Friday, January 30, 2009

A Means of Interest and Delight

"This habit [of using books as a means of interest and delight] should be begun early; so soon as the child can read at all, he should read for himself, and to himself, history, legends, fairy tales, and other suitable matter."
- Charlotte Mason

Anya is working on reading this:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Isaak's Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
even though I'm only 20 months old,
I'll stand here, my little hands folded just so,
and look up at the flag on the wall.

Stretching Our Math Horizons

After we finish the Pledge of Allegiance and our daily review, we do Math.  We started Horizons Math this year, and so far, I'm planning to stick with it for next year too.  

All of the reviews that I read before I bought it said that Horizons Math is an advanced curriculum.  When it arrived and I compared their Kindergarten program side by side with the Calvert Kindergarten curriculum that I had used for Jaela and Macey, I discovered that the reviewers were telling the truth!  I started Jaela and Macey in Horizons 1 at the beginning of the year, and quickly discovered that in NO way whatsoever had that Kindergarten Math curriculum prepared them for Horizons 1st Grade Math.  (OK, to be fair, they DID learn shapes, patterns,  how to count to 30, and that there are different kinds of coins, but that was about it.)  So, I bought the workbooks for the second half of Kindergarten for them.  They have done fine, and once they realized that they are doing "Kindergarten Math -- the same as Anya!", they have worked even harder and done two lessons a day so they can get to the 1st grade stuff.  :)

I'll admit it though, even though this program is user-friendly, none of us like Math.  Anya says she does, until it is actually time to do it.  :)  I haven't let on to the kids how I feel about Math, but we do it in the beginning of our day so that we can get it over with and get on to the stuff we really enjoy.  But they don't need to know that.  :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Not My Mother's Casserole

When we were first married, Mike and I had a deal.  He cooked, I cleaned up after him.  That system worked for a few years, but when I started working only part-time and eventually not at all, I took over the cooking.  I will freely admit how much I really enjoyed that first phase of our marriage, because I have never liked to cook.  I knew HOW, (Mom made sure of that!), but I didn't have to like it.

I came into our marriage with a boatload of family recipes and familiar cookbooks, and collected more along the way.  I discovered Cooking Light magazine in 2003, and suddenly, cooking was fun!  I was trying new, sometimes exotic recipes that were actually good for us!  I tried something new almost every night, and I spent a lot of my spare time reading through other people's published recipes.

That phase didn't last long, though.  Maybe remodeling a townhouse with three little girls ages three and under had something to do with it...or maybe it was the cross-country move to Tennessee that killed it, but whatever it was, by the time Mike deployed to Iraq, I was back to basic, boring meals.  Whatever was quick, relatively balanced, and easy to make, that's what was for dinner.  Eat-it-anyway food.

When Mike came home, I started cooking again.  Nothing fancy, but things that actually took prep time.  Things I had to plan ahead for.  There-are-no-leftovers food.

That didn't last long either.  I got pregnant with Isaak, and I.  Was.  Exhausted.  All the time.  I was doing good to get something -- anything -- on the table.  And then I had 3 kids and an infant.  And I started homeschooling.  And for 11 weeks I had to cook in a kitchen the size of a postage stamp, that had a teeny tiny fridge and no oven.  With three pots and a skillet.  At-least-we're-eating food.

The one thing that was consistent through all of those phases was my attitude.  I was selfish.  I still am, but I'm admitting it now.  :)  I didn't want to spend time cooking, because that took away even more time from the little "me" time I had left in my day.  

I've spent quite a bit of time in the past year or so with three women, Elisabeth, Charlotte, and Tammy, who have greatly influenced my thinking, and my attitude.  Elisabeth Elliot started the changing process for me when a friend re-introduced me to her books.  Her words, some gentle reminders, some not-so-gentle statements, addressed my root issue of selfishness and challenged me to aim higher.  I am a wife and mother -- THIS is my calling, my portion.  (Including the cooking part, which has slowly BECOME my "me" time, even when I share it.)  Charlotte Mason, while addressing the issue of the Will in teaching children, showed me that when I change my thoughts, my attitude will change along with them.  And then Lindafay, who led me to Charlotte, "introduced" me to Tammy's Recipes through a link in her side-bar.

Oh my.  A recipe blog.  Filled with common sense, a good attitude, good recipes, and links every Tuesday to OTHER blogs full of recipes, ideas, and thoughts.  As I read through Tammy's blog, and others I found through hers, I started thinking about not just WHAT to cook for dinner, but about things like WHAT is IN what I'm cooking for dinner, and how high our grocery bill really WAS every week.

It didn't take long for me to get excited about cooking again.  I was already enjoying the challenge of cooking more from scratch, trying new recipes (although recipe blogs can be addicting!), tweaking old ones to suit our tastes, and seeing just how low I could get the grocery bill ... and then I started reading the labels on everything I buy.

