Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: As I read through some blogs this morning and left some comments, I realized that I no longer have the option to have the comment responses emailed to me. As anyone else noticed this too? I enjoyed some of the "conversations" that would take place in the comments and since I don't have the time to always check back where I have commented, I will miss out on those.

What I'm reading: I started reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver again. I am really enjoying the book this time; it has also inspired me to start some things outside in the garden. Over the weekend we fertilized and planted lettuce, green onions and carrots.

What I'm listening to: The bird going crazy in the kitchen....I have noticed that if it is a sunny morning he chirps a ton. Two girls are playing behind me, another is washing dishes, and the boy is having breakfast.

What we're learning: This week we are studying Rembrandt, Thomas Hooker, Robert Boyle, and The English Civil Wars in history. Since it is now spring I am doing a lesson on hummingbirds this week in science. And then of course all the normal stuff we do every week....math, grammar, reading, writing, memory work.....

What I'm watching: My Sweetie and I watched the A&E version of Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile over the weekend. I liked it, but it wasn't as good as the other version we have seen directed by John Guillermin.

What's cooking: This week on the menu we have Enchiladas, Beef Cheese Noodle Bake, and Honey Chicken in the crock pot.

What I'm buying: In the next day or two I need to go out and buy 21 dozen pencils. Our county is hosting the 4-H sectional presentation day for all of Northern California this Saturday and we are helping with all the prep work.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for music. It touches my heart, encourages me, and helps me get through the day.

What I'm creating: A garden. After the rain we are supposed to have early this week, I hope to get out and work in the soil, getting it ready for plants. I am going to try to plant useful thing this year and stay away from the exotic; so I want to research different tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers....the stuff we would use every day.

What I'm praying: That my homeschooling friends would have a smooth week, that they would have wisdom as they teach, and that our children would have receptive hearts to what they are learning.

What I'm planning: To see someone very special this week. Actually three special people. My dad and his wife are bringing my soon-to-be 95 year old grandpa for a visit. This will probably be his last time down here since traveling is hard for him and all of us are excited to have him in our home for the day.

What we did this last weekend: We did some deep cleaning in the garage and then some work in the garden. We had yummy Falafels Saturday night for dinner with homemade Cookies and Cream ice cream for dessert. Sunday we went to church and Sunday school, then over to our friends for our Supper for Six.

What I'm looking forward to: My grandpa's visit of course, and then we have our 4-H sectionals this Saturday. Bookworm will be presenting, Mr. Lego will be a room host, my Sweetie is a judge and I am helping in the tally room.

A picture to share:

~Dasher found this cute little guy outside lat week and brought him in to show me. Yes, spring is here. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Is Here

Spring is here. Officially, yesterday was the first day of Spring.

And Spring means baby animals.

The two baby goats at the farm where our goat lives.

So stinkin' cute.

Even with alien eyes.

And other babies....

...these 5 day old baby rabbits are the ones we are hoping to take to market at fair.

We are still trying to make friends with the goats (There are those alien eyes again.)

 The rains worked in our favor and made the yard so muddy, that the goats will gladly stay in the small lean to. There we can corner them and let them know that we're not trying to chase them but we want to be friends.

I love Spring.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That my children are so real. The girls were all helping on another with breakfast, a fight broke out, words were said, and so there was apologizing going on and cleaning up of a split drink. And now they are back to being friends again..... for now.....

What I'm reading: I picked up a fun book at the library last week....More Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things, edited by Readers Digest. Did you know you can get pencil marks off of the wall by rubbing it with rye bread? Or that you can polish silver with a banana peel or toothpaste?

What I'm listening to: I have an old copper church music-box that used to belong to my grandparents. It sits on our piano, and Nutsy just wound it up, so we are listening to Amazing Grace...

What we're learning: This week we are learning about John Wintrop and the Puritans, Galileo, and The Jews of the Renaissance and Reformation in history. I am letting my older two try a writing curriculum that I will be reviewing for The Crew, and Dasher is reading The Wizard of Oz this week in literature.

