Friday, January 31, 2014

Tea Time in Narnia

My High King Peter asked to listen to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe yesterday. While listening, we did our daily routines, the boys played, I did my mommy chores. I then crafted some snowflakes from white coffee filters and applied them to the picture window along with the boys' names.
 After a light lunch, I was inspired to have a tea party with the boys while listening to the audiobook. Here's a picture of the setup. I bought the boys each a porcelain Peter Rabbit mug for Christmas, and my lovely mother-in-law has a great collection of tea pots, cups, and saucers, which she allowed me to pick through when she was making a move with her husband from a six bedroom house in Whitehall, PA to a two bedroom condo in Vero Beach, FL. The tea pot, fancy mug, saucer, and the candy dish holding the Turkish delight are from that collection.

After we had our tea party, the boys wanted to play outside, it was 10 degrees F when I first woke up, and it was supposed to get up to 34 degrees F around three or four in the afternoon. I was in my closet putting things away when I happened upon my husband's cold weather fire fighting outfit. I creatively made that into my snowsuit along with his new work boots, which I added a few layers of thick socks to help them fit. I don't like cold weather too much, but the boys do. Here's a picture of me ready to play in the snow (my gloves are in my hands - can't take a picture with them on):

The boys and I attempted making a snow man, but the snow wouldn't roll up nicely into a ball, so we made a snow hill. I made a snow angel. Edmund attempted one and Peter just wanted to throw snowballs. I had a wonderful idea to take a walk. We walked around our block and slid all through the streets. They were basically a sheet of ice. It was great fun running and "skating" in the streets. The boys listened very well when a car was coming, we all scrambled up onto the sidewalks. 
The boys ended the afternoon with a bubble bath, I with a shower. I made soft boiled eggs and toast (like the meal Tumnus made for Lucy), and had more of that wacky cake (see my very first post). And after brushing our teeth and getting dressed for bed, we read five books for bedtime. 

Using Our Creative Juices

Today started out with the boys snuggling in my bed to wake me up. Edmund had a poopy diaper, ::sigh::, yes, he'll be three in April, and no, he's not yet potty trained - I don't have high expectations since it was just a few months before Peter turned four that he was officially potty trained, I'm taking my time. The boys were playing rather well this morning. We had a bowl of cereal with bananas, Peter decided he didn't want the bananas, after this admission, Edmund decided not to eat his bananas either. After the boys put their bowls in the sink, they asked to watch a movie. I turned on music, and despite their initial protests, they were soon singing and dancing along to their favorite songs. We then built block towers together. We were building them for princesses, and Ogres (we had a Shrek Marathon on Tuesday when the weather was cold but the snow didn't start falling). I then let the boys play, and cleaned up what they weren't playing with. I think I cleaned up the same stuff about times in a row at one point. We then read at least five books on the boys' beds from the library. Peter surprised me by reading some words with "oo"s in them. Like "zoom", "vroom", "zoo", etc. Yay for Leap Frog shows on Netflix!

 We were having a snack of blue corn chips with melted cheese (yes, nachos) when we got a call from someone we love. After the snack, we cleaned up, and the boys got back to playing and I had the idea to write up the blog about the library books, which took a while.

Then Peter wanted to play out side. He really wanted to get the charcoal out of the bags and make our snow pile into a snowman. I convinced him to use some of the gum balls I baked instead.
After Peter was inside and played a bit with Edmund (nicely) I allowed them to finally watch some TV. They watched one episode of Leap Frog Opposites, and two Magic School Bus episodes. While they were occupied, I realized I was out of laundry detergent. I am so lucky that I am curious.
I have been making my own detergent off and on for several years now. I only attempted this once I was married because I knew I couldn't have done this living at home. My mom would have been yelling at me for making a mess because there's always something I forget to clean up!  

One of the kids shows my boys watch stars a "Green bear, who lives in a tree, next door to the Baxter family", his name is Boz. It's a Christian show, that teaches kids virtues, I would describe it as a Christian version of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. One of the shows is about imagination and how it's our greatest tool. I would definitely agree. If I didn't have an imagination today, I would have had to bundle the kids and myself into the car, brave the unplowed, icy streets of the neighborhood, to a very crowded grocery store on pay day just to get some laundry detergent. But I knew I had some bars of Ivory soap in the linen closet, and the other ingredients in my laundry room, and the grater in my cupboards. I got the recipe from the Dugger family website years ago. I use Ivory (aloe vera scented) instead of Fels Naptha.

