(The following is a guest post from True North Homeschool Academy teacher Amber Fonseca.)
I can’t be the only homeschool mom that is attempting to host a tasty AND nutritious Thanksgiving dinner while trying to educate my little man… Oh! Did I mention that I also have a disability and my little is autistic bipolar? I know, I’m a little crazy, but I have a plan!
That’s the most important part of any Thanksgiving dinner, right? Having a plan makes things more manageable and allows you the ability to know where to adjust as the inevitable unplanned happenings occur. Yup, right up there with having a plan is the necessary skill of being able to adjust the plan when the unexpected happens. How? Well, everyone’s plan and backup plan will look different, but here are some helpful tools that anyone can adjust to fit into their own holiday preparations.
Shop early – there will be things that you forget, but having the majority of your shopping done before the masses hit the grocery stores will lessen your stress and allow you to ensure everything on your list is available.
Spread out the cooking – Don’t try to do all of the cooking in one day. I make my rolls first because I can put them in the freezer. Then I make things that don’t require refrigeration (brownies, even low-carb can sit on the counter for a couple of days with no problems). The ingredients (like eggs) will often come from the fridge, and you will slowly give yourself more space for things that MUST go in the fridge once you are done making them.
Use your helpers! We homeschool. That means that while other children are still in school, ours are home and available to help. Younger kids can create decorations as you discuss why Thanksgiving exists, middle and older kids can help with the cooking. Home-economics at its finest!
Don’t try to keep up with the three R’s. Yes, you can have your kids do the math associated with cooking; that isn’t what I mean. It is perfectly okay to take a few days away from written work and focus on relationships and family. I am far from being Super-mom, and there is no way that I can keep up with it all AND continue our regular class work.
Enjoy your family. No matter how much pain I am in or how stressed I may be trying to figure out the carb counts associated with every meal I make, my goal is to enjoy spending time with my son and with my parents when they arrive.
These are just my top five recommendations, as a diabetic with other disabilities including RSD/CRPS and back damage, there are more items on my list. I don’t have the ability to stand and cook for hours and hours. I have to take breaks, I have to give myself time, and I have to accept that my body may not always cooperate.
Here are some added preparations for those of us with disabilities.
Pre-plan your recipes AND your grocery list – knowing what you are cooking and what you need to purchase will make a HUGE difference as you move through your preparations.
Order groceries delivered or for pick-up! Save your time and energy. Pick-up in most places doesn’t cost anything extra but makes a huge difference on your energy levels.
Plan for easy meals, maybe even take-out, for the week leading into Thanksgiving. Your fridge is likely overrun with supplies for the big day, so planning easy meals like spaghetti (I have a low-carb high-protein pasta) or salads don’t use up the energy needed for cooking.
Keep it easy – Don’t try to make two versions of everything. It is okay to have some foods that are not on your diet if you know the majority of the people coming will appreciate it and eat it. Meanwhile, other items can be replaced completely. Stuffing is replaceable here. I heard that gasp! Seriously though, my family grew up eating mashed potatoes over stuffing. This means that I can make Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes and there is no need to make my amazing stuffing. If we had a larger group, I might, but this year the stuffing has been axed!
Take your time and take breaks – I started cooking almost a week in advance. I made my rolls and put them in the freezer, then I made the cranberry sauce and put it in the freezer as well. Next, I will make my sweet potato casserole and the green bean casserole. I will wait until the big day before I add toppings at the last minute. Spreading out the different dishes allows me to better manage my pain levels. On the day of – the only thing I should have left will be the turkey.
Now that you know my lists, I have one more thing to share — a low-carb high-protein bread recipe that actually tastes AMAZING. I needed a recipe that let me think I was cheating with a good-ol’ yeasty roll slathered in butter, and this recipe let me do that while still controlling my blood sugars!
1 packet quick activated yeast
*Mix these and set it aside*
½ cup softened butter
¾ cup sour cream
¾ cup ricotta cheese
2 egg whites
2 cups Almond Flour (set ½ cup aside)
¾ cup GF Flour (or regular if you aren’t gluten-free)
½ cup egg based unflavored protein powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ cup warm/hot water
Mix your dry ingredients in one bowl and then cut in the butter until the butter is mixed in and creates a fine crumble in the flours. In a separate bowl, blend together the sour cream, ricotta, and eggs. By this time, the yeast and water should be nice and frothy. Mix the yeast into the sour cream and egg mixture. Lastly, slowly add the flour ingredients into the liquid ingredients. The dough will likely still be a bit sticky. Mix/knead in the last ½ cup of almond flour. If the dough is still to wet to shape, you can add more almond flour, OR you can place it into a muffin pan and make muffin rolls. The dough can also be placed in a bread pan. Bake at 350 until the top and edges are lightly browned, and a knife comes out clean. Enjoy!
About Amber – Nobody knows the faith required to walk the home education path like a prior homeschool graduate turned homeschool mom. Often, when God calls us to walk in faith, the first step is the hardest. My parents took that step when I was in elementary school: they withdrew my public school enrollment and we started our homeschool journey. Years later, I graduated college armed with an English Language Arts degree, a teacher’s certification, and a passion for teaching English. Choosing to home educate my son meant that I would no longer be able to teach Lit & Comp, (College) Composition I and C.S. Lewis to high school students – or so I thought. I am excited for this amazing opportunity to share my passion for English with homeschool students online!
(Discount Coupons throughout the guide and awesome Give -Aways- scroll to the end of the post to enter!)
Part of what inspired this Gift Guide was my search for the perfect handbag that fit my world. It had to be roomy enough to hold books and possibly even a tablet or laptop, structured enough that I could find what I was looking for and built to last my non-stop homeschooling, working world life. I don’t mind spending money on a quality bag that looks good and lasts, but it has to be just that- something that is beautiful and hard-working.
I have found just the thing. Below you’ll find details about Phil Teakell’s gorgeous, handcrafted leather bag. This one is heirloom quality, an investment that will last for years.
Next up, is Rebecca Scott Designs. We’ve owned a few RDS Bags, different style, different colors. I have a personal fav, but I don’t want to unduly influence you. They are all amazing!
Lastly, I’ve included 31 Bags, because in a poll on our Facebook Group, Help Homeschooling High School, it seemed to be a definite staple in the Mom bag life. My only complaint about 31 Bags is that they say, ‘will withstand 80 lbs” -I take them at their word and fill to capacity, but then I have to actually pick it up! Time to grab some smaller ones!
And then, Bling. Because let’s face it, the homeschool Mom life can be a lot of things but is rarely glamorous. We’ve used Lila Rose clips for a long while. Perfect for thick, heavy hair and thin, wispy hair as well! We love the style and versatility of Lila Rose. Practical and beautiful!
So.much.fun. You need many of these gorgeous jewelry pieces! Gorgeous and affordable
Rebecca Scott Design
All of our products have been designed by Rebekah Scott, who works out of her home studio near Valley Springs, South Dakota. She employs work from home moms who want to use their talents to provide an income for their families, all while staying home to raise their families.
Rebekah Scott Designs products are handmade, machine washable, made with vegan leather, and come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee! You can purchase items from their Ready to Ship collection where items are already made and will be sent to you with 5-7 business days OR if you want to design your own products, you get to pick all of the details (right down to the colored zippers!) and the finished products are sent to you within 4-5 weeks of being ordered!
The Phoebe bag is perfect for work, baby or travel. The largest purse style in the RSD line up, Phoebe can fit everything from your laptop, tablet, accessories to diapers and toys for your little one! She has three outside pockets, a crossbody strap, shoulder straps, and pockets that line the inside of the bag to keep your items tidy and organized. This purse style comes with optional add ons like a concealed pocket and top zipper (coming soon!) to keep your items secure! If you carry your laptop, pair the Phoebe with the Jovie laptop sleeve to make her even more versatile!
To follow RSD, sign up for their email list where you get discounts and product information before the general public! Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram too where they do tons of fun giveaways!
I find great pleasure in creating beautiful wire wrapped and strung beaded jewelry in a range of styles and connecting each piece to a satisfied customer. Right now I’m really into the Rustic/Woodland/Boho Chic vintage feel and you’ll see its influence in my work–turquoise, pearls, crystals, & gemstones with vintage bronze, copper, & silver. I’ve even merged into antiquing sterling and brass to capture this feeling. Better yet, I try to keep my Magpies within pocketbook range!
As I create I pray. I pray for each woman who will be wearing my pieces–pray that she knows how much she is loved by the Savior and that she will feel absolutely beautiful while wearing her Magpies. It is my sincere desire that Magpie will bless women and somehow be impactful in each woman knowing how much she is loved.
Use coupon BAGSNBLING for 20% off on any Magpie Madness products. Good until December 31st, exclusively for True North Homeschool Academy readers!
Check out the the zip-top utility tote and the double duty caddy. The zip top is great for traveling with the 7 exterior pockets for markers, water bottle etc. Pair this with a fold n file and it becomes a great mobile file cabinet. The double duty caddy is great for kids to organize their subjects or to create a mobile classroom with storage for art supplies on one side and paper or folders on the other side. The item I am givingaway is a medium utility tote. All info for my products can be seen on my website at www.mythirtyone.com/Rasmus and I can be contacted via email or text at Sarahjrasmus@gmail.com or 651-491-2625.
In a market full of mass produced goods, craftsmanship is becoming a rarity. Welcome to Teakell Designs, where every product is custom hand-crafted.
The Large 2 Ring Tote brings a durable sophistication to the daily necessities. It is a heavy duty, oil-tanned leather that will continue to develop its unique signature as it ages. This tote will become the go-to bag for everything from the laptop and books to the fresh market veggies and jams. The size accommodates innumerable combinations at 13” tall and 13” x 6” base, but style will be the only thing that is seen. Craftsmanship is becoming a rarity in this market of mass production. Welcome to the Rare. Pat Teakell began his creative pursuits as soon as he was able to hold tools. Among his many developing skills was leatherworking. Many years and many creative developments later, Teakell Design is focusing again on leatherwork. Each item is meticulously crafted in Wichita, Kansas with Pat’s individual touches that ensure every piece is made to last.
Lilla Rose hair accessories, with Independent Stylist Kristi Bothur
Gift Guide Lila Rose
Lilla Rose hair accessories are for every woman who has been frustrated with the time it takes to style her hair, or with uncomfortable accessories that damage her hair rather than protect it. The Flexi Clip is designed in seven sizes to hold any kind of hair, from very fine to extremely textured, and to do it with beauty, ease, and comfort – from a simple half-up or ponytail to a more elaborate holiday updo. Sizing information is available online, or you can contact Kristi for personalized assistance, especially if you are choosing a gift. (With Lilla Rose’s 90-day exchange policy and oa ne-year warranty, you can’t lose!)
What’s more, Flexis can double as scarf clips! Other Lilla Rose hair accessories include decorative u-pins for painless updos, headache-free adjustable hairbands (that double as necklaces) and lightweight Leather 8/hair stick mix-and-match combinations. And for a gift that anyone can use, try their new organic rose water (rose hydrosol) for skin and hair!
Looking for a family business, or one that you can share with your teenager and then pass the baton to her when she graduates?
Lilla Rose, a direct sales company with a small-family feel, is ideal. Until November 20, shipping is FREE and joining costs only $99 (for which you receive $300 in product and supplies), and there are no hidden costs for further training, website maintenance, or monthly sales quotas. High school students can work alongside a responsible adult to learn business and entrepreneurial skills while selling this unique, patented hair jewelry, and if life happens and you need to take a break, you won’t lose your business. Read here[ for more information or contact Kristi with your questions!
As a STOA alumni and coach, I have been through multiple classes and curriculum on public speaking and speech. Although some of these courses are great to teach the basics from, there’s still something missing.
I want you to imagine a high school boy who enjoys the sport of basketball. This boy shoots hoops in his driveway every day and watches every game of his favorite team. Maybe he’s even hired a personal trainer to help him refine his skills. After he graduates the boy goes to try out for a college he wants to attend, paid for by a basketball scholarship, but there’s one problem, he’s never actually competed in a game with a team. Obviously, he is not going to be very successful because as much as he knows about the sport, he has no real experience.
Similarly, many students that study speech and public speaking have not had a platform to prove their skill set and receive needed critiques from judges. By competing against other students in their age group, students can test their strengths and weaknesses.
Why Choose Competitive Speech for Homeschoolers?
Competitive Speech may not seem like it’s necessary at all. Can’t a student give a speech to their parents, or local co-op, and improve based on those critiques? They can but only to a limited extent. Judges push students beyond their comfort zone in a way that parents and friends won’t.
How well will the class push the students outside of their comfort zone?
Until the student overcomes their fear of public speaking, there will always be an obstacle in their future. Ultimately competitive speech tournaments are the best at creating the real-world atmosphere that students will face in college and the workplace. This forces the students to have to get out of their comfort zone. Each student is different and some may love public speaking from the start. Even these students will benefit greatly from STOA Coaching and competition.
So, what is STOA?
From the STOA website, STOA is “Stoa is a national Junior High and High School Speech and Debate League serving the needs of privately educated Christian Homeschooling families.”
STOA offers 11 speech events for the 2018-2019 season which runs from August to May. The events are broken down into four categories:
How can my homeschool student become prepared to compete in a STOA event?
True North Homeschool Academy offers STOA prep specifically for homeschool students in our live (online) speech course. This course provides instruction and experience in preparation and delivery of speeches within a public setting. Emphasis is placed on research, preparation, delivery, and evaluation of informative and persuasive speaking. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to prepare and deliver well-organized speeches. They will have also developed the interpersonal skills necessary to be effective communicators in an academic setting.
The True North Academy Speech club meetings will run the entire 2nd semester. The students will spend the first and second month learning the basics of speech writing and selecting which speech events they like the most. They can select up to 5 events to compete in for a NITOC modeled (aka qualifying) tournament.
How do the STOA Tournaments Work?
Tournaments are held in most states by local clubs, but each competition is a little different. Tournaments can have either speech or debate, both, or a combination of either. Tournaments will usually have a total of 6 preliminary rounds for speech events, and those rounds will be split into A and B patterns so that the events are split between the 2 patterns. This split means each student will compete three times in the preliminary rounds.
These rounds are usually 2 hours long and preferably will have 3 judges per a room to ensure maximum feedback for the student. After the preliminary rounds, most tournaments will have out rounds(e.g. Quarter-finals, Semi-finals, and finals) depending on the schedule.
For students to qualify for NITOC (Nationals) they must receive 2 “green check marks” from qualifying tournaments during the season. In order to get a check-mark in that event, the student must place in the top 40% of that event.
This season NITOC will be in Dallas Texas from May 20-25 at Dallas Baptist University.
Are you interested in learning more or joining a True North Speech Club? Find more information on our website or feel free to contact us with any questions.
(Make sure you find your way to the bottom of this post to enter the Christmas Blessings Giveaway!)
The Holiday Season is hard upon our heels. As our family size shifts and changes with kids launching and significant others joining us, our traditions are changing. Regardless of the natural ebb and flow of family changes, we fill our holidays with the tastes, sounds, sights, and smells of Christmas.
TASTE: Food & Drinks
Food often evokes memories, and holiday foods can bring up beloved relatives, now gone and the happy glow of childhood. Green bean casserole was de rigor at my house growing up during the holidays and always served in a huge clay handled and lidded pot we got from Mexico. Mmm! We incorporate old favorites each holiday like deviled eggs. And don’t try to sneak any chic new ingredients in! I want them plain, simple and perfect with just mayo, mustard and a dash of paprika on top. Served up on the green colored Carnival platter, of course.
But we also add in a new recipe or two. While the pumpkin should be traditional, how about bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers to add some zing to the table?
Along with food, we have a tea/coffee and a hot chocolate bar stocked for the holidays with flavored hot chocolates, peppermints, and flavored Keurigs. This can be as fancy or simple as you like but it makes for quick and happy gatherings as those of us in the far north thaw from coming indoors.
We make simple changes throughout the year during different seasons. We have an old shed window pane (sans glass) in the bathroom and have homemade banners swaged across, which we change by season. We go all out at Christmas and swath our three-story 4 x 4 farmhouse in twinkle lights, decorate trees on each floor and bring out homemade treasures that we’ve collected over time.
I add to our mini-stuffed snowman collection throughout the year, and these perch atop windows, nestled in boughs of greenery. We have mini-trees throughout the house as well, some decorated by theme (cowboys, y’all) or color (pink and purple with twinkle lights is an adorable look!). Twinkle lights are everywhere and we often spend holiday evenings chatting with twinkle lights and fire going, making a gentle, cozy atmosphere in which to enjoy the holidays.
SMELLS: Candles & Flowers
With the plethora of essential oils and candles, it’s easy to create scents by seasons. We sprinkle peppermint and evergreen on our fake Christmas tree, creating a subtle and beautiful aroma, while still protecting families from seasonal allergy attacks.
