Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teaching Tuesday: Using Signs

One of the major focuses of Landon's K4 curriculum is learning the names and sounds for each letter in the alphabet.  He is struggling somewhat with keeping all those straight.  The ABEKA phonics starts with teaching the vowels and their sounds.  So we have learned a, e, i, o, and u.  I decided to incorporate some kinesthetic learning to help him with memorizing these letters.  For those non ed majors, kinesthetic learning is a learning style in which learning takes place by the student actually carrying out a physical activity, rather than listening to a lecture or merely watching a demonstration. It is also referred to as tactile learning. People with a kinesthetic learning style are also commonly known as do-ers (Wikipedia).  For this task I am teaching Landon the American Sign Language sign for the letter along with its name and sound.  Just by adding the sign his focus is greatly improved, and hopefully his learning is too.  He is a mover and a shaker so standing or sitting still is a struggle for him, but by giving his little body something constructive to do, all that moving can actually benefit his learning.  Here is a link to the ASL alphabet if you would like to check it out.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Unexpected Growth

We used to have purple petunias in the flower boxes on our front porch.  I happily watered them while the kids played with sidewalk chalk or rode their tricycles.  The porch, after all, is one of my favorite spots.    Unfortunately we no longer have the purple petunias.  See it got hot outside.  In fact, it got very hot outside and very humid, and I was very pregnant.  I would think about going outside and just sweat, so the flowers became neglected and finally met their end.   The crazy part is that we still have a little petunia growing at our house.  It is not in one of the flower boxes, in a flower bed, or in a nice flower pot on the deck.  It is growing out of a crack in the floor of our garage...
What an unexpected surprise.  I am not at all sure how this pink little flower found its way here or got its start, but it is growing there none the less.  It hasn't receive special treatment like fertilizer or watering each day, but has flourished.  So even though I don't have any petunias in my flower boxes, I have this little flower to remind me that often growth comes in the most unexpected circumstances. I am reminded that where ever God has us for the moment, is where we are supposed to bloom. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Zucchini Lasagna

This year we had access to lots of zucchini from my Mom's garden.  So my husband taking an idea from my mom and perfecting it, created the Zucchini Lasagna.  It is a much healthier take on a classic dish, then the white pasta and ground beef version most of us are used to.

Here are the ingredients he uses, followed by his recipe:
Zucchini, 580 grams - sliced thinly
Mushrooms, fresh, 258 grams - sliced
Ground turkey, 93% lean, 16 oz - browned with minced onion flakes
1 can Hunts Mushroom Spaghetti Sauce, 751 grams - seasoned to taste with additional garlic, oregano & bay leaf
Mozzarella Cheese, part skim milk, 8 oz
Cottage Cheese, 2% Milkfat, 400 grams
Egg, fresh, 1 large
Parmesan Cheese, grated, 36 grams
Prep Instructions:
Use a food processor to cut the zucchini and soak it in ice salt water to flavorize it.  Then, brown the ground turkey with onion flakes and add the spaghetti sauce, garlic, oregano & bay leaf to simmer. Beat egg and mix together with cottage cheese.  Set cottage cheese mixtures aside.  Drain the zucchini.
Layered like this (bottom to top):
1/2 of zucchini
1/2 of mushrooms
1/2 of meat sauce
1/2 of cottage cheese
1/2 of mozz cheese
Remainder of zucchini
Remainder of mushrooms
Remainder of cottage cheese
Remainder of mozz cheese
Remainder of sauce (to cover)
Sprinkle the parm cheese on top
Bake uncovered @ 350 for 45-55 min.
Rest for 15 before cutting.
Prep and assembly takes about an hour.

Nutrition Facts
8 Servings
Amount Per Serving (300 g)

Calories ......................................275.6
Total Fat ......................................11.8 g
Saturated Fat .................................5.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat .......................0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat .....................2.2 g
Cholesterol ..................................90.6 mg
Sodium ......................................964.6 mg
Potassium ..................................679.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate .....................13.7 g
Dietary Fiber .................................2.8 g
Sugars ...........................................6.0 g
Protein ........................................30.1 g
Vitamin A ..............28.2 %
Vitamin B-12 .........12.1 %
Vitamin B-6 ...........12.8 %
Vitamin C ..............17.8 %
Vitamin D ................6.9 %
Vitamin E .................8.4 %
Calcium .................30.5 %
Copper ..................14.9 %
Folate ......................9.6 %
Iron .......................14.2 %
Magnesium ............11.6 %
Manganese ............12.6 %
Niacin ...................12.9 %
Pantothenic Acid ...11.0 %
Phosphorus ...........33.5 %
Riboflavin ..............26.7 %
Selenium ................22.1 %
Thiamin ....................7.0 %
Zinc .......................11.3 %

It was an obvious hit!
This is also a very tasty version.  I don't think we will ever go back to the classic.  If you are not sure about it, just look at this face...

