ideas. I thought I was “set” this year for our curriculum, but I now find myself researching another curriculum to supplement what we’re already doing. It never ends! But I’m learning to follow my instincts and try new things when necessary.

IMG_1778

 

Keeping some structure to your summer (and your sanity intact!)

Summer vacation is here!!! Well for this homeschool crew, anyway. To the rest of you who might have a couple weeks to go–hang in there! Or maybe I should say, savor the last couple weeks that your kids aren’t “BOOORRRREEEEDDDDD!!!” ūüėČ

No joke, I didn’t have the “summer system” I’m about to describe ready for our first week of summer vacation, and boy, oh boy, do I wish I had! While you’re in the midst of the craziness of a school schedule, starting each day in a relaxed mode and enjoying some morning cartoons on “Boomerang” (Hello, Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry–you bring back so many memories!) may sound like paradise, but let me tell you–after just 2 days of so-called “relaxation”, I was pulling my hair out. No schedule or structure=no sanity around here. And starting each day off with “screen time” is a recipe for disaster (or at least a pastime best kept for Saturday mornings only). The bickering, the whining, the boredom… I just couldn’t take it. It didn’t help that the weather hasn’t been great (today, Thursday, is the first sunny and warm day all week). Time to whip our summer into shape and help me remember that I do actually love my children. ūüėČ

I used to be a public school teacher and now as a homeschool mom, I was very surprised that on our last day of school, I was just as elated to be done as I used to be on the last day of public school. Homeschooling, when done well, is no joke. It’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of heart work, because you’re teaching your own children. It’s exhausting. But the reward is great. And summer vacation often can’t come soon enough! But summer is more than just hanging out, going to the playground, park, or beach. While summer vacation is a great time to enjoy time with our families and children (especially if your kids go to public or private school) it is also a crucial time to continue training them. During the school year, we’re so focused on academics and distracted by our busy extra curricular schedules, that it’s hard to establish a good chore routine or spend the time it takes to work on our character building. These things are so important and take dedication, especially at the start, so summer is a great time to work on them.

We are using We Choose Virtues, a Christian character-training guide (not just for homeschool families!) for our character work. You can read more about how we’re implementing that in my last post. But it’s also important to get the kids into the habit of helping out around the house and doing chores. It can be so easy, especially when busy, to just do it yourself–let’s face it, the cleaning goes faster and comes out better that way–but it’s important to start teaching our kids the value of taking care of themselves and our home early. This takes a lot of work from the parent at first, which is why it can be hard to dive into it during the school year. And let’s not forget the importance of keeping up with our academic skills during the summer so we don’t lose our reading knowledge or math facts while on break. And if at all possible, I would like to avoid hearing “I’m BORED” on a regular basis this summer. (Okay, maybe it’s not possible, but I have hope.)

So I set out creating activity bins and charts. Oh, the internet can be such a useful resource for ideas! ūüėČ We have an outdoor bin of “boredom buster” that’s filled with some traditional outdoor toys and some not-so-traditional outdoor toys. (Letting kids play with play dough outside gives them a thrill and helps gets rid of the indoor mess!) Our outdoor bin is filled with bug nets, Play-Doh, multiple kinds of chalk, bean bags, chalk paint, jump ropes, paddle balls, tether balls, and bubbles–all of which can be purchased at the dollar store and are easy and cheap to replenish as the summer goes on.

Then we have our indoor activity bins–one for Abby and one for Noah. These focus a little more on academics, but are still unstructured. Abby (going into first grade) has a folder with math worksheets and some journal-prompting sheets, dry-erase math games (from her centers this past year), flash cards for sight words, flash cards for math facts, ¬†learning sign language cards, leveled readers, dry-erase activity cards (from Usborne books–also great for long car rides!), a dry-erase board and marker, and silly putty. Noah’s activity bin also has silly putty, a dry-erase board and marker, dry-erase activity cards, his salt tray for forming letters, alphabet and number cards, and Ninja turtle memory game cards.

Based on some helpful ideas from the internet, I set up a summer schedule which has the kids doing their chores, playing outside, practicing their memory verse (from We Choose Virtues), choosing an activity from their bin, and many other things, daily. Check it out! You can download it and adjust it to fit your family’s needs, too! I’ll post the link to our chore chart, as well, so you can see what kinds of chores we’ve included. Our kids are 5 and 4, so we have nothing major, and these aren’t chores we will pay them an allowance to do. We also don’t count basic things like making the bed as “chores”–those are just part of taking care of ourselves and our things. Our chores are helping with the kitchen and dishes, etc, and we do them because we’re a part of the family.

2017 Summer Schedule

2017 Chore Chart

I hope these ideas help you bust through summer boredom or at least establish a working family routine this summer if you’re in need of one! Happy vacation!

Is there TIME for that?

