Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Random Christmas Thoughts Swirling Around in My Head

Thought 1 - Simplify.
This has been a truly restful Christmas season for me this year. In many years past, I have gotten stressed by procrastinating my Christmas shopping and cleaning. This year the Lord has allowed me to have peace as I have checked off my imperfectly done "to do" list. I am truly content with the abundance that He has provided! He gives me enough hours in each day to accomplish exactly what He has for me to to. The key has been to not make my burden more heavy than it needs to be by worrying about whether my house is perfectly cleaned or whether my Christmas menu is Top Chef-worthy! This year, I chose a few simple, fresh decorations, and left most of the fussy knick-knacks tucked away in storage. May I say that it feels absolutely fantastic to simplify?

Thought 2 - Spend the season meditating on the faithfulness of God: the God Who is there. He does not leave us without hope or without help. God's promises are sure. In all of his dealings with you and with me, God is faithful. Just as He was faithful to deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt, He was faithful to deliver us out of sin and despair by sending us His dear Son. "Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14) He has faithfully delivered me. He has been faithful to preserve me and will be faithful to raise me to eternal life in glory! Our God is uwaveringly faithful from beginning to end. Why should I waste time or energy worrying? "Let us hold fast to our confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised us faithful..." (Hebrews 10:2)

My meditation and prayer this season is that I would not only believe in God's loving faithfulness, but act on it. I pray that this Psalmist's prayer would be true of me this season -- "But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me." (Psalm 13:5-6)

Thought #3 - Take time to share the meaning Christmas with our children: through Scripture, through stories, through songs. Be intentional about this! Set aside the regular tasks and academics to meditate on the goodness of God. Let's take time to do special crafts, read traditional stories, and make some memories. Here are some resources that we have been enjoying:

Advent Family Study
Our Grace Journey's Free Inductive Advent Study

Picture Books
One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell
The Legend of the Christmas Rose by William H. Hooks and Richard Williams

Short Chapter Books
Christmas at Fairacre: Village Christmas/Christmas Mouse/No Holly for Miss Quinn (The Fairacre Christmas Omnibus) by Miss Read
An Angel's Story by Max Lucado

"O measureless might, ineffable love

While angels delight to worship above
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend."

-Robert Grant (1779-1838)

Have a blessed, and restful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Current Schedule

How is your schedule working right now? I will share this week's 6th grade schedule. Our days have been going very well, thanks to lightening the load a bit. The current schedule seems to have just the right amount of work, at least for the moment. Dropping Greek really helped free up the day. I'm trying not to feel guilty about dropping it, but dd was just not ready for it at this point. We will likely try again in the summer or fall. It is always tricky to find a balance between having academic rigor and a joyful home, as they can conflict at times. Mainly I pray about it, and discuss it with dh. So far, we have always been unified on what subjects to keep and which to discontinue, so I believe that it is God's provision! There are only so many hours in the day, and we must decide what is REALLY important each term. Speaking of what is important, I can't resist showing a current family photo page which has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of this post. : )

Pic of my Mom, Grandma, husband and daughter taken on Thanksgiving

About Total Language Plus (TLP): Miss M also told me that she loves the book, Where the Red Fern Grows, which is the book the TLP is going though. There are samples from the guide's different sections (for some reason, there is no sample of the comprehension questions which are included for each chapter): Enrichment and Writing | Grammar | Spelling | VocabularyMiss M is enjoying the TLP approach to English, and it is honestly a breath of fresh air. Traditional grammar instruction is important, and yet it can get tedious. TLP is a totally different approach to Language Arts and we give it two thumbs up, with the caution that it must be supplemented with traditional grammar instruction.

When we are done with the TLP guide in 4 weeks, we will go back and do a couple of CLE English Light Units to solidify diagramming skills, punctuation, parts of speech, etc. Total Language Plus is wonderful for vocabulary, spelling, literary analysis, dictation, and creative writing. However, it does not teach parts of speech, conventions, or HOW to write. See another review HERE. Therefore, alternating a TLP guide with a traditional approach such as CLE, Rod and Staff, or BJU should ensure a well-rounded Language Arts program. Our third term TLP guide will be Words by Heart, and will correlate with our study of the modern civil rights movement.

