Monday, January 26, 2015

Tidbits for January 26th


1915 Mother Resolutions - Interesting from a historical perspective as well as the personal! I especially like #4. (The Common Room)

Hurrying the Unhurriable - "'You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion.' I wish all managers and customers understood that, but too often they don't. The problem is: Christians usually don't seem to understand it either." (Scratchings)

Downtown Abbey - What Are Americans Really Watching? - I don't watch the show (or even know what it's about), but that's beside the point! This is a fascinating analysis of the political, social, and religious trends that shaped 19th and 20th century Britain. (AlbertMohler.com, hat tip to Challies.com)

Motherhood Shouldn't Be a Sacrifice - "If we really know that our child is more precious than our waistline, or split-ends, or that yearly trip to Paris; then why do we mourn such things in such a way?  Why do we label them as sacrifices?" (Children Are a Blessing)

God Created Women for Pouring - "'God created the woman for pouring.  They are "all or none" type vessels. Keeping a home, loving your husband and children is a huge undertaking and it takes ALL of a woman to fill. This is why God created the woman to pour of herself completely because he knew it took all of her heart to care for her family. When you take the modern woman who finds a million other things to pour into, important things suffer. There is only so much in that heart to pour.'" (Always Learning)


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Curriculum Review: Christian Light Math (I'm in Love!)


For the first two years of our home education program, we used a math curriculum that was enthusiastically recommended to us (separately) by two dear friends. For both mamas, the math in question was wonderful. However, for us it didn't work out. When the second-grade materials arrived in the mail and I sat down to review them, I realized that I needed to consider using a different math curriculum. This was far outside of my comfort zone (I prefer to pick something and stick with it), but I had to do something.

In the end, I made the plunge. I re-sold the already-purchased math materials locally, and decided to purchase the second grade math curriculum from Christian Light Publications. We have now nearly finished that second grade curriculum after our first year of using CLP math.

And I'm in love.

Christian Light math is simply the best math I've ever seen. It is thorough, well-organized, and excellent quality in every way. It is a pleasure to use.

Each grade of Christian Light math contains ten workbooks. There are seventeen assignments per workbook (fourteen lessons, two quizzes, and one final test) for a total of 170 daily assignments.

(This is cutting it a bit close when one factors in sick days. However, as lesson #16 in each book is always "review for the test," we cut that lesson out - resulting in ten additional days of wiggle room per year.)

Each grade level also comes with two teacher's manuals (each covering half of the year's material), which give teaching suggestions, answer keys, and alternate tests. Though they are intended for use in Christian schools, the teacher's manuals are quite useful for home educators as well (if only for answer keys).

Let me tell you about some of the many things I love about Christian Light math! (And Christian Light Publications in general.)

Christian Light Publications is a Mennonite company that produces educational materials for Christian schools, home educators, and church programs. Their materials are thoroughly Christian, have a rural focus, and seek to give glory to God and set a good moral example. I love this!*

(I should note that these materials are still completely usable for non-Christian families.)

As is the rule with all Anabaptist-produced products that I have seen, the materials are of excellent physical quality. The paper is excellent, the binding is superb, the drawings are first-rate, and the layout is simply beautiful. It is a pleasure to use on a physical as well as an academic level. (By contrast, our last math curriculum had drawings that were painfully poor in quality.)

Each math lesson has a tiny beginning section that covers new material, and then one or two questions concerning that material. The bulk of the lesson, however, is devoted to reviewing previously covered material. Thus, children review almost every concept daily, so there is never time to forget earlier topics. This is wonderful, as children tend to forget material fairly quickly if it is not continually reviewed.

Another huge benefit to this method is that I need to spend relatively little time doing math with our eight-year-old. A few minutes suffice to go over the new material, and he can then work independently on the rest of the lesson. (We spend additional time in the afternoon going over errors.)

