About Me

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Indiana, United States
Updates on our homeschooling family with ten children, a handful of chickens, a couple horses, three bunnies, and six cats. Visit our website at PeacefulHome.net


Blog Archive

Grocery Spending

Food Only

Oct 2010 - $231.39

Nov 2010 - $998.22

Dec 2010 - $340.29

Jan 2011 - $855.15

Feb 2011 - $203.17

Mar 2011 - $916.52

Monthly Average $590.79

Weekly Average $137.85
Our family's website, PeacefulHome.net, is in the process of changing hosting companies and is currently inactive. Our plan is to move this blog over once construction is complete. Please stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hat Parade

When I saw this pattern for a Bandana Military Style Hat from YouCanMakeThis.com, I knew that it would be perfect for our trip to Florida next month.

The pattern can be made from a bandana or any 22" square of fabric. They went together very quickly from the fabric the children selected. I did have to slightly enlarge the pattern for the older children. As printed it fit the 3- & 5-year-old girls perfectly!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - August 30, 2010

We're getting excited about the low numbers on the Disney Countdown! Only 11 schooldays left.

Our dinner for Thursday, Layer Supper, is quite the crowd pleaser around here. And it scores double points for being filling, economical, and super-easy! Cook up some brown rice, pinto beans (try our Pinto Bean Mix) and peas. Make up a simple cheese sauce, use nacho cheese, or even a handful of shredded. Layer each plate with beans, peas, rice and cheese (most of mine opt for peas on the side). Talk about an all-in-one dish!

Monday  - Broccoli Cheese Chicken

Tuesday - Taco Ring

Wednesday (AWANA)- Frozen Pizza, Boxed Mac 'n Cheese

Thursday - Layer Supper

Friday - Bible Study

Saturday (My Birthday) - Out to Dinner!!

Our menus for last year can be found at our website. Breakfast menu is here; lunch menu is here.

Find more menus at:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

From the local police blotter...

One of our weekly family entertainments is reading through the police blotter in the local paper every week. It's usually a far cry from what Bryan and I grew up hearing about in Southern California! This week there were a few tidbits so good I had to share:

12:55 pm - Someone drove through caller's corn...

8:15 pm - Pigs running loose at Ind. 47 and US 421...

8:21 am - Canada goose blocking entrance to Marsh grocery store...

8:48 pm - Large, grey pig walking down the road...

Why am I hearing the theme to "Green Acres" running through my head?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My new favorite cookbook

When I ordered our preschool character curriculum, on an impulse I threw in Marilyn Boyer’s cookbook of favorite family recipes. I figured that a mom of 14 would have a few kid-pleasing recipes up her sleeve!

I wasn’t disappointed. It’s filled with many twists on Mexican-flavored meals (which we love!). The meals are in standard 4-6 servings by can easily be doubled or tripled.

Best of all (in my book) these are easy meals that won’t bust the budget. No steak recipes here! Just quick meals that have already been drawing rave reviews from my crew.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

WFMW - Buddy School Table Time 2010

To keep the little ones occupied while I’m working with some of the older students, the older children take turns being “Buddy School” teacher. For more on Buddy School Table Time, click on the Our Day tab above.

I start with a schedule (shocker!). Each child has a set day of the week that they are in charge for 30 minutes. I plan 15-20 activities. On the pantry door is a chart where each activity is assigned a number that corresponds to the day of the month. That way, the activities aren’t repeated more than twice a month and the teachers only repeat activities a couple times a year.

Some of the new ideas for this year are:

Jumbo Stamps – The love the animal stampers and the jumbo pads are a breeze to work with.

Geo-boards – The boys pounded nails into squares of wood in the shape of circles, squares and stars. With a 40¢ bag of rubber bands from Walmart, the little ones string the bands over the nails.

Do-A-Dot – These are like BINGO markers but washable! Some of the children finished their schoolwork early so they could play with these!

