Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Blog Worthy of an Award

When I first began blogging I searched and searched for a "style" that I could make work for me. I am not really not too interested in just reading a bunch of text. For me, text plus pictures and tons of links are what makes a good blog become great.

I happened along a blog from this lady on a homeschooling board and thought.. "I really like how she shares her life with everyone". I thought about it a bit more and decided that even though I wanted something slightly different, I wanted to copy her process.

Each week I am so entertained by what my friend is doing in her homeschool. I have seldom seen activities as fun, entertaining and educational as on Rhonda's blog. She has a way with making homeschooling just come ALIVE! I am always inspired and come away with the desire to do more and be more for my kids.

So in honor of all of her hard work and commitment to excellence in Homeschooling I would like to present this award to Rhonda from Alston Academy. Please stop by and see all the wonderful activities she does with her children and leave her a comment of encouragement!

Rhonda's Blog has a heart! 

Thank you so much Rhonda for helping me make this such a wonderful year for my own children. Your absolutely fantastic!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The chocolate Breakfast

For the last few years Van & Bonnie from WHO radio in Des Moines, Iowa have hosted a chocolate breakfast. Each year, the number of visitors grow. Last year we were told to expect 3K or so. They had close to 6K if I remember correctly!

So this year, we are expecting more than last year. What does that have to do with homeschooling? Everything! You see, one of the way's I can afford to homeschool is by selling chocolate! That's right! Everyone LOVES chocolate and it's been a very good way for me to afford all of those "extra's" you see us do.

It takes us about a month to get ready for the chocolate breakfast. This year, I am WAY behind! I simply have not felt good, had the energy or really any motivation. I have procrastinated! Anyone who really knows me, knows that I am NOT a procrastinator. In fact, it simply drives me insane.

This week we began making samples. We only have 855 samples made and packed up. We have several more to make and THEN I can start on actual product.

Did I mention I am having website issues also? For some reason my shopping cart is unlinked and I am running out of time! Do I hear any volunteers? Not in this household!

So, I am going to be showing pictures this next week of how a homeschooling family runs a business or two, AND keeps everyone on track!

This is what 600 or so samples look like. We first make our chocolate, flavor it if we want to, pour into molds, tap and freeze. We then have to  let them come back to room temperature and then box them up.

We then place them inside of bakers boxes in layers. This will keep them from scratching and also make it easier for us at the show. We will just pull out a layer and slide them onto silver serving trays.

So far we only have the pinks, reds and maroons done. I still have white, milk chocolate and mint chocolate samples to make.

Nick Turned 18!

I am simply too young to have a child who is 18! As the day's got closer to his birthday, I began the denial process! Who, me? A mom of an 18 year old? NO WAY! Wait, I don't deny that I gave birth to him, but there is simply no possibly way that he is 18 already.

You have heard it said that the time passes quickly. I am here to testify to that!

May God abundantly bless and keep you safe and in His will Nicholas! You are truly a blessing to your parents. I thank God you have turned out to be such a young man of character and integrity. Son, you make your momma proud!

This double death by chocolate was NOT on the diet. Surely the calories DO NOT count if they are consumed on a birthday.

We started off at Bass Pro to see if we could find some new jeans. Nothing there for Nick but Abby sure enjoyed herself.

Aaron took Abby to go see all the stuffed critters, while we checked out the Carhartt  section.

The one eyes bandit?

She was not thrilled with having a raccoon's rear on her head.

We finished off our day at American Eagle where Nick HAD to try on almost everything in the store. He is very happy with his purchases, and we are thankful that we finally got out of the mall!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday Night Science

This turned out to be a very quick and surprisingly fun activity for Abby and Isaiah. I found the recipe somewhere for borax snowflakes. It's the same idea as sugar rock candy, only they develop VERY quickly and are NOT edible! I think we may grow some rock candy in the  next few weeks also.

Anyway... Let the pictures speak for themselves, right?

Here is what you need: Borax, glass containers (calls for Mason jars but I used my big root-beer mugs), pencil or knives, food coloring is optional, and pipe cleaners.
* The larger pipe cleaners actually made bigger crystals. They also say to use string to attach your snowflakes to your pencil but being the rule breaker I used pipe cleaners also.

Boil one enough water to make sure your snowflakes will be covered. For making your snowflakes, take 3 pipe cleaners, cut down to size and wrap making your design. Trim off any parts that will touch the sides or bottoms. I boiled 5 cups of water and added 15 TBS of Borax. The formula is 3 TBS of borax to 1 cup of boiling water. In this picture Abby and Isaiah are adding their food coloring.

Counting out the drops.

Abby checking her's out.

We poured our water into our mugs, swished around, made it a bit darker... Added our snowflakes and then left them on the counter untouched until this morning.

This is what we ended up with!

The dark red turned out to be pink!

The bigger/fatter pipe cleaners made bigger crystals.

Hali wanted to try different shapes!

This was the smaller blue one. This should have stayed in the mug for another day in my opinion!

Here they are drying out! I am going to hang these in the classroom tomorrow in front of our window!

Sneak peak at our biomes!

I had originally stated that I wanted to do the biomes all at once. I should have looked ahead to see when the tropical rain forest study was. It's actually this next week, and since I realize we are going to slow down to make this a major study... I felt I should wrap up the two Biomes we have been working on and share them.

After looking through Missouri's core competencies and Key Skills for Missouri skills, I noticed that this should actually be covered for Hali next year. No biggie however, since I am a home school mamma that's going to teach what I want and actually have to freedom to do so in our state. Abby is doing it WAY early! Once again, I don't think this is going to hurt her!

Hali created a three season Biome for Deciduous Forests.

This is her winter camp out. For the record, girl scouts DO camp in the winter! I just love her little fire!

