A menu plan for the week after we were sick

The kids and I were sick all last week with some kind of viral respiratory thing, and we’re still getting over it. We were still coughing over the weekend — we are still coughing today — but we had a nice time visiting with family anyway.

Poppy’s first soccer game for the year is this weekend, so hopefully the cough will have cleared by Friday. Perhaps I should’ve planned more health-restoring meals for this week. Alas, this is what we’ll be having:

Monday: Quesadillas
Today is Poppy’s Choice day, and she asked for a cheese quesadilla. The rest of us will be adding chicken and black beans to ours.

Tuesday: Spaghetti and meatballs
I just had a hankerin’ for some meatballs.

Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner
Pete didn’t want to eat for three days while he was at his sickest last week. I knew he’d turned a corner when he woke up one morning asking for an egg sandwich. He’ll likely have another one on Wednesday.

Thursday: Cheeseburgers
It’s Pete’s turn to pick the evening’s meal, which means we’re having cheeseburgers.

Friday: Pizza
I finally got my broken grill fixed, but we’ll probably be ordering pizza this week anyway.

Still hungry? Check out the Menu Plan Monday linkup at OrgJunkie for more menu plans.

In which the children resume their studies (a.k.a. It’s back-to-school week!)

For a few hours this week, it seemed as though we might start our year as a one-student homeschool. Poppy had expressed an interest in trying out public schooling for her sixth-grade year, so last year we put in applications at a couple of local charter schools. She was wait-listed for both of them, and she was OK with it. And then early last week one of the schools emailed me to say “We have a spot open for Poppy! We need to know if she wants it ASAP!”

She basically had 24 hours to make a decision. We went over to the school for a quick tour and to meet some of the teachers. They were all nice, but the school was in school-starts-next-week chaos so for a kid who has never been to school before I’d imagine it was a little hard to envision what it would look like on a day when there weren’t boxes piled up everywhere.

I was conflicted about the whole situation. If she decided to go, we’d lose our flexible schedule and our ability to cater her curriculum to her needs. But she’d also get to have a new experience and make new friends, and I was excited about that part of it for her. As I tucked her into bed that night, I realized that I emphatically did not want her to go. As much as we butt heads over schoolwork sometimes, I love spending my days with her. I would’ve missed her tremendously.

Had we gotten the email a week or even a few days earlier, I think Poppy might have given it a shot. But having to make the decision in such a short amount of time overwhelmed her, I think, and she decided to stick to homeschool this year. I was relieved. She says she wants to apply again next year, which gives me a full year to prepare myself for her to get in and spend her days elsewhere.

We started our school year this week, and it’s gone alright. We’ve let the kids stay up late to watch the Olympics most nights, so we had a few grumpy beginnings. But we also finished school before noon every day and then watched the Olympics, played outside or played video games, which Poppy most certainly wouldn’t have been able to do had she chosen to enroll in the charter school.

Here’s a little of what Pete and Poppy worked on this week:


Our history book is starting us out in Victorian England this year, so I picked a complementary read-aloud to kick things off. We’re reading “The Secret Garden,” which Poppy and I read way back in 2011. I’m having a hard time nailing that Yorkshire accent.


The kids picked up where they left off last year with Wordly Wise 3000. They’re only scheduled to do it a couple days a week, but they both misread their assignment sheet this week and did extra lessons. I’m not complaining. (They did, though.)


I thought we’d start the year by revisiting the list of US presidents, and Poppy recited them all without hesitation. Steel trap, just like her father. Pete had a bit more difficulty with it, but he nearly has it all down already.


Both kids are still working through the same curriculum they were doing last year, because at some point we switched things up mid-year. They’ve been on a weird schedule with their math ever since. Poppy jumped right back into her curriculum, but Pete is doing some multiplication review to make sure he’s solid there before we start his math book again.


