Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fun Fall Brick Activities

I was able to try out Fall Brick Activities by Stef Layton. This is a fun, hands on, learning tool and boredom buster. Besides ideas for building fall themed brick creations, Stef offers ideas for crafts and learning extensions based on the theme. My kids, ages 9 and 11, really enjoyed trying out the building and we will delve further into the extension activities throughout the next few weeks. I wanted to share this with you now because the October price of $1.99 is going away in 2 days, so head on over now! You will be able to use these activities throughout the fall season. Happy building!

2:1 Conference Blog

Titus 2:1 Conference

I have been a contributing writer on the 2:1 conference encouragement blog for the past few months.  If you'd like to read my posts, you can check them out at these links!  Also, take time to check out the other great posts from contributing bloggers.  Such encouragement!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Importance of Sisterhood

I have the honor of being a part of the 2:1 Conference blog writer team.I wrote on the importance of sisterhood in our lives.  Please check out my post on their site below!
I have not always been a good friend.   I have not always valued and nurtured the friends that God has placed in my life.  I’m an introvert, and sometimes, I’d just rather be alone.
I have also been lazy.  Cultivating friendships takes work!  The busyness of life gets in the way of quality time.  Sometimes, I am too exhausted to be a good friend (or relative).  I have also been fearful.  I want to be accepted for who I am.
The truth is, we need those relationships with other women. God wants us to have friends.  Even if you have one girlfriend, it will be rewarding for you both.   Make sure that your friendships don’t overshadow or replace your family, though!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Our 2013-2014 Curriculum Choices

I am a wanderer.  I love a curriculum, but then I wander because I see a great review of something else.  I always come back to my first curriculum love--Heart of Dakota.  It seems to be the only curriculum that satisfies my educational goals and teaching style   We have used 4 of their guides. Something new and enticing comes out every year to tempt me, but my heart belongs to HOD.  I need to just surrender and stop my wandering eyes.  So here are my official choices this year.  I will not be doing all of these things every day!

Disclosure:  This post contains some affiliate links.

History/Science/Bible Heart of Dakota Creation to Christ.  I love that HOD uses living books for history.  My kids have learned so much through our read aloud times--even though CTC suggests having the student read the books independently, I will be reading them aloud.  Buddy is not ready to read at that level and Pickles is more of an auditory learner.  Besides, I enjoy our relaxing times reading together.  Science this year utilizes Apologia's Zoology 3: Land Animals of the 6th Day.  I already own this, so now I will finally be using it!  I also really like the cementing of information through notebooking.

Amanda Bennett Unit Studies  Throughout the year, we take occasional breaks from the norm and do unit studies.  I have found Amanda's studies to fit the bill for what we need.

I also often supplement what we are doing with offerings from Currclick. They have everything under the sun!

Bible Grapevine Studies  Use discount code AUGBLOG for 20% off any non-sale item!
Worldview  Apologia's Who is My Neighbor?--love, love, love this series!

Art and Music  We will be taking co-op classes to meet these requirements.

Pickles 5/6 grade
Math  She asked to go back to Horizons this year.  We'll see how it goes.  This has been our hardest area to find a suitable fit.

Grammar  Winston Grammar

Reading/Lit.  BJU Reading 6  Pickles is not a big reader so I decided to go the textbook route here.  I read aloud a lot, but she needs smaller chunks with comprehension checks.  This will be my first time using a textbook!

Writing  We are planning on signing up for an online class with Bravewriter, Partnership Writing

Thinking Skills  Critical Thinking Company Building Thinking Skills 2  She is finishing this up from last year, it's a big book!

Word Study  Critical Thinking Company Word Roots A1

Geography  Trail Guide to World Geography(finishing) and then Trail Guide to U.S. Geography

P.E.. Pickles takes tap and jazz dance and gymnastics,  she is also on a very aerobic worship team

Buddy 3rd grade

Math  He will finish out Math U See Gamma and move on to Delta

Grammar Winston Grammar

Reading--our main focus this year.  All About Reading Level 2, hoping to move on the 3 when it is available, lots of reading together

Writing  Bravewriter Jot it Down, Partnership Writing

Thinking Skills  Critical Thinking Co. Building Thinking Skills 1, finishing up from last year

P.E.  gymnastics, tap dance

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Running out of the Wilderness

I've been in the wilderness for the past few months. Not literally, but in my heart and mind.  I was spiritually hungry, thirsty and tired.  I felt physically weak.  At first, it was not such a great place to be, but in the end, it has been a blessing.