Dinner tonight was cheese pizza, since it is a Friday - meatless and I didn't feel like cooking. After dinner we cleaned up after ourselves - the boys bus their plates, went up stairs (Peter needed all the lights out because he had his sonic screwdriver and a mini flashlight), brushed our teeth, got changed for bed and read more stories.

Tonight's bedtime stories included:
Disnye*Pixar Story Collection with Run, Remy, Run!, Just Keep Swimming, Driving Buddies, Buzz's Backpack Adventure, and  Boo on the Loose.
Spider-Sense Spider-Man: Spider-Man and the Great Holiday Chase by Michael Teitelbaum
SNOW by Uri Shulevitz
My Pig Amarillo by Satomi Ichikawa
Poem: The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay and Who Has Seen the Wind? by Christina Rossetti - both from the book: My Favorite Kindergarten Poems - and we did the discussion questions at the end of the poems together.

I do love reading to my boys. Playing their games sometimes makes me feel like I want to gouge my eyes out for some reason, but reading…I LOVE reading to them. I love reading with voices for all the characters, different accents (even if I get it wrong, they don't seem to mind), etc. I just love it.
I love when their Daddy reads to them too!
After I finish typing this, my priority will be to get our swimming things ready for our first swimming lessons tomorrow! I am so excited that the boys are going to be getting swim lessons at the same time (Peter starts ten minutes before Edmund). Peter gets to be in his class by himself with other classmates, and I get to stick with Edmund in his class. I also received a call that we will be having a handy man come over to get estimates for some repairs to this house we are renting. I will be so happy to have that darn hole in the fence fixed up. Not only do our kids like to escape through it, our next door neighbor's dog likes to come in our yard through the hole, and the kids are not keen about that at all.

Library Book List January 2014

I had been looking for a specific library book that Tommy picked out months ago. I could not find it through searching the catalog and asked the librarians if there was a way to look up the books we borrowed in the past. Their answer: No. Not unless you accumulated a fine on it in the past. Wow. So if I ever want to find a book we checked out before, I decided I need to keep a record of all the books I check out. Here's our current list of books - I will include Title, author, illustrator (if different from author), ISBN, a description provided from the inside, front jacket cover, or back of book, and a picture if provided by an internet search of images.

Amelia's Fantastic Flight 
By Rose Bursik
ISBN: 0-8050-1872-7
"Amelia's little spin covers six continents and takes her to fourteen countries. She sees a baby sloth in Brazil, the pyramids of Egypt, a panda in China, and all manner of wonders the world over…
Two full-spread maps, plus smaller inset maps throughout, enable children to follow Amelia's amazing journey. Rose Bursik's striking, detailed artwork and intrepid heroine are sure to make Amelia's Fantastic Flight a favorite with the youngest armchair adventures.

Bessie Smith and the Night Riders 
By Sue Stauffacher
Illustrated by John Holyfield
ISBN: 0-39924237-6
Emmarene is thrilled when she hears the great blues singer Bessie Smith is coming to town--except she can't afford a ticket. So when she's sure no one's looking, Emmarene sticks her head inside the tent while Bessie's performing. And there's Bessie, waving her feather boa and singing her heart out.
Then Emmarene hears a noise outside--it's the Night Riders, and they've come to burn down Bessie's tent! "Y'all best get ready to meet your maker," a voice tells the audience. But if anyone can face down the Night Riders, it's Bessie Smith…
Based on a true incident, Bessie Smith and the Night Riders is an empowering story of standing up for what's right. With John Holyfield's evocative paintings setting the stage, readers will be cheering for Bessie and Emmarene all the way to their final bow.

The Magic of Mythical Creatures
By Colleayn O. Mastin
Illustrated by Jan Sovak
ISBN: 1-895910-45-5
Warning! You are about to find out why you should never take your eyes off a leprechaun. And speaking of eyes, do dragons sleep with their eyes open and see with their eyes shut?
Or how about trolls. Do they stay out of the sunlight because they do not want to risk a sunburn? Or is there a more sinister reason?
Read this beautifully illustrated book, if you dare, to find out more and to answer your questions. Enjoyable and easy to ready, you and your children will delight in the 15 of the world's mythical creatures that will come to life before your eyes in this wonderfully entertaining book.

