Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lentil Challenge - More-with-Less Cookbook

I began the Lentil Challenge with some new recipes. A number of the recipes that I found online had Indian spice. I knew that I needed to add some variety so that we didn't get tired of variations and different recipes for the same thing that included curry powder and ginger.

The More-With-Less Cookbook came to the rescue. This is one of the essential cookbooks that I have and keep. There are a number of family favorites in that book. If you have not seen the More-With-Less Cookbook, this is a collection of recipes from various cooks with the idea that we need to be good stewards of the earth and to be eating less but getting more nutrition while saving money. I remember my mom using this book when I was growing up. I think this was one of the first cookbooks that I purchased. Mine is spiral bound and I think it is even a metal spiral. Mine is currently in a box but a friend here loaned me her copy.

From the More-For-Less Cookbook I made Basic Cooked Lentils. There are three variations for basic lentils. I decided to make the Easy Lentil Stew. Of course, as my usual cooking style, I am some adjustments to the recipe. I added the tomato paste and stirred it and thought it looked a bit like someone just dumped ketchup in the pan with the lentils and that made me want to run from the kitchen. I am not a ketchup person. I don't put it on my hot dog, I don't put it on my hamburger, I definitely don't put it on my scrambled eggs. Sometimes but not every time I put it on my French fries. A can of diced tomatoes saved the day, it gave some texture and a reason for the lentils to be red.

1 cup lentils
2 1/2 cup water
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes
Add to the lentils:
1/2 lb diced ham, browned sausage or browned ground beef (I did not add that much meat)
3/4 cup tomato paste (I added 1 small can)
2 cups water
1/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt (I don't know that I added this again)
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (knowing me I probably added 3 or 4)
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Serve plain or over rice. I served over rice with some Parmesan cheese.

The other variations include Curried lentils and Sweet-Sour Lentils.

An old lentil standby at our house is the Lentil-Barley Stew. The recipe says you can use barley or brown rice. I love barley so I always use barley.

There is one more lentil recipe in the More-For-Less Cookbook that I want to make, Kusherie (Egyptian Rice and Lentils). I remember my mom making this when we were growing up. I think I will make it as part of our Middle East Geography study.

Do you have a favorite recipe from the More-For-Less Cookbook?

Here are the links for the other Lentil Challenge recipes.
The Lentil Challenge
Lentils and Rice Taco Style
Lentil Soup

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Monday, October 28, 2013

2013-2014 Curriculum

I know it is the end of October. Everyone else shared what they were doing in August or September. I had started a post back in August and as I looked at it and read what I wrote I realized that things changed.

I have a three to four year plan for each of my children. That helps me to plan. I had things planned and purchased for this school year back in February but all of those things are in boxes waiting to be shipped so I had to make some quick changes.

Here is what we are doing this year.

Together we are continuing with Mystery of History Volume II.

J is in 6th grade this year. We have begun the countdown towards high school. We are focusing on what we need to get done before high school. When I look at the books all piled up, it is not that big of a pile.

Saxon Math 76
Keys to Fractions

Analytical Grammar Mechanics
Our Mother Tongue
Writing Strands
Classical Composition Fable Stage
Editor in Chief A1
Sequential Spelling 3

Memoria Press Geography I

Explorer's Bible  Study Luke and Acts

Christian Kids Explore Physics

Latina Chritiana

Miss K - We are calling this 2nd grade.

Continuing with Math-U-See Alpha

Scaredy Cat Words
Explode the Code
HWT My Printing Book
Memoria Press Copybook

Song School Latin

The World God Made

I will try to add some art and music in there as well as keeping active for PE. We will do a seminar on health and safety so we can cover that topic.

I think that about wraps up the major things that we will be doing this year.

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Pumpkin decorating

We are enjoying the small AWANA program that we found here. Tonight was the pumpkin carving/decorating contest. The hint was to have a Bible theme.

We had picked our pumpkins the other week at the pumpkin patch. We had some big pumpkins and some little ones. I suggested that J and Miss K work together as I thought that would be easier. David and Goliath was an idea that was mentioned and it was decided that would work. We decided or maybe it was mom decided that painting would be easier than carving. Someone had given us a box of paint so we could use that.

I was impress with J's work. He sketched a bit on the pumpkin before getting out the paint.

Goliath needed a shield because after all he did have armor. Miss K was given the job of painting the shield.

They had speech bubbles which helped to identify who they were.

Here they are together drying before we head to AWANA. I don't think they were completely dry.

The master artist standing with his artwork. David and Goliath are ready.

They together won a prize - a chocolate candy bar and some extra points for the store.

It was a fun activity. I think David and Goliath might sit on our porch this week.

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up - The week we stalled

Maybe paused would be a better word to describe our week. Last week I said it was the week we slowed down. When I looked at where we were in history -- just beginning the middle ages, I decide to pause and just spend some time exploring and having fun in the middle ages. Who doesn't want to read more about knights and castles? So we paused.

We read Knights in Shining Armor by Gail Gibbons. It is written on a elementary level but had some information for the kids. We learned that a boy became a Page at the age of 7 and then a Squire around 14 and when he had done a brave deed he would be dubbed, Sir, and become a knight. I have ordered some more books from the library.

Miss K is showing her page with page, squire, and knight.

We are also doing Latin together. They each have different books but we pull out our books and work on it at the same time. Primarily I teach to J's level but we review Miss K's book. We played the match Latin/English word memory game.

We are also doing Geography together. I am using Memoria Press Geography I. My goal is that they can find the country on the map, know some facts, and a bit of importance either current or historical. We began in the Middle East.

J --

We continue to battle math. We did try to slow down and I am reviewing. Here he is hiding behind his book.

He is enjoying and keeping busy with soccer, flute, piano, and youth group. 

I tried to convince Miss K that doing school at the pool was cool. We were sitting there for swim team practice and I wanted to get some of her school done. We did a bit.

We are continuing to eat lentils. This week it was lentils and rice taco style. I think we still have about half the bag.

The kids are working on decorating pumpkins for the AWANA pumpkin contest.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Lentil Challenge - Lentils and Rice Taco Style

The challenge is to eat 10 pounds of lentils in 10 weeks or so. I am trying to add variety so we don't get tired of lentils before we eat our way through the 10 pounds.

This week I pulled out an old favorite recipe that I have not made for a long time -- Lentils and Rice Taco Style.  It is probably one of the easiest lentil recipes that I have. Put everything in a pan, boil, put a lid on and let it cook. I serve it like I would taco meat. I cut up tomato, cucumber, red onion, add some cheese and sour cream to the tortilla and you have dinner. Here it is with the cheese on it. If I took a photo with everything on, you wouldn't be able to see the lentils.

I probably should have doubled the recipe as we didn't have much leftovers. We often eat leftovers for lunch the next day.

Here is the post about the Lentil Challenge.
Here is some Lentil Soup recipes.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Down Syndrome Awareness

Miss K after the Fall Festival at Camp Korey, a camp for special needs kids.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness month. I am very aware of Down Syndrome. I live with it 365 days a year.

Since it is Down Syndrome Awareness month, I will share a few things to make you aware of Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome is named after John Langford Down a British physician who described the syndrome in 1866. Down Syndrome is when there is a third copy of the 21st chromosome. This is the most common chromosome abnormality. In the USA it is one in every 691 births. Those are just a few facts.

Here are a few other things that you should be aware of if you know and love someone with Down Syndrome.

They teach you patience. It can take a bit longer to do things and so you have to wait.

They can teach you stubbornness. They are stubborn and sometimes you need to be more stubborn.

They teach you to laugh. Miss K will say things that keep us laughing.

They teach you to slow down. Some days I am rushing through life and Miss K is stopping to smell the roses or look at the leaves or whatever else.

They will change your life. Miss K has changed our life in so many ways.

They give you a chance to practice self-control and some days you get frustrated and want to pull your hair out but you practice self-control.

They love you. Miss K will come in from playing and say, "I love you."

So be aware of those around you with Down Syndrome and get to know them, they have things they enjoy, dreams, and love to share. Get to know those with a Down Syndrome child, sibling, your life will be changed.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Surviving the Library

On the top of most homeschooler's list of things needed is a library card. I agree. The library saves me money. The library gives us extra books that we enjoy. The library allows us to enjoy books on tape.

As a child, I remember going to the library. Of course, that was back in the days of writing your name on the card in the back of the book and then getting the date that the book was due stamped on the page. You could look at the card and see who else checked out that book and when you are in a small town and an avid reader you might even find your name on that book already.

I know going to the library is good but I needed to be able to survive our visit. I didn't want to spend the next 24 hours recovering from a one hour trip to the library. I needed a plan. Here are a few things that have helped me to survive.

1. Sign up for email notifications. I love this feature. I get an email notifying me that a book I requested is ready for pick-up. I get emails notifying me that my books are due back at the library. It does mean I have to read my emails but I don't have to worry about forgetting when the books are due. When I get the email telling me that my books are due back at the library, I will often print the email and give it to the kids to gather the books.