It started right after I got home from the 2:1 Conference.   I was high with excitement and encouraged.  I was ready to take on the social media and blogging world.  Then I settled into my normal life and started questioning myself.  I felt completely inadequate as a wife, mother, homeschooler, blogger, friend and Christian.  Had I been wrong about feeling God's calling to blog? Essentially, I gave up.  Of course, this was not the objective of the conference!  It was Satan attacking me with lies in every area of my life.  He was trying to drive me into my weakness, which is the depression that I've struggled with since I was a teen.  I'm not sure why it happened at this time, but I do believe I needed to go to this barren wilderness to find my purpose.  I was driven to desire God more and that is a good thing!!!

A few weeks ago, my pastor, Brady Boyd, hit the nail on the head during his message on the Sermon on the Mount.  He had a great quote, "God loves you to much to give you a platform before He privately confirms our identity."  That was it!  I was meant to go to 2:1.  God wanted me there, but He was equipping me.  He never meant for me to come home and be a superstar blogger the Monday after the conference.  He put very specific people in my life that weekend to nurture my journey, not to discourage it.  I have spent much time in prayer, meditation on His Word and counsel from other godly women.  I was able to really reflect on my purpose during a Christian family camp earlier this summer and even through the children I have been working with at church.  It's been a difficult, but amazing time of growth for me.

I am running out of this barren wilderness into the lush, vibrant life that I know He has for me. I feel that God has prepared me to send me out to be a voice and an influence.  I hope that you will join me on this journey and be blessed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

2:1 Conference

I've been a little slow in writing my follow up post.  I have had so much to think about and a lot going on in my personal life the past few weeks.

Titus 2:1 Conference
I attended  2:1  for encouragement and that is exactly what I got.  It was a necessary experience for me.  I did leave with a few more questions than answers, but that was a good thing.  The questions have really helped me to reflect on and pray about who I want to be as a homeschool mom and a blogger.

As a homeschooler, I want to completely trust the Lord to help me with His kids that He has given me for a short time.

As a blogger, I want to encourage and reach out.  I want my blogging to be a ministry to other women who are walking where I have walked or am currently walking in both my homeschooling and personal faith journey.

Highlight quotes from the conference:

"We are called to actually die, not faint for His glory."  Rachel Carman

"Don't leave home without God's Word.  Show your kids what you value." Rachel Carman

"We're not playing Monopoly, we all have our own game."  Stef Layton

"God, You are enough!  Always."  Stef Layton

"No "to do" list will fix everything."  Rebecca Keliher

"Relationships with God and people is the only importance."  Rebecca Keliher

"Who am I trying to reach?  My ideal reader is ME."  Amy Roberts

"God is perfect and can make up for your imperfections."  Deb Chitwood

"Be a blogger of your word."  Toni Anderson

"God calls us, then He equips us."  Zan Tyler

There were so many more nuggets of wisdom.  I am praying that I will be able to attend next year in Chicago!!!  I hope you are able to go too!  You will laugh, you will cry, you will leave encouraged.  You will also leave with new friends like GiGi, Alyce, Wendy, Jenny, Jeanette, Jimmie, Connie, Rebecca, Jamie and Stacey.

You will also make connections with wonderful sponsors like HEDUA, Teach Them Diligently, Samaritan's Purse, Bright Ideas Press, Apologia, Grapevine Studies, Shatterpoint Entertainment,  Your Story Hour, Heidi St. JohnHSLDA, Lexercise, Classical Conversations and Compass Classroom  

 Watch the video below to see what you'll be blessed with if you attend.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

F is for Fidgets

I have kids that can't sit still during read aloud time.   They insist on doing somersaults across the room, jumping on the couch, touching each other and being distracted in general.  I know that some kids are just wired this way and can still absorb information.  I'm okay with that.  I am the one with a problem focusing when they are doing all these things while I try to read.  My solution has become fidgets.  My kids are now better able to sit in one location and still be "busy" while I read.  I check for listening and comprehension often through narration and questions so I know that they aren't distracted.