While You Are Away
By Eileen Spinelli
Illustrated by Renee Graef
ISBN-13: 978-142311351-5
Belongs to: While You Are Away [Kit]

In My Heart
By Molly Bang
ISBN: 0-316-79617-4
Belongs to: While You Are Away [Kit]
Let me tell you about all of the ways and all of the places and all of the times you're in my heart…. Plenty of room for YOU in here!

How Many Stars in the Sky?
By Lenny Hort
Illustrated by James E. Ransome
ISBN: 978-0-688-15218-5
Belongs to: While You Are Away [Kit]
Mama's away one night, and her son can't sleep. He tries to relax by counting stars, but the more of them he sees, the more determined he is to count every single one. The the boy finds that Daddy can't sleep either. Together, the two of them set off on an unforgettable all-night journey of discovery.
*a Reading Rainbow book

King Arthur's Very Great Grandson
By Kenneth Kraegel
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5311-8
Henry Alfred Grummorson is the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of King Arthur, one of the bravest knights to ever life. On the day Henry turns six years old, he wakes up early, mounts his trusty donkey, Knuckles, and goes out in search of adventure.
Along the way, he encounters a Dragon, a Cyclops, and a Griffin, but none of them will have "ado" with Henry. Desperate for a real battle, Henry seeks out the most fearsome of all the beasts: the Leviathan. But has Henry met his match at last?
Newcomer Kenneth Kraegel draws from myth and legend to craft a wonderfully inventive tale that is sure to delight adventurers of all ages.

Snowflakes Fall
By Patricia MacLachlan
Illustrated by Steven Kellogg
ISBN: 978-0-385-37693-8
In Snowflakes Fall, Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan portrays life's natural cycle: its beauty, its joy, and its sorrow Her simple but powerful words gently convey the impact of loss and the healing power of memory. This book is a tribute to the qualities that make each individual unique.
Award-winning artist Steven Kellogg brings her words to life in his signature style with rich and vibrant paintings. Together the words and pictures offer the promise of renewal that can be found in our lives--snowflakes fall, and return as raindrops so that flowers can grow again.
With Snowflakes Fall, longtime friends MacLachlan and Kellogg have created a truly inspiring book that is a celebration of life and a message of hope.

Names for Snow
By Judi K. Beach
Illustrated by Loretta Krupinski
ISBN: 078681937-5
Every snowflake is unique, and so are the names used to describe snow and its ever changing nature. Sometimes those soft flakes floating down are wings of white butterflies, other times snow is a clever magician who makes the landscape disappear!
Loretta Krupinski's stunning landscapes illuminate Judi K. Beach's lyrical text while her joyful borders tell their own story of a whimsical rabbit family and their adventures in the snow.

By Uri Shulevitz
ISBN: 978-0-374-3709203
First, one snowflake. Then two snowflakes. Nobody thinks the snow will amount to anything. Nobody, that is, except a certain little boy. "It's snowing!"
A boy and his dog celebrate the first snowfall and a city is transformed.
Caldecott Medalist Uri Shulevitz has created a lyrical companion to the award-winning Dawn and Rain Rain Rivers.

The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck
By Laura Murray
Illustrated by Mike Lowery
ISBN: 078-0-399-25779-7
Guess who best to go along on a field trip to the firehouse? The Gingerbread Man! But when he falls out of his class-mate's pocket, Spot the dalmatian comes sniffing around. Luckily, this gingerbread man is one smart cookie, and he races into the fire truck, up the pole, and all through the station, staying one step ahead of the hungry dog the whole time.
Then an emergency call comes in and the gingerbread man knows just what to do: I'll ride to the rescue, as fast as i can. I want to help, too! I'm the GINGERBREAD MAN!
With snappy rhymes and fresh illustrations, the Gingerbread Man makes a sweet return in his second school adventure.

