Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cooking with the Girls

As the youngest of five children I remember doing a lot of very small jobs to get the dinner on the table.  Setting the table, stirring the tea, eventually I remember making it up to the task of mashing the (already cooked and seasoned) potatoes with the mixer.  I thought I was really helping.  I was, but I wasn't really learning to cook.
Lydia - our youngest cooking apprentice. :)

It is wonderful to have your children help you in the kitchen.  It builds a special bond, because they know you want and even need them around you, but it won't teach them to cook.  Eventually you have to step away and let them cook.  I remember being so proud of myself at age 16 cooking spaghetti (with sauce in a jar), broiling the buttered bread and an easy salad.  It was an accomplishment for me, but I could have learned it much sooner.  Why didn't I?

Some of it may be that I didn't express much interest and wasn't made to learn by my mom.  As I recall, I pretty much had my nose stuck in a school book or a book for pleasure reading ALL the time! Another reason I didn't learn young is that I was often not even home.  My girls don't have a clue what it feels like to be gone from 7AM until 4PM.  Since my mom worked in the years of my older childhood, breakfasts generally required no cooking except on Saturday.  Lunches were purchased at school.  Dinners were usually taken care of by mom who was tired from working and not really in the mood to teach/supervise an uninterested child.

So what can you do if your children are in the situation I was in as a child?  I think I would try to teach one child at a time on Saturday or Sunday.  Then have them copy this meal later in the week with less help from me.  I would also try to have them cook with me on the weekends when I was hopefully feeling more relaxed and able to handle the "stress" of a helper.

Daddy still cooks for us all occasionally! 
At first, as a stay home mom, I have pretty much done all the cooking.  Of course the first few years when I was learning myself, my husband and I took turns. (He was a much better cook than me.  I say was, because I think we are pretty even now, except for gravy! :))
Did he spoil us, or what? ;)

As the girls grew and were big enough to express an interest in helping I have tried to let them do as much as they can.  I very rarely say, "Go out until I am finished."  Even a stay home mom can get a bit cranky at the 5o'clock hour so it did happen occasionally! LOL  About two years ago, I really began to teach the two oldest to cook.  Small things at first.  Scrambled eggs, pancakes, cupcakes, and oatmeal for breakfasts.  Hamburger helper or mac and cheese from a box for lunch.  Since dinners require many hot things completed at once they usually just help.  Desserts such as cookies, cinnamon toast, and cakes from a mix are also very fun to make. I think the hardest part of teaching the new cook is letting them handle the hot things.

*** Tip:  If allowing your children to pour boiling hot water or remove a pan from a 400 degrees oven is too scary for you to contemplate, you can try this trick.  Have them practice the motions with cold water and a cold pan.  Once they learn the motions try it with warm materials.  I think steam is the worst part so I teach mine to back up for a minute to let the steam rise!  Our other rule is that they don't do any of these actions until they are 4 1/2 feet tall! ***

About a year ago, when Memaw Rose moved in with us, she took over the kitchen. She is a wonderful cook and loves to cook and not letting her cook causes her to be unhappy! :)  So I gladly relinquished the kitchen to her.  However one negative side effect was that she was too nervous to cook with the kid helpers.  She is trying to overcome this issue because she knows how important it is for the girls to learn these skills now.  When she was gone for about a month recently, Hannah did a lot of the cooking for breakfast, lunch and even some dinners.  It was a good reminder to me that we need to keep working on teaching them!

The girls made the chocolate cake for Grandmom's birthday.
Our plan during the school year is for one girl to help with cooking the dinner meal or desserts each week.  During breaks we may try to have them actually cook a meal on their own.  Break starts tomorrow so I may try to follow up this post with a report on that experiment! :)

I also try to remember that cooking for others helps our children to be part of a ministry.  We show hospitality when we cook for guests in our home.  We show compassion when we make a meal for someone who has been sick or unable to cook for themselves for some reason.  We show love when we make something for someone just because they enjoy it.  It is wonderful to be part of a ministry!

Mary (middle) getting ready to enjoy some hospitality at our dear Phillips' house!
I will also add that if you have already taught them to clean up messes, then cooking lessons will be more pleasant! :)

Please go check out these blogs for more mom inspiration to teach your children to cook!
Smockity Frocks
The Common Room
Raising Olives

With All My Heart~

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Artist Study: DaVinci style sketching

This term (12 weeks) we have been looking at the art work of Leonardo DaVinci.  I was looking on line for something to do with this and came across this site.  I have skimmed over the biography with them, but mostly we have enjoyed trying the techniques mentioned.  In today's lesson we were using the technique of drawing bubbles to practice the shapes of animals.  The girls were reluctant to use them, but I think it did help them to pre-plan their drawings.  We were using photos and drawings of animals from some science magazines we have.  You can click on any picture to see them all a bit bigger!  Many times I  have skipped art or composer study because I felt like it was extra, but these are the lessons the girls really love.  I have decided to take at least 20 minutes and do at least something.  Then I find that they do more on their own free time with it!

