Weekly Menu

menu

Sunday:  Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagna.  This looked really tasty (& it was), but it took about three hours to make and I doubt I will make it again.

Monday:  Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches  with homemade bread (I have a recipe that I printed, but I can’t find the original source for it).

Tuesday:  Chicken Fried Rice

Wednesday:  Topless Vegan Shepherd’s Pie from Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker (affiliate link)

Thursday:  Going out to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate Chinese New Year

Friday:  Cheesy Avocado Quesadillas.  I just found this blog and I LOVE it!  So far the three recipes I’ve tried have tasted good, but the best part is that they are all so quick and easy to make, which is something that I appreciate!

Saturday:  Basque Chicken with Red Potato Noodles .  I get to use my awesome Spiralizer (affiliate link).

Happy eating!

Heather

Weather Tree

weathertree

Last year in one of the online Waldorf groups that I belong to someone had posted about a weather tree.  I had never heard about a weather tree, so I was intrigued.  The idea is to have a visual representation of what the weather is like for your family where you live for the whole year.  You have a tree with twelve branches that represent a month of the year.  On each of the twelve branches you have the number of leaves that correspond to the days that month (a total of 365 leaves, unless it is a leap year).  Every day you color a leaf to represent what the weather was for the day.  I thought that a weather tree would be something fun to have, especially at the end of the year when you can look back and see exactly how the weather was.  This concept is one that is common in the Waldorf community and there are many ways that a family can go about creating one.

I had wanted to buy one to make it easier on myself and I saw this one.  I really liked the look of the poster from the UK, but the pricing was too much, especially to be shipped to the US.  I looked around on the internet and the other trees out there just really didn’t fit the look that I wanted.  I came across a tree that I loved the look of, but couldn’t find any way to purchase a print.  My next best option was going to be for me to make one inspired by the one I had seen.  I figured that I could make the outline of the tree and then I could have my boys help me color the tree.  I wanted to start the weather tree on January 1st, so that we would have a complete record of the year.  Well, you’ll never guess what I did?  I procrastinated!  It was the end of December and I knew that I probably wouldn’t get it done in time.  That is when I had the genius idea of using our projector and copying the image of the picture that I really like.  I got everything all set up and got to work.  It was a quick and easy process to transfer the image onto another piece of paper.  Once I got it done Nathan helped me color the tree brown.  Then we decided together what color a leaf would be to represent the weather.

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A close-up of some of our leaves

We taped up the weather tree in our homeschool area (aka our dining room).  Every evening after dinner our family talks about the day’s weather.  We then pick out the colors of the leaves that we would use to color in the leaf and proceed to color the leaf.  One observation that we made was that the day could have different types of weather.  We decided on days when this happens we could split the leaves up so that all of the weather types could be represented.  So far January is done and we are working on February.  I am very excited to see how the tree looks when the year is over with (I’ll be sure to post a picture).

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Has your family created a weather tree?

-Heather

 

Weekly Menu

menu

Here is our menu for this week:

Sunday:  Homemade Pizza

Monday:  Veggie Curry from the Vegan Slow Cooker book.

Tuesday:  Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with spinach, feta, shredded mozzarella, tomatoes, and ham.  Loosely based on the recipe from Cooking Classy.

Wednesday:  Roasted Chicken (then we will make chicken broth with the bones)

Thursday:  Butternut Squash Soup from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (this recipe is REALLY good).

Friday:  Out.  There is a local event happening at one of the restaurants that we frequent and we decided to go there.

Saturday:  Salmon & maybe some Valentines themed dessert <3

There are a couple affiliate links above and if you purchase I will get a small commission, which will go to homeschool supplies!  Thank you!

Boys’ January Book Review

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I thought that it would be fun to recap what the boys have “read” for the month too.  The boys don’t read yet, so these books were all read by husband or me to them and that counts!

At the end of last year we read The Fantastic Mr. Fox and our boys loved it.  Since we had the BFG we thought that we would read that book and they loved it.  I was at Costco at the beginning of January and saw that all of Roald Dahl’s books were packaged together for the cheap price of $25 and I knew that I couldn’t pass that deal up (it is around $40 on Amazon).  Since we now had all of his books we were on a Roald Dahl frenzy.  All of the wording below is straight from my boys’ mouths!

Matilda —  Is about a girl who reads.  She goes to school and there is a headmistress whose name is Ms. Trunchbull.  That’s pretty much it.

Nathan gives it five stars and Anderson gives it six (I gave them the option of 1-5).

James and the Giant Peach —  A little boy who had a nice father and mother got eaten by a rhinoceros and he had to live with his horrible Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge.  A man gave him some magic things and James slipped and the magic things fell out of his pocket onto the ground and a tree with a peach started growing.  Aunt Spiker said there was a peach and some other stuff.  Aunt Sponge didn’t believe her.  The cloud men, New York, the centipede, the old green grasshopper, the chief of the fire department, and the chief of police.

Nathan gives it five stars and Anderson gives it three.

