Easy and Delicious Chili

There are a bazillion ways to make chili. Here's Mine.


Here is my family's favorite.

We call it "Sayler Chili".

This recipe is delicious, freezable, and so easy an 8 year old can make it with a little help.

 Before you have a heart attack. Confession time.

I do use a chili kit.

I learned this trick from my mom. She always had her favorite kit of spices, so I learned this speed trick from her.



My current favorite kit is this one by Carroll Shelby's.



I like it because they individually package each of the spices inside. That means I can add more or less of each of the spices.




I used to be afraid to add all of the cayenne pepper, but I have come to love this one just the way they have it packaged!.






Last secret.
Beans.

Not everyone thinks chili is true chili if it has beans. I understand that.
But this is my chili, with my name, so it will have beans.

(For those of you with lots of kids like me, beans are a filler. Tomatoes are fillers. chili without beans is expensive if you are feeding 5 boys!!! So I use beans. Lots of beans!)

 This chili is extrememly forgiving.

Simply throw in 2-4 cans of whatever your favorite beans are at the moment.


I came up with our current favorite combination because I was out of the beans I usually have on hand. It was such a hit that I had to swear an oath that I wouldn’t change this recipe!

I use:
Dark kidney beans
Bush's grillin' beans (bourbon and brown sugar)
and those weird looking Ranch Style Beans.

Do not panic when you open the Ranch beans!
They look kinda gross, but they are delicious!


Enjoy!

If you have a favorite chili recipe, feel free to link in the comments!

You'll find the actual recipe and grocery list here!

Find more of my recipes here! 



Need a great cookbook? 

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  • Here is my current favorite.
 
  • Easy recipes.
 
  • Measurements to enlarge all recipes.
 
  • Freezer frendly!
 
  • Delicious! 

Homeschooling and Rafting


Homeschooling is like taking a white water rapid ride down a class 5 river.


You are all in, total committed, and yes destined to get soaking wet.

Have a blast homeschooling today! 

Homeschooling Is A Beautiful Thing!

As a parent educator, you have the freedom to weave your family's values, your educational goals, and your children's passions into the living journey of homeschooling.

You get to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

You do not need to become entangled or even burdened with what the school down the street is up to, because you have the ability to design a program that is perfectly suited for not only each of your children, but your entire family as well.

To be a successful homeschooler you need a foundation, a plan, and sheer determination.

Foundation

This is the most essential piece to the homeschooling puzzle.

You need to lay a solid foundation for your children and your family.
  • What does your ideal homeschool environment look like?
  • What do imagine your daily routine to look like? How will the house run in the midst of your homeschool day?
  • Will your children help around the house?
  • What part will both you and your spouse play in their education?
  • Will you incorporate your faith into the school day?
If you are a new homeschooler, you should take a few days to consider what your foundation should look like.

If you are a brand new homeschooler, understand you may laugh at your ideas a few months from now, but that should not stop you from laying an idea of your foundation.

Plan

It is true, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

The good news is, in homeschooling the plan is fluid and changeable. You do not need to stick with plans that are failing, but you do need a plan.
  • What grade levels are your children?
  • What subjects are required in your state?
  • What topics would you like to teach your children?
  • Will you design your own teaching materials or acquire them from a big curriculum company?
  • How long will your school day/year be?
  • Where will you find coaching, mentoring, and encouragement?
Sheer Determination

Homeschooling is wonderful, but it is also wonderfully hard.

It is a huge undertaking to not only educate your child, but keep your home from falling apart simultaneously. There will absolutely be days when you question everything.

There will be more than one day, week, or year that you fear that you are ruining your child's education. This is normal.

Before you go any deeper into this thing called homeschooling, you should:
  • Determine that you will stay the course.
  • Determine to never quit out of frustration. When those days come that cause you to believe you should quit, declare it a free play day, go to the library, visit a veteran homeschooler, or go to the zoo.
  • Just determine to never quit out of frustration.
  • Understand that homeschooling is hard, but that just because it is hard does not mean that you are unqualified. Honestly there is no one more qualified to teach your children than you are. You know their strengths, weaknesses, and passions better than anyone else.
Homeschooling can be extremely fun, rewarding and exhausting.

It is worth every bit of effort to be able to see your child blossom into a curious learner.

If what you are currently doing is not working, go back and look at your foundation and plan.

As a veteran homeschooler, I can assure you that it is very common for homeschoolers to go on tangents. It is also common to throw out topics or whole curriculums that are not a good fit for your family.

Change is good.

Homeschooling is good. It is not for everyone, but it is good!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/8403195 (Yep, that's me!)

Why is it "A Better Way to Homeschool"?

Yes, our site is called "A Better Way to Homeschool". But why?

Homeschooling was frustrating for me the first few years.
I was fumbling around trying to figure out how to teach my two oldest sons while nursing and training 1-3 babies.

I had no idea what I was doing!

Eventually, I was invited into a homeschooling group that happened to be comprised of 4 fabulous homeschool moms; 3 of them even being certified teachers. To me, this made them worth of study:).

I watched them closely.
  • What were they teaching their kids?
  • How were they teaching?
  • What can I glean from them?

You know what I learned?

If you ask 100 homeschoolers what is the best way to homeschool children, you will likely get 100 different answers!

That's right!
My husband and I discovered that the best way to homeschool our boys was our way.

A Better Way to Homeschool was born to inspire you to homeschool your children YOUR WAY.

What makes your way A Better Way?
  • You take your children's strengths and weaknesses into consideration when choosing the kind of work you will require.
  •  You enjoy learning right along with your kids.
  •  No one knows your child like you do.
  • Your child's passions can be knit intricately into their school day.
  • You can share your passions with your children and call it "school".
  • You get to decide what your school day looks like.
  • You get to choose whether to use a shrink-wrapped curriculum or books form your local library to teach your children.
  • You are free from the trap of measuring your 11 year old against the next 11 year old you meet. They are each unique.
It is A Better Way, because it is your way.
It is a journey, a process.

If you are anything like me, your homeschooling will morph as your children and you settle into your routine. 

Homeschool is a living breathing thing.
As your child grows and develops strong interests, your schooling bends toward them.

Do not let yourself get trapped into a pre-packaged idea of what your child's education should be. Sure, you need basic goals for them to achieve, but so much of their education will be captured alone the way.

Relax.
Enjoy your kids.
Embrace the unexpected and capitalize on moments of intrigue and excitement.

  • Did your boys bring home tadpoles from a friends house, like mine just did? Search YouTube and Discovery Channel to find videos that teach about the life cycle of Frogs and Toads
  • Look for journaling pages that have lilly pads on them for them to write down their observations.
  • Teach them how to do research online to discover what those tadpoles need to eat to survive. 
  • Visit your local pet store and talk with the people working there to find out more about frogs. 
  • Go to the library and check out a few books about life cycles (butterflies, frogs, people, etc...). 
  • Teach Venn Diagrams and compare and contrast frogs to any other living creature. How are they the same, how are they different?
  • Make a lapbook.
  • Get a frog kit and observe how those frogs do compared to the wild variety.
  • Let the kids make their own documentary.
Ride tides of excitement like a surfer who caught the perfect wave!

Embrace your better way to homeschool!

I love hearing from my readers! How do you embrace homeschooling?


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Sword Play: The Boyhood Dream

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"No! My boys will not play with weapons."


That's right, I spoke those words long ago.

 Probably when I was a new mom and had only 1 boy so far.

 It was back in the days that we had no TV, no guns, and no idea what we were doing.


Fast forward to today.
Ladies, I have 5 boys. That's a lot of testosterone!

Boys love to play very differently than you and me. I came to this realization reluctantly, but have finally crossed over to what they call "the other side".

Why our boys Play with practice swords:
  • Because they are awesome! That's right. There is an absolute coolness factor that speaks volumes to every single male person that we come in contact with. Swords are just cool.