Here is Lydia's bee.  I love that she was so excited to do this insect!  We have been studying the parts of flowers and pollination so we have watched some videos with bees.

This one is a little harder to see.  Mary was drawing from an illustration of a triceratops.  She really enjoyed doing the circles more than the detailed drawing.

Sarah loves bears so she chose this polar bear.  She named it after her webkinz polar bear, Frostie!

Here is Hannah's kangaroo.  She was really reluctant to do the circles, but I think she did a great job with them!

Trying to be a good example.  Here is my drawing.  I chose the giraffe and the picture I used was a close up of the head.

We all had a good time.  Not sure if the girls will use this technique on their own or not.

Gallup Poll about Stay Home Moms

Recently I read a few blogs about the latest Gallup poll   This was interesting to me especially considering I am a stay home mom.

 I always wonder about the procedures for conducting these Gallup polls.  Do they call people at night?  How do they get a balance of people?  If these people call at dinner time and try to talk to many stay-home-moms that would be the worst time for them.  I am always skeptical for these kinds of reasons.

Many of the bloggers wanted to try explain why stay-at-home moms (SAHM) would have more of these negative emotions.  I personally have a hard time believing this, but I guess that is because I know so many happy SAHMs who wouldn't change a thing!

Then I began to look more closely at this portion of the poll.  Worry, sadness, stress, anger, and depression are the categories they somehow examined.  Again, I wonder what the question was or how was it phrased. Since I can't seem to find that information, I began thinking about each of these categories from a Biblical perspective.  What does God say about each of these emotions?  Do I experience these emotions more so because I stay home?

Worry-  I don't tend to think of myself as a worrier, but I am sure that I worry more than I should.  Jesus told us not to worry so if I am worrying I am actually sinning.  It is something I need to confess and repent for committing. Did I worry more as a working mom or now as a SAHM?  I think partly I worry less now because most of what I worried about before was missing out on my children's lives.  Do I never worry now?  I try not to.  I keep reminding myself that God is in control and all I have to do is stay close to Him (ie, read Bible and obey it) and all will work together for good.  No matter my circumstances I know the One who can take care of it.  I believe in His omnipotence and faithfulness.

Sadness-  I think they are times when sadness is a fact of this sin- cursed world.  But our sadness should be tempered with the knowledge that this is only for a short time.  At the same time that I am sad about a situation, I can find comfort and even joy from God's word.  Here are some wonderful scriptures about joy.  Again, it can be sinful to dwell on sadness, if I am not reminding myself about the joy of the Lord.  Am I more sad now than when I was a working (outside of house) mom?  No.

Anger-Again, if you are a Christian you know this is another area of sin.  We are called to avoid anger, to prevent anger, if possible, in others, and to repent of anger toward others.  Here are just a few Biblical quotes on anger.  Am I more angry as a SAHM?  Well, I have to admit that my frustration level is tested every day at least once a day.  I think this is one area I feel more tempted than the others.  Thankfully I have learned that it really is possible to avoid this if we all get proper rest, food, and exercise we need.  It also helps to notice ahead of time the things that get us pulled into habits of anger and prevent these triggers if possible.  Some of my favorite bloggers are blogging today about what to do if you need to home school on a day when you have a rotten temper.

Depression-  The word depression might not be in the Bible directly, but I think everyone would agree that is the feeling of total hopelessness.  Christians again are in sin, if we are letting ourselves dwell on depressing thoughts and attitudes.  We need to repent and then constantly remind ourselves of the hope that is within us.  This is one area I am not tempted with thankfully.  I tend to be a half-full kind of person.  I don't think I suffer any more since I started staying home, either.

Stress- This one is also not directly quoted in the Bible.  Again, I think this site that have been linking to for Bible verse collections has some great verses for this topic.  I know we all suffer from stress.  I do not think my stress levels have been increased because of being home.  

Ultimately, I know that I have been much happier since I have chosen to stay home.  I feel sorry for the moms who have so many of these negative emotions, stay home or working.  I pray that they will find conviction, comfort and strength in God's Word.  This was a good reminder to me as well.

With All My Heart~

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We love Memaw!

Guess what Memaw has been enjoying since she returned.  Lydia has tried to catch up on stories and snuggles all in one day! :)  All the girls have been showing Memaw how much they have missed her.  We are so thankful she is back safe and sound!  Since our riders were too tired for mexican train, we watched Bugs Bunny together!  This is new for our kids.  They have only seen them a few times.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Weekly Review

What I'm Learning: Spanish! I really want to move us past our preschool level Spanish.  It is really hard without a fluent speaker/teacher.  I am praying for God to provide a friend with that gift!

These are the books for Grade 1,4, and 7 next year!

What I'm Reading: Mostly books to prepare for next school year.  We are finished with this year on June 1st but we are starting next year with only a week break.  If I am going to continue subbing (and I think that is all I can really handle, not full time) then I want to teach now, while I know I can't work.  Then this fall when public school is back in session the girls will have their "summer" schedule.  Reading and computer math games with lots of time for pool and play.

What I'm Listening to: I just downloaded a free ESV version of the New Testament.  I am  looking forward to listening to it during my workouts.  We are also listening to a lot of Bach since he is the composer for the last few weeks of this year.

What I'm Eating: I am still enjoying a no sugar, no wheat diet with lots of fresh lettuce from our garden.  I am also nearly finished with my stash of diet soda.  I am weaning myself off again!  Since I will have the freedom to go to the bathroom as needed for the next several months, I am really trying to increase my water consumption again!

What I'm Looking Forward To:  Memaw Rose comes home Monday! I have missed her cooking, my gym buddy, and all the love and laughter she brings to our house.  This has been a long month without her!  Papa Jim comes for a visit also!  Graduation for some handsome nephews and a wedding for a sweet cousin are also happy occasions we are celebrating!

What I'm Laughing About: The cutest thing Lydia said recently occurred while we were taking a family walk while visiting Mamaw Daisy in Culpeper.  The girls were a bit ahead of us and heading to an opening in the woods.  Alpheus called out a warning for them to come out in case of snakes and such.  As we neared the spot, Lydia said in an excited voice, "Come on sisters!  This place may be a boo-boo trap."  I am still giggling!


What I'm Thankful For: My loving husband, our wonderful family and friends, and our many blessings of course.  On smaller note, the wonderful "new" shelf my talented carpenter husband built for the entertainment center that is now the home of the Atkins school curriculum! (pictured above)  And for the music stand on my piano that some how was lost in our move 4 years ago.  We looked online but you can find that accessory any more.  Wood painted black looks great!

What I'm doing for a Workout: Outdoor laundry is adding some lifting and hauling to my routine! :)  Enjoying the track and stationary bike still!  I need to add more weights!

What I'm Excited About:Birthday Bowling Party for my sweet sister, Leah who is turning 39 again! :)  Friday is a great day this week!  Bowling/pizza and then playing music at Due South followed by BBQ!

What's been working for us: 1) Spanish - this website:    2) Hannah cooking lunch for us!  :)  3) Work folders for each girl's lose leaf work.  You would not think that in a home school papers can get lost, but they DO!  These work folders have helped and the girls love opening them each day to see what has been graded and if they have any special notes or papers for fun!

What I'm Praying About: Salvation for my unsaved children. Growth of our church.  Self-discipline.

With All My Heart~

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Our Florida Trip 2012

We love our Florida church family and always look forward to our trips back.  They are usually every other year, so it has been a long time since we have seen some of them.  This one was bitter sweet since we traveled down to be with our Mama Rita and Papa Jim during Rita's last earthly days.  She was suffering the final effects of Alzheimer's disease so we don't believe she even knew we were there, but it was important for us.

Alpheus was at the hospice house with them most of the time.  The girls and I spent the time we weren't there visiting others.  We enjoyed services at both Joppa Baptist (our former church) and Fanning Springs church where it was a delight to hear the word and to see our loved ones!

We stayed in a camper at Grandpa Dennis and Grandma Becky's home.  I meant to get a picture of it and forgot.  It was really nice!  We also spent a lot of time at our dear friends, the Phillips' home.  The kids had a great time playing, talking, eating and enjoying each other! We also spent time with my other besties, Brenda and Marcia.   I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed myself everywhere we went!  This was also a bit bitter sweet because I haven't been able to find other like-minded homeschooling families since we have moved back to VA. (Except, of course, my best home school buddy, my sister!)  Still praying about that! :)

Lydia playing with Grandma Becky and Grandpa Dennis' granddaughter, Savannah.    They had a ball each morning they were together!

One evening the girls decided to really enjoy the Florida sand.  What a mess they were!  Thank goodness for Grandma Becky's tide with bleach.  She loved every second of watching them. :)

At ABC pizza, the best pizza and subs in Florida, with our dear Wendy and Dan Downs.  Wendy hates to have her picture taken, so this proves how much she loves us!  She was Lydia's former Sunday School teacher.  We love you Dan and Wendy.  Come see us soon, PLEASE!

Our dear friend, Faith, and her sweet horse, Diamond.

Mary had the first ride.  She was thrilled. Faith also rode with her, so she could go a bit faster around the coral.

Here is Sarah enjoying her turn.

Hannah was last and Diamond kept heading to the mounting block.  But they still enjoyed making her turn left or right, walk and stop.  She is a sweet horse.

Lydia was enjoying the pool!

Mary took a break from the chilly water, to warm up on the trampoline.

Sweet smiles!

Another sweet smile!

Everyone was having a blast.

Dinner time, yet?

Waiting patiently.

They looked so grown up, just chatting  and catching up on their lives since last summer!

My flash didn't work, but I love this girl and her sweet smile so I had to include her! :)

We saw so many more friends at church but I just was too busy visiting to take pictures!  Our final day was spent celebrating the home going of Mama Rita and saying good bye for now to our special family in Florida.  We were so blessed.

With All My Heart~

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Random Pictures from March and April

The neighbor's beautiful Japanese cherry tree and my beautiful girls!
Sarah finds this position comfortable for school.  Good thing she is at home! LOL 
This is Memaw's costume for our tea party and dance recital.  She served the tea for us. :)
Here she is Resurrection Sunday!  So pretty!
Hannah's mermaid creation.  Wit the bottom picture you may be better able to see the fact that the blue and yellow fish is "floating" in the seaweed.  Hannah used a tooth pick to hold it up.  She did this all on her own.
Mary's nautical contribution - a lovely octopus
Sarah with her Momma Cat and kitten
Hannah with her surfer girl
Lydia had fun too, but I didn't get a picture of her creations. :(

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Biggest Loser Year Update: Week 19 or so :)

Well, I am still moving right along on my Biggest Loser year.  When I went to the gym tonight I realized I had reached another milestone!  Woohoo!

Since I started this year, I have lost 30 pounds! That is about 1.5 pounds per week.  To look at the weekly accomplishment seems like so little, but it really does add up!  I feel really good about my new eating lifestyle and I feel I can keep this going for the rest of my life!  That is what is the most wonderful feeling!

I don't seem to feel or see the weight loss as much as I think I should, but something helped me really see it.  I have a lovely blue jacket that I wore in January to an interview at school.  I was a bit self conscious about how it looked because it was pretty tight.  Early this month, one chilly day, I pulled out the coat to wear.  Not only did it fit easily to zip but I could wrap it past itself.  It actually felt a bit large.  That was thrilling.

Here are some before pictures.
Christmas 2011
This was Resurrection Sunday 2011

Here is 2012

I don't know if you can really tell or not.  I certainly have much farther to go, but I feel so much better already!  If I can keep this up I will be down 60 pounds by my wedding anniversary in October!

Thank you again, dear friends for encouraging me and praying for me.  I am still praying for you too!

With All My Heart~

Monday, May 7, 2012

Traditions: School and Family

This evening at bedtime, Mary finished reading aloud to Lydia and me the final chapter of Little House in the Big Woods.  This has been so delightful for the past 10 weeks. We have made ourselves read it slowly, as prescribed by a CM (Charlotte Mason) education and it is truly a sad moment when a book ends.

We savor it.  We talk about the pictures a little more than other nights.  We laugh a little longer over the funny parts.  We know the end is imminent and we just want to make it last a little longer.  When the last word is read, we talk about the fun we are going to have completing the lapbook.  Lydia has looked a few times at the lapbooks Hannah, Sarah and Mary made over 4 years ago.  Mary was Lydia's age then.  Mary is looking forward to making a second one.  (The advantage of being the middle student  - you get to redo fun activities if you want!)  The big girls may not be making one themselves, but they will enjoy oohhhing and aahhhing over Lydia's book.

I am also so thankful that Laura Ingalls Wilder did not stop with the first book.  We are thrilled to begin Farmer Boy in a few weeks! 

I will update this entry with photos of the girls lapbooks as we work on them! So check back by next week!

Until then I will leave you with a photo of another tradition we have.  Since moving in to our current house, we have been blessed with a rose bush.  It is tradition for Daddy to cut the blooms for our table..  But this tradition has now been passed to our eldest girl, Hannah, who loves to decorate everywhere! :)  This was a pleasant surprise for Daddy when he came in for dinner tonight! 

We are looking forward to having another Rose back at our table soon!  We love and miss you, Memaw!