Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Poem from my Daughter

My wonderful Dea wrote a poem for me for my birthday. She has given me permission to share it with you.

You're the Best Mom

You're the best mom
Any girl could have
When I'm away from you
Then I'm really, very sad
No matter how many times
I say that I hate you
It's really not true
And that's because
I will always love you
Whenever I'm gone
I miss you so
And right now I want you to know
That I wrote this poem
Just for you, my wonderful,
loving, and smart mother
I wrote this poem
Just for you
Just so you know
Just how much I really love you

You're beautiful and smart
And caring, too
That's because you're the best mother
That any girl could wish for
No other mother could
Ever compare to you
That is because you're the best
And I really love you
I know that I can talk to you
In any time of need
I can talk to you
About girly things
That I can't talk to
Anyone else about
I love you, mom
I'll always love you
Forever and ever and ever
I hope that you know
But now I know you do
Because I wrote
This poem just for you,
The best mother ever
I love you, mom

Healthy Lunch Options

We were at the park today with some friends. The kids were playing. The husbands were talking music. The ladies were talking about, well.... everything. One of the things we talked about was the healthy food we feed our families. My friend had asked about healthy lunches & I had stalled. For the most part, my kids eat peanut butter sandwiches every day. It's not that we don't know of other, healthy options. They like peanut butter, it's fairly cheap, & it's healthy. However, after leaving the park, I was thinking about healthy lunches (trying to remember some of our faves). So, I thought I'd post some healthy lunch options here.

Now, I know that some of you are screaming at your computer, that pizza is NOT a health food. However, it really can be. First, keep in mind that I'm not talking about eating Pizza Hut or frozen pizza. I'm talking about homemade pizza.
When making homemade pizza crust (really easy, by the way), use wheat flour for at least half the flour. Don't add salt - you don't need it. You aren't in need of a preservative for something that will be eaten that day. You can add herbs (preferably fresh) to the dough for added flavor.
Don't grease the pizza pan. If  you have a pizza pan, not a stone, spray it with fat-free cooking spray & lightly dust with cornmeal.
Make your own pizza sauce, even if you just use a can of tomato puree & add seasonings to it. Again, fresh herbs will add a ton of flavor, without the added sodium, fat, etc. Use fresh garlic, onions, sage, oregano, basil, and black pepper. Consider adding some diced tomatoes and maybe some veggies to your sauce.
When you put on toppings, go for some healthy ones. Try adding veggies to your pizza, instead of just meat. Go for a spinach & chicken pizza. If you have to have pepperoni, try turkey pepperoni. It is just as good, but healthier.
Go light on the cheese or use use stronger tasting cheeses. Sprinkle some herbs on top.
Shrink the size. One batch of pizza dough should be enough for 3-4 personal pizzas. You could also consider using flour tortillas, biscuits, english muffins, or bagels, instead of pizza dough.
You can also make your own pizza rolls & freeze them.

Corn dog muffins
Make up a batch of corn muffin mix. Cut up some hot dogs. You can go for whichever hot dogs you prefer. These work with turkey dogs & all beef dogs. I'd assume any hot dog would be fine. Mix hot dog pieces into corn muffin mix. Pour into muffin pan & bake.

If your kids will eat salad, there's no reason not to have one for lunch. You should add some protein to it, though, to help keep them full until dinner. Protein can come from left over meat, lunch meat, nuts, or hard boiled eggs. Also, add some fruits to it. Apples, pears, mandarin oranges, grapes, and strawberries are great salad additions.

In the colder months, soup makes a great lunch. If you're into cold soups, you can do those in the warmer months.

Use leftovers
You can use leftovers to make entirely new dishes. Make fried rice, stir fry, quesadillas, pasta dishes, or sandwiches.

Of course, don't underestimate the easy stuff like sandwiches. Grilled cheese sandwiches are great. They can be easily dressed up a bit, if you're in the mood for something different. Sometimes, all it takes is a change of cheese. Instead of that plain slice of american, use cheddar, pepperjack, muenster, or a combination of cheeses. You could add tomato slices, a slice of ham, some shredded chicken from last night's dinner, portobello mushroom slices, or maybe a little salsa. Lunch meat sandwiches can be spiced up by toasting them or adding different condiments. Try cranberry mustard, sweet relish, or even some veggie dip (like spinach dip or dill dip). Consider adding some fresh herbs to a little mayo. Make your own spread with greek yogurt, a little lemon juice, and some fresh herbs.

Also, offer a piece of fruit, fresh veggies, applesauce, or a pickle to go with lunch.

These are just some off the top of my head. If I think of more, I'll post them.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Oh What a Day!

My birthday is this weekend, so hubby took the day off. We have been busy ALL day! First, we had some issues with our alarm company, and had to deal with those. Then, we went to the library, which was busier than usual (maybe because we were there earlier than usual). The more people around, the worse Jay behaves. So, he's running through the kids' section & talking loudly as he looks for a book (I'm sure the group that was there really appreciated that). Then, he had to pee (because he has to pee ALL THE TIME, if we are out somewhere), but couldn't get the door to the bathroom open. So, he went running through the kids' section (again), trying to go to the media area (that's where hubby was), without me. Our library has rules against 7 year olds running through the building, unsupervised, so he had to wait. Then, when we got to the media area, he suddenly forgot that he still needed to pee, and tried to run off to look for an audio book. He was warned about his behavior (again), and told that if he misbehaved one more time (while in the library), one of us would wait in the car with him next week.

Then, after the fun of the library, it was time to go do the shopping and make car payment. First, we had to stop for hubby to pick up my birthday present. He bought me a new ceramic chef's knife. Mine broke about a week ago (I hit a piece of bone in a boneless skinless chicken breast I was cutting, the blade stuck, & a good sized chip was still in the bone when I pulled the knife out). He knows that I LOVE my ceramic knife, so he bought me a new one.

While at WalMart, I forgot that we need color ink, typical. I did, however, finally remember that I have been wanting to pick up a soap dispenser for the kitchen, so we can keep hand soap in there & they can stop wasting my dish soap to wash their hands. The kids each bought me a book. Jay got me Witch & Wizard by James Patterson. Dea got me Family Storms by V.C. Andrews. Since my kids picked them out for me, they will be the next books I read. To be honest, I've only read one book by V.C. Andrews (Flowers in the Attic), and don't think I've ever read James Patterson. Apparently, I did something to my ankle while we were at WalMart, as it has been hurting since about halfway through the store.

Then, it was off to lunch. I love, love, love Chinese food. Dea shares my love of it, but the guys don't. We don't get it often. We always eat food common to a culture or area, when we are studying it. Right now, we are studying Ancient China. We normally make the food ourselves, but since this is my b-day weekend & we would be eating Chinese anyway, we counted today as that part of our study. We were going to go to our regular Chinese place, but it was pretty crowded. So, we tried a new place (not really new, but new to us). It was fantastic! The food was delicious & the service was great. The restaurant was beautifully decorated. It had gorgeous lighting fixtures, paper lanterns, musical instruments hanging on one wall, 3d pictures showing scenes of China & the Great Wall. Everyone enjoyed lunch. Jay didn't like the soup, but at least he ate some of the appetizers & his food.

After dropping our purchases off at home, we headed to the grocery store. That took longer than I had hoped it would. My ankle hurting didn't help. We spent more than I wanted to spend on food, too. We needed some staples, the kids have flown through some things, and we picked up a few out of the ordinary items. I should know better than to do all of that in one trip. It always ends up more expensive. Of course, the fact that our current store has higher meat prices than our previous store helps to raise the grocery bill, too. However, this store doesn't cause breathing problems, coughing fits, or asthma attacks like the other one did. That's a fair trade-off, in my opinion.

When we got home, there were random things we needed to do. We ate dinner an hour late tonight (and we had leftovers). Jay didn't even have time to read until 7:30pm. Well, he could have read before that, but he was playing outside. It has been a long day, and it's only 8:30pm. My ankle is still bothering me. It doesn't appear swollen, and it's not discolored. So, I don't think it is anything to worry about. However, the last thing I need right now is one more thing to cause me problems working out. I can barely do anything as it is because I keep having these stupid coughing fits. This round of prednisone doesn't seem to be as effective as previous rounds. I thought I'd be feeling better by now. Luckily, my appointment with the dr is next week. Maybe they can figure this thing out & fix whatever is going on.

Looks like I'm off to clean melted wax off the bathroom sink. Jay was playing with a candle, in the bathroom, while he was getting ready for bed. What fun!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

thoughts, ideas, ramblings

I don't know what I was thinking when I decided to try to do a detailed plan a week at a time. I have always done multiple weeks, and it worked fine. I have finished splitting up Jay's 2nd grade as terms & am working on planning out Dea's 8th grade as terms. It is so simple this way. I'm already feeling more relaxed about the school year.

Since I was working on redoing the planning method this week, the 1st term for 2nd grade will start next Monday. So, I'm not being too strict about them getting a lot of work done this week. My birthday is this weekend, so they are making me birthday cards today. We have done some work this week, just not a lot.

I had an idea today. Jay has Dyslexia & Dea might have mild Dyslexia. I ended up buying All About Spelling to help with their spelling issues. It is an Orton-Gillingham based, multi-sensory approach to spelling, and teaches spelling rules not specific words. Anyway, we were practicing the ASL alphabet today, and it hit me. I can have them do fingerspelling along with their spelling program & when we come across words they seem to really struggle with. If they have to stop to think about spelling it, to spell it out with ASL, it might help them cement the proper spelling. So, we will be incorporating fingerspelling into our school day.

Tonight's dinner will be grilled Mahi Mahi, golden potatoes, and baked acorn squash. Tonight is Dea's night to help. Jay helped last night. We had pot roast, buttered noodles, and salad. Tomorrow, we're going out for Chinese for lunch. It's my birthday lunch. The guys don't like Chinese & getting it from a good restaurant is expensive. So, we only have it one or two times a year. It's what I have chosen for my birthday meal. So, we'll go out for lunch and I'll cook dinner. I'm hoping to make roasted chicken for dinner tomorrow, but that will depend on if the chicken has thawed by then.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Schedule

I started out Jay's 2nd grade year with a plan to keep track of our planned & actual work in a notebook. The plan was to have a 2-page spread for each week. It is now 4 weeks since we started the year, but we're still in Week 2 of work. This will drive me batty if it continues. So, I was thinking about it, and I think I've come up with the perfect solution.

I'm going to split the school year into 3 terms of 15 weeks each. After each term, he will get a 1-2 week break. This will extend our school year from 40 to 45 weeks. That extension will give us a cushion to finish all our work. It will also allow us to fit in more work than we had originally anticipated. I think this new schedule will make planning much easier for me. I will still use the notebook, but there will be a slight change. Now, each subject will have a section in the notebook, 2-4 pages, for each term. That way, I can plan for the whole 15 weeks at once. With 15 weeks planned out, instead of one week, I won't have to worry about the days when we don't get much (or any) school work done, because it will even out by the end of the term. I will also be putting Dea on the same type of schedule when she starts 8th. They will still be on different schedules, but the same concept of 3 terms of 15 weeks.

I also think this will be good for the kids. They'll know "I have school this week through that week, then 2 weeks off." It should also help with their time management skills. I think the specific knowledge of exactly when they have school & when their breaks are will help. The deadline of the end of term should also help out a lot. Right now, we don't really have set deadlines for school work. I think that putting deadlines in place will be a good thing.

We'll be starting this next week. Jay will be getting a copy of what is expected in the term. He will know exactly what work needs to be done. He will be able to use his copy of the plan to keep track of what he has done. Of course, when Dea starts 8th grade, she'll also get a copy of the plan for each term.

The Kids Help in the Kitchen

Last night, Jay helped with dinner.

We had Barramundi on the grill, brushed with herbed lemon butter. We used the indoor grill/griddle because it is easier to grill fish indoors & this way Jay can help.

We also had grilled portobello mushrooms. They were also brushed with the herbed lemon butter.

He even helped with the risotto. This was just a basic risotto, nothing interesting about it.

He made the salad on his own. Dinner turned out quite well. We may have found a new fish we like (we'll have to try it at least once more before we can be certain).

Dea made most of dinner tonight. We had chicken & spinach lasagna & salad. I made the salad. Dea made the lasagna, with a little guidance from me. She made a white sauce. She mixed chicken, half a bag of spinach, and a container of ricotta cheese together. Then, she layered noodles, the chicken cheese mixture, and the white sauce. She topped it all of with some shredded mozzarella. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, covered with foil for the first 30 minutes.

Here is the cat begging me to give him some of the chicken:

And here he is mad at me for not giving him chicken:

If Homeschooling Were Illegal

There's a poll on asking "what would you do if homeschooling became illegal in your state?" This question goes along with another one "what would you do if your child wanted to go to public school?"

I have always said that, if the kids wanted to go to public school, I'd let them (at least once they hit high school). However, I'm not so sure of that. There would be no academic challenge for either of the kids in the public schools. Plus, schools just don't know how to deal with kids like mine. I know a lot of people say things like that, but I guarantee it is true in this case.

Academic Challenge: If we were to allow them to attend public school, it would not be before high school. In my state, homeschoolers are considered private schools. This allows us a certain amount of freedom. However, a student entering high school will not receive credit for any courses, unless they were completed through an accredited school/program. We, as you know, don't use an accredited school/program. Which means that none of the high school courses I put on their transcripts would count to the public school. So, they'd have to redo them. Now, let's look at this.
Dea is finishing 7th grade right now. By the time she is done with 8th, here's what will be on her high school transcript: 2 courses Art Appreciation, 2 courses Music Appreciation, 1course World Geography, 2 years P.E.,1course World History, 2courses English, 4courses Science, up to 4courses Math, Foreign Language - still undecided how I will credit this or if she'll get credit for all of them.
Our local district has two listed sets of requirements. One if for the regular diploma & the other is the Scholar's Diploma (for those going on to college after high school). Here are the requirements for the Scholar's Diploma: English 4 years, 3 years Social Studies (History, Geography, Government, Economics), Math 3 years, Science 3 years, Art, music, or Foreign Language 3 years, 3.5 years P.E., 1 semester Health, electives to bring credits up to required amount.
By the time she's done with 8th, she'll have finished more than half the requirements for the Scholar's Diploma, but none of it would count & she'd have to retake all of them. That would not be challenging for her. It would bore her to the point of acting up & getting in trouble. Not to mention that it would be a monumental waste of her time. Retaking courses she's already passed would not be a good use of her time. If she sticks to schedule, she's currently set to graduate after 10th grade. That would not happen if she went to public school.
Jay, being in 2nd grade, has no high school credits, yet. However, let's look at this. He is at least 2 years advanced in his Math courses. If he keeps going at the speed he's currently at, he could very likely being doing Algebra in 4th. That's just Math. He's ahead in most subjects. I have no doubts that his transcript will have just as much as (if not more than) Dea's by the time he starts 9th grade. So, again, no academic challenge in redoing work you did years ago. I know, from personal experience.

Kids like mine: Our district has a Gifted Program. It also has Special Ed options. However, the Gifted Program was academically boring, and the work was beneath me. My kids take after me, and I don't see them being challenged by that program. Also, they aren't just Gifted. They also have ADHD, Dea has Bipolar, she might have mild Dyslexia, Jay has Dyslexia, and he has OCD tendencies and some sensory issues. How the hell would any public school, that has to cater to the 'average' student, handle all of that? Even the specialized programs wouldn't work, because they have to cater to the 'average' student they were created for. The Gifted program wouldn't be challenging enough & wouldn't be able to handle the ADHD, Bipolar, Dyslexia, etc. The Special Ed options would only focus on the ADHD, Dyslexia, etc. & wouldn't challenge them academically.

So, neither of them would benefit from the public schools. Neither would be challenged academically, and their needs would not be met. I guess, if they requested trying a year in public school, I might let them try it. I would only do it for their 9th grade year, though. I'm sure that after one year (or less) of wasting their time & redoing courses they've already done, they'd decide to come back home. If homeschooling were to become illegal in my state, I'd have to figure something out (charter school or online school, supplemented by me), but they would not be going into the local district.

Monday, April 25, 2011

CoverGirl NatureLuxe BzzCampaign

My newest BzzCampaign is for CoverGirl NatureLuxe foudation & Gloss Balm.

Now, I should start by saying that I rarely wear make-up. I spend most of my time at home, cooking, cleaning, doing school with the kids, working in the yard, continuing my own education, etc. When I do go out, it's usually to go to the library, do the shopping,or taking the kids to the park. I don't see any of those as things that require make-up. The biggest reason, though, is that I have trouble finding make-up I like. I need something light & airy. I can't stand heavy, oily foundation. I also have vampiricly pale skin, so finding something that matches (and isn't Halloween make-up) isn't easy.

So, I got to choose which color foundation they sent me (from a list). I, of course, chose the lightest one. However, the one they sent me (which is the one I chose), may have been the lightest on the list, but it's not the lightest they have. It is way too dark for me. I recieved the Aspen. I'm going to buy the Alabaster. That one has the best chance of matching my skin tone. So, after I buy the Albaster, I'll post again to let you know if it is light enough.

Even though the Aspen is too dark, I put some on anyway. I did this on a day that I was staying home, so nobody would see it (since it is so dark compared to my skin). I didn't want to spend money to buy the Alabaster if I wasn't going to like it. It is a light, airy foundation. It is not oily or heavy. It went on silky & smooth. There were no lumps, and it was well mixed. It provided an even color over my face, no area being lighter or darker. It did seem to have great coverage of blemishes & freckles, but I'm waiting until I have tried one that matches my skin tone before claiming that as fact.
The foundation has SPF10, which is great. It comes in 14 shades, so most people will find one that works for them. One of the biggest things, for me though, is the smell. I have this insanely sensitive sense of smell. I can't stand make-up that has a chemical smell to it. It bugs me all day. This stuff doesn't, though. It's scent is actually really nice. That has to do with the rosehip extract (which I can actually smell) & jojoba. The container is 1 fluid oz & retails for about $12. That's not a bad price considering some of the options out there. It didn't leave my skin feeling dry, oily, or anything else after washing it off, and I just used regular soap & water.

The lip Gloss Balm has SPF15. It comes in 16 shades, and I intend to try more of them. I really liked the feel of it. It was smooth & silky, like when I put on lip balm followed by lipstick. It has a touch of color, just enough to be noticable, but still look natural. Again, there's no heaviness to it. It isn't sticky or gooey like some lipsticks or lipglosses. It also has a fantastic scent, even better than the foundation.  


I decided to have some acorn squash for lunch today. While it was cooking, I decided to toss in an apple, some corn, some chicken, and spinach. The chicken is left over from dinner a few nights ago. I was cutting it up to use in chicken & spinach lasagna for tomorrow. The corn is left over from that same night. We cut 9 ears of corn in half & cooked them that night. We had a bit left over & I need to use it.

It was really good. Both the kids had some, too. I was kind of surprised at that. They don't usually volunteer to have new foods, so this was pretty cool.

So, if you're looking for a healthy lunch or side dish, try this one.

1 acorn squash, chopped
saute in a pat of butter with a sprinkle or brown sugar & a splash of vanilla extract
when mostly done, add in 1 chopped apple
add a little juice to keep from burning
add a handful of cooked, chopped chicken and some corn (corn from 1.5 ears)
add 2-3 handfuls of fresh spinach
turn off, cover with lid for 5 minutes

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Delish Heart-Healthy Chicken Dish

I made this fantastic stove-top chicken dish for dinner tonight. My blood pressure is a little high, so I'm trying to make meals even healthier than we normally eat (we already eat a rather healthy diet). So, tonight, I was deciding what to do with the chicken I pulled out, and inspiration struck.

First, I sliced the breasts in half (I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts), pounded them a little, and cut them into slices.

Next, I sliced some potatoes. I'm not a huge fan of russet. I used gold & red for this, but I'm sure you could use any you want.

Then, I put the chicken in a large pan to start cooking while I chopped some fresh garlic, dill, and chives. Once I had those chopped, I added them & the potatoes to the pan. Instead of using oil or butter, I added some fat free low sodium chicken broth (I would have used homemade stock, but didn't have any on hand).

I put the lid on the pan and started on the veggies. I halved a few handfuls of grape tomatoes & cut the corn off three half ears of corn from the other night.

As a last minute decision, I halved some baby carrots & added those.

When it was just about done, I added in the tomatoes & corn. Then, I sprinkled a little grated parmesan on top.

As a final touch, I added some fresh ground black pepper. I don't generally add salt when I cook, but you could add some to this dish. I prefer sea salt because it has a better flavor & since it is stronger, you use less. I've never been big on salt, but if I use salt on food, it is always sea salt. However, none was added to this meal.

So, here is the final product.

It was delicious! It was easy & quick to cook. Plus, it was a one pot (well pan) dish. The best thing, though, is that it is a really healthy dish.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

School Room

We have, over the years, gone back & forth on the idea of having a school room. We have had a school room, but not used it. So, we changed it back to another room. Mainly, it has been the dining room/school room, with the only point of the school room being storage of school materials. Most recently, our school materials have been stored in the dining room and the arts &crafts room, except their desks which have been in their closet.

Lately, the kids have been asking me to pull out their desks. So, this week has been spent turning the dining room into an actual school room, since that's what they want. It has taken a little work, which is not easy when you can't breathe, but we're finally done with the school room.
Here's before:

Yes, that is black plastic over the windows. It was originally put up for a Halloween party, but we left it up because the kids destroyed the shades.
A large part of this project was cleaning. The kids aren't great at cleaning up after themselves. This room was clean the day before I took these pics. My kids are like natural disasters. They can take a room from spotless to totally trashed in a matter of seconds.

Here's the after:

I turned the bookcase sideways, the school cabinet is on the other side of it. The curtains are temporary & made from Jay's old Cars bedsheets. The desk in this pic is Dea's.
Here's a side view of the bookcase & cabinet.

This is Jay's desk. We'll raise it up leter today, so he can sit in the chair at the desk. The chest of drawers, in the closet, has paper & other art supplies. The 3-drawer chest next to the tv also has art supplies. I still haven't figured out where the world map will go (it was on the front of the bookcase).

Turning the dining room into a school room means also rearranging some other areas of the house, as well. They can't do much of their work sitting near each other, so we have to have a table in the office for them.
Here's the before:

We haven't really used this table for anything, and it's way too short for anyone to sit at.

Here's the after:

This is a small kitchen table I've had forever (it used to be my great-grandma's).

The arts & crafts room also needed to be rearranged.

Again, a large part was getting it clean again. I'm not sure if you can tell, but the school cabinet, the chest of drawers that is now in the school room closet, and the table that is now in the office were all in the arts & crafts room.

Here's the after:

Not a bad job for 3 days of work.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Not Grade 2 Week 2

So, I've decided that this last week is not being counted as Week 2 of Grade 2. With my coughing and breathing problems, it was a light week. We watched a few episodes of When We Left Earth. We watched Apollo 13. Jay read quite a few books (both fiction & non-fiction). He got his Grammar done, but only some of his Writing. He did Spanish, practiced Logo Adventures, played TimezAttack, and played Chess. It was a fun, educational week, but I'm not going to count it as a week of school. Next week will be the official Week 2 of Grade2.

On the bright side, it appears that I was right. I seem to be allergic to our normal grocery store. We went to a different store this week, to see if it had a different effect on my breathing. I don't feel any worse after that trip, which is a huge difference from last week when I went from almost back to normal to barely able to breathe in the time it took to do the shopping. The inflammation, from last week, still hasn't gone away, and the Dr won't see me for weeks. At least there has been some improvement, though. Since we're now certain that something at that specific store sets it off, I can avoid that store and hopefully prevent a relapse in the future.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Turnoff Week 2011

Next week, April 18 - 24 is Turnoff Week. Previously known as Turn-Off TV Week, the point is to get people everywhere to turn off their tvs, computers, smartphones, etc. We all know that too much screen time isn't good for you. Turnoff Week is a great idea.
That said.................

We will not be participating in Turnoff Week this month. It is meant to get people to spend more time together as a family. We spend time together. We eat meals together. We go to parks, go on hikes, have family game nights, family movie nights, visit museums, etc. We are all voracious readers and each have hobbies of our own.

I'll admit that one of the reasons we're not doing it is the health issues I'm currently dealing with. Until we figure out what keeps setting off the coughing fits & inflammation in my lungs (which makes breathing a bit difficult), getting out to do things is a bit challenging. We are having a family movie night tonight. We're going to pop some popcorn, turn off the lights, and watch the new Harry Potter. Assuming that our trip to the grocery store this morning doesn't make me worse, we're planning to go to a car show this weekend, too.

Another reason is that we use media for school. If we cut out all tv & computer, that would eliminate multiple classes for the whole week.

Yesterday, I told the kids and hubby that we were going to observe Turnoff Week, just to see their reactions. Jay was really upset about it because it would mean not being able to do Spanish, Logo Adventures, play TimezAttack, watch our ASL dvds, or watch episodes of When We Left Earth (an 11 episode documentary series about NASA and space exploration that we started watching this week for school). Dea was upset because we had already gone to the library and she did not pick up any books on WWII, so she would not be able to do any research for History next week (she's already gone through all the books we own on WWII). Hubby was fine with it, but knew that I wasn't serious.

Maybe we'll do the next one, in September. That way we can plan to take a break from school for the week, let everyone know we'll be doing it (so they know why we aren't answering email, updating the school site, updating my blog, etc.), make sure bills that need to be paid that week are set up, etc. Besides, Autumn is a better season for my asthma anyway, so we'll be able to do more outside that week (assuming we don't get rain all week like they're predicting for this coming week).

So, while I think that Turnoff Week is a great idea & completely support the idea, we won't be observing it this time around.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Enough About That Curriculum Already!

At every homeschool forum I'm on now or have been on in the past, there's always been at least one curriculum that I just get tired of reading about. It's not the same one mentioned at every board. In fact, it seems to be a different one at each board. However, the process is always similar. Someone mentions that they use a certain curriculum. Then, other people who use it come forth to discuss it. Then, there's a wave of people asking questions about it, considering using it. Then, it seems that most threads started about curriculum are about THAT curriculum. As if the massive number of threads about that curriculum aren't enough, it seems to also be mentioned in almost all other curriculum threads. It's like the curriculum is stalking me & I can't get away! I can't even avoid reading about it by avoiding the threads that are specifically about it, because it is mentioned in so many other threads I might want to read.

Of course, it is never a curriculum that I like, use, or am interested in. If it was, I wouldn't be so irritated by it. It's always some curriculum that you couldn't pay me to use. Most of the time, my issue is that it is so religious - to the point of being impossible to secularize because there would be so little left if you were to omit all religious content.

The most recent one, however, is worse than that. I think it's easier for me to understand why someone would use a curriculum that I see so many problems with, if it is a religious choice. When my issues with the curriculum aren't its religious slant, but what I see as lack of academic rigor & challenge, it's much more difficult to understand why anyone would use it. When you add that I find the educational philosophy behind it flawed, and find the price ridiculously high, it is simply not possible for me to understand why anyone would use it.

This lack of understanding is a big part of why I get so irritated by the constant posts about it. I have this need to understand, but there is nothing that will make me understand why people use this curriculum. Because I'm trying to understand, I end up reading more of the posts about it then I really want to, trying to find some comment that will cause that AH-HA moment.

Of course, since I have never used this curriculum, I say nothing about it. I do not voice my opinion. I do not ask "why would you waste your money on something like that?" I know that I would simply be told that you have to use it to see how great it is. I can tell (from samples, articles on the site, even some of the work people have mentioned doing for it) that it would not work for us. I refuse to waste money on a curriculum that I know beforehand won't work for us. I refuse to waste even part of a year using something that offers so little. If I thought there was even a possibility of it working and it was inexpensive enough to buy it & all the stuff I would normally get, so we could supplement (and replace it when it turned out that it didn't work), I would at least consider it. However, there is simply no way I will spend a ridiculous amount of money on something that I know won't work, that doesn't have enough coverage of the subjects it includes, and leaves out so many other subjects that are part of our schooling, just so that I can argue against it or possibly gain insight into what others see in it.

I'm currently so sick of this particular curriculum that I get irritated & frustrated just by seeing the name (or the initials it so often goes by) of the curriculum. There is part of me that wants to email the publisher and tell them that I am apalled by their educational philosophy, the insanely high price, and the lack of rigor & challenge that is so apparent in the samples they provide. I know it won't really do any good, though, which is why I haven't done it.

Now, I've always seen things in a different way. So, it has never really been a surprise that I have a different opinion of some of the more popular curricula. For the most part, I've written it off as differences in homeschool methods, preferred teaching styles, learning styles, even differences in priorities. Does that explain it, though? Do different priorities, learning styles, and methods explain why some people use this curriculum & think it's great and completely worth the money, and yet I look at it and see the exact opposite?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Light week for school

We're doing a light week for school this week. Last week, I was doing soooooooo much better. My voice was almost back to normal. I had almost completely stopped coughing. I went days without coughing to the point of gaging.

Then, we went grocery shopping. While at the store, I started coughing again, huge coughing fits. Now, I've gotten bad again. I'm coughing all day, coughing until I gag, and my voice is almost gone.

So, we're trying to avoid making me talk as much as possible. We're still going to do some work, but we're staying away from things that involve a lot of talking. For Jay's schooling, we're doing ASL, Art, Language Arts, Spanish (Tell Me More is completely on the computer), Logic, and Geography. He'll get some extra practice on lesson 1 for Logo Adventures & chapter 1 for Latin For Children, since I would have to talk if we moved on. For Science & History, we'll watch some of the educational dvds and do some of the projects & activities. Dea will still do pretty much all of her work. She really isn't doing much that requires me to do a lot of talking.

We called the specialist we were told to contact, if the the last round of treatment didn't work. We can't get in to see the doctor until May, though. 3 1/2 more weeks. I'm really not looking forward to waiting that long to fix this. I'm really hoping that I get over this sompletely before then. This week, we're going to a different grocery store, since there seems to be something at our regular store that sets this off. Hopefully, that will help. I know it sounds kind of nuts to say that I think I'm allergic to the grocery store, but that really seems to be it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Stupid Grocery Store

I think our normal grocery store raised their prices. Plus, we're spending a bit more right now, because we are buying more fresh produce. Those two combined mean that our last grocery bill was ridiculously high (for us, anyway). Add to that the fact that I think I'm allergic to that store, and our last shopping trip wasn't exactly a great one. Yes, I said I think I'm allergic. I've been having breathing issues & coughing, since January, due to inflammation in my throat & lungs. I was finally doing better, my voice was almost normal, and I had gone days without coughing. Then, we went to the grocery store. While there, I started coughing, bad coughing fits. By the time we got home, I was feeling awful. I spent most of the rest of the weekend in bed. I'm feeling better again, now. So, since I was fine before the grocery store and am better now, I'd say signs point to something at the grocery store.

Anyway, grocery store allergy aside, I need to cut back on our food bill. So, I figure the first step is cutting out meals where we each get a chunck of meat or a whole chicken breast. I have a beef roast in the fridge. I was going to make pot roast, but have decided against it. Instead, I'm going to cut it up and turn it into at least 2 meals.

Tonight, we'll have beef stew.
Beef - chopped, sauteed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, & worchestershire sauce in large pot

remove beef from pan & set aside
add flour & a little oil to pan, make a dark roux
add box of beef broth and 2cups water
return beef to pot
add chopped red potatoes, peeled & chopped parsnips, and chopped carrots
add fresh sage & fresh dill, finely diced
dried parsley, fresh ground pepper, and sea salt to taste

cook covered, over low heat, for 1-2 hours, adding water or broth as needed

Normally, I would use some wine or ale as part of the liquid, but we don't have any in the house right now & I'm not willing to spend any more money this week. I wasn't planning on making beef stew this week, so I'm making due with what I have on hand. Luckily, I have enough to make a decent stew. It won't be the best I've ever made, but it'll be pretty good.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Grade 2 Week 1 Week in Review

I posted early Wednesday morning with what Jay did on Monday & Tuesday. I'm going to include the stuff he did on those in this post, for a full review of his week.

