Showing posts from May, 2010

What We Are Reading

Yippee!! This week we finally read some poetry. Browsing through the library I came across My Uncle Emily by Jane Yolen. It is about Emily Dickenson. The story is written from the perspective of her six year old nephew. It centers around her poem “Tell all the Truth, but tell it slant.” I picked up the book hoping I could convince Froggy to sit through it. Not only did she but she brought it back many times again. She even let me read her the complete poem and biographical information in the back of the book.

Froggy has been reading lots more on her own. Listening to her read cracks me up. I was not prepared for a whole language learner and it is quite an experience. She will be reading fluently over multi-syllable words like 'excitement' and 'splendor' and then stumble on a simple word like 'said'. She also will insist she is not reading just looking at a book when clearly she is reading it because she garnering new information (which is how the conv…

Garden Update - Memorial Day

As we get ready for Memorial Day and the unofficial start to summer, it is time to check in on the garden again. We had a lovely salad with lettuce from our garden for dinner last night.

We finally got to taste two strawberries from the garden. They were the most sour things I have ever had. I have no idea why. Most are still being eaten by some non-human. I hope whoever it is enjoys them but doubt from the half eaten ones.

The zucchini plant is flowering and looks wonderful. The acorn squash in the same planter is trailing down the deck. I just moved them over to this location in hopes of getting them some more sun. The two cucumber plants in the container are dinky and unlikely to produce.

It is lucky that I have cucumbers in the main bed that are doing better. I planted a total of six cucumber plants this year, two in each different location to test out how each location works. The full size tomatoes are huge and several green tomatoes plus more flowers. We may actually get…

Cutting Up a Storm

Froggy wanted not to do with any of the Art projects I had planned (and they were some good ones) but it has been a week filled with art none the less. She has been cutting up a storm.

As part of her OT, I got a Kumon book for her to make cutting more fun. She wanted nothing to do with it. It sat with her art book being steadily ignored. Then this week she decided she wanted to do it. So we have. Over and Over again. It is great practice for her hand even if it does nothing for her creativity. She makes up stories to go with them so that is something.

At first the spirals were a insurmountable challenge and caused throwing and grumping. Then today she asked for the snake and did it perfectly and went to do several more.

It fills me with pride to see her skill improving so dramatically and more importantly to see her choosing to do something that involves paper and handwork.

Menu Monday May 23-30

First our recap - We went strawberry picking and ate strawberries galore this past week. Most of the them went straight into the people with no cooking or prep involved. I did make the Spinach and Strawberry Salad again as well as Strawberry ice cream. We love homemade ice cream around here and as the weather heats up it gets featured as the dessert of choice much more often. To make the ice cream I use coconut milk and simply substitute it one for one for the milk in the ice cream recipe. Because I am using coconut milk rather than a cream I choose recipes that start with a custard base and never use a recipe that requires evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk. If you do not have an ice cream maker I strongly recommend getting one. Making ice cream at home is so much fun and the taste is much fresher.

And speaking of fresh, the lasagna turned out incredible. To me it was the best I have ever made. I added fresh basil as well as the sneaky kicks. It was such a fresh we…

Baking Blitz

We are having friends over for dessert on Tuesday and I need to take dessert to a potluck on Friday so this week includes lots of baking. I have not made any of these recipes before. So wish me luck. I will let you know how they turn out next week.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spirals from Crazy for Chocolate
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c ground hazelnuts ( I will use walnuts)
3 1/3 oz butter
1 egg
1 T water
4 T nutella

Like baking sheets with parchment paper
Place flour, cocoa, sugar, and hazelnuts in food processor. Add butter and process for 30 seconds until fine crumbs. Add egg and just enough water to moisten.
Turn onto floured surface and knead until smooth
Roll out dough on parchment to form rectangle 10 x 14
Spread dough with Nutella
Using parchment to lift, roll dough from long side to form log.
Wrap tightly and refrigerate for 30 min
Preheat oven to 350F
Cut dought int 1/2" slices. Place on prepared trays
Bake for 10-12 min

