Thursday, September 27, 2012

Updates soon!

Things have been crazy busy around here!  My camera is having issues, soccer is keeping us hopping, and we are working on gifts for my sister's baby shower this weekend.  (I'm going to be an aunt!!!!)  Also, allergies are going crazy, and I got stitches this week.  :(  I had some moles removed back in April that my dermatologist was concerned about.  Three of them came back as precancer, but the lab reports showed they had gotten it all.  Well, one came back and brought a new friend, so it had to be cut out.  It hurts!  Anyway, I will update soon with pix from our "trip" to Mexico, and our Exploration Day 15 and the sweet gifts we made for my niece.  On a quick side note, the Bru Crew has really taken this "trip" thing very seriously!  They keep pretending to be in Mexico.  Smiley calls it Me-hee-co, just like a Mexican would.  Little Man keeps pretending to be from other random countries, and the girls keep asking him what brought him to Mexico if he's from St. Kitts & Nevis, or wherever he's pretending to be from at the time.  It is hilarious to overhear their random conversations as I am working on my niece's gift, or cleaning, or cooking, or whatever.  They also play this really fun app that is like the Geography Game from MFW called Stack the Countries.  (The app has a mini game called "Map It" that is just like it.)  They are learning the names of SO many countries all over the world.  They are so sad that we're "skipping so many" in their words.  I reminded them that if we spent 2 weeks on every country, we'd be studying ECC for 5 yrs!  They suggested we just spend a week on each, and be done in 2.5 yrs.  I love their thirst for knowledge!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Outrageous Chocolate Cookies and Potato Soup

Smiley: my ever-present
kitchen helper
It's week 2 of my 52 Weeks of cookies!  This past Friday, I made Outrageous Chocolate Cookies to share with our friends at co-op.  I followed a pin to this blog post, which had a recipe link to here, for these deliciously rich cookies.  They were good, and gone fast!  I made them and hurried out the door, so I didn't get a picture of the finished product.  I didn't have chocolate chunks, so I used 2 cups of chocolate chips instead, and I used 1 1/3 cups of chocolate chips for the semi-sweet chocolate.  I buy them in bulk from Sam's Club.  Also, it turned out, that I was out of brown sugar, so I used 3/4 cup of regular sugar and a tablespoon of molasses.  Smiley helped me make them.  She scooped the dough, which was more like brownie batter onto the pans to put in the oven. 

Smiley was tickled at the shapes of her cookies.
It took a lot of self control for her not to lick her
fingers until she was finished!
Last night, soccer was cancelled due to a torrential rain, so, I stayed home and made potato soup.  It was the perfect weather for it!  Sadly, it is a crock pot recipe, but my crock pot died, and has not been replaced yet.  Thankfully, she gave suggestions for cooking it without one.  I made adaptations, of course, because I always do.  The last time I asked Bru Crew Dad to get potatoes at the store, he bought a 5 lb. bag of yellow potatoes.  (Isn't he a gem to go shopping for me?  I just have to remember to be more specific!)  Since the meal I needed them for required baking potatoes, I wondered what to do with these.  Soup was the perfect thing!  I peeled most of the 5 lb. of potatoes.  We have discovered that we like the skin in our potato stuff, so I left a couple with skin that I just scrubbed well.  I also used 3 qt. of stock, 2 cans of cream of chicken and a can of cream of mushroom.  I was out of onions, so I used a Tbs. of dehydrated onion, and a tsp. of onion powder.  I doubled the pepper and garlic powder.  I cooked my diced potatoes for about 30 minutes, added my cans of soup in, then divided it in half.  We had half for dinner and froze half for another night.  I returned it to the stove to warm the cream soups through and melt the cream cheese.  (Shh!  Don't tell Little Man that I put cream cheese in it!)  Each of the kids ate thirds!  Yum!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Edible USA

