Saturday, February 28, 2015

Week 8 - The Living Room, or, Why small spaces need TLC too!

This week's challenge from Michele was fairly simple. Clean your Living Room. Ok, maybe not so simple, because first you have to actually be home, second you have to go to the living room, and third...your living room might be a real mess. Today was the first day this week we didn't have something extra going on, so I figured I needed to get to work.

If you read last week's post you might remember that a lot of what is in the Living Room is Kurt's. Since he didn't have time to clean this week (two jobs will do that to you sometimes,) I focused on the small corners that have my stuff... or the girls' and my things. 

Small spaces need TLC too!

Our living room isn't big, maybe 12' x 14' so anything out of place shows up. Thats part of why I try not to keep much in here. It's not a relaxing place to be when books are left out or blankets not put away. When the room is clean it can be a real haven. 

Pull, purge, dust, organize.

Next week will be infinitely more involved since Michele challenged us to sort, clean, and de-clutter our books - yikes! I will probably need at least two weeks for that task. At least this shelf is already done!

Yes, that is a tote full of Steeler's stuff... mostly Kurt's Terrible Towel collection. For a flashback to when the girls were little, scroll down on this Post-Gazette article to the 9/19/2007 section. It features Kurt and his friend Jason.

The Living Room does look much better now, I even dusted around the ceiling, which is no small feat since its 9 feet high! Hopefully now I can get the girls to vacuum for me, and we can start on those book shelves for next time!

Have a great week!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 2/26/15 - Indoor Flowers

There are a lot of things to be thankful for this week:
a warm house
a full pantry
the thought that Spring will actually arrive someday
every day it makes it above 20 degrees Fahrenheit
my Christmas Cactus is getting ready to bloom again!

I have had this Christmas cactus for at least a dozen years. It has probably only bloomed four or five times, never two years in a row, and hardly ever near Christmas. The picture below is from when it bloomed in December of 2014. There were two blooms then. Right now there are two more buds growing. Hopefully it will bloom in the next couple of weeks.

So why do I keep this picky plant around? Because the blooms are spectacular and worth waiting for! They remind me of a hummingbird in flight, only in pink and white. I love plants that bloom indoors, especially during the long, cold winters. 

Christmas Cactus, thankfulness

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

In Freedom's Cause Audio Drama - A Crew Review

Heirloom Audio Productions has done it again - they’ve produced a rousing, riveting audio drama about Sir William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce that will keep you on the edge of your seat for the full 2 & 1/2 hours! This newest release, In Freedom’s Cause, tells the story of how Wallace, and then Bruce, fought alongside their Scottish countrymen in an historic series of battles, peace times, and unrest that eventually culminated in Scotland’s permanent freedom in 1327 with the Treaty of Edinburgh. We were excited when we learned we were chosen for this review as a part of The Schoolhouse Review Crew.

G.A. Henty, Christian audio drama, In Freedom's Cause

This is the second audio drama we have reviewed from Heirloom Audio Productions, and if possible, is even more exciting than the first one, Under Drake's Flag! For this review we received the In Freedom's Cause Single Package. It includes the 2 Audio CD’s, and three downloadable  extras: a copy of the Prayer of William Wallace, The eStudy Guide, and the In Freedom’s Cause soundtrack MP3 download. The musical score was composed by Emmy Award Winner John Campbell, and is a wonderful collection of the 29 tracks written for this audio drama. I like to listen to the music in the background while doing other things on my computer … like typing reviews. :)

The study guide for In Freedom’s Cause has several sections to help enrich your experience, and to help you explain more of the story and Biblical concepts to your children, especially the younger ones. As the parent, you may wish to start near the end of the study guide by looking over the brief Scottish history notes that help set the stage for the events covered in In Freedom’s Cause. Then I would suggest you head back to the beginning of the study guide and read the biographical sections covering G.A. Henry, Sir William Wallace, and King Robert the Bruce. Now you should be prepped and ready to listen to this terrifically terrifying true tale that includes voices you’ll recognize such as Joanne Froggatt, Billy Boyd, and Skander Keynes. I was a little disappointed when I learned that Billy Boyd’s character turns out to be a traitor, but you’ll need to listen to the audio drama yourself to find out how that unfolds!

There are various ways to both listen to the story, and use the study guide. The method you choose will probably depend on a couple key points. First up for consideration is the age of your children and their familiarity with the 1200's and 1300’s. If you, or your children, have not brushed up on your 1300's vocabulary recently, you may want to visit the study guide first before listening to the drama. In the study guide, there are three types of supplements for each segment (4-10 minutes long) of the story. There are Listening Well and Thinking Further questions, but probably most importantly are the Defining Words lists. These short lists let you know about the unusual words used in each section. While you may know the definition for many of these words, such as: glade, monastery, incorrigible, tartan, and usurp, your children may not know the first thing about what a dunderhead is. I highly recommend helping your younger children look these words up before listening to each section.

If you’re ready to jump right in and start listening to this great tale, use the second approach: keep a piece of paper handy, and make notes on the words you don’t understand. There is plenty of context in the story for most listeners about ages 12 and up to figure out these defining words themselves. If your children are in the 6-12 year old range, you probably want to help them out with these words.

Also included in the Study Guide are three Bible Studies to help you and your child get a deeper understanding of the main themes of this look at the lives of Wallace and Bruce. They include I Will Fear No Evil, Vengeance and Forgiveness, and Freedom. Even though Arlene and Emily understood these themes while listening, I am planning to have each of them do the Bible Studies during the next month as reinforcement.

At our house we love a good story, and this audio drama is an excellent adaptation of Henty’s book, without all the hefty reading. Arlene (age 14) opened the CD’s and listened to the whole story in one day while waiting for me to get home from work. The next day we took the CD case in the car with us and started listening together. At first Emily (age 16) was not sure if she wanted to listen, because she wasn’t sure she agreed with what Wallace and Bruce did. As the story progressed, so did Emily’s understanding of the great personal sacrifices and struggles both men went through as the people  of Scotland fought for their freedom. Arlene has decided that G.A. Henty’s stories are infinitely more fun to listen to than to read. “I liked In Freedom’s Cause because I love history. I had never learned about this part before. I like the drama version because it is like watching a movie without the video!” She is right. You will feel like you are right in the midst of the sword fighting, walking through the woods, or rowing on the lake trying to help Lady Marjory escape. If you’re blessed to be able to listen at home, you can close your eyes and feel like you’re really there watching the battles.

Heirloom Audio Productions has once again done a stellar job of balancing the telling of the story with the sound effects and soundtrack to make an overall wonderfully delightful experience. Remember that they also have the swashbuckling good drama Under Drake’s Flag available that we reviewed last year. We were really stoked to learn that they are working on two more audio dramas for release later this year. The first one will be Henty’s With Lee in Virginia, a Civil War story.

Gird up your loins, gather up your children, and get ready for some rousing Scottish history with In Freedom’s Cause!

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In Freedom's Cause Review

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, February 23, 2015

IndoctriNation - a Crew Review

Not everyone we know chooses to educate their children at home. In fact, even among the Christians in the US, about 90% choose to send their children to Public Schools. How is this choice affecting our children? How are we as Christians affecting our culture? Colin Gunn and Joaquin Fernandez from Great Commission Films created a documentary in 2011 entitled IndoctriNation. This movie is a critical look into how the Public Schools are shaping the children of our nation. We received a copy of the 102 minute DVD to review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew. Choosing to watch this movie will most likely challenge your thinking, and hopefully give you a direction on how God calls us to raise and educate our children. Note: do not watch this movie with your children without first previewing it yourself as parents. There are some intense scenes, like the one with a father who lost his son in the Columbine school shooting that you may not wish your young children to view.

government schools, indoctrination

The tagline for IndoctriNation is “Public Schools and the decline of Christianity in America.” This documentary digs deep into the history of public schools in America, and what is happening in the schools today through interviews with both current and retired teachers and administrators. The Gunn family travelled the USA on a used school bus as Colin interviewed pastors, teachers, and leaders. These segments are interspersed with clips from TV programs, both current and past, that show the struggles teachers have endured while in a hostile work environment, and also clips that show just what IS being taught to children throughout their days.

One of the most telling interviews is with a young woman who has recently graduated from one of the public school districts that consistently ranks in the top 200 nationwide. She points out that even though her parents had her removed from class during the sex education lessons, it didn’t really make any difference because she was with those same student s the rest of each school day and they told her everything that was taught while she was away.

There is a disturbing clip that shows how the LGBT movement has been teaching our children about their lifestyle since the late 1990’s. That was unheard of when I was in elementary school in the 1970’s and early 80’s.

I could identify with Colin Gunn when he shared about how many of those working on this movie had endured bad public school experiences. My school experience was not horrible by today’s standards, but it wasn’t good either. My husband and I both went through the public schools. We saw the good, the bad, and the ugly… a lot of the ugly. At first, I watched the movie myself, then we watched it as a family. Our daughters are 16 & 14. I would not recommend it for those under 12 unless Dad or Mom has the remote and selectively fast-forwards through certain segments.

Many people believe that the public schools were formed to provide education for a literate voting republic. However, as you watch the documentary, you will see the many instances over the past 150 or so years where socialism had reared its ugly head again and again in its effort to turn the hearts of the children away from their parents and to the government as the supreme authority in their lives. If you think Common Core is the first instance of the schools wanting to take over your children, you will be shocked at how long and how deep the ties of secular humanism have been controlling the schools. Too many people think the public schools can be changed for the better. Perhaps it is time more people wake up and realize that the NEA is running the schools today. They do not wish to change the schools to align with conservative values or one-on-one teaching. The NEA is all about power and money. How much money do you need to effectively educate a child? Right now about $7000-$12,000 in tax money is spent on each child in the public schools. How much of that is spent on administration instead of on educating the children?

As we look at the recent studies that show how many children who grew up in Christian homes are leaving the faith of their parents, we should  be alarmed. One of my favorite quotes from the movie is from R.C.Sproul, Jr., when he clearly states “We don’t loose them, we give them away!” In the interview with Ken Ham, we are reminded that the Bible teaches you are either for Christ or against. As these children are daily shuttled away from their families and into places of indoctrination, why are we surprised they do not believe what their parents believe. How much time each week are they spending with their parents? We as Americans have forgotten our role as parents. In Malachi 2 we are told that God has put a man and wife together for the purpose of producing Godly offspring.

Voddie Bauchman, Jr., is shown in the movie talking about how Christians will duke it out over which translation of the Bible to use, or which  denomination to join, but 90% of Christians send they children to the public schools, and “no one can point to book, chapter, or verse to justify it.” In 2002, the Southern Baptist Convention did a study that showed that 88% of those raised in the church would leave the church within the first few years after graduation. Is this a coincidence? The makers of IndoctriNation do not believe it is, and neither do I.

We have been home educating our daughters their while lives, yet this movie still challenged us as a family. It reminded us to be aware of all that  we are being taught in the world around us. It showed our teen daughters just exactly what they had been missing by not attending the local public schools. FYI- our local High School was commended in 2012 for improving its graduation rate to 59.4%. A current web search shows the graduation rate hovering at 54%, its per-pupil spending at $10,420, and its overall ranking? 345th out of 362 High Schools in the state.

Regardless of where YOUR local school falls, in the top 5% or the bottom 5%, I challenge you to watch this compelling documentary. IndoctriNation is a clarion call to the church. Wake up! Take back your parental responsibility and ask God how He wants you to educate your children. Home education is not an easy calling, but once you watch this movie, I think you will agree it is a necessity.

You can rent or purchase the movie to view with your spouse. The DVD retails for $19.95, or you can rent the download for $4.95, or purchase the download for $12.95. Money well spent.

IndoctriNation DVD Review

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, February 20, 2015

Week 7 - The Dining Room, or Why I Love to Spackle!

34 weeks of cleaning with friendsMichele's challenge this week should have been an easy one for us... because our dining room is pretty bare. Just a table, chairs, my Great-Grandmother's china cabinet, and a couple of 5 gallon buckets of wheat berries. EXCEPT that I decided that THIS was the week we were going to repaint the wall in the dining room.
We've lived in this house a little over 11 years. When we moved in, the house was covered in an assortment of tacky, 1970's wallpaper, paneling, and mirrors. About ten years ago I decided to tear the wallpaper off of the wall in the dining room and paint it a lovely historic color I found at Lowe's. The problem was, we never got all of the wallpaper backing paper off of the wall, and with a 100+ year old house, other things always came first. I never got the paint. Plus there was that little thing called home education thrown in there-LOL!

So this week, I offered the girls money if they would take the rest of the paper off for me when they were done with their schoolwork. Arlene did most of the work, so she will get most of the money. Taking the paper down isn't difficult, just time consuming. Spray it with Windex, then scrape it off (using the extra Pampered Chef pan scraper) once the glue releases. Under the paper is textured plaster - that is where the tricky part comes in. You have to scrape a little bit at a time and work around the lumps in the plaster.

This morning, after we finished the scraping, I spackled the holes in the wall, and the larger cracks. Joint compound, a.k.a. spackle is fun stuff. It takes time to learn to use it, but when you do, it's hard to stop yourself. So while it was out, I also fixed the two messed up places in the stairway, and filled in holes in the wall in the upstairs bathroom. Just like love covers over a multitude of sins, spackle covers over a multitude of old house imperfections. We have a quart-sized tub, our house has a lot of walls that need a lot of love!

Then we went to Lowe's to get the paint. Easy, because I already knew what I wanted. After a couple more errands, we headed home and began to tape off the ceiling and side walls. I would like to paint the other walls above the chair rail, but I think those can wait until this summer when we can open the windows for some fresh air.

After cutting in the corners, I showed the girls how to use the roller. Then I went to work on the tricky painting. Those pipes for the radiators, and the corner behind the pipes took a while. We were almost done when Kurt came downstairs. There are a few places where thin spots showed after the paint dried, so we're going to add a second coat - hopefully tomorrow afternoon. Then we'll still have a couple things to finish up the dining room.

34 weeks of cleaning with friends - Dining Room

While up on the ladder, I noticed how filthy the ceiling fan is. That will need to get washed soon. I also still need to sort out the bottom of the china cabinet. Those are fairly simple things, so hopefully they'll get finished soon, and we can move on to next week's challenge - the living room. I could just skip next week since 75% of what is in the living room is Kurt's... but I suppose I should help him sort through it.

In case you love our new color and want to look for it yourself, I'm including the paint number. The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a quality organization. I love how they've worked with Valspar to re-create historically accurate colors. The color Filoli Garden Pool, 5003-10C, is from a house in Woodside, California, circa 1917. Since our house was built in 1910, it might not have been an available color when our house was built, but it definitely could have been used during the first repainting. Several places in our house have 7 or more coats of paint, so I'm guessing it was repainted every 10-15 years. Please excuse the blue painter's tape, newspaper, and drop cloth in the picture. They'll come out after the second coat.

34 weeks of cleaning with friends - the dining room

Come back next week and find out if Kurt cleaned up the living room, if I cleaned the ceiling fan in the dining room, and if the clock gets re-hung after the second coat of paint!

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 2/19/15 - Peach Sorbet

Thankful Thursdays - Peach Sorbet

sorbet |sôrˈbāˈsôrbitnouna dessert consisting of frozen fruit juice or flavored water and sugar.

What does sorbet have with being thankful? Today - a lot!

Arlene wanted to have some canned peaches. So she went to the back pantry in search of a can. ( Just in case you've forgotten what our back pantry is like, click here.) What she found was a frozen can of sorbet with peaches in it. We always chose fruit packed in juice instead of fruit packed in syrup. Because it has been so cold here the past couple of days (-5 F at night,) the back pantry has gotten even colder than usual. 

Both girls enjoyed their easy sorbet... and asked if they could have some more tomorrow. Maybe I'll join them, I think there is a can of pineapple back there...

Find joy in the small things God blesses you with. Be thankful for the everyday!

Easy Peach Sorbet

If you’re wanting to try some easy sorbet yourself, put your can of fruit in the freezer, but don’t forget it in there. You want to take it out and eat it once the juice doesn’t sound slushy anymore. You’ll need to check it every half-hour or so.

While you're being thankful, please say a prayer for Ella, a sweet lady that lives at a local nursing/ assisted living home we visit each month. She is taking a trip to the heart hospital tomorrow.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Week 6 - The Dreaded Stove

34 weeks of cleaning with friends, cleaning your oven
Michele labelled this week's challenge "The dreaded stove and other loose ends." For our home, she could have stopped after the word stove. The only thing I don't like about our current stove is that IT DOES NOT HAVE A SELF CLEANING OVEN! I have been spoiled in my adult life because we have always had stoves with self-cleaning ovens in the past. We've had this stove about 3 years and (horrors) this is only the second time I've cleaned it. I could have used one of those all-natural cleaning recipes my blogging friends like to share. . . but this needed done pronto - and I was short on time this week - Easy Off to the rescue!

I sprayed the oven Friday morning, told the girls to NOT use it, and headed to work for a few hours. I do enjoy the freedom to set my own schedule at work, and with Kurt currently working nights, that means I'm on the day shift. The can said let it sit for 2 hours. . . as gross as our oven was, I figured the 4 hours I was gone would qualify under that "especially dirty" phrase buried at the end of the instructions. 

I came home and threw my lunch in the toaster oven to bake while I wiped out the oven. Thankful that I had remembered to NOT spray the light bulb this time, I set to work with my wet paper towels and the trash can. The mess that I wiped out took away some of my appetite, but by the time my lunch was finished baking, the oven was much cleaner. There were a couple spots that didn't come completely clean, and I needed to use the scraper on some of the blobs on the window, but overall, I'd say its clean!

34 weeks of cleaning with friends - the stove

That just left the odds and ends. For me, that meant cleaning the counters and the top of the refrigerator (because it didn't get done in week 4 when the girls did all the work.) I also decided to pare down the number of magnets on the fridge to a reasonable amount. Emily cleans the stove top every week, sometimes two or three times a week depending on how messy we are, when she finishes washing the dishes. She is supposed to clean the countertops every day, but sometimes she needs some help. It is also her job to keep the sink clean, which we do with some baking soda, water, and elbow grease.

After six weeks of work, I am happy to say that the kitchen is finished! Now, to just maintain what we've done, and to remember to clean the oven again this summer - when I can open the window and use the fans! I also need to figure out how to clean the racks in the oven, but I think that is another Spring weather job. Since it is currently 23, snowing, and the winds are 35 mph, I think they'll just have to wait until later. Our kitchen is not large, but spreading out the deep cleaning and decluttering tasks over several weeks has really helped us stay on task.

Next week's challenge is the dining room. We have one of those. You might remember the china cabinet that houses our "No more junk drawer" resides there. That means cleaning, dusting, and organizing the rest of that cabinet, as well as cleaning the floor and walls. 

Until next week, here is a panorama shot of our beautifully clean kitchen! Have a great week!

34 weeks of cleaning with friends

Friday, February 13, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 2/12/15 - The Weekend

Thankful Thursdays

Today (being Friday,) I am thankful for the weekend! This has been a full to the top kind of week. It wasn't until about two o'clock this afternoon that I slowed down enough to realize that I hadn't even written a Thankful Thursday post yet. I'll admit it, I was busy cleaning out our oven for the 34 weeks of cleaning post I need to write for tomorrow - LOL!

So here I sit, on Friday evening, letting you know I am thankful for the weekend. I am thankful that my paying job does not require me to work weekends. I am thankful for a warm house, a full fridge, and family and friends to spend time with this weekend.

Be thankful wherever you are, because God is right there with you, carrying you through the weekend and into next week. Hurray for the weekend!

Just Because...

Today, do something different, just because...

because you love someone,
because you are free,
because you want a change of pace,
because your parents loved you,
because it is a new day,
because you can choose to do good instead of evil,
because you can bring someone joy,
because you are forgiven.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hiding in Grace

Hiding in grace

Why do you do what you do? Why do you love your family, or give to neighbors? Why do you stand for peace, think of others before yourself, or teach children?

Sometimes we live by grace, and sometimes we live under the law. I am not sure how we get the two confused so often. Surely we should understand the difference. Yet, instead of hiding in grace, we often try to hide from grace, we run to the law as though it will hide us. The Law was instituted to point out our sins, to show us our need for Christ. The law is a taskmaster, grace is freedom in Christ. Grace is not freedom to do whatever we think of, whenever we want to, grace is forgiveness of our sin. Grace is freedom from ourselves and the mistakes of our past. Grace is the offer of forgiveness. 

When I was a teen, a Godly mentor explained grace as Great riches at Christ's expense. My life overflows with riches. Not the kind of riches the world seeks after, but the kind of riches that only God can give: peace, joy, contentment. I have never paid for those riches, Christ paid for them. I have received such a wondrous gift. Joy unspeakable.

If you are struggling with why you do what you do, perhaps you have forgotten the truth that "her sins, which are many, are forgiven - for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little." (Luke 7:47) When I stop and think about all I have been saved from, all I have been forgiven of, and all I have been blessed with, how can I not offer that same grace and forgiveness to others? How can my joy in forgiveness not well up to a heart that desires to serve others? Have you been forgiven much? Then love much!

When I find myself struggling with "Why" questions, it is usually because I have moved my focus off of Christ. If you are struggling today, ask God to reveal Himself to you again. Turn your focus back to Christ. Read your Bible, pray, spend time with other Christians. Think of all Christ has done for you. It may take a while, but you will walk away from the burden of the law, and into the joy of grace.

Do not hide from grace, hide in grace. 

May God be your comforter and shield, a strong wall to protect you in this world. May you love much as you shower grace on others!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Week 5 - Recipes!

week 5 of cleaning with friends - recipesThey say a picture is worth a thousand words... let's see if that's true. Read this week's post with your eyes...and your taste buds! This week's challenge from Michele was to sort, purge, and organize your recipes & cookbooks. Compared to some of my friends, yes - I'm talking about YOU- Sharra and Diana, we don't have very many cookbooks. However, we did find a lot of random recipes. Arlene had already been organizing her share of the recipes into a three-ring binder with sheet protectors, so now it was up to me to sort & purge the rest. Since I know there are some recipes I'll just never get around to making, I tried to be honest. A lot of those free-handout recipes from the grocery stores hit the trash can.

week 5 of cleaning with friends - recipes

Arlene helped me by pulling all the books off the shelf, throwing away those that were obviously not staying (like the one I made in fourth grade,) and cleaning the shelves. Then the tossing really began. In the midst of it all, we realized there were a lot of things on the cookbook shelf that needed to go elsewhere. We also combined the two recipe files into just the larger box. Recipes that have been printed from online sources go into Arlene's three-ring binder. She like to keep them in sheet protectors so she can use a dry erase marker as she goes through the steps. Hint- only use black markers, because the other colors are harder to wipe off when you're done. If you're really nice, she might share her copycat Texas Roadhouse rolls recipe with you!

week 5 of cleaning with friends - recipes

While we were cleaning, we ended up with a pile of owner's manuals that needed moved to the correct bookshelf. We also found a handful of heirloom cookbooks from my Mom and Grandma that we want to preserve. They will stay in better shape if we find them a safer home than right under where we crack the eggs - KWIM? We also set aside five cookbooks that are still in decent shape to giveaway... who wants them? If no one comments about wanting them, we might need to host giveaway soon!

When we were finished, that corner of the kitchen was much improved! You can actually see the book holder Arlene made for 4-H a few years ago, and the Betty Crocker Cookbook (our mainstay) doesn't look like its going to fall off the shelf and attack.

week 5 of cleaning with friends - recipes

When Arlene and I first discussed this week's cleaning task, she came up with the brilliant idea for everyone to share a recipe they found while cleaning. Michele was OK with the idea, so be sure to read everyone's linked posts over on her blog to get some new favorite recipes!

week 5 of cleaning with friends - recipesOur recipe is simple, and delicious... Oatmeal Raisin Cookies! FYI- we usually make a double batch, Arlene made them this week, and made each cookie triple-sized. Feel free to make them whatever size you want, Kurt called this batch "man-hole covers."

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 & 1/2 cups oats
1 cup flour 
1 cup raisins

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Cream sugar and butter, then mix in ingredients down through egg. Then stir in oats, flour, and raisins. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls 2" apart on engrossed cookie sheets. Bake 9-10 minutes, until slightly golden brown on edges, but not hard. Cool two minutes, then remove from cookie sheets. Makes about 3 dozen - 2" cookies.

Don't forget to come back next Friday to see whether or not I actually get the oven cleaned- LOL!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - Dissecting with Friends

There are many perks to being a home educated kid, like getting to start, stop, and start again in a subject as needed. Emily has not been following the traditional trek through High School science, as she started with Anatomy & Physiology, then went to Biology, took a break to study some Geology, then Chemistry, and is back working on Biology again. 

This circuitous route through science has offered some great experiences, one of them being able to fit dissecting in when its convenient for the whole family. Last month Emily had a couple of dissecting sessions with her friend Adrienne. This means Emily didn't have to do all of the cutting of the gross, formaldehyde-filled frog by herself. It also meant Adrienne's parents didn't need to get her a frog. For me, it meant I could sit back and chat with my friend Linda (Adrienne's Mom) while the girls followed directions from their Biology books and cut up the frog, then a fish, and then looked at slides under the microscope.

Why be thankful for variety? Because our life is never the same two days in a row, and that is usually a good thing. Why be thankful for dissecting with friends? Because Emily didn't complain about doing it it since she had a friend to help. There was some commenting about the smell of the frog... but that was to be expected.

Thankful Thursdays - Dissection

When we bought the dissecting supplies for Emily, we knew she would be using more than one animal, so we got the bigger set of specimens. In the end, Emily & Adrienne spent the first session working on the frog & then looking at slides. The second time we went over for dissecting (thanks again to Linda for offering to let the girls cut up stinky animals at her house,) the girls were supposed to cut open the fish and then compare the systems in the fish to the systems in the frog.

How much did they actually learn? I'm not sure, but they did try, and now they have stories to remember it by. On the second day, after the girls were done, they decided to go bury the frog & fish in the back yard. Being the always creative types, the girls had plans for a lengthy, but humorous, grave-side service, but the cold and the wind changed their minds. The girls were joined by the younger sisters (Arlene and Anna) in their trek to the backyard. I'm not too sure how good of a job they did on the burial, because Linda and I stayed inside sipping tea. Sometimes it's good to be the Mom!

Once they all came back inside, the younger sisters decided (with some prodding) to dissect some of the other specimens. Arlene and her friend Anna first dissected the clam. Then they decided the shell was more appealing than the mussel, so they cleaned the shell in vinegar and each kept a half. Then they attempted to dissect the starfish. Poor thing, more like they hacked it to pieces...I think it had been sitting preserved for too long while waiting for someone to get around to it.

When the younger girls were finished, all 4 of them again trekked to the backyard to dispose of the critters. If they didn't do a good enough job on the burial, I'll need to apologize to Linda's husband for the things he runs over with the mower come Spring. Remains disposed of, dissecting equipment cleaned & put away...the girls got out the cards and started playing euchre until it was time for lunch.

So what am I most thankful for this week? Friends! While it was important for Emily to get experience dissecting, it was more important to me that she get to spend time with a friend. It was good for Arlene to get to spend time with her friend too. The older girls have diagrams of frogs and pictures they drew of the slides for their biology notebooks, but more importantly, they have memories of doing something together. The younger girls had time just to be kids, to be silly, to talk, and to laugh at the smell of the preserved animals. I had time to talk with my friend Linda, and a reminder that homeschooling, like parenting, is long on days, and short on years.

May you be blessed with a friend that loves you enough to help you dissect a frog or a clam... or to let you bury evidence in her backyard! Have a wonderful week!