Chocolate Peppermint Creams adapted from

Warm Roasted Beet Salad

The beets are fresh and attractive at my farmers market right now so I thought I would try again to get the family to eat them. Since all root vegetables taste better roasted I hope this is a sell. They smelled so good as I roasted them, it was hard not to yum them up right then. This recipe is from Gardeners Community Cookbook

1 lb beets topped and rinsed. I used 3 different varieties including a striped yellow variety. I also cut mine in half
2 cups arugula washed and dried
3 TBS orange juice
1 TBS rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 TBS olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F Roast beets for 1 hr Remove and cool enough to handle
Once cool slip the skins off and slice into thin rounds.

The recipe says place the beets in bowl with other ingredients and toss to mix. Personally I make the dressing separately and then toss it with the beets and arugula.

Science Sunday - Meet the Trees

This is the start of our first lesson from Living Things. It is a four part study.

To start out, we adopted 4 different trees in our immediate vicinity, a maple tree, a sour cherry tree, a pine tree and an oak tree. The objectives of the first lesson are observation skills and compare and contrast. Because we are that kind of family, we gave each tree a name and gender.

We made a chart to record all our information. I do all the writing in all of our exercises because I want to focus on science not writing. The chart given in the text was not to our liking so we changed the categories up. It asked for the color of the tree - both Froggy and I thought that was a silly question. We recorded the smell, feel of the bark, shape, size, occupants, type.

We brought back items found on the ground around the tree to start a nature area which we will continue through out this lesson.

I will try to update with pictures but for some reason upload is not working.

I'm linking this post in with…

What We Are Reading - Thank Yous

This week most of the books we have read are recommendation from friends.
Thanks to a recommendation from Raising a Happy Child, we have been reading You Read to Me I'll Read to You Fairy Tales. They boil down the fairy tale / story to a single double page spread with a fun rhyme that Froggy is willing to read with me or Hiranu. It is written like a duet and because of that she will do it with us.
Raising a Happy Child also provided us with another of our best wins this week. We have been loving The Skeleton Inside You by Philip Balestrino. It is wonderful to have people whose recommendations you can trust. I would never have picked up this book on my own. Yet it is great. Unlike the Magic School Bus books, all the information in it is completely accurate. And it is still appealing. I don't know how much learning is going on but any that sinks in is a bonus.

Froggy also fell in love with Superhero School by Aaron Reynolds. We have taken a break from Math because Froggy …

Shavuot and Ruth

I never celebrated Shavuot before Froggy. My first exposure to it and the traditions surrounding it was at Chabad when Froggy was 2. I cannot answer why. It just was not included in my education. I am learning much about Judaism as I teach Froggy.

Shavuot is one of only a few holidays specifically commanded in Tanach. It is a pilgrimage festival that also celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Some of the traditional celebrations for Shavuot include eating dairy foods and reading the Megillah of Ruth. Shavuot is also the traditional time for confirmations. We attended the confirmation service at our shul on Erev Shavuot. It was interesting listening to each confirment speak as to "Why I am a Jew?

This is the first year we have read the story of Ruth with Froggy. This is the first time I have read it as an adult. We did not study it per se just read it. I suspect conversations about it will come up over time as she digests it. The story is special to Frogg…

Science - Curriculum Review Part 5

Finding a science program I like has been torture. Nothing at all seems right. We tried REAL Science Odyssey and were thoroughly underwhelmed. We finally received our Living Things curriculum from Insights. The curriculum is written for a classroom and as such we would automatically need to modify it. The Learning Experiences (what they call a lesson) start out so basic that we have to skip to lesson 4 to find something that is still review but not so basic as to make Froggy feel stupid. I may use this pretty much as is if we get our science co-op up and running (coop needs a place to meet before we can make it happen)

The most important thing I learned in my search through the curriculum is that Froggy knows lots more science than I give her credit for. I also realized we do more science and talk about scientific topics more than I realized. We are just not doing it formally. But then we have a very unschooly style in lots of aspects.

The Art Box - Making Colors

The Art Box is a new edition to the Landing. As part of our curriculum review, one of my hardest battles has been finding the right place for art, art theory and crafting. Froggy is in Occupational Therapy to help with her fine motor skills. Because using her hands is hard for her, it leads her to not like things that require it, like arts and crafts. But it is also very important for her development that she practice and do these things so I try to make it tempting.

Froggy asked "How do we get orange?" so I showed her. We made a very basic color wheel using her watercolors together investigating what happens when you change the amount of one color or the other.
Then Froggy went to town painting on her own. This was her very first experience with watercolors. She got to experience the difference between mixing the colors when both are wet and mixing the colors when the first color is already dry.

She then went on to detail her work with crayon.

Menu Monday May 16-22

The Baked French Toast last week was a disaster. Froggy hated it. Hiranu and I thought it was good but we were not the target audience. Froggy skipped breakfast more days last week than she actually ate. I am still working of tempting her to the table.

Monday - Picnic Dinner - I am hoping the rain blows through so we can eat outside. Tuna burgers, carrot sticks and fruit salad for dessert.
Tuesday - Shavout Begins - It is a custom to eat at least one dairy meal during Shavuot. There are to main stories given for the dairy meal. One is that it is a reminder of the promise about the land of Israel flowing with milk and honey. Another story for the dairy meal is that when we received the Torah and then knew the laws of Kashrut, we could eat only a dairy meal because there was no kosher meat available. We will have stuffed french toast, scrambled eggs and chocolate icecream for dessert.
Wednesday - Lasagna - I am going to use this recipe for the cheese this time. salad and garlic …

Science Sunday - What is Life?

As part of deciding what to do for Kindergarten, we have been looking at several different science curricula. This week we are testing out R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey while we wait for Insights to arrive. I won't get into the details of one vs the other now. That is for a separate post. I just wanted to share our lab for this week.

With REAL Science the kids make a science notebook. The first page of each lesson is a summary sheet for their notebook and each lab has sheets for their notebook. I am hoping this will help motivate Froggy to want to do the labs.

Here is my take on the Lab in bullet points
+ - each lab starts with a question that is answered through the lab
+ student poses what they think will happen
- low on the wow factor
- lots of reading and writing very little doing. In the lab as designed, the student is not even supposed to have or touch anything during the whole process just think about and compare in their minds. Bleach

We revised the lab a bit by moving it outs…

My First Blog Award

Woohooo My very first blog award. Thank you to Jolly Green Mommy and Jay3fer for choosing me. Some people don't like my blog because it is not all about school or all about cooking. But then neither I am I. I am versatile so my blog should be too :)

Jay3fer did tons of great research about where the award came from and discovered an alternative set of rules that I think I can actually follow.
1. Thank the person who gave you this award. Definitely!
2. Share one thing about yourself readers might not know otherwise.
3. List (with links) SIX (6… not 15!) bloggers you think are fantastic, and why.
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award. I can do that! Selfitude:One thing about myself: I was married before meeting Hiranu. My first husband and I were childhood friends and still children when we married. We were great friends who loved each other very much but not in the way a husband and wife need to. As part of lear…

What We Are Reading

Froggy was very independent and opinionated at the library this week. She found several books that just had to come home.
Her favorite that she been reading and requesting over and over is Froggy Plays Soccer. As some of you know Froggy wants to play soccer and this book has only added fuel to the fire. She wanders around randomly quoting it. She loves the Dad as assistant coach theory and talks incessantly about how Dad coaches. I think this is her first experience with Dads coaching.
Despite my complaints, we are continuing with the Magic Tree House series with Mummies in the Morning. To take advantage of the history aspects we also checked out Ancient Egypt andMs. Frizzle's Adventures: Ancient EgyptWe have read the Ms. Frizzle book before but Froggy loves all the Magic School Bus books and has read this one several times in just round.
My personal favorite this week is Fox Walked Alone by Barbara Reid. It is the most recent PJ Library book to grace our mailbox. It is a bett…

Social Studies - Curriculum Review Part 4

After much investigating I decided not to do a formal Social Studies curriculum this year. I like the look of Story of The World and we may do that eventually but not yet. With both Science and Social Studies, we will do a spiraling curriculum eventually similar to the one laid out in A Well Trained Mind but in our own unique unschooly fashion.

