Sunday, August 30, 2009

My strawberry salad recipe (that I stole)

Here's a really good salad I've made a few times this summer. I'm pretty sure I stole it from O'Charley's or Longhorn's, or both:

Mix your favorite salad greens (I use whatever "salad in a bag" is on sale that week) with sliced strawberries, mandarin oranges, and crumbled feta cheese.

Toast some pecans in a skillet with a little bit of butter and brown sugar. Add to top of salad.

Add some balsamic vinagrette dressing.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Tooth Unit

We did a "Tooth Unit" this week, which we'll probably wrap up by putting together a small lapbook or something on Monday.

If you know me well, you know that absolutely nothing I do is original, so of course I got all the ideas for this unit at Homeschool Share.

First we read Throw Your Tooth on the Roof.

Of course we all know about the tooth fairy, but did you know that kids in other countries do different things with their teeth? I didn't. It never occurred to me to wonder about it.

We discussed traditions and made various maps locating the different countries and the different Tooth Traditions in each. We also discussed direction. We played a little game where one girl hid Woofie, then had to give directions to the other girl to find Woofie: "Take three steps North ... okay, now five steps West," and so on.

Then we read one of Rebecca's Very Favorite Books, Open Wide, Tooth School Inside

This is a really funny book. The kind that has lots of inside jokes that only adults would get (for example, the stages of denial, anger, etc, that a tooth goes through when it gets a cavity. Or two teeth practicing for a play and one of them yelling, "You can't handle the tooth!"

We talked about personification and found examples in the book. Also, the book talks a lot about teeth anatomy, why babies need baby teeth, etc.

The least interesting book for the unit -- but still cute -- was Science Fair Bunnies, about a bunny who decides to use his first tooth for a science fair project instead of letting the Tooth Fairy have it.

The most interesting thing about this book was the "What Happens if you Don't Brush Your Teeth" science experiment that was written to go with it (which was not specifically in the book itself).

Take two hard boiled eggs. Put one in a jar of Coke and the other in a jar of vinegar, write down your hypotheses, and check them the next day. Easy. Even I, Miss Science-Phobe, can do that.

The Coke egg turned light brown, and the vinegar egg was actually soft and squishy. (Apparently the acid erodes the calcium in the egg shell.) The girls thought that was pretty cool.

I like unit studies, and I love that there are people at Homeschool Share who are more creative than I am, and willing to share their ideas.

Tori Amos vs. Kate Bush, Muppet-Style

This is really funny, especially if you love (or hate!) one or both of these artists.

Either way, you'll probably enjoy it more if you read my post here first.

I know there's a way you can put a YouTube video in the blog, but I haven't figured it out yet, so just go here to watch it.

[Oh, I should point out that there is some strong language, so some readers might want to pass on this one.]

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The new babies at my house

The girls have just re-discovered their Baby Dolls. It's sort of funny, since they were toys they received when they were toddler-age, and now they are eight and six. Rachael has never particularly liked Baby Dolls, so this is almost a first for her.

[Side note: I just realized that a few weeks ago, with Rebecca's help, I cleaned out the doll bin, and gave away about 3 dolls she didn't care for, plus some doll clothes. So possibly, the fact that she doesn't have to root through "the junk" makes it easier to play with her favorites, and that's why they've been re-discovered. Just a thought.]

I thought it was cute at first. Rebecca's doll talks. They're feeding them bottles, taking them for walks in the doll stroller, and putting them in the high chair and bassinet.

But then I started realizing that these are rather old babies. They talk. They whine a lot. They call for food from their highchair at meal time. And they fight over things a lot.

So it kind of feels like there are two more toddlers in the house. Rather loud ones, too.

Oh well. It's still cute.

I'd better appreciate this while it lasts ...

This weekend Rachael (who is 8 years old) came up to me while I was playing the piano and said, "When I grow up, I want to be just like you!"

For a moment I thought she meant that she wanted to play the piano as well as me. (She is learning to play the piano herself, and is quite good at it.)

But then I realized that she had just been eating a cake I made, and I have heard her say in the past that "Mom bakes really good cakes." [Further evidence that I might actually be a good cook.]

So I asked her, "Do you mean that you want to play the piano like I do? Or that you want to bake cakes like I do? Or something else?"

She said happily, "All of it. You're such a good mom."

But wait!

It didn't stop there!

Later that day, she asked me, "How did you get to be such a good mom when you were the youngest in your family?"

And the next day we were reading Happy Birthday Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle together. I couldn't help muttering, mostly to myself, "Well, if this girl is having trouble being messy and unorganized, why don't the parents help her learn what to do with her stuff? That's what I would do."

"Yes," said Rachael quickly, "but you're not like other moms."

Rebecca agreed.

So I'm not sure exactly what I was doing this weekend ... but it's nice to know I was probably doing something right!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Finally, a way to organize the jigsaw puzzles!

A couple weeks ago I got a good idea from a good book with a dorky name -- Confessions of an Organized Homemaker.

If I was a Really Good Blogger, I'd have photos, but I'm not and I don't, so justconcentrate extra hard and try to use your imagination.

The kids and I went down to the playroom and slowly tackled all the 20-some jigsaw puzzles that were precariously balancing on multiple stacks in half-broken boxes, many with pieces missing.

First, the kids would do a puzzle (which was fun right there, because it gave us a chance to do every puzzle we owned. Rachael said, many times, "This is fun!")

Second, I flipped the puzzle over and wrote a number on each piece. For example, the Hello Kitty had the number "5" written on all 100 pieces. The Curious George puzzle had a number "6" written on each piece. The girls helped with this, too.

Third, we put all the pieces in a ziplock bag and labeled it with the name and number, ie, "Hello Kitty - 5."

Fourth, we cut the picture of the finished puzzle off the box and stapled it to the ziploc bag. (The rest of the box went in the trash.)

Finally, we put all the ziploc bags of puzzle pieces into a plastic bin, labeled it "puzzles," and put it on the playroom shelf.


BTW, it took us about a week to do all this, usually working at about an hour at a time. We have about 25 puzzles labeled. About three puzzles were thrown away because there were pieces missing. About three other puzzles had a piece missing, but the girls begged me to keep it anyway.

I hated that so many pieces were missing. It made me feel awfully guilty that we weren't taking good care of our stuff.

But hopefully those days are mostly behind us ... with puzzles, anyway.

The latest movie nights

Oh, did I mention that we are going to Disney World next month on the FREE dining plan?

With that in mind ...

Last Friday we watched Peter Pan for Pizza and Movie Night.

I hadn't realized Tinkerbell was a rather mean and snooty character.

Tonight we saw The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, mostly for Benjamin's sake. Rebecca had vehemently complained, saying Winnie-the-Pooh was for babies, but all three kids laughed out loud several times, especially during the "blustery day" segment.

I don't have the energy to send my kids to school

I often hear people -- some homeschoolers, some not -- comment on how hard and time-consuming homeschooling is.


I've been enjoying a book called Queen of the Castle: 52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, domestically challenged or just plain tired homemaker.

The author apparently has two sons, ages 13 and 14 at the time of the writing, who attend school. I found this passage to be very interesting:

After thirty-six weeks of school, times two kids, I figure I ...participated in twenty-three field trips, class parties, and bake sales ... and helped study for seventy-two Bible-memory-verse tests. I bought (and sold) wrapping paper, magazines, raffle tickets, and jog-a-thon laps. Signed 108 permission slips and forked over ninety-seven dollars for incidentals. Helped complete one state notebook, one state float, one report on the Nile, one static electricity/balloon experiment. Carpooled seventy-two hundred miles, not counting practice for football, basketall, wrestling, baseball, and band.

'Nuff said!