Sunday, August 31, 2008

On this day...

My parents lived all over the world. Travelling with their families and their Air Force fathers. Their families settled in the same neighborhood. And my parents met when they were in the 9th grade. They started dating when they were seniors in high school.They went to the prom together.

They dated through college.

Went to fraternity parties together.

And my father proposed at Christmas in 1967.They were married on August 31, 1968.

Surrounded by family.And they began their new life together.Today they would be celebrating 40 years of marriage. If my father had not been taken from us too soon. So, Mom. Even though the occasion is not written on the calendar anymore. I wanted you to know that I remember.

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Theme Song: The Honeydrippers -- Sea of Love

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Weekend Whimsies

It's that time of the week...

Are you a pack-rat or a purger?

Life of the party or wallflower?

How much sleep do you get each night? How much do you need to feel rested?

What is your comfort food?

Are you early, late, or on time?

When you need to talk with someone - do you do it by phone or by email?

Who's your favorite talk show host?

What is your favorite place to take out of town guests?

What is the worst movie you've ever seen?

Have you ever had jury duty? Were you picked for a trial?

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Week in Review: Week 3

Another week breezed by here at casa Sunshine and Lemonade. A week without too much drama. Which is surprising. Especially since my children live here. But I'll take it. Anytime.

Last Friday, Madalyn brought home her work from the week in her Friday Folder. They had been taking timed tests in math - to work on their 0-5 math facts. She got a 92% on addition. And a 53% on subtraction. I asked her what happened with subtraction (she got that low because she didn't finish most of the page, not that they were wrong) - and she says "Well, mom. Subtraction is just not my thing." So...can you see her now? In high school. Telling her math teacher - "yeah, subtraction is not my thing. But I can do a mean quadratic equation."

On Tuesday, Katie went to a homeschool cooking class at our local Young Chef's Academy. There were 19 kids there. I don't think they were expecting quite so many! It was an hour and a half class (or a little less for us because I thought it started at 11:30 rather than 11) - so I got a little time alone - and Katie got to cook a breakfast burito and blueberry muffins - and most importantly, she got to eat them. The classes are only once a month, so she'll have to make do with cooking in our kitchen until the next time.

And then last night after dinner, the girls presented me with this:

The good mother award. I am not sure what I did to spurn this creativity. Oh, wait, yes, I do know. They lost all privileges yesterday - so perhaps this was their way of entertaining themselves. Hmmm...maybe instead of asking what I did...I should be wondering what they did. And why are they trying to butter me up? Aren't they sweet?

This is what we accomplished homeschooling:

GRAMMAR/WRITING: I did what I said I would do. We stopped the Note taking workbook and I got a vocabulary program. We started Wordly Wise.I really like it. And after a week, she has learned new words. And how to use them. And I think she'll retain it. It's very challenging - which is just what she needs. Also, I have made writing for her blog part of her school work. She got a blog back in February and I let her write what she wanted. Most days it was text speak and craziness. And then she let it fall by the wayside. I told her that if she really wanted to be a writer, then she needed to write. Go check out her blog.

LOGIC: We are continuing through the workbook and this week has mostly been analogies. Did you know that they took those off the SAT? Anyway, today she had to make up her own. She was provided with the first part - and had to do the second. For example: sour is to pickle as _______ is to __________. So she did sweet to molasses. My favorite one was this one: net is to fisherman as guillotine is to executioner. She can be a bloodthirsty one.

GEOGRAPHY: This week we started studying China. I meant to do this first. To go hand in hand with the Olympics, but it just didn't happen that way. She read a book about China - and some articles from a DK encyclopedia about the country. And we finally used our Geography through Art book. To make it so that I didn't have to be the crafty one - I just told her to pick what she wanted to do out of the China section. And she chose to make a paper cut out. She did a great job with her dragon:

HISTORY: We continued along with History Odyssey, this week studying the Akkadians, Sumerians, and Mesopotamia. I made her watch a "They Might be Giants" video. And now she can't get the song out of her head.

I thought it was pretty funny...