Coming Up: I just put the finishing touches on our WW I unit study, using the WW I Thematic Unit from TCR. We will begin that after Christmas! I finished reading the literature book that the unit uses, After the Dancing Days, and it was an enjoyable book that I hope will stimulate girl-interest in WW I. This TCR unit looks like a very fine study. It balances fiction and non-fiction, as well as music, art, history, science, and literature analysis. Since many of the pages are reproducibles, the unit is low on teacher-prep. After finding so many web links and films to go with it, I can hardly wait to get started on it in January!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Cranberry Goodness

Buying a 5 pound bag of cranberries seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, they are only available seasonally, right? The Thanksgiving cranberry sauce we made barely made a dent in that bag! So, I've been trying out lots of different cranberry recipes to use up all this wonderful fruit. I thought I would share a few of them.

Cranberries are also an anti-oxidant super food, s
o I can feel good about baking and cooking up that cranberry goodness! Here are some of my favorite recipes of the week. They are kind of hard to read in this format, but you can view a pdf version HERE.

Reduced Fat Cranberry-Almond Scones

Low in fat, these semi-sweet scones are packed with the goodness of cranberries and almonds that make this a healthy sweet treat any tim
e of the day!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup raw or brown sugar (or more if you like them sweeter)
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped cranberries
1/2 cup almonds or walnuts - chopped
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1/2-3/4 cup milk (or half buttermilk and half milk)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a pan sprayed with olive oil spray, cook cranberries on medium heat until tender and reduced by about half. Let cool.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. You can even do this with your fingertips. Stir in the cranberries and walnuts, then slowly add the milk, just until the dough is moistened. Make a tough dough like cookies.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough gently, 5 to 10 times. Pat into a 1-inch-thick round. Cut into 16 wedges with a buttered knife; place on a baking sheet, 2 inches apart.

Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, at 425 degrees. Let cool on a wire rack before trying to remove them.

Nutrition per serving: Calories 121; fat 3.2 mg; fiber 1.8 g; protein 2.9 mg

Broiled Tilapia with Cranberrry-Tarragon Sauce

Broiled Tilapia

4 4-oz boneless fish fillets (Tilapia, Flounder, etc)
1 tsp fresh tarragon, minced
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lime, cut in 4 thin slices
juice from the other half of the lime

ONE: Preheat broiler to high
TWO: Place fillets in shallow baking dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika, and tarragon. Lay a slice of lime in the middle of each fillet.
THREE: Place baking dish 5-6 inches away from broler. Broil fish for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through, but still moist. Drizzle with lime juice. Serve topped with Cranberry-Tarragon sauce.

Cranberry-Tarragon Sauce

This delicious sauce can be made ahead of time and simply reheated when you need it.


1 tsp fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh onion, minced
1 1/2 cups cranberries
1 Tbsp water

1/2 tsp fresh tarragon, or to taste
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 cup maple syrup, or to taste
2 tsp fresh lime juice

In medium sauce pan over medium-high heat cook onion until onion is translucent and a bit browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook a minute more. Add cranberries, water, tarragon and salt and cook for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally, and cook until thickened and reduced, abut 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, whisk in maple syrup and lime juice. Serve over tilapia.

Nutrition for 4-oz fillet and 1 1/2 Tbsp sauce: Calories 210; Fat 2.5 g; Fiber 2 g; Protein 31 g; sodium 240 mg; cholesterol 75 mg

Fruited Curry Chicken

Olive oil or cooking spray
1 apple, diced
1 pear, diced (or use an extra apple if you don't have pears on hand)
1 small onion, diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp gingerroot, chopped
1/8 cup unsalted cashews
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
3 boneless chicken breast
Fresh parsley (optional)

Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Spritz a large pot with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add chicken and 1/2 of the onion and cook on both sides. Remove from pan and keep chicken warm. Next, add fruit (except cranberries), remaining onion, pepper, ginger, cashews, curry, cumin, and salt. Cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add broth and cranberries and mix well. Add chicken back in and spoon some of the mixture over the top. Simmer for 5 minutes and turn chicken over. Simmer another 5-10 minutes, or until chicken is no pink. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

This is great served on a bed of brown rice.

Nutrition info: Calories 226; Total fat 5 g, Fiber 6 g, Protein 9 g, sodium 321 mg, cholesterol 44 mg.

If you have any favorite recipes containing cranberry, I'd love to link them here.

Happy cooking!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lower Body Workout Routine

Many people ask how to get started on a simple exercise routine. This great lower body workout and 2 minute abs video would be an excellent way to get started with no exercise equipment needed. From eDiets.com.

