I’m moving out

…out of WordPress, that is.

I am going to be doing some homeschool reviews this year, and I need Google Friend Connect, which I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get on this blog!  It seems like most of the reviewers use Blogger, so I am headed that direction.  That account is going to be more public than this one was, though, so if I don’t want the whole world to read my post, then I will post something here.  :)

You can get to my new blog right here.  Come visit me!

hey hey, good lookin’, whatcha got cookin’?

I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in my kitchen the past few days.  I had to prepare for Jack’s birthday party, and while it certainly wasn’t THAT big of a party to plan, organizing social stuff like that just takes a lot out of me.  Thankfully, it was fun.  Thankfully, it’s over.  Thankfully, I celebrated by spending the afternoon in the kitchen.  And now, I just wanted to share what I have going on on my kitchen counter right now:

Granola: Right now the grains are soaking in melted butter, melted coconut oil, water, and yogurt.  I haven’t made this recipe before, but it looks yummy.  It is supposed to soak for two days, which means I will have time tomorrow to make…

Bread:  I haven’t tried this recipe before.  I am halving it.  Right now the grains are soaking in whey, honey, and melted coconut oil.  Hopefully we will have some yummy sandwich bread tomorrow.

Oatmeal:  Tomorrow’s breakfast is also soaking on the counter, ready for me to add the rest of the ingredients.

Obviously, I was on a wee bit of a soaking kick today! 

Want to know what else I’m cooking this week?  I know you probably don’t, but if I don’t write it down here I may not remember.  :) 

I have never cooked with millet before, but I bought some today, and I’m going to try this recipe for millet and cheese casserole.  I’m going to try this for lunch some day this week.

I am also going to make this peanut sauce recipe for a stir-fry, and, because I have some kale I need to use up, I’m going to try this recipe for kale quiche

I am also planning a breakfast night this week, and so I’m going to make soaked whole grain pancakes (which we all adore). 

I think that’s it. 

Hopefully my kids will like at least some of it.  I know Amélie will like the oatmeal, but Jack isn’t fond of the “porridge” texture. So…he will probably starve.  

I think Amélie will like the quiche (last week I wilted some rainbow chard, and the girl gobbled it up), but Jack will hate it…and he will probably starve.

Amélie will also like the stir-fry, I think, and Jack *might* like it.  I at least might get him to eat some rice.

He will hate the granola, and Amélie might like it.  I’m not sure. 

The millet and cheese recipe is anyone’s guess.  We might all starve that day.

I do know he loves those pancakes. 

But do you see where I’m going with Jack?  The boy doesn’t eat.  He does NOT like healthy food.  On his birthday he was much more interested in eating cake than opening presents.  He loves cake.  Loves it.  He basically likes anything unhealthy.  Anything.  It makes me crazy!  Amélie is such a good eater (think wilted rainbow chard), and Jack is just horrible.  I worry about him.  I know they say that kids this age won’t starve to death, but I swear he just holds out for anything remotely healthy that he might find.  He did eat 3 servings of yogurt and some cheese today.  I suppose I should be thankful.  He also eats bananas on occasion and loves the apples I dehydrate.  I am seriously sitting here thinking what else he likes that is healthy…

Hmmmmm……

Oh, he likes peanut butter sandwiches (just please don’t believe him if he tells you that he especially loves peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches). 

Does ice cream count?

He should be pretty set on antioxidants given his love for chocolate.

Every once in awhile he eats a piece of broccoli.

Yep.  I think that’s about it. 

I will just keep trying. 

 So, what are you cooking this week?  I think I have a wee bit of a recipe addiction.  Feel free to feed it.  :)

summer school?

As a homeschooling parent (did I just say that?  Am I really a homeschooling parent?) I am often asked the question, “Are you doing school this summer?”  My answer to that question is yes…and no. 

Amélie…and her teacher…need a break, so we won’t be drilling phonics flashcards, and she won’t be writing out her spelling words with dry erase markers on the car window (yes, we do that, thanks to an idea from the excellent book Carschooling).  But, if there is one thing I have learned from homeschooling her this semester (and wow, there has certainly been more than one thing that I have learned!) it’s that educating my kids is an ongoing process.  We took the day “off,” for example, on Jack’s and Matt’s birthday on Tuesday, and we visited the Dinosaurs Unearthed exhibit at Union Station.  We had so much fun!  We didn’t have traditional school that day, but we learned so much about dinosaurs!  The next day was our library day, so guess what kinds of books we came home with?  Yep, you’ve got it–dinosaur books!  So we can continue our “education” during storytime.  How great is that? 