Can I just say, I LOVE our homeschool curriculum! It’s seriously awesome. There are many things to love about a curriculum, but one thing I’m thankful for today is the amount of time that’s allotted for free exploration, and fun, hands-on activities. This curriculum does a great job making room for “margin space” in homeschool life. I’m in a moms’ Bible study and last night we were talking about how much margin we leave in our lives for the unexpected, or the “fun” stuff that can present itself when we’re not prepared for it. Are we expecting the unexpected? Are we leaving enough margin in our daily schedules to allow for hiccups, or for playing with our kids even when we have other things to do? Do we have enough margin for things to take longer than expected and not get upset over it? These are questions we had to ask ourselves. It’s a struggle for me, sometimes. I’m a planner, but I’m working hard to not be an over-planner. I’m learning the value in saying “no” and leaving enough margin in my schedule. Although I typically start my day with some sort of plan for how it will go, I’m now asking God daily to give me the grace to accept and embrace the changes that come–the ones I haven’t planned for.

I’m the type of mom who searches for ways to make learning fun and to incorporate all the senses when possible. I love doing crafts, experimenting in the kitchen, and enjoying our tasty experiments! I love exploring outside when we can. So I love that our curriculum includes an “exploration day” every week (also helpful when the week doesn’t go quite as planned–there’s a cushion day). And I love that it schedules in fun, interesting, hands-on activities throughout the week that go with what we’re learning (like having a family Sabbath celebration, or measuring Noah’s ark in cubits, or using clay and toothpicks to build our own “Tower of Babel”). I like that I don’t have to come up with all the fun and interesting stuff as “add-ins” because they’ve already included a bunch¬†for me!

IMG_20170427_121427722So today, after a week of beginning to learn to tell time, we made a clock pizza! And it was scheduled right into our curriculum. I happen to have a fruit pizza recipe that is better than the suggestion given (which used actual pizza crust, whereas mine uses a sugar cookie crust–yum!) so I used that and we made an educational and delightful treat! Nice to have the time to do these things together. ūüôā Doesn’t mean the whole day was perfect or that on other days, we don’t get to the fun part that I’m looking forward to, but today was a gift. And no matter what comes, planned or unplanned, tomorrow will be, too.

*The curriculum we use is My Father’s World. I fell in love with it at a homeschool convention 2 years ago. I wouldn’t be so bold to say it’s a perfect curriculum, but it’s perfect for us, right now. You can check it out here: mfwbooks.com

IMG_20170427_121029268This FRUIT PIZZA is a great dessert for any spring/summer gathering and is SUPER easy to make. Even a pretty nauseous pregnant lady with 3 little kids running around can whip it up in no time.

IMG_20170427_121232446I use Pillsbury sugar cookie dough for the crust. They come in squares, now, so I lay them all out on a greased pizza stone and then roll them together using powdered sugar instead of flour to prevent sticking. Then I bake according to the package instructions, but usually have to add a few more minutes since we’re making one giant cookie, here!

For the “sauce”: ¬†– 8 oz cream cheese (softened), 1 TB vanilla, 1 TB milk, 2 TB apricot preserves, 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, drizzle of honey. Whip together with a hand mixer until smooth.

Spread the “sauce” over the cooled cookie, and then decorate with fruit! Today I used blueberries, sliced strawberries, and sliced kiwis. Sometimes I add grapes. Blueberries made great numbers for our clock. What a fun snack for all of us!

IMG_1342

 

Recalculating…

There is a lot of adapting involved in parenting. ¬†Before you become a parent, you probably have an idea of what kind of parent you’ll be like and how your kids will behave. ¬†Then you start having kids and… well, it usually doesn’t look exactly how you pictured it. ¬†Things arise that you never could’ve predicted and so you adapt. ¬†You try one discipline technique and it doesn’t work, so you adapt. ¬†Methods that your oldest child responded well to don’t have nearly the same effect on your second child, so you adapt. ¬†If you’re a parent who has never had to reevaluate or change direction with something, you’re probably not doing something right. ¬†Or you’re just not receptive to what’s not working. ¬†Or you’re the perfect parent. ¬†But I’m convinced that doesn’t exist, so… ūüėČ

This same thinking is applied for teachers in the classroom. ¬†When something isn’t “clicking” for a student, the (good) teacher will try to find another method that will make the material accessible and easily understood.

As a homeschool mom, there’s a combination of both these mentalities that can sometimes be overwhelming. ¬†When we have a bad day of school, we wonder if we need to change our parenting style or our teaching style. ¬†As daunting as it can be, it’s important to keep assessing so we can meet our goals. ¬†I don’t know anyone who made the decision to homeschool on a whim. ¬†Usually it comes with lots of thought, research, discussion, and for the Christian families, prayer. ¬†With something so important at stake, of course we want to do our best.