This routine uses compound exercises that work all of your lower body muscles for more results in less time! I would start with 10-12 reps and 2 sets of each exercise, working up to 15 reps and 3 sets, or the website has a detailed weekly plan you can follow.

I personally work out my lower body/abs twice a week, Monday and Thursday, as it is important to rest between workouts to facilitate muscle growth! Also, don't forget your protein!

2 Minutes to Tight Abs

Weeks 1-3 Better Butt routine

1. Walking Lunges - see video below

2. Extension Step-Ups - Grasp a pair of dumbbells or cans by your sides with palms facing the side of the body. Stand behind a 6- to 12-inch high step or bench (normally used in aerobic step classes) and keep your arms straight. Step onto the middle of the step with your right foot and then lift your left knee high (to hip height). Step down with your left foot, and then repeat on the right side. Perform one set of 15 steps on each leg -- two alternate days of the week.

3. Power Walking

Walking Lunge how-to video:

Weeks 4-6 Better Butt routine

1. Squats - see video below

2. Extensions Step-Ups

3. Bent Knee Push-ups - see video below

Squat how-to video

Bent-knee Push-up how to video

For more info, see eDiets HERE.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Monday Menu Plan

Monday - Pasta Roll-Ups with Turkey and Spinach
Tuesday - Spicy Chicken with Brown Rice Salad
Wednesday - Chicken and Rice Soup with Spring Vegetables
Thursday - Curried Chicken Salad with Tropical Fruit
Friday - Turkey Meatball Subs

This is a menu with shopping list from Clean Eating Magazine, Spring 2008, "One Grocery Bag, Five Delicious Dinners" on pages 63-69. All the 'clean eats' recipes with pictures and nutritional info are in the issue, and all I had to do this week was copy the grocery list!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jammie School

Tomorrow is Miss M's birthday, and we are celebrating a little early by having 'Jammie School' today. Today, beds remain unmade and we are spending the morning in our jammies watching "Oliver Twist." This afternoon, we are going shopping for a new winter coat and picking up my niece for a week-end visit. To culminate our fun day, we are going to a clean comedy event tonight. I can't wait! Add plenty of junk food, board games, more movies, and an ice cream cake, and it should be just about a perfect week-end!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

20 and 2

This week, we are beginning our second 12-week term here at Ambleside Classical! Here is a list 20 Things coming up this term, in no particular order, and a list of two things we are switching and ditching. ; )

20 Things About Second Term - All of a Kind Family. The Guilded Age. Earthquakes. Oliver Twist. Marie Curie. Rocks & Minerals. Capitalism. The Wizard of Oz. Plate Tectonics. Monopoly. Inferno in Chicago. Properties of Magma. Arctic Explorers. Henry Ford. Volcanoes. Hawaii's last queen. Conservation. The Teddy Bear President. The Great War. Rilla of Ingleside.

Switch and Ditch #1 - Elementary Greek is not working and dh and I have decided to ditch it for this term. Instead, we will be switching to Prentice-Hall's Inside Earth in that slot. At end-of-term assessment, I discovered that my dd needs additional science reinforcement with the Cyber-Ed Science we are currently using. I also believe that we need to devote more days to science at this level in order to synthesize all the science vocabulary. A once-weekly block for science was great up until now, but at this point dd seems to need more days for science. Another good reason for adding more science is to exercise the mind. Though not in the same way as Greek, science can stretch the mind and exercise it in logical thought. Science for Greek seems like a good switch for us at this point.

Switch and Ditch #2 - A planned Language Arts switch this term is Total Language Plus in place of Christian Light. We will be using the Where the Red Fern Grows guide, and this will be our first run with this curriculum (I am not a big fan of literature analysis and guides until middle school, when a student has entered the Logic stage). The TLP (Total Language Plus) guide includes comprehension questions, vocabulary, spelling, dictation, special project choices and writing ideas each week. Many of the exercises call for making judgements and exercising Biblical principles. It looks moderately difficult, and it is going to ask my middle schooler to THINK, however painful that may be. : )

I plan to alternate traditional grammar instruction with a literature guide each term. My dd is very solid on parts of speech and sentence diagramming, thanks to her background in Shurley and CLE. I dream of the day we will eventually drop grammar as a separate subject after 8th or 9th grade! From then on, we will be able to concentrate on composition, essay writing, and literature analysis. But I am digressing....