Dry Erase Boards – We bought a multi-pack of dry-erase markers at Walmart. I didn’t want to spend $5 each for the boards, so Bryan took a larger one we already had and cut it into fourths.

As with Room Time, part of the magic is keeping the activities whisked away when it’s not Buddy School.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bryan!

Tonight my dearest love turned, well... Let's just say he had a milestone birthday. He chose to celebrate this big day with a dinner at, where else? The local Chinese Buffet! We've got some fancy tastes in these parts!
The children have been excited and talking about it for DAYS! The oldest boys held back at lunch in preparation for the feast. All I can say is I'm glad I didn't have to wash all those dishes!
I think all that food might have gone to our heads?!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - August 23, 2010

It doesn't seem possible that we're seeing so many signs of fall around! I just got back from the fabric store, and there were aisle after aisle of autumn decorations. I'm just not ready to go there yet! (True Confessions Time: I just took a little bunny decoration off my front door that I bought right after Easter.)

We'll celebrate Bryan's birthday this week. It'll be a fairly low-key event since we'll be celebrating big at the end of September. We met the summer before Bryan & I turned 20. And now we'll be both be turning another big number ending in "0!"

Check out the Turkey Ranch Wrap recipe. It's one of our favorites!! This week we will be enjoying:

Monday  - Little Cheddar Meatloves, Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli

Tuesday (Bryan's Birthday!!) - Out to dinner

Wednesday (AWANA)- Easy Chicken Casserole

Thursday - Tacos

Friday - Creamed Hamburger on Toast

Saturday - Turkey Ranch Wraps, Potato Wedges

Our menus for last year can be found at our website. Breakfast menu is here; lunch menu is here.

Find more menus at:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Summer Memories

In the "Better Late than Never" category, here are a couple photos from our summer that I never got around to posting.

4th of July Parade

The 4th of July Parade in our local town is a highlight of the summer. Pretty much anyone can (and will) be in the parade. The children are not above scrambling for candy thrown from passing vehicles. Note Jacob's hearing protection. The blaring fire trucks have stressed him out for years. This year he smiled through the whole thing!

Our 4-H club made a float that the older children rode. They had costumes, but the day was just too warm for them!

Ted's 13th Birthday
Ted's birthday always falls in the middle of the 4-H fair. He is so gracious to wait to celebrate his big day until a few days later.

13 and proud of it!

Brigitta was just so excited for Ted's birthday, she had to give him a hug!

A new favorite shirt! One atom says, "I've lost an electron." The other atom replies, "Are you positive?"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Recipe - "I can't belive it's zucchini" Crisp

If you garden in Indiana, you have an abundance of zucchini. If you don't garden (that would be me!), people bless you with their abundance of zucchini.

While most of my children will eat zucchini bread, few will touch it (willingly) raw or cooked. I made this recipe and then held my breath. It was a huge hit! Only Emelie knew it was zucchini - everyone else thought it was made from apples! Awesome!

Zucchini Crisp

8 cups cubed peeled zucchini
3/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1-1/3 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cold butter, cubed

In a bowl, combine the zucchini, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg; mix well. Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.

For topping, combine brown sugar, oats and flour in a bowl; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over the zucchini mixture. Bake at 375° for 45-50 minutes or until bubbly and the zucchini is tender. Yield: 12-15 servings.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

WFMW - Room Time 2010

During the 30 minutes each morning that I read to the school-age children, the younger ones are in "Room Time." For more on Room Time, see the Our Day page above.

We use Room Time year-round since we use that time to fold laundry while listening to history or a good story. I try to sprice things up in the fall by rotating toys that have been in hiding in the basement for several months as well as adding one or two new ones.

The big hit of the year are the Teddy Mix & Match cards. It basically and adorable set of "Memory" cards so I'm shocked how often the older children ask for turns with these. The children have given all the bears funny nicknames, and Hunter often is caught walking around with the green gummy-bear pair.