  • They cannot kill themselves. (Well, I guess they could if they tried hard enough, but these practice swords are not meant to cause mortal wounds.) Just watch boys at play. Every boy needs a sword, even if it is a nerf sword!
  • Hand Eye Coordination. These swords are meant to be real training swords. They are heavy and are balanced like the swords they resemble. Pretty cool huh? 
  • They are learning history. Each of our boys has chosen a different style practice sword. Each is a slightly different length and weight and each has its own history. They boys are delighted to learn about their swords place in history.
Our Safety Rules:

  • Do not kill each other.
  • Never pick up any weapon if your heart is not right. If you are frustrated or angry, you are done for the day. Period. No exceptions.
  • Practice is about discipline. Practice. Practice. Practice. (The Japanese practised with wooden swords to become expert swordsmen before they would wield a razor sharp blade!)
  • When you get hurt, take a deep breath. If you practice with a sword, your fingers will get hit.
  • Play in slow motion until you master the moves.
Moms, you cannot take the warrior out of your sons. Embrace that.

There is something primal and beautiful about a strong man with a sword or bow. Think Joshua (Biblical), William Wallace (Braveheart), Legolas (Lord of the Rings). I want my sons to be like them. Don't you?

Are you ready to join me as a mom of sword-wielding, arrow shooting, and courageous sons?

Here is how you begin. Click here.

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Solving Percent Problems Made Easy

I have a new Activity packet for You!

Are you trying to teach your kids percents? I hated teaching percents until recently...
Solving Percent Worksheets
I do not know about you, but I would always get confused:
  • Which way do I set up the problem if I know the percent?
  • OK, but what if I am looking for the percent?

Ahhh! That's right.
 I would scream, "Ahhh!" (In my head)



Last week I had a wonderful  teacher friend explain solving percent problems  to me in less than 2 minutes. No, I am not that smart. Her way is THAT easy!

Her way is a "One size fits all" solution to these math problems.

Problems like:
  • what is 20% of 100
  • 20 is what percent of 350
  • 5 is 15% of what number
All became easy to solve!!!!

I made a quick YouTube video to explain it to you and explain it again to myself so I wouldn’t forget.

I just completed a packet that will help you reinforce this cool concept with your kids. (Yes, I am an 80's kid. I said "cool")

Here is the video I made. Be sure to scroll to the bottom and check out the packet. The first one to comment on this post wins a free copy:).



Solving Percents Made Easy
Perfect First Laptop


Chromebook Perfect Laptop for Kids

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There are never enough computers in our home!

We have a computer scientist, a professional blogger, a sophomore in high school, and a 6th, 5th and 3rd grader here.

We are always in competition for use of our computers!

 
We finally bought a Chrome-book for the kids and I am really excited to share our experience with you!



This light weight little ditty is perfect for school! Why?

"Google Drive is a cloud storage service that allows you to store your documents, photos, videos and more online in one place. From Drive, you can also access Google Docs, where you can create, share and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more from anywhere while online." (gcflearnfree.org)

I was personally slow to buy into the idea of writing and storing documents in the "never-never land of the cloud", but it has been a life-saver more than once this past year. We can access any of our work form any computer (as long as we have Internet connections!
  •  Create and Store all your kids documents safely on the cloud.
No more storage issues. No more, "I need "that" computer issues.
  • Create reports, spreadsheets, and presentations. Even work together with people in different locations.
 This past week, our high schooler completed a power-point presentation with drive for the first time. All 4 students were able to work simultaneous on the same presentation from their respective homes! They were all so excited!
  •  Learn to type

This may be a no-brainer in your home, but with limited computer access the boys were not able to squeeze in typing enough to learn. They are all excited to jump in again!

We use typing tutor.


 



 
  • Learn basic computer programming (like Scratch!)
This one is very important to our family. My husband has inspired us all to learn basic programming.

The boys are jumping in by learning scratch, our oldest is learning Python.



Best News...
  • It is ONLY $249!!! 
We are test piloting our first chrome book right now. Honestly, for this price we are likely going to get a couple more so we can have our kids work online simultaneously.

Click on the image to check it out for yourself.
What kind of computers do you have at your home?
Do your kids have their own computers?

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Starter Pack 

Perfect for work at home moms.

Notebooking Pages Giveaway!!



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Ta-da!
I am excited to bring you an opportunity to win  an amazing lifetime membership to Notebooking pages between now and March 21st.

Debra is giving away:
  •  2 free memberships
  • 2 copies of His Homestead Originals

 The membership is worth its weight in chocolate. You will never be without the "perfect" journal page for whatever your kids are learning!


Want some samples? Click on the free Members Area image above ^^^^


Before you leave, be sure to enter to win by clicking below!!!

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My Kids Do Not Drive Me CraZy!

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As a homeschooler, when you see me in public you will likely see one to five of my children at my side. It doesn't matter if it is 10:00am on a Wednesday at the grocery store, or 11:30am at a busy doctors office. The kids are always with me.





What baffles me is the reaction of the adults we come in contact with during our day. Many are dumbfounded that I am wearing ironed clothes and have my hair styled. Most think I should be going crazy.



***News Flash***


 

My kids Do Not Drive Me Crazy.
(most of the time)

I always have 1-5 children (ages 8-20) at my side no matter where I go. They are my buddies. I am blessed beyond words!

I find my children to be amazing individuals. Unique, creative, and interesting.

I want to spend time with my boys. They are quirky, fun and entertaining.

I love being the one who gets to hear about all those crazy 'imaginings of childhood'. Why should I be in the dark about what brings them joy?

I appreciate that my boys work side by side with me to manage our home. They understand that we are a team.

Family is the focal point of my children's life.

My kids spend their time around people of different age groups and can readily relate to almost anyone. They are a joy to be around.

I spend so much time with my kids that they are not clingy and needy.

I do not feel like I am missing out on their childhood. I am there to witness the quality moments encapsulated in the quantity of time.

If my kids are hurting, they come to me. They know I can be trusted.

If my kids are afraid, they come to me. They know that I will reassure them.

My children do not question my desire to be a part of their lives.
I am "all in".


Why Do Children Drive Their Parents Crazy?

They are not used to having their children around them; they are usually at school or daycare.

The heart of their kids life is lived out away from them.
During the school day, kids laugh, cry, and are amazed.
At the end of the day parents ask their kids, "What did you do today?"
The kids say, "Nothing." They do not know how to relate to each other.

With working parents, public school, and extra-curricular activities. Families shuffle from one destination to the next, often marinated in tension because the kids cannot find their shoes, backpack, or sports equipment. Families are fuelled with anxiety.


Children capitalize on their parents time. They need attention. When parents and their kids live their lives away from each other all day, they try to squeeze in their quality time. You rarely get quality time without quantity time. While special moments can be created, spontaneous moments are missed.

They do not know their kids the same way that they would if they spent all their time together. This is a quantity thing. Best friends seek each other out. They invest their best in each other. Next to our spouses, our children should get the most of us.

School is the focal point of the child's life.

Kids spend most of their time surrounded by kids their own age, so they do not readily relate to people of other age groups.

They believe "me time" is essential for daily living. (I believe "we time" is essential. So do my kids)


Bottom Line?
I think our society has been seriously misled. Our children should not be shuttled off to a classroom where they are surrounded by their peer group and force fed information that does not inspire them to learn more.

I know that homeschooling is not for everyone. Honestly, homeschooling is hard. Very hard.

Parents should do everything they can to refocus their kids so that family is the center, not school. This may mean turning off the tv, quitting sports, and renting a rv. I think that kids need to know their parents are "all in". It may take some convincing, but our kids need this!

I think parents need a mindset reset. 
  • It is good to be around your children.
  • It is ok to have many, many, many moments that are unstructured. That's where quality time lives!!
  • It is good to snuggle and read together.
  • It is good to cook with, clean, and create with your children right by your side.
  • It is good to drag bring your kids to the store, to the doctor's office, and to the zoo.
  • It is good for your kids to see you laugh.
  • Kids are entertaining.
  • Kids are a blessing.
  • Family time is more important than me time. Almost. Always. 


You may be thinking, but you do not know my kids. They want nothing to do with me. You do not need to pull them out of public school necessarily, but your time is ticking. This is one of those mountains worth dying on. Your family is everything.  Reclaim your family. It will take time and energy you do not think you have, but it is worth it.