I am linking to Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Picture Frame Mats

We have been in our house a little over a year now and we still have little stacks of pictures that have never found a new place to hang.  I decided to at least get some of them hung this week.  The pictures in some of the frames are outdated, so I first had some new pictures printed.  Then I set out to make mats that would match another project that I had finished but had yet to hang...my family rules.  I came across the idea for that project here.  I think I finished it right around Christmas last year.  It has set propped on my scrap booking table ever since.  So here is the project I completed this week.

First I took white photo safe card stock and created a base that would fit inside the picture frame.  Then I lightly sketched a guide to show the portion of the mat that would show in the frame once the picture was placed in the center.

Then I selected the paper I wanted to use.  For mine I chose the scrap paper left from the previous project that I am planning to hang with the pictures.

Then using Modge Podge and torn, cut, and ripped pieces of paper I began creating the mat.  I basically used the same method I used on the letter E I made for Elaine's room.  Here is the mat after a few pieces of paper have been put in place.

Here are the finished mats before being placed in the frames.

Here the mats are in frames with pictures, along with my version of the family rules project.  Hopefully I can get these on the wall today too.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Teaching Tuesday: Our Classroom

So today tonight (better late then never) I am going to give you a peek into our little classroom. 

Here is were the children sit to do their papers.  

Our Calendar Space

 "Teacher's" Desk

Our easel - I use the dry erase/magnet side for our lessons.  I also have a home made felt board I use on the easel too.  My model wanted to be in the picture, but didn't want to smile for the camera.
If you are interested in the fun floor you see.  Check out this post.

Awesome Closet Space


It is not a fancy space, but it is perfect for our needs.  We are looking to get a few student desks to slide under the counter. 

I have a little craft project and a healthy lasagna recipe to share later this week, for now I am headed to bed.  With only 6 weeks until baby's due date, I am ready for bed almost all day.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My First Feature

I was excited to see my Closet Fun Post had been featured on 
The title of the blog says it all.  So check Organize and Decorate Everything out, if you are looking for new ideas.

First Official Photo Shoot

At the very beginning of August Kyle and I decided to take a try at our first official photo shoot for Landon's 4 year and Elaine's 2 year pictures.  We got our first "real" camera back in May, and are still very much in the learning process.  We were fairly pleased with this first effort though, so I thought I would share a few.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Closet Fun

I wanted to share a quick little craft project, if you can call it that, I used in Elaine and the new baby's closet.  I haven't had much time to be creative and this at least let me use some of my crafty tools.  I wanted a way to sort Levi's clothes that would make them easy to find and easy to see what he has in each size, since most of his wardrobe has been handed down to him.  So I made little tags to hang from the closet bar to separate each size.  I am hoping this also helps others find things quickly that will be helping out with things when the baby is born.  Here is what I did:
  First I gathered the materials: index cards, circle punch, paper trimmers, adhesive, scissors, scrap paper in chosen colors, and a matching pen/marker.
Next I punched a medium/large circle in the top of each card.  Just make sure your circle will fit around the closet bar the clothes/tags will be hanging from.  Also make sure that the circle isn't so close to the edge that it will rip easily as it slides over the bar.
Then I used the scap paper to decorate the tags, leaving just enough room between the circle punch and the paper to label the tag with the size.  You will also need to cut a straight line from the edge of the card to circle to give you a spot to slide it over the closet bar.
 Here is the finished product before I put them in the closet.  I plan to also make some for Elaine's side too.  Her's will most likely be labeled play and dress rather then by size.  This will help Daddy from putting her in a church dress to go to the zoo.  He would have her dressed as a princess for all occasions.  
Today I am linking to:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Teaching Tuesday: Week 2

Our second week of homeschooling went well.  I am still learning how to juggle my 2 year old, while encouraging my 4 year old to focus on the lesson.  I think many times I am more distracted by the extra commotion then he is.  When I look at the 2nd week as a whole, I am excited by how much learning is happening.