All of the Kindergarten geared curricula I investigated were too easy but I do not want to do the anything more complicated for fear of overloading us since this is Froggy's introduction to "school". I do however want to do something. Therefore....

This year we will be doing Geography and Map Study, which is another Charlotte Mason find that I think will fit well into our life style. The hardest part was finding printable maps the right size for each.

We will do (in order):
North America
United States
The Middle East

Judaica - Curriculum review part 3

While this is part three of my review it is of number one importance in our studies. We may skip science or math but not these. As the traditional school year draws to a close, many of our homeschool friends are excited to be finishing school and discussing when to restart. We school year round and I cannot imagine any other option because how could we possibly take a break from Parsha study or prayer?

Tefillah Brachot before eating, Bedtime Shema and Shacarit each morning including, in order:Modeh ani - upon awakening
Mah tovuAsher yatzarElohaiMorning Brachot (as written in our ArtScroll siddur- not ideal but the best compromise)Shema/VahavtaAmidah (we are still working on this one. Only the first brachot is done out loud and in Hebrew, other parts are in English or silent)
AleinuHebrew Reading / writing - I have ordered Sha'ah Shel Menucha Alef Bet Primer but I may end up saving it for a year before using it. We will probably just continue with our more unschooly approach o…

Menu Monday May 9-15

Last week's menu apparently was much too chicken heavy for the Daddy because on Thursday he asked if we could please have anything but chicken for Shabbat. I graciously revamped the plan to take advantage of the beautiful weather we were having so our revised Shabbat meal was so a very summery one - Challah, Strawberry Spinach Salad, Marinated Grilled Steak, Herbed Potatoes, and Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes. It was delicious. The salad was a surprising success since usually pre-dressed salads do not go over well at the Landing.

Sunday - Chicken Fried Rice, Keem, Carrot Sticks (recipe forthcoming)
Monday - Picnic Dinner Chicken Waldorf Salad, veggie sticks, fruit salad - I also need to make a Shiva meal and dessert to bring
Tuesday - Tacos, rice and beans
Wednesday - Fresh Picked Fritatta from Get Togethers With Gooseberry Patch
Thursday - Pasta With Homemade Sauce, Salad and Garlic Bread. I am going to add some sneaky kicks
Friday- Matzah Ball Soup, Challah,Roast Chicken, S…

Garden Update - Mid May additions

It is hard to believe it is not even the middle of May yet. I have to keep reminding myself when I get frustrated at the state of my garden.

I need to find something to do for our strawberries if we want to get to eat any. Every single one is being consumed down to the nub before we can pick it. Hiranu suggested netting over our frame but the tomato plants are much too big already to fit under the frame. One friend suggested I sprinkle human hair around them but another told me that will not work. Tuesday I am checking out my different netting options.

I am using more containers this year than ever before. I put in two new cantaloupes, a watermelon and two more cucumbers in a second container in a different section of the garden. I am not sure I am satisfied with the location. I am not sure it will get enough sun or be safe from the mowing monster. I also put in some more basil with marigolds in a container in front of the house. My first batch totally died. We added two grape…

The Science of Butterflies

We have butterflies or really I should say had. After what felt like ages of watching the chrysalis with no apparent change, we came down Thursday morning to a butterfly flapping his new wings. Froggy was very excited but I told her she had to wait to share the news with Daddy until he woke up. When we brought him down to share our discovery, we all got a surprise. There were now two butterflies. I came down Friday morning to discover one sitting on the outside of the house. Apparently we did not seal it up well enough after viewing at one point. All four caterpillars had completed their transformation and four new butterflies graced our home.