Our new schedule for Term 2 looks like this:

Age of Extremes or The Uncommon Heroism of Theodore Roosevelt

Wise Up! Bible or Heaven For Kids

CLE Math

Phy-Ed & Music (alternate composer study, folk, hymn)

Total Language Plus


Earth Science or Book Basket Reading

Fridays will still have a hands-on focus with science activities, geography, notebooking and choice of Total Language Plus projects.

Have you switched or ditched anything this year? How is your homeschooling going?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Healthier Strawberry Bread

Bed and Breakfast Inns have the yummiest breakfast item recipes! But they are so decadent in the fat and sugar department that I rarely make them anymore. On Monday, I decided to make apple bread for breakfast and realized I was out apples. : ( I looked at the ripe bananas on my counter and just wasn't in the mood for another batch of banana bread. What's a girl to do at 6:30 am? I wasn't feeling committed enough to get out of my jammies and drive to the store.

Flipping through my Country Inn Bread and Breakfast Cookbook (which, incidentally, I scored for $.60 at our local Salvation Army!), I noticed a recipe for 'Strawberry Bread' that called for frozen strawberries, a package of which I recalled being buried in my freezer somewhere between the broccoli and cauliflower. Also, the recipe boasted that it had been requested by The White House, so how bad could it be? The problem wa
s that the recipe was full of oil, white flour, and sugar and I wasn't sure how the recipe would turn out if I substituted and omitted. However, having a hungry tween, as well as a health conscious dh, I decided to forge ahead boldly and make substitutions!

I used whole wheat flour rather than white (yes, ALL whole wheat), sucanat instead of sugar, and mashed banana for more than half of the oil (I had no applesauce on hand due to a
certain tween who ravages the frig regularly). I'm glad I did, because the bread was delicious and a huge hit!

Here's the recipe after my healthier substitutions:

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups raw sugar or your favorite sweetener
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (optional if you are watching salt intake)
3 eggs, well-beaten
3/4 cup mashed ripe banana (if you don't have bananas on hand, use applesauce)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (or your favorite oil)
20 ounce package of frozen, sliced strawberries, thawed (or use a berry medley)

Spray 2 loaf pans with olive oil cooking spray and then coat with wheat flour, shaking out excess.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of this mixture. Pour the eggs, mashed banana and oil in the well. Stir until the dry ingredients just become moist.
Pour the thawed strawberries and juice into a container. With a slotted spoon, dip out the strawberries and gently stir into the above mixture. Then add the juice gradually, stirring until the batter is of the proper consistency. The amount of juice varies , and you do not want the batter to be too thin.
Pour into prepared loaf pans. Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until loaves test done.
Let cool in pan 15 minutes and then turn out.

Makes 2 loaves.

Printable version of the recipe

Our Final Week

This week we are finishing up our first term. Along with that, we finished this term's history spine, Joy Hakim's Reconstructing America. Our final topic has been African American issues and leaders, and I had dd choose one topic or leader to do a scrapbook page on. She chose "Booker T Washington," and I thought I'd share the page. It has a quote, a couple facts, and a mini-bio. As Providence would have it, this topic fit perfectly with discussing how big of a deal it is that we have elected our first AA president!

Next week, we begin a new term studying the Progressive era with Joy Hakim's book of the same title. I am switching and ditching a few things, and I'll post on that later. : )

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Middle Ages and a 2-Year Plan

I am the type of gal who likes to have both short term and long term plans. It's helpful to begin with the end in mind, and it keeps me from being willie nillie in my buying decisions. The other thing is that I don't feel pressured to focus on every subject every trimester, or even every year. With a long term plan, I know everything will be covered eventually, Lord willing.

For the last few weeks, I have been looking at what is on the horizon over the next 2 years, for 7th and 8th grade. Our time periods will be Ancients and Middle Ages, so I have been tweaking plans and looking at curriculum. I have looked at Winter Promise, My Father's World, Tapestry of Grace, Sonlight 6, and TruthQuest. For science, I am looking at Prentice-Hall Science Explorer or Rainbow Science.

In the end, I prefer to 'do my own thing' and know that spending a lot of money on a prepared history/literature curriculum will be a waste of money in the end. After spending some time window shopping, I have decided to stick with an Ambleside Online/TruthQuest blend for now. It's been working for years, so why change it? I like to modify Ambleside by using the AO subject headings and plugging in books that will work for my family.