The first night out of the box, Meg (10) challenged Ted (13) to a match. Emelie and I nearly fell off our seats laughing as Ted couldn't make a pair to save his life. Since the game is rated 2.5-5 years old, we just kindly reassured him (with tears of laughter rolling down our cheeks) that it was because he's further from the 5-year age recommendation.

Ted's since done better, but Meg's still the champ. I told Ted I'd get Heidi (3) to tutor him.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Myth of Adolescence

After Reading the book Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris (and encouraging my older children to read it too), I've worked to remove the word "teenager" from my vocabulary. After all, the word wasn't even around 100 years ago! The word conjures up a stereotype that I don't want anyone to think of when I'm referring to the "young adults" in my household.

Rather than the teen years being a tread-water, have-fun-until-I'm-old-enough-to-move-out time, the Harris brothers are convicting that the time can, and should, be spent in doing things that positively impact others. More like an internship in adulthood.

Interested? Read more here: the Rebelution blog.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - August 16, 2010

As I type this, my mom is in surgery. It's times like these that menu planning can really save the day! Meg (10) handled the breakfast meal. Emelie (14) will cover lunch and dinner while I hang out at the hospital.

We're starting to feel that fall is just around the corner with all those school-year activities starting up. Not so sure how I feel about that!

This week we will be enjoying:
Monday  - Beef Enchiladas

Tuesday - Waffles, Sausages, Eggs

Wednesday (AWANA - 1st night!)- Mock Lasagna

Thursday - Turkey Divan

Friday - Bible Study

Saturday - Rice Meatballs

Our menus for last year can be found at our website. Breakfast menu is here; lunch menu is here.

Find more menus at:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dried beans made simpler & a recipe

In my never ending quest to combine frugality with time savings, I have recently discovered how to cook dried beans in a fraction of the time - by using my pressure cooker. No more soaking overnight and then cooking for 45 minutes or more. Now we're talking tender beans in under an hour (sounds like an infomercial!).

Here's how it works:
Wash and sort the dried beans.

Put in the pressure cooker and cover with 2 inches of water.

Check your seals and valves on the lid.

Bring up to pressure and then immediately quick-release the pressure by running the pot under cold water.

Rinse the beans again.

Put them back in the pot and cover with 2 inches of water again.

Add a tablespoon of oil so they don't foam too much.

Cook for about 8 minutes for pinto beans, 10-12 minutes for black beans.

Add some salt after they're cooked.

For my bean measurement information click here.

Go to my recipes page for more ways to use your new found knowledge.

No-Cow Sloppy Joes
2 onions, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
2 Tbl. olive oil
6 Cups cooked black beans, drained
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 C ketchup
1/3 C brown sugar
1 tea. salt
1 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce

Saute veggies in oil until tender. Add beans and rest of ingredients. Mix well and heat through. Serve on hamburger buns. Serves 12.

Notes: You can add grated carrot to the sauteed veggies and a cup of corn to the mix. I figured my crew would balk at that, so we served them on the side. If you have a favorite sloppy joe sauce, use that instead!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

WFMW - Considering God's Creation

Considering God's Creation Set 2006 (Considering God's Creation)
I'm looking forward to cycling back through Considering God's Creation with three of our students this year. It's a wonderful, Biblical science curriculum for students K through 8th grade. I'll be using it with my kindergartner, first- and third-graders.

What my children love most about this program is the amazing student book that they create from the notebook pages. Full of mini-books, pop-ups, and 3D features, it's a resource that they will be looking at for years to come! Ted was so proud of his book that he brought it in to his AWANA leader to demonstrate the lesson about the planets.

The lessons are completly scripted for the teacher, and the supplies for the experiements are usually in my kitchen. I'm hoping to finish this in a year, but last time through we stretched it to two years.