We released them right before Shabbat (with the one sitting on the home I did not want to take any chances with them flying around the house). It was glorious fun watching Froggy as fluttered their wings and "kissed her goodbye" The two youngest apparently were not quite ready to fly and sat on her arm for a moment "tickli…

Mothers Day Books

This week in honor of Mother's Day, we have been reading lots of books about moms. Some we read and left at the library. Others we read a couple of times and set aside. Others have had many repeat requests and lots of discussion.

Where's Our Mama by Diane Goode is cute little story about two children who have lost their mama. The fun part of the story is listen to how they view their mama. We used it as a launching point to talk about what to do if you do get lost. And yes Froggy does know Ima's name is.
Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen Fletcher is as colorful inside as it looks from the outside. The text is very simplistic and that may be a turn off to some people. This book reminded us stylistically of another favorite of ours, And Shira Imagined. Froggy loves any book which shows the comparision between what a child sees in his/her imagination and reality. I liked that demonstration of Mom's capability.

My absolute favorite of the group was Trade In Mother by���������…

Reading, Riting and Rithmatic - Curriculum Review

We are struggling to find what works just right for us. Since we are only really starting Kindergarten this year that is somewhat understandable. I started this series with the hardest piece because it was the most time critical. Now I get to do the easiest.

We will have no formal reading program. We read together constantly and Froggy is moving into reading independently. I encourage her to read to me as much as she is interested and that is it. Provide quality literature and talk about it. The big change planned for the upcoming year is the addition of Narration. We have been working on Laying Down the Rails and this is the next step for us. The biggest thing holding us back from incorporating it sooner has been trying to determine the right text and quantity with which to start. The answer is our Parsha study. The text is very simple and she has a grounding in the context which will make it easier. We will start with just one page for now.

Writing - We will be doing Hand…

Garden Update

We ate greens from our garden with dinner last night. The spinach, lettuce and arugula are all harvestable. Yippee

We finally got the cucumber,zucchini and acorn squash in. I will probably put in some more cucumbers as well in a different location.

Our bean pole lady's skirt is still not happy. We have about a 6-10 sprouts which look lackluster. We will plant some more seeds this week to see if can boost her up.

Our strawberries are developing some color

Our potato plants are up over the top. I wonder how much longer before they are ready for the next tire

Look a baby tomato

There are baby brocolli on all four plants. Unfortunately there are almost all the leaves on ths one have been eaten by something.

How I Spent My Sunday

We had a absolutely amazing day. Froggy and I left the house at 8am for Sunday School then met up with Hiranu for lunch before heading over to the Israel Street Festival We did not get home again until almost 8om. It was a very long day but very much worth it. I expected to enjoy it and spend some time there but it far exceeded my expectations. Despite the crushing heat we managed to spend a full five hours at an event that was only supposed to last four.

When we first arrived Froggy was immediately lost in the sprinkler. She played for about an hour which gave me a very nice opportunity to scope out all the booths and talk to all the folks without getting pulled on.

She did of her own choosing come out of the sprinklers and want to investigate the festival. She made a bird with Israeli artists imported via Partnership 2000 We listened/watched several great performers including JCC Dance Company and the Gesher Childrens' Choir.

Menu Monday May 2-8

Last week's menu was lots of fun with many great new experiments. It was a real joy to be able to eat Lasagna again. The ricotta was strange but tasted fine. If I were to use that particular recipe again (which I may very well) I would make a double batch since my main complaint was that it was not cheesy enough. Everyone ate lots at dinner and Hiranu took bunches to work for lunch. Next time I make it though I want to try this recipe instead. I even found a great source for vegetarian rennet thanks to Magpie Ima.

The Pasta of the Grape was a neat experience to make. The concept is pasta sauce out of grapes rather than tomatoes. It was fun smashing up the grapes. Everything smelled wonderful as the sauce reduced. Unfortunately, the taste was not one that sat well with us. It was too sweet for a pasta entree. Hiranu said it smelled and tasted like it should have been ice cream. Mind you there is no sugar in the sauce at all. It was the spices that gave it its sweetness…