The TruthQuest commentary is wonderful, and I like to have the increases flexibility on book or spine choices that TQ offers. I don't need a schedule so much as options and choices.
I have finally hammered out the rought draft of my internet-linked schedule for 8th grade. This will combine TruthQuest Middle Ages and parts of Ambleside Year 7. I plan to have dd use the links to complete history spine reading right from the computer. In the past I have always printed out the e-books, but I think she is old enough to read from the computer. In fact, I think she will enjoy it!

My schedule has spine readings, required reading, and optional extras. Required reading will be done slowly, over the course of each term, Charlotte-Mason style. I have found great advantage to this in terms of mulling over the ideas presented and letting the mind soak up all the characters and ideas in the book. There is also a "less is more" philosophy reflected in the fewer books chosen: only 2 are required each term. The rest will be student-selected from TruthQuest choices.

If you want to take a look, I will share my 8th Grade Middle Ages Schedule in
PDF and Open Office. Let me know what you think. Also, I am looking for more videos set in the Middle Ages, so please let me know if you have favorites I have not listed.

Happy planning!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Trimester Report

It is time for a long overdue weekly report here at Ambleside Classical. However, I am going to have to change the Weekly Report to a Trimester report this time. Blogging has taken a backseat to my home, homeschooling, and outside teaching responsibilities. Here goes. Sixth grade has been a transition year for us. I have always sat right there with dd to make sure the school work got done without dawdling. We did unit studies, projects, and read-alouds. This year is different.

My dd is now working more independently, and is not interested in big projects or unit studies. She just wants to b
uckle down and hit the work, and is preferring more traditional methods. Projects are of little interest to her this year, and this was my hands-on loving child for so many years! As a unit study, project-loving Mom, this has been a hard transition as my role here in our homeschool seems to be changing.

I encourage you to take time to DO THE PROJECTS while you still may. They day will soon come when they are laid aside and the time for them has passed.
I don't regret one mess we made, in fact, I miss them. Textbooks and workbooks will always be there, but the time for pioneer bonnets, medieval princess hats, and Viking shields is gone all too quickly.

Here is what we have finished during our first term:

  • Completed Artistic Pursuits Lessons 1-4 - not as many as I would have liked
  • Did a couple of drawing lessons from Nature Friend magazine
  • Lots of drawing in free time, especially enjoying drawing cartoons
  • Completed CyberEd Lessons 1-3
  • Read science biography Thomas Edison: Young Inventor (Childhood of Famous Americans)
  • Participated in co-op Earth Science class
  • Took a couple of science-related field trips
  • Read Reconstructing America by Joy Hakim chapters 1-24 and completed selected exercises from the corresponding Oxford study guide
  • Have been reading the TruthQuest commentary aloud on Mondays to tie in all the readings with a Christian perspective
  • Read daily from book basket (self-selected TruthQuest Selections)
  • Have done map work weekly from either Trailguide, State Report Projects for Any State, or as assigned by Mom: related to history reading

  • Old Yeller
  • Huckleberry Finn
  • Read-Aloud: Little Women
  • various free reading books (self-selected)
  • Completed history-related writing assignments every other week. I am pulling these from the History Study Guide and other sources. An example of a typical writing assignment: "You have just arrived at Ellis Island. Write an entry in your journal about your trip over and what happened when you arrived." Creative writing has actually been a hit here! Some of these assignments have been illustrated or worked up into scrapbook pages.
  • Working through the Four Square Writing book. We are doing this twice a week, and I am hoping this will help her structure and organize her writing.
  • CLE Math 5. Finishing up the second Light Unit. We are loving this curricum. My dd was a former math hater, and we have tried so many curriculums in the past. CLE has built her confidence, and she no longer struggles. Her tests and quizzes have been in the 95% and above range. In fact, I have heard a few, "I like math" comments now and again!

Language Arts
  • CLE Language Arts. This is going well. We are definitely CLE fans! This year, dd is doing the entire lesson twice a week, spelling and all. On other days, she does writing or dictation.
  • Open Texture Elementary Greek. We are only a few lessons in, so the verdict is still out. We finished Hey Andrew! before beginning Elementary Greek, and that was a definite hit.
  • Typing Instructor Deluxe software. Dd enjoys working on the computer for typing.

