COVID-19 Our Education at Home Week 4, including Easter Photos to make you smile

If you’d asked me 2 months ago if I’d be at home with my kids EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. for 4 glorious weeks, I probably would’ve laughed at you.  But here I am, rocking it.

And if you believe that, you’ll also probably believe me when I say that I’ve been working out everyday and that I am fixing my hair and putting on makeup every morning.  Fat chance on both accounts.

Rocking it is an overstatement by far.  But, honestly, it does seem to be getting easier in some ways.  And harder in others.  I bet I’m not alone here.

Sticking to the positives- The good thing is that we’re all sort of settling into this new “normal” or whatever “normal” may be at this point, for however long this goes on.  I even feel like planning the kids’ educational activities is easier.  In case you’re looking for a schedule for your kids, I’m sharing mine again.  I realize that this may or may not work for you because your school probably has your school-aged kids doing work at home digitally.  However, if you’re like me and still not doing just school-assigned stuff, this may give you some ideas.  This week’s theme is Easter/eggs/bunnies- shocking, I know.

Here’s What We’re Up to This Week:

The things I’m most excited about are:

While I’m talking about Easter, here’s a few fun family pictures I thought I’d share from 2016, when both the bigs and the littles were all littles (and when we could still get together with all of our cousins still). This too shall pass but until then, these are great memories to smile about!

Happy Week 4 and Easter Week, my friends!


Kitchen Challenge Day 8: Bacon makes everything Better

Bacon does make everything better.  We can all use something a little “better” right now.  Want to make veggies taste better?  Add some bacon.  Add a little crunch to a sandwich?  Just add bacon.

It also happens to be something I tend to always keep in my fridge- both uncooked and a big bag of bacon crumbles for salads, veggies, etc.

What is your favorite thing to have with bacon?  No judgement if its just plain ol’ fried bacon (because that’s probably up there on the list for me)!

Kitchen Challenge Day 7: The Musical Fruit (AKA Beans)

Beans, beans- The musical fruit.

The more you eat, the more you toot.

The more you toot, the better you feel.

So, eat your beans for every meal.

We don’t eat beans every meal but they are a big player in our house and I often make at least a batch once a week. It is a lot easier with my Instant Pot because it’s fast and there’s no soaking required. Plus, my kids will almost always eat them!

If you’re looking for a good Instant Pot recipe, I use this one from Fried Dandelions and cook it for about twice as long as it calls for. I switch it up for slightly different spices, throw some bacon, sausage, etc. in there. It works for most dried beans I’ve used.

Happy Monday!

Week 3 COVID 19 “Plan”

I use “plan” with quotations because if I’ve learned anything over these last two weeks that anything and everything we plan could (and probably will) change- from what time kids Zoom meetings are, to whether everyone is feeling up to learning more in the morning or afternoon, whether we will get pulled into a last minute conference call for work, and the list goes on.  Still, we’re both super fortunate our companies are both considered “essential” industries and that we’re able to work with our kids on their work.

I realize that for many folks, my planning may seem like over-kill.  I totally get that.  For me, it’s a comfort and way to stay sane (Garen calls me border-line OCD).  I have no control over anything else that is going on.  But I do have a small amount of control over what we plan for our kids.

Now, are we doing all of what we’ve planned out?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  As I said in one of my other posts, I plan more than we can actually get to and we pick the things that are (A) most important and (B) kids feel like doing without an epic meltdown.

I realize some of the previous points I’ve made before might’ve sounded overly negative in some ways also but we really are having a lot of good times along with the stress.  If you’re home with your kids, working or not, I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about by the highs and lows we all are experiencing, kids and parents alike.

So, with that all out of the way, here’s what I’ve “planned” for the upcoming week for each of the levels we’ve got and what I’m most excited about for them.  As you’ll see, this week’s theme is Weather.

Highlighted Activities for Week 3:

May everyone have a healthy, safe, and happy week!

Kitchen Challenge Day 5: Cook Something with Fruit In It

It’s Saturday and hopefully your week has slowed down now like mine has. I slept a little later, although sleeping late is still about 7:30 or 8 since the littles don’t get the concept yet. I’ll take what I can get. It’s been a great slow day with a nice rain/hail shower to go along with our biscuits and gravy breakfast.

Today’s Day 5 Kitchen Challenge is:

Cook something that has fruit in it

With the grocery madness that’s going on, you might not have any fresh fruit. Canned fruit is good too! I can think of lots of good recipes my Grammy used to make from fruit in the pantry.

