Recipe For a Sweet First Day

Recipe for a Sweet First Day

What do you get when you blend together the first day of school, 2 parents attempting to speak with a British accent, 3 yummy baking challenges, 4 traditional first day activities, and 5 excited homeschooled kids?  Well, you will get the recipe for an exciting Great British Bake-Off themed first day of homeschool, of course!


Ingredients for a Sweet First Day

1 Day of School
We typically start each homeschool year on a Friday and celebrate it as our ‘Fun Start Friday’.  The kids look forward to the first day and try, throughout the summer, to get me to tell them the top secret first day theme.  Why do we do this?  Well, because, let’s be honest, the rest of our homeschool days are fairly full and organized with academic pursuits that we usually attempt with a great deal of diligence.  Our first day is designed to build excitement and anticipation for a brand new school year.  It also creates lots of fun memories for our family.  This year’s theme was ‘We’re Baking Up One Sweet Year’ and was based off of the Great British Bake-Off television show.


2 Parents attempting to speak with a British accent
Please notice that I said, ‘attempting’.  The kids actually do much better at this than we do!  We ended up being so busy that we forgot to do this through much of the day.   However, we could be heard saying a lot of ‘On your mark, get set, bake,’ ‘No soggy bottoms,’ and ‘It’s a good bake.’  We also tossed around some baking idioms.  It was so much fun!

3 Yummy Baking Challenges
If you have watched the Great British Bake Off, then you know that each show consists of three challenges – The Signature Bake, the Technical Challenge, and the Show Stopper.  We were a bit zealous and did all three bakes on one day.  One or two bakes would have been sufficient.  The kids stuck with it though and we didn’t finish our Show Stopper until 7:30 at night.   It was a long first day, but we all had a blast!

What were our baking challenges?
1) The Signature Bake – Scones

Scones2 Scones1  Scones3

2) The Technical Challenge – Scripture Cookies

ScriptureCookies1 ScriptureCookies2ScriptureCookies3

3) The Show Stopper Bake – Decorative Cakes

Showstopper1 Showstopper2Showstopper3

4 Traditional First Day Activities
There are a few activities that our family will commonly do on the first day of school , regardless of the theme – Growing in Grace Sheets, Encouraging Notes, a Scripture focus, and an art or craft project.

  1. Growing in Grace Sheets
    We have the kids think through some of their favorite things (colors, school subjects, books, Scripture, etc.), envision what they want to do this year as well as when they grow up, and consider their areas of strength and weakness.  We also have them draw a self portrait each year and record their new heights and weights.
  2. Encouraging Notes
    The kids have to think and write a note of encouragement to each of their siblings.  (I write a note to each child as well and place it on the inside of their place card to read at breakfast on the first day.)
  3. A Scripture Focus
    We may have sword drills or pass out Scripture references for each child to read aloud.  After reading, we briefly discuss the verse(s) and how to apply it.  Often, the focus will be on love, the fruit of the Spirit, or how to grow in wisdom according to the Bible.  One particular verse will be our theme verse for the entire school year.  This year’s verse is from Psalm 119:103…
    How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.
    Bible2 Bible
  4. An Art or Craft Project
    To go along with our baking theme, we had each child complete a cake chalk pastel drawing! ChalkPastelCakes1ChalkPastelCakes2

5 Excited Homeschooled Kids


I had to hold back tears of joy several times throughout the day.  Seeing the kids’ enthusiasm and eagerness to participate as well as realizing the privilege we have of being able to enjoy this sweet time with them was priceless.


Thank you, Jesus, for such a sweet, memorable start to our homeschool year.

Meal Planning for Busy Moms

Oh, busy mama.  I know that you’re tired.  It’s late afternoon and you’ve almost survived another hectic homeschool day. The clean laundry is dumped out over the couch.  The baby’s about to awake from his afternoon nap.  One child is still working nearby, trying to correct their math.  Two kiddos are sent outside to play, but before closing the door, one looks up and asks the dreaded question…

‘What’s for dinner, mom?’

Stop!  Let’s halt this scenario. 
This daily question doesn’t have to be faced with apprehension.

