Thursday, August 30, 2012

School Update...

SO WE'VE NOW completed almost 2 weeks of school. I think we are off to a great start! I have to say for most of my career I've had an only student to teach. For me teaching an only was much harder! I really enjoy having multiple children to teach at the same time. This year I have the two little boys 5 and 7 years. Our only tricky part is the two old toddler, who likes to disrupt our lessons. So far however, we've managed and she seems to be settling down as long as I can find some way to include her.

The other thing I've noticed this year is, when I have a car all day, it's nice to take off and take our learning on the road. However, my children enjoy more structure than I do. So that isn't always a great thing to do. We've only had one vehicle for more than a year now and that has really helped keep the structure and routine to our day. We can't go anywhere until after 2:30pm, so we are able to get all our work done and then run around in the afternoon. This seems to be a much more workable schedule for the children, so when we do get another car mom will have to be better at sticking to our routine.

The best thing I've instituted this school year is our Monday Clean! Each Monday we get up have breakfast, say our morning prayers and then everyone gets on with their chores. I set the timer for one hour and we all work. This way all the big cleaning from the weekend is done at one time. I don't know about you, but after the weekend my house seems to be a wreck. When Monday morning comes mom just can't take it and needs to take care of it BEFORE I can do school. I just can't concentrate and feel settled when things are in disarray. This way all the those things are done and I'm not doing it alone. Before I would do it all and then school would start to late and kids would be to hard to corral. This way is working much better!! Don't you just love it when a plan comes together!! :) I think I'm dating myself. Ha! Ha!

Anway, I'm thrilled with how well it's going with our Touchtile Reading System! He's finally getting it and is beginning to blend sounds! We are making forward progress each day and I'm extremely pleased!! I can see reading in the very near future!!

How are your school plans coming together? Have you started back to school yet? I love to read your comments so let me know what you're up to! Enjoy your day!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Apple Blackberry Cobbler!!

EVERY WHERE YOU look you can begin to see signs that autumn is just around the corner. The other day on our nature walk we looked for signs of autumns approach. It was so fun to pick apples and berries! After we got home we had a family baking session. I think that it made it taste all the better! Here's our recipe, it may be a unique combination but it was pretty tasty!

                    Apple Blackberry Cobbler
4 small/medium apples      2 cups of blackberries
2 Tbsp instant tapioca        2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp melted butter

                             Shortcake Topping
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour         2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup packed brown sugar        1/4 cup melted butter (4 Tbsp)
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425. Grease a 3qt casserole and set aside.

Peel and slice the apples and then place them in the casserole. After washing the berries place them in a medium/large mixing bowl and gentle toss with the sugar and tapioca. Pour the berries over the apples, then drizzle with melted butter.

In another bowl whisk the dry ingredients together for the topping. When dry ingredients are evenly distributed add the cream and melted butter. Mix into a stiff dough.

Spoon dough on the fruit in a 'cobbled' fashion. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Learning choices...

I HAVE TO SAY I just love library day!! Especially when I stubble upon a great find! Early in my homeschooling career I felt I really needed a 'boxed curriculum' to accomplish my year of education with my children. Now after over 10 years of homeschooling I love the freedom of building our own learning plan.

Teaching the 3 R's has always been my main focus for learning in the early grades, just because I believe a solid base of knowledge is so key in the career of a child's learning. In addition to that I love to do hands on learning and lots of oral work. Having mainly boys to teach, writing has been so much of a chore. While we do, do a fair amount of writing I try to other activities to build the skills you need for writing, instead of just focusing on the chore. While my boys may be on the later spectrum of things, looking back I'm so glad I took this route. I think it made it less painful all involved!

This year I am using Susan Wise Bauer's The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor for the first time and I must say we are all loving it! My oldest is studying the 20th Century and in the early 1900's the Theory of Quantum Physics was discovered, so as a family we are doing some fun physics experiments from the book Teaching Physics with Toys: Activities for Grades K-9. It is a wonderful resource and my oldest sounds excited to leading some of the experiments for his siblings. I love opportunities when we can ALL participate in learning together.

While I was able to find all these resources at my local library, I'm thinking I will have to be making some of these part of our home library. It's really great, however to be able to try them out first to see if they are a good fit.

Hope you are excited about your new school year! I'd love to hear what you are trying new this year in your comments. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your day!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Getting Ready for Fall...

EVEN THOUGH WE still have a few weeks of summer left, I can already feel that nip in the air and I know fall is just around the corner. Today on our nature walk we looked for the early signs of autumn's return.

We had a great time collecting leaves that are just beginning to change.

The bushes are loaded with blackberries and we were able to pick a few of the ripe ones. I see another cobbler in our future!!

Then we continued on our walk and picked some apples. Isn't it wonderful to be blessed with such a bounty?
Then we headed back home to begin putting together our nature table and start on our felted figures. A great day indeed!

Hope you're enjoying your blessings today!!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Quilt top done!

WELL I FINALLY HAVE THE final boarders on, and am done with my quilt top. If you've been following me along you can now see the finished product. I think it turned out really lovely!

After doing the center of this quilt it really was just about getting the boarders on. You'd think that, that's the easy part and while you're right it is, there's a right way and a wrong way to go about it. If you haven't taken a class or read anything about adding boarders, you may think that you just measure out the fabric and slap them on. However if you choose that method and send your top out to a 'longarm' quilter, you may find she's not so happy with your top. If you don't measure properly your quilt will not lay exactly square and will give her problems on her quilt frame.

When you sew a new boarder onto your quilt, you need to treat it as if you're just adding on to another block. Which indeed you are! For my interior boarders I was able to add them without having to use more than once piece of fabric, but as I added the more outer boarders I then had join pieces together.

When I do this I join my fabric like I do when I'm making a binding, by adding it on in a diagonal. I place the fabric in a 'L' position, mark the diagonal, sew and cut.

Then I cut a 1/2 seam allowance and press the seam open. This gives a bit stronger seam.

Now that I have a long enough piece to boarder the longer edges of the quilt I measure in three places. Across the top, middle and bottom. Then you add them up and divide by three to get the average length of your quilt. Then you cut your strip the length of the average. For example, say your quilt measures 34 + 34.25 + 34.5 = 102.75. Then you divide 102.75 by 3 and get 34.25, that's what you would cut your boarder. Then you get the middle of the boarder and the middle of that side of you quilt and begin pinning from the center out. You would do this for each boarder you're adding. This will keep your quilt top nice and square and give you top a much nicer look and make it much easier to quilt.

The last important thing to remember when adding boarders or any part of your quilt for that matter, is the pressing. Remember to always PRESS and not iron. So that you have nice crisp seams and don't unintentionally distort your fabric. Hope these tips help you along your way.

As always enjoy your day!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fruits of summer...

NOW THAT WE ARE entering the last weeks of summer I'm trying to get in all the fruits I can before they are gone. To that end, I think I purchased a few to many peaches and so I just had to make a cobbler. Isn't that a shame? My only problem with that was that I had to share.

Anastasia's Wrapping Up Summer Cobbler
4 or 5 medium, ripe peaches                         1 cup of fresh blue berries
2 Tbsp quick cook tapioca                            2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp real vanilla                                            1 Tbsp melted butter

First bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Dip the ripe peaches in the hot water for a few seconds and then peel off the skin of the peaches. Then slice them into a bowl, removing the pit in the process. Then add the tapioca, vanilla and sugar to the fruit.

Once you gently mix the fruit and other ingredients. Place the fruit mixture into a greased baking dish. And drizzle with melted butter.

Next put together the topping.

Shortcake crust
1 1/2 cups of flour                              2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup packed brown sugar              1/4 cup melted butter (4 Tbsp)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

In  a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients. Whisk them together to make sure they are evenly distributed. Then add the cream and butter. Mix with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. It will be a stiffer dough. Don't over mix!

Spoon the dough on to the fruit. And then bake at 425 for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

When it comes out I let it cool for about 30 minutes, then I serve it with ice cream or just heavy cream. Yum!! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Great First Day!

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT the first day of school, or at least there was when I was a child. All the nerves of finding a friendly face on the bus and praying I would get to sit next to a friend in class. It's funny to me that my children, as of yet, have never had that experience. I so looked forward to using all my new school supplies and organizing my desk just so. Looking back I guess I did enjoy school some what, but there are so many things that I'll never miss.

Today was our first day of school, or at least our 'official' first day. I mean when you homeschool aren't you really doing school all the time without knowing it, or intending to? I feel like during a good week I learn something new every day! And I have to say that raising children most days ARE great days!!

I find it fascinating watching my children learn. Amazing to watch how they process things and rejoicing with them when they finally get it! Today was one of those days. We tried our new Touchtile Reading System today and I was amazed and delighted at how well it went. I could almost see the wheels turning and he seemed to be finally getting it. This was the first day so we have a long road to go before he's reading, but it definitely seems promising!

Using this system the child takes a dot paint marker and has to cross across their body saying a letter and sound. This may seem silly, but by doing this they have to use both hemispheres of the brain. By doing these exercises they are sparking new pathways that helps the information process better in their brain. This Touchtile System comes with all the instruction to help you help your child learn the letters and sounds and then finally to blend. For my 'guesser' the blending is the tricky part, so in a few weeks we will see how he progresses.

We are trying all we can to work on fine motor to help with writing. At least his coloring is improving. Staying inside lines is such a challenge, but we have to work on one thing at a time. What I know from teaching another child with 'special needs' is that often times when it comes together it can come all at once. So you just have to celebrate the small victories along the way!

Hope you are having a wonderful start to your school year! Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your day!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

In the final days of summer...

NOW THAT WE ARE over half way through August we are wrapping up the last of our summer fun! Today we spent a fun afternoon at my husband's employer's 'family day'. We all had a great time! A tour of the facilities, which was yet another educational opportunity. Walking through a factory and seeing all the processes that are involved to create small pieces of a larger whole is so interesting! I think the kids really enjoyed that.

Then on to a lovely lunch, face paint, and fun kid friendly activities!!! Even I had to take part in the festivities, much to my teenagers chargrin! Why do we parents enjoy teasing our kids so much? Maybe it's just me. What a bad mom!! ha! ha!

Tomorrow is our 'official' first day of school. I'm really excited to get started on our new Touchtile Reading System. It claims to turn 'guessers into readers' by stimulating both hemispheres of the brain. It sounds so promising and makes sense to me on so many levels I'm hoping it's a good fit! With my oldest we did occupational therapy and eye therapy to accomplish what this program claims to accomplish, so we will see. I will be blogging about our progress so stay tuned! If you have a struggling learner visiting Learning Technologies might be a great site for you. They offer many promising programs!

What fun things are you up to as we wind down these last weeks of summer! Drop me a note in my comments I'd love to hear!!

Thanks for stopping by and spending some of your valuable time with me! Enjoy your day!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Works in Progress Part II

BOY IT'S BEEN hot here! I guess we've finally joined the rest of the country with the roasting weather. I can't complain though we've gotten off extremely easy this summer. I pray each day for all those who are trying to beat the heat, have lost homes, crops, and love ones due to the heat and fires this summer. It's been quite a year!

We've been out playing in the sun mostly, but to beat the heat today I am finally getting back to my projects. I am so thankful for my basement. It's pretty cool down there and makes sewing a definite possibility during this heat wave!

So last time I was putting the center together. If you didn't see that you can go back here... Then I had to put on the interior boarders.

Now I'm getting to the picket fence boarder. It's coming together nicely!! I may have to keep this one for me!

First I had to make the tops of the pickets. So lots of marking squares and sewing on the diagonal.

Once I got the corners on to make the "little houses" then I had to make a strip set and cut them into 2 1/2 inch strips to connect the little house pieces to make the fences.

At this point I have only one last boarder to make. Then the final boarders and I'll be done! So stay tuned! Enjoy your day!!


This quilt is from Thimbleberries Pattern Party. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Blessed Feast Day!

A very blessed Feast of Dormition to you all!!

Kontakion - Tone 2

Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos,
Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions.
For being the Mother of Life,
She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb.

Troparion - Tone 1

In giving birth you preserved your virginity,
In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos.
You were translated to life, O Mother of Life,
And by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death.        

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Who Teaches Calculus??

Sharing this great article from The Old School House Magazine... A great resource for information, encouragement and product reviews for you homeschool journey!

Who Teaches Calculus??

Deborah's  Picture
Deborah Wuehler and family
Deborah is taking a break this week. Enjoy an article by Lori Lynn Lydell, Assistant to the Director of Operations at TOS.
I took calculus my senior year of high school. There were six students in the class. The other members of our senior class had elected to take a light year and were playing with guinea pigs in the advanced biology class. I'm glad I took calculus. I was a math major in college and my high school calculus course prepared me for the college calculus course. The other students in my calculus class went on to higher science degrees, so they needed high school calculus as well. And the rest of my senior class who played with the guinea pigs? They survived college without taking calculus!
For many degrees, college algebra is all that's needed for the math requirement. Calculus is for students who are planning on higher degrees in math or science. But a student who is planning to major in English or history does not need calculus. A senior year should be a preparation for the future. Instead of following a pre-scripted high school plan, choose courses that point your children to their future careers and passions. For some students, that plan will include a high school calculus course. But for others, calculus would just be frustrating and fruitless.
Now you say, "I'm a mom! I'm the teacher! I struggled teaching algebra. And now you're saying that my daughter who dreams of a degree in chemistry needs to take calculus!?! Who teaches calculus?" Relax. Breathe. You can do it. Ok, maybe you can't do it. But you can find someone who can. You have options. Some people have success with D.I.V.E. DVDs. Or, Switched on Schoolhouse has a pre-calculus course. Try typing "calculus online" into your search engine. has lots of links and resources for calculus help. There are free on-line texts of calculus courses and colleges offering on-line courses. Contact your local college and ask if your child can audit a first-year college calculus course.
You could ask if there is anyone willing to teach or tutor your child in your church or homeschool group. In our county there is a high school homeschooling program that offers higher math and science courses. Maybe there is a program like that in your area. You have lots of options. You do not have to be the one to present calculus to your senior.
Who teaches calculus? Lots of people do. But it doesn't have to be you!
Lori Lynn Lydell
For questions or comments, contact:
TOS Senior Editor

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Shirmp & Veggie Stir Fry over Quinoa

IN THE KITCHEN today we are making another fasting recipe. As I've said before in past posts, I've been working hard to get some summery non-soup recipes in my line up. This is one I just came up with and we all seemed to enjoy it.

Since not everyone in my house likes quinoa, I also made steamed rice to accompany our stir fry. If you are not familiar with cooking quinoa, don't let it intimidate you. It's so easy and quick, if you and your family like it, it will soon become a staple. Quinoa, pronounced /keen:wa/, is actually cereal and not a grain, like most people think. It is extremely healthy and one of few foods that is a complete protein in itself. Many folks are concerned about their low intake of protein during the fast and I have to say if you like quinoa at all, it's your best choice! It's very versatile and I use it in place of rice all the time. It really picks up any flavors you add to it, since it has such a mild flavor of its own.

For today's dish, I used 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water. I usually rinse my quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and then toss it into a dry frying pan. I saute it for a good minute or two and then add boiling or hot water. I usually add my seasonings at this time. For this dish I added about 1 tsp of Mushroom Ultimate Seasoning. Once the water and seasoning are in, I stir to make sure it's evenly dispersed and then cover the pan and reduce to a simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes then fluff with a folk. Done!

Next I took the shrimp and whatever veggies I had on hand. For today's dish I used 1 medium onion, 1 cup sliced mushrooms, 2 cups broccoli florets, 1 red bell pepper. I also cleaned my shrimp by taking off the tails and sprinkling with salt, just a pinch or two. I mix the salt into the shrimp and then gave them a good rinse. The salt helps to kill any bacteria that may have developed during the thawing process.

I also saute my veggies in stages since not all veggies have the same cooking time. First I cook my onions. Once they are soft I add my mushrooms, then brocolli and then peppers last. Since the shrimp just take a minute or so I add them last. During the sauting of the veggies. I added about 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce I had on had and as things began to get to dry I added a splash or two of water. Once the shrimp are lightly pink you're done!


Here's a recap of your ingredient list:

1 cup quinoa                                  2 cups water or stock
1 tsp seasoning

1 lb raw shrimp                             1 medium onion sliced thin
1 cup mushrooms sliced                2 cups brocolli florets
1 red bell pepper sliced                  1/4 or to taste teriyaki sauce

Liebster Award!

I have been awarded the Liebster Blog award from Elizabeth at The Endless Road!Thank you so much for thinking of my blog! I am greatly honored!!:)

The Rules:
1. Share 11 random facts about yourself
2. Answer the 11 questions asked by the person that tagged you.
3. Tag 11 people
4. Ask them 11 questions

Random facts about me
1. I love being a stay-home mom.
2. I was terrified of having a little girl after having 3 boys, but love her dearly! I so enjoy having a daughter!!
3. I am a knitter and quilter.
4. I didn't become "crafty" until after age 40! LOL!
5. I also enjoy reading when I can get a quiet moment. 
6. I love to bake and am a prosphora baker.
7. I lived much of my childhood overseas. 
8. I am a tea snob. Or so I am told. LOL!
9. I was a crew member on a tall ship in a race from England to Germany. Since I was the only American on the ship I was honored to meet the Queen of England.
10. I was born in Thailand and am half asian. Even though people never think I look asian!
11. I adore fairies and gnomes and books about them. Especially books by Elsa Beskow. ie: Children of the Forest  

Questions from Elizabeth
1. Would you call yourself an eclectic person? Absolutely! I like so many things from so many places, cultures and styles.

2. Do you prefer cloths with dark undertones or bright? I would have to say it depends on my mood. I am extremely attracted to bright colors right now when choosing quilting fabrics.

3. Would you call yourself an optimist, or a pessimist, or neither? I would say that I'm an optimist. I try hard to find something good in all things.