Here are a few of the items that we keep in our fidget basket.

Relaxing items--scalp massager, body brush(leftover from brush therapy), bendy wire and who can resist Troll hair!

Zoomorph connecting animals

Zome Tools

Squishy Toys--we love the mice in the cheese!

Keeping hands busy with Unifix cubes, tangle toy, marbles, magic worm, hacky sack, wire puzzle

Etch a Sketch, Mars Mud and Thinking Putty

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Compassion International

I began sponsoring a child with Compassion when I was in high school.  His name was Jose and he was from the Dominican Republic.  I enjoyed getting letters from him and I kept his picture on my dresser.  Now, my family sponsors two children from Guatemala.  We chose Guatemala because that is Buddy's birth country.  We sponsor a girl named Maria and a boy named Nelson.  We have really cherished our letters from both children and we pray for them often.  They are an extension of our family and we are glad that we can bless them and pray that our sponsorship is able to pull them from poverty and bring them into a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

We recently had an opportunity to tour the Compassion headquarters here in Colorado Springs.  There are 900 people that work there!  They work with 26 countries around the world, making life better for families in poverty and more importantly, introducing them to Christ.  It was a great learning experience.  Our tour guides were super informative and kind.  We walked through areas that depicted a typical home in Africa, the children hauled their water containers and ended up at the trash dump.  We learned that many families(usually the children) dig through the dump to obtain items to make everyday household items we take for granted--pillows, blankets, window coverings, toys, dishes, etc.  Next we moved back to the home with the water containers to show how a family that has a sponsor, can now have a water filter so that they can have fresh water.  Next we entered a model of a typical Child Development Center.  The children are able to go to this safe place to learn God's word, sing, play with friends, learn personal care, create and be educated.  Pickles and Buddy were able to make some cards for kids that do not yet have sponsors so that they too can receive something at Christmas.  Letters are so important to these kids!

                                       Toys made of trash

Another opportunity we had was to learn about about a young man named Ben.  He gave a short talk about being a sponsored child at our church's presentation of The Thorn.  Ben lived in a village in Kenya, that was literally a trash dump.  The people there have little hope and think of themselves as no more than trash.  He was able to go to school and become a Christian due being sponsored by someone in Austin, TX when he was a boy.  He is now living in Colorado and going to college!  What a great testimony to the work of Compassion.  As Ben said, he was once a "packet".  These kids are real and our sponsorship makes a real impact on the rest of their lives!  You can see Ben's story here.

Please consider becoming a sponsor to make the difference in a child's life and to further the kingdom of God. 

Do you run?  Consider joining Team Compassion

USA Today article--how Compassion's mission is working

Did you know that Compassion has a homeschool curriculum on their website?  Awesome stuff!  Go check it out! 
Homeschool curriculum

If you are currently a sponsor, and don't know what to do for your child check out these letter writing ideas:
Letter Writing FAQS
Pinterest Board

For your kids
Play Quest for Compassion online game to learn about poverty

Explorer magazine --read online
Pickle's friend Elise is featured as the Compassionate kid this month! Please check out her partnership with Compassion here--Kids Like John  Pickles has been able to participate in fundraising for this amazing cause!

Follow Compassion on Facebook and Twitter!  Read their blog

Thursday, March 28, 2013

B is for Blocks

I think that blocks are a valuable investment for all families. Simple, safe blocks can be purchased for babies and more complicated can be purchased for the child in all of us! Pickles and Buddy love to play with blocks.  They are 9 and 10 years old and they still love to build.  We make towers, bridges, walls, buildings, etc.  They can exercise their engineering, math and science skills with the variety of blocks that we provide for them.  Beware, if your children are like mine, there may be block creations up in your living areas for days!

What are some of the brain benefits of playing with blocks?

Higher thinking math skills
Spatial skills
Problem solving
Cooperative play

What are some possible areas of benefit for a child with autism?

