Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wishful Thinking

The forecast today is 97. I think she wants snow today.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Following Directions and beading

In my back to school shopping I found this activity and when I looked today I could not find a company name. I picked it because I thought it would help Miss K to follow directions. Basically you have an order of beads to put on a stick that is standing in front of the order.

It was good practice for Miss K. She often has problems beading because the string wobbles but these did not wobble and so she was able to bead. She is able to do lacing shapes so maybe she will soon be able to use typical beading.

Her little fingers were working on this.

Monday's Memories - My Grandparents

I was blessed to have all four grandparents and even a great grandmother when I was growing up. My grandparents each lived about an hour away but my great grandmother lived in the same town that we lived in. I have memories of holidays spent at both places in fact I think some times we would go to both places.

My mother's side of the family gathered at Christmas. I think these pictures were taken when I was 3 or 4. I am helping my great grandmother dry dishes and in the other picture I am sitting on my great uncle's lap with two of my cousins there. Uncle Noah was the local family doctor in our town. I remember going to him once because of hives and a few other visits.

The pictures are small. I think it was from the days when you would get three prints on a page. I looked into getting them restored but the cost was a bit more than I wanted to pay.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Easy Yogurt

I used to not be a bit yogurt fan. I eat it but it still not the first thing that I go to when I want a snack but I am working on that along with learning how to eat coconut. My husband will eat yogurt and the kids will eat yogurt. I tried making it once in the crockpot but that was difficult and when we lived in Hong Kong where milk cost $7 a gallon making yogurt is not cost effective. Thankfully, I discovered something even easier - Easiyo.  A friend loaned me hers and we tried it loved it. We bought our own and have been using it since.

It is so easy that the kids can do some of it. Fill the container half full with water add a packet or since this is from New Zealand it is called a sachet of yogurt mix, shake, add water to the fill line. While you are doing this boil some water. Then add the boiled water to the thermos this is the part that the parents do. Put the container in the thermos and leave it sit on the counter for 8 to 24 hours and you have yogurt.

We usually buy the Natural and add fruit, honey, or granola. A friend recently told me that the Greek was good so we bought some of that. We will go through a litre or two a week. We do buy some of the Easiyo Fruit squirts and enjoy those to add some flavouring.

The most exciting part of this is I can now buy the sachets online and not have to pay shipping from New Zealand or have my husband carry a suitcase of them back from Hong Kong when he goes for meetings.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One of those moments

You know the one when you know that what you are doing is sinking in and they are learning. Today our sitter/friend/helper brought a page size world map/US map and gave it to J. We have been studying Columbus and he told her. "Most people went this way around Africa to get to India but Columbus went this way and discovered America." I love teaching him and seeing how it is sticking with him.

He was watching a Viking DVD this evening and told us that the Vikings had been to Paris which means something to him as he has been there. They also made it to Kiev again something that he can understand and relate.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday's Memories

I decided that Mondays would be a time to share memories here on my side of the world.

One of my memories is buying milk in glass bottles. When I was young we went to Farmer Brown's, it was a grocery store but the cows were right there. Farmer Brown's is still around but it was sold and the name changed. The milk came in bottles like this.

I remember once when it snowed we walked to Farmer Brown's which wasn't bad except it was up a big hill.

I found milk in a glass bottle and had to buy it wondering if it would taste different. It was fun to have that memory.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Reverse Culture Shock - Forgetting your English

Along with feeling overwhelmed in the grocery store one other thing is remembering your English. It might be because overseas you spoke the local language or maybe because you used a simple English vocabulary. Then again it could be that English is just a confusing language. What do you call those things that are across the road that are used to slow cars down?

Speed Hump

Speed Awareness Riser

And I always thought they were speed bumps. No wonder I have problems with English.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Back to school sewing

I found this easy tutorial and decided I had fabric that I could use. I one or two last year but they had plastic and velcro. They weren't that easy to make and I didn't like the way they looked so we didn't use them. I made about 15 of these snack bags and they are now in the drawer waiting for co-op day when we have to pack a lunch because of our schedule.

I will tell you that if you put a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich in a light blue bag, eat the sandwich but leave the bag in the car for a few days there might be some stains. I just throw them in the washer.

Since sandwiches don't really fit in there that well, I made sandwich wraps. I might have seen this online but honestly don't remember. I made one last year and added some more this year. The wrap also can be a napkin.

I made four one for each of us.

The sandwich shown doesn't fill the wrap the way that our sandwiches made of homemade bread do. That was just for display purposes.