What I'm watching: Everything drying off outside. We had a pretty wet week, which made it hard to work with the goat and be outside. Things are drying out today, but we have more rain ahead.

What's cooking: This week I am making Cheddar Chicken Chowder, Indian Spiced Lentils, and Artichoke, Spinach and Feta Stuffed Pasta Shells. I also need to make some homemade yogurt in my crockpot too.

What I'm buying: I am looking for a certain sized basket or wooden container to hold all of my many tea bags. I couldn't find one at Target, so I might try to get out to the thrift store and see what they have there.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for my best friend. My Sweetie. He encourages me, keeps me accountable, makes me laugh, and is there for a hug when I most need it.

What I'm creating: Well, we are still hoping for babies from our Momma rabbits. I do have a plan friend kindly bred her rabbit as a backup and her doe kindled last week with six babies. So we could take those babies to fair if ours don't kindle.

What I'm praying: For those that I know who are going through trials. That they would see God's hand in their lives, rest in His sovereignty, and have peace.

What I'm planning: We are learning about the rest of the social insects in co-op this week; the bees and the termites. The book suggests buying or finding ants and making an ant farm....not something I am excited about doing, so I need to plan out a couple of experiments and activities.

What we did this last weekend: We ran a couple of errands on Saturday then celebrated St. Patty's Day by having Irish Beef Stew. Sunday we went to church and then had 22 people in our home that afternoon. It was a smorgasbord of food...Split Pea Soup, Irish Soda Bread, Green Salad, chips and guacamole and.....French Toast. We had a great time with everyone! Then back to church for our evening worship service where we heard a convicting sermon on Proverbs and anger.

What I'm looking forward to: We have two 4-H meetings this week: goat and rabbit. Co-op, school, and all the daily stuff of course, and then next weekend we have our Supper for Six.

A picture to share:

~This was what I made for dessert yesterday.....Chocolate Marshmallow Bars......yum.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Progeny Press Literature Guide - Across Five Aprils

I love studying history. And one of the most pivotal times in American history was the Civil War. Progeny Press produces all sorts of literary study guides and I was very pleased to receive and review Across Five Aprils. Across Five Aprils is a novel by Irene Hunt which is set in the Civil War era; the main character in the book was actually the author’s grandfather. In the story, a family is divided as two sons fight on opposite sides. The book follows the youngest brother, Jethro, as he tried to make sense of what is going on around him. 

The study guide is available in three formats: as a PDF file, as a printed booklet, or as a PDF file on CD. I reviewed the interactive PDF file version which costs $18.99. The printed and bound book is $18.99, and the PDF sent to you on a CD is $16.99. You can also order the CD and booklet together for $23.99. Regardless of the format purchased, you as the teacher can reproduce pages for your students.  The guide is divided into sections; in this case the 12 chapters of the book were divided into 6 sections. Written for middle grade students, the study guide is meant to take 8-10 weeks to complete. The only other materials your student will need is the book, a dictionary, thesaurus, bible, and optional concordance. 

The study guide suggests having the student read the book in its entirety within the first week of study. There are some suggestions for pre-reading activities, which include researching the cause of the Civil War and slavery issues. During the week of book reading the study guide suggests that your student read about Fort Sumter, study the Union and Confederate flags, and map out the battlefields as they take place in the book. Once the book is read, the meaty learning of the study guide begins. 

Each section has a variety of sub sections: vocabulary, reading comprehension questions, connections with history and optional writing assignments. I liked the variety in the guide; in some sections the vocabulary was multiple choice, in others the student needed to fill in the blanks with a synonym using their thesaurus. There were “Dig Deeper” questions, which ask the student to evaluate the actions of the main character, or to compare the reaction of the patriarch to scripture. 

