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Going Back to Public School plus June Student Writing Prompt

May Writing Prompt (3)

It is June and for most students that means the school year is coming to an end. Also, June is the start of the Summer season which kids look forward to but parents who need to occupy the kids do not. Whether school is still going or has ended for your student, it doesn’t mean that the learning has to stop when school stops.

Danyella’s homeschooling school year ends at the end of June but she is will be going back to public school starting the end of August. We will be using the month of July to prepare for her testing back into public school. Which she is fighting every step of the way.

This decision to go back to public school was not an easy one because of Danyella’s anxiety and difficulties in Math. At home, I am able to take the time to explain the work to her but at school the teacher may not have that time to go one on one with her. I am scared she will get lost between the kids in the school especially going into 6th grade and they will be switching classes and having multiple teachers.

On the other hand, I don’t think she is truly thriving in a homeschool setting because she fights me on doing anything and everything. I have tried to find subjects that she enjoys but she loses interest. She just wants to rush rush rush through all of her computer and written work. She tries to put the minimal amount of effort into whatever she is doing and it has caused fights between her and I.

Danyella feels that she should just be unschooled and learn when and what she wants to learn. That is not my style as a homeschooling parent. Don’t get me wrong, if unschooling works for you and your family that is great but for my child she needs the structure of a school environment. If I left her to unschool, she would sit on her iPod or watch tv all day and learn nothing to succeed when she is an adult.

In New Jersey, there is no structure for homeschooling and no monitoring unlike our neighboring Pennsylvania. So, I have had to create all of her lessons and pay for all of the materials to teach her at home. That adds up just on ink and printer paper alone. Then add the monthly fee for the homeschooling school that I found for her, workbooks, field trips, projects and other things and we easily put out $2000 a year on homeschooling.

When she goes back to public school, she will be going with her best friend and back to the first elementary school she attended where the students and teachers still remember her. I know she has anxiety about this big change in both of our lives but I think going back to this school will help her with the transition.

One thing that I will continue to have Danyella do, even when she is back in public school, is daily writing prompts. I think it is important that kids have time to write everyday whether it is journal writing or prompt writing. They need that outlet to get things out. Writing prompts have been a great way to get Danyella’s creative juices going and she doesn’t realize that she tells me things through the prompts like things that she likes/dislikes. These are things that she wouldn’t just tell me if I asked her.

Here is the June Writing Prompt which is good for 3rd-5th probably even 6th graders: June Writing Prompt PDF

May Writing Prompt (2)

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One Pan Baked Ziti Recipe

I found a new obsession… my new cast iron skillet pan!

On Mother’s Day,  my mom and I took the girls shopping at Marshal’s and Home Goods. I was searching for a good cast iron pan but wasn’t a fan of what they had so we went to Walmart and I found a basic 12″ pan which is what I wanted. I won’t lie…. I have been intimidated to actually use the pan but this is my second dish and wow is it easy and delish! (The first dish is my signature Chicken Paprikash which was amazing too!)

This Baked Ziti dish is so easy and yummy that I had to share it with all of you!

One Pan Baked Ziti

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A Great One Pan dinner for the family to enjoy.


Credit: kaella.net

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 cloves garlic; sliced or chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can/jar tomato sauce
  • 1 16 oz box of pasta (ziti/penne/rigatoni)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Move the oven rack to the middle and Set oven to 450 degrees. Heat cast iron or another oven safe pan with your oil.
  2. Brown your ground meat.
  3. Once the meat is browned, add the garlic, basil and oregano and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Lower the heat to low/medium and simmer for 10 minutes; occasionally stir.
  5. Add the water and pasta. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat, cover and leave at a low boil for 15 minutes or until noodles are tender.
  6. Stir in the heavy cream, 1/2 the cheese, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the rest of cheese over the noodles.
  7. Place the pan in the oven for 5-8 minutes or until the cheese is browned.Be cautious that pan is hot when serving the meal to your loved ones.
  8. Enjoy a dinner with the people you love.

Posted on 11 Comments

Do You Need A Lifestyle Audit?

Have you Audited Your Life Lately_

I am sure most everyone has heard how you will repeat the same bad habits or cycle until you do something to change it. How do you change those habits or the cycle of life you are in? You need to evaluate and audit your lifestyle!

What is working in your life?

  • Do you love your job and it brings you happiness?
  • Do you love being a mom and taking care of your kids?
  • Do you love the hobby you participate in?
  • Do you love taking a walk everyday?
  • Do you love to take the time to read?

What isn’t working in your life?

  • Do you love your job but not your hours?
  • Do you love being a parent but need other adult interaction?
  • Do you dread going to play basketball with your league?
  • Do you look for excuses to get out of something you used to enjoy?
  • Do you avoid doing things because you know you won’t enjoy them?

These are all questions to ask yourself when you are doing a lifestyle audit!

For myself, I am a creative person so I am having the same routine everyday feels like it kills my creative brain cells. I do not thrive in that situation and end up never finding the time to be creative because I lose that drive from focusing on my routine. Its a fine line to be a creative work at home mom and have the same daily routine with kids. Evie loves having a routine where she is fed, takes her naps, baths and bedtime at the same time everyday. With holidays and summer parties, there are days where her schedule is messed with and boy do we pay for it with a baby that refuses to sleep.  With Danyella being homeschooled, she has to have a routine or she will try to get out of doing her schoolwork (common occurence with a sassy tween). So what’s a creative mom to do when her kids need a routine? Find little ways to break up my routine so I don’t get into that blah feeling and avoid my creative side like changing up how I do my day each day. Plus, I tend to end up staying awake way to late after the girls are asleep to accomplish some of those mundane chores on my list that I avoided earlier in the day.

Now it is your turn! Print out the Lifestyle Audit PDF that I created for you to take a look at what is good and bad in your life. This will help determine what you need to change and what can stay the same to make your life the best it can be for today.

Lifestyle Audit

Posted on 19 Comments

100 Act Of Kindness Days

healthy (2)

Danyella has been dealing with bullying and mean girls the past year so as her mother, I have been working on her self-care routine through her school work. She doesn’t realize that when I have her write a positive sentance everyday… its self care. She doesn’t realize that when I have her take 15 minutes before bed to write down her feelings…. its self care. There are many way I have incorporated self care into her homeschooling routine but self care isn’t just about what we do for ourselves.

Self care is doing things for other because it is good for our soul. It doesn’t mean you need to go all Oprah and giveaway cars, electronics or other awesome gifts (unless you can afford it). You have heard the stories of the people who start the giving lines at Starbucks where the car in front of them purchases their order for them and then it keeps on going. Or the person that surprises a child with a new bike that their parents can’t afford to buy them.

These little acts of kindness make us feel good about helping others and to see the smile on someone else’s face makes those acts completely worth it. Yes, we do need to make sure we are happy and secure in ourselves but doing things for others when they don’t know it’s coming or asking for it adds to the happiness we feel in our lives.

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It is small things like:

Giving a friend a hug when they are down

Holding a door open for a mom with kids in each arm and on each leg

Writing a letter to a soldier serving our country

Leaving a cold bottle of water for the mailman in the summer

Making a meal for someone who is ill

Donating food to a food bank

The possibilities are endless….

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Danyella and I are starting our 100 Act of Kindness Days challenge today. Each day we will find something nice to do for someone else. We will record what we did and how it helped someone else. I want to teach Danyella that among all the mean people in the world, be one of the nice people. Who wants to join us in this challenge?

Here is the pdf printable of chart we will use to keep track of our days: 100 Act of kindness Days PDF

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Posted on 9 Comments

Easy Foil Lemon Fish Packets

img_3653This is one of my favorite fish meals to make because it is easy, yummy and it can go in my oven or on the grill in the summer. Personally, I love white fish like tilapia because it is a mild fish. Though, when it comes to my sushi, I pretty much eat any fish.

You can either get fresh fish fillets from your local fish place or grocery store’s fish section. I prefer to get the frozen fillets that are individually packaged because I can just take out how many I want at a time and not end up with leftovers that won’t be eaten. Let’s be honest, fish the next day is just not something you want to eat.

This pairs great with rice or fresh veggies or salad in the summer. I love tilapia with grilled asparagus in the summer. Plus, I use fresh herbs from my herb garden to enhance the taste of my fish. Win-Win!

Now, I can’t get Danyella, aka the sassy tween, to eat fish but she tried this and loved it. This is a huge accomplishment in my mom life!

Foil Lemon Fish Packets

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fresh, light, easy fish recipe.


