25 October 2014

End of the Week Wrap-Up {week 8}

Well, the first quarter of our school year is almost over!  Yea!!

This has been one of those weeks where we were all a little tired, there was some sickness, and there wasn't a lot of exciting stuff on the calendar ...but we stayed the course and got a lot done.  Love that feeling of accomplishment!

On our "Fun Friday" we had our devotional time, did some Life of Fred, played some American trivia, worked on stories with our Story Cubes, and then wrapped up with some leaf painting.  

We had seen these cute illustrations in the current issue of Family Fun magazine and thought this would be a fun project to try--and they were!  I even did one :)  

Just find some pretty autumn leaves around your yard or on a nature walk, grab some tempera paints and fine-tipped brushes, and paint some fun woodland creatures on your leaves!  

Can you see the animals on these leaves?

Then we ended our day with a family movie (Soul Surfer), some pizza, and these yummy caramel apple cupcakes that my awesome hubby whipped up for us!  

What did you do this week?

23 October 2014

*Move On:Where Mercy Meets Your Mess* {a book review}

I was super excited to get this book from BookLook Bloggers to review (if you're a blogger and you like to read, too,  you might want to check them out).  

I had not yet read any of Vicki Courtney's books before--although I've had one in my waiting-to-be-ready-stack for a while now--so I was curious to see what her writing was like.  Move On, with it's subtitle When Mercy Meets Your Mess, really intrigued me.  And, of course, I loved the cover pic.  

I also loved every single bit of this book.   

Move On hits home very hard.  Vicki tackles some tough issues head on.  Issues that I deal with, that you deal with.  Issues such as the need for approval, personal struggles, broken dreams, shame, legalism, idols, and Christian snobbery.  Yes, tough issues.  

As someone raised in a Christian home, someone who has been a Christian for over 30 years, I have personally dealt with pretty much everything Vicki talks about.  Maybe not the identical situations, but the 'bottom lines' of those situations.  

This is a book that literally has the potential to set you free.  To break the chains of your personal messes and to help you get honest with yourself, God, and others.  

I love that at the end of each chapter Vicki offers a section titled Coming Clean where she shares 5-7 questions to really help you dig deeper into your own personal issues.  They aren't trite and safe questions, but ones that are very soul-searching.  

This book would make an amazing group study (and Vicki offers one with dvds!) ...if you're really brave and ready to take off your mask.  

Move On is available at most retailers, including Christianbook.com and Amazon.  

Disclosure: I received this book from BookLook Bloggers at no cost in exchange 
for my honest and unbiased opinion.  No other compensation was received.

21 October 2014

Tasty Tuesdays {Cuban Black Beans with Corn Cakes}

At least once a week I try to have a meatless meal for one of our dinners.  Usually this means the traditional pinto beans and cornbread and while that is one that the whole family likes, I sometimes just get tired of it.  I admit that I'm not a fan of eating the same things all the time.  I like variety!  That doesn't always fly with my family ...but I try anyway.

So recently I tried a new meatless meal and absolutely loved it!  As for the family: Vince liked it as well (although I think he would have like a big chicken breast on the side), The Princess like the beans but not the corn cakes, and Mr. B liked the corn cakes but not the beans.  {sigh}

But because I can't let my picky kiddos rule the world, I have to share it with you :)  It was yummy, healthy (well, maybe not the corn cakes), and super fast and easy to prepare!

Cuban Black Beans
2 tsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans black beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup water
1-1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. black pepper
sliced onion
sliced bell pepper
cooked rice for 4
Heat oil in a large skillet over med-hi heat.  
Add garlic; cook for about 1 minute.
Stir in beans, water, cumin, paprika, black pepper, onion, 
and bell pepper.*  
Bring to a simmer; cover and reduce heat.  
Cook for at least 10 minutes (I let my beans simmer for longer), 
until veggies are tender and flavors have blended.
Serve over cooked rice with hot sauce, lime wedges, 
and/or cilantro, if desired.
*Since my kids aren't crazy about onion and bell pepper I sauteed these 
separately and served them on the side for my hubby and me.  

While the beans are simmering, whip up these corn cakes to serve on the side:

Corn Cakes
2-1/2 cups whole kernel corn
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
3 tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup shredded Cheddar
1 tbsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
In a food processor, combine 1-3/4 cups corn kernels, the eggs, milk, 
and butter; process 3-4 times or just until corn is coarsely chopped.  
In a large bowl stir together flour, cornmeal, cheese, sugar, 
salt, and pepper.
Stir in the remaining corn kernels and the blended corn mixture
 just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Spray a griddle or skillet with cooking spray and heat on high.  
Pour 1/8 cup batter per corn cake onto griddle (let batter spread 
naturally).  Cook cakes in batches, 3-4 minutes or until edges 
begin to brown.  Then flip them and cook 2-3 minutes on the other 
side or until done.  Serve immediately.

