Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Search for a Grocery Store

We used to do our shopping at the Hilander nearest our house. Earlier this year, we started shopping at Logli, because I went into coughing fits every time we were at our usual store. Well, Logli's meat selection isn't as good as Hilander (and it's more expensive). So, we tried the Hilander again, and I seemed fine. We figured we'd do our main shopping at hilander & go to Logli for the few things that the Hilander doesn't carry.

Last week, I bought a bottle of Pomegranate Infused Red Wine Vinegar. It wasn't until after I used it on some chicken that I looked at the date on it - Best By 12/08/2010. 2010!!!! This is July of 2011! They had food 7 months past its date on the shelves! I am livid about this. It's not about the money that was wasted. It's about total lack of concern for their customers. I also bought a bag of potatoes only to have them all smell rotten on the inside when I cut them up to cook.

This is not the first time that I have had a problem like this with a Hilander store. I check the dates before buying yogurt, because I have so often found ones past the 'sell by' date (in fact, last week I had to dig to find yogurt that didn't have a sell by date that had already passed by at least 2 days). I have found sour cream that was open & molding. I have found chicken broth that was expired. The list goes on.

Yes, I have had occasional problems with other stores. I bought a box of chicken broth from Logli, got home, and found out that it had been opened. I refuse to buy rotisserie chicken from WalMart anymore because the last 2 times we bought it, it was nauseating - the first time gobs of semi-solid fat shot out at me when I cut into the breast & the second time it wasn't fully cooked.

One bad experience or problems with one specific product is one thing. Constantly finding expired food still on the shelves is another. It is part of their job to check the dates on items to make sure that they are not selling food that has gone bad.

So, I am now refusing to shop at the nearest Hilander. I would prefer to not shop at any Hilander at all. We can get most of what we need from Logli, but need somewhere else to get meat. So, yesterday we went to several different stores, trying to find somewhere to buy meat. There is one store that has really good quality meat, but the prices are too high. There was one store that smelled awful, the fruit looked rotten, and the meat was disgusting. All the meat was in a butcher's case, but the back wasn't closed. The meat was piled up in excessive amounts. It was turning colors & drying out from exposure to the air & not being kept cold enough. Most places just seem to have low-quality meat, a small selection, ridiculous prices, or some combination of the three.

Our city appears to have a distinct shortage of meat markets & butcher shops. It is so hard to find quality meat, at an affordable price, in this city. Well, I'm off to do some online research to see if I can find somewhere near us that has decent meat & affordable prices.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Day in the Life

The kids slept downstairs last night because it was just too hot upstairs. When they got up this morning, they got themselves breakfast. Then, I let them play until 9am.

At 9am, Jay decided to do his hour of reading. He finished Gregor the Overlander last night, and started a Goosebumps this morning. While he read, Dea & I did English. This is her first week of 8th grade. She has opted for doing Easy Grammar all year, instead of just during Term 2. So, I write her daily lesson out on the whiteboard. She copies the sentences onto paper, making the needed corrections. Then, I make the corrections on the board, and she checks her work against that. With 'Answer May Vary' answers, I have her tell me what her answers were, so we can discuss if they are correct or not & why. The last sentence, in Easy Grammar lessons, is always a 'combine the sentences.' She writes her sentence on the whiteboard, so I can check it for proper punctuation, etc. I'm also having her do All About Spelling, because her spelling is in need of serious work. Since I bought AAS Levels 1 & 2 for Jay, I figured it won't hurt Dea to do some review with them. She is, of course, flying through the program. She's actually really enoying it, which kind of surprises me (and really makes me wish I had started her on it much sooner). Then, we do Put That in Writing. Writing is another area that she really needs help.

At 10am, Jay finished quiet reading time & Dea finished English. She then worked in Oxford Latin. Jay and I did his Language Arts. He did some Easy Grammar and AAS. He's got an assignment in Discover the Deck that is due this Friday. I think he decided to take the day off from working on it, though.