The study guide also touches on other writing and grammatical instruction; there are explanations and questions about idioms, similes, metaphors, and personification. A persuasive paragraph assignment asks the student to show how scripture calls us to maturity and growth. There are suggestions for discussion with other students and optional activities.

After all the chapters have been studied there is an overview section with essay type questions. This part can be used as a test if the teacher wishes. Throughout these questions the student learns about plot, novel conflict, rising action, climax and motif. There are also essay and writing suggestions at the end of the guide; these include creative writing projects, imaginary letters, and biographies. 

 The version I reviewed was the interactive PDF, which is conveniently sent right to your email. It had blank fields which your student fills in; a very easy format to follow and correct. I appreciated that this study guide didn’t just ask questions, but also explained in simple language what a hyperbole was, or how to see dramatic irony in a novel. The questions in the sections were age appropriate and thought provoking; I especially liked how there was an emphasis on godliness and the use of scripture to evaluate character. Studying a historical novel in this way was good compliment to our homeschooling, and could easily be incorporated into a co-op setting. I am excited to see other well known books on Progeny Press’ website; and the wide range, from lower elementary to high school, of the study guides that they offer. See what other members of The Crew are saying about this and other literature guides here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product,  at no cost to me, for my honest and humble review. All opinions are mine.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Turkey Meatball Soup

I made this delicious soup last week one night for dinner. A few of you asked to have the recipe, so here it is.

I got this from a Martha Stewart Living magazine...I am not even sure which issue it was in, but it was one from the late 90's, I think. Let me also just say that I love anything Martha Stewart.

First, you form your meatballs. I double the recipe, since lately my children have been having bottomless pits for stomachs.

This was actually the first time I used ground beef; usually I use ground turkey like the recipe calls for, but we didn't have any in the freezer.

Into a big bowl goes your ground meat and lots of spices.

Parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic and oregano.

A lot of times I go out to our garden and just pick what we have and put that in, but right now the only thing out there is my perennial rosemary bush, taking over the whole herb garden.

And fresh is the best; my store has a 'poultry medley' of fresh herbs which includes parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. (Anyone going to Scarborough Fair?)

I don't make my meatballs very big; we would rather have smallish ones and more of them.

Set those aside in the fridge, and in a big pot put in some olive oil, chopped carrots and onions, and the same fresh herbs and garlic you put into the meatballs.

While that is sauteing, chop up some cabbage. Cabbage is a great, cheap filler in any soup.

When the onions are golden, add chicken broth, water and the cabbage.

This simmers for about 10 minutes, so that cabbage can soften up.

While that's happening I chop up some Swiss chard leaves....

....and then add the meatballs....

...and chard to the soup.

This cooks for another 8 minutes or so, until the meatballs and chard are cooked through.

The final step is to add some cooked pasta; any kind will do.

And that is it. I usually serve this with some nice, warm bread.

The really nice thing about this soup is that I know exactly what is in those meatballs. And if I had some frozen chicken broth from a roasted chicken on hand, this would be about as homemade as I can get.

Turkey Meatball Soup


3/4 pound ground turkey                                         salt and pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced                                           1 medium onion, diced
3 T. chopped parsley                                               1 medium carrot, chopped
2 T. chopped oregano                                             4 cans 14 oz. chicken broth
1 T. chopped sage                                                   8 oz. water
1 T chopped rosemary                                            4 c. shredded cabbage
1 T. chopped thyme                                                2 c. swiss chard, cut into strips
2 t. olive oil                                                            8 oz. cooked pasta


Combine all the spices in a small bowl. Place the ground beef, half of the spices and 3 cloves of minced garlic into large bowl. Mix well. Roll 1 teaspoon of turkey mixture to form a ball; repeat and set aside meatballs. Heat oil in stock pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, remaining garlic, and spices. Saute, stirring frequently until onions are golden, about 8-10 minutes. Add broth, water and cabbage, simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Add meatballs and swiss chard and let simmer until coked, about 8 minutes. Add cooked pasta and stir until heated through.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: Well this is the week that our Momma rabbits are due to have babies. They will probably be late, like they usually are, so we might not see babies until next week. We will still be going to fair of course, but it would great if the girls had market rabbits to take too.

What I'm reading: This last week I read one of the books I had my older two read in history, My Escape From the Auto De Fe by Don De La Mina. This powerful book set during the Reformation is about a man, Don Fernando, who was scheduled to be burned at the stake for his faith and escapes. He disguises himself, and tried to rescue his fiance and find freedom. I also loved it that the story is based on notes that Fernando left to his son.

What I'm listening to: Quiet. The kids are having a hard time adjusting to the time change so they are half asleep while they are doing their morning chores.

What we're learning: This week in history we are learning about John Smyth, Pocahontas, The Thirty Years' War, and the Pilgrims. I am speeding up history just a bit; we are going to try to get through the 1600's and do an overview of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars before June. Bookworm and Mr. Lego are leading our county rabbit 4-H meeting later this week, so they need to plan out a couple of presentations and get some things ready. In co-op we are studying ants and learning about the states and capitals, and the older ones have a grammar test.

What I'm watching: The rain clouds are coming in.....we actually have a solid 9 days of rain ahead of us according to the weather website. We do need it but I am going to miss the sun.

What's cooking: Tonight I am making homemade marinara sauce with pasta, roasted cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli, and a salad. Other things on the menu this week are crock pot Lemon Chicken with my homemade Fried Rice, Tex Mex Pasta, and yummy Chalupa.

What I'm buying: This is my big shopping week so I am making out my monthly menu. I have all sorts of things running through my head and I'm trying to wisely decide if it's either something we truly need, or something we can live without.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for my friends. They are real; they have good and bad days just like me, and through it all we can encourage and pray for each other.

What I'm creating: There are some big changes coming in our co-op plans; this is exciting and will fit our needs better, but at the same time we are very sad to be moving on from the group we are in right now. But I do need to get hopping with the co-op planning; next year I will be teaching music and am on the hunt for a curriculum/ resource that teaches children how to sing and read notes.

What I'm praying: I am praying for a young man we know well who is headed to boot camp and tech school this week. That he would find Christian friends while he is away, that he would be physically and spiritually strong, and that he learn quickly all that is being taught to him.

What I'm planning: We are planning to go out and visit the goat a couple times this week; she is still pretty skittish so we are just going into the pen and sitting with her, bribing her with hay and trying to get her used to us.

What we did this last weekend: We had a fun day Saturday at a good bye party for our friend who is going into boot camp. Yesterday we went to church; then I taught eleven very cute and curious 5 & 6 year olds during Sunday school. Then we went home for a relaxing afternoon with just our family. My Sweetie took the kids to the park for a while, we ate Tostadas, then all played a fun game of Cocktails.

What I'm looking forward to: We have our 4-H club meeting this week; it is the 'green' one, so my kids are trying to think of all the green things they can wear. This Saturday is the first one in a few weeks that we have nothing planned; my friend is inspiring me to 'eat Irish' so I might add some corned beef and Soda Bread to the menu.

A picture to share:

~ My babies, in 2007.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Art of Argument

Logic. When I think of teaching my two older children that subject, I wanted to go hide under the bed and not come out. So when this product came up for review, I grudgingly accepted, not quite sure what I was getting into.


And then I was pleasantly surprised. Because after reading through the first few chapters of The Art of Argument, doing some of the exercises with my children, and watching the accompanying DVD, I found that I actually liked logic, and better yet, we were all understanding it.

So what is logic? Logic is the formal study of correct reasoning. Or to put it another way, knowing logic helps you to be able to evaluate arguments. This book, from Classical Academic Press, is meant to be a year-long logic curriculum for 7th and 8th graders. 28 fallacies are divided into three categories: fallacies of irrelevance, fallacies of presumption, and fallacies of clarity. At the beginning of each lesson is the definition of that fallacy. Then the fallacy is described, with down-to-earth examples and simple definitions. One of the fun ways that the book shows the different fallacies is through an ongoing dialogue between the Greek philosopher Socrates and two modern day students. There are also phony advertisements that show the different fallacies. One of my favorites is in the lesson on the fallacy “Appeal to Pity”, which shows a full page store sale ad with these words: “If you don’t take advantage of this fantastic sale, we may just go out of business.” My daughter totally understood this fallacy when she read that. Each fallacy is also simply summarized at the end of each lesson for easy reference.

After each lesson there are workbook style questions for the student. These are more than just yes or no type questions; the student might be asked to evaluate different statements and identify the fallacy, or be asked to explain the difference between two different fallacies. There are also sections with questions about the definitions and thought questions for further research. And to keep all this new information fresh on the brain, there are cumulative reviews at the end of each chapter.

The accompanying DVD was also very helpful. Each section of the DVD is meant to be watched after each lesson. There are two teachers and four students present for each lesson; the teachers ask questions and encourage discussion between the students. They bring up excellent examples to show how these fallacies are used in many ways; from the media, to politics, to the normal things that happen in our lives every day. I found this to be especially helpful; my son is a visual learner, and watching the DVD helped him to really grasp the fallacy we were learning. The DVD set is priced at $54.95, and includes more that 8 hours of instruction.


After doing a couple of lessons I found my children talking about a statement they heard on the radio, or even something one of them said, and how it was a fallacy or was related to one. The Art of Argument made fallacies come alive, and made them practical in day to day situations. The teacher manual and student workbook are very similar; the only difference being that the teachers’ book includes the answer key and reproducible quizzes. Both of these books are priced very reasonably; the student book is $21.95 and the teacher manual is $25.95.

So don’t be scared of logic; instead, see it as an important part of our lives; as a tool to help us discern what is right and what is wrong. And this is only the beginning, Classical Academic Press offers other logic books, The Discovery of Deduction, and The Argument Builder. And you can check out what others on The Crew are saying about this fun logic program here. 


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest and humble review. All opinions are mine.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Goat Adventure Begins

As you have probably heard, we now have a goat.

Last Thursday, to be exact, was the day we got him. It was also the day that my son got butted in the head. The day my heart almost stopped, and the day that we ran crazy pell-mell, across a busy street.

Chasing our new goat.

The day started at the goat farm, where we peeked in on some baby goats.

These were only a few days old and were the cutest, sweetest, little things.

We went back to where the older goats lived and picked out 2 goats, one for us and one for my friend. We loaded them into our car, (into a carrier of course,) and drove them to their new home.

We made sure the pen was safe and sound, and went to get the goats out of the car. This was when things started going south.

Those goats were not happy. They were probably pretty freaked out, after being removed from their nice pasture, stuffed into a carrier, and taken on a windy car ride. So when Mr. Lego went to get our goat, he did what goats do when they are mad, he butted what was coming towards him and ran. Fast.

Straight for the busy street that my friend lives on.

He ran across the street, (where thankfully no cars were crossing at the time,) and into an elementary school.

This was at about 3:30, so regular classes weren't going on, but there were people milling around, some kids on the playground, and daycare kids in a couple classrooms.

One of my first thoughts was that I was going to either end up on the Six o'clock News, or get the cops after us, or both.

Goats run fast. I didn't know how fast, but this one was running faster than any of us could go. After a few minutes we had lots of people trying to help; right off the bat I knew we needed to corner him and get him that way, but some people kept running straight at him which made him turn right around and run the other way.

A few times he started to head back out to the street, but then he would turn and go back towards the playground. Finally he got up into the walkways by the classrooms. This turned out to be a good thing; the cement was pretty slick so it slowed him down, and then there were more spaces to trap the poor fellow. Bookworm was the one who made the catch, with Mr. Lego right there to help.

And sorry, I took no photos of the chase. When you see your entire 4-H project running away from you, taking pictures doesn't even enter your mind. (It was funny, I had my point and click camera around my wrist when it all started, and when it was over, my camera was gone. I thought I had dropped it in the chase so I had the kids go back and look around; then one of them found it on the front seat of my car.....I must of thrown it in there when I ran past to the school.)

The crisis was over and so we went to see our goats.

Meet Legolas.

(He's the one on the right.)

These goats were pretty wild, so we started out with bribes to get them to like us.....yummy grain mix.

These guys are just too cute.

A couple of days later we had them de-horned. This is required by our fair and is a good idea if you don't want your goats catching their horns in a fence.

This was also when we found out that Legolas is a girl, and since we just can't get around having a female named Legolas, we renamed her to Arwen.

The de-horning went pretty smoothly; now our goal in the next couple of weeks is to make friends with her.

A little Alfalfa helps too.

The other big goal is to fatten her up.

Eat up, Arwen.

Life, which keeps on going, is always an adventure.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: Well, one minute I am thinking I am excited that we finally have our goat, and the next I am wondering if I was having a crazy moment when we decided to do this. Yes, we got our goat on Thursday, which we named Legolas, but that is going to change, because we realized soon after that that Legolas is a girl. This is not a problem for taking the goat to fair, but now we have to choose another name.

What I'm reading: I am not reading much right now. But I do want to try to pick up a book later this week....maybe one of the historical fiction books I have on our school reading list.

What I'm listening to: The laundry going. I am getting a head start this Monday morning...

What we're learning: We are learning about the founding of Jamestown, Samuel de Champlain, and Henry Hudson in history this week. The older children need to come up with a convincing part of a presentation for our goat project....we are lobbying our club to vote to help us buy some clippers. And later this week we have our fine arts/art history/composer study co-op.

What I'm watching: The lovely weather outside. It was in the 70's this last weekend and will be a little cooler, but still sunny this week. I love sunny days.

What's cooking: Today some of us are having some dental work done, so we are appropriately having Butternut Squash Soup for dinner. Other things on the menu this week? Indian Curry, Spaghetti, and of course our weekly Friday-night-homemade-pizza.

What I'm buying: I can't think of anything I need to go out and get except water, which we seem to go through like....water.

What I'm thankful for: I am really thankful right now for friends who are helping me on our goat journey. Especially one, who has helped us pick our goat, is giving me feeding advice, and will help us learn all about goat showmanship.

What I'm creating: This week I am creating a couple of homeschool product reviews. And because I am now on The Crew, you all will get to read them right here on my blog.

What I'm praying: I am praying for my children this week, that they would be focused on their schoolwork. Sometimes as homeschoolers it is hard to be motivated, and I pray that the Lord would give them diligent hearts in their studies.

What I'm planning: I am trying to think of some fun activities to do when we study ants in science next week....a couple of days before I am going to send my kids out on an ant hunt so we can feed them and observe how they work.

What we did this last weekend: We went Saturday to de-horn our goat, or rather, we watched her get de-horned. She was definitely not a happy goat for a little while. We then went to our friends house for a baby yet-to-be-born gender reveal party...they had a big box in their yard which they opened up, balloons came out with one still attached with a string.....that was PINK! So they will be welcoming another girl into their family in a few months. Sunday we went to church, had our fellowship meal, then went to the assisted living center for their service. Then home to hang out with friends into the evening.

What I'm looking forward to: We have our 4-H officers meeting this Tuesday, then of course co-op on Wednesday. Saturday we are going to a goodbye party for one of our dear friends who is headed off to military boot camp. And of course we are looking forward to going out to visit the goat a couple of times.

A picture to share:

~Dessert on Friday night....a giant chocolate cookie fresh out of the oven with vanilla ice cream....yum.