Her body of water including her fish. The fish are here for the bears! LOL

This is the winter side of her biome. She is trying to illustrate a burrow in a tree for those animals who hibernate, the floor of the forest covered in leaves and nuts, along with the changes of the season's... Making the tree snow covered.

This is the fall side which shows the floor of the forest littered with leaves, berries that animals would be eating right before hibernation and even a log/ burrow for animals to live in for the season. Her tree's reflect the change of the season and the change of chloraphill.

Hali is showing the summer forest here where both leaves, treas and animals are enjoying the break from poor weather. This is MY favorite season and Biome to visit!

A look straight across.

Now for Abby's Biome. Because of our shortage of shoe boxes, and the fact that I only wanted them to do one biome replica, Abby got the grasslands. Nothing against grasslands... It's just that they are boring! Hahaha. Living a few stones throw's from the Kansas State line, we are VERY familiar with what these environments include. There simply is not a whole bunch you can do with the grasslands... after all... It's grass!

Abby's full scale grassland. She even added a bit of color for the sky and for the sun.

Not the best picture, but here is her stream with a fish.

Her wild flowers growing in no place particular.

This actually was her inspiration. I think she did a great job working with almost nothing! If I would have thought ahead, I also would have had them work with either oils/ water colors to do a painting also.

Next week is the Rain Forest! I am anticipating this to actually take 2 full weeks but, I am never certain!

Feeding a houseful on a budget

I think one of the biggest issues as a one income family that most home schoolers face is how to eat healthy on such a small food budget. Unlike most public school kids, our children eat all three meals here in our home. This means that we have to plan for all meals, and shop for them too!

Thankfully, we have some very good friends who own a Whole Sale Food Company. This means when I go to see "Uncle Tuffy" that I buy in bulk. Serious Bulk. I just got 20 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts (for a dollar a pound).They have to be separated, a gallon of ketchup (for $2)ditto! Anyway, some things just have to be taken care of and one of the best deals we get is Cheese in a 10 LB block and Deli meat that has to be sliced.

I have a treasure of a friend (several post's about Debbie here) who loans me her meat slicer. I then roll up my sleeves and get down to work. About half the way threw, DH rolled up his too and helped me finish up!

I started with the Classic Rotisserie Turkey. I label EVERYTHING almost Chix for some reason. Probably a bad habit, since anyone and everyone get's into the deep freezer.

This is what 10 pounds of shaved Turkey looks like

If you shave it the RIGHT way, you get a bit of seasoning on each piece.

This is how I package large quantities. I sometimes use freezer bags but they tend not to work as well and still get freezer burned or ice crystals on them. So for me, using wax paper and then re-wrapping them in butcher paper works well.

I label the kind of cheese. Note: if you actually let this stuff sit in the deep freezer for any amount of time you should date it. In this household NOTHING stays in the freezer long.

I try to weigh out each package into 1 lb wraps. DH weighs them into 2 lb wraps.

I try to leave 1-2 pounds of each out in the fridge. The rest all gets put away.

The next project, Honey Mesquite Smoked Turkey. Side note: the best part of having to do all the slicing is also getting to taste!

The packages when we are done.

This was the messiest of the bunch because it has rubbed pepper seasoning on it! But it was YUMMY!

Lastly, the very under used appliance that was loaned to me. I would love to have one of these myself, and some day I just may. However you don't see them all the time and as long as my girlfriend will loan me hers, I can stay in "business".

Each of my turkeys cost me $15.00. The cheese cost me $15.00. Compared to the $3-$5 dollars per pound I would have spent at the grocery store... This was a most excellent deal for me! Even if it did mean I had to work a bit more.

Finishing out week 22

I had really planned to finish all of my weekly blogging on Friday night. I have no remembrance of what I was doing that was more important than blogging. Any way, it didn't get done.

Thursday and Friday we tried to be as productive as we could. I know that sometimes when everyone is not feeling well, that is hard to do. This was the case with both girls, so there will be few, if any pictures of them.

We have been finishing up our Biomes for Deciduous forests and Grasslands. We studied temperate grasslands in depth since we live in one.

I had the girls go through the stack of Missouri Conservationist magazines (I have about 100-150) different ones and find pictures that relate to both of their biomes. This project actually took about an hour longer than I had planned because they kept reading the articles and looking at ALL the photos! Haha.. I love homeschooling for this very reason. Even though it seems that we got behind, they we in the midst of LEARNING themselves! Priceless!

Abby's forest

Abby's Grasslands

Hali's Grasslands

Hali's forest

Honestly, I sat the books and supplies in front of the girls and told them what I wanted. I was checking reading comprehension and processing skills in them. They listened very well to the lessons and even included animals that were not mentioned in the actual study. We has some conversations about what each ate, made their homes, needed for an environment and then they decided if they fit or not.

We worked on review tests because Hali is moving to the next level. Some day I should share how exactly I do my spelling. I am sure some folks would have a fit!

Virtues quotes and cursive practice. I took a picture of these because of the bottom line. It says "check your work, is it neat?" I had to laugh because Hali usually answers either yes or no. She said maybe!

I am really loving these quotes and the handwriting practice. I feel this was a good choice for us this Semester!

We started a project on winter with Abby. I love putting these little books together. Abby takes pride on how they turn out and since they all stay together, she often takes them back out to look through.
We are currently studying animals that migrate and animals that hibernate. Next week it's animals that change color.

How and where Abby would take her long winter's nap.

Hibernation facts and mini book. This is included in the winter book with the bunny a couple pictures up.

Animals that migrate and fact sheets. There is also one on Blue Whales that I included in her portfolio and is not part of this book because of it's size. We will finish filling in each of these pages with winter facts, animal facts and so forth next week.