2. Have a bag or cart or maybe even a wagon to use. We have a library bag and it makes it possible to carry the stack of books that we get check out. It makes it easier so you don't have to do a balancing act on your way out of the library. I have forgotten my bag and it has been a challenge.

My big Costco bag works great as a library bag.

3. Have a designated place at home for library books. Currently in the house where we are living the coffee table in the living room is where the library books go except for the Jonathan Park CD's that are in the car. The library books are often scattered but I try to keep them in that one place. That way they are not getting mixed with our books, pushed under beds or lost in dresser drawers.

Enjoying George and Martha. 

4. Request books.  Requesting books from the library has made our visits easier. My kids walk in and are overwhelmed with all the books, so many books which books will make it to the bag. Actually for Miss K it is easy, go to the section with Angelia Ballerina and find some books. J wanders around and can't find anything. Requesting books guarantees that I know we will get some books. It also allows me to pick books for him. As I mentioned here, I have used the 1000 Great Books list and have also sat down with various homeschool catalogs and requested books.

These are just a few things that have helped me to survive and enjoy our library visits. We don't have a set day for going to the library but I do try to go every other week.

Do you go to the library regularly? What fun books have you discovered there?

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Memory Work Review

I have some pages from Dover States Coloring books that I have given the kids to color while I read. The other day Miss K was coloring and I decided to quiz her and see what states she could remember.

It was two years ago that we did Classical Conversations Cycle 3. Since then we have reviewed the States and driven across the USA a few times. I was impressed with what she remembered.

I asked her to color Washington, Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Maine. I helped her find Arkansas. She really wants to go to Arkansas to see her "grandparents".

Yes, this is a proud mama moment. It is good to review and be encouraged by what the kids are learning.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fall Fun

Leaves changing colors

Sweaters and sweatshirts

Apples and apple cider

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Soups and stews

Soccer games

Pumpkin patch

Yesterday we joined some friends at a pumpkin patch. When we were in Asia, fall was not much change. The weather got cooler but not much else changed. So living here in the USA we enjoy fall and all that goes with it.

We had a list of pumpkin patches and places where we could go. Do we drive a distance? Do we go to the big corn maze? What other activities do they have? We were having a hard time making a decision and decided to go to the one just down the road from my friend's house. I had actually taken the kids there last year.

We did the corn maze. Since it was a weekday, it was cheaper.  I think the kids ran through it about three times.

We walked through the pumpkin fields and picked a few pumpkins. I thought the prices were reasonable so we did buy a few. Miss K was picking up lots and lots of pumpkins.

We also did the duck race. Last year you bought your duck and could race. We brought our ducks with us this year. For some reason the ducks were one of the toys that have travelled with us. If you brought your own ducks it was free. I had not seen a duck race before last year. There were three pumps, you put your duck in the top and then pumped water into the pipe and pump and pump cheering your duck to the end. I decided it was some gross motor exercise for Miss K.

It does feel like fall around here.

What are fun things that you do for fall?

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up The week we slowed down a bit

This is the week that we slowed down. A number of people commented about some of the struggles we were having with math and with some ideas from there and thinking I decided to slow down.

We slowed down history, Latin, and math. I slowed down myself and asked the question, "is my goal to get done the book or learn the material?" I know where some of that was coming from and I decided that I needed to slow down so that is what we have done this week.

I know some of the reason I was moving fast, racing was because I felt we started late and I know that with moving later this year we will have some non-school time. I am also one of those people that want to teach everything.

Last week I found a planner that I like. I will write more about that later. I have been on the hunt to find one I liked and found it. I actually sat down and planned last weekend. That really did help, I had copies ready to go, books ordered, activities figured out, and I was ready for the week. I also had to be flexible as we were out late on Sunday which made for a rough Monday start.

We are continuing Mystery of History and enjoying it. I was going at a fast pace and slowed it down. We did finish Quarter 1. About once a week I try to review the CC timeline especially in the area where we have been reading.

As part of the slowing down this week, I have both kids working on math at the same time, and we are trying to work on the same subjects at the same time. That makes it challenging and I am not sure it will work long-term but for now we are doing that.  We took some time this morning to work on place value. I was targeting this for a review for J and allowing Miss K to do it as well.

I mentioned last week that J was struggling with his math in the sense that he was getting quite a number of problems wrong on each lesson. When I asked him he said, he was not focusing or that he was going to cash. I didn't want to go backwards to having me read the lesson so instead I have asked him to read the lesson and then teach me how to do a problem. This allows me to check if he understands. Today he didn't totally understand multiplying decimals and I caught that before he did the lesson. I am also having him do five problems then we check them and he goes on. I am able to see if he is having problems. He has gotten much better results on his lesson problems and I think it is boosting his confidence.