I have an older copy that I bought used, that I would love to give to someone. It has the teacher manual and all the student pages that can be reproduced to make a student notebook. If you'll pay shipping, it's yours!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Circle Time 2010

Our school day really gets down to business around 10am when we gather in the living room for Circle Time. For more information about how and why we have Circle Time, as well as what we’ve done with it in the past, click on the “Our Day” link under our photo.

This year we will be starting our 30 minutes together reading the poetry from Sonlight Core 3 and Core 100. We’ll spend two days per week with one core and two days with the other. The older children and I take turns reading this aloud.

Since we are beginning a two-year study of American History, we will be singing and memorizing History Songs. I tried to incorporate these when we went through Core 3 about 6 years ago (pre-Circle Time). Since I never had a scheduled time to work on them, they didn’t get done. Shocker! We’ll spend about 5 weeks on each song.

Finally we will be supporting our science studies with Lyrical Life Science: Ecology and Biomes. If you haven’t checked these out, google for some samples. They are a treat! My old copies were on cassette tapes. Now they’re ripped to the computer and MP3s on my phone. Quite a change in the last few years! We’ll study each song for about two weeks, but I’m sure we’ll be listening on many road trips!

In just 30 minutes our children, ages 2 through high school, will cover a variety of poetry, history and science. That's an efficient use of time!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - August 9, 2010

First Day of School! I love getting back into the swing of things. Bryan took all of the children hiking yesterday so I could prepare for today. He was joined by several families from church. The group ended up being around 8 parents with about 30 children. I bet the wildlife headed for the hills!

We've discovered the 6lb. can of Bakers & Chefs Nacho Cheese at Sam's Club. It's super-cheap and really makes those bean nachos disappear fast.

Be sure to check out the Tomato Soup recipe. It's a huge family favorite. A large pot (dinner & leftovers for lunch) only costs around $2!

This week we will be enjoying:
Monday  - Nachos

Tuesday - Country Brunch Skillet, Sweet Potato Casserole

Wednesday (AWANA planning meeting)- Meat & Rice Casserole

Thursday - Baked Potatoes Supreme

Friday - Bible Study

Saturday - Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese

Our menus for last year can be found at our website. Breakfast menu is here; lunch menu is here.

Find more menus at:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Whoo Hoo for Swagbucks!

Search & WinI just earned my 15th $5 Amazon gift card through Swagbucks! That's $75 in free Amazon shopping fun! I know Bryan is up to around $50. We average 1-3 gift cards per month. All for just surfing the web. Don't miss out on the fun and prizes. Sign up! For my original post on how Swagbucks works for us, click here.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

County Fair Fun

We're all spending much time rocking in the corners and babbling incoherently in an attempt to recover from our week at the fair that was proceeded by several weeks of preparation and several months of meetings.
I was amazing again at what my children, as well as the children in our county, were able to produce. When I was their age I was just trying to coordinate my eyeshadow, clothes, and shoes (right, Megs?).

Since this was our fist year with animals at the farm, we spent much time in the barns. Ripley's stall was right next to one of the cow aisles. I was impressed - these children work HARD. (Also impressive was the size of those cows!)

Cowgirl Emelie with Skips Special K Ripp
Preparing to run the barrels
Meghan with Ghirardelli during his agility run. The rabbit project leaders called Delli "a star with natural ability!"
Delli in his Hawaiian shirt for the costume contest (or as Meg calls it, "The Rabbit Humiliation Contest")
Bryan trying to drum-up some business outside the Lemon Shake-Up stand
Meggie with her floral arrangement that will be going to the State Fair!

I had a wonderful photo of Ted with his blue-ribbon picnic table that he made for his woodworking exhibit, but it's been lost in the transfer process. I'll post one soon!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Due to the amount of SPAM comments I've been receiving lately (those folks in China love my blog!), I've had to enable comment moderation. I'm sorry that you won't be able to see your comments until I approve them, but I'd hate for any of my younger readers (or anyone,for that matter) to find their way to something inappropriate!

