A Menu of Quick-to-the-Table Themed Lunches and Easy Side Dishes

From Our House to Yours

A menu of quick-to-the table themed lunches and easy side dishes helps simplify our homeschooling life! In this Heart of Dakota series, we continue describing a ‘day in the life’ of using Resurrection to Reformation (RTR) and World History (WH). First, I shared our take on homework. Second, I shared our waking up to homeschool routine. Third, I shared our morning chores and breakfast routine.  Fourth, I shared how we rotate teacher-directed and independent blocks of time between breakfast and lunch. Today, I will share about how a planned menu of quick-to-the-table themed lunches and easy side dishes makes lunch a piece of cake!

Quick-to-the-Table Lunches That Follow a Theme

Through the past 17 years of homeschooling, I have found it is a huge help to have a set quick-to-the-table lunch menu. Some years I have had just 5 quick meal options planned, one for each day Monday through Friday. However, other years I have had a variety of quick-to-the-table meals. This year I planned a theme for each day with several quick-to-the-table meal options. As a result, I have some choice in what I make, but I also have a planned menu. For example, Mondays are chicken, Tuesdays are sandwiches, Thursdays are beef, and Fridays are (mainly) soups. On the other hand, Wednesdays are for whatever didn’t fit neatly into a theme. No matter what, each item on the lunch menu must be easy to make and quick-to-the-table.

Easy Side Dishes That Are the Same Each Day

I like variety for the main quick-to-the-table meals for lunch, but I feel just the opposite about side dishes. I find it simpler to keep the side dishes the same, offering just a few choices. Likewise, I make sure to choose quick and easy side dishes. So no matter what I make for the main meal for lunch, the daily side dishes stay pretty much the same. I put an “*” beside each easy side dish to show it is meant to be a part of the menu daily. If I do note a choice of easy side dishes, I put “or” between the two choices. In general, I try to choose quick-t0-the-table and easy side dishes that include fruits and vegetables. I also include healthy easy side dishes like yogurt and string cheese.

Benefits of Having a Set Lunch Menu

There are many benefits to having a set quick-to-the-table lunch menu. First, I know there will be a variety of balanced meals with different meats, fruits, and vegetables. Second, I know what to keep constant on my grocery list, so I can make the list quickly. Third, I can point to the menu when my children ask what is for lunch, but I can also give some main meal options. Fourth, my children can step in and make lunch themselves if need be. Fifth, I always have what I need on hand because some options are frozen or canned. Sixth, I cross off each main quick-to-the-table meal as I make it, so I know what we’re eating. Seventh, I can more easily plan my meals for dinner because I know what we’re having for lunch. Try planning your own quick-to-the-table lunch menu! See if you like it!

Chicken Fries

Rotisserie Chicken

Salsa Chicken

*green beans

*yogurt parfait & granola or grapes

Tuna Sandwich

French Dips

Ham/Cheese Poppy Buns

Cold Ham Sandwiches

*Cheese stick or dill pickles

*carrot sticks, hummus

*cut apples

Mac & Cheese

Tuna Patties

All Beef Hot Dogs on Buns


*cheese stick

*applesauce cups or banana halves




*carrot sticks, guac

*black beans or refried beans


Tomato Basil Soup

Chili Soup


*Mozzarella sticks

*green beans

* pears or mandarin oranges

In Christ,


Rotating Teacher-Directed and Independent Blocks of Time

From Our House to Yours

Rotating Teacher-Directed and Independent Blocks of Time

In this Heart of Dakota series, we continue describing a ‘day in the life’ of using Resurrection to Reformation (RTR) and World History (WH). First, I shared our take on homework. Second, I shared our waking up to homeschool routine. Third, I shared our morning chores and breakfast routine.  Today, I will share how we rotate teacher-directed and independent blocks of time between breakfast and lunch.

