Sunday, June 21, 2009

Craving Chinese???

We were having friends over for a game night this past Friday, so I decided I'd make chinese for dinner, since I'd been craving it for a while. I was looking through the recipes I've used in the past, and decided to start completely over, and find some new ones. A few people asked for the recipes on Facebook, and I decided it would be easier to put them all here, and whoever wants them can come get them! So here is the menu and recipes I used(I would encourage you to read through the comments left by other people of each recipe on the all recipes website to see what changes other people made):

Egg rolls - These were soooo good! We loved them! Gracie kept asking for more "tootsie roll"! I used pork loin chopped fine instead of ground pork.

Crab Rangoons - Our were "crabless", and still tasted wonderful!

Sweet and Sour Chicken - The only changes I made were to season the chicken before putting it in the batter, and I stir fried the peppers and pineapple with a chopped onion before serving it. The kids all ate this like little piggies! It really did taste like what you get at a chinese restaurant, even the sauce!

MooShu Pork - This was the best Moo shu recipe I've found, hands down. It was wonderful! We ate it without the pancakes because I ran out of time to make them. They say you can use flour tortillas, but they really are too thick, and it just isn't the same.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer Swap for kids!

Hadley, over at Life of a Dairy Queen, is doing a Super Summer Swap for kids! Check it out here. My kids love getting mail, so I think they are really going to love this! It will be a fun way to learn about other parts of the country, as they get packages from kids from other states!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What we'll be doing next year...

I thought I'd do a post about what we will be using next year for school. I put in an order for the last of it at convention, and am eagerly awaiting a package from Rainbow Resource this week! Since Sawyer and Campbell are so close in age, we'll be doing everything together. This makes it a lot easier for me, and the kids are best buddies, so they think it's fun to be working on the same things. We will be doing workboxes this year, which is new to us. Here's a link to the book which started this craze in homeschool circles not too long ago. The idea is to foster independent learning by helping kids move through their studies with minimal need for mom's help. There will be activities we do all together, but there will also be things they work on alone, which will free me up to work with the little ones as well. I'm really excited to see how this goes!
Bible- We are using Bible Study Guide For All Ages. This is a great program, because you can teach it to multiple ages, and it's interactive. The kids have activity pages they will work on during our story time that will help with their comprehension. BSGFAA does a complete survey of the Bible. It's a great way to help them see the big picture of the Bible. We will also be using their Non-reader timeline, and the CD which has songs helping them learn the books of the Bible, twelve tribes, apostles, etc. This will give them a good overview of the Bible, and then in the evenings we will continue going through Leading Little Ones to God, and The Children's Story Bible.
Math- We will be continuing with Math-U-See. The kids really like it, and I love that it's concept based, instead of the spiral approach used by so many other math programs. They get lots of practice on one principal before moving to the next thing. We will hopefully finish up Primer by January, and will start Alpha then. We will also be playing with our Evan Moor Take It To Your Seat learning centers. I got the K-1st set, and the kids have had lots of fun with them. These are math games that they do alone. I'll be able to use them in their workboxes to help reinforce math principles.
Phonics- We will be continuing with Spell to Write and Read. I can't begin to tell you how much I LOVE this program! It is so simple, and my kids are doing so well with it! It is a pure phonics program, and was developed to help children who struggled with dyslexia. Right now, we play with the phonogram cards, making words and so on. Once they are able to write well we will start the spelling dictation. (Proud mommy story: We've had a real reading breakthrough with Sawyer this week. He had been refusing to try reading out loud to me. Last night I told them after family devotions that they could stay up a little later if they were reading to me. They did each book together, alternating pages. We breezed through 5 BOB books! They did great! Then this morning Sawyer came up the stair carrying the books so he could read them to daddy!)
Handwriting- We have been using Cursive First. I had been getting a little frustrated because it felt like we were moving very slowly in this area. Campbell especially didn't seem to be getting it. Then another wiser mommy kindly reminded me she JUST TURNED FOUR! It's hard to not have the same expectations for her and Sawyer, since she acts so much older than she is. So, I ordered her a program called Ready Writer. It is a series of worksheets that helps with writing readiness. I think she'll really enjoy it. Sawyer will continue with the Cursive first. I will try to remember that they are only 4 and 5! We'll just be moving at our own pace.
LA, Science, Reading, History, Social Studies- I'm so happy to say we'll be doing ALL of this through Five In A Row! I love this curriculum! It is based on the Charlotte Mason style of gentle learning. We will "row" one book for a week, reading it each day for five days. Each day we will focus on a particular subject, and relate it to the book. We were very blessed to receive most of the books for Christmas and Birthdays, so we have quite a collection of them! Most of the books are classics. You can see a complete list of them here. We really liked this last year, and it will be nice to have Grace do it with us this year also.
We will also be doing some fun unit studies sprinkled in throughout the year. I purchased a Pirate unit from In the Hands of a Child at convention, and the kids each requested a few they'd like to try. We will get those from Homeschool Share.
Art- We started using Artistic Pursuits this summer with two other families. We are meeting at a park twice a month, and taking the older children through the lessons. So far I am extremely pleased with it! The kids are learning wonderful techniques as well as art history, and it is so simple to teach! We will be doing it all summer, then continuing throughout the school year.
We are excited about the new things we are adding this year, and I'm praying that we will be able to find a good routine, even with all the chaos of moving. I feel so blessed to be able to be at home with my little charges, and can't wait to watch them continue in their learning!