From 10:30 - 11:30am, Dea read from The Illiad, and Jay was on the computer. He spent the first 30 minutes doing Math. He started with a game to practice perimeter & area, then spent some time playing Timez Attack. He'll be starting Defeating Division next week. After Math games, he played some other educational games, until lunch.

After lunch, the kids played for a bit. They had to stay inside, since it was mid 90s by mid-morning.

Next, Dea did some Math. Jay did 2 pages in Creating Line Designs book 2, 2 pages in Key to Measurement book 1, and 1 page in Logic Safari. Then, the three of us did ASL with Signing Time volume 2 Playtime Signs. Dea did some housework, and Jay went on the computer to do some Logo Adventures.

Dea had a therapy appointment this afternoon. After hubby got home, he showered. We left for Dea's appointment shortly after that. We didn't get done with her appointment until about 6pm. So, we stopped at Taco Bell to pick up dinner (I was going to cook a roast in the crock pot, but it was too big).

After dinner, we relaxed and read articles to each other until Jay's bedtime. We decided to let the kids sleep downstairs again. It has been around 80 all week. I think there's something wrong with A/C; it really shouldn't be 80 when the thermostat is set at 72-74. 

The heat is not good for my asthma. I've been ok, not problems breathing. I have not been working out, however. I can't workout in high temps without it resulting very bad asthma attacks. We let the kids watch a movie (Journey to the Center of the Earth) before bed. It's just about over. Then, they'll be shutting of the tv & going to sleep. Hubby is in bed reading & will likely turn the light off soon. I will be up for hours still, reading, watching tv shows or movies that only I enjoy (or that are inappropriate for the kids), and doing some research on the computer.

Friday, July 15, 2011

8th Grade

Tomorrow, I go pick up Dea from my grandpa's house. On Monday, she starts 8th grade. We have finally figured out how her year will go. So, here's the plan:

Term 1 July 18 - Oct 28

Math: LOF Adv. Alg.

Latin: Oxford Latin Course

English: most of English will be in T2, but she'll be doing writing throughout the whole year, literature throughout the year, and has the option to do grammar throughout the year
For writing she'll be using Put That in Writing level 1 and additional writing assignments
Literature: this term she will read The Illiad & The Odyssey

ASL: she'll continue doing ASL with us

Spanish: if she chooses she can do Spanish with Tell Me More

Computer Programming: if she chooses, she can do Logo Adventures on her own

Term 2 Nov 7 - Mar 9

Math: LOF Geometry

Latin: Oxford Latin Course

English: Easy Grammar 10
Put That in Writing and additional writing assignments
Beowulf, Eaters of the Dead
Myths/Legends - Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Norse, Celtic, Native American, American Legends/Tall Tales

History - Ancient Civilizations: A Comparative Study
topics covered include: Government/Social Structure, Religion, Daily Life, Clothing & Food, The Arts, Science & Invention, Weapons & Warfare
required civilizations: Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, Vikings
optional civilizations: Celts, Gauls, Mesopotamia, Saxon, Isrealites

ASL: she'll continue doing ASL with us

Spanish & Computer Programming: she can continue on her own, if she chooses

Term 3 Mar 19 - June 29

Math: LOF Geometry (if doesn't finish in T2)

Latin: Oxford Latin Course

Science: Anatomy & Physiology
Fundamentals of Anatomy & Physiology as a spine, supplement with anatomy coloring book, websites, software, additional reading, dvds, etc.

Put That in Writing and additional writing assignments
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

ASL: continue ASL with us

Spanish & Computer Programming: can continue if she chooses

So, that's the plan for 8th grade. She says she's looking forward to it. I'm really hoping for a year without the constant fighting. This schedule will allow her to have more free time for her social life and volunteer work, while still making sure we have enough time to go in-depth. So, it's theoretically a win-win situation.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How we've been doing

Ok, so I tried doing daily posts about what we do, but it was too much time each day. I also tried doing a post each week covering what we did for school all week, but oftern forget. So, now I'm thinking about doing a 'Day in the life' post once a week, that would show we do that day, and a still attempting a weekly 'Our Week' post.

This isn't a 'Day in the Life' post, though. It's just goning to be a quick update on our schooling over the last few weeks.

Last week & this week, Dea is on break. So, it's just Jay doing school. Actually, it's jsut Jay at home, since Dea is out of town. We actually haven't done much Language Arts, except reading every day. He is refusing to move to the next chapter in Latin until Dea gets home, so we're just doing some review. We're also not moving on in ASL until Dea gets back. We need to get back into the habit of doing Spanish & Logo Adventures; we haven't done any since we were having hard drive issues a few weeks back. He's been doing Math, and doing it well. He's finished all the regular pages in Mastering Multiplication and is now doing the 'Additional Topics' in the back. We've done some Science & History, but have slacked on Geography. He's done several pages in Logic and Creating Line Designs (Art). He's decided that he needs to wait on learning guitar; it hurts his wrist & hand. He's spent time on the computer doing fun, educational stuff.

So, we haven't been doing all the stuff we had planned, but we're not really behind either. There has just been so much going on that it has been hard to fit everything in. Jay has been sleeping in more, since he's been up late so many nights. We've had company more than ususal & have been going out more. So, trying to fit it all in has just isn't working.

Small Change to Grade 2

We have decided to make a small change to Jay's 2nd Grade year. We were going to study Vikings in Term 2 and Native American history & culture in Term 3. We have decided to switch those. We will now be studying Native Americans in Term 2 and Vikings in Term 3. The main reason for this change, is Thanksgiving. We decide to use only foods available to the Native Americans (before the Europeans) to make our Thanksgiving dinner.  We have not settled on an exact menu, yet. Wheat & apples (except crab apples) came with the Europeans, so they will not be included. There are still tons of foods we can include. I will post again, once we have decided on our menu.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Weekend Didn't Go As Planned

Since I still had a headache for most of Friday, we didn't do any bookwork. We watched some of the shows I'd found for Jay's Science & History studies and some Mythbusters. Jay read some of the library books we've got out for school & started a new Goosebumps book (he just finished reading Found). Then, he spent some time on the computer.

Friday evening we went to Movies in the Park and watched Iron Man. We went with my sister, her fiance, and one of my nieces. After the movie, they came over to our house. We watched Iron Man 2 and played some cards.

Saturday morning, I was excited about the Blues concert we were plannign to attend that night. Plans changed, however, and we spent the day cleaning the house & doing lice treatments. We have no idea where it came from, but only Jay & I had it.

Sunday, we spent the afternoon at my sister's house, for a cookout & card game. Just as we were getting home, our alarm system was set off. After a call from the alarm company, a visit from the police, and checking the house inside & out, we were convinced that the house was secure. It took some work to convince Jay that the house was secure, but we eventually got him to go to bed.

My mom graduated this weekend. It was one more thing I missed due to everything that's been going on lately. She is now a licensed & certified massage therapist. Yeah, the career choice has a bit of a flaky reputation, and it's not the most reliable career option. I'm proud of her, though. It takes some guts to go back to school, at her age. Plus, she really worked for this. So, even though I joke & poke fun (that is simply our way), I am proud of her.

This morning, I woke to a beautiful thunderstorm. It was so relaxing to spend my morning alone, listening to the rolling thunder, rushing wind, and rythmic drumming of the rain. I let Jay sleep in, mostly because he needed the sleep. The storm was uiet by the time he got up. We're going to get some housework & schoolwork done today. He's currently on the computer playing games to practice his Latin. I talked to Dea this morning (still at my grandpa's house), and she told me she can hardly wait to start 8th grade. We'll be going out to pick her up on Saturday. She'll start 8th grade next Monday.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Big Band Jazz

Yesterday, we went to a Big Band Jazz concert. I think that Dea would really have enjoyed it, but she's still at my grandpa's. Jay did enjoy it, but he was hungry (half our dinner got ruined). He complained several times about being hungry, which irritated hubby (and to a lesser extent, me). So, it wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been (though, we still had a good time). We've decided to stop trying to eat dinner before these events & just take a picnic dinner with us. I started getting a headache about midway throught the concert. I managed to hold it off until we were walking back to the car & I got hit by some very bright headlights. I still can't get rid of this stupid headache.

The concert was good. They had a few songs with vocals, and the singer didn't do the best job. There was only one song with vocals that I really thought was bad, though. It was the patriotic song they finshed with. It just wasn't the right kind of song for him. They did a Tom Jones song, which I could have done without (I've always hated the song). Other than that, it was great. Jay didn't recognize most of the songs. There were a few that he said sounded familiar, but he couldn't place them. He recognized the Glenn Miller songs, though, especially 'In the Mood'. I wish the audience had been a bit more lively, though. Everyone just sat quietly, clapping when songs ended. A few people finally got up to dance for the second to last song. A good portion of the audience left early, too.

Tonight is Movie in the Park night. I have to figure out what to pack for our picnic dinner. We won't be doing grocery shopping before we go, so I have to make due with what we have left around the house. We'll be doing the shopping tomorrow, so I'll be able to pick up picnic stuff for the Blues concert tomorrow night & any other things we're doing over the next week. I was thinking about making some banana bread, cornmeal muffins, or pumpkin bread. I'm not so sure about that now. That's a lot of baking with a migraine (which will inevitably get worse each time I open the oven). We don't have the stuff for sandwiches, either. Maybe today we'll just pick up some fried chicken & french bread. I can make some popcorn to take, and we've got fruit. That should work for today.

Jay is waiting until Dea gets home to do anymore Latin. She has been doing his Latin along with him, so he doesn't want to move ahead without her. We're working on his other subjects. Though, many days we're doing very little (if any) actual school work. He's been up late almost every night for the last week, due to all the stuff we've been doing. Last Friday was Movie in the Park, Sunday was a family reunion at hubby's parents', Monday was fireworks for the 4th, and Tuesday was a baseball game (though I didn't do some of that due to my migraine). He was up late again last night, for the concert. I'm hoping he's not too tired to get some work done today.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Underestimated Youth

In my opinion, too many people underestimate what children & adolescents are capable of. Among these are those who claim that children are not ready for formal school work until 8 or later, those who don't believe someone capable of making decisions regarding their own future at age 16, and those who believe children incapable of choosing their own religious path.

I have been criticized for allowing my kids to choose which, if any, religion they want to follow. We do not raise them in a religion until we feel they are old enough to decide for themselves. Starting around age 6 or 7, we start introducing them to different religious beliefs. They will make their own decision when they are ready. I prefer to allow them to make an informed decision, instead of trying to force my husband's or my beliefs on them. When Dea was about 7, she said she wanted to be a Christian. This wasn't a truly informed decision, as she had only a cursory knowledge about  a few different religions. It was not an age thing; it was a Dea thing. After her traumatic year in public school, she was reluctant to learn, to research, to go in-depth. That has been slowly improving over the years.
Last week, she expressed an interest in reevaluating her religious choice. She is researching different religions, in an effort to make a more informed decision. We discussed what things are important for her to pay attention to, to look for, to focus on, in her research. Neither my husband nor I did anything to precipitate this sudden interest in religious research. We left it up to her & she has chosen to become more informed on the topic, in order to reevaluate her previous choice. This is not out of a belief that she chose incorrectly, but due to understanding that her original decision was not as informed as it could have been.