I Love My Pirate Papa
By Laura Leuck
Illustrated by Kyle M. Stone
ISBN: 978-0-15-205664-2
A pirate's life is a raucous life--full of rough-and-tumble adventure, hard work, and the occasional brush with danger. And a ship isn't a cozy place. But to a hardy seafaring boy with a pirate for a papa, the waves feel just like home.
Plenty salty and a little bit sweet, this pirate papa is the most lovable dad ever to fly the Jolly Roger.

Little Tad Grows Up
by Giuliano Ferri
ISBN: 978-0-698-40060-3
Little Tadpole is going through some big changes in his early life. For one thing, he's sad when he learns his is losing his tail. Instead, he's growing strange, new legs that he doesn't know what to do with. The older frogs tell him to be patient, but it's hard when everything's changing around you. Then one day he finds himself face to face with a sneaky water snake, and he learns just how useful his new legs can be. In the process, he discovers a beautiful world outside the water. This is a funny, endearing look at what it means to grow up.

Make Way for Ducklings
By Robert McCloskey
ISBN: 0-670-45149-5
Just any old place won't do for raising a family of ducklings. Mr. Mallard thought the pond in the Boston Public Gardens would be just right, especially with the swan boats bringing all those people, and all those peanuts. But Mrs. Mallard knew right away that the park was not a safe place for babies. A quite island in the Charles River, however, proved just right for bringing up a new family--eight fluffy ducklings in all. And after her brood had learned to swim and dive, to walk in a line, and to come when called, Mrs. Mallard knew the time was right. They would all return to the Public Garden. But though the ducklings were old enough to look out for themselves, they couldn't fly. How to move them across the highway, down busy streets and intersections? Mrs. Mallard didn't make a fuss. She just set off at a proud waddle and the ducklings filed along behind her. The people of Boston would just had to make way!
This brilliantly illustrated, amusingly observed tale of Mallards on the move has won the hearts of generations of readers. Awarded the Caldecott Medal as "the most distinguished American picture book for children" in 1941, it has since become a favorite of millions, children and adults alike, as "one of the merriest picture-books ever…told in very few words with a gravity that underscores the delightful comedy of the pictures."
--The New York Times

A Day in the Salt Marsh
By Kevin Kurtz
Illustrations by Consie Powell
ISBN: 978-1-93435901908
From: Chesapeake Bay Oceans to Go! Backpack Item
Enjoy a day in one of the most dynamic habitats on earth: the salt marsh. Fun-to-read, rhyming verse introduces readers to hourly change in the marsh as the tide comes and goes. Watch the animals that have adapted to this ever-changing environment as they hunt for food or play in the sun, and learn how the marsh grass survives even when it is covered by salt water twice a day.
Free online resources and support for A Day in the Salt Marsh at
*For Creative Minds as seen in the book
     - Matching activity with information on habitat and diet
     - Tidal Animals Activity
     - What Causes Tides?
     - What are salt marshes important?
     - Spartina Grass and its adaptations
* Teaching activities
* Interactive Quizzes
* English and Spanish audio
* Learning Links (subject related websites)
* Aligned to National & State Science & Math Standards
* Accelerated REader, Lexile, & Reading Counts levels

Meet Chadwick and His Chesapeake Bay Friends
By Priscilla Cummings
Illustrated by A.R. Cohen
ISBN: 0-87033-516-2
From: Chesapeake Bay Oceans to Go! Backpack Item
Meet Chadwick, the Chesapeake Bay blue crab, and his many friends, including Bernie the Sea Gull, Toulouse the Canada Goose, Matilda Egret, Hector Spector the Jellyfish, and Orville Oyster. As the story goes: 
     Though Chadwick and his many friends
     Are different as can be,
     They life together happily
     In a bay, beside the sea.
Older readers, age six and up, can continue to read about Chadwick's many adventures in the "Chadwick the Crab" series of books written by Priscilla Cummings and illustrated by A.R. Cohen.

Spider-Sense Spider-Man: Spider-Man and the Great Holiday Chase
By Michael Teitelbaum
Pictures by Mada Design, Inc. Colors by Dave McCaig
ISBN: 978-0-06-162616-6
It's the holidays, but not everyone is ready to celebrate. Spider-Man must stop the villain known as Silver Sable from stealing the special Holiday Diamond, which is hidden in a big department store. Can Spider-Man keep Silver Sable from getting her hands on the prize?

The Book of Dragons & Other Mythical Beasts
By Joseph Nigg
ISBN: 0-7641-5510-5
Dragons, unicorns, griffins, sea monsters, and other ancient animals that never existed continue to fascinate us with their dreamlike shapes and mysterious powers. They are expressions of human fears and of our wonder at the awesome forces of nature. Bestowed with magical qualities, they embody our longings for health, riches, wisdom, and immortality.They also delight us with their charms and eccentricities.
The Book of Dragons and Other Mythical Beasts is a journey through the unnatural history of creatures that never existed outside our own imagination. It brings to life with vivid description and illustration over fifty of the most fascinating and awesome mythical beasts. Turn the pages and discover:
Amphisbaena A reptile with a head at either end of its body that can go backward or forward at great speed.
Chimera A fire-breathing monster with the head and foreparts of a lion, the body of a goat, and the hindquarters of a dragon.
Hydra A monstrous water serpent with many heads. If one head is destroyed, two or more grow in its place.
Karkadan A ferocious one-horned monster of Persia, so large it can carry off an elephant on its horn.
Kraken One of the most feared monsters of the northern ocean, it wraps its huge tentacles around unwary ships and plucks sailors from the decks.
Manticore With three rows of teeth and a long, scorpion like tail, it is a man-eater with a voice like a panpipe.
Stymphalids Man-eating birds with brass beaks and claws.

Fantasy Encyclopedia - A Guide to Fabulous Beasts and Magical Beings - From Elves and Dragons to Vampires and Wizards
By Judy Allen
ISBN: 0-7534-5847-0
This magical book is a comprehensive guide to the creatures and people of the fantasy world. The exquisite illustrations and richly descriptive stories will captivate both children and adults as they delve into the spellbinding world of elves, monsters, and ghouls.

The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook
By Dinah Bucholz
ISBN: 978-140220664106
Bring the majesty of Narnia to your Table!
Have you ever wished you could travel through the wardrobe with Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter, simply to taste some of the wondrous food they eat? Ever tried tucking a piece of toffee in the ground, hoping a toffee tree would grow so you could eat sweets for breakfast?
Now you can recreated the delicious meals from Narnia in the comfort of your own home without worrying about the White Witch or epic battles. Menus include more than 150 easy-to-make recipes for breakfast, snacks,lunch, dinner, and of course dessert!
"East and reading are two pleasure that combine admirably." - C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity
By C. S. Lewis
ISBN: 0-06-065288-8
In 1943 England, when all hope was threatened by the inhumanity of war, C. S. Lewis was invited to give a series of radio lectures addressing the central issues of Christianity. More than half a century after the original lectures, they continue to retain their poignancy. First heard as informal radio broadcasts, the lectures were then published as three books and subsequently combined as Mere Christianity. C. S. Lewis proves that "at the center of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks with the same voice," rejecting the boundaries that divide Christianity's many denominations. This twentieth-century masterpiece provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear a powerful, rational case for the Christian faith.

The ABC Murders
By Agatha Christie
ISBN: 978-0-06-207358-7
There's a serial killer on the loose, working his way through the alphabet and the whole country is in a state of panic.
A is for Mrs. Ascher in Andover, B is for Betty Barnard in Bexhill, C is for Sir Carmichael Clarke in Churston. With each murder, the killer is getting more confident--but leaving a trail of deliberate clues to taunt the proud Hercule Poirot might just prove to be the first, and fatal, mistake.
"Agatha Christie has provided entertainment, suspense, and temporary relief from the anxieties and traumas of life both in peace and war for millions through the world."
--P. D. James, New York Times Best Selling Author

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Learning in Narnia

When it comes to homeschooling there is no compulsory education until first grade in the state of Virginia. I don't send my children to preschool, but we did recently join the local recreation center. I signed both boys up for swimming lessons, tumbling for DS1 (who goes by Peter right now), and some fun holiday themed events at different rec. centers around the area.

I have also read about Better Late Than Early, and how starting formal education later can help avoid learning problems.  My little brother and my husband have struggled with learning issues, this approach seems to make the most sense to me. This article from the Huffington Post about how perhaps we have things backwards and we need to place less stress on academics and more on childhood confirms theses ideas. I like that the author also linked a Wall Street Journal article about the more relaxed style of education in Finland.  It shows "by one international measure, Finnish teenager are among the smarter in the world. They earned some of the top scores by 15-year-old students who were tested in 57 countries. American teens finished among the world's C students even as U.S. educators piled on more homework, standards and rules." At least for now, I'm going along with this relaxed approach to learning. Letting it organically happen, no flash cards, although we have them at the house for the boys to look at if they want. We read. We read a lot. All roads to successful students start with reading.

I love themes. I noticed in the homeschooling world there is a thing called unit studies. Unit studies immerse us deep into a theme. A unit study works by capturing their attention and helping them understand the pieces of the whole as they fit together. It integrated disciplines together, rather than dividing them into separate "subjects" to be pursued at different times during the school day. Literature, history, science, mathematics, art, music, history, and so on are all studied through their relationship to a core organizing principle. They seem to organically happen with me. Right now we are immersed into the world of Narnia.

This is our current desktop background on the computer because it is Aslan. We are listening to the audio books, we watch Disney's version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I read from The Chronicles at night. 

I have made rich, creamy hot vanilla, and Turkish delight - the treats the White Witch, Jadis, gave Edmund on his first visit to Narnia. We have also tried new foods like buttered toast and sardine sandwiches from when Lucy visited Mr. Tumnus. I borrowed a book from the library called, "The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook" by Dinah Bucholtz, she also wrote "The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook" - I can't wait to check that one out next!
I also have several books on hold about mythical creatures that we are going to pick up from the library today. The boys ask about the different mythical creatures and I don't know very much about them, so we will be discovering them together. I love learning with my boys!

At night we read at least three books as part of our bedtime routine, lately they have been requesting met to read from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
last week they wanted me to read from "the ship one with the mouse" - "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader". During the day they are Peter and Edmund and use lots of imaginative play. Last night after prayers I asked Peter what his favorite part of the day was, and his response was sword fighting outside with Edmund, and he went on to describe how it all went down in great detail until I had to ask him to continue the story tomorrow. We paint, color, and draw and the themes of what they are immersed in tend to come out in Peter's artwork. 

If we breakdown what we are doing into actual schooling here's just the tip of the iceberg of what we have:

Literature - part of Language Arts/Reading/Writing/Spelling: we discuss how letters are symbols that make sounds, when we put letters together in special ways they make words, and when we put words together we get stories. As they get older they will better understand character development, symbolism, protagonist/antagonists, settings, climax…and all the parts of a story.

History - the book is set in history - we learn little bits about World War II - air raids, good vs. evil, how children went to live with relatives out in the country to be safe. We also relate it to how Daddy's in the Navy, as well as his grandfather, my grandfathers serve in the military to help keep us safe. We also tied it to a book we borrowed from the library, Bessie Smith and the Night Riders by Sue Stauffacher, it's about a soul singer and how she scared away the night riders (KKK). I tied it into Narnia by telling them how the KKK are really bad and confused people who got their ideas from a bad man, Hitler, who started WWII. 

Maps - there are maps in the book, the boys love drawing maps about the places in Narnia, we also look at maps and identify the USA in relation to Great Britain, the Oceans, etc. 

Religion - we learn about Free Will, redemption, sacrifice, penance, forgiveness, virtue and vice with Edmund, Peter, and Aslan. These discussions also brings about logic and critical thinking

Gross Motor Skills and Creative Play - When they role play through sword fighting and insist on being called Edmund and Peter they are using both their left and right sides of their brain.  

Science (more specifically, biology, weather, chemistry) - we are learning about different types of animals - lions, jackdaws, bull dogs, beavers, rabbits, robins, etc. When we meet Narnia in the second book it's stuck in winter, then we see the progression to spring. And this translate directly to our weather outside that they see. And let's not forget the science of baking - when we make scones we use baking soda, a leavening agent - chemical reactions.

Home Economics - they help me shop and bake.

Math - when baking we use fractions in measuring, following directions are essential not only in baking, but figuring out word problems, but also in figuring out different ways of doing things. 

Even though I'm not formally homeschooling, when I look at what I'm doing with my children, not only are we having fun, my boys are joining me in laying a strong foundation for a love of learning in their life!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Happy National Chocolate Cake Day!