Ms. Quality Time thought she didn't need
the extra sugar from the frosting, and used
extra M&M's for the Gulf of Mexico, since her
Mississippi River extended into it.
How many sentences and blog posts start with "I saw this idea on Pinterest..."?  How did we ever think of anything before Pinterest?  Anyway, following the trend, I saw this idea on Pinterest this weekend, and knew I had to use it!  (Scroll toward the bottom, past the Valentine's Day stuff to find it.)  In ECC we are leaving the US today and heading to Mexico.  So, this morning, we put landforms on the USA, talking about things one might fly over and see out the window as they left our country.  I cut out a US map, traced it will edible markers onto an extra large tortilla, and let the kids make the Rocky and Appalaichan Mountains with chocolate chips, the Great Plains with green tinted coconut, the Mississippi River with a blue sour punch straw and the Great Lakes with blue M&M's.  She used Twizzler Pull 'N' Peel (or something similar) for the Mississippi, but I wanted it blue.  I see now the wisdom in using the Twizzlers or other licorice rope, since it is more flexible, and the Mississippi is not nearly as straight as we made it. There was frosting to "glue" it on with.  Some of the kids chose to use it, some did not.  It was a fun (and yummy) activity.  :)

Tenderheart's USA
Little Man didn't want to use frosting b/c he
was afraid he wouldn't be able to find and
remove the coconut.
Smiley's USA

Saturday, September 15, 2012

MFW-ECC Week 4

Well, we have wrapped up our study of the United States of America this week. Smiley showed much improvement in her state recognition by the end of the two weeks. Whether she was being difficult, was tired, or just having at off day, I don't know, but early in Week 3, I had each kid label the states they recognized on a blank line map of the US. I was going to label hers for her, but she only recognized Alaska. Thursday of this week, we repeated the activity. The older three kids were a little frustrated about it. They know all the states and where they are in the US, so it felt a little like busy work, but I had them label them with postal abbreviations, which it turns out need more work at our house. Smiley was delighted, however! She was able to easily identify five states: ours and the ones surrounding it. With a little more gentle pressure from me, she got up to fourteen states that she was able to correctly identify and put on the map! This week was crazy busy, which made me grateful for how much less busy work there is in MFW! We mostly skipped the first grade stuff this week. Smiley usually works on it while the other kids are working on their reading, but I knew we were pressed for time this week. We doubled up on school Monday, because Tuesday we had science class at a nearby science museum. The museum is about an hour away, but there is a Sam's Club not too far from it, so I use the opportunity to get groceries. We were able to count the day as a school day because of the science class, but I knew we would not get much curriculum done. I brought math in the car for Smiley, since she doesn't double up as well as the other kids, but she gets carsick easily too, so it didn't get finished. Also, rather than cooking, we went to a local place for burgers. Mine never seem to turn out the way I want them to on the grill, plus after our Friday morning school, then co-op with our friends, I don't feel like cooking! Co-op and cooking days seem to go together this fall, so we may be eating out for the food instead, which might be better. I can follow recipes, but how do I know if some new food tastes right or not. If it is bad, is it because I made a mistake, or do we just not like that kind of food? We'll see how that goes. We did cook though! We made cookies to take to co-op. I'll blog about that soon, probably on Tasty Tuesday. :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

52 Weeks of Cookies

 A friend of mine did 52 weeks of cake last year.  I really enjoyed seeing all the cakes she made and posted on facebook each week.  I considered joining in as well, but we are not big cake eaters.  We want cake for our birthday, but that's mostly it, and sometimes, even then, we will choose a cookie cake over a cake or cupcakes.  I prefer cupcakes to cake because they require no dishes and are more convenient, but to make each kind look different takes a lot of work.  However, we LOVE cookies!  Bru Crew Dad's first word was cookie!!!  So, being the cookie lovers that we are, since I tried new cookie recipes two Fridays in a row, I felt inspired to do 52 weeks of cookies.  The plan is for each cookie to be from scratch and different from the others.  I don't know exactly how this will work, but it will be fun to try it!  If you make any of the cookies, let me know what you think!

