Good Sunday friends and followers,

I’m loving taking a stab at this new venture with renewed passion. I hope to make this a place to read, discuss and maybe learn a thing or two.

Today, Sunday, is the day I do the majority of the planning for the week. The day usually goes:

  1. Church
  2. Lunch
  3. Relax
  4. Plan

I’m used to planning for the lessons of the week and what workouts I want to do. But now I’m finally including some meal planning in the process. My guys (DangerBoy and Sheepro) are 12 and they are boys. That means they eat whatever comes to hand, whether it’s healthy or not. I thought I had been doing a decent job of suggesting food choices until the day I saw Sheepro pop his THIRD bag of popcorn in one afternoon.

Sooo …

Here we have breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinners planned for the week:

Breakfasts –
M .. muffins/yogurt
T .. egg sandwiches
W .. cereal/Yogurt
R .. waffles/bacon
F .. grilled cheeses
Me … 4 egg whites with oatmeal

M … Grilled sandwiches
T .. chef salads
W .. leftovers
R .. hot dogs
F .. leftovers or salad
Me .. salad with 4-6 oz of tofu/tuna

Dinners –
M .. leftovers (Boy Scout Night)
T .. pork chops with noodles, green beans and salad
W .. spaghetti with corn and salad
R .. cod with corn and fries
F .. deer chili with corn muffins

Snacks –
Apple with protein shake or PB
Protein shake alone
Trail bars .. one/child/day
Popcorn .. one bag/child/day
Ramen … Same
Cookies … 2/child/day

Do I have lessons planned out? Not yet. A migraine can do things to a woman, after all. But they will get done – eventually. Likely the day of. But they don’t have to know that.

I do have a couple of things in mind for the blog. DangerBoy wants to be a chef for a career. So we’ll be doing cookbook reviews monthly. That and this TPfTW (The Plan for the Week) will be regular features, with more to come.


Thanks for hanging out in my loft.

The Perils of Dumplings

I live in the South. A short drive gets me to Graceland, a little longer drive gets me to the Gulf Coast, a little longer and I’m sipping margaritas in Key West. By virtue of that, I’m expected to know how to make certain dishes – among them are fried chicken, a pot of navy beans, cornbread and chicken and dumplings.


My chicken and dumplings is a dense stew of a whole chicken simmered about an hour, picked clean and two batches of MaMe’s biscuits cut into 1×2 inch diamonds. I learned the practice from my mother-in-law in the early 00’s. I knew how to cook. However, you know no wife can cook as good as her husband’s mother. So I tried off and on for 6 months until I finally got ‘the look’. The look on my husband’s face that says I got it just right.


Usually I can get them just right. The shredded chicken, the chunks of dumplings and the thick sauce holding it all together. Usually I get ‘yumms’ and ‘ahhhs’ of appreciation. This weekend, however, was a different story. I’m letting my boys, DangerBoy and Sheepro, into the kitchen and teaching them my tips and tricks in the kitchen. The chicken simmered and bubbled like it should and cooled perfectly. We worked on the biscuits together and cut them into their shapes. Dropping them in was no problem either. They went in the stock as smooth as you like. But for some reason, this time, they disintegrated like a sandcastle at high tide.


DangerBoy: “Mom, are these supposed to do this?”


Me: “A little, honey.” with my back to the stove. Then with sudden interest, “Why?”


DangerBoy: “Just look.”


I turn and the pot is about to boil over looking like boils of cotton. What a mess! No time even for pictures. I grab it and do my best to salvage it. It’s servable and tastes good. But the texture is not. Instead of ‘yumms’ and ‘ahhhs’ of appreciation it’s ‘hmms’. Now I get to figure out what I did wrong for next time.


How do you get your dumplings to stay whole? Let me know here.

Settling In and Getting Out

Note: Affiliate links enclosed …

Hi again. We’ve been busy with our homeschool which we’ve named Brilliance in Action. The Certificate of Enrollment I fill out each year asks for a name of our school. Last year, it was Haynes Homeschool Academy because I couldn’t be any more creative than that. This year, I’ve had time to think about who we are and what we do. My kids are brilliant, yes I am tooting my own horn here, and we like to stay moving – hence the name.

It’s been a fun time adjusting to our second year of homeschool. I’ve tinkered with the schedule more times than I dare admit. And, I think I finally have a good flow; which means I’m probably going to have to change it again in the very near future.. Since we started in late July in earnest (we do lessons all year, more on that later) we have worked through several chapters of Story of Our World Volume 2, Ninja Cat has blown through two Life of Fred books. They have read bits and pieces of several books (keeping them on track with reading is my next project) including The Magician’s Nephew, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and various non fiction. They also made it to Tenderfoot rank in Boy Scouts and are almost to Second Class.

One thing we did recently was get tickets to listen to Presidential candidate Ted Cruz speak in our city. I hoped this would be a great kick-off to learning about the Presidential election process up close and personal. I say we got tickets because we were unable to get into the venue despite our tickets. Our merry band was about 30 people from the front before we hear the venue was full.

Waiting for the Senator to get off the bus.
Waiting for the Senator to get off the bus.

 It disheartened me because I thought since we had tickets, we would be able to hear Senator Cruz. That was not the case. We were not alone. About 200 people behind me also weren’t able to access the appearance either.IMG_20150811_121131405 So my poor Ninja Cat didn’t understand why we stood out on the hot sun for an hour only to see a man get off a bus. But we’ve since watched the debates and have done an overview of the election process. I’m hoping Dr. Ben Carson comes and we are able to see him speak.

For our Field Trip Friday, we had the opportunity to take a tour of the newest Whole Foods Market that opened in Germantown, TN. I have to tell you it was an experience I would do again; and, I have actually.