  • Using Open Windows by CLE as devotional reading, and Wise Up! by Positive Action for Christ for Bible. We alternate these every other day to keep things fresh. This seems to be working well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Last night I opened my scrapbook album, and found to my horror that it has been months since I have taken the time to create a scrapbook page! It is so easy to get busy, busy, busy and feel like there is no time for hobbies. One suggestion I heard at our homeschool co-op was to actually schedule hobby time in 20 or 30 minute increments through the week. The problem I run into is that I don't have hours and hours to scrapbook, so I'd like to try that idea. The hardest part will be STOPPING when my time is up!

Last week-end we explored a local state park and hiked for a couple of hours. Now this was not hiking on an even, paved path, but the kind of hiking where you climb over rocks, and don't want to look down! It was a gorgeous hike, and I took some photos (of course!). Take time and enjoy autumn's sights and smells, and scrap it all! As a side note, cross country hiking burns 1000 calories in 2 hours, so if you needed more motivation, there you go! : )

Created with Creating Keepsakes Scrapbook Designer software and Shabby Princess "Harvest Spice" digital kit.

Monday, October 06, 2008

What are you serving at your family table this week? I love hearing what others are doing. My menu was lifted from the Fall 2008 Clean Eating issue, in case you're wondering about the page numbers. : ) I love having photos of all the healthy recipes featured, and am absolutely smitten with this magazine! You can request your own free copy from Clean Eating, or look for the latest issue at your local book store.

Day 1: Quinoa, Apple & Walnut Salad (p. 80)

Day 2: Mahi Mahi Tacos (p. 34-35)
Day 3: Sesame-Mango Chicken ( p. 57)

Day 4: Roasted Cauliflower, Leek & Garlic Soup (p. 46) with Balsamic-Glazed Cracked Pepper Salmon (p. 29)
Day 5: Turkey Ragout (p. 58)
Day 6: Shrimp & Edame Stir Fry “Salad” (p. 50-51)

To happy, healthy dining!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Catching Up

My online friend Rhonda over at Imagine reminded me through her blog today that I (GASP!) have not taken much time over the summer to scrapbook. Looking at my summer photos, I like this one of my dd on the lake. I used free items from Digital Scrapbook Search Engine and Scrapbook Designer to create this page in about 5 minutes!

I'd love to carve out a half an hour per day to scrapbook. Hmmm. I am going to have to think about this. Keeping up is really the key. Step by step, little by little, rather than waiting until I have a memory card of 200 photos (and no, this is not a theoretical number!) waiting to be scrapped.

How about you? Are you finding a little time each day for something fun? When was the last time you pulled out your crochet basket or your scrapbook supplies? It is a GOOD thing to schedule a little time for hobbies each day, even if it is only a half hour. I can't believe it, but I completed my page and this post in about 15 minutes total. I may not have hours and hours of free time per day, but I think thirty minutes per day is something I'm going to try.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Peek

In our homeschool, we have been studying the Reconstruction period and studying some of the states. We have taken a leisurely literature approach to history using the TruthQuest AHYS III guide, and are adding in some notebooking/scrapbooking here and there. Miss M told me this morning that she wanted to share some of her notebook pages, so here you go:

So there is the first peek into our little homeschool this year! I hope you enjoyed it. More to come, Lord willing.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fall Pursuits 2008

Another academic year has begun here in our little homeschool. My blog break was longer than intended, and my apologies for that! For my first post of the academic year, I am thinking it would be helpful to think about what my goals are for 2008-9. What am I shooting for this year above all else? I will keep returning to these goals to help me stay on track and evaluate what is most important in my day. Are the activities I am spending time on helping me meet my goals?

Here are my top goals and pursuits for 2008-9:

1) Pursue a loving relationship with God - "to have found God, and still to pursue Him is the soul's paradox of Love..." - AW Tozer

2) Pursue being a helper and mate to my husband - "My beloved is mine, and I am his" - Song of Songs 2:16

3) Pursue wisdom in my role as a Mom and home educator - "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Col. 3:16

4) Pursue good health and stewardship of the physical body as I plan meals and activities for my family - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

5) Pursue and intentionally cultivate a gracious, serving heart - "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." Hebrews 12:28

Pages could be filled with more goals, as I have so many areas I need to work on! However, starting with 5 is do-able.

Hope your year is off to a good start and that you are reaching for the goals the Lord has laid on your heart! I have homeschool stuff and pictures to post, but I'll save that for later! Have you begun your year with the end in mind? What are the 5 things you will not fail to pursue this year?