Both my kids are very intelligent & advanced. They were both incredibly inquisitive from infancy & actively sought to learn everything possible. So, when I hear people say that kids aren't ready for academics until they are 8 years old, I couldn't disagree more. Some children may not be ready to read at 5 or 6, when public schools often expect them to start. Fine, I'll concede that point. However, to claim that NO child is capable of academics until 8 is ridiculous. That would be like me saying that because my daughter was reading & comprehending at a high school level at 8, that ALL kids should be at that level by that age.
I disagree with the people who try to force their kids to learn to read, write, etc, before they are developmentally ready. Those stupid 'teach your baby to read' programs are not based on child psychology or child development, and are only used by those who want to feel superior. I also disagree with those who hold children back by not allowing them to learn things when they are ready, because they are ready before the 'average' child would do it (or because it's before the parent thinks a child should be able to do it).
Sometimes pushing is needed, such as when a child is refusing to study something very important (like Math). However, when talking about developmental readiness, it should be left up to the child.

As for making decisions about their future, I see no reason why the average 16, 17, or 18 year old can't handle those decisions. Help them, if they ask for help, & back off, if they don't ask for help. How can you expect them to become adults if you never allow them to make their own important decisions? It is their future, not yours. Let them go to whichever college they want. Let them get a degree in whatever area of study they choose. If they are choosing an area that may not have many job opportunities or is very competitive, ask if they've looked into the job prospects. However, it isn't your decision to make. It is their education & their future, not yours. As adults, we have to deal with the consequences of our decisions. So, why do so many refuse to let their kids deal with those consequences until they are out on their own?

Now, there are always exceptions. Some kids aren't ready to make important decisions about their future at 16. Some aren't ready for academics until a little older than the average child. Just like some kids are ready for academics much earlier than the average child, and some are capable of making informed decisions well before their teen years. People need to stop assuming that their limited experiences speak for the majority.

I find this most irritating when it is applied to homeschooling. The debates about which is better, starting early or starting late, can quickly get out of hand. People have left groups, forums, even ended friendships over arguments where they felt they were being accused of pushing their kids to start too early or of neglecting their education by waiting too long to start. I find this very annoying, considering so many choose homeschooling to personalize their child's education.

Our experiences color our perspectives. My experiences tell me that children & adolescents are capable of far more than many give them credit for.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Yay! 7th Grade is Done!

Dea finished 7th grade last week! This week & next week, she is on her break. The plan was for her to spend her break at the lake with her grandma. Things changed, and she is now spending her break at her great-grandpa's, helping take care of him (he has not been well lately).

Jay will still be doing school this week & next. I'm actually kind of expecting us to get a lot of his work done over the next 2 weeks, since there will be no distractions.

Of course, since today is July 4th, we did not do school today. Tonight, Hubby & Jay went to the fireworks with my sister, her fiance, and her son. I wasn't able to go, due to an awful migraine. I've been dealing with this migraine since Friday night. It's been fairly constant during that time, though has faded several times.

8th grade will start on July 18th. The kids will be on totally different schedules (Jay's 1st term will end in August). I think the separate schedules will actually work quite well for us. They'll still have time off together for holidays, but their breaks will be at different times. Separate breaks will guarantee them both some alone time.

I've been working on finishing up paperwork for Dea's school (grades for her transcripts) and getting her courses for next year set up in Homeschool Tracker. I'll be getting Dea's Curriculum page updated, with the plan for Term 1 of Grade 8, this week. Actually, I think I'll go do that right now. It's not like I'll be able to sleep anytime soon anyway, between the headache & the idiot neighbors still setting off fireworks (even though it's midnight).

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Healthy Eating

We eat a healthy diet, not uber-healthy completely devoid of all unhealthy foods, but still pretty damn healthy. In my opinion, life is simply too short to refuse yourself the pleasure of a food you love, even if it isn't a 'healthy' food. Food doesn't just feed your body, it also feeds your soul. Cooking isn't just about preparing nutritious food, it's an art. So, I will not cut out any food that I enjoy. I may limit the amount I will eat, if it disagrees with me or is fairly unhealthy, but I will NOT cut it out.