Recently I was met with a decision that made me turn and look at the way I’m “teaching”¬†my preschooler, Noah, and if I’m really tailoring my teaching style and preschool activities to his needs right now. ¬†(He’s a little behind in his speech, so that’s something I want to work on with him. ¬†Now, when I say “teaching”, I do mean very light, fun activities. ¬†One thing that I love about homeschool is that kids can still have plenty of time to be kids.) ¬†After a lot of prayer and discussion with my husband and close homeschool mom friends, I decided I needed to remember why we decided to homeschool in the first place, stay the course, but just recalculate a bit and change what I do with him¬†right now. ¬†I’ve had to do this with Abby in the past and I strongly suspect I’ll continue to do it year after year with all my kids. ¬†When you come face to face with a time for recalculating your parenting or your teaching style with your kids, here are some important things to remember:

  1. Cover the situation in prayer.  Cover your child in prayer and ask for wisdom to know what to do.
  2. Remember WHY you’re on the path that you’re on. ¬†My husband and I have specific goals for our family and our children which is why we decided to homeschool for now. ¬†I think it’s important to have “umbrella goals” or a family mission statement that won’t change over time. ¬†But you may have smaller, more specific goals that will change as your kids grow up. ¬†For us, homeschooling may not always be tied to our umbrella goals, but right now it’s a big part of how we’re meeting those goals and it’s definitely tied to our smaller goals for our young kids. ¬†It may be helpful to have these goals written down somewhere.
  3. Realize that change takes time. ¬†So you tried something once and it didn’t work out the way you envisioned. ¬†It doesn’t mean you have to change it right away, your child may just need an adjustment period. ¬†But if you keep doing the same thing without desired results, then it might be time to reassess.
  4. Recalculating doesn’t make you a failure! ¬†It makes you a better parent/teacher for recognizing the need for change and following through!
  5. Age matters. ¬†Maturity matters. ¬†Sometimes, my best plan of action was none at all. ¬†Simply because my child was too young or immature to “get it” at that time. ¬†So, we just took a break. ¬†After a month or two of not doing a certain activity, what used to be met with tears and anxiety was suddenly met with confidence and determination upon reintroduction. ¬†And I never even had to change my teaching method! ¬†She just needed a little time to grow and mature.
  6. The best route is not always the fastest route, and it’s definitely not the same for everyone! ¬†Stop comparing every little detail of your situation to another’s. ¬†Sure, there are basic, age appropriate benchmarks to be aware of, but not every kid moves at the same pace. ¬†And the beauty of homeschooling is that you can tailor your child’s education so that it suits their needs, and they don’t always feel like they have to learn like everyone else (by “keeping up” in the classroom).

As we are about half way through the school year (depending on what kind of schedule you follow), now is a good time to reassess where you are in your homeschool year. ¬†Is your child understanding everything? ¬†Are you on target, or where you wanted to be by this time of year? ¬†If not, what needs to change? ¬†Sometimes it’s our expectations that need to change, but other times, we do need to recalculate so we can still make it to our destination even if we have to go about it a different way.

New Adventures in Food and Homeschool

It’s been a week since I started my second round of the Whole30 and to be honest, it’s been great this time around. ¬†Last time, I remember thinking, “It’s only 30 days, I can get by on mostly salad for that amount of time.” ¬†That’s part of what contributed to me having a hard time with it. ¬†Trying to get by on salad and smoothies for days on end (salads that can only be dressed with oil and vinegar, by the way, since your favorite dressing from the store actually contains sugar) is not ideal, especially for someone who’s used to eating a wide variety of flavorful foods! ¬†So this time, not only have I been researching and making more unique and delicious dinners, I’ve been getting creative with breakfasts and even finding snack foods that are Whole30 compliant. ¬†It’s a lot of work! ¬†But it’s been fun, and worth it. ¬†I’m totally in love with these mocha energy balls I made over the weekend and I already made a second batch to get me through this week! ¬†I was also struck yesterday as I did my grocery shopping (once in a while it’s nice to actually go to the store and shop rather than use the to-go services, especially if I only have one child with me–that was a treat!) at just how many aisles and sections of the store I skipped because I’m on the Whole30 and only buying whole foods (mostly–I still have 4 other people in the house to feed, and they still like their dairy and grains). ¬†It wasn’t the first time I thought about what’s in our food at the grocery store, but it definitely made me think about it more.

Here’s just some of the delicious food I’ve enjoyed this past week. ¬†Hover over the picture to see the description…

In homeschool news, I introduced new centers this week (as I plan to every Friday). ¬†This week we were in tight quarters as we’re in the process of swapping out our living room entertainment center, but we made do. ¬†So far, the kids LOVE these as a general idea. ¬†They look forward to “center day” and it really has worked at keeping them occupied during regular school hours¬†when I need one-on-one time with one of them. ¬†I’ve started keeping a log of my ideas and it helps to plan ahead. ¬†I think I have the next few weeks planned now, but I still have to do the prep work, which can be time consuming. ¬†So glad I finally¬†have a new¬†laminator¬†($20 on amazon, thank you very much)! ¬†It helps to know that the work I’m doing now can be used for siblings in the future by keeping it laminated and protected! ¬†If you’re interested in this week’s centers, take a look: