Sunday, August 24, 2008

One Cat + One Dog + One 3 Year Old = Fun Fun!

How to have fun when no one will play with you:

Step 1:  Find cat.  Oh there she is ... remember?  You dumped all your toys out of the bucket and the cat took the bait.  

Step 2:  Take cat out of toy bucket and sit in it yourself.  Start giggling because this is fun and guess who will come over to see what you're doing?  Yup, the good ol' dog, she doesn't want to be left out of the fun.

Step 3:  Pretend not to notice that your playmates are not getting along.  Well it's not the dog's fault.  She really wants to play.  The cat just doesn't play fair.  Well what do you expect?  You took her bucket away from her!

Step 4:  Run off and find a brother or sister to play with instead and leave the poor dog to hide in shame under the coffee table after being humiliated by a cat!
Step 5:  Tomorrow, leave the patio door open so the indoor-only cat can wander outside and the dog will try to chase her down.  That's always fun to watch! 

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back to School ... Sort of ...

So here's what I do in the summer ...

I get out my well-worn copy of The Well Trained Mind, and all of the home school catalogs I've collected this year, and I sit down and start making lists.  The Well-Trained Mind is sort of the ideal guide for my book choices.  I re-read this guide every year.  I get all fired up and excited and swear to myself that I'll stick to it this year.  But it's a little too heavy for us to realistically accomplish everything.  That's why we're in our 4th year of first year Latin.  What can I say.  I do follow some of their recommendations, but there's just not enough hours in the day for me to teach it all.  Plus, there are so many wonderful companies out there with outstanding home school curriculum, so I look and choose from all over.  
You have to realize, this is about an 8 week process for me!  Seriously, I read these catalogs from cover to cover.  I drool over the book choices.  I mourn the education I never had.  I think, if only I were exposed to some of this material when I was in school.  Or, why couldn't anyone present history to me like this when I was younger, I would have enjoyed it enough to actually pay attention!

I dog-ear pages, I high-light all the books I want, I make a master list.  Then I get real.  There's no way we can afford all that!  And there's no way my kids will actually be able to read all those books.  (sigh)  So I start over.  After about 4 or 5 different revisions to my list, I'm finally ready to place my orders.

This year I ordered from Rainbow Resource, Veritas Press, Teaching Textbooks,  and A Beka Books.  I also bought some novels from Borders here in town and I have a few more coming from Amazon. 

Today everything arrived, except for the A Beka and Amazon orders.  

It was like Christmas! 

Here's what we're doing for history:
I've tried to stay on schedule with a cycle of history, starting with creation up to modern day, spread out over 4 years.  But then I discovered Mystery of History 2 years ago and I HAD to have that curriculum.  The author just came out with her 3rd volume and won't have the 4th ready in time for us to stick to the schedule, so I broke away and decided to do American history this year.  I can still have my 6th grader and my 9th grader in the same books, so that is a relief.

Of all the books I order, the science books are by far the favorite with both kids.  They both love science.  They are using the Apologia curriculum.  My 6th grader is doing Zoology, starting with marine life and moving into land animals in the spring.  My 9th grader is starting biology. I'm very excited about it too!
Then there's math ...
This year I'm trying something new with my son.  We have used Saxon Math since the beginning.  My daughter is finishing up Algebra 2 this year.  While I love Saxon, and it's a great fit for her, it wasn't going as well with my son.  So I'm switching to Teaching Textbooks.  A few of my homeschooling mom friends swear by it.  I had my son try it out online and he seemed much more at ease with it.  So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I've found a good match for him.

I'm also trying something new for literature for my 9th grader.  This is the one area I've stressed about for weeks.  Then I found this:
Smarr Publishers.  I have high hopes for this one.  The program is on a CD and my daughter can do her assignments on the computer.  That is, as soon as all the novels arrive.  I did find some for her, and my son, at Borders:
These books are wonderful!  They are published exclusively for Borders.  They have most all of the classics titles that you want.  They are paperback, but it's a sturdy cover with inside flaps.  And they are cheap!  I think most are $5.95 or $6.95, and I think that's a great deal for a quality book that will be read by more than one kid, plus mom, during our homeschooling journey. 

For Bible we'll move on in the Studying God's Word series.  I think we're on book F or something like that.  I buy those at our local bible store.  

My daughter is still working on Logic and Latin programs that we already have.  So all that's left is our Grammar and Writing program to get here from A Beka.  

Also, I have to come up with something for my 3-year old to do during school time.  Wish me luck on that one!  

Gotta run and find room for all these books on our shelf.  And then perhaps pick a start date on the calendar.  On the one hand, I'm excited and ready to get going, but on the other hand I'm still in the lazy summer mode.  I'll have to ask the kids what they think ...

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Today we went out to the orchard to pick a mess of peaches.  Ok, so it was one tree, and it was just in our backyard, and we only got one bowl full.  But still ... as with most things, it was an adventure.  

My 3-year old put on her best peach-pickin' dress and a pair of capri pants with ladybugs all over them.  She must have known what was coming when she saw me walk out with the camera because she goes straight over to the tree and poses ... cheeeeeze!

Too cute ... but I want some action shots ...

Doesn't take long for her to start picking the peaches.  But then look who has to get in on the action ...

Hey ... you dropped one!

Look ... I found one!
I see one ... I see one!  

And here's the dog ... counting the bounty.  Is this enough for a cobbler?

Yup, plenty for a cobbler.  First we have to slice the peaches.  And just so you know, yes I leave the skins on.  Why?  2 reasons: I like the flavor and texture of the skin, and I'm too lazy to peel them.  But yes of course I wash the peaches first.  The dog had her nose in the bowl after all.  
Ok, so I have been making peach cobbler forever.  And I always seem to waffle back and forth over which recipe I want to use.  Do I go with the one my grandmother used to make that has more of a batter-like topping, or do I make the biscuit crust top that I've toyed with over the years?  I ponder things like this ... 
Then I got the bright idea to create a recipe that's a little bit of both!  I made the biscuit topping but added extra milk to make it a bit more batter-ish.  I melt a cube of butter (yes the entire cube, it's totally worth it!) in the bottom of the dish.  I add my sliced peaches that have been tossed in a bit of lemon juice, sugar and a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg.  Then I spread the biscuit/batter on top.  Then bake it ...
Then serve it ... complete with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Then hurry and grab some because it won't last.  I served this plate to my hubby but even as I type this he's in the kitchen getting into some more!  I'd bake another tomorrow for Sunday supper but my peach tree is now bare.  That's ok, it won't be long before it's apple season and you know what that means ...     PIE!  

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Produce Day!

Every Thursday is produce day.  Meaning ... we get this box of produce from our local CSA.  That stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  We've belonged to this "club" for almost 2 years.  You simply become a member and you get a new box of produce every week!  It's always something different too.  It's like getting a semi-unexpected treat each week.  Obviously it's going to be seasonal produce.  Plus it's local (or at least within that 100 mile diet thing, I will post on that at another time), it's organically grown, and it's nice to know I'm supporting sustainable agriculture.  I choose not to find out what's going to be in the box ahead of time.  So the contents are always a surprise.  I really look forward to this ... really, it's like the highlight of my week to get surprise produce!  It doesn't take much to thrill me!  

Here's what this week's looked like:

... Potatoes, Nectarines, Pluots, Cherry Tomatoes, Onions, Figs, Lettuce ...

The cat always jumps up to see what's in the box and give it a good sniff.  I think she realizes this comes from a farm.  A place an indoor kitty would never, never get to see.  I'm sure she dreams about it though.  (don't tell hubby the cat is on the table!)  

I'm not sure there are words that can describe how yummy these tomatoes are!  They are a golden orange color.  So pretty and so sweet!  It really takes restraint for me to not eat the entire box the minute I get them home.

These were the big surprise this week!  They are brown turkey figs.  So so yummy!  We love fresh figs.  And there just happens to be a house down the road here that has a little fruit stand and sells fresh figs for a few weeks in the summer.  We stop there frequently!  This box of figs were consumed at dinner tonight ... no more left.

Oh and I almost forgot ... there were bell peppers in the box too.  But they missed the raw photo.  I had already sliced them up for a stir-fry!  

Hey MOMMY ... when is that dinner gonna be ready?  Mom?  Can you hear me????
(this little Missy single-handedly ate half of those figs ... what a stinker!)

Monday, August 4, 2008

How I Start My Morning ...