Here are a few easy steps that have kept this mama of five sane over the last several years…

1)  List the Main Dish
Make a list of 20-30 main dish dinners that your family enjoys. When plotting out our meals on the Menu Plan sheet (step 2), I refer to my Main Dish List sheet which contains about 25+ meals that we can rotate through.  Having a Main Dish List makes the chore of planning meals for each night of the week so much quicker!  It means that I don’t have to recreate a meal each time.  I just need to choose one and write it in!

2) Print and Plot
I use a printable Menu Plan sheet for each week in which I chart out our dinners. I like the sheets because I can add any notes about activities we are doing each day, evening commitments, a reminder to thaw a meal the day before it is needed, etc.  The sheet also has a sidebar to list items required to purchase.  I usually plan meals for 2-3 weeks at a time (marking them in pencil for flexibility), utilizing my Main Dish List.  Although planning for several weeks may sound daunting, I’ve found that it actually saves me time and mental energy in the long run. 

3) Shop, Wash, & Chop
Once you’ve made your meal plan and have a list in hand, you are ready to shop!  Since you are planning in advance, you could easily choose to visit the store less frequently, but our family still gets groceries weekly.  That’s just how we roll.  You may wish to wash and cut any fresh fruits and vegetables after returning from the store in order to save you even more time during the week as well.

4)  Follow the Plan
As much as possible, try to stick to the meal plan that you have written.  It can save both time and money.  However much you plan though, it is inevitable that you’ll choose to have company over at the last minute or have an activity come up that can throw off your meal plan.  If you wrote your plan in pencil, you can easily switch a couple of meals around or circle them as a reminder to save them for your next round of meal planning.

One last suggestion…. Consider choosing meals that can either be prepared in the crockpot or can be doubled and frozen.  It isn’t much trouble to either double a meal or divide it in half for two 8 by 8 dishes.   By doubling or splitting the portion (depending on your family size), you can then eat a meal that night AND freeze an identical meal for a future date!  (Do make sure to keep track of what’s available in your freezer.)


The ‘What’s for Dinner’ question should be anticipated daily.  With one quick look at your Menu Plan sheet, you’ll have the answer!  Now, if only the meal would make itself. =)

This is just one way we’ve attempted to make meal planning manageable in our own home.  What meal planning suggestions do you have for busy mamas?

Meal Planning Printables

FREE Meal Planning Printables!
Printable Main Dish List– to list your family’s favorite dinner meals
Printable Menu Plan– a sheet to plan your dinners and grocery list
Printable Freezer Meals – a sheet to keep track of what’s in your freezer

Crockpot Ideas and Freezer Meals on Pinterest

Persevering in the Race


We began our 2016-2017 school year with an Olympic theme
– “Racing Into a Great Year!”

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Much more important than the flag decorations, Olympic ring colored streamers, yummy special foods, and fun activities, I pray that the kids and I will continually reflect on the verses we studied during our devotional time that day.


Our main verse was from Hebrews 12:1-3…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

What race are we on?  Well, obviously, we are not in an Olympic running race.  However, if you have accepted God’s One and Only Son Jesus as your Lord and Savior, your race is your daily life.  The ‘race’ we are referring to is our daily Christian walk that we are on with Jesus.

We read passages about how to prepare for the race.  To prepare to run in any race, one must know the rules and go into training.  We learned that, as believers, we need to know God’s rules — and those are found in His Word the Bible.  We need to read, meditate, and memorize His Word so that we can know Him, His heart, His desires, and (yes) even His perfect rules for our lives.

We also looked up Scriptures to try to figure out HOW we can run with perseverance – without giving up when things get hard.  Hebrews already spoke of a huge way to endure – by not letting sin hinder us in our race!   Unwholesome thoughts, desiring our own way, temptations, mocking by others, wanting to give in… are all real struggles that can slow us down and trip us up on our race.   Being prepared by knowing God’s Word will help tremendously.   But, it was when we read Romans 15:4-6 and 13 that we began to see how God has already equipped us to be able to persevere.  We can gain endurance through trusting Jesus, through the reading of His Holy Word, and through the gift of His Holy Spirit that He has given to live within us!  He has provided all of these to bring us hope, joy, peace, and encouragement to press on.