Credit: kaella.net

Ingredients

  • 2-4 fish fillets
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced or chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 lemon sliced
  • 1/2 lemon for juicing
  • olive oil for foil
  • a piece of tin foil for each fillet large enough to create a packet
  • salt and pepper; to taste

Directions

  1. Set oven to 350 degrees or fire up your grill. Fold the sides of each piece of tin foil to create walls. Drizzle oil in each.
  2. Place a fillet on each piece. Sprinkle each piece with garlic, basil, parsley, salt and pepper.
  3. Squeeze lemon and place lemon slices on each fillet.
  4. Fold each packet around the fish. Set the fish in a glass or tin baking dish or place directly on your grill.
  5. Cook for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the fillets. The last 5 minutes I like to open the packets and let the lemons bake into the fish a little more.
  6. Serve with a yummy side and enjoy a nice dinner with your family.

Posted on 13 Comments

ABC Your Positive Life with this Gratitude Starter List

SpringInspiration

If you are anything like me, you can fall into a funk with keep a positive life all of the time. Things happen that can cause stress in your life which can lead to negative thoughts. It can be easy for your mind to get distracted by negative thoughts and forget everything we should be grateful for.

The other funk I fall into is being grateful for the same things over and over. Yes, I am thankful for my house, my children, my husband, my family etc… you get where I am going with this. Now, it is time to find the details of those general things that I am grateful for not just my kids, etc.

One way that helps me sort through these funks is to use my ABC list. This allows my brain to open up and think outside of the box for the things that I am grateful for in my life. Some of the letters make me get very creative which helps in exercising my brain as well.

Such as… A: I am grateful for apples and that my baby girl is big enough to start eating applesauce now.

You can start off with one letter a day or a few at a time. You can go in order or skip around. In the end all that matters is that you are working on your positive life and gratitude towards what is in your life.

I created the sheets in yellow and purple to brighten your day while you write, the first link is the pdf to download, the second is a jpg:

Yellow ABC’s of Gratitude

ABC's of Gratitude

Purple ABC’s of Gratitude

ABC's of Gratitude (1)

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How to Create Your Dream Bucket List

How to Start a bucket list

A bucket list is something that people have been doing for years, decades even centuries. People have written books about bucket lists and movies have been made about them even one move having the title The Bucket List. (Great movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) You might even have a mental bucket list but have yet to put those things on paper.

I think I started my first bucket list when I was 5 or 6. Any girl at that age, the top of their bucket list is Disney World or Disney Land (depending on what coast you live on). Which I accomplished when I was 22. Now, I want to take my girls to Disney to experience the wonders they offer as kids. I have always had travel locations that I want to tour on my bucket list(s). I want to tour Italy which could take a lifetime with all of the history, architecture and art that I want to enjoy. Ireland, Germany, France, England and the rest of Europe are on my list. Plus, Hawaii, the different countries in the Caribbean, Bali and other exotic locations. In more recent years, I have added a cross-country road trip to the list so that I can show the girls different landmarks in the country we live in.

Beyond travel, I have things that I want on my bucket list. Like purchasing a house is on my list. I would love to stop renting and paying someone else for the house we live in and call home. Finishing my degree is an important one on my list. Hopefully, this will happen sooner than later. I want to eventually have my tattoo on my leg finished.

Some things I have marked off my bucket list: becoming a Philadelphia Horticultural Society member, seeing Pitbull and U2 in concert, going to Las Vegas, having a girls trip with my friends, learn how to crochet (turned into a business!), learn how to screen print on clothes (so much fun!)

A bucket list gives you something to look forward to in life… goals for your future.  Your bucket list just needs to start with one thing that you want to accomplish in your life.

Here are some ideas:

Camping

Traveling to different areas

Concerts to See

Events you want to attend

Eat at a favorite restaurant

Attend an art class

Learn a new Hobby

Remodel a Room in your House

Start a new Self Care routine

Learn how to Bake/Cook

and the list is endless!

This Bucket List list can help you kick start your bucket list with different areas to think about adding to your list. This is the PDF printable version: My Bucket List

My Bucket List

 

 

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Lucky Penny Picture Frame With Free Father’s Day and Graduation Printable

Lucky Penny DIY Frame

Now that Mother’s Day is over, our next concentration is Father’s Day and Graduation. This frame really can work for a holiday like Father’s Day or celebrations like Graduation or Birthdays. This DIY project is super easy and an affordable gift for a loved one.

The frame is from the dollar store and the pennies are from my wallet and savings jar. The only other thing I needed was a hot glue gun. You can use one of the printables below or have your kids make a special poster for the frame.

For the penny frame, I used a hot glue gun to glue the initial row of pennies then staggered the top row to give it a unique look. You can replace the pennies with nuts and bolts, golf tees or something else related to Dad’s hobbies.

For the Dad Printable: Father’s Day Lucky Dad Printable

Let ourchildren play

For the Graduation Printable: Happy Graduation Printable

Happy Graduation

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Brown Sugar Breaded Baked Pork Chops

If you can’t tell, my family has been on a pork chop kick lately since “Christina” gave us a bunch of chops and ham steaks from when they purchased a pig last year. The challenge has been to find different ways to make the pork so that I am not feeding my family the same recipe over and over.

One thing I love to make and eat is breaded chicken but I have never done this with pork before. Hey, it should taste just as good right? Oh it did taste so good! The combination of the bread crumbs, brown sugar and a little bit lemon juice makes this a savory with a touch of sweet pork chops. It pairs well with potatoes, egg noodles or rice really nicely.

Brown Sugar Breaded Baked Pork Chops

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Credit: kaella.net

Ingredients

  • 4-6 pork chops
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or non stick spray
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced or chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons onion flakes
  • salt/pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice or 1/2 fresh lemon

Directions

  1. Set oven to 350 degrees. Spray or coat a deep baking dish with oil. Set 2 bowls aside
  2. In one bowl, whisk the 2 eggs. In the other bowl, mix garlic, onion flakes, bread crumbs, brown sugar, salt and pepper together.
  3. Dip the chops in the egg wash then into the breading mixture. Place the chops in the dish.
  4. Drizzle the lemon juice over each chop.
  5. Bake on the bottom rack for 30 minutes. Switch to the top rack for 15 minutes to crisp the breading up. If your pork chops are thicker please allow for longer cooking times.
  6. Pair with your favorite sides and enjoy a nice meal with your family!

Posted on 6 Comments

Mushroom Pork Chops Instant Pot Printable Recipe

One of my favorite things to eat with my dinner dishes is mushrooms. Now, I know a lot of people do not like mushrooms but there are the few of us that do like/love them. My love of mushrooms start back in grade school. During our Friday lunch breaks, we were allowed to walk downtown to the pizza place to eat (or home but most of chose to eat pizza) and I fell in love with mushrooms on my pizza. Since then, I will add mushrooms to whatever dinner meals I can which thankfully my husband likes mushrooms too.

Typically, I will add mushrooms to my chicken dishes like my Chicken Paprikash. This time, I wanted to try a new version of my mushroom gravy but I had pork chops already defrosted. Well, it couldn’t hurt to try the gravy and pork chops together… worst thing that happens is that we don’t like it and I whip up some pasta instead.

Well…. they were mouth-watering amazing! I think this is one of the best meals I have made in a long time. My husband, who doesn’t usually say much about what I make for dinner, even said how good it was. I hope that you try this out and enjoy it like my family did.

Mushroom Pork Chops Instant Pot Recipe

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A delicious mushroom gravy over pork chops made easily in the instant pot.


Credit: kaella.net

Ingredients

  • 4-6 pork chops
  • 1 1/2 cups of sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 6 tablespoons of oil, divided in 3 and 3
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced or chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of Soy sauce
  • 2 cups of beef broth (I made my own using a bouillon paste)

Directions

  1. Set the Instant Pot to Saute, add the oil and brown the pork chops. Removed the chops and set aside. Drain the oil out of the pot.
  2. Add the other set of oil, mushrooms, onions, garlic and soy sauce. Saute until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the flour and coat all of the veggies.
  4. Add the broth slowly and continuously stir until the gravy begins to thicken. Let the gravy thicken for a few minutes.
  5. Add the pork chops back into the pot and pour the sauce over the chops.
  6. Set the Instant Pot on manual for 18 minutes. While the instant pot is creating your delish pork chops, cook your sides.
  7. Let the pork chops set a few minutes after the Instant Pot is done to continue to absorb the gravy.
  8. Plate up your chops and sides then enjoy!