The Magic Finger —  A girl with a magic finger and that’s pretty much it.  And the two boys that like to hunt.  And the dad that likes to hunt.  And the things they were trying to hunt and they were magic.

Nathan gives it five stars and Anderson gives it four stars.

Esio Trot–  A turtle named Alfie  and the tortoise catcher.

Nathan gives it five stars and Anderson gives it four.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — A boy that has poor parents and about Mr. Willy Wonka.  Mike Teavee gets sent by television and a huge chocolate bar gets sent by television (the boys aren’t really interested in talking to me right now about this book, so their description is super brief, but this has been their favorite Dahl book so far).

Nathan gives it FIVE stars.  Anderson gives it four, but I don’t think he understands the rating system 🙂

Roald Dahl’s books have been a huge hit for my boys.  I think that the 6+ crowd would enjoy them more than the younger crowd (my youngest isn’t sensitive, so he has been able to handle these books sometimes better than my older son).  I also have to warn that there is some not so nice language in the books (for example, calling people stupid and idiot).  When we were reading the books we would edit the story to say “silly” instead of stupid, but we borrowed the audiobooks from the library and they don’t edit there, so the boys picked up on the language.   Now we don’t edit because we are almost guaranteed to get the audiobook, so we read it how it is and talk about how those words aren’t nice to say and we discuss what words would be better to say.  In one of the books someone calls someone an “ass.”  For the next day my oldest son was calling everything an ass.  We discussed how that word wasn’t appropriate to say, but I think that just fueled him to say it more!  I also tried to cover up my laughing each time he said it :).

The below books we read, but they are not chapter books (there are not so many because we have spent our time on Dahl’s books)

Poky Little Puppy’s First Christmas — The boys saw this book somewhere and wanted to read it even though Christmas was over.  They love all of The Poky Little Puppy books.

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King — We read this one for Martin Luther King Jr. day.  After reading the book we discussed how Martin tried to change the laws peacefully so that everyone had the same rights.

Cézanne and the Apple Boy — As you probably know, this was from an art lesson we did.

One Cool Cat — We randomly picked up this book from the library and it wasn’t that great.

-Heather

p.s. The links above are Amazon Affiliate links and if a book is purchased I get a small commission that will help my family get more homeschool materials, but all of the books with links are ones we got from the library and that really is the best source to get books!

Paul Cézanne

cezanne

Paul Cézanne was a French painter born on January 19, 1839.  I thought in celebration of his birthday it would be fun for my boys to learn about him and then do a still life painting, which is one thing that he is famous for.

My boys are not ones that just like to sit there with me spewing information out to them about a person or thing.  I also didn’t want to bombard them with a lot of information that they would immediately just forget, so I did a short lesson.

We first read the book Cézanne and the Apple Boy

The story is about Paul Cézanne and his son Paul.  They discuss how many people did not like the older Paul’s paintings at first and thought that he was crazy, but then an art dealer named Vollard came and bought some paintings from Cézanne and sold them and made Paul Cézanne famous.  My boys enjoyed this book and it was a good introduction to young kids about Paul Cézanne (some of Paul’s actual paintings were in the book, which was nice).

We then went to The Met Museum’s online interactive site for kids about Paul Cézanne.  They listened to the story about how Paul liked to paint apples and we explored that apple painting.

We then talked about how Cézanne liked to paint pictures of fruit, especially apples, and inanimate objects and that this type of painting was called “still life.”  Now it was time to do some still life painting.

Supplies:

  • Paper (we just used our heavier drawing paper even though we would be painting)
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint (we used our BioColor paint)
  • Plate with fruit on it.

IMG_20150127_145743751The boys wanted to paint on the ground, so that is what we did.  They both started off the project and didn’t quite understand what they were supposed to do, so I explained again what still life painting was and how we were supposed to try and paint the plate with the fruit on it how we saw it.  I started to paint first so that they could see how I was doing it.  Nathan got the hang of it.  Anderson was more into free painting, which was fine with me since I didn’t want to put pressure on him for getting it right (he’s only four).

Once we finished our paintings we waited for them to dry and then we got a black crayon and outlined our paintings because Cézanne outlined many of the objects in his painting with black paint.

 

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Not the best picture of the final drawings :/

 

Here are some interesting facts about Paul Cézanne.

  • He didn’t like other people touching him.
  • His painting The Card Players is the most expensive painting ever sold.  It sold for $250 million in 2011. 
  • He has been credited for starting the cubism movement in painting.
  • Matisse and Picasso have stated that “he is the father of us all.”
  • He was friends with the author Emile Zola since grade school, but after Zola modeled a pathetic character after Cézanne their friendship ended and was never repaired.

Have your children done still life paintings?  Did they enjoy doing them?

-Heather

Updated 2/7/15:  Cézanne’s painting The Card Players is now the second most expensive painting ever sold.  It has been said that the Gauguin painting of two Tahitian girls sold for $300M these past few days.

January Book Recap

janbook2Here is a recap of the