4. What is your favorite summer treat? All of the fruits of summer! I love all the freshness of the fruits and veggies! I'm also addicted to ice cream. :)

5. Beach or mountains? ooh, that's a hard one...but I guess if I had to choose I love the water. I grew up in a sea side town and really receive a lot of stress relief from being around the water.

6. Your in line waiting to take the SAT and a random stranger asks to borrow you phone. What would you do? I say I'm uncomfortable having random people using my phone and ask if it's an emergency.

7. What is more practical information for the public to know? Health or how a nuclear reactor works? I think Health.

8. Do you think trees have a personality to them? What would you say the personalities of a pine, a maple, and a willow? I do think they have a personality. Pines are strong and tall. Maples are more sheltering and comforting. And willows...what can I say about willows... I love them, they seem somewhat forelorn and dramatic.

9. What is something that fascinates you most? Watching my children and observing their interactions and relationships.

10. What kind(s) of music do you prefer to listen to? Since I was a teen in the 80's I do love 80's music, but lately I've been listening to folk or celtic music a lot and really enjoy it!

11. How fast of a reader would you call yourself? I am not a fast reader. But when I read I really like to get into the story and savor the moments. So taking my time is just fine with me. :)

Questions for who I tag

1. What books are on your night stand right now?
2. What was the last movie you watched in the theater?
3. Are you a crafter? What's your favorite craft?
4. Are you a collector or a purger?
5. What's your latest addiction?
6. What's your favorite thing to do during your "mommy time"?
7. What's your favorite stage of childhood?
8. Coffee or tea? Favorite type/flavor?
9. Favorite indulgence?
10. Favorite season?
11. Favorite holiday?

Who I tag

1. Ms. A at Creative Mama
2. Kestrel at Bowl of Stones
3. Audrey at Break It, Make It, or Bake It
4. Kelly at Creating a Family Home
5. Helen at Eat. Enjoy. Live.
6. Laurie at Heaven's Walk
7. Angie at God's Growing Garden
8. Robyn at Robyn's View
9. Hilani at Handmade by Hilani
10. Peggy at Crazy Thrifty Crafts
11. Tree at The Enchanted Tree

Have a great day everyone!!

Blessed Feast of St. Herman!

ISN'T IT LOVELY when you have a productive day! Today on the eve of the Feast of St. Herman was one of those days. I'm finally getting things in order so we can begin our school year in week or so and just finishing up the final touches.

Today was baking day and while I bake each week, for some reason today my prosphora loaves just turned out nice. Maybe because I'm finally getting back into balance and things were more joyful and prayerful today. All the kids cooperated and we were able to get so much done! It felt good!

St. Herman is a special saint for our family so we always try to do something special. Usually we would make a pilgrimage to Port Townsend to the parish of St. Herman to celebrate the feast, and then enjoy the day at the beach. The services there are so lovely and then have a fabulous salmon lunch. If you can make it there it's well worth the drive. It's absolutely beautiful!! Unfortunately we won't make it this year.

If you haven't read the life of St. Herman, you really should take the time. He was a simple man and lived close to the earth. While he was a hermit, he helped all those he came in contact with and lived a quiet, gentle life. I have been told that if you are able to visit the church of St. Herman on Spruce Island in Kodiak, Alaska you can strongly feel his presence. I would love to make a pilgrimage there and experience it!

There is a wonderful children's book my children love about St. Herman called North Star: St. Herman of Alaska.The illustrations are beautiful and it's such a lovely story to share.

So on this glorious feast of St. Herman I leave you with his troparions and kontakion. God bless your day!

Troparion - Tone 7

Joyful North Star of the Church of Christ,
Guiding all people to the Heavenly Heavenly Kingdom;
Teacher and apostle of the True Faith;
Intercessor and defender of the oppressed;
Adornment of the Orthodox adornment of the Orthodox Church in America:
Blessed Father Herman of Alaska,
Pray to our Lord Jesus Christ
For the salvation of our souls!

Troparion - Tone 4

O blessed Father Herman of Alaska,
North star of Christ's holy Church,
The light of your holy life and great deeds
Guides those who follow the Orthodox way.
Together we lift high the Holy Cross
You planted firmly in America.
Let all behold and glorify Jesus Christ,
Singing his holy Resurrection.

Kontakion - Tone 3

The eternal light of Christ our Savior
guided you, blessed Father Herman,
on your evangelical your evangelical journey to America
to proclaim the Gospel of peace.
Now you stand before the throne of glory;
intercede for your land and its people:
Peace for the world and salvation for our souls!