WHY do we need to endure?  What is at stake?  A gold medal is not our end goal and prize in this lifetime.  Hebrews 12 says that we are to keep our focus on Jesus!  We look forward to one day being with Him in heaven, united face to face, no sin, no struggles, praising our Lord and Savior.  Don’t be confused, we are not working our way to heaven.  Our ‘reward’ isn’t earned.  It is a free gift from God that is promised to us once we have repented of our sins and accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  But, we are called to run this race well and to bring glory to Him!  He is faithful.IMG_8404


With Christ as our foundation, we are looking forward to a great homeschool year.
May we fix our eyes on Jesus!

Summer Olympics 2016

DSC_2709Are you ready?  Opening Ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil begin Friday, August 5th!

DSC_2718Photo from our 2012 Summer Olympics

Ideas for Hosting Your Own Backyard Olympics…

Printables from Hubbard’s Cupboard
Olympic Sign
Drink Labels
Welcome/Olympic Creed
Running with Perseverance
Colossians 3:23

Game Ideas
Backyard Olympics From Hoosier Homemade
32 BackyardGames from Listotic
10 Wacky Olympic Games from Ministry to Children
Pool Noodle Backyard Obstacle Course from Learn/Play/Imagine
Nursery Rhyme Olympics from Hubbard’s Cupboard

Olympic Food cupcakes
Olympic Torch Cupcakes from Hoosier Homemade
Printable World Flag Cupcake Toppers from Hoosier Homemade

Bible Olympics
Printable Bible Studies from Bible School Resources

Olympic Crafts / Decorations

Homemade Torch from Busy Kids
Country Flag Printables from Homeschool Creations
Olympic Colored Friendship Bracelets
Olympic Torch Chalk Pastel Tutorial from Hodgepodge IMG_8424
Olympic Rings Chalk Pastel from Hodgepodge
3D TorchIMG_8423

STEAM inspired Olympic Events
Race to Build from Moss Wood Connections
5 Olympic STEAM Related Track Events from Views From a Stepstool

A Peek of  Some Past Olympics at our Home
Our Summer Olympics 2008
country flags

Our 2010 Indoor Winter Olympics

Let the games begin!

Bursting Into…

A New School Year at HomeIMG_5499 (3)   …with grades eighth, sixth, fourth, second, and Kindergarten!

First Day of School – July 2015
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Following in our homeschool tradition of having a Fun First Friday themed to align with a topic we will all be learning in the new year, we celebrated the first day of another new school year ‘bursting’ with red, white, and blue and all things Americana!

Here is a glimpse of what we did…

A Special Breakfast…
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(Yes, we enjoyed the celebratory ‘cupcakes for breakfast’, along with scrambled eggs and bacon. =)  )

Traditional First Day Photos…
DSC_7926 (2) IMG_5519 (2)     img_5509 (3) IMG_5513 (3) IMG_5515 (3)

First Day All About Me/ Growing in Grace Sheets
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A Biblical View of Wisdom from God’s Word/ Praying for our Nation and Leaders

An Outside Obstacle Course (just for fun)

Fun Red, White, and Blue Art…
American Flag Pastel (for the older three kids) IMG_5578 (2)
Paint and Pipe Cleaner Fireworks and Patriotic Windsocks (for the younger two kids)IMG_5583 (2)
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Review Meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance

Lunch and Reading of our Encouraging Notes from Siblings…IMG_5493 (2)IMG_5590 1 (2)

Some Fun Math….
including Patriotic Symbol Roll/Tally/Graph (for the younger two kids)
and The Money Race (a game created by the kids)

Treasure Hunt that Ended with a Special Treat

United States Geography Review (a quiz for the oldest kids)
and Scrambled States of America card game
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And, we ended the day with daddy and a
Late Night Dessert
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and Sparklers!
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From the kids’ expressions and reactions, I believe that it was a successful, fun, and exciting day to kick off our new school year!    Now, it’s time to hit the books.  =)

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I simply adore these kids and am looking forward to a great year of learning with them.

Come check out how we’ve celebrated some of our previous First Days of School!
Patriotic (2009)
Love Theme (2012)
Flying Theme (2013)
Ocean Creatures Theme (2014)

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