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

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!