While we won’t go back to the Dinosaur exhibit this summer (it was a little on the pricey side), we did buy a membership at Union Station, so this summer we will go to Science City (more “school”), the Planetarium (“school” yet again), and the KC Rail Experience (truthfully, I don’t know what that is, but let’s just assume it will be fun AND educational).  I am also excited about doing some fun school things that we haven’t had a chance to explore as much this semester as we both have been on the major roller coaster ride of figuring out how to homeschool and be homeschooled!  Amélie loves art, and I bought the first book in the Artistic Pursuits series, and we can’t wait to get started on that.  She also keeps bugging me to take her to the new Egyptian exhibit at the Nelson.  Maybe we can do that sans little obnoxious (and LOUD–did you know that the hallowed halls of the Nelson ECHO LOUDLY?) brother.

The “school” that I am perhaps most excited about starting with Amélie is this Nature Journal.  This might be the coolest book I have ever bought (maybe not–but I am very, very excited about it!).  Truthfully, and much to my husband’s chagrin, I am really an indoorsy person.  I like to be outside…if I am sitting under a tree reading a book or writing in my journal.  Once I am actually doing something outside, like gardening or hiking or camping, I enjoy myself, but it usually takes a bit of earth-shaking to get me there.  I think this book just might do it.  I must say that going on a woodland scavenger hunt, doing leaf rubbings, and following the phases of the moon sound really fun to me (maybe I should buy my own Nature Journal!). 

Another school subject we are going to have fun with this summer is music.  I have heard wonderful things about The Classical Kids Collection.   I wasn’t too thrilled about spending $50 on it, but thankfully my library has copies, so I have the first one, Beethoven Lives Upstairs, on hold. 

The other thing I am doing is making a list of things that Amélie has struggled with this semester, and we are going to slip in teaching of those items.  For example, for some reason she can’t remember what a vertical or a horizontal line is, and while I won’t spend the summer stuffing flashcards in her face, we will occasionally review our math facts.

I almost forgot the most important part of our summer school–READING!  (How could I forget that one???)  We will do the summer reading program at our library and continue to hone her reading skills throughout the summer.  We have had so much fun reading this semester, and I can’t wait to listen to her read all summer long. 

So, as you can see, we’ll be doing “school” this summer, but I don’t think I will be hearing many complaints.  And of course we’ll be doing all kinds of non-school things, like splashing in the pool, playing with friends, and riding bikes.  We both need a break from the regular structure and discipline of school, and we are both looking forward to sleeping in a little and playing a lot.

What are you doing this summer?

the bliss of solitude

Matt is running a 5K this morning.

Amélie is spending the night with a friend.

Jack is (miraculously) still asleep.

And here I sit, with coffee and computer, alone.

A-what?

Yes, alone.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……………

This solitary space is where my soul refuels, which perhaps explains why I have been running dangerously close to empty lately. 

I think I will pick up a pencil and my journal and my steaming cup of coffee, head out to my porch, and just be.

Review: When I Grow Up, I Want to Be…A Firefighter!

The second book we went through for this homeschool review process was When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Firefighter, part of the Wanna Be series by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. 

This book is designed to be used by kids ages 4-10, but, because I learned at least as much about firefighters as my daughter did, I think they should change the age range to 4-36.  Again, I had a bit of a sinking feeling as I opened another e-book, and yet again, I was pleasantly surprised.  If nothing else, this process just may make an e-book believer out of me! 

This book wasn’t quite as clearly organized as I hoped it would be, especially since I didn’t copy off the whole thing and kept skipping around among pages trying to find the information I was looking for.  At first, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to follow the book cover to cover or if I was to organize my own way to teach the book.  I ended up starting at the beginning by exploring the history of firefighting, firefighting equipment, and reading about the life of a firefighter and then skipping around to the sections that interested us.  The history section was fascinating for my daughter who is, like most young children, enamored with firefighters, especially since she has a good friend whose dad is a fireman.   Sometimes we got a little lost in all of the terminology, though.  I am certainly not a fan of dumbing writing down for my kids (since I was in graduate school when I was pregnant with my daughter, she listened to me read everything from Virginia Woolf to Lady Mary Wroth).  Honestly, though, she didn’t care for learning about friction loss or what it means to be on probationary status or the importance of building codes.  She is just six, though, and those terms might be more interesting to her as she gets older.  She was definitely intrigued as she learned about the history of firehouse dogs, though!