While we have found the lessons to be a bit lengthy for one sitting (at least for our fidgety eight-year-old!), that problem has been easily solved by dividing the lesson into two parts. Our son completes the first half in the morning and the second half in the afternoon. In the earlier years, I might consent to write all or part of the answers (while the child tells me the answers orally) for a child who is (like ours) a reluctant writer.

Each lesson also includes a two minute "speed drill," which helps to cement basic addition and subtraction facts. These have been very helpful in helping our son to become accustomed to working under a time limit - a skill which is new to him.

I also like that each book contains two quizzes and one test. Our previous curriculum did not have any tests or graded assignments, so this has also helped our son to become accustomed to a testing environment and to being graded. With his first quiz, on which he did very poorly, we had to deal with quite a few tears. But since then, he has become very used to a testing environment and now handles quizzes and tests comfortably.

(However, if you do not want to begin testing at this early of an age, there is no need to do so - tests and quizzes can be given but not graded.)

While every student, every home school, and every season will dictate different curricula for different families, I can say with full enthusiasm that we love Christian Light Publications math. This is our default curriculum going forward!




Christian Light Publications carries full curriculum in every subject for K-12, so check them out! Samples are available in most subjects on their website.


* The other major Mennonite curriculum company is Rod and Staff, which we also love.

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Tidbits for January 22nd


Tidbits for January 22nd

10 Things Homeschooled Children Don't Miss - Yes! Love this! (Growing In His Grace)

Starting Your Own (Homeschool) Book Club - I'd love to try this sometime in the future! Follow-up post here. (Our Busy Homeschool)

God Takes Pleasure in Your Simple Life - "Whether you are making a pie, working in your garden, teaching your children or fixing your husband's favorite dinner {all the simple things in life}, you can truly say, "I feel His pleasure" since these activities are what most women were made for by God." I just discovered this blog, and I love it! (Always Learning)



From the Bookshelf


 Created to Be His Helpmeet

Now on my fourth reading, this book provides a good kick in the pants when I need it - which is, sadly, often. (My review here.)









Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

I read (and reviewed) this book last year - now it's time for a re-read! Love this book.









The Recipe Corner

Meyer Lemon Cake - Meyer lemons? In a cake? Yes, please! I haven't tried this yet, but can't wait to give it a go. From one of my favorite blogs. (Like Mother, Like Daughter)

Blackberry Cake - One of my favorite bloggers cooks with my favorite fruit - I can't wait to try this! I'm planning to make it next summer on our annual blackberrying expedition. (The Common Room)

Red Enchilada Sauce - From a friend's blog! We tried this tonight (with Easy Enchiladas), and it was lovely! (Are They All Yours?)



Cinnamon Cream Pie - I found this recipe just after finding out that we were expecting our latest little one. Translation - It didn't get made! Almost a year later, we finally tried it (last night), and it was wonderful! Even our tending-toward-pickiness 8yo loved it - he rated it was "better than Panda (Express)," which is his highest form of praise. Note: Baking time was considerably longer than an hour. (Raising Arrows)




Have a wonderful week, dear friends! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Enjoying a Diet Break


I have now been off of the VLC (very-low-carb, high-fat) diet for a solid two months. I've been looking forward to this break for years - so how is it going?

Well, that depends!

In some ways, it's been really nice to have a break. The discipline of the diet is very rigorous, and it's nice to be able to relax my standards for a while - especially over the holidays!

Here are some of the foods that I've missed the most (and am now enjoying!):

  • Oatmeal and steel-cut oats
  • Bananas and apples
  • Fruit in general, and fruit desserts
  • Beans
  • Cottage cheese
  • Corn and cornbread 
  • Cooked carrots

Bread has never been a passion of mine, so I haven't missed that too much. Oddly enough, I haven't missed desserts and super-sweet things very much either. When I gave up sugar, my ability to taste sweet things skyrocketed - and American desserts now often taste too sweet! When making holiday desserts over the past two months, I have several times cut the sugar by half and still found the dessert too sweet. 

Additionally, I have found myself too busy to even contemplate making many desserts - keeping up with daily cooking and chores has been more than enough to keep me (crazy) busy. 

I have definitely noticed that I am not feeling as well being back on a more standard diet. Here are some of the issues I've had personally over the past two months:
  • A long-term won't-go-away ear infection
  • Stomach flu
  • A super-nasty cold
  • Resurgence of seasonal allergies
  • Minor resurgence of fatigue issues

In other words, I need to get back on the diet for my own well-being. 

I had originally planned to go back on the diet at New Year's. That didn't happen (somewhat anticipated), pretty much because of sheer laziness, as well as a reluctance to start double-cooking (VLC food for me, more carbs for the family) and dealing with the higher costs of the VLC diet. 

But I do need to get back on the bandwagon. Reform and repent. Get with the program. Just because I have gotten through one pregnancy without hyperemesis (HG), I am under no illusion that it would not resurface if I was not on the diet. I do not want to be caught napping. 

Additionally, I have learned that after the initial weight loss immediately following birth, my extra baby-weight does not leave until I'm on the diet. Natural weight loss simply does not happen for me - the baby weight just stays forever (and ever) unless I do something about it. Thus, I know that I won't lose any weight until I get serious about it. 

I also need to get back to my lacto-fermented foods. I just brewed my first batch of kombucha, and have already gotten back to making yogurt. Next up - kefir, pickles, and sauerkraut! (Lest I look too sophisticated, I should say that those last three items I plan to buy, not make. I am just not that awesome!)

So, my friends - how are your diet resolutions doing? Anyone having spectacular success getting back to healthy eating goals?


Forbidden but oh-so-delicious! Yum. 




Sunday, January 18, 2015

Snippets of Craziness Around Here



Random snippets of life around here...

Wait, what was that? WHAT?



That's right, my friends - the Christmas tree is put AWAY. As in, it's in the box, tied up, and stuffed somewhere in the garage.

And it isn't even Mother's Day yet! What's wrong with this picture?

***

Speaking of Christmas, have you all met my latest pet?



Bought for me by two persons who were strictly instructed not to get me a Christmas present. But I love it (and them) anyway.

So far, I've used my new 7-quart beauty to cook applesauce, chili, and....



... thank-you notes. 

Really.

We've had a cold going through our house, meaning that the 8yo's Christmas thank-you cards (which he is writing by himself this year - miracles do happen) are most likely coated with cold germs. (What a way to say thank you!)

In racking my brains to figure out how to sanitize a thank-you note (Google was NO help - I tried), I thought of the crockpot. It was worth a try! So all of our thank-you notes are being thoroughly baked before being mailed.

It may or may not work, but at least it's creative. You've got to admit that.

***

In the realm of new acquisitions, here is our newest family member:



We've had it for two weeks now, and are now able to travel about as a family again!

Believe it or not, we already feel a bit... squished. Seriously. In a minivan. In other words, we shouldn't get too attached, because it's only going to be in the family for a couple of years (most likely).

But it's fun anyway, even if it's just an intermediate step! We're very grateful for our new set o' wheels.

***

We are now two weeks into the new school term. We celebrated our return to academia by coming down with a miserable cold - all of us, and all within 72 hours of each other. Wow, what a bug! Normally we have only two to three of us caught by each bug that passes through, but this took us all down thoroughly.

In happier news, I am thrilled to report that the 8yo read his first full-length book! Thus far he has stuck with picture books (albeit very long and wordy ones), but a few weeks back he dove head first into "The Chronicles of Narnia." This was very encouraging!

Thomas trains, toddler picture books, and biographies of Adolf Hitler (currently studying World War II).
The beauties of multi-level homeschooling!

I am working full-steam-ahead on planning curriculum choices for next year, which is really quite a job. I hope to order curriculum in March, so time is of the essence! (Especially if I change my mind on everything after purchasing, as I did last year.)


***

A few weeks ago, I noticed our son skulking about the house, muttering darkly about "fighting the evil Republicans."

Hmm, what?

It turns out that he was playing Star Wars, assuming that anyone working for "The Republic," i.e. Darth Vader, was a Republican.

Ah, politics!


***

Last week, our church was vandalized by person or persons unknown. Oddly enough, our Bible memory verse for the week was "Thou shalt not steal," so it worked in nicely to a conversation about personal property and the Lord's commands regarding respecting others' things.

Here's how the conversation ended:

The 8yo: Mommy, did the thief use a crowbar?
Me: Yes, probably.

*Pause*

The 8yo: Mommy, do I have enough money to buy myself a crowbar ?

Nice, child. Nice.

It turns out that he only wanted a crowbar in order to go "fight the bad guys."

Phew.

Because otherwise, it's a bit early to start on a life of crime.


***

We were two weeks late in going to see it, but they still had it up! Our local Tumbleweed Tree (because that's the closest thing to a healthy pine tree you're going to find around here!):

The dark blotch in front is the 8yo. 


***

And finally... They're back! And there are more of them than ever!



Yes! Clothing boxes!

Our house is ready to explode with BOY clothing boxes, and now I have a nice stack of GIRL clothing boxes (they've already multiplied since this picture was taken).

However, I expect we'll find room for them... somewhere. Perhaps we could strap them on top of the roof or stuff them up the chimney, or some other practical spot.

But she's worth it!



***

Ending with a slightly over-dressed toddler! This is cowboy gear, Star Wars and Winnie-the-Pooh - all mixed together (and assembled by himself!).


Have a wonderful week, dear friends!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Hyperemesis: "It's a Small Price"


From Wendy at Contentment Acres (a re-post from 2007):

"I am in no way minimizing the effects HG has on a woman's health, but I would go through it all again to have each of my children."

Read the whole post here.

Read more about Wendy's experiences with hyperemesis gravidarum here (there are more articles on her blog):


Have a wonderful Sabbath, dear readers! 


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tidbits for January 15th


When the Sin of Sloth Sneaks Up on You - "There was no relaxation, EVER. But, it wasn’t because I never sat around.  It was because I was sitting around too much.  I was avoiding what I didn’t want to do, and it was making me miserable." (Your Mom Has a Blog)

What Is Genuine and True? - "We communicate so often through electronics, with short texts, sending articles, posting brief comments on [Facebook] that we let that substitute for relaxed, open conversation.   Interactions can become shallow – we’re in contact but not relationship." (Jim Poulin at Scratchings)

Seeing Setbacks as a God-Send - "When I let the anxiety of not being able to do the things I thought “needed” to be done rule my life, I was a wreck. When I gave it all to the Lord, He guarded my heart and mind and I realized the things I thought mattered didn’t." (Raising Arrows)

When an Unkempt Home Causes Depression - So many good ideas here! (Growing In His Grace)

How to Clean Your Top-Loading Washing Machine - I had no idea that washing machines needed cleaning... until our clothes started smelling distinctly odd. This is the method I use now, and it works! (One Good Thing)

Six Ways to Wear a Denim Skirt - Considering my recent purchase, this is just what I need! (The Modest Mom)


Recipe Corner:

Applesauce Bars - These were a huge hit with the family! I took the sugar from 1 cup down to 2/3 cup and next time I'll take it to 1/2 cup. Delicious! (Taste of Home)


From the Bookshelf:

Amish Society

"Highly acclaimed in previous editions, this classic work by John Hostetler has been expanded and updated to reflect current research on Amish history and culture as well as the new concerns of Amish communities throughout North America."

* This was one of my all-time favorite books in high school - I read it over and over again. Now I've rediscovered it in my local public library, and I'm in love - again!