Much of my day is routine.  Same ol' thing, over and over ... and over.  Some of it is quite boring.  Like scraping oatmeal off of the floor (yes I do this on a daily basis!) or picking the same books and toys up off the floor only to find them there again 10 minutes later.  {sigh}  But some of the routine is quite welcome.  Like nap time for the 3-year old!  Or dinnertime with everyone at the table.    

And ... my morning latte!  I am not a morning person.  Never have been.  But someone forgot to tell my 3-year old that.  When she wakes up, everyone is up!  I NEED that latte as a kick-start to my day.  

A few years ago hubby bought this hunkin' espresso machine.  Of course I did not get it.  What was wrong with coffee from my beloved French coffee press?  Ooo-la-lah!  But after breaking 3 of those presses (I won't tell you who broke them), I was forced to use the big machine if I wanted my morning kick.  

I have perfected my version of the perfect latte.  I start with half a mug of milk.  It has to be in my Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics mug.  No, we did not go to the Olympics.  Hubby happened to have a flight through SLC in 2003 and bought the mug on clearance in the airport gift shop.  He's very thoughtful when it comes to things like that. 

Then I hit the milk with a double shot of espresso.  Notice how the espresso goes from a strong, super dark liquid, to a thick, creamy frothy topping.  YUM

Now I take my perfect cup, sweeten it up a bit, then head out to the veranda to enjoy the view ...

Oh wait ... I don't have a veranda.  Dang.  I have a patio.  But I haven't cleaned the dust off the table and chairs.  And that Tuscany photo ... well at least it's the view I enjoy on my computer's desktop.  If I close my eyes as I'm sipping my perfect latte, it could almost be like I'm right there.  

Except for the sounds of ... "MOM, she won't get out of my room!"  And ... "he won't stop pushing me!"  Then my eyes pop open and I see this ...
Ok, ok ... let me finish my latte before I get back to reality ... and routine.
p.s.  The cat was getting tired of being left out of the blog.  

Friday, August 1, 2008

Discovering new things ...

So one by one, we all ended up getting sick this week.  Fever, chills, aches.  Oldest daughter had a sore throat too.  Luckily the illnesses lasted only about 2 days.  It's no fun to get sick in the summer.  

We discovered all of our favorite games are on the Game Show Network and we spent a lot of time watching game shows on TV.  I even blogged about it, but somehow the links to the photos got lost.  Game shows are so much fun!  I discovered just how competitive I really am ... I love getting the #1 answer on Family Feud, I love spelling 5 letter words on Lingo, I love the look on my hubby face when I can knock an entire Jeopardy category out of the ball park!  ;-)

Know what else is fun?  This little sweetie pie ...

I discovered that when I sit down to work on the computer someone always shows up and sits down beside me.  I look down and see this gorgeous face!  I just love it when her lip gets stuck in her tooth.  And look at those adorable wrinkles.  I can tell what she's thinking ... quick taking my picture and just scratch my ears!

So today I take off to Trader Joe's to get yogurt.  I figure since we've all been kinda sick we could use some good bacteria back in our system.  I did get the yogurt, but look what else I found ...
I am all about preparing food at home.  Make it from scratch I say.  I've looked into making homemade yogurt but just haven't got around to trying it yet.  I've made pudding many times from scratch.  And I don't mean using the boxed mix.  But something about this container of chocolate goo caught my eye.  Plus I was really hungry when I saw it.  So I had to get it.  I have to say ... I think this has to be my greatest discovery in the oh-my-gosh-this-is-wickedly-sick-it's-so-good department!  It's Belgian Chocolate Pudding!  And it took all the restraint I had not to eat the entire container in one sitting!
Just 2 huge glorious bites and I forced myself to leave the room.  I'm telling y'all about this pudding so hopefully next time I go to TJ's they will be completely sold out and I can spare myself the temptation!  You will be glad you discovered it too.  (and Trader Joe's ought to love me for the endorsement;-)

Finally, my 3 year old had a great discovery of her own this week.  We've had this Madeline book since she was a baby.  A special gift from The B Family (we love ya!).  Every night we look at the bookshelf and pick a book (or 2 or 6!) to read before bedtime.  I've presented Madeline to her on several occasions and she always says "not that one".  But this week, she wanted "that one!"  We've read Madeline every single night now.  We talk about Madeline, we quote Madeline, we adore Madeline now.  Woohoo!
     In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines ...  

We love new discoveries ... and can't wait to see what tomorrow holds!