Monday, June 8, 2009

2009 ICHE Convention

WOW...What an amazing two days I had! I attended the Illinois Christian Home Educators Homeschool convention this past Thursday and Friday. My sweet (and brave!) husband watched the kids while I was gone - and that's a whole other post I need to write. Let's just say I came home to a spotless, dirty dishes and laundry-free house! He's the best!
I was a little nervous about going. I was excited about it, but afraid that once there, I would get bogged down with feelings of doubt about curriculum choices and guilt over what I WASN'T doing. There is so much out there to use that is GOOD - it's sometimes hard to weed through that and find what's BEST. And the best for our family will be totally different from other families. I spent time praying about it, and was amazed that instead of feeling overwhelmed and confused, the Lord confirmed the choices Ryan and I had made regarding curriculum. I now have a great sense of peace, even after attending informational sessions for other curriculum programs.

I attended a convention with my parents when I was in middle school. The only thing I remember is a long hallway filled with book tables!(In fact, I still have the book my parents let me select!) Well, my memories of that conference in no way prepared me for the enormous amount of information that was about to be stuffed into every bit of free space in my brain. By Thursday night I was feeling a little foggy, and I still had another day to sit through!

Thursday began with Tedd Tripp, author of Shepherding a Child's Heart. He spoke on getting to the heart of your child's sinful behavior. It was a good reminder that the purpose of discipline is to reach the heart and point the child to God, not correct "annoying or undesired" behavior. I've loved his books, and really enjoyed the opportunity to hear him speak live. He spoke again on Friday afternoon - "Giving Children a Vision of God's Glory." This subject stressed the need to remove the idols from our children's lives, instead of polishing them for them. Also that kids view of God is directly linked to our view of Him. I'm working on a post on that talk that will be up eventually. Not a light subject, and very convicting. I am still processing it all!

We attended 4 workshops on Thursday, and four on Friday. I'm just going to list a little blurb about each of them:

Jeannie Fulbright - Jeannie is the author of Apologia's K-6 Science Books. I attended three of her sessions. The 7 E's of choosing Curricula, Notebooking:Creativity with purpose, and Charlotte Mason:Excellence without Sacrifice. They were all good, but I especially enjoyed the notebooking class. I had previously avoided the Apologia books, because they just screamed TEXTBOOK, and that's not what I want for my kiddos, so I had decided we would look at other science options. Well, after listening to and participating in the notebooking class, I went and bought the Apologia Astronomy book! I was very impressed that this was NOT a dry, boring textbook, but very definitely a living book with ideas for projects and experiments, as well as narration instead of tests. My kids are going to love it!

Vicki Bentley - Vicki is the mom of 17 kids! (okay, she didn't give birth to all of them, but she did homeschool all of them - some were foster kids) I loved her session on Getting Kids to Help at Home. She had some great ideas on what to do about kids who decide they don't want to do their chores, and fostering responsibility in children. The idea I found most enlightening was the concept of training them when they are little in HOW to do the chore. I don't know why it didn't occur to me before, but she has the child do the chore right along with her until they are experienced enough to handle it on their own. Her motto is "As a mom, you need to work yourself out of a job." So this summer, we are going to work on some chore training.

Dianne Craft - Can you say BRAIN OVERLOAD? Dianne is an amazing woman. She is a certified Natural Health Professional (think lab coat, not peasant skirt and bag of granola), as well as the learning specialist for HSLDA. I went to two of her sessions, and had planned on going to another two, but just couldn't handle any more of the info, so I'll be downloading those sessions to listen to later. Dianne spoke on Identifying and Correcting Blocked Learning Gates, which was excellent. I went with a couple friends, and we all sat there saying wow - that's MY kid she's talking about! I was overwhelmed by the amount of information she gave us, and will be implementing a lot of it with some of my kids soon. The second session was Teaching the Right Brained Child. This was a great session as well, and actually taught me a lot about my own (overly-dominant right) brain!

Steve Demme- This was another great session, simply because Steve is a very Godly man who is very committed to the family. He is the creator of Math-U-See, and pastor of a church on the east coast. His session was Why We Do What We Do, and How to Keep At It. We spent the hour discussing why we homeschool, and ways to keep from getting discouraged or distracted. It was a great reminder of why we chose this path in the first place.

I had promised the kids I'd bring them each a surprise, so the vendor hall was a lot of fun for me! I got some great deals, was able to order our curriculum for next year (I'll be posting on this seperately), and got some fun things for the kids. Sawyer got one of Ken Ham's Dinosaur books - this is huge since we don't have any creation based (or evolutionary, for that matter) dinosaur books. Campbell got James Herriott's Treasury for Children. I knew she'd love this, since the whole book is filled with stories of animals he took care of while working as a vet in the English countryside. Grace got some Doug and Melissa animal lacing cards. I wanted to find something she'd be able to do independently while we were busy with school in the fall. They should be perfect! All poor Cullen got was a big smoochy from mommy! And I can't forget the big kid! I found a book at Rainbow Resources called Backyard Ballistics. It has directions for making potato cannons, rockets, etc. If it explodes, it's probably in this book. He was really excited, and I found him and Sawyer on our bed yesterday going through it and writing out a list of the things they needed to go get this weekend to try making a few things!

Overall, it was a wonderful time of renewal for me. I came away feeling convicted about some things I need to work on as a mom, as well as energized for the next step in this journey.