I thought I would take this week and give a little background into the curriculum we have decided to use for those that might be interested.  As a first grade teacher I taught ABEKA phonics.  It was my first look at the program, and I was very impressed.  It was very different from the whole language approach that I had been taught with in elementary school.  The first graders were reading and writing so well.  So I knew that I wanted to use ABEKA phonics, and when looking at my options, felt it in my best interest to use the whole K4 ABEKA curriculum for Landon.  It is well rounded and easy to follow.  Knowing right after our school year got started we would be bringing home a new baby, I wanted something that was spelled out day to day.  I didn't want to be creating activities from scratch each week.  I do like to incorporate some of my own learning games and style, but ABEKA gives a thorough plan on its own, which is a real relief when things are hectic.  Which I am sure will be increasingly true when the new baby arrives. 

For Elaine I really just wanted a few things so she wouldn't feel left out.  I am not a huge fan of lots of structure for a 2 year old.  They really still need so much exploring and play time, but knowing her personality I knew she would want "work" of her own.  I decided to get the Learning Numbers for 2 year-olds workbook from ABEKA.  It is really just a coloring book that focuses on numbers.  The pages look similar to Landon's, enough that she feels like she has important work too.  I also picked up the Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills Preschool book too.  I got ours at Sams Club for $7.86, which I think is a steal for all it includes.  It it is divided into several sections that include: basic skills, reading readiness, writing readiness, and math readiness.  I know she will not use most of it this year, but she likes the pages about colors and shapes.  I let her play the games with us, altering the directions for her age.  For us this has worked better then just finding a completely different activity to occupy her.

Next Tuesday I plan to include some pictures of our school space, and hopefully before then a quick craft that made organizing Elaine and the new baby's closet a little more fun.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teaching Tuesday: Week 1

If you would have asked me 5 years ago where I would send my children to school, it would have been a very definitive answer.  My answer would have been the private Christian school where I was teaching.  I love that school.  It was a great group to work with, all with a sincere passion to share Christ with our students while equipping them with the academics skills needed to be life long learners.  Hoping to give them a Biblical worldview that would prepare them for whatever God called them.  I knew I would stay home with my children when they were small, Kyle and I discussed that before we were even married.  It was and is what we both wanted for our children.  So when I had Landon, I left my position at the school, knowing I would return when my children were ready for school.  Well Landon is now ready, well ready for preK anyway...but I'm not ready to go back.  I have Elaine still at home and will soon be welcoming a new addition in a few weeks.   So after lots of prayer and counsel, we decided we would homeschool.  We are planning to take it year by year, child by child.  I still love the school I taught at, and highly recommend it to all those who are looking for a private Christian school.  For now though, God has called us to homeschool.

God blesses us when we follow his call.  As parents discussed where they would be sending their children to preschool and getting supplies, I prepared our "classroom" and supplies.  As I heard of my fellow teachers getting ready for Back to School Night, I read over the curriculum I had selected.  I became more and more excited for our first day of school, and our first week went great!  Not without any bumps, but I was really pleased.  I soon realized how much I had missed teaching.  Homeschooling feels so right for us at this stage.  I can use the way God has gifted me in teaching, while still being the Mom God called me to be to our younger children.

I still feel like my time as a classroom teacher isn't over just postponed a few more years.  We will continue to seek God's plan for our family and follow it with the strength only He can equip us with.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Making a Comeback...with Whole Wheat Waffles

Things have been slightly busy around here, and the tiredness of the third trimester has hit.  I wake up at 6 get my shower, eat breakfast, feed the children, dress them, and I am ready for a nap.  Of course, I don't get a nap and often get very little sleep at night these days, but I have missed blogging.  It gives me a place to reflect and document some of our family's happenings, and maybe someone else will be encouraged or get idea for their own journey toward the goal.  So I am making a comeback this week.

I am starting with a breakfast recipe our family has really enjoyed, Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Waffles.  They have a hearty flavor that is really tasty with maple syrup.  I have also sprinkled the topside of the waffles with cinnamon and sugar before cooking as well.  Both ways were a hit.  My oldest loves them, and asks for them often.  One batch makes enough to warm up in the toaster on the following morning.  I am sure they would freeze well too.  We would have to make a double batch to have any left to freeze though.  I love finding recipes that replace white flour with whole wheat.  If you give this recipe a try, let me know what you think.

I am changing Teaching Tuesdays to a place to record the adventure of homeschooling we are embarking on this year, I am planning to use it to reflect on the successes as well as the struggles.  So check back tomorrow to see how our first week went.

Today I am linking to: