Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coupon Code for The Six O'Clock Scramble

I've already written in detail about The Six O'Clock Scramble here and here.

In about twenty minutes we're going to head to the grocery store and get ingredients for this week's meal plan, which includes Baked Flounder with Fruit Kabobs; Crunchy Chicken Fingers with Carrots and Dip; and Rigatoni with Tomato-Artichoke Sauce.

I just realized, however that if you subscribe to Six O'Clock Scramble and use coupon code GLJEN10773, you get $3 off your subscription. (And, I believe I get a free month added to my subscription.)

All the more reason to try it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Benjamin, the red-nosed Tigger

The girls were putting on one of their shows, and made red noses for themselves while singing "Rudolph."

When they were done, Rebecca put the red nose on Benjamin, and Robert was smart enough to go get the camera.


Sleeping kids

On Saturday, Robert and I went to a Christmas Party with people from Robert's office. We were out til about midnight, which is late for us!

When we got home, Robert went into the kids' bedrooms and took pictures of them.

Here's Rebecca, fast asleep ...

... and a sleeping Rachael ....

... and here's ... well, Benjamin not sleeping!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Homemade igloos

Remember when I said my goal was to do something "hands on" for every Five in a Row unit we do?

Well, we are just finished up The Very Last First Time, about an Inuit girl in the Arctic, and we made igloos!

Here's 6 year old Rebecca starting hers ...

This was pretty cool in its simplicity. We used those "Magic Nuudles," I think they're called. If I had planned ahead or was more of a packrat, we could have used regular packing peanuts. All you do is press each one against a wet paper towel, and then they stick together.

Even three year old Benjamin got in on it (although he had trouble making an actual igloo).

Here's 8 year old Rachael working intently ...

And the girls with their finished products!

Popcorn Letters!

Both girls have been enjoying doing some activities from a book I got called Games for Writing by Peggy Kaye.

Most of them are pencil and paper activities. For example, Rebecca likes doing one called "A Race of Words," where you have a category and she and I each make our own list, and then compare the two lists when we're finished. (The scoring works so that she will almost always win.)

When the list was "Things You See at Christmastime," Rebecca wrote:


When I asked her about the last one, she said, "Harmonica ... you know, what the Jewish people have."

Anyway, today we did something a little different and made "Popcorn Letters." Rebecca liked this a lot.

First I had her write the letters and numbers on a piece of paper. Then I circled the ones that she wrote backwards and wrote them on a piece of construction paper. She put glue on the letter, then popcorn.

She made both letters ...

... and numbers ...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Update on the Six O'Clock Scramble

You may remember me raving about a website I recently discovered called The Six O'Clock Scramble.

Well, I wanted to let you know that I'm still enjoying it quite a bit.

Today we had a meal that all five of us enjoyed (which is very, very rare): Spaghetti Carbonara, which is spaghetti cooked with bacon and eggs, believe it or not.

One possibly downside of sorts is that going grocery shopping is a little more challenging for me these days. Every week I have to ask the Publix workers something: What is Quinoa? Where are the pomegranates? Where do I find bags of sun-dried tomoatoes? What is ginger root, and how do I buy an inch of it?

But we are eating so well!

We had Ginger Shrimp Stir-Fry with rice and oranges yesterday. Tacos del Mar (seafood tacos) with homemade guacamole earlier this week.
Hot Dog Creole with Red Peppers, and Green Bean Almondine on the side.
Cheesy Spinach Strata, served with pineapple and homemade hash browns.

Maybe this is just proof that I have a really dull life, but every day I get kind of excited about what's going to be for dinner next.

A friend recently said to me, "The hardest thing about homeschooling is having to feed everybody all the time!" No kidding. These days I just slide some leftovers into the oven at lunchtime.

Check it out.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Simple Machine Experiments

I'm trying to make a point to include at least one hands-on activity with every Five in a Row unit we do.

For example, when we did How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, we baked ... well, actually we baked apple crisp. Mostly because Robert loves apple crisp, but does not like apple pie.