Have a great Tasty Tuesday!

20 October 2014

What's for dinner... {Oct 20th}

Ah ...Monday.  A fresh new week.

And this week there is not quite as much on the calendar as last week--which means more dinners at home.  I'm good with that!

Our weather here in Kentucky has finally turned very cool and fall-ish and that always puts me in the mood for cooking and baking.  I've been reading through some of my cookbooks and watching cooking shows more this week.  (I have to say I was super excited to see that Netflix has added several Food Network shows--I was especially happy to see The Pioneer Woman on there!).  

Also my little guy isn't feeling well today--sinusitis--and that, of course, means special requests and comfort foods, right?  So we'll be kicking off today with one of our faves.

Monday:  Potato Soup with Crusty Baguettes

Tuesday:  Spaghetti & Meatballs (with this sauce), Green Salad, and Garlic Toast

Wednesday:  Tostadas

Thursday:  {crockpot} Pinto Beans and Buttermilk Cornbread

Friday:  Homemade Pizza

Saturday:  {crockpot} Chicken Tortilla Soup

18 October 2014

End of the Week Wrap-Up {week 7}

Yea!!  It's Saturday and we got to sleep in (well, with the exception of my hubby, bless his heart)!!  And we sure did need it--it's been so busy around here this week that we are all dragging a bit in our tracks.  A slow, lazy Saturday morning was definitely in order.

These past couple of weeks have been full, full, full.  But that's what keeps life interesting and exciting, right?

Here are our highlights from this past week:

On Tuesday night we were extremely blessed by a friend (whose family could not go) who shared free tickets to a Nashville Predators hockey game with us.  We were SO excited!  It was our very first hockey game ever--I've been wanting to go for a while now.  We had an absolute blast cheering on the Preds and enjoying the game.  And even though "our" team didn't win, it was a very exciting game.  It went into overtime and then sudden death.  

On Thursday we attended a science show with our homeschool group called 'Mr. Molecules' Bing Bang Boom Science Show'.  I must admit it was more of a show than science, but it was fun and the kids enjoyed it.  'Mr. Molecules' was a bit of a spaz though (think: Pee Wee Herman) ....lol

On Friday we had our very first experience with 4H.  Our homeschool group has teamed up with our local 4H chapter to provide classes for our students in the spring semester.  However, we had one day with them this week as an introduction and to elect their class officers.  My Princess was elected as Reporter--and, boy, is she happy about that!  (Have I ever mentioned that she occasionally writes a "family newspaper" for us?).  

Overall, it was a very good experience with 4H.  I am curious as to what and how long each class in the spring will be though.  My Mr. B is a very "young" 4th grader and sitting for 2 hours yesterday in a class about public speaking was a real stretch for him.  So I'm hoping there will be classes that will be a better fit for him.  

Friday evening was a whirlwind around our house with Vince and me heading to a wedding rehearsal dinner, Mr. B hanging out with his Nana, and The Princess off to her first youth event (a bonfire!) with our homeschool group.  We all had good times :)  

Oh--and one last thing to share ...these past couple of weeks my Mr. B has really been hitting the books.  For fun!!  I mean, he's been enjoying reading books on his own!  This makes me so very happy because while he absolutely loves to be read to (and we always have a family read-aloud going) he has not been very interested in reading on his own.  So I'm super proud of his progress in this area!  

Thanks for dropping by today~I'd love to hear from you in the comments.  Tell me how your week has been!

16 October 2014

Our Fall Art Class

You may remember me mentioning something about teaching an art appreciation class for our homeschool group's fall co-op.  Well, I just had to share what my kiddos created in that class.  They had a lot of fun!  

The first week we talked about George Seurat and Pointillism.  

I had the students use heavy art paper, acrylic paints, and cotton swabs 
for this technique.  They were to simply dab the cotton swab in the 
paint and use dots of paint to create their paintings.  The Princess 
went for the landscape, while Mr. B chose fruit as his muse.  

I think I'd like to try this again soon with my kids and practice mixing 
dots of different colors to create another color.  For not being an 
artist, I do find this stuff totally fascinating!

(For instance, did you know that Seurat is basically the father of our 
modern day printing technique?  He thought that any color could be 
created by using red, blue, and yellow.  Have you looked at what 
colors your printing cartridges use lately?).

The second week we talked about Jean Dubuffet and textured sculpture.  

For this project my husband cut a whole bunch of wood blocks for us to 
use for the base of our plaster of Paris.  Then we pressed various
objects into the wet plaster to make impressions.  We used shells, 
buttons, Legos, screen, chain links, coins, you-name-it...  

The class was finished at that point but I encouraged the students to 
paint their "sculpture" after it had dried well.  My kiddos chose to 
paint theirs: The Princess went for a turquoise and Mr. B for red.  

The Third week we discussed Jackson Pollock and splatter painting.

Each student had an 8x10 canvas to paint.  Some really got into the
splatter action (see The Princess' above), but others had a more 
difficult time doing that and went for a different approach--and 
that's okay, too.  It's all about self-expression, right?  Mr. B went
more monochromatic (see below)

Our final week we learned about Alexander Calder 
(my personal fave from this study) and wire art.  

I finally narrowed down a project in Calder's style for our class to wire
fish.  This was a fun project!  I never knew wire could be so expressive.  
Each student received about 18" of wire and was asked to form it into 
a fish.  They could embellish it with beads--or not.  The Princess added
beads, but Mr. B opted for a purest approach.  I love both fish!

And after four weeks of art appreciation we are now enjoying some lovely
new original art in our home!  

I am looking forward to more fun art projects this year!

04 October 2014

End of the Week Wrap-Up {week 5}

One month of school in the books!!  Yea!!  Despite the inevitable bumps-in-the-road, this year is off to a good start and I'm really happy with how things are going.

Our homeschool routine has hit a fairly good groove and I'm glad.  Getting into a good routine is important--at least to me and my kiddos.  My son especially does so much better with a regular routine.

This was our first week of school with no co-op classes, so Friday was a bit different than it has been so far.  We had intended to go on a field trip, but it was cancelled due to rain.  That was okay though because it gave me the chance to try out my new "Fun Fridays" plan.

Here's my Fun Fridays plan:  on Fridays that we are not going to co-op classes or going on a field trip we will still have school, but our learning will be through books and activities other than our regular school books and lessons.

We'll do math using Life of Fred (instead of our usual Teaching Textbooks), we'll play educational games for subjects (this week we played American Trivia in place of history and geography), we'll do art projects, we'll watch educational videos, we'll bake things together, so random science experiments, the list goes on and on...

The kids really had fun yesterday with several of these activities.  Mr. B was especially funny when he realized that Life of Fred was actually ....math!!  He said "you tricked me, this is math!"  hahahaha  But he said it with a smile because he was enjoying it :)

We also started back up with the kids' piano lessons this week.  We began in August, but then took a break because their teacher had a new baby.  So far their lessons are going very well.  The Princess is learning quickly and enjoying it and even Mr. B is doing well.  I knew he could do it but I wasn't sure if he would practice.  It turns out that he mostly does very well with his practicing and is learning quickly also.

The Princess' book club met this week.  They are currently reading The Island of the Blue Dolphins.  When she first began it she was so saddened by the beginning of the story that she didn't even want to finish it.  I have insisted that she press on and it turns out she's liking it more.

Now for the highlight of our week ...our first Spelling Bee!!

Our homeschool group hosted our first (hopefully annual) spelling bee and it was So. Much. Fun!!  Everybody really had a great time--parents, grandparents, and students alike!

Mr. B didn't want to enter the bee, but he was happy to attend and support his big sister.  He was even asked to help kick off the night with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.  

There were three age groups competing: 1st-3rd, 4th-6th, and 7th-12th.  For each group there was a grand champion and a runner-up.  Within their groups, however, they were given words from a word list for their individual grade list.  My Princess had been studying for a month and had worked so hard to learn her word list.  She was so nervous and excited all at once.

I'm so proud to say that she was the grand champion for the 4th-6th grade group!!  Above you can see her spelling her winning word: courageous! :)  She was SO excited!!  And we were SO proud of her!!

Our Princess with her trophy and certificate

Now all of the students in our group are asking when the next spelling bee is ;)  The ones who didn't participate now want to and the ones who did enjoyed it so much they're ready to go again!  Our group leaders really did a wonderful job of planning this event.  

Does your homeschool group host spelling bees?  I'd love to hear about them!

And that wraps up our week!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend:)