I've always tried to pay attention to the labels on the foods I give my family, doing the "good mommy" thing by avoiding the "bad fats" and making sure sugar wasn't TOO high on the ingredients list.  BUT.  I started reading the labels on my favorite "staple" items too.  High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, and Sugar as the first or second ingredients in "healthy" foods.  MSG, and Polymonuglutasucramites, and glurocamodirides, (yes, I made those two words up), and more unpronounceable chemical additives.  I quit buying them.

Yeah, I've made some big changes lately.  Mostly it's my attitude that has changed, but the way I shop and the way I cook have changed, too.  And I'm making some little changes as well.  

Take tonight, for instance.  I made one of my mom's recipes, Hamburger Green Bean Casserole, but I made a few changes.  I made my own Cream of Mushroom soup instead of using a can, and I used plain yogurt instead of sour cream.  Mom's recipe is very good the way it is, and those were the only two things I changed, but it was Not My Mother's Casserole anymore.

It was mine.  :)

Monday, January 26, 2009

B, as in Blend

Anya was reading aloud tonight from an old reader, and sounding out the words she doesn't know.  She got to the word "children" and sounded out "K-hh-i-l-d-r-eh-n".  She paused, and then shouted "Children!"  Before she could continue, I asked her:

Me: Anya, is the CH at the beginning a blend?
Anya: K-hh-i...there's no B!

Hmm.  Maybe I'll just leave her alone and let her read.

His Name Shall Be Called...

This last week or so for our Bible readings, we've been covering the minor prophets, and I've been letting the girls read out of their Picture Bibles for a change, while Grandma was here.  We're now moving into Isaiah and Jeremiah, still reading from their Picture Bibles.  The Bible reading this morning was from Isaiah, including "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God...The Prince of Peace."

After we had finished eating lunch, everyone was still sitting around the table, so I asked Jaela and Macey to tell me what they'd read in their Bibles this morning.  They couldn't remember the name Isaiah, but after I gave them the first few sounds, they figured it out.  I asked them to tell me about him.  After they'd told me all about Isaiah, I asked them what he had told the people.  They remembered the warnings he gave, but were a little slower on the part I was after, so I helped jog their memories.

Me: His name shall be called W...
Macey: Wonderful!
Me: Couns...
Jaela: Counsellor!
Me: Almighty...
Jaela: God!
Me: Prince of...
Jaela: Prince of Europe!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Backwards Homeschooled Kids

Jaela had an unusual special request this morning when it was time to start school.  "Can we do school backwards?"  

So they started with Shakespeare, then did History/Geography, then Bible.  They wrote their Bible verse of the week out by memory for Handwriting, did their Math, and finished with the Pledge of Allegiance!

When school was done, they ran off to play with their babies.  Jaela's baby was working on Bible, and Macey's did some basic Math problems in a little notebook.  When Macey brought her baby's work to me to check, Grandma wanted to see too.  Macey proudly displayed her baby's hard work, and Grandma told her that her baby was very smart!

Macey's matter-of-fact response:  "She's homeschooled!"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Visit from Grandma

My mom got here Saturday evening and is here until Tuesday!  As usual, we are staying VERY busy, and are having a blast.  We've already been a lot of places and done a bunch of things, but we've still got lots of little (and not-so-little) fun projects planned to do before she leaves...I hope we have enough time and energy to get them all done!  :)

Spell Chequer

My email buddy sent me this quote:

Dew knot trussed yore spell chequer two fined awl yore mistakes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

On the 16th Day of January

4 gallon bags of frozen, crushed tomatoes and juice - thawed and cooked
8 1/4 quarts of spaghetti sauce - cooked and canned
5 quarts of concentrated tomato soup stock - canned
5 pints of tomato juice - canned
3 pints of tomato juice - frozen
12 cookies baked for snack-time - and eaten!
12 slices of ham for lunch tomorrow
5 pints of diced ham - diced and frozen
1 ham bone and 2 cups of chopped ham scraps - frozen
1 ice cube tray of ham drippings - frozen
1 chuck roast with new potatoes, gravy and green beans for dinner
2 pints of beef soup stock - frozen
1 pint leftover roast - shredded and frozen

1 chest freezer - sorted and organized
1 fridge/freezer - sorted and organized
3 dishwasher loads - washed and put away
2 loads of hand washing - drip drying
1 stove-top with burned-on tomato juice - cleaned

6 phone calls
1 visitor
1st grade schoolwork - done in the kitchen
Kindergarten schoolwork - done in the kitchen
1 cranky toddler - cuddled

1 lost tooth (Macey's)
1 exhausted mommy

Hm.  I count more than 12 hours spent in the kitchen today.  I think I'll wait until tomorrow to bake my bread.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

De-cluttering Decisions

Remember those pounds and pounds of tomatoes that I froze this fall?  Well, today IS Thursday...

Today I got four of the eight bags out of the freezer and went to work.  I ended up with 11 quarts of juice and 2 1/4 quarts of paste.  Tomorrow I plan to do the rest, and when it's all done, I'll mix it all together and make spaghetti sauce, etc., and then can it all at once.  

After I had finished cooking the last batch this afternoon, I dragged out my big food processor (the one we got for our wedding over 12 years ago!) and started processing the paste.  As it was working I started wondering, is it really worth keeping this monster in my cupboard so I can use it MAYBE once a year?  I have another smaller one that does the job just fine...  I decided to finish all the paste and then decide if I wanted to get rid of it or not.  I processed three small batches of paste, and halfway through the third batch...guess what happened!

Yeah, it died!  Dead as a doornail.  Kaput.

I think I'll get rid of it.  :)

Another Anya-ism

I made whole wheat pancakes for lunch today.  They were pretty good, but they would have been better if I had been able to get rid of the baking powder lumps...

Anya: Mommy, that funny taste that I sometimes taste in my bites...?
Me: You mean the little lumps of baking powder?
Anya:  Yeah, those.  They give my throat a headache!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More From Elisabeth

"A husband asks his wife to share his destiny.  What is his becomes hers; where he goes she'll go; what he suffers she'll suffer; his privileges will be her privileges.  She doesn't often see in advance the price she will have to pay.  She sees the delights.  But both are her portion..."

- Elisabeth Elliot, from The Mark of a Man

Friday, January 9, 2009


At lunch today, the girls were discussing the titles of some of their books:

Anya: I can read "Scat, Scat!".  Not the story, though, just the title.
Me: That's one of the first books I read!
Jaela:  (very matter-of-factly)  Yeah, we thought it looked like a pretty old book.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Subway Commercial

Have you seen that new Subway commercial where all those people are about to take a bite of their fast food lunch?  If you have, then hang on a minute while I set this one up for the ones who haven't.  :)  (I tried to find it on YouTube first, with no luck).

Disclaimer:  It's been a week since I've seen it, so bear with me if the details are creatively altered.  :)

The commercial begins with several shots of people in different work situations sitting down, about to take their first bite of their fast food lunch (hamburgers and other sandwiches, french fries, etc.).  Then it goes back to the beginning and shows those same people taking their first bite, then back again to those same people and that's when the fun starts!  It shows a rapidly changing montage of people's buttons popping off their pants, pants splitting, chairs breaking, scaffolding collapsing...if someone is wearing it or sitting on it when they take their first bite of greasy fast food, SOMETHING happens to it.  The last shot is from behind a car in a drive-thru, and as the bag of food is passed into the car, the front tires blow.  (The moral of the story is supposed to be "Subway, Eat Fresh", but that's a whole other issue if you ask me!)

We saw it for the first time this weekend, and by the end of the commercial, (which we saw during football games) the girls and I were laughing hysterically.  Of course, I was running a fever too, so that may have made it funnier than it was.  :)

After we saw the commercial the first time, on Saturday, the girls were a little puzzled.  It was funny that all those things were happening to people, but why were they happening?  We have had many discussions about healthy eating and making good food choices, so it was easy to explain.  They know that fast food isn't good for us, so all I had to do was point out to them that each of those people were about to take a bite of some kind of fast food.  When we saw the commercial again on Sunday, the girls laughed even harder than they had before (and pointed out what each person was eating, too).

Did I mention that I had a fever?  :)  Over the weekend, I finally caught the 2-3 day fever the kids had passed around the week before.  NOT fun.  Sunday night our neighbor Mary called to check on me, and volunteered to bring us Burger King for dinner Monday night so I wouldn't have to cook after feeling so rotten.  I jumped at the offer!  :)  So, Monday night, we had Burger King for dinner.

I gave the kids their hamburgers and apple fries (which are really just apple slices in a fry box) and gave them glasses of milk (so we could save the milks that came with their dinner for lunch on the road on Tuesday).  As I was putting the milk back in the fridge, I heard two loud simultaneous crashing sounds, and looked back to see Jaela and Macey laying on the floor next to their chairs.  I was exasperated and told them to get off the floor and eat their dinner.

Me:  And WHY are you even LAYING on the floor, anyway?
J & M:  We're being that commercial where people eat unhealthy food and fall off their chairs!

I laughed so hard that I cried.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Nothing Like a Good Nap!

Often when I am working on the computer (or playing!), Isaak will come in and "ask" to get in my lap.  The other day, just before lunch, he joined me because I had music playing, and before I knew it, he was asleep in my lap.  Sitting up, no less!  That takes talent...or maybe it's a guy thing?  :)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Um, it's a little early for Spring flowers, but Happy New Year anyway!
(It's the crazy-warm weather we had last week that made them bloom, I'm sure...)