If you have suggestions on how to stop the SPAM, please let me know!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

WFMW - Preschool (and beyond!) Character Curriculum

One of the things I am most excited about for this school year is the Character Concepts for Preschoolers Curriculum that I purchased from theLearningParent.com.

We will be using the character part of the curriculum during breakfast so that everyone can learn from it. In fact, we couldn't wait and have been enjoying some of the books and the CDs since they came over a month ago.

After listening to the CD story on "obedience" on time, Brigitta (5) started quoting "We obey cheerfully, immediately, and thoroughly!" The younger children especially love Crossroads of Character: Learning to Make Wise Choices (they just call it the "cousins" book.)

The same Bible verse and character definition are repeated through the history story, Bible story, flashcards, and "Cousins" story to the memory work is effortless. I love that the Mom's Guide schedules everything out for me along with field trip suggestions, recipes, arts and crafts and more! By the end of the year we will have learned 12 character qualities, their definitions and supporting Bible verses.

I'll be using the preschool components with Heidi (3) mostly to have some one-on-one time with her in the morning before the busy-ness of our school day starts. The set comes with a workbook and flashcards, and the mom's guide has suggestions for history and science reading.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Back to our Happy Place!

We just told the children a couple weeks ago that we were going to head back to Disney World again this year. They were completely blow away!

Bryan started the conversation by telling them how we need to save money and that we wouldn't be using our free Six Flags passes since the overnight hotel stay would cost too much. The children braced for some bad news...

Then Bryan told them that the biggest reason for our need to be frugal had to do with the number "72" he'd posted on the wall -"Because that's the number of days until we leave for Disney World!" The place erupted!

What the children didn't know is that we had booked the trip while driving around the Magic Kingdom parking lot (while Bryan was trying and failing to get into bus parking) last September!

Booking it then enabled us to snatch up the same great deal we had list year - namely, free food and lots of it! This makes it cheaper to spend a week at "The World" than going just about anywhere else.

To date the children have given up boxed cereal completely, enjoyed more beans and less meat, and tried to be creative with their own finances, all so we can have "another dollar for Disney." Can't wait!  

www.MyVacationCountdown.com Ticker

Monday, August 2, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - August 2, 2010

I tend to forget the blissful ease of sandwiches and salad when the weather (and the kitchen) are warm. With a pound of lunch meat only $2.50/lb. at Aldi, it's a very economical way to feed the family!

This week we will be enjoying:
Monday (Bryan Night Meeting) - Baked Mac 'n Cheese, Ham Sandwiches

Tuesday - Chicken Enchiladas

Wednesday (AWANA planning meeting)- Spaghetti & Meatballs, Garlic Bread, Salad

Thursday - Black Beans, Cheese & Chips

Friday - Bible Study

Saturday - Sour Cream Salad, Baked Sandwiches

Our menus for last year can be found at our website. Breakfast menu is here; lunch menu is here.

Find more menus at:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Start Slow, Finish Strong!

Since the Stumpf School will be officially back in session next Monday (gulp!), I've been trying to get my brain around what this year will look like for us.

I will have 6 school-age students from kindergarten to 9th grade. Plus one preschooler and a toddler that is a weapon of mass destruction. Since I will be moderating somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 subjects, this year, more than ever, I will be employing the "start slow" philosophy.

For the first two weeks of school we will focus on the basics: phonics or language arts, math, science, and subjects that are pre-scheduled for 36 weeks. We will hold off on Circle Time, History, Writing, and other subjects that I schedule for 30 weeks per year.

These "light days" will enable us to settle back in without feeling overwhelmed. We'll be able to see the areas in our schedule that need to be "tweaked." For a couple children, we're trying some new curriculum, so we'll be able to tell if it's a good fit without rushing.

The Stumpfs are ready to start back to school and the more structured days that come with it!