Monday, June 30, 2008

***Summer Blog Break***

We are taking some needed time off. Please check back in late summer/early fall! We will be posting writing ideas, science plans, and notebooking ideas. Have a great summer!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Weekly Update

We are on our summer schedule, keeping up with chores, habit training, and some academics. I am finding that sleeping in late is not worth it to us. It seems to instantly produce sluggishness, laziness, and bad habits. So this week, it is back to 'regular' wake-up time. Keeping daily rhythms going works best for us at this point, although I reserve the right to change my mind. : )

Here's what we're studying this week:

We have learned the first 10 letters and sounds of the Greek alphabet. Each day we review our letter sounds, sing the Greek alphabet song, and do a page in the workbook (Hey Andrew!) This curriculum is hit so far, but we are only a few weeks into it. My dd really likes the songs, so I would recommend buying the CD's if you are considering this program.

Dd started an IEW writing class last week. We will continue to meet for 5 more weeks or so. She enjoyed the classroom setting and hanging out with her HS friends afterwards. She has a writing assignment to complete, and is actually EXCITED about it. Woo hoo! I am a complete failure at teaching composition and have been praying to find a tutor!
What an answer to prayer!

Dh is reading Summer of the Monkeys aloud. This is a great adventure story. If your kids enjoy Gentle Ben or Lassie, your kids are sure to like this one. I tried to get my dh to read Sounder or Where the Red Fern Grows, but he refuses to read dog stories that make one want to jump off a bridge. He is a happy ending sort of guy. ; )

Miss M has been reading like crazy. She started and finished Island of the Aunts and James and the Giant Peach, and The Search for the Delicious last week. Today, she started Crispin by Avi.

We received and began the Wise Up! study by Positive Action for Christ. I really like this curriculum. It is a change for us, since the focus is on application. All the studies we have done in the past have been purely expositional. Memory work, activities, writing ideas, and other extras are included. It is pretty much a pick up and go program, and we enjoyed our first family lesson. We plan to do it together all through the summer, and transition into 50% independent/family work split with it by Fall.

We are doing a math lesson twice a week to keep skills sharp. Miss M started the new book this week. The first CLE Light Unit is mostly review, so it have been easy and enjoyable so far.

Science & Nature Study
We are learning about flower pollination this week. We have a bunch of resources in our library basket, and have been discussing as well as doing some notebooking. On alternate days, Miss M has been working with the CyberEd Physical Science software. This software has been great, and she seems to be retaining what she has learned!

Other than that, we have been hanging out with friends more often, taking more walks, and just "getting out there" a lot. Listing the academics all together makes it look like we are doing a lot, but don't be fooled! Most subjects are only getting done twice a week, or so, reading being the exception.

I'm looking forward to more beautiful early summer days! This time of the year is truly glorious.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Healthy Lunch Planner #3


Chicken Pasta Salad - Toss together: 12 oz cubed, cooked chicken breast, 2 cups whole wheat pasta, 1 cup rinsed red kidney beans, 2 oz cubed cheddar cheese, 1 cup diced tomato, 1 cup chopped raw broccoli, 2 Tablespoons Light Italian Dressing. Divide into 4 containers and place in refrigerator.

Butternut Squash Soup (prepackaged) with
Whole Wheat Tuna Pita Pocket (made with Light mayo and minced celery) topped with tomato & lettuce

Cottage Cheese with Apple Butter - Place the following in 4 bowls or take-away containers and mix well: 2 cups low-fat cottage cheese, 4 Tablespoons apple butter, unsweetened, 2 sliced bananas, 3 Tablespoons sunflower or other seeds. Serve with whole wheat toast and baby carrots

Whole Wheat Egg Salad Sandwich with Tomatoes and Lettuce. Serve with fresh fruit.

Chicken Burrito - Whole wheat tortillas filled with portions of the following fixins: 2 cups cubed or shredded chicken (can use the whole, cooked chicken from the grocery store), 1 cup vegetarian refried beans, 1 cup cooked brown rice, 1 cup shredded Romaine lettuce, 1 cup diced tomato, salsa to taste. Sour cream or shredded cheese optional.


For me, the hardest part about eating clean is planning and shopping. The planning is now done! Now I just need to shope and do a little prep. Here are some other items on my "To Do" list:

WEEK-END PREP: Go shopping! : ) Cook and pull off chicken (can use whole chicken, thighs or drumsticks) for Monday and Friday recipes. Freeze or refrigerate until needed.