And then when we did Madeline, the girls made an Eiffel Tower out of Legos.

Well, a couple weeks ago we did a book called Who Owns the Sun?

What was really cool about this book is that it was written and illustrated by a fourteen year old girl -- m0re specifically, it was written by a fourteen year girl who was attending my high school at the time. [My first one, in Pittsburgh.]

I looked her up and dropped her an e-mail. She is about 3-4 years younger then me. She also attended my middle school, and from what she described, it sounds like she lived about a 20-minute walk from my house.

And interestingly, she has an older brother -- who is a year younger than me -- who is on Wiki as "an American novelist."

And I thought I was cool because I won a couple writing contests when I was a teenager. Um, no.

Anyway, back to the hands-on activities before I get too depressed.

One of the FIAR topics for this book is simple machines, so the girls and I did some of the interactive games on this site.

We also did some Simple Machines experiments.

They dropped at egg into a pan to see if it would crack ...
(this probably would have been more effective with raw eggs, but everyone wanted to eat them afterwards)

... and then dropped it from the same height using a inclined plane.

They arranged blocks on a lever and saw how the balancing changed if they moved the fulcrum.

And they saw how lifting something with a lever ...

... was easier than lifting something without it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Kids who "look like they're homeschooled"

Rachael, age 8, joined a community children's choir this fall, and her first concert is this weekend.

When we came home from rehearsal tonight, I was asking her a little bit about it, and if she gets a chance to talk with the other kids, etc.

I said (among other things), "Do you know if any of the other kids are homeschooled?"

She said, "Yes, I think so." Pause. "There are a couple who look like they are homeschooled."

My ears perked up. [Since homeschooling "didn't exist" when I was a kid, I was really curious what a homeschool kid looks like to other kids.] I said, "Really? What does that mean? What does a homeschool kid look like?"

She said, "Well, the kids in Bible Study [homeschool CBS] are different from the kids in dance class who go to school."

"Really?" I pulled up a chair. The journalist in me was practically set to whip out a notepad and pencil. "Can you explain what it is?"

To myself, I'm thinking, Are the homeschooled kids nicer? More mature? Dress less trendy? Talk less about pop culture? What? What???

Finally, after mulling it over best she could, she said, "Well ... for example, there's one boy there. I saw him write something, and it was with these really blocky letters, and it was really messy, and I thought -- 'He must be homeschooled!'"

Oh well.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The usual Thanksgiving tradition

We went to North Carolina for Thanksgiving.

We came home today, and then we did this.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kids in the Leaves

Robert spend several hours yesterday cleaning up the leaves, and of course the kids had to get in on it.

I guess I didn't have my camera on the best setting, but they're cute pictures nonetheless.

When Benjamin saw what was going on, he ran toward the pile, going, "Me too! Me too!"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Five in a Row - Madeline

We recently finished a Five in a Row unit study and lapbook on Madeline.

If you know me at all, you know that I always get my ideas from other sources and never come up with anything original on my own. If you wanted to be kind, you could call me resourceful. If not, you could call me unoriginal and uncreative.

Thus, here's a couple interesting things we did with Madeline:

The FIAR board archives had a link for a virtual tour of France, so we did that one day.

The archives also had a link to make the Eiffel Tower with Legos.

I got a few shots of the girls with their Lego tower -- oh look, Rebecca's still in her pajamas! :)

Here's one of Rachael by herself. My, she is looking so old these days, isn't she?

Here's a better picture of the tower itself.

What's for dinner? So glad you asked!

I've always thought -- even before I had kids -- that the hardest thing about cooking was not the cooking itself, but the planning of it.

What should I make this week? (Or tonight.) What haven't we had in a while? Let me dig around the pantry and see what we have in the house ... let me write down everything I need to buy to make a lasagna, and a chicken and rice casserole, and a chicken pot pie ... no, that's too much chicken in one week. Can get away with having eggs for dinner again one night?

Oh wait, don't we need to actually need to eat vegetables with all these things? Do we have any in the house? Oh ... there's all in the crisper drawer, rotting away.

My husband has no idea how much time and energy it takes to feed everybody all the time.

And I actually like to cook.

So I am very excited about this website I just discovered, Six O'Clock Scramble.

Every Wednesday they come out with five days of meals -- and the side dishes to go with them -- along with a weekly shopping list.

You make one shopping trip for the week, then each day make what's listed for dinner.


I'm doing it this week, and so far I love it. When I went shopping on Sunday, I bought more produce that I normally do in a whole month -- corn, green beans, baby spinach, red potatoes, apples -- and hey, it won't end up rotting this time!

Monday we had Penne Pasta with mushrooms and peas. The side dish was salad with beets, pecans, and goat cheese.

Tuesday we had tilapia "fish sticks" (although mine came out more like chunks.) The side dish was apple and carrot salad.

Tonight I am making apricot baked chicken. Side dishes are kasha, plus green beans with lemon and garlic.

I was telling somebody at the park about this today, and they asked how the kids liked it. Well ... Rachael loved the fish. Rebecca didn't mind the carrot/apple salad once we forced her to try it. Benjamin ate the pasta, but not the mushrooms.

But honestly, they don't like most "cooked meals," especially Rebecca. (If you're wondering what that means, I mean that they like things like certain types of fruit, baked beans, yogurt, cheese, etc.)

So this is no worse than normal. It may even help, as it's giving them a bigger variety of foods to try.

This is kind of funny, but it almost feels as if someone's making me dinner. I just look at the list, see what's for dinner, then spend about 30 minutes putting it together. Yum!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Misc Disney Photos

Last set of Disney photos ... then I'm off to start putting together that scrapbook!

Here's Benjamin and I at the aquariums in-between The Living Seas with Nemo and Turtle Talk with Crush, at Epcot. That was a lot of fun. I loved Epcot. There's so much to do there.

The kids -- especially the younger two -- had a lot of fun with the water sprays in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom.

Speaking of Adventureland, I had heard that a Pineapple Dole Whip Float was one of the best snacks in all of Disney. I would second that notion.

The Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom is a lot of fun. I took a lot of pictures, but didn't want to bore you with too many. And yes, they are real animals. Some people who've never been there aren't sure about that, what with it being Disney and all.

In the Magic Kingdom, one neat thing that Robert suggested was taking the raft to Tom Sawyer's Island. This was a nice little break and a change of pace from standing in line to ride Dumbo and Peter Pan. Here's the girls playing checkers before we took the raft ride back.

Hope you enjoyed these! :)
Feel free to ask me any Disney questions -- I feel like a semi-expert now!

Our friends at the Animal Kingdom

Is anyone getting bored with these Disney posts? I haven't heard any comments ...

Either which way, I'll post one more after this, and then move on to Bigger and Better Things.

On our last day, we went to Animal Kingdom. I know a lot of people don't like Animal Kingdom, but we liked it quite a bit. For one thing, it was shadier and cooler than the other parks. Robert particularly liked that it wasn't as crowded.

And the lines to see the characters were much shorter (and cooler).

Here's the girls with Pluto, looking at their autograph book. They had to wait in line for less than four minutes.

We took the train to Rafiki's Planet Watch, and inside were Pocohantas, Rafiki, and Jiminy Cricket. There were literally no lines -- maybe just one person in front of us for each.

At Camp Minnie-Mickey, there are about five lines for different characters -- Minnie and Mickey, of course, being among them.

I'm not sure what this was all about, but when we went up to see Goofy, he started "kissing" me repeatedly. [Robert was over at "It's Tough to be a Bug," so I guess Goofy thought I was available.]

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of that.

Rebecca was just giggling about that the other day. "Mommy, I think Goofy wishes he could marry you!"

Chip and Dale were also at Camp Minnie-Mickey. One of the Cast Members told us you can tell who's who because one of them has a nose like a chocolate "chip." Ah-ha! :)

Fun at the Magic Kingdom

My goal (no, seriously!) is to get all these Disney photos in a scrapbook album within the next 6 days.

Maybe I'm setting myself up for failure for saying this, but it's true.

I have the hard copies of the photos, and I have the Creative Memories Disney scrapbook and paper kits. All I have to do -- hopefully tomorrow -- is open it all up and begin.

And really, as much as I love digital cameras .... I haaaaate how people hardly ever hard copies of photos anymore. I'm sorry, but seeing a few photos on Facebook just isn't the same as being able to sit and hold an album that tells you a little bit about the pictures.

I'm sad that the photo album/scrapbook seems to be dying, and I'm trying to at resurrect it a little at my house.

Now, on to digital photos ...

Rebecca always did love Minnie Mouse. When she was two and a half, she had a Minnie costume that she wore almost every day for about two months.

The girls had fun in the little shop outside Pirates of the Caribbean. Um, where is Rebecca's shoe...?

And here's Rachael, still wearing the hat that her grandparents bought her when she was four and we all went to Disney World together. (Well ... I don't mean that she's been wearing it for four years ... you know ...)

Not surprisingly, Rebecca particularly liked dressing up as a Girl Pirate.

I figured people might be wondering when I was going to post a picture of myself.

Benjamin loves Pooh and Tigger, but his face here basically sums up how un-interested he was in actually meeting any characters.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Disney Photos -- Port Orleans

We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside, a "moderate" Disney resort, and I loved it. I actually enjoyed it more than the Grand Floridian -- it seemed more our style, somehow. I guess we are "moderate" type people.

We went to the pool ... I think twice.

There are actually something like five (or more) pools at the resort, but this is the main one, and as you can see, it's very nice. It had fountains, a slide, and a playground kind of behind it.

Benjamin is very interested in bridges these days, and there were plenty at the resort to keep him happy. This water wheel was outside the resort food court, which we visited often.

Disney Photos -- Characters at Epcot

On our first Disney trip, when we went to Epcot, Robert rode Mission:Space and was sick the rest of the day, so we didn't get to do much else.

On our second Disney trip, Rebecca started throwing up in our hotel room about 30 minutes before we were about to go to the Princess Lunch in Norway at Epcot. So not much got done on that day, either.

So I was really glad that we finally got to Epcot and actually do things and enjoy it!

In the UK, we sat on a bench and ate fish and chips, and the girls spotted both Alice ...

... and Mary Poppins.

What was kind of neat is that, about 10-15 minutes later, we passed Mary Poppins while walking through the UK, and she smiled at the girls and said, "Fancy seeing you two again!"

We were told late that Daisy Duck was a "hard gal to find," but we had already spotted her at the Epcot entrance.

I waited in line with the girls while Robert and Benjamin rode Spaceship Earth (that big golf ball thing). It was very hot waiting in line. If that's what Disney in late September is like, remind me to never ever go there in July.

More Disney photos -- trains in Epcot

I didn't realize until I had started this post that I was doing two in a row featuring Benjamin and vehicles.

Oh well. It just means I'll have to write another Disney post tomorrow.

In the World Showcase at Epcot -- I think in, or next to, Germany -- there was a train set, which of course Benjamin was fascinated with. He watched it for quite a while as the girls got settled in with their "Kim Possible Kimmunicators" to start their Germany mission.

[If you're not familiar with the Kim Possible Missions in Epcot (it's pretty new), it's a high-tech sort of scavenger hunt in a World Showcase country. It involves finding clues within that country, and watching short video clips on the screen of a special cell phone they give you, until you finish help Kim Possible get the bad guy. It was pretty cool. Rachael, especially, loved it. The girls did one in Germany, and another in the UK.]

Robert got some good pictures of the trains.

And then a couple pictures of Rachael and Benjamin watching them.

BTW, right after these were taken, we had lunch at the Biergarten in Germany. (I didn't get any pictures of that.) I would highly recommend it, not only for the food, but also the entertainment.