Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekly Menu Planning

Mon. – Creamy potato soup, steamed broccoli, roasted garlic bread
Tues. – Veggie lasagna, French bread, salad
Wed. – Cheese/bean quesadillas, black beans, corn
Thurs. – Farmer’s Pie, rolls
Fri. – Homemade pizza, bread sticks, salad
Sat. – Sesame stir fry, rice, homemade egg rolls
Sun. – Leftovers

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back to School

Today was our first day back to “school.” So, what does that mean for homeschooled children that go to “school” year-round? Well, it means that my kids happily plunged into their new materials that have been sitting on the shelf waiting for them for the past few weeks. We still have a few loose ends to tie up from last year, but for the most part, everyone is moving forward with new materials.

With a new school year comes an updated family schedule. I wish I could tell you that wake up every morning, fly by the seat of our pants, and everything is magically completed at the end of the day. Unfortunately, that just isn’t so. I try every so often to work without a schedule, and find that we just don’t get as much done. So, the schedule is updated and perfected each year to reflect our needs. Again, we structure our time, not our content, still giving us quite a bit of flexibility with our day.

We have also updated our chore chart. The kids were getting tired of completing the same old chores each day, so to mix it up, we decided that we’d change chores every six months or so, so that everyone got a chance at the different chores.

In order to help us remember what we would like to get accomplished each day, the kids have a daily work chart.

If you can’t tell, I am a visual person, so the charts help me to know what we still have left to accomplish each day. I have each chart in a page protector on the refrigerator so the kids can mark off each item when they complete them, with a dry erase marker.

I am working to get a listing of each of their curricula and will post it as soon as I have it complied.

Here’s to a great “school year”!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tackle It Tuesday - Homeschool Papers

For me, I never know exactly what I should save of the kids' "school work." I am one of those who could save every scrap of paper the kids ever scribbled on. Because I know that about myself, rather than fight the urge, I have come up with a mini-compromise...organization.

For school work, I comb bind the kids' papers each year for each subject. Well, actually it has been several years since I have taken the time to get the comb binder out, so that was my challenge for today. I organized each child's work according to subject and year, and then put it all in chronological order.

Putting everything in chronological order is the most time consuming. The kids place their completed work on the right side of their folder, saving the left side for unfinished work. I had multiple folders to go though for my older two, spread over several years, which made for a fun game of hide and seek.

The comb binding is a synch, and takes hardly any time at all. I got my comb binder as a gift one year, and have gotten quite a bit of use out of it. I would highly recommend one for any homeschooling family. It comes in particularly handy for binding handwritten or typed stories that the kids have illustrated.

After my comb binding, I organized all of the kids' completed workbooks and placed them in a box. Not too difficult. I would like to upgrade to a Rubbermaid container at some point, but for now a moving box works just fine.

Next I tackled the unused curricula. It all fit in one moving box as well. I took out the supplies we'll need for next year and organized all of the books by subject. I will have to get the box back down at the end of this "school year" so I can put away this year's books, but they should all fit nicely.

So I feel I accomplished something today. I went from having several boxes of loose papers on the floor of my closet to having comb bound "books" by subject, date, and child. And the three boxes will take up considerably less space in my closet.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Child Safety Seat Laws

Today I did some research on child safety seat laws after talking with a friend about car seats. I thought I knew the child safety seat laws for the state of Florida, but after our discussion, I realized that we had different ideas on the actual "law" in Florida.

I was surprised to find out just how diverse the child safety seat laws are across the country. One state might require a child to be in a booster seat until they are 8 years old AND 80 lbs., while another might only require that a child is in a car seat until age 3.

I am disappointed that Florida has some of the least stringent laws regarding child safety seats in the country. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website, in Florida a child 3 years and younger must be in a child restraint, and children 4-5 years old are permitted to wear adult safety belt. With that said, technically none of my children are required to be in a safety seat of any sort. I'm not good with that. My youngest is 4, but is only 35 lbs, and my 7 year old is only 42 lbs. I do not feel that either one of them should be riding in a vehicle without some sort of child safety seat. In the case of my 4 year old, he is currently in a traditional car seat, while my 7 year old is in a high-back booster seat. To be honest, my 10.5 year old just stopped using a backless booster seat last year, and is about 65 lbs.

I tend to lean on the side of caution and safety, and prefer the guidelines set out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA advises parents of four steps to help protect their children while riding in a vehicle.

1. Infants - from birth to at least 1 year old and at least 20 pounds For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds.

2. Toddlers - Age 1 & 20 lbs to Age 4 & 40 lbs When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum age 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).

3. Children - from about age 4 to at least age 8 Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall).

4. Tweens - age 8 and older When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall) they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest).

I would encourage everyone to find out the child restraint laws in their state. If the laws in your state seem a bit lax, you may want to adopt the guidelines set forth by the NHTSA. Sometimes meeting the minimum standard just isn't enough when it comes to the safety of our children.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fieldtrip to the Battleship USS Alabama

This month's Co-op fieldtrip was an adventure to Mobile to see the USS Alabama battleship and the USS Drum submarine. Since Hubby is a US Navy sailor, our family knows a thing or two about ships, but they were all young (or not born) the last time we toured a naval ship.

The USS Alabama is a decommissioned WWII battleship that was purchased with donations collected by Alabama school children in 1964 after they learned that the ship was to be scrapped. On January 9, 1965, the USS Alabama was opened to the public, and was later joined by the USS Drum on July 4, 1969.

The kids had a wonderful time. Some of the younger children were a bit hesitant to go down the first few ladder wells, but by the end of the tour, most of them were handling them like pros. My younger two, on the other hand, did not care for the ladder well at all, so I had to carry Jensen down all of the ladder wells, while Jolie walked down directly behind me so I could catch her if she fell.

It was fun to see how sailors lived during WWII. Many things were different about their "ship life," but there were many more that were very similar to way sailors live on ships today.

Here are a few photos from our adventure. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

King Arthur's Sour Cream Muffins

One of my favorite holiday gifts of 2009 was the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook that Hubby got me. We've sampled quite a few of the recipes, and have loved every one. Our favorite recipe thus far has been the Sour Cream Muffins.

Sour Cream Muffins

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen berries or diced stone fruits
Coarse sugar for sprinkling

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the bowl to ensure the butter is fully incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix just until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients on low speed and mix just until the batter is smooth. Gently fold in the fruit. Refrigerate the batter at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin or line with papers. Scoop the batter by the 1/4-cupful into the prepared muffin pan. Bake the muffins until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22 to 26 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

We have tried both chopped, frozen red raspberries and chopped, frozen strawberries as add-ins on different occasions. The photos above are the strawberry version. I also have substituted low fat yogurt for the sour cream on both occasions. I don't always have sour cream on hand, but usually do have plain yogurt and have found that the plain yogurt still gives a recipe a similar bite as the sour cream, but without all of the fat and calories.