BIOLOGY: We moved from the microscope to the Science encyclopedia - and learned about the taxonomic binomial system of organizing living things. And we have talked about the parts of an animal cell. Today were were supposed to capture an ant and look at it under the microscope. Michael made our slide to trap the ant. But he used corrugated cardboard. So, the ants keep escaping. He needs to re-engineer it!

MATH: We finished up our chapter on rate.

So, that was our week. There is that old saying of "you learn something new everyday." What did you learn this week?

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

What Kind of Reader are You? Part 2

In today’s paper, there is an article titled “Why teens don’t read: English teachers ruin it.” It discusses how English teachers are charged with stimulating their students used to ever changing visual stimulation – and now these same students must become enthralled with words on a page – and a narrative without pictures. But, the article suggests that this is not the big issue. That making connections with the kids is where the struggle lies. That teachers cannot engage them as they dissect Shakespeare into pieces that don’t seem united with the whole. That they cannot engage students with works that seem irrelevant to the students. That a student cannot write a passionate paper about a work that she never connected with in the first place.

So, this entire article got me thinking. I have always been a reader. I love to read. And will read just about anything. But, I must admit that classics scare me. I was not a big fan of the required reading in school. I did not fall in love with Dickens. Or Shakespeare. And I still get a headache thinking about Thoreau. Or Faulkner.

And I vividly remember a day in my high school English class, discussing Hemingway’s “Hills like White Elephants.” Where all I got out of it was a boy and a girl talking. And then leaving on a train. But apparently, she is pregnant. And he wants her to have an abortion. So, the baby is the symbolic white elephant in the room. I apparently can’t see the white elephant, because I got none of that from the conversation in the story. Actually, I am not sure that I got anything from the conversation in the story.

I think that my favorite classic is “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It is an engaging novel of courage, compassion and tolerance. Both of the book clubs that I am in read it. And there is a lot to be said for re-reading the classics as an adult rather than a disengaged high school student.

And then this year, when I decided to do the 888 challenge, I picked classics as one of my categories. I wanted to read things that I had not read in school. I needed a reason to pick them up. You will notice in my sidebar that the classics category is the one I have read the least of. I know they can be good. My book club read Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” last year – and I loved it. But now, we are reading “Emma” by Jane Austen. And I have this feeling that I am supposed to like it. To love it. When really what I want to do is throw it against the wall and move on. I had to put it down. And the temptation to give it up entirely is there. Along with removing “Pride and Prejudice” from my list and finding something else.

I have read three classics this year in the challenge. “Little Women,” which I did not like at all. The saccharine sweetness of it all just turned me off. But, I really liked both “Animal Farm” and “Brave New World.” Probably because I could make connections with them – and see how they related to our modern culture and sensibilities.

When I read “Animal Farm” it was along side Katie. We read it at the same time we studied about Mussolini and Hitler. So the connection was made. But something that I always keep in the back of my mind is “twaddle.” Because sometimes the books the girls choose to read just make me cringe. Is it okay to encourage this love of reading? To let the kids read whatever they want – even if it the equivalent of junk food? Or do you keep encouraging “nutritious” reading habits? And how do you do that without turning them off completely?

So, what about you? Did your high school English teacher foster or squash your love of reading? Did/do you like to read the classics? Do you have a favorite? Or one that you wanted to throw against the wall?

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What kind of reader are you - part I: book snob or slob?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Playing with Photoshop

A few months ago we had a lot of landscaping work done. But with the drought here, things are dying. My azaleas are completely brown. My Crepe Myrtle trees have black leaves and are looking mighty sad. And then there are some things that are just thriving. My knock-out roses. And these cone shaped, purple flowers.

So, I went out the other day to take some pictures. And then, I just went a little wild playing with photoshop. So, here are some before and after pictures:
So...what about you? (Should this be my new catchphrase?) Do you find yourself taking pictures you never would have taken before you started blogging? Or does blogging make the pictures you take "normal?"

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What's in your Drawer?