Hello Sweetie!
As I am beginning again (rising from the ashes?) I have a chocolate cake in my oven, called a Wacky Cake. I stopped blogging and dropped out of most of the life I made for myself in the summer of 2011, after being diagnosed with postpartum depression with my second child, my husband deploying, and being banned from teaching and promoting something I loved doing where I was living in. I am ready to move on with life.

I am finding that I also need a way to document things going on in life, and have a place to look back and reminisce. I am horrible at keeping baby albums and photo albums, but I'm great at posting and sharing on Facebook, so here goes nothing, and boys (I currently have two preschoolers), I hope this is something you can look back on and be proud of me. My goals for my children are that you become kind, respectful, people who strive for heaven, contribute to society, and are self-sufficient. All the rest is icing on the cake.

My husband (DH), who made Chief (he's in the Navy) last year, and I are on the same page right now with life despite being on opposite sides of the world from each other because of deployment. We are going to give homeschooling a try and take things year by year. When he is finished with his sea duty rotation (which will be the end of this year), he will be going to shore duty. We should be picking orders at the end of March. I'm hoping we can try getting something overseas or in the Pacific Northwest, like Washington State. My reasoning is that I think it will be easiest on the family if we can move around while they're little. Plus, if we're overseas they'll pick up on a new language so much easier, and what's the point of being in the Navy if you're going to be stuck in the same place for over 13 years? Sure, he sees the world when he's deployed, but as my mother-in-law says, it's the parts of the world she never wants to see.

Today's project was collecting Sweet Gum Balls. Last week we were hit with snow that lasted until yesterday. Today it was in the 60s and gorgeous, and tomorrow we're supposed to be getting snow again. Let's enjoy the beautiful weather while we can! I sent my sweet boys outside to play and I went to collect sweet gum balls for future art and craft projects. This tree drops a lot of balls and they like to gum up our lawn mower - a human powered push mower. My thoughts, why not use these little land mines that cause so much pain when barefoot and when mowing for something good other than putting them in a plastic bag on the curb. When collecting things from nature that can harbor bugs and mold, such as sweet gum balls, pine cones, pecans, etc. Bake your collections at 200 degrees F for at least 45 minutes to bake out the bugs with the heat. No ones wants an unwanted infestation in your home.
Sweet Gum Tree

Baking pan piled with Sweet Gum Balls

I love listening and watching my boys play and use their imagination. They started out a bit rough today with not wanting to share and play together. This morning I pulled DS1 onto my lap in the rocking chair and played some music from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Once they finally got dressed, this took some time today, and they got outside they continued their quarreling for about 5 minutes, and then without my intervention they were playing Narnia. My boys' have a wild imagination. Last year they were Chris and Martin Kratt from the PBS show, The Wild Kratts for about 3 months. Then they turned into Harry Potter and Ron Weasley from J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter for about four months. Currently, they are Peter and Edmund from C. S. Lewis', The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. This morning DS2 was in tears because he couldn't remember his new name. He's very serious about being called his new name once he decides he's a character. If he does become an actor, I believe he will be a method actor!

While browsing Facebook, I read on someone's wall that today was National Chocolate Cake Day - my interest was piqued. I looked into it further, and found a website, National Day Calendar, and they have a FB page too, I'm following. As I said above, I have Wacky Cake in the oven. You thought I just said it's National Chocolate Cake Day and I have Wacky Cake in my oven…what's going on? Wacky Cake come from the depression era when life was really tough, when my grandfather would line his shoes with newspaper to keep the holes covered, kids would play kick the can in the street, and it was common to have beggars coming to your door. This cake does not contain milk, butter, nor eggs, yet it is moist and delicious. Here's the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, grease a 9" x 13" pan.
In a large mixing bowl combine:
3 C flour
2 C sugar
6 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Make 3 holes in the dry mixture:
1st hole: 2 tsp vanilla
2nd hole: 1 Tbsp vinegar
3rd hole: 3/4 C vegetable oil

Pour 2 C water into the bow, mix and pour batter into the greased pan. Bake in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes.

Wacky Cake

I would imagine if you want to go paleo, or gluten free you could easily convert by substituting ground almond flour, coconut sugar and an avocado for the oil.

If you try substitutions, please leave a comment and let me know how it works!

Happy National Chocolate Cake Day!