We eat a lot of fruits & vegetables. I love veggies - fresh or frozen, never canned. All of us eat salad. I love that my kids eat salad. Our veggie at dinner could be cooked, a salad, or a veggie tray. We often have two veggies or a veggie & a fruit with our dinner.

We are all big on fruit, too. We mainly eat fruit fresh or frozen, but will eat canned (of course, looking for fruit canned in juice, not syrup). Fruit is common for breakfast & snacks around here. Sometimes, we'll have fruit salad with dinner. Of course, fruit always makes a great dessert, too.

I do use white flour, but always with wheat flour. I've found that using 2 or more flours in combination gives a better flavor than using just one. So, I keep several flours on hand at all times (wheat, white, rice, soy, rye). I'm not fond of brown rice - the texture or the flavor. Instead, we use either sushi rice, jasmine rice, or arborio rice (risotto). We eat some store bought bread (whole wheat or artisan) and pasta, but only because I don't have time to make all of our pasta & bread from scratch. I make pancake & waffle mix from scratch, instead of buying it (again, with a combination of flours).

Roughly once a week, dinner will be take out (Taco Bell, Subway, pizza, or a local place that has great & pretty healthy food), frozen pizza, or fried chicken from the grocery store.

We eat meat. I aim for lean cuts of meat. We enjoy seafood, and have recently found several kinds of fish that we like (major progress for a family that has never liked fish).

That last part (the fact that we eat meat) seems to be a big problem with some people. I know a few people who are vegetarian or vegan. Now, I don't have a problem with vegetarians or vegans. If that is how you choose to eat, that's great, for you. However, some people who have chosen to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet are very pushy about it. They post nothing but links to articles about the benefits of a vegetarien or vegan diet, on Facebook. Their blog posts become about little else. They seem to lose interest in any other topic of conversation. You are suddenly bombarded with nothing but talk, posts, articles, etc. about how their lives are so much better, how they are healthier eaters than you, and plenty of comments on why you should follow in their footsteps, not to mention the loads of advice (that you didn't ask for) on how to 'improve' your life by going vegetarian/vegan.

I do not want to be a vegetarian. Yes, I love fruits & veggies. However, I also love meat, too much to give it up. I also love dairy products. I've tried 'veggie' burgers, and they simply are not the same. They aren't awful, but they aren't going to replace the burgers I make. I've tried soy cheese, too. It is nowhere near as good as real cheese. There is no soy product that can replace Brie. Lasagna made with soy cheese & no meat will not compare to the homemade lasagna, with meat sauce (homemade, of course), ricotta, mozzerella, and farmer's cheese, that I make. Seriously, there are many people who would be very upset if I changed the way I make my lasagna (it is a much loved dish).

I don't believe that I am feeding my kids an inferior diet because we eat meat & other animals products or eat a small amount 'junk' (cookies, candy, ice cream, etc). So, I get a bit annoyed with the very pushy, obnoxious vegetarians/vegans who think it is their job to convert everyone. I see people at the store, their carts full of tv dinners, potato chips, and other nutrient lacking foods. However, I don't accost them in the middle of the store, telling them that they are poisoning their bodies or informing them how/what they should eat instead. Yet, people can look at my cart full of fresh & frozen fruits & veggies, boneless skinless chicken breasts, seafood, lean beef, almond or coconut milk, natural peanut butter, Special K &/or Life cereal (or english muffins, bagels, or yogurt), and some frozen 100% juice concentrate, and feel they need to tell me that I'm not feeding my kids healthy food! WTF!

Now, I'm not saying that we're the healthiest eaters in the world. However, I don't feel guilty about what I feed my family. One of these days, I will finally lose it and go off on some jerk at the store for criticizing my food choices.