MFW-ECC Week 3

My bed this morning!
(No wonder I'm always tired!)
Well, the craziness of soccer continues!  All four kids playing, two traveling, I coach two of them, and Bru Crew Dad coaches a third one.  Last year, it seemed like we lived at the soccer fields, but I saw all but one or two games.  None of them overlapped.  This year, the overlapping is constant.  I have seen less than three quarters of Ms. Quality Time's games so far this season, and I've had to leave Tenderheart's game (where I am asst. coach) to go coach Little Man's team (where I am head coach).  I have also seen only about two quarters of Smiley's games.  It makes me a sad mama to know my kids are playing just across the field, and I can't cheer for them and support them.  Week 3 was a little harder for us than Week 2.  We are studying countries now, so the workload changed a little.  Smiley is just in first grade, but she does most of this stuff with us (with a LOT of help).  Assuming that we stay with MFW, she will do it all again in a few years, so I'm not stressing about whether she "gets it" or not.  Right now, we are studying the U.S., so it's very familiar to my kids.  That makes it easy.  They were not very interested in the Week 3 crafts, but when they saw quilting as a Week 4 art project, they decided to do that, except that they don't want to glue fabric on paper, they want to make "real" quilts.  So, again, this will be a long term project, rather than a 1 hr. project.  As a quilter, it was hard to say no to that request.  :)  Consequently, they are making doll sized quilts. 
Tenderheart's Doll Quilt-
She plans to make a disappearing 4 patch
for her American Girl mini doll.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

MFW-ECC Week 2


Smiley had to use her finger to smooth out the
lines, so it would look pretty.
Little Man's N. & S. America ("and don't
forget Greenland!")
This  post is delayed because the last thing on  Week 2 was a world cake.  Well, we are not big cake eaters, but we love cookies!  So, the Bru Crew decided to make world sugar cookies instead, but soccer kept getting in the way!  Each child made 2 cookies: one for North and South America and one for Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.  Only Ms. Quality Time left room and thought to put Antartica at the bottom of each cookie.  Little Man had me outline his continents, then he filled them in.  Smiley had me do all of it.  Tenderheart and Ms. Quality Time completed them on their own.  As far as school itself went, Week 2 was MUCH smoother than Week 1.  We were finished by lunch most days, and those that weren't finished up shortly after.  It was SUCH a relief to me!  I doubt our schedule will be great and things will be super smooth until soccer is finished, since right now we have a lot of evenings where we aren't home until 9:00 or later with all four kids needing showers, but it is what it is.  Part of the beauty of homeschooling is that we can be flexible.  The Bru Crew is lot loving the science this year.  We have done Apologia sciences in the past, and they interest the children more than Properties of Ecosystems, but biomes aren't really covered in Apologia, and I think this is important.  The teacher's manual indicates that science gets more interesting in Week 3, so we'll see.  :)  Here are more pictures of the Bru Crew and their world cookies. (Notice the soccer uniforms in the pix.  They all had a game that day.)
Ms. Quality Time making
her hemispheres.

Tenderheart getting the frosting bag ready.


Little Man had me outline the continents,
then he filled them in.
After I took pictures of her hemispheres,
Smiley piled on the green frosting to make them "yummier."
*ETA:  Find our cookie recipe here and the frosting recipe here.  I didn't follow the cookie recipe at the frosting site because I didn't want to refrigerate and wait!  I rolled the first tray of cookies in colored sugar crystals because I knew they would want some warm from the oven.  The rest I left plain for frosting.  I noticed that these cookies need to be flattened or they bake up tall instead of out.  Bru Crew Dad is not a frosting lover, so he enjoyed the sprinkle cookies better than the frosted ones, but the rest of us loved the frosting!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Living and Active Week 1 Clare over at Peak 313 Fitness is hosting a five week challenge for getting more exercise and getting in the Word.  I'm excited about participating!  I played soccer with my kids last night, and ran hard, but I'm counting that as bonus.  I still plan to do the 4 exercise routines she suggested.  I definitely need to be more active, and I'm praying this is just what I need to make that happen.  Will you join me?