The coffee/crepe/smoothie area in Whole Foods Market.
The coffee/crepe/smoothie area in Whole Foods Market.

The store was putting the finishing touches on for their Tuesday opening, allowing us to see the store’s layout, have samples and even a goody bag in a reusable tote. I think Danger Boy had more fun because it was a food-centric trip and Ninja Cat could not care less about such ‘trivial’ matters. Dede from the Franklin, TN marketing team was so great listening to Danger Boy and answering his questions.

Danger Boy and Dede. I'm so glad he had a good time!
Danger Boy and Dede. I’m so glad he had a good time!

My two were obviously the youngest there but she made sure to treat them just like any other customer. We’ve since been back multiple times and most recently took the Savvy Shopper tour. I guess that should be kept for another post.

IMG_20150814_111547864Thanks for taking time to read about our adventures. I’m interested in what other homeschool families do to keep active (read not staying stuck in the house all day). Comment below and maybe I’ll feature one or two.

Even Blogs Need a Reboot Sometimes

… But honey, this one’s eating my popcorn!

Oh hello; almost didn’t see you there. Welcome to the reboot of This Mom’s Loft. A lot has happened since I wrote last. So this reboot will detail our new adventure as a family. We’re now homeschooling, involved in Boy Scouts, youth group at church and so much more. For those that are discovering my blog, I am a 44yo SAHM with twin 11yo boys; one of which is high functioning autistic. I want to do this blog not only to chronicle what’s happening in my life; but also to share our experiences as a family for those that need help, looking for inspiration – really just to show that if I can do it anyone can.

Let me introduce my guys. Danger Boy is the older of the twins. He is my fun loving geekling who is always ready for a new experience. Ninja Cat was born second, is my high functioning autistic and obstinate homebody. Cian is passionate about superheros and Five Nights at Freddy’s. Brennan could care less about such things, loving Minecraft and working with his hands.

The front gate to the National Ornamental Metal Museum.
Front gate to the National Ornamental Metal Museum.

What’s my plan? I’ll be posting on Saturdays about what we did this preceding week, or something on autism, or current events, or an observation I had over the week, or all of it. I’ll also be on Pinterest ( Instagram ( and hopefully Periscope (melhay333) as well. I’d love to know what interests I can cover in detail.

Bulletproof by Shani Richards, 2014

This past week for homeschool was typical. We had our usual lessons over the course of the week; but, our #fieldtripfriday was visiting the National Ornamental Metal Museum. It was the first time the boys had been to a ‘real’ art gallery. They had an interesting time figuring out that you aren’t supposed to touch any of the artwork. Especially the piece called the Do Nothing Machine. Ninja Cat loved it and I had to stop him a few times from pulling the handle. Another favorite piece was called Bulletproof. It’s a hoodie made from soda can pull tabs and jump rings. Brennan wanted to put it on, even though it was too large even for me.

This coming week here’s our schedule. Feel free to ask me anything on what we use or how I structure things. They should become clear over time; yet, I want to show how simple homeschooling can be. On Wednesdays and Fridays, Danger Boy also has swim practice and Ninja Cat will be starting track soon. More on those later as well.

Monday – Bible, History, Reading, Scouts

Tuesday – Bible, Math, Writing, Scouts

Wednesday – Bible, History, Reading, Scouts

Thursday – Bible, Math, Writing, Scouts

Friday – Bible, Quizzes, #fieldtripfriday (This week we’ll be touring a Whole Foods grocery that’s about to open in our area)

Ninja Cat and the Do Nothing Machine. He wasn’t touching it, just almost.

I hope this post has kept your attention and you’ll come back to see more of my crazy life with these boys. Questions and comments are always appreciated!

What I just sent my Republican representative in regards to the shut down.

Dear Representative Nunnalee:

First, thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I know with this government shutdown you are trying hard to find a way to open part, if not all, of the government. However, I must take you and all of Congress to task over the shutdown.

Your votes to not only keep the Affordable Care Act from becoming law but to attempt its repeal are commendable. There are very few, if any, positive aspects to this law and its passing was disheartening. So to was its endorsement by the Supreme Court. A tax is still a tax, no matter what it is labeled. All of that is to say, regardless of anyone’s personal feelings, the Affordable Care Act is now the law of the land.

So, for those that are acting to block it now by defunding the act – to the point of government closure – is nothing short of embarrassing to me not only as a Republican but an American. I cannot condone such spoiled behavior in my own children, so I will not condone it in a group of grown men and women who know going into the job that things will be difficult and not go their way at least half of the time. Things are not going to change so long as liberal minded people control either house of Congress or the White House. The way to change or repeal the legislation now is to fight like mad to take both houses and the Presidency. But, that is not going to happen if those that are blocking the budget vote continue to play this game. I’m sure all of Congress can see the polls saying that, according to CBS News, over 70% of Americans are opposed to the shutdown and 48% of republicans.

I will admit I do have a personal stake or two in this shutdown. This weekend, our Cub Scout pack was to take its first camping trip of the year at Arkabutla Lake. For some of these children, this was to be their first camping trip ever. Food has already been bought, fees paid, everything it takes to go camping except or the date to arrive. Now parents will be trying to explain to their first graders why the tent is still in the garage, explaining something challenging for a lot of adults to understand.

Two, next week my family is planning on taking a vacation to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park starting Oct. 12. For obvious reasons, this will prove difficult. We will still be able to do many of the things we enjoy; but, we will likely cut our vacation short – not able to access the park – depriving hotels, restaurants and attractions of our tourism dollars. Granted it may not be a lot, but ours plus who knows how many others it will put a stress on the cities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.

To conclude, I implore you to try whatever you can to reopen the federal government and fight the battle of gaining seats to defeat the Affordable Care Act and not burdening the American people with such political scheming.  



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