Miss K is not crossing out her math problems. That is progress. She still only wants to do a tiny bit of school but in the scope of all the school she will do in her life one day is just a tiny bit so we do a tiny bit. Her list of excuses will keep you chuckling -- her pencil is too pokey, the book is shy, -- she has learned to express herself.

We kept busy with flute lessons, piano lessons, co-op, and swimming plus soccer practice, grocery shopping and a trip to the library.

Fall is here and we are hoping to do a fall outing this week. My kids are sad that I totally forgot about the salmon run as that was a favorite outing last year.

We are enjoying squash which is a fall food at least to me. I don't remember eating this or cooking it other than to make butternut soup but this year we are enjoying acorn squash. I tried this recipe and it was delicious.

That is about all from here.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Life Skills

I don't have a set list of life skills to teach and for Miss K to learn. I think we have just accomplished one of the biggest life skill goals which means we are no longer purchasing diapers. Insert loud clapping and cheers.

Sometimes it is hard to find jobs and things that she is capable of doing. Miss K has the job of wiping the table and she is able to do that without too much of a problem. She is also learning to sweep the floor.

She is a good helper and still considers most things fun so this is a good time to be teaching life skills. The other day I brought the basket of laundry down and asked her to sort it into lights and darks and she did. She had worked with me and we would talk about it so I thought she would be able to do it. She learned this skill by working with me as I talked to her telling her what I was doing. She helped and then was able to begin doing it on her own.

Sometimes it is easier to just do it yourself because it takes a bit longer but is it a help and a skill she needs to learn.

This morning I brought the laundry down and asked her to sort it. I walked away and he finished the job. I have to help put the detergent in and so I just check to make sure the sorting was done correctly. I don't spot treat that much so that is not something that she has to do.

Another skill that we have been working on recently is pouring. I have used some Montessori type activities in the past and still like to do that for an activity. I have also begun to give her the job of pouring water for breakfast. There is quite a bit of skill required -- the ability to hold the pitcher and pour at the same time as well as eye-hand coordination to know when to stop. Right now she is stopping too soon so we are working on that.

One of the books that I have in my shipment and need to read and work on creating a checklist is called Steps to Independence. As I was talking with a friend, she reminded me of a life skills planner that she had found online and which I had pinned. I want to make it a priority to be intentional about teaching life skills. Some of that means taking the time and having a plan.

What resources have you found for teaching life skills?

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Making Blends

As we got back into school this year, I decided that for Miss K we need to go back and review and just start at the beginning of Scaredy Cat Words. Four months of not working on that we needed to just go back and review.

Miss K has an extensive sight word reading list and we continue to build that but I am not ready to give up on teaching her some phonics.

Lesson 2 introduces ending word blends. To give her a bit of hands on we got out the blender.

I had her each of the letters for the blend on separate pieces of paper. Then she put them in the blender and pushed the button. Since the blender was not plugged in, it didn't really blend the paper but we did make some sound effects.

Then with a slight of the hand I took her cards out and added my card which had the blend together. The letters were blended.

We then made a post with the letters that she had written and my blend.

Here she is inspecting her work. Her tiara was slipping a bit.

That gave her an opportunity to blend her letters. Scaredy Cat has helped her to recognize her vowels and so we do have to remember that these letters do not have vowels and are not words.

We went through our list of words and matched them to the blend.

The hands on help gave some fun to our lesson.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Making Bread Crumbs

I love when I have a use for something that I might throw out and that use saves me money. Around our house it seems that no one eats the crust of bread. I will sometimes but that is carbs and I try to avoid them or limit them at least. So when we are down to just the crusts in the bag. I put them in the freezer.

When I get a full bag or have the need for bread crumbs, I just pull them out. Plus them on a tray to thaw.

Then when they are thawed, I put them in the oven at a low temperature about 200 degrees F so they can dry out. I will flip them so both sides get dry.

I just break them into smaller pieces and put them in a blender. I just crumb them. If you don't want fine crumbs then you do have to watch and stop it before it gets too fine. Sometimes you get lumps remaining and my son thinks they are the greatest treat.

I then put the crumbs in a jar and put them in the freezer and pull them out when I need them. I use them for meatloaf, meatballs, and other things.  If we have lots and lots of bread crumbs, I will make chicken croquettes.

Here is my helper mixing up the meat for meatloaf. My mom is might be shocked that I make meatloaf. It was not my favorite meal growing up but I do like it and it is Miss K's favorite meal.

Stop by later to see how we used the blender this week in school.

What are some things that you make that use bread crumbs?

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