I did need to buy some boy fabric for these. The male population didn't want to use flowers all the time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

My new crockpot

I was trying to remember what year I got the crockpot. I know it was a Christmas gift could have been 1989 or maybe 1993. It was a gift from my parents. Maybe I should go look through old Christmas pictures and see what year. Either way it is old maybe 21 years old or just 17 years. Doesn't it have the 80's look.

I have heard people talk about chalkboard paint. The idea to paint my crockpot with chalkboard paint comes from someone else on the internet who had the exact same crockpot. I bought primer because that is what the chalkboard paint said to do and also the engineer in the house told me to do that. Primer and two coats of chalkboard paint gave me this new crockpot.

We can write the daily special like "soup of the day chicken" or messages like "I like soup." which J wrote. I wonder if it would help spelling if we did spelling practice here.

I like it. It is fun. I still have quite a bit of chalkboard paint so I am thinking of my next project -- a big picture frame with glass.

Bigger, bigger

Miss K does know which one is bigger though it is best evaluated if you are giving her brownies or cookies. She will look in the container and say "bigger, bigger" and then find the biggest one. She has learned this concept as it relates to life. Forget two circle on a paper and having to tell which is bigger. Give her some chocolate and she can tell you which is bigger, bigger. And she does repeat bigger, bigger maybe that is for emphasis.

The picture has nothing to do with bigger, bigger but was a cute picture of her that I have. She was reading a thank you card from her favorite preschool teacher. She talks about her teachers at least once a day and Mrs. W might get mentioned two or three times a day.

A Viking Map and why I like Winter Promise

One of the reasons that I selected Winter Promise was because of the hands on activities. I enjoy things with paper. (I remember as a child getting old forms and things from where my grandfather worked and playing office.) I think the hands on activities is one more way to reinforce the learning. I think it gives something visual that to show what you did and learned.

I also chose Winter Promise because of the book selection. J decided he wanted to study American History. His cousins were studying that last year and he had spent some afternoons there while they were doing history. I liked the selection of books that Winter Promise offered and felt it would give me a foundation and the basis that we need.

Now that we are using Winter Promise I discovered that I like the four day schedule. We still do school five days but that fifth day is catch or extra books that we had in. We are moving from the Vikings to Christopher Columbus next week and I have a feeling that we will be staying there a bit longer as I have a few extra books to read some are books that we have and some are books we got from the library. I am sure as we move through US history that we will use that extra day for field trips as there is so much here to do and see.

There are a few things that I don't like but since this is about why I like Winter Promise I won't list them now.

Here is the Viking Map that he finished.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pasta was on sale

2/$1 limit 6 but with two receipts I was able to buy 10 boxes. My kids had fun playing with the "blocks". Maybe I should buy them some blocks. No, this is easier we can play with the box and then later eat it for dinner.

Culture Shock

Since I just wrote about reverse culture shock, I thought I would share what culture shock looks like. When I write my book on overseas living, I have the picture that will be on the back as my author photo.

Would you like to hear the story of that picture? It truly was a culture shock moment.

I was a newlywed and newly pregnant. I needed to get my resident visa and that is not a fun or easy process. I think they do that on purpose for spouses. First of all I needed a medical exam, which was not just go to one doctor and be done. That meant going to room after room and asking if they would sign my paper and check one specific thing. It was the big hospital with lots of people. It was not fun. I did get out of the chest x-ray because I was pregnant. We made it through that and the next thing was to go to immigration or something like that to get the resident visa. I just remember sitting there and waiting. Then we needed pictures of me. DH gave me money and I went to the photo booth down in the lobby. I took my pictures and I then thought I was pushing the button to select the photos but instead it was the button to print the photos. My Chinese reading wasn't that good. I was upset and showed them to DH. He was kind and gave me money to go and do it again. I went down and in the same booth and tried again but the machine had broken between the time I took my photos a few minutes earlier and then. I kept trying and then someone banged on the curtain and I about jumped out of my skin. I decided that was it. That picture wasn't that bad and it would just go in my file. No one would really see it.

Guess what that picture was scanned and included in my passport on the visa page so every time I had to show my visa you go to see the culture shock photo.

I did get DH back for that medical exam. The next year I was the one who held our resident visa. The two years that I "worked" as an English editor for a Chinese Bridal Magazine. As the employee, I didn't have to get a medical exam but the spouse did.

So if you are ever asked what culture shock looks like, you can just show them this picture. Since it was in my passport for all the immigration officers to see it, why not share it here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

First day of school

Today was Miss K's first day of school. Because of her summer school schedule we didn't start her the same time which actually worked nice as J and I were able to get in a bit of a routine and then we added her.