Social skills
Tactile stimulation
Visual stimulation
Cooperative play
Check out this Lego Therapy site

A few of our favorite blocks

good old fashioned wooden blocks, my mother in law found us a large set on Craigslist
Wooden Blocks

Legos  I prefer an assortment of Legos for more imaginative building, but my kids also like the modular sets like Lego City and Lego Friends

Bristle blocks--great tactile blocks

Blik blok--higher thinking skills, problem solving, natural material

Magna tiles not quite blocks, but they are a building toy and kids can experiment with magnetism

Water blocks--great for littler ones, but my kids still like to stick them in their creations

Cardboard blocks  We love this set.  They have become many things--restaurant, car, plane, stuffed animal house, cabin, Great Wall of China, etc.

Haba blocks sets--We have had the Little Amsterdam set for many years, the box is falling apart, but the blocks are holding up!

Wedgits  fun building toy, thinking skills, spatial skills

Kapla plank blocks  These blocks are wonderful!  We first played with them in a children's science museum and I had to add them to our collection.  The possibilities are really endless with these blocks.  Practice with gravity and balance. Natural pine material.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A is for Acting

A is for Acting

Acting has become a huge part of our lives.  My once very shy, Pickles, has become a budding actress.     She became interested through taking a co-op class a few years ago.  She was still bashful back then.  Last summer, she and Buddy did an acting camp at a local children's acting academy.  She caught the bug!  She has since enjoyed being a part of two semester long classes with plays performed at the end.  She also had a main part and solo in The Secret of Snowflake County, our church's Christmas musical.  This has also led to her taking tap dancing lessons and joining our church youth worship team and choir.  My laptop crashed, so I lost all pics, but found this tiny bow on Major Dad's computer.

We have obviously seen the benefits of acting when it comes to shyness.  It may not happen for every child, but Pickles has really blossomed.  Buddy was even able to perform the play for camp last summer.  He has high social anxiety and usually shuts down when it comes to speaking to anyone other than family.  I was so proud to see him up there on stage, delivering all of his lines on cue.  There are many other benefits to acting.  It can increase confidence, self esteem, reading skills, focus and attention.  It provides children with opportunity for socializing and teamwork.  Acting is valuable for teaching kids to problem solve and communicate effectively.

Perhaps you aren't interested in signing up for acting classes or doing a community play.  You can still enjoy acting in your own home!  My kids sometimes spend hours making up plays for us to watch.  They are exercising their imaginations and using up some of their extra energy.  Pickles and Buddy also enjoy putting on puppet shows.  If they are really into pretend play on a school day, I don't feel guilty about letting them go.  My couch cushions rarely stay in place!  I prefer letting them make up their own plays, using their imaginations or something we have studied.  It really helps get their creative writing juices flowing.  They are also big into improvisation.  You can also purchase/borrow books with plays written for you.  Reader's Theater books are great for squeezing in some school subjects like science or history!  The possibilities are endless.

We have also been able to enjoy Broadway shows and local productions of plays like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Thorn.  I believe that quality theater productions and movies are enriching to children's(and adults') lives.  

Christian Crafters  Christian plays, skits and puppetry
Puppet Resources  Christian puppet plays
Evan Moor Reader's Theater
Reading Lady free Reader's Theater scripts
On Stage

Monday, March 18, 2013

Enjoying the Warmer Weather

We had a few warmer days here in Colorado last week.  We had a picnic in the backyard and did a little reading aloud of The Sign of the Beaver.  Even the hamsters joined in!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Homeschooling with a Chronic Illness

I suffer from two different illnesses.  I have Crohn's Disease (a disease that affects the small intestine) and I also battle depression.  A lot of my days are difficult.  I am either really tired, achy or having stomach pains.  My kids understand, but it is hard to get back in the groove after I take a break from teaching.  I have learned to take better care of myself in order to be a better mom and teacher.  I try to eat right, exercise and sleep enough.  Our days go well when I get an afternoon nap.  I usually lie down around 2 and the kids play quietly.  I used to feel guilty about napping in the middle of the day, but it is a necessity for me.  If I take care of myself, I am a better mom and teacher to my kids.  Not to mention, a better wife!