We are suckers for growing things and holidays often find newly potted flowers in our dining room- poinsettias for Christmas, of course, but we love cut flowers too, which are worth buying at least a few times a year. You know the old adage, if you have two loaves of bread, sell on and buy a lily. I take that pretty seriously.
Don’t forget Cinnamon Applesauce ornaments and clove-studded citrus to decorate with. Place them amongst ornaments when you pack them away for subtle and beautiful fragrance when you unpack your treasures the next year.
SOUNDS & More Sights: Music, Videos & Books
Family tradition in our house dictates that Christmas decorating begins the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas music and videos must wait to be watched and listened to until then. However, the day after Christmas you’ll find us bringing down Christmas decorations while playing the Peanuts Christmas album and from then until New Years, we’ll play new and old favorites.
We save seasonal videos and books as well. Each Christmas season we’ll watch The Star, The Nativity, Muppets Christmas, White Christmas, Miracle on 31st street, While You Were Sleeping and other holiday favorites reserved especially for Christmas.
When our kids were young we read Bartholomew’s, Tabitha’s Travels and Johan’s Journey, along with other well-loved Christmas books and while our kids are older now, we do bring these books out each Christmas and stack them around the house. It’s not unusual to find people reading them curled up on a sofa with hot tea or chocolate or even reading them out loud to each other.
And of course, we read the Nativity Story on Christmas Eve, often having attended a candlelight service where we sing beautiful hymns like O Little Town of Bethlehem, Away in a Manager, and Silent Night.
Stockings and Presents & Christmas Morning
We love giving and receiving gifts and I fill the handmade Stockings my Mom and I made with magazine subscriptions, Burt’s Bees, gift cards, gum, and flashlights and batteries.
We’ll eat a simple or fancy brunch, depending on whose home and who wants to cook what and then we’ll open presents. Some things just happen year after year, like good books and movies, hats and accessories, home-made items and of course, something Peanuts-related. Art and craft supplies always show up; though as my kids have gotten older and their skills have developed, their craft supplies are decidedly more expensive- have you priced a pottery wheel or anvil lately?!
We’ll feast on roast turkey later in the day and then play a board game, read books and watch movies in front of the fire or go on a walk if the weather is nice.
We love the Christmas Holiday season, with all of its sights, sounds, smells and good gifts! What do you do to celebrate?
Now for the Giveaway!
It’s hard to believe that Christmas is upon us once again. 2018 has flown right by and the holiday season is in full swing. With Christmas being the season of giving, I’ve gotten together with some pretty awesome bloggers to give TWO families some CASH in the 5th annual Christmas Blessings Giveaway – $500 cash (delivered via Paypal).
We hope that the prize will be a blessing to the winning families and help them to fulfill their kids’ Christmas wishes, pay off some bills, or to save for a rainy day. Whatever the money ends up being used for, our prayer is that it helps to lessen any financial burden and/or fills a specific need.
There are lots of entry options in the Rafflecopter form below – the more you enter, the better your chance of winning! I know it can seem tedious and time-consuming to go through all the entries, but isn’t a chance at $500 worth it? I think it is! Plus, all of these generous bloggers donated their own money toward the cash prizes and this giveaway wouldn’t be possible without them. So I hope you’ll take the time to check out each one. Who knows, maybe you will find your new favorite blog.
The giveaway will run from Monday, November 12th through Wednesday, November 21st (ends at 11:59 pm EST). Winner will be notified by email shortly after the giveaway ends and will have 48 hours to respond to claim the prize or another winner will be drawn. You must have a Paypal account to win. Please be sure to read the Rafflecopter terms and conditions upon entering.
(This week I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to guest post over at Minnesota Country Girl as part of the 30 Days of Thankfulness series.)
Several years ago, just after moving to the state where we currently live, we had the very great honor of inviting TeenPact to establish a state class here, and as a result, got to meet and work with Tim Echols (founder of TeenPact). I was just looking for an amazing camp with a purpose and some great experiences for my kids. TeenPact provided all of that and more, but this post is about Freedom, far more than TeenPact.
But first, TeenPact. It’s a week-long camp during your state’s Legislative Sessions that is part politics, part world-view, part convention, part inspiration, part hard work and a whole lot of fun that teaches your kids that regardless of their age or ability, they can make a positive impact on the world.
Interested in seeing the rest of this post? Visit the series over at Minnesota Country Girl.
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