Normally I don't put away the girls' laundry. That is their job. But the other day I needed to get a bathingsuit for Madalyn. And when I opened her drawer. The drawer that is supposed to contain bathing suits and panties. Guess what I found?Do you know what that is?It's not a Ken doll. It's a Christmas present Madalyn got last year. One she asked for. Sort of. She put Justin Timberlake on her Christmas list. My 6 year old asked for JT for Christmas. I am sure that you are saying to yourself, "ummm...that's not Justin Timberlake." But it is. Apparently N'sync had dolls (or are they action figures?) made. They were more like marionettes. But Madalyn cut off his strings. So she could carry him around. Or store with her undies.

So, what about you? When did you start noticing the opposite sex? What about your kids? Who did you have a crush on? Did you have a doll of him and store it with your panties?

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Theme song: Justin Timberlake - Sexyback

Monday, August 25, 2008

In the Kitchen with Katie: Æblepandekager

This is our first year doing a geography program. Well, other than what we do for history. During the first week of school, Katie studied Denmark. And we discovered a series of books about the countries of the world - and they each have a few recipes in them. You should have seen us in the library last week, pulling out all the books to look at the recipes. And trying to decide what country should come next. Because curriculum should be based on taste buds.

When I posted my week in review, I asked the burning question: "do you want to learn how to make Æblepandekager?" And the clamor for the recipe has been deafening. The ringing in my ears keeps me up at night. And all the emails demanding that I share the recipe. I am so sorry that I could not respond to each of you individually. So, without further ado, Karen, thanks for asking, and here is the recipe...

Our cast of characters:

First, Katie scrambled the eggs and then added the milk.
And then in another bowl she combined the dry ingredients.
And then rather than adding the dry ingredients to the wet, Katie added the wet to the dry. She can be a rebel like that.
But then she got back in line with the directions and added cream.
Then we took a brief break from mixing so that we could core, peel and slice some apples.Which we then fried in butter. Because isn't that what you think of when you think of apples? Must fry in butter? And look at what happens to our apples. They shrank! Why don't I shrink when I eat things fried in butter?
We put our fried and shrunken apples in a baking dish and added the batter.
And baked it. The recipe says at 500 degrees. I was sure it was a mistake. I have never cooked anything at 500 before. But, I wasn't up for being a rebel where temperature was concerned, so I baked at 500. And in 20 minutes I had a slighly overflowing "pancake." I added some butter and sprinkled generously with cinnamon and sugar.
And instead of baking it more, I just turned off the oven to let the butter melt and the Æblepandekager brown a bit. It kind of comes out of the pan. But it never spilled over.
And when it cooled, the whole thing sank back into the pan. Kind of like shrinking. Again. I am thinking that there is a shrinking conspiracy. Our recipe says to sprinkle the top with lemon juice. I didn't have any. So we left that part out. Back to being rebels...
Serve. Eat. And it gets a big thumbs up!
Here is our simple recipe:

6 eggs
½ cup milk
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup cream
3 apples -- peeled & sliced
Sugar /Cinnamon
1 lemon -- juice only

Beat the eggs lightly. Add the milk.

Combine the flour, sugar and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture, stirring in the ½ cup of cream as you mix.

Fry the apple slices in butter in a skillet.

Cover the bottom of an oven-proof baking dish, or heavy skillet, with apples.

Pour the batter over slices and bake in a preheated 500º oven.

When nearly done (20 or 25 minutes, or until the pancake looks like a cooked omelet), remove from oven and sprinkle here and there with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon to taste. Place dabs of butter on the pancake and return to oven until browned.

Just before serving, sprinkle with lemon juice.

So...what about you? Do you ever try recipes you read on blogs? Do you have a favorite that you have discovered from blogland? Have you ever made any of my recipes?

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Weekend Whimsies

Guess what? I am in two places today. It's an internet miracle. Or special effect. So, after we have our interrogation session getting to know you session, go and visit me at Blog Around the World.

Explorer or Mozilla?

Favorite musical?

Does anyone in your family read your blog? Do they comment?

Coke or Pepsi?

What show are you most looking forward to this fall season?

cookies or cake?

How many speeding tickets have you gotten?

Where will you go on your next vacation?

Ocean, lake or pool?

Favorite appetizer?

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