Friday, October 31, 2014

Family Favorites Friday: Pumpkin Streusel Sheet Cake

pumpkin bars

This is another recipe that falls under the " I Thought I Already Shared It With You" category.

Whenever I make this, it disappears quickly because it is so yummy.  Bake some today.

 Pumpkin Streusel Sheet Cake


2/3 cup shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease a 10 x 15 sheet pan; line with parchment paper. Leave sides of parchment paper about 2" higher than side of sheet pan

Cream shortening and sugar with electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in pumpkin and water. Add flour and next 5 ingredients. Mix on low speed until ingredients are incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared sheet pan.

Prepare streusel: In small bowl mix sugar, flour, and pecans into melted butter until crumbly. Sprinkle streusel over batter in pan.

Bake at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Serve warm or cold.
Servings:  about 36

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Blessing of Independent Teens

Recently, my husband and I headed north for several days and left our 16 and 18 year old home alone.

I left them a 'to-do' list as a reminder, and felt confident that they would get where they needed to go on time.

Then, my daughter, who is getting married in January (have I mentioned that lesson planning may have taken a back seat to wedding planning?), called to ask me to go to 'the big city' and buy a couple bridesmaid dresses at a particular store.  

I was too far away to do that, but I was able to send my teens to take care of the task.  

Also, a friend contacted me to ask if I would take a meal to our dear friend who was bringing her mother home from the hospital after cancer surgery.  I really wanted to help, but I was out of town.  

I asked my teens if they would be willing to make a meal and take it.  They agreed, so I was able to help without even being in town.  I wish I had a photo, but I don't.  Just imagine a nice Mexican Quinoa and home-made cookies.

If you have been reading my blog for very long you have read the articles about teaching your teen skills to become independent.  This is not only good life training for them, but it also turns into a blessing for you.

You can be confident that they are capable of completing tasks in your absence.

If you have not fostered independence in your teen, start today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Surviving Parent Taught Driver's Ed

My gray hairs? I earned them.  I attribute many of them to student drivers.

I suppose a few gray hairs is a small price to pay for making sure my children are competent drivers.

When it comes to driver training, there are options.

1.  You could pay a driving school to teach your child and hope they do a good job.

2.  You could purchase a driver training curriculum and teach your child yourself.

We chose option 2 for all our children and are now on driver number 7.

I purchased Driver Ed in a Box for my first student driver.  I chose this curriculum for its thorough, step-by-step approach to driver training.  

Instead of just letting my student drive anywhere as soon as she obtained her permit, Driver Ed in a Box starts in the driveway.

The driveway lesson makes sure the student knows where all the controls are in the car as well as teaching them where the blind spots are and how large an area it encompasses.

For actual driving, the student moves to a large (preferably mostly empty) parking lot to practice turning, parking, and stopping.  This gets the student comfortable with controlling the car without having to deal with traffic. 

The training continues incrementally to get the student driver comfortable with more and more traffic.

Driver Ed in a Box gives very detailed information for the parent to teach a student to be a defensive, safe driver.  It also has advice to the parent on how to stay calm while teaching a student to drive.

Driver Ed curriculum has changed in the last 12 years and most of them are now online.

Drivers have also changed in the last 12 years. Driving practice is much scarier now than it was then because of all the distracted drivers on the road.  Teaching your teen to be a defensive driver is more important than ever.

Recently on a driving practice day, we had 2 close calls.  One driver was veering over the center line, but corrected before completely coming into our lane.  Another driver had to skid and turn onto the curb to avoid hitting us because he was going too fast and didn't intend to stop at the intersection.  

What is the cause of all the distracted drivers?  Cell phones.  

So, how do you survive parent taught driver's ed?

1.  Get a curriculum that focuses on making a safe, defensive driver (and follow it).  Driver Ed in a Box requires 50 hours of behind the wheel practice.

2.  Only practice driving when you and your teen are not stressed or in a hurry.

3.  Put your cell phone away and make sure your teen does, too.

Am I glad that I am on my last round of driver training?  Yes, yes I am!  