I happen to have some very ripe bananas (they came to us very ripe already) and we just haven’t eaten them as fast as I imagined so my Day 5 challenge will include my Easy Banana Bread recipe from Grammy. See below. Can you tell it’s been well-loved??? My Grammy sent this to me when I was in college. Makes me smile!

Also, this recipe only uses one egg and no milk, both of which are currently harder to come by.

Happy Saturday! May it be safe and slow!

Kitchen Challenge Day 4: Cook one of your grandmother’s recipes

It’s Friday. I’m actually surprised I can remember what day it is in the middle of this COVID19 haze we are all in. However, I remember for one main reason- it’s grocery delivery day at our house.

After my last trip to Kroger, surrounded by everyone else that could not seem to keep their distance, I said I’m not trying that again unless absolutely necessary. So, I placed an order for the first time slot today, with the hopes they’ll be able to fulfill all of it being early in the day. Even with the groceries being delivered, I’m still taking precautions and following the recommendations in this video, which I think is very helpful for how to handle groceries and takeout.

Speaking of food, today’s Kitchen Challenge Day 4:

Cook one of your Grandmother’s recipes

We told the kids of this and they’ve requested “Glace,” which my Grammy used to always make. I’ll post the recipe sometime in the next day or so. It’s a super unhealthy combination of dumplings swimming in butter and sour cream. Great for comfort food, much like our attempt at donuts yesterday!

Happy Friday everyone!  I’d love to see what your favorite family recipes are!

Days 8 and 9- I’m the energizer bunny that seems to need re-charging

We’re on tail-end of Week 2 of our COVID19 experience with the four kids here.  I’m still going but I feel like I’m starting to run low on batteries at this point.  I’m actually starting to feel more like the wind-up little chicks that a lot of us had as children.  Every day I wind myself up and by the time I’m done, I’m barely even functioning.

Yet, here I am complaining about getting all this time with my kids and about getting to keep working while sooooo many people are now starting to lose their jobs.  I’m feeling very ungrateful around here.  So, my goal for tonight and tomorrow is to recharge.  In true Liz fashion, I’ve made a checklist of what I think I need to do to get back to “somewhat normal Liz.”

  1. Let Garen cook dinner– he offered and I actually said yes.  I can smell the quesadillas cooking as I sit down to start this.  As I type this, I am saying to myself “Go yourself a dang quesadilla!”
  2. Limiting my FaceBook time– it’s eating on me.  Meme’s are funny and there’s lots of good info out there but there’s also lots of depressing stuff and mean, political comments on both side.  Garen thinks its significantly affecting me but I do “need” to be on it some to communicate with teachers since that’s where a lot of info is being distributed.  Plus, I like to keep up a little with friends that way, social being that I am.
  3. Going to be early– and NOT opening FaceBook in bed at all.  Screen free zone.  Just read my book- my actual paper book, which I so enjoy but feel like I “don’t have time for.”
  4. Use my hardback journal/calendar to record things that need to get done everyday for the kids– I’ve got all of the kids’ lessons planned out and everything but we’ve had Zoom meetings, etc. pop up and I’m having a hard time juggling it coming in from different places- FaceBook, Dojo, GroupMe, Text, etc.
  5. Breath and enjoy the little things– the super sweet hug from Clara a few minutes ago before she ran outside to play, Garen offering to make dinner, enjoying homemade donuts with the kids, watching Anna help Kate with her worksheets today…. the list could go on and on.  I need to capture those and let those guide my thoughts more than the negatives.
  6. Spend more time outside– With all of the school work I’m helping the kids with, I tend to take every free moment I can to bang out some emails or make calls for work.  I need to make myself go outside, even if it’s just for 5 minutes, to get some fresh air throughout the day.
  7. Be kind– Y’all, I need to be more kind.  I find myself snapping at my kids and Garen and it makes me feel terrible.  I’m hoping the kindness chart will help me too.

In the meantime, here’s the highlights of our last two days.