My Teaching Block for Resurrection to Reformation

After breakfast and clean-up, I have my teaching block for Resurrection to Reformation with Emmett. This is a favorite time of ours! We meet on the living room couch or in a reading nook, as Emmett sometimes like to ‘build’ these. If Emmett had an oral narration for his Reading About History, we begin with that. Then, we check any work he completed earlier for his Independent History box and his Rotating History box. Next, we head to the kitchen table for his math lesson. Finally, we end up back on the couch or in our reading nook for our favorite – the Storytime read-aloud! After the reading, we set out the Storytime cards, and we go over directions for his History Project. He goes to the kitchen table to finish his Storytime card and to do his History Project.

Riley’s Independent Block for World History

While I am doing the teaching block I just described with Emmett in RTR, Riley has an independent block for World History. First, he does his History Activities. He does the seatwork portion at our dining room table. As the You Are There CD is an audio, he listens to this with earbuds in his bedroom. He has a caddy of art supplies, his Bible, and his journal at the ready as well.  Next, he moves on to his World History. He enjoys doing this subject in the addition by Wyatt, our oldest son, who is usually doing his online college there. They often share with each other what they are studying. This is just an informal talking time they both look forward to and enjoy.

My Teaching Block for World History

While Emmett is finishing his Storytime card and his History Project, I meet with Riley. In this teaching block for World History, we enjoy meeting in the living room. We begin with World History. Riley stands to give his oral narrations, which works perfectly for me as I love to sit, sip my coffee, and listen!  He hands me his book open to the page he started reading. I skim it, and then page through it as I listen to him narrate. He is an animated narrator, and he likes to use his voice or his hands to emphasize this or that. I love hearing him narrate!  He reads aloud his written narrations standing as well, and we edit together. Next, we go through his completed work for History Activities and for his Science written work. Finally, I do just the teacher portion of his Grammar or EIW. He then finishes his independent parts for these at the dining room table.

What’s next? Maybe my next teaching time for Resurrection to Reformation, and maybe not!

Often at this time, Emmett has decided to make homemade hot cocoa. He has lit a candle, set out whipped cream, coffee creamer, mini marshmallows, and sprinkles. He knows everyone likes their hot cocoa their own way. This was not a part of our ‘plan,’ but I love it, and he did finish the work he was supposed to, so I let it ride. He rings a bell – a cowbell (we do live in South Dakota). This is LOUD, and everyone stops what they are doing and heads to the kitchen table. Why? They know Emmett has either made hot cocoa or has a history project that involved baking. They each make their favorite hot cocoa concoction or eat the history project, chat, laugh, and share what they’ve been doing so far. Many times they make plans for the afternoon or evening together too. Then, everyone is back to working on school.

Back to My Teaching Time for Resurrection to Reformation

Okay, after the impromptu beverage/snack/chat break, we are back to my teaching time for Resurrection to Reformation. I do my teaching portion for Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons, for Drawn into the Heart of Reading, and for R & S English. I leave Emmett to finish his independent portions of these subjects, with a plan to check on him off and on later when I make lunch.

Riley’s Next Independent Block for World History

While I am doing the teaching block I just described with Emmett in RTR, Riley has his next independent block for World History. After he finishes his written portions of Grammar and EIW, he does his Fine Arts course, usually in the addition at the table. At this point, Wyatt has either gone outside to shoot some basketball hoops or has moved upstairs to work on his college. So, the addition is free and a happy, sunny place to work on art at the table by the window. Next, Riley does his independent reading and writing assignment for either Total Health or Pilgrim’s Progress, whichever is assigned for the day. He gathers his things to meet with me, so he is ready when I call.

My Final Teaching Block for World History

While Emmett is finishing his Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons, Drawn into the Heart of Reading, and R & S English, I meet with Riley. In this teaching block for World History, we first check the portion he wrote for his grammar or EIW. Then, we correct his Fine Arts written work. I marvel at his art project and its progress. Next, we discuss his Total Health or Pilgrim’s Progress on the living room couch. He often still likes to pace, while I sit with yet another cup of coffee (lunch is my cutoff).  I love this private time together to talk about all of the important things that come up in Total Health and Pilgrim’s Progress.  Finally, if it was a tough morning, and Riley didn’t get up early to do Geometry with Wyatt (see my earlier post), they do Geometry now instead.

Making Lunch and Helping Emmett Finish Resurrection to Reformation

As I begin to make lunch, Emmett is finishing his independent portions of Medieval, DITHOR, and R & S English at the kitchen table. It is easy to pop over and offer an assist if necessary! This is also a time Emmet may have left the table, needing to be found and redirected to finish his work. He is my free spirit that can lose track of time or get lost in the moment of a bluejay on our tree, a package that came in the mail, or a wrestling match with my husband. It is at this time that Emmett may need to finish his science. If he did his science as ‘homework’ (see my earlier post), then he is done for the day. If he didn’t, well, then it is time for science. There is a very good chance he will then be finished with school after both my 10th grader and my college student. These moments help Emmett to dig down and do science as homework instead the next time. And that is our day between breakfast and lunch!

In Christ,


Morning Chores and Breakfast

From Our House to Yours

A ‘Day in the Life’ of RTR and WH – Morning Chores and Breakfast

In this Heart of Dakota series, we continue describing a ‘day in the life’ of using Resurrection to Reformation (RTR) and World History (WH). So far, I’ve shared our take on homework, as well as our waking up to homeschool routine.  Today, I will share about our morning chores and our breakfast  menu.

Morning Chores

There is much that must be done to keep a home running smoothly! Homeschooling means we use our home more, which means more upkeep. I believe there are two primary reasons for morning chores. First, I need help. Second, I want my sons to be prepared to own and help care for their own home someday.  My oldest son feeds, waters, and exercises the dogs. He also gets the mail, clears the snow, and sets the trash at the end of the driveway for the garbage truck. My youngest starts our morning praise music, unloads the dishwasher, and sets the table. He then joins my oldest son outside by feeding our cat. My middle son consolidates all the trash bags into one bag and takes it out. He then fills the Keurig with water, sets out our vitamins, and makes a family smoothie.

Making Morning Chores a Happy Affair

The words ‘happy’ and ‘chores’ may not seem to go together!  However, we have found chores actually can be a happy affair! First, we all enjoy listening to the Christian praise music on our playlists. Many of the songs we know from our local Christian radio station KNWC. Other songs we know are sung in our church. Because we all choose songs for our playlist, everyone has favorites they look forward to hearing. Second, I don’t mind a little creativity in chores. Wyatt shoots basketball hoops while the dogs run around outside. Emmett rides his 3-wheeler to feed our cat Sweetie Pie, and he lights a different candle each day while setting the table. Riley makes all sorts of surprise flavors of smoothies, from pumpkin pie to pineapple mango, and from chocolate peanut butter to berry. Overall, chores are a happy affair!

Breakfast Menu

Though our breakfast has changed through the years, we have always had a planned menu. This helps so much!  I can get up each morning and know what I am making. When I make a grocery list, it is easy because I have a plan. As a mother of all boys, I know how much they look forward to home cooked meals. I hang the menu on the fridge for all to see. Since I like a little choice in what I make, I list 4 or 5 breakfast options each day. I just choose in the morning which one I feel like making and cross it off. When I’ve made everything in about a month, I hang a new menu. The “*” notes something that is made every time to accompany the breakfast, which is the family smoothie.

Berries & Oatmeal

Peaches & Oatmeal

Bananas & Oatmeal

Apples & Oatmeal

Craisins & Nuts Oatmeal

Cinnamon Rolls

Pop Tarts

Granola Bars & Apples

Frozen waffles or pancakes

*Family Smoothie

Ham/cheese egg bake, bacon, toast

Scrambled cheesy eggs, bacon, toast

Fried eggs & French toast

Fruit Popover & Fried eggs

Pear Pancake & Scrambled Eggs

Cereal & Toast

Schwan’s Donuts

Eggo Waffle/Nutella

Pumpkin, Blueberry, OR Chocolate Chip Pancakes

*Family Smoothie


Danish Rolls

Coffee Cake

Apple Pie Coffee Cake

Sheet pancakes

*Family Smoothie

Try making your own chore chart and breakfast menu!  See if you like it!

In Christ,

Waking Up to Teach Resurrection to Reformation and World History

From Our House to Yours

A ‘Day in the Life’ Waking Up to Teach Resurrection to Reformation and World History

Homeschooling with multiple Heart of Dakota guides looks different in different homes! However, as I’m asked about this often, I’m doing a series describing a ‘day in the life’ of our family using Resurrection to Reformation (RTR) and World History (WH). Since it is easier to describe my day in segments, I began with how our ‘day’ actually starts the night before with homework. In this post, I’ll continue on with our ‘day’ by describing waking up to teach RTR and WH. While your days might look different, I hope this will still give you some ideas how you could most enjoy your own homeschooling! Often times, just a change or two can make all the difference!

First Things First

I love waking up to do my women’s devotional! My sons know how much I love Joyce Meyer, so they gave me her book Trusting God as a gift for Christmas. It is just perfect for this time of life for me! I spend about 15-30 minutes reading and journaling about my devotional. When I was a mom of babies and toddlers, I spent 5-10 minutes on devotions. If the baby had a bad night, I didn’t get my devotions done. So, as I share I love this time, know that you may be in a different stage of life, and that is okay. However, also know, spending time with God each day first thing in the morning – even if it is for 5 minutes – will be the best time spent all day. If you miss it, try not to feel guilty all day, rather talk with God throughout your day. He will love that time you spend with Him too!

What are the kids doing while I am doing my devotional?

While I am doing my devotional, the kids are doing their independent work. We set a time to get up for each of them. This time is based on how much work they have, how much of a morning person they are, and how much they can do on their own. Once my children reach high school, they usually get up earlier. They have more work to do, so getting up earlier leaves more free time in the afternoons and evenings. This is the case with Riley, my 10th grader in World History. Though he is not as much of a morning person, he chooses to get up at 6 AM. My oldest son doing online college gets up to do Geometry with him. They came up with this plan. (Though I love math, I’m apparently not so patient at teaching it.) Then, Riley does Spanish and Literature Study. Emmett, my 6th grader in RTR, gets up at 7 and hits snooze. Then, he really gets up at 7:10 AM to do his Bible Quiet Time.

Where is everyone while doing this?

You may wonder where everyone is while they are doing all of this. Well, I am in my bedroom, doing my devotional, thoroughly enjoying my first cup of coffee. Riley is partly in his bedroom and partly downstairs at the dining room table – his choice. He has proven himself to be responsible. Emmett is in his bedroom. This helps him stay on task, as he is just down the hall from me.

My Meeting Time with Wyatt

At 7:15 AM, I start my first meeting time in my room. I actually begin with Wyatt, my college-aged son. Though I am not teaching him anymore, I still love to talk with him about his college and the day ahead. We stay connected this way. We make plans for the day together. Appointments, HOD work, errands, and activities get coordinated quickly, as we figure out who is driving where and when. This is an informal time where we share many things. It is precious time to me.

My First Teacher-Directed Meeting Time with Emmett

Around 7:30 AM, I start my first teacher-directed meeting time with Emmett. First, we correct his Bible Quiet Time Hidden Treasures workbook. I ask him if he said his prayer, practiced his Scripture memory work, and sang with his CD. Every 4th day of each unit, I have him say all of his Scripture memory work for me. Then, we do the top right rotating box. Two times a week this is his parent-led Bible Study of Boyhood and Beyond, From Boy to Man, and What Is God’s Design for My Body? (completed in the year in that order). Once a week we do the RTR Poetry Study. Finally, once a week we do the RTR Looking at Pictures Charlotte Mason-inspired picture study. These are perfect subjects to enjoy in our pj’s in the comfort and privacy of my room! I check off all work as we correct it in the RTR guide. Then, Emmett goes to his room to get ready and study his dictation.