THURSDAY PREP: Cook a double recipe of Brown Rice (I like Lundberg's Brown Rice Blends) and consider having as a dinner side dish, while using leftovers for Fridays' Chicken Burritos.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

From Our Nature Notebook: Flower Power

This week our nature study focus has been flowers. I thought I would post how this nature study unit is being planned and a bit on how it's going.

Teacher Prep - The first thing I did as teacher background was read "How to Begin the Study of Plants and Flowers" by Anna Comstock (Handbook of Nature Study pp 453-460). Then I stopped by the library and picked up a few flower and plant-related books, field guides and magazines. The new June issue of Nature Friend magazine arrived (yay!!!) and I scanned it for flower-related articles and activities. (There were some!) I also marked the pressed flower project directions in my Nature Smart book.

Getting "Out There" Well, in this case, "out there" was in our backyard. : ) I announced that we were going to be finding some flowers to look at and press. Immediately, Miss M excitedly scampered out into our back yard to collect some fragrant lilacs. When she came back in she had a crown of lilacs and plenty of specimens to press.

Informal Lesson With my Handbook of Nature Study and Eyewitness Plant open, we each took one of the small lilac flowers collected and found some the parts listed in the Handbook on p. 456 - lobes of corolla, corolla tube, calyx lobes, calyx tube, stamen, and sepal. We looked at the beautiful pages entitled "A simple flower dissected" (pp 16-17) in Eyewitness Plant. After learning the parts of the lilac flower and discussing their functions, Miss M made a drawing for her notebook, labeling some of the parts.

Expand From here Miss M may press more flowers and make notecards and candles with them, using the directions in Nature Smart. We plan to make it to our local floral shop to see, smell, and compare different flowers. Adding to the nature notebook by identifying and drawing 3 or 4 local flowers and reading some books and articles will round out our Flower Power focus. I hope to do a few of Anna Comstock-style observation lessons with whatever flowers Miss M decides to identify. Using the Handbook makes it pretty easy, even though I'm not a botanist or even a gardener!

Art will be the flower illustrations, and maybe a sketch from the
Draw 50 book. For Practical Life, we also plan to try our hand at flower arranging using some cheap, grocery store flowers mixed with backyard flowers and weeds and possibly try some edible flowers.

Resources Used

Here are some basic books we found at the library:
  • Eyewitness Plants
  • Eyewitness Explorers: Flowers
  • Flowering Plants by Wendy Madgwick
  • A Golden Guide: Flowers
  • A state Horticulture Society magazine
  • Draw 50 Flowers, Trees, and Other Plants by Ames

Here are the books on my shelf:
  • Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock
  • Nature Smart: Awesome Projects to Make With "Mother Nature's" Help
  • Nature Friend magazine, June 2008 issue

I will close with a sample lesson from
Handbook of Nature Study. As you can see, this handbook is easy to use, practical, and just as useful today as when it was printed in the early 1900's. This method could be modified to use with any flower in YOUR backyard. : )

LEADING THOUGHT The trilliums are
lilies, and are often called wood lilies, be-

cause of their favorite haunts. There are
several species, but they are all alike in
that they have three sepals, three petals,
and three leaves.

METHOD This lesson may be given
from trilliums observed in the woods by
the pupils, who should be encouraged to
watch the development of the berry and
also to learn all the different species com-
mon to a locality.


1. How many leaves

has the trillium? How are they arranged?
Draw a leaf, showing its shape and veins.
Describe the stem of the plant below the
leaves, giving the length and color.

2. How far above the leaves does the
flowerstalk or peduncle extend? Does the
flower stand upright or droop? Describe or
sketch the colors, shape, and arrangement
of the petals and sepals. Do the petals
have raffled margins?

3. Describe the pistil and the stigmas.
Describe the stamens and how they are
placed in relation to the pistil.

4. Do the flowers remain open during
cloudy days and nights?

5. What insects do you find visiting the
trilliums? Do the same insects visit the
purple and the white trilliums? What is
the difference in odor between the purple
and the white trillium? Does this seem
to bring different kinds of insects to each?

6. How does the color of the white tril-
lium change as the blossom matures?
What is the color and shape of the fruit
of each different species of trillium?
When is the fruit ripe?