Math: Mastering Multiplication p. 42, 43, 44, 45, 47, played TimezAttack several times
Easy Grammar grade 2: days 1 - 5
Grammar Tales: read Chicken in the City (noun book), discussed types of nouns (singular, plural, common, proper, concrete, abstract), listed different types of nouns, made a chart of the types of nouns (I chose 3 letters & he came up with a noun for each type of noun & each letter, will post pic below)
Discover the Deck: p. 1 - 11
Geography: Map Corner p.1 - 5, discussed maps & their importance and the history of maps (overview obviously)
Latin for Children: chap 1, dvd lesson, text, activity book, practice words (quiz will be tomorrow since we took Friday off)
Logo Adventures: lesson 1, worked together first time, practiced on his own several times
Free Reading: 1 hour per day, finished The Hunted, The Beast From the East, Dinosaur Wars: Allosaurus vs. Brachiosaurus
Music: guitar lesson on Mon, guitar practice 3 days, recorder practice 1 day; may be taking a break on guitar for a while since he has trouble holding hte guitar correctly
Tell Me More Spanish: 30 minutes one day, 1 hour one day
Logic Safari book 1: Lesson 1
History: watched Ancient China: A Journey Back in Time, read Ancient China Time Travel Guide, wrote in his Ancient China travel journal, tried to watch a lecture from Harvard Extension school but sound was garbled, will try to watch another lecture tomorrow
Science: MSB kit planet poster, watched MSB Gets Lost in Space, watched MSB Out of This World, read MSB Lost in Solar System, read 13 Planets, worked on space log, watched Bill Nye Astronomy, played MSB Lands on Mars on computer
Art: started Origami, spent one day making a basic form, spent one day trying to make hens, didn't work very well, we might not spend much time on this since he doesn't really put a lot of effort into making crisp creases or folding at the right place
ASL: Signing Time Practice Time 123s dvd, practice numbers

Dea showed improvement this week. She's still fighting about Math & Geography. Though, she had no problem with getting down to work, without even having to be told to start school. That might not be a lot of progress, but it is progress.

They also spent time outside riding bikes and playing with neighborhood kids. Jay spent Saturday morning at a soccer game with his grandma. He had so much fun! This was actually a pretty good week.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Our Week So Far

This is Jay's first week of 2nd grade. It's about 2am on Wednesday as I type this, so we've only had 2 days of school. So far, it's been great, though.

Here's what he's done so far this week:
Mastering Multiplication - p. 42 & 43
Easy Grammar Grade 2 - day 1 & 2
Grammar Tales - read the Noun book, discussed plural & singular nouns
Discover the Deck - p. 1-8
Geography - Map Corner p. 1-5, discussed importance of maps
Latin for Children Primer A - Chapter 1, watched dvd lesson (twice), one worksheet, 2 pages in activity book, practiced words
Logo Adventures - Lesson 1 (30 minutes on Monday), practice skills (30 minutes Tuesday)
Music - guitar practice 30 minutes Mon, guitar lesson Mon, recorder lesson/practice 30 minutes Tuesday
Spanish - Tell Me More 30 minutes Tuesday
Logic Safari - Lesson 1
Science - MSB Space Kit, Phoebe's Activity (planet poster & stickers), read MSB Lost in the Solar System, watched MSB Gets Lost in Space & MSB Out of This World, started Space Log (journal of study of space)
Art - origami, practice making basic forms
Free reading - 1 hour per day, finished The Hunted(National Parks Mysteries series), started The Beast From the East (Goosebumps)

Plus, he has played TimezAttack, Chess, and MSB Lands on Mars on the computer

In addition to the successful beginning to the school year, there have been some other cool things going on this week. The most recent round of meds seems to be working. Tues was the last day of the pills. Tuesday night, I did 2.5 miles on the Gazelle without any breathing problems! That is just awesome, considering how bad my breathing has been lately. There is almost no coughing at all, and I didn't start coughing while working out. This is great. I might finally be getting past this. I'm kind of scared to get on a scale right now, though. Prednisone tends to cause weight gain (from water retention & increased appetite). The fact that I can breathe again and have stopped coughing is worth the extra work it'll take to get rid of it, though.

Well, I'm off to check on the beef jerky. :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Grade 2 Week 1

Monday, April 4th, Jay will start 2nd grade. So, I spent some tiem on Saturday getting together the materials for his first week. Each of us has a canvas basket to hold the needed materials for the week. My basket holds teacher editions, materials for projects, activities, & experiments, and  some basic supplies. The kids' baskets hold books, workbooks, their binders, and cd cases that hold cds & dvds they need for the week. Only materials we own go in the baskets. Library materials and dvds from Netflix have places of their own, so they don't get lost or destroyed. Also, only pre-planned materials go in the baskets. If we choose something at the last minute, it's kind of difficult to have it in the basket already.  :)

This year, instead of printed schedules that I fill in with plans for the week, I'm  keeping track in a notebook. In the notebook, each week will have a two-page spread. One page will have a detailed list of what I had planned for the week. The other page will have a detailed list of what we did. This way, I'll have a good idea of how much work he's doing in each subject, where we can add more work, and where we might need to back off a bit. It should also show which types of assignments he prefers, excels at, struggles with, and dislikes. I've chosen the notebook, instead of printed pages, to save on money, ink, paper, and room in one of our binders.

It will be a busy week, but a fun one! Jay is really excited about it. He's thrilled with the fact that I am allowing him to decide if he will do Notebooking Pages or not. He loves the idea of doing a Space Log (a journal in which he will record his study of Astronomy, as if he is really traveling in space) instead of Notebooking Pages. Plus, he's really enjoying telling everyone that he's finished 1st grade and is moving on to 2nd grade. He's very proud of that.