We enjoyed many of the suggested activities in this book as well.  It was fun for Amelie to think and write about things she could do now to help her be strong like a firefighter (eat well, exercise, etc.), and it was also a fun memory and writing exercise to have her write about what she would do if she were a fire fighter and had just received a call that a fire had broken out.  Also, the one firefighter we know should be expecting to receive a thank you note soon for the brave work he does.   

I wasn’t as impressed with the Science section on robots, although I think that she might enjoy those activities more as she gets older, but she did enjoy reading the graphs and discovering which months had the most fires, the least fires, and the number of fires for the whole year.  There was a very long section of copywork at the end, and while we worked through a few of these, Amelie is submerged right now in learning cursive, so I didn’t discourage her from practicing her individual cursive letters rather than the copywork sentences. 

I especially enjoyed the physical activities that were suggested at the end of the book.  As a homeschooler, I find it hard to incorporate specific “PE” type activities in our schooling.  We play outside and we go on walks, but I think that she sometimes misses the organized games from her physical education classes.  Who could resist, though, a game of “Stop, Drop, and Roll” or “Put the Fire Out”?  We couldn’t, and even my 2-year-old got involved in the activities. 

This is a book that we had fun with as a whole family, and while I didn’t like all of the suggested activities in the book, there were plenty of educational, fun options to keep us occupied as we learned about these brave men and women who keep us safe!

Review: Australian Expedition

I am  in the try-out process for a program called The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review.  My assignment was to download two e-books and write a review, so…here is the first review! 

The first book we went through was called Expedition Australia by Amanda Bennett.   It is a “Download ‘N Go” unit study series by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. 

As I was clicking the “download” button, I must admit that I didn’t feel too hopeful.  Generally, I am not a fan of e-books.  They may be the wave of the future, but I am rather old-fashioned.  I love the lovely smell of a new book…the soft creak as a new book opens…and the serendipity of reading words on a page rather than a screen.   I also, honestly, wasn’t keen on the idea of printing off a 103-page book.

 I was pleasantly surprised, however, when I opened the downloaded book.  First, it explained quite clearly how the book would work.  This book is meant to be a week-long study of Australia, and the book began by describing an overview of what we would be studying each day.  It also included a list of recommended resources that could be checked out at the library to complement each day’s study, a definite plus for a research junkie like me! 

 The “Download ‘N Go” books are intended to be lapbooks, a concept I, as a rather new homeschooling mama, only vaguely understood.  Basically, all I needed to make a lapbook for our expedition into Australia was a file folder, glue stick, safety scissors, brass brads, and crayons or markers.  This concept was very appealing to me, because sometimes our homeschooling days don’t follow a predictable schedule.  I had a hunch that this was homeschooling we could either do sitting on the comfort of our own couch or in a doctor’s waiting room.  I was right.  The book included a clearly written explanation of lapbooks as well as some links for those of us who still felt a bit intimidated by the process.  Throughout the book there were links connecting me to suggested lapbook activities for each section. 

After reviewing the setup of the book, it was time to jump into our study of the Outback!  Each day’s study was an interesting, entertaining, and instructive mix of studying spelling, math, geography, geology, art, history, and science.  It was a complete week-long educational package!  The chapters included written information about Australia that was both educational and interesting.  Do you know, for example, what a lolly is?  Amélie and I do!  We also found Australia on the map (thankfully that is at least one thing I already knew about the continent!), compared temperatures in Australia and Kansas City, and learned about kangaroos, koalas, tasmanian devils, and wombats.  We even listened to the Australian National Anthem and looked at pictures of the constellations that appear in their night sky.   Each day also included extra links we could go to for more information about what we were studying that day as well as coloring pages and video links. 

 To do this program we had to take a respite from our regular homeschool lessons, but honestly, it was a fantastic way to have an educational “break” that we really needed.  At first, I got overwhelmed with all of the extra links and activities, but soon I learned to just do what we felt like doing and to save the rest for another day. 

 It was quite fun exploring Australia through this fantastic e-book.  Now we would love to experience our own Australian Expedition!   G’day, Mates!

my february…

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“You stopped and pointed, and you said, ‘That’s a crocus,’ and I said, ‘What’s a crocus?’ and you said, ‘It’s a flower.’ I tried to remember, but I said, ‘What’s a flower?’ You said, ‘I still love you.’”  ~Dar Williams, “February”

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