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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Another homeschool day

Two weeks ago I shared about our first day of homeschool and today was day 11 and it looked nothing like the first ten days. We have been going through a string of camps this month-- vbs, American girl ballet camp, and this week science camp and as much as I know my kids have enjoyed them, it has left me a little weary and a tad bit drained. We have also been having some character issues going on that needed some addressing and so for all those reasons, today looked very, very different.

We all got up at 8 this morning... Some friends of ours came over last night to talk over some issues we were having putting in a patio out back and we all stayed up later than normal.

Some showers and laundry sorting and by 9 we were having yogurt and sprinkles for breakfast and some Bible time too.

And then, it was time to go to the library for science camp. My son,is enjoying this very much and the younger kids and I have been having fun looking at books and playing while we wait.

Then my husband who had off for the morning took the kids to pick something up for lunch... Do to some issues earlier this week, we were in dire need of groceries.

After lunch with daddy, we all needed naps and rest. I snuggled with my younger son and then my daughter and then, ahem, I took a really good much needed nap as well. My older son did Legos and read quietly. Thank you Lord for a good nap once in awhile.

After nap time, they played while I made the grocery list and put a scavenger hunt together for the grocery store. Then we went grocery shopping and the older two did their hunts. I am sure there were many stares as they pointed and shouted there's someone with sneakers or a purple thing! But really, I feel like when I'm shopping that I am in my own little bubble with the kids. If you see me and I ignore you, it's not you, it's me. And my bubble filled with 3 kids.

After groceries, we cme home and had a simple lunch of PB&J wheat crackers, honey dew and milk. Sooooooo gourmet ;) don't be too jealous! I secretly sometimes love when that is what they want for dinner.... Sometimes simple is gourmet.

Then we headed out to the mud pit of a backyard and took the sheets down. It finally felt cooler, so we drove over to the high school and did some laps around the track to burn off some energy.

Afterwards, some rare tv time and popcorn with mommy and then we got ready for bed.

We are almost done our summer reading for the library so we read some of the books and then dear Caddie Woodlawn again. The kids were really into the story tonight so we stayed up and read another chapter. We could have read more, but we have camp in the morning and it was already late.

So, today was different and you may be wondering how I am counting this. But, that's the beauty of homeschool. It's not all about math, reading, and writing. Sometimes it's about sago ring the learning and working on training our children up in other areas as well. I think it can become to easy to be lost in teacher mom and not enjoy the learning with them. The thrill of whipping around the track, of reading some cool books, and of working on areas in our hearts and attitudes. It's all a blessing and learning experience and just can't be duplicated anywhere else but in the home.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Greek Inspired Baked Spinach Dip

I apologize because this isn't even a finished product photo, but, we were uh, too busy eating it when it came out of the toaster oven (more on that in a bit)to photograph it.

I kind of messed with my old spinach dip and went with what I had and what I craved it to be.

Baked Greek Spinach Dip

1 8oz plain greek yogurt
1 cup of reduced fat mayo
1/4 cup of milk
1 cup of reduced fat mozzerella cheese
1/4 cup to 1/2 a cup of feta cheese
1 cup of fresh spinach chopped up
pepper to season-- NOT salt-- feta has enough of a saltiness taste so do NOT add salt

Get a small baking dish. Mix greek yogurt and mayo together. Add milk and whisk all 3 together till nice and smooth and creamy. Stir in mozzerella cheese and some pepper. Add chopped spinach and stir it all up again. Then kind of pat the dip down till it is nice and flat. Sprinkle feta on top. I would have loved to add diced tomatoes or even some diced red onion on top too, but my hubby not as big of a fan of tomatoes and I thought of the onion too late--- bake the dip in your toaster oven for about 10-15 minutes or until dip is nice and bubbly and feta is a little browned. I like baking this in the toaster oven because it is summer and who wants to turn the oven on? Also, its such a small dip that it is so much easier this way :)

Get some pita bread, naan bread, or tortilla chips and enjoy!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Places to Play in PA- Elmwood Park Zoo

As you can tell from the pictures, we actually went here quite a while ago on a realy nice day back in February-- it was so nice out the kids were begging to take their coats off by the end of the trip! We drove down and met my mom and dad there for a very enjoyable sunday afternoon. The timing was perfect as we had been studying animals and their habitats in school, so it was nice to see some local and some exotic animals up close!

Elmwood is a lovely little zoo-- very well kept and bonus, or rather spoiler alert-- there is a playground in the zoo and that was a very nice surprise to find after walking around. The zoo goes in a circle and my 2 year old was able to walk/run the whole time (well, maybe a few rides on pop-pop's shoulders), but really-- when we went it wasn't crowded and the kids almost had it to themselves. We loved the jaguars and the bison. Sadly, the prarie dogs were hibernating and we couldn't see them that day, but their exhibit looked very well designed. The flamingos and seat otters also big hits-- but this was crazy, their were tons of vultures! And when they flew, they were huge and their wings made this crazy flapping sound. All of the ducks were hiding in the corner of their little pond and I don't blame them-- I have never seen so many in my life.

There are picnic areas and a lovely little shop where you won't feel any pressure to buy anything. Its so small scale and yet a perfect little zoo. Great parking and there is even another playground down the road that we stopped at.


Product/Company Review- Clean DVD's

In this day and age with so much in movies being less than moral, my husband and I find that our selection of things to watch is dwindling. We rarely go to the movie theater due to the fact that if we're on a date, sitting side by side in silence is not how I want to spend the evening.

But, at home, we do like to watch movies and my husband found this amazing site http://www.goodmediadvds.net/ They do a wonderful job editing movies and if you are thinking is it legal-- heres how it works-- you buy the movie first and then they edit your property for you. We saw Due Date this week and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. One was new to us and we only noticed maybe once when they did the language and didn't realize what scenes they cut out. We have seen P, T, & A before and still-- amazing job! They cut whats unneccessary and leave the actual story content in place so you are seeing a much nicer version of the hollywood movie. It's been fantastic. Once you buy the movie, you own it and I would be happy to let someone borrow one of ours to see what you think, but I can wholeheartedly say that we have been very happy with it.

But, before you even check them out, may I recommend http://www.pluggedin.com/ Plugged In-- they do excellent faith based reviews on movies, tv, etc and it has been very helpful to us on what to allow the kids to see or even to allow us to check out possible movies to rent or see. Happy viewing friends :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Friends with Kids

When we first got married it began to hitme that my single friends and I had lost some of our common ground and we began making couple friends. Then when we had kids, I think that even more ground was lost and now I think all of my friends have kids.

Can you still remain friends with people without kids or a husband? I am sure you can, it's just..... different. And don't get me wrong because different isn't always bad.

But while they go to starbucks or late night shows... I clean up little tushies and clean up tons of spilled milk. While they go on dates, I spend nights snuggled at home with my husband of 8 years. I get sticky little kisses they might be getting first kisses. I travel with a crowd-- they travel the world.

I don't want to say one is better, but if I am going to share an experience, I can't imagine 4 people who'd I'd want to share it with. And when I talk to a friend about late night feedings, husbands socks, or what children's consignment sale was the best, I kind of want friends who know exactly what I mean. They have been there too.

You can have single friends and I have a few, but I just think my friendships with people I have known for way less time and yet because they too have stayed up all night with a sick child, well, they have come to mean far more to me and become the stronger relationships in my life.

So I guess what I am saying is I like my friends and I like them even more when they have cleaned vomit out of the car because they have some cute little kids of their own!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Product Review-- The Mystery of History

We get asked pretty frequently which curriculum we use and we have asked numerous other families what they use. That is part of the beauty of homeschooling-- the sense of community and sharing that transpires. I wanted to share with you our History Curriculum for the year that I absolutely love.

Our children are all not the same age and I take it yours aren't either and thats part of the beauty of this curriculum. It gives you a little lesson to read infused with scriptures and God's truths as she takes you through the ancient civilizations. She provides something for younger children, middle children, and older children and leaves it up to you to pick which activity fits your child best and of course, you are more then welcome to do all 3. But this way you're all learning together and then doing something age specific-- a perfect plan in my mind.

Since we have only just begun, today we made a mini book on the 7 days of creation. The kids loved lifting the flaps and were so excited to create their own little re-telling of the story of creation.

History is amazing-- God's word and story of how we came to be even more so. This is a perfect pairing of the two and we are really enjoying discovering some of the mysteries of history. I have found the author Linda Hobar to be very enthusiastic about her topic and those using the books and that comes across on every page. Happy schooling!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Why We Start School In July and a Sampling of our Day

Today was our first day of school and I often get asked why we begin our school year in July, so i thought I would share the benefits and why it works for us (and maybe you too?):

1. It gets to stinken hot to go outside and if we have to stay in, why not do some school work?
2. The kids have some summer camps that are educational, so by supplementing them with some school, we can count it as one of our school days
3. We like to end our year earlier by the end of April and enjoy the nice Spring weather
4. Taking off in the fall for vacation without any guilt since we are already ahead of the game
5. The flexibility alloted to do a 3 or 4 day week or have time to get sick and still be on time to finish
6. I'm not gonna lie, it sure is nice when public schools begin and we already have 30 or so days completed

So......... what does a homeschool day look like? No two days are ever the same, but we do try and maintain a schedule (this year I made the kids each their own and they loved checking their progress and working ahead) and here is today:

The kids were up at 7:45ish and had to make their beds and get dressed.