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Sometimes we do schoolwork at night and that is okay.  Thankfully, we can school when it is convenient for our family.  Homeschools can look different from family to family. I also think that there is no shame in asking for outside help.  Maybe a relative or other homeschooling friend can take over a subject or two during a season.  Co-ops, enrichment classes, athletics, etc. have been helpful to me.  I know that my kids are still learning, but some of the burden is off of me.  I use this time to refresh myself by reading or doing something for myself while my kids are being instructed.  At times, we have had more outside activities than other times.  It is wonderful to be able to change how much or how little we do from season to season.

friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.  Proverbs 17:17

If you have a daily battle with your health and homeschooling, I encourage you to keep at it.  Don't let guilt creep into your conscience.  If God has called you to keep your children home, He will equip you and your children.  Pray and trust.  With God, nothing is impossible.(Luke 1:37)  Spend time in the Word and keep your spirit strong.  If our spirit is strong, we can soldier through the tough days.  Choose joy.  Never give up your hope for healing--God still performs miracles.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.  Psalm 103:2-5

Monday, February 25, 2013

Introducing Me to the 2:1 Conference

I will be attending the Titus 2:1 Conference in April.  It is my first time and I am so excited!  The girls at 2:1 have asked us attendees to answer a few questions, so here I go!

1.  How long have you been blogging and homeschooling?  Which is harder?
This is a difficult one to answer.  I have blogged on and off for about 7 years.  I jumped into it back when homeschoolers started blogging on Homeschoolblogger.  I made a lot of online friends and was pretty faithful to blogging for about 2 years.  Then I stopped for a period of time and started a different blog.  It was sporadic at best and I finally deleted it.  I started my most recent blogs within the past year.  
I have homeschooled both of my children from the time they were 4 years old.  So that has been 7 years, as well.  I find both blogging and homeschooling to be challenging because I have a bit of an unorganized mind.  I think a million thoughts, but often forget to put them into action.  

2.  If you were a superhero, what would be your homeschool super power? 

I would be able to beam my children to the location I need them to be in at any moment.  I would be so mesmerizing, they wouldn't be able to stop paying attention to me.

3. If I could go anywhere, besides the 2:1 Conference, where would be your dream "mom-cation"?
I'd like to rent a house in Seaside, FL and read.  There's a whole world I'd love to explore, though!

4.  What would you like to "get out" of the 2:1 Conference?
I'd like to be motivated and encouraged by the wonderful speakers.  I hope to leave with a purpose and direction for my blogs and our homeschool.  I also intend to make lots of like minded friends!  Most importantly, I want to strengthen my relationship with God and really tune in to what He is asking me to do with blogging and homeschooling.  I want everything I do to glorify Him.  

Offline:  I love to read, spend time with my family, travel, be involved in our church and bake.   We move around a lot because my husband is in the military.  We love our lifestyle, but someday want to put down some roots!  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

I didn't sign up for this!

Have you ever had a moment in your life when you exclaimed this phrase?  I have recently.  We always knew that there was something different about Buddy, but to hear the diagnosis of autism disorder, at 8 1/2 years old, hit us hard.  We got the diagnosis a day after the Sandy Hook tragedy.  At the time, everyone on the news kept talking of the shooter as being autistic.  It was not what we needed to be hearing(as false as many peoples' perceptions of autism  were).  It put fear in our hearts about what we would deal with in the future.  I was in mourning for several days.  Buddy was adopted from Guatemala when he was 6 months old.  He was presumed to be a "healthy" baby boy.  We weren't comfortable with requesting special needs because we didn't feel that we were the right family for that.  Well, God obviously had plans for us!  With God, it doesn't matter what we "sign up" for, He gives us what He knows we can handle when we rely on Him.  He grows us through difficult times in our lives. 

 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Our boy is so precious and funny.  We can't imagine our lives without him.  He was meant for us.  God has been working on us all of our lives for this child.  He planted a seed in my heart for adoption when I was a teenager and he gave me a heart for kids with learning differences when He called me to be a special education teacher.  Then He gave me the gift of infertility.  Yep, a gift.  He grew my patience and my compassion through our infertility and adoption journey.  He took away my selfishness.  He brought my husband and I closer.  Now, through this diagnosis, God will again hold our hands and lead us.  We can do all things through Him who gives us strength.  Philippians 4:13.  God gives us a hope for the future and He provides strength for us as we walk this road.  We don't know what is ahead, but we will trust in Him for today.  We will deal with tomorrow when it comes.  I will cherish my days with Buddy and I will be his biggest advocate.  Thank you, Lord, for my sweet boy!