Day 7:

  • We had “school” outside in the morning because it was super beautiful. The girls did the letter “N” and worked on numbers 13,14, and 15.
  • Yesterday was DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) for our elementary school
  • Will did his super cool presentation about the state of Idaho and keeping up with his reading of Johnny Tremain
  • Anna wrote and sent an email to her BFF
  • Both kids played on Prodigy and are still loving it.
  • Clara kind of got to Zoom with her class. There were some technical difficulties but it was still super fun for the girls because they sure love Mrs. Natividad!
  • Both kids did a lesson in Imagine Math but aren’t loving it- I guess it can’t all be fun!
  • We all started our kindness counts charts, which we are hoping will be successful.

Day 8:

  • We made donuts together this morning for Kitchen Challenge Day 3.  They were tasty but weren’t really donuts- at least not your typical donuts.  Can you say #PinterestFail???  It was still a hit with the kids- also served as dessert tonight!  This was absolutely the highlight of the morning.
  • Anna was super sweet and helped me do the girls spelling and number worksheets.

  • We were still beating our heads against the wall with math word problems both yesterday and today for Anna but Mom ordered some awesome word problem cards that came in today and so far she’s been super excited about doing them because she gets to use dry erase markers, which I guess makes it more entertaining. Hey, whatever works!
  • Everyone read a lot today again, which makes this mama so happy.
  • Will has been learning lots of card tricks and getting pretty good and entertaining in it. He had math homework he got done today too, in addition to reading his class book. Unfortunately we missed his class’s zoom because I didn’t see the notice in Facebook in time, which made me feel terrible.
  • Kate got to Zoom with her class today. Having 10 pre-k kids on a Zoom meeting is every bit as crazy and hilarious as you can imagine.
  • We enjoyed another great walk/ride around the block today. We’re loving this super nice weather! I happen to think they’re the cutest biker gang ever.

  • We also got to play with paper dolls that MaMa sent to the girls and all learned about Eskimos and Alaska!

Looking at these pictures and highlights of all the fun things we did is a good reminder: CHERISH THE GOOD TIMES! Such GOOD memories we are making amidst the stress and uncertainty.

Stay safe, healthy, and sane, my friends!

Kitchen Challenge Day 3: Make a baked or fried breakfast or snack food you’ve never made

Kitchen Challenge Day 3 is about to begin:

Make a baked or fried breakfast or snack food you’ve never made

Thursdays at our house used to be “donut day.” I was reminded of this by my kids multiple times last week and I told them the Donut Palace was closed due to COVID19, whether that’s true or not. We used to actually eat inside there and i know that’s not possible and didn’t want to fight that battle.

Anna finally told me that we should just make our own.

I remember growing up Grammy used to make donuts of just fried biscuit dough and sugar. These were fantastic but I’m trying to save that for sausage and biscuits.

So we’re going to attempt another recipe I found online. They’re called No Yeast No Egg Donuts from Gardening Foodie. It’s fitting since eggs and yeast are now magically hard to find. I guess everyone is cooking now. Imagine that?!?

Wish us luck! I’ll let you know how it goes. What will you make today?

Kindness Counts- Our Attempt to use the Carrot vs. Stick to get our four kids to be kind

Although the posts I’ve been posting may seem overly positive, there are lots of moments that everyone is NOT kind to each other.  In fact, sometimes it’s downright ugly.  We finally had a family meeting last night and brainstormed how we can all help each other with kindness.  They like the idea of a chart (yes, I guess my genetics for tracking/recording things has passed through their genes).

Kindness Counts image pinterest

Here’s the parameters of our chart, which you can download here by clicking on Kindness Counts Chart:


  • They all agreed that 20 acts of kindness would earn a prize.  Here’s what each chose:
    • Kate:  Dinner of pizza and cake
    • Clara:  Dinner of pizza and cake with chocolate milk
    • Anna:  Chinese food dinner
    • Will:  3 burritos from Chipotle
  • We all agreed that when someone does something that’s not kind it counts against them (takes away a smiley-face basically).
  • We discussed that every single kind thing they do can’t count because we can’t do a prize every single day.
  • We decided Mom and Dad should have a kindness chart too- we’ll see how well this works out and how we actually manage this.  It should be interesting but I like the idea of us being held accountable for using kind words vs. barking at the kids (which, trust me, can easily happen while we’re all together right now with “shelter-in-place going on).  I’m pretty sure that Garen chose Whataburger as his prize.  I’m choosing an hour to myself in my room.

The one I have linked above is the PDF and you can choose to print it or even have it electronically as a form to fill out.

I’ll let you know how it helps.  We’re just trying to spread kindness, not germs over here.  Stay safe and sane, my friends.