But, I survived and you can, too.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Homeschool High School Round-Up

I get a variety of questions about homeschooling high school.  Many of the questions have been addressed in posts here.

Today, I want to present a one-stop place for you to find much of that information.

Whether you are just beginning with a freshman or almost finished with a senior, some, or all of this information could be useful to you.

Planning is always a good thing.  This detailed post shares how to plan the high school years.  

 Don't feel confident in your ability to teach a high school subject?  I covered that in How To Teach What You Don't Know

What electives are available for my high school student?  This post lists a variety of activities with links to detailed information.  This elective might interest your student, too.

My list of STEM Activities is a popular resource for electives or extra-curricular activities.

Standardized testing often causes anxiety for parents and students.  I have several posts to help ease that anxiety.  

Should my student take the ACT or the SAT?  
Is it necessary to take the PSAT?
What about preparing for the SAT?
I hear the SAT test is changing.  What should I do about that?

Essay writing is (or should be) a big part of high school and college. 

Here are my favorite writing resources.  Plus, even if your student doesn't plan to attend college, learning to writing a personal essay using the resources I mention here is a valuable skill.

How do I grade papers and keep track of everything?
I reveal my grading scale in this post and teach you how to make your own transcript here.

What about graduation? After all the hard work put in by you and your student, you will most likely want to celebrate.  Here are different ways to do that and how to plan.

**Update 10/13- I forgot information about one of the most asked questions: 
 What do I do about a transcript?  I have shared 5 Easy Steps for creating a transcript.

Do you have questions about homeschooling high school that I haven't addressed?  Leave a comment with your question and I will answer it.

Shared with the Finishing Strong Link Up at Aspired Living

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

National Merit Commended Student

 Friday, we received notification in the mail that our son, Jesse, has been named a National Merit Commended Student.  

This was not a surprise to us since we have gone through the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying process five other times and have a good idea of what score is needed to achieve this.  Based on his PSAT selection index score, we knew it was not high enough to qualify as  a Semi-Finalist in Texas (selection index 218) , but would qualify for Commended status.  We are proud of his accomplishment.

What is a National Merit Commended Student?

Of the 1.5 million students who took the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT)  50,000 students were identified as the highest scorers.  Some 16,000 of those high performers were designated Semifinalists on a state representational basis.  Only Semifinalists have an opportunity to continue in the competition to advance to Finalist.

The other 34,000 high performers are named as Commended Students on the basis of a Selection Index score of 201 or higher, applicable to all program participants without regard to state-by-state distribution.

Does this mean Jesse will be overwhelmed with full-ride scholarship offers?

Nope.  There are very few full-ride (tuition, fees, books, room and board) scholarships available, even to National Merit Finalists.  

Jesse is fully aware that any scholarship offers will be based on more than just his test scores.  He is busy filling out applications, writing essays, asking for recommendations, and creating his academic resume.

His National Merit Commended status will be a plus for him, but he is certainly not resting on his laurels.

For more information about the PSAT/NMSQT see these previous posts:

7 Tips About the PSAT/NMSQT Test

How Does National Merit Qualifying Work? 

 How to Prepare for the SAT

My homeschooling high school interview at Homeschool Leadercast

Have questions?  Post them in the comments section and I will be glad to answer them.

Shared at Finishing Strong Linkup 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Family Favorites Friday: Easy Homemade Pizza

I need to apologize.  I thought I had already shared this easy recipe with you, but discovered I hadn't when a friend recently asked me for the recipe and I was going to send her a link.  I am so sorry, y'all.  You need this recipe for Easy Homemade Pizza.

Why do you need this recipe?

1.  The crust is super easy to make and doesn't need to rise = quick.

2.  It makes  3 large pizzas = enough for everybody and maybe leftovers.

3.  Your children can help = fun family activity.

4.  It is inexpensive to make = save money.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


As I have mentioned before, we are studying Scotland for our history this year.  

I found a couple books that we are using as well as a website.  The internet does make creating your own curriculum much easier than when we began our homeschooling journey twenty-three years ago.

We definitely have seen a pattern in Scottish history up to this point:
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