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Easy Sun Craft

We studied the sun last week and found a fun craft to make--a wax model.  We broke up red, orange, yellow and brown crayons into small bits onto a paper plate.  We then microwaved the crayons 15 seconds at a time until all were melted.  Using a craft stick, we then swirled the colors around.  After hardened, we added a few more shavings of yellow and orange to make solar flares and prominences.  My kids thought that their suns were too red, but I think they turned out great!  You could also use this idea to make the planets.

Inspired by this

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sloppy Shannons(recipe)

Here is another easy meal for those busy homeschool days.  It is the cousin of the Sloppy Joe--Sloppy Shannons!  My mom used to make this recipe all of the time when we would host a yearly Fellowship of Christian Athletes retreat.  She would make them with ground beef, but I added my own healthy touch with ground turkey.  When we started hosting a Bible study in our home, I would make these when we shared a meal together.  A girlfriend of mine dubbed them "Sloppy Shannons" and the name stuck.

1 lb. lean ground turkey
diced onion(if desired)
1 can of cream of celery soup(I've tried the healthier version and it didn't cut it)

Brown turkey with the onions.  Drain fat, if necessary.  Dump in the soup and simmer for a few minutes to thicken.  Squirt in about 1-2 tablespoons of mustard and stir.  Serve on buns.  Add in some easy microwavable veggies or fries for a side.  So easy!  I keep ground turkey in the freezer and soup in the pantry so I usually just need to shop for buns.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Winter Fun!

The kids have been having fun with our little homemade ice rink!  We made a frame with 2X4 boards, laid a heavy duty plastic drop cloth in the bottom, filled with water and waited for it to freeze!  The kids have had fun playing hockey on it.  My husband also threw coins in the water before it froze so when it melts, the kids can collect them.  We have had to add more water every few days to keep it going, but it has worked out.

Monday, January 21, 2013

My MomHeart is Full!

Mother And Baby

This past weekend, I attended the MomHeart Conference in Denver.  It was such a huge blessing for me.  The Lord really showed me a lot through Sally Clarkson and her team.
I have read Sally's books and blogs fo manyr years, but I am more of an auditory learner.  To be in her presence and hear her share was such an education for me.  One of the people that really touched me was her husband, Clay.  What a man of God!  I was so excited to be one of the first to get his republished book Heartfelt Discipline.  We hear so much from amazing Sally, but Clay is definitely the backbone of this family.  To see how they love and support one another is so inspiring.

I have been digesting and pondering what I learned over the weekend.  I think that the main thing that is on my mind is that I am here to be a Kingdom Builder.  God has trusted me with these precious children that belong to Him.  He has asked me to bring them up to know Him and impact the world for Him.  What a huge responsibility, but I am so willing to sacrifice all to do this job along with my husband.  One thing that I was convicted by is, in order to fill my children with the knowledge of the Lord, I must possess it myself. I am rededicating myself to growing in my own relationship with the Lord.  I sometimes get so caught up in teaching my kids about Him, that my own time with Him is lacking.  I want my kids to see me living a life of faith, be a prayerful mom and a woman that loves the Word of the Lord.  My zeal for God was definitely reignited this weekend!  I am so excited to continue this life journey with my family so that we can continue together for eternity.

As Mary, Mother of Jesus, said upon hearing of her pregnancy, "I am the Lord's servant.  May it be as you have said."  Luke 1:38

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Giant Pancake

When I was growing up, one of my favorite meals was The Giant Pancake.  It has other names and variations succh as a German pancake or Dutch Baby.  When I have failed to make dinner plans on a busy homeschool day, I make The Giant Pancake. Tonight is that night.  I almost always have the ingredients for this on hand.  Bonus if you have bacon to serve on the side!  This only feeds four of us and no seconds so you may have to make several of them if you have a bigger family.

The Giant Pancake

1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
4 egg whites
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
powdered sugar, fresh or canned fruit, syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with mixer on med. to high speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until combined.  Alternately stir flour mixture and milk into beaten egg yolks.  Dust chocolate chip with a little flour(to prevent sinking) and stir into mixture.  Gently fold in the egg whites, leaving a few fluffs of egg white in the batter.