She does look grown up and ready for school with her pigtails and sitting at her desk.

The fun of homeschool or house school as she calls it is that your brother can be your teacher sometimes.

She was drawing lines. I made these a few years ago and should make some more. I found various pages online for prewriting activities and I used the Scotch self-sealing laminating pouches to make it a reusable washable worksheet.  I did print the worksheet on card stock so it is a bit stronger. I was impressed with her lines.

I am starting with Shiller Math and then I might switch to Saxon. The first lesson is on shapes - circle, square and triangle.

We are working on her reading cards and learning her name, address, days of the week, counting, and a few other skills. As we get into our routine I will be adding various other things.

Reverse Culture Shock

Reverse Culture Shock is real. It affects people who have spent time living away from their home culture and then return home but experience culture shock. From my personal experience and talking with friends I think the biggest place for reverse culture shock is the grocery store. Maybe that is why I needed to make some that will help to make grocery shopping fun.

Have you ever stood in the grocery store and just stood frozen in time and space wondering what to buy. I stood in the spaghetti sauce aisle looking at the brands and then the varieties. Should I buy Ragu or Classico, or Hunts or the store brand, what about that brand. Should I buy garden vegetable, mushroom or maybe plain. I stood frozen and watch people come through and wondered how they knew what to buy. I don't remember exactly what brand I bought or maybe I just walked out of the store without buying it. It doesn't help that I look and sound like I belong here.

After living overseas where you don't have the selection, it can be overwhelming. The stores here are big, the carts are big, the sizes are big, okay you don't have to carry them home in your arms so maybe that makes it easier. In Taipei I shopped local stores for most of the things and would travel about an hour to a foreign grocery store about 15' x 25'. You didn't have a long shelf of spaghetti sauce. I will admit that once a month or so I would go to Costco. Yes, we had Costco and it sold the large size things just like here in the USA. You often had to carry it home so they sold wonderful Costco bags which I still have and love.

When we were in Hong Kong, I shopped at a local grocery store and until we had a car I walked pushing a stroller which was nice having the basket for filling with groceries. I did go to the island and that is where I could buy Tostitos. In both places I loved going to the wet markets (called wet because the floor is wet) there I could buy meat, fruit, and vegetables.

So I spent years learning how to grocery shop overseas.

1. Buy what you can carry.

2. Buy it now because you might not find it again. For some reason I have had an urge to buy Crisco everytime I see it but that isn't necessary here.

3. If you find something that you have not seen, call all your friends that might be looking for it and let them know you found it and ask how many you should buy for them.

4. Tell your friends what you are looking for.

5. Don't bother to convert the prices of the things to buy to US$. When I realized that a gallon of milk in Hong Kong cost over $7 US. I about how a cow (I just had to put that in here).

Take these rules that you have learned and followed for years and move back home. They don't apply. You begin to experience reverse culture shock. For some reason the other week after being back in the USA for 18 months I went grocery shopping and had some major reverse culture shock.

Have you experienced reverse culture shock? Which aisle did it happen in?

By the way, I no longer buy spaghetti sauce I have since begun to make my own so I don't have to face that aisle.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Last day of school

Thursday was Miss K's last day of school until Monday when she has the first day of school. It was a big day -- her last day at the IU. She has been going three afternoons a week since October.

One day I asked her what she had for snack and she told me "chips". I didn't pack her chips so I asked "who gave you chips?" "Kevin" I sent a note to the teacher and yes she had been sitting next to Kevin and he had chips. Kevin was the one person she talked about the most. Sometime it was just "Kev". Kev is Asian I wonder if that is why she has connected with him the most.

The last few weeks she has wanted to go to school in the "big van". Since it was her last day I took her and got some pictures.

She knows the routine -- snack bags in one basket and notebook in another and her bag in her cubbie.

Then into the classroom. One of the first things they do is sing the "Hello" song to everyone while they jump. Soon after she started going there she would jump at home on the trampoline and say "hello song". We didn't know the song but would make up some words that hopefully sounded like the song. Ignore the tongue as I am trying to do that. I remember when she was tiny either hearing that Down Syndrome children often stick there tongue out or seeing it and so when she was a baby I was trying to keep her tongue in her mouth. I really don't think it hangs out that much but I did get a good picture of it here.

Miss Lisa says the classroom is going to be different without Miss K.
It has been a good few months for her. Thank you, Miss Lisa.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Making Grocery Shopping Fun

Grocery shopping can be one of the most stressful times in my week. After 18 months of living in the USA, I still experience reverse culture shock which often hits in the grocery store. Yes, reverse culture is real and effects Americans who have spent time overseas but I will save all of that for another post.

So to make grocery shopping fun I sewed a bunch of cute fabric grocery bags. Someone from church gave me boxes of fabric. She had done decorative sewing and the scraps were all different sizes and shapes. I sewed them together and didn't care if the patterns matched. One bag has about 6 different fabrics.

The pattern is one I found a couple of years ago online. Sorry I don't have a link for it but it was easy except I did change the handles a bit.

I made nine bags and have one cut out ready to sew. I personally don't really need them because I have a bit stack of cloth bags. We started using cloth bags when we lived in Taipei and they charged NT$2 (about 7 cents) per plastic bag. These bags are so much fun to use. I often receive complements from the store clerks about my bags.

I made these to have on hand for gifts so if you want one you might want to tell me when your birthday is or wait until Christmas. Do you have a favorite one?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rain, rain

stay -- my garden and lawn is very dry and my daughter is having fun.

Umbrella, rain boots, and her nightgown.

Then she decided she needed her rain coat.
Then she decided to take off her jacket and boots and put the umbrella down and turn on the hose which ended the outdoor play.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pop goes the jar

or so I hope they are all popping. I feel like I should be back on the prairie after the old fashioned picnic on Saturday and today it was canning and freezing.

I went to my mom's house. I think this is one of those community things that we don't always do. I have a memory of my grandparents coming to our house when we were young and a whole day event of making chow chow. Anyway, back on track of today and not on the memory. My mom has a "summer kitchen".

A propane burner on the patio but it heats up the outside and not the kitchen and today there was enough heat outside.

We did peaches. My mom helped. Oops, I forgot to let her look at the picture but she can see it now. I have a number of pictures of her in that corner of the kitchen working but today it was canning peaches.

Then my mom suggested that we had time as it was only noon and we had 14 jars of peaches ready for the canner that if I wanted to we could do tomatoes. So I went and got a basket of tomatoes.

I think we did 13 jars of tomatoes. My $9 basket of tomatoes will give us lots of spaghetti sauce, chili, borsch, and other yummy things.

I came home and froze some of the peaches for on our yogurt and in smoothies.

I am so thankful to my mom for her help today. We will enjoy this throughout the year. My mom really has taught me so much of what I know in the kitchen. Thanks mom.

Here is a picture for today.

My mom does my grandmother's laundry and I just liked the looks of the three dresses hanging there.

Wordless Wednesday

I love school supplies - a new box of 64 crayons.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

An Old Fashioned Picnic

I decided that we needed to have a picnic this summer. Then I decided that it should be an old fashioned picnic with fried chicken. Yes, I fried it. I had to find an old cookbook to get the recipe. I used the old or maybe I should say original Mennonite Cookbook. It really was easy and I think it tasted good.

I made potato salad, sliced cucumbers from our garden, and chocolate cupcakes. This is my mom's recipe which is my favorite.

We had the food and so we needed to head out. Our destination was Valley Forge. I remember going there as a child; my brothers say it is just a place with lots of little cabins. I enjoyed taking my family there. We saw some deer.

We saw so many that we lost count. The deer know it is a National Park and that they are safe there.

We enjoyed our picnic.

It was finger food. The poor child lives with a mama who does not allow him to eat his drumsticks with his fingers unless it is fried and never serves fried chicken.

It really didn't take long for that cupcake to disappear.

We then walked around a bit before dark when the park closes.

Miss K loves trying out beds.

It was a fun evening and a family memory.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Peking Duck

One thing that I enjoyed while we were in China was Peking Duck. For the real experience you have to go to Quanjude which has been serving duck since 1864. As my husband likes to say, "Lincoln could have eaten there." We ate there one afternoon with some of the staff from one of the universities that we were teaching at. J was given the certificate for that duck. We ate duck number 018074 and have a certificate to prove it.

On our last day we went out for our last Peking Duck for that trip.

Ducks lined up and ready to be roasted.

There is the fire where the ducks will be roasted.

A good roasted duck will have skin that will melt in your mouth. Get a thin pancake and put some plum sauce on then cucumber and green onion and then some duck. Wrap it up and enjoy.

Roast duck is good.

The kids even enjoyed it. After three weeks of living in China J learned how to pose Chinese style for his pictures.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Legos, legos, and more legos

Miss K got some Legos for her birthday. The other day she built a tower.

She told me "city, China" I think most of the cities she knows are China but it is interesting to see that her connections to city is China. Maybe we need to take her to some cities here.

I found something new and exciting for J and legos this week, Lego Quest. I decided that would be a good assignment. This week it was a bit challenging but he did think of something to do.


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