The surface of Planet Science is rife with craters.
The surface of Planet Science is rife with craters.
Pete and I started Mr. Q’s Earth Science this week, and he loves it. I loaded the student text onto the Kindle app on the iPad, and he read it to me from there. Our experiment this week was dropping asteroids (marbles) onto the surface of a planet (a pan of flour and cocoa) from various heights and measuring the impact craters. Today we’re going to make a DIY planetarium using a cereal box, a big nail and some constellation templates.


We’ve reached Volume Four of “Story of the World,” which begins with Queen Victoria and her Crystal Palace and the East India Company’s involvement in India. Today we’ll be building our own Crystal Palace, but it’ll be made from paper rather than glass.


Poppy’s soccer practice started a few weeks ago, and we’re finally getting back to our regular schedule with guitar, tae kwon do and piano.

It’s felt like we aren’t doing quite as much as usual this week, but that’s because some of our outsourced classes haven’t started yet. It’ll be busy enough once those start up, so I’m trying to remind myself to enjoy our laid-back days while I can.

Have your kids gone back to school yet?

Wanna read more about homeschooling? Check out the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers weekly linky thing!

How does your garden grow?

We started our backyard gardening with one raised bed a few years ago, and last year we added a second. My general approach to gardening is beneficent neglect. I prune and water and weed when I wander past, but I don’t do much other than that. You might expect that to be a formula for pretty pathetic yields, but it works surprisingly well for us.

That said, the garden was looking pretty puny when we left for a weeklong vacation at the end of June. Our housesitters were going to water it daily, but I wasn’t expecting much from it. Then we got home and it was all green and thriving, and it was because the housesitters had installed an irrigation system in our absense. I highly recommend inviting a professional landscape designer to vacation at your house while you’re out of town.

The irrigation system kept the garden alive during our long, hot, dry July. Our region has resumed its deciduous rainforest climate over the last few weeks, and I’m beginning to worry that the plants are going to take over the entire yard.

In the Garden

lettuce gone to seed
Our volunteer lettuce, gone to seed.

We didn’t plant lettuce this year, but a volunteer plant from last year popped up anyway. It went to seed, and I decided to see just how large it would get. The answer so far is: very, very large. It has its own quadrant of the garden bed.

We are once more overrun with tomatoes.

I hadn’t planned to plant as many tomatoes as we have in past years, because none of us likes tomatoes. So naturally our tomato plants are always prolific producers. Our neighbor Farmer Ted was giving away tons and tons of tomato starters, though, so we took six of them. They did nothing at all for weeks and weeks, and then suddenly they were ginormous. I’ve had to prune a couple of them because they keep escaping their cages and flopping over onto the pepper plants. Speaking of which: I am in love with the tiny bell peppers we’ve been growing, Pete and I canned some delicious spicy banana peppers, and something keeps eating our jalapeños before they have a chance to grow.

Zucchini leaves blocking out the sun.

I tried to grow yellow squash in a bucket last year, and it didn’t work at all. This year we put the squash in the garden bed instead, and they were doing great until they started getting hit by pickle worms. I think the eggplant might be suffering from being so close to the zucchini, though. The leaves are blocking a lot of sunlight. We’ll space things out a little more next year.

Poor cucumber plant.

The cucumber is in the same bed as the squash. Apparently cucumbers grow ninja-style, because some days I go out there and find a full-size cuke where there was only a blossom a day earlier. The cucumbers were doing wonderfully until the pickle worm found them. Now about 50 percent of them have holes in them. At least we got to make a few pickles before the plant was attacked.

Lessons Learned

  • The raised beds are too close together. It’s not a problem when the plants are small, but right now it’s tough to get between them to pick anything because I keep getting grabbed by cucumber vines or stepping on a squash leaf. I’m not sure we’ll be able to move the ones that we’ve already built, but if and when we add another it’ll be a little farther away.
  • I miss having a field of lettuce. We’ll definitely plant some next year.
  • The squash and zucchini need their own space.
  • We really, really don’t need six tomato plants.