Preheat a greased(I use 1-2 T butter), 10 inch, oven proof skillet(I sometimes used a round cake pan) by placing it in the oven for 10 minutes.  Pour the batter into the preheated skillet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until knife comes out clean.  The kids will love watching as the pancake puffs up as it cooks!

We like to serve it with butter, powdered sugar and canned peaches with light syrup.  Any fruit would be a great complement, but butter and syrup is also yummy!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The $200 Hamster

                                                          Miss Stormy and Mocha

This is a testament to our family's love of animals.  Stormy is Pickles' beloved Winter White hamster.  She was a replacement for her other beloved hamster, Acorn.  She's still in the deep freezer, but that's another story!
Stormy developed a large abcess over Christmas break so we took her to the vet when we returned from our trip to Texas.  It turned out that she needed surgery because she was in severe pain and it would eventually kill her.  Pickles couldn't handle the news.  We had to save Stormy's life.  So on Friday, little Stormy went in for surgery.  With anethesia and surgical fees, it was $200!!!   We are so thankful that we received some money for Christmas.  It's not what we would have liked to spend it on, but at least we have a live(very valuable) hamster and a happy girl.  Pickles has aspirations to be a vet. technician, so she is getting practice with administering medication and watching Stormy's stitches.  At least it is a learning experience for her.
We are thankful for the companion animals that God has blessed us with.
"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight."
Luke 12:6

What would you have done?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Curriculum for the New Year

  book books bookshelf bookshelves  bookshelf501.gif clip art education books
As is common with a lot of homeschool families, it's time for a reevaluation of curriculum.  A fresh start has come to our home with the new year.  I don't usually make resolutions, but I do like to see what is working and what is not from the past semester.  We had a very odd fall.  We jumped into several activities and had several health issues that put us into survival mode when it came to schoolwork.  The 3 Rs tended to be my main focus.  This semester will still focus on those things, but we are adding in much more in the areas of arts and science.  Our main curriculum will come from Geomatters . We used Galloping the Globe several years ago for Kindergarten/1st.  This year we will use it again with more depth.  Last time we didn't use Considering God's Creation with it and are going to use it this time.  We will also do various stand alone science experiments.  Pickles will also be completing the notebook for Trail Guide to World Geography by Geomatters.  I have a degree in geography, but I love that I don't have to do all the planning!  As a side note, I am planning to use their Trail Guide to Learning Series next.  Love this company!  We will add in add in more art and music with Harmony Fine Arts Level 4.  I used her 1st grade plans a few years back, as well. 
As far as everything else, we plan to keep most things the same(we don't do all these things every day!)  I categorize my kids as hybrid grades because of their birthdates and abilities.

Buddy 2/3 grade(autism, learning differences)
All About Reading Level 1/2--finally something that works!
All About Spelling Level 1
Math U See Beta/Gamma, Life of Fred math
Evan Moor 6 Trait Writing
Brave Writer Jot It Down
Queen Homeschool Language Lessons for the Very Young vol. 1
Who Am I (Apologia What We Believe Series)
daily family devotions

Pickles 4/5 grade

Math U See Gamma/Delta
Queen Homeschool Language Lessons  for the Elementary Child vol. 2
Queen Homeschool Learn to Spell Through Copywork
Who Am I
Critical Thinking Co.Word Roots
Critical Thinking Co. Reading Detective
daily family devotions
gymnastics, dance, acting

It happened, move on.

It's a new year!  Happy 2013!  I am praying for a better year for our family this year.  2012 was not our best year.  We made a move across the country from a place we loved--Newport, RI.  We have lived here in Colorado for almost 9 months, but it still feels a bit lonely.  Our homeschooling became a bit more cumbersome with a combination of boredom, learning differences and too many outside activities.  Buddy was finally diagnosed with autism.  Pickles is in her tween years.  Major Dad works a lot.  I have had to deal with depression.
 On the bright side, we have been blessed with an amazing church.  I am so thankful for the family we are a part of there.  God has used it to strengthen us so much.  The most important thing is that we love God, He loves us and we love each other.  We made it through the last year and we'll look forward to a great 2013.  My new motto for this year is "It happened, move on".  I tend to linger on things a bit too long.  I drag out lectures and explanations to the kids and Major Dad when something goes awry.  Well, this year, I am going to chill out and move on.    How about you?