Then we went downstairs and had cereal and Bible time. We also went over our new schedules and our Family verse for the school year.

We started with Science at 8:45. This year the older two are both doing Apologia's Junior astronomy and bonus-- we all do it together!

Once Science was done, I did a reading and handwriting lesson with my daughter while my son did his art lesson (He is doing How Great Thou Arts Joseph and the Goose (http://www.howgreatthouart.com/products/5.html).

Then we did my daughter's math and my older and younger son played together. My older son did language arts and handwriting while my daughter did her art lesson and then she played with her younger brother. She is doing an etiquitte/art book http://www.howgreatthouart.com/products/7.html.

After that we all did Mystery of History and then the kids made some river landscape collages. This was a lot of fun as most early civilizations began around a river.

We did plan on going to the library before lunch, but someone had a meltdown and had to spend some time in her room cleaning it up, so I did my older sons math and we use singapore math http://www.singaporemath.com/. He also did it super fast, so he practiced piano while I began making lunch and put some laundry in.

We had leftover quinoa fajitas for lunch-- yay for cleaning out the fridge and eating healthy!

Everyone helped clean up lunch by running out the recyclables, wiping the table and sweeping the floor-- many hands make the work light.

Then, we left for the library around noon and stayed for about 45 minutes. The kids are doing summer reading at the library so they were excited to get a new free book-- nice first day of school prize, huh?

Afterwards we came home and read some books on space, creation, and then a chapter from Caddie Woodlawn. I found these adorable free paperdolls for my daughter to act out the story with http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/kids/dolls/caddie/clothes.asp. Then, thankfully, the younger two took naps while my older son read and I worked on some 31 things and cleaned the bathroom.

Thats our day and now we are off to make dinner and get ready for VBS!

Pork Meatballs

Growing up in a half Itallian home meant that every Sunday after church we would come home and eat some form of pasta. And even though my mom was the non-Itallian, she made amazing meatballs.

These days I am a vegetarian, yet my men-folk LOVE their meatballs! Due to my husbands work schedule, we dont always have our sunday pasta, but I did make some this sunday along with a twist on my mama's meatballs and I hope you enjoy them as much as my men do :) Ciao!

I had a pound of organic ground pork and had saved some bacon drippings from earlier this month. To do this, when your bacon is done cooking and the pan has cooled, pour the grease and little bacon bits into a container and when it is cool enough, place in freezer. I just defrosted it along with my meat and the smell even before it began to cook was heavenly-- and again, I'm a vegetarian!

Pork Meatballs
1. 1 lb of ground pork ( I got mine from the local farmers market)
2. 3 tbs of leftover bacon grease
3. 1 large egg
4. 1/4 cup of grated parmigano cheese
5. 1/2 cup of itallian breadcrumbs
6. 1 tsp. of dried basil (my husband does not like leaves in his meatballs, but you're welcome to use fresh)
7. 1 tsp. of dried oregano
8. 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
9. 2 cloves of garlic minced
10. 1 tsp mccormick steak seasoning

Begin by mixing your egg first and then add bacon grease and then the meat. Allow to mix well and then add seasonings and let mix till mixed through. Roll into balls and place in baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until desired brown-ness.

Enjoy-- It makes enough for more than one meal and they freeze wonderfully!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Fun Thanks to Pinterest-- Frozen Toys

If you are not on pinterest, you really are missing out. It is worth your time to spend a couple of minutes and see how easy it is amd then to enjoy it.

I got this idea of freezing some of the kids toys in a block of ice off of pinterest. It is so simple, so easy to do and I just have a couple of tips to add to your summer fun.

1. It might be a good idea to wear some sunglasses as the ice tends to fly.
2. Provide some real hammers and supervise the activity and it will be much more gratifying to the whackers.
3. Freeze small and big things and things that float and won't float-- this will spread the objects out a bit within the ice
4. Think about adding some dye to the water for extra fun or freeze it in layers with different colors.

Above all, have fun and enjoy! We sure had ourselves a fun half hour ;) Happy summer!