If you know that you cannot homeschool your kids, you can still reclaim your family...
Turn off the TV at least one day a week.
I am not against television, I am just more into my children. The TV stops kids from building, creating, and talking. Its true your home is cleaner and quieter with the set on, but at what cost?


Start eating at the table. Re-establish family dinners. Have the kids help plan and prepare at least one meal a week (or month). Need some recipes?

Clear the calendar and establish a Family Game Night. (here are some great games!)

Wake your kids up early and go watch the sunrise (once a month). Make sure you bring or pick up a yummy breakfast.

Let the kids stay up late and put a telescope in the yard. Sit outside and look a the stars with your kids.

Read aloud to your kids. No matter how old they are. Find a gripping story and stop at a hanging point. Let them enjoy a bowl of popcorn while you read. Need a few suggestions?

Learn to ask questions that cannot be answered with a yes or a no.

Learn to wait for kids to answer. We can be so busy that we do not have patience for our kids minds to form answers.

Teach your kids to do something hard: change a tire, use a weed-eater, unplug a drain, reprogram a computer, build a fence, ANYTHING.  Make this a regular habit.

Expect your kids to help around the house. Kids need chores, but they are not slaves. Work alongside them. Put them in charge of background music (Maybe only once a week if you cannot quite stomach their choices).

Set boundaries. Kids need to know you will keep them safe. This means different things for each family. You are the parent. You set the standards.

TURN off YOUR smart phone, laptops, iPads or any screen that pulls your eyes away from your kids. Make it a policy that during your short time together, you will be "ALL IN".

Turn off the house phone during the evening. Family time is sacred!

Read a Proverb every day to your kids. There are 31 Proverbs so you look a the calendar and read that Proverb. If you really want to reclaim your family, you need more of God. Period. Start where you are. Ask God to help you and start reading your Bible. Proverbs is a good place to begin because it is filled with incredible wisdom for your family. No it is not outdated.

Cut out any activities that do not strengthen your family. This can be REALLY hard. Be honest with yourself. There are no One Size Fits All families. What I need to cut in my family will absolutely be different for yours. Just be real.
Family time is precious.

Cut back expenses. This may seem obvious, but it is not. If you cut back your expenses you can carve out more and more time for your family. With some creative financing, maybe you can even afford to stay home! Here are some budget cutting ideas.

Start Slowly.
  • Set your kids down and let them know you are reclaiming your family.
  • Implement one new habit at a time. If you have older kids, let them pick one thing to change first.
  • Be consistent.
  • Set a reminder in your calendar and re-evaluate your efforts at least once a month.

Which mom would you rather be? 
          The one who loves being around her children, 
                                            or the one who is driven crazy by them?  




Make any changes necessary to make the right choice.

It may not be easy, but it is still worth it!

I







Tolerate uncertainty

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"We need to tolerate Uncertainty".

I was reading a book review done by Laura Lee at switching classrooms.

This was my first time at her blog and she was sharing about the book Raise a Gifted Child by Carol Fertig.

Honestly, I have never seen this book before. Have you read it?

What struck me were two words in Laura Lee's review.


 Tolerate Uncertainty.

I love that. We need to tolerate uncertainty in our children's learning.


That dead space between their saying, "I have no idea..." And the lightbulb moment of "Oh! I know!"

We need to tolerate our kids uncertainty.
We need to give them time to process, think, test, reevaluate, test again and form their own conclusions.

We need to resist the temptation to fill in the blanks, spoon feed them the correct answers, and give them unearned rewards.

Uncertainty is not a bad thing.

Actually it is necessary, critically necessary for our children to grow to become free thinking intelligent individuals.

We need to be quick to ask, "What do you think?"
We need to be painfully aware that the uncomfortable silence is the space and time necessary for their minds to process the question.

This was a profound two word phrase to me.

Tolerate uncertainty.

Today, tolerate uncertainty in your life.
In your kids.
In general.

It is a good thing.

Frustrated homeschoolers click Here