My First Teacher-Directed Meeting Time with Riley

Around 7:50 AM, I start my first teacher-directed meeting time with Riley. First, we correct his Bible Study’s written work. He reads his answers aloud to me from The Most Important Thing…, while I look at the answer key. Then, he has the option to show me his prayer journal or ‘flash’ it if he wants to keep it private. Last, depending on the WH plans, he says his Bible memory work for me or I ask if he sang his Selah hymn. Next, we go through his Literature Study box. We go through the Introduction question(s), he flashes me his annotations, and shows me his Common Place Book. Then, I have him read aloud his literature journal response, while I check off each question in his WH guide as he addresses it. Next, we correct his Spanish. He reads aloud his workbook answers, while I follow along in the answer key. Last, we go through his Living Library literary analysis sheet. Riley then heads off to do his Biology and chores independently.

My Second Teacher-Directed Meeting Time with Emmett

Around 8:10 AM, I have gotten coffee #2! Emmett and I do his dictation in my room. He has already made his bed, showered, and studied for his dictation, so this goes fairly quickly. As soon as we finish his dictation, we check it off in his guide. Then, we look at his Independent History, Rotating History/Shakespeare, and Reading About History boxes. He has until around 9:10 AM to do these, and we number them 1, 2, 3 in the guide in the order he wants to do them. He does these downstairs at his desk or on the couch in the living room. From 9:10 to 9:30 AM, he does his  morning chores.

Exercise, Getting Ready, Praise Music, and Breakfast

As Wyatt, Riley, and Emmett are doing their independent work, getting ready for the day, and doing their chores, I have time to do things too! From around 8:20 to 8:50 AM, I exercise. Then from 8:50 to 9:10 AM, I get ready for the day and make breakfast. Around 9:10 AM, Emmett starts a Christian praise music playlist. About this time, everyone is on to their chores, and I’m getting breakfast to the table. I love this time!  Christian music playing, everyone doing their thing, and all of us working together to do our part. People are humming, whistling, singing – we are happy while we work. I think the praise music sets the tone. Our homeschool days are quite cheerful! Not perfect. We still get cranky sometimes. We might oversleep sometimes. But the majority of the days follow this plan. So, we start our days feeling ‘ahead’ in our homeschooling.

In Closing

If you have little ones, these ideas might not all work. Little ones are less predictable and less independent. However, they have much less time they are homeschooling too. So, there is not the need to be quite as planned nor to homeschool as early. If you have some older children, you may enjoy trying these ideas with them. I love starting our day with a plan that still has us in our pj’s and cheerfully spending time together. I’ve also found I like to plan time to correct things that have been completed in our morning meeting times. Hope this helps you see one way of approaching homeschooling in the morning!

In Christ,


How Homework Can Help in a “Day in the Life” of Resurrection to Reformation and World History

From Our House to Yours

A ‘Day in the Life’ of Resurrection to Reformation and World History

What does homeschooling with multiple Heart of Dakota guides look like? I am asked this question a lot! For much of my homeschooling life, I taught three Heart of Dakota guides. However, now I teach just two, since my oldest has graduated. I thought it might be fun to do a ‘day in the life’ of Resurrection to Reformation (RTR) and World History (WH). This will be a series, as it is easier to describe a day in segments. Keep in mind everyone’s ‘a day in the life’ will look differently. That’s the blessing of homeschooling!  But, maybe this will give you some ideas of how you’d like your ‘a day in the life’ to look!

Our ‘day in the life’ of RTR and WH starts the night before!

As children reach middle school and high school, work load and length naturally increase. Rather than completing a day’s plans all in a row, we like to break it up into segments. This helps us enjoy each part of our guides more, and it allows time for scheduled breaks. One of the things I didn’t like about public school as a mother of boys was the amount of time in a row that students sit, confined in desks, in small rooms. I wanted to avoid repeating that!  Ironically, one way to do that has been to borrow a public school habit of ‘homework.’ However, our ‘homework’ consists of simply completing selected “I” independent assigned work from tomorrow’s HOD daily plans. So, our ‘day in the life’ of RTR and WH starts the night before!

Homework can be completed any time after our homeschooling is done for the day.

Once we have finished our homeschooling, homework for tomorrow can be completed any time before bed. Our sons love this flexibility! Depending on what they have going on each day, they can move their ‘homework’ accordingly. If they have a basketball game at night, they do their homework in the afternoon. If the weather is beautiful in the afternoon and they decide to play nerf guns outside, they do their homework at night. I hear them making plans together each day. They remind each other, “You better get your homework done because we have basketball tonight!‘ Or, “Right when we get home from nerf guns, let’s get on our homework, so we have time to watch a Hogan’s Heroes.” I didn’t have this flexibility until I was in college!  I love that they have it earlier. Likewise, I love that they are learning to manage their time well.

First, I meet with each child to discuss whether they want to do homework. 

Prior to starting our homeschool year, I meet with each child to ask if they even want to do homework. My youngest son had tried his hand at homework the year before in Creation to Christ. It didn’t work for him. He often forgot to do it, and I wasn’t going to remind him. So, partway into CTC, I took the homework option away. I let him know he could try it again next year. Fast forward to this year with RTR. Well, when asked, he definitely wanted to do homework! He’d noticed his older brothers often finished before he did, even though their guides had more to do. This was because they did homework.  Being able to do homework is a privilege that can be given or taken away. In our home, being able to do homework is considered a blessing! So, both sons chose to do homework.

Second, I meet with each child to decide what they will do for homework.

I have a few rules for homework. First, it must be for tomorrow’s day of plans; it cannot be saved from today’s day of plans. We found if parts of the daily plans are saved for homework that night and something comes up, they don’t get done. Then we are behind. So, homework must be for the next day’s plans in the guide. In this way by doing homework, we are actually ‘getting ahead’ in the plans. Second, homework must be “I” independent. I am not teaching at night, as I enjoy teaching during the day. I have more energy! So, homework cannot require me. Third, homework is not corrected by me until the next morning. For these reasons, my child in WH chose to do his Bible Quiet Time and his Living Library for homework. My child in RTR chose to do his Science.

Third, if homework is not completed the night before, it is completed right after we finish our homeschool day instead.

Sometimes something unexpected just comes up, and homework doesn’t get done. If this happens, the homework that would have been completed the night before just gets moved to be completed right after we finish our homeschool day instead. So for example, if we are on Day 3 of the plans, and the homework for Day 3 was not completed the night before, Day 3’s homework gets moved to the end of Day 3’s homeschool day. If this happens repeatedly due to the child not being responsible enough to complete homework, the child is not ready for homework. The homework option can then be removed and reintroduced the next year. This natural consequence is motivating; my youngest son has only missed homework twice this year in RTR. On both those occasions, he set his alarm clock earlier in the morning and did his homework before we met for the day.

Try offering a homework option if your children are older!

If any of your children are placed in Preparing Hearts for His Glory on up, try offering a homework option! We first assign “I” independent work in Preparing Hearts. Be sure to train your children how to properly do the “I” boxes before letting them be done as homework. I find about 2-4 weeks into the guide, our children are able to begin homework. If your children have not done HOD previously, you may need to take longer to train them how to follow the plans, as HOD’s guides incrementally move skills from teacher-directed to independent, from guide to guide. So, that wraps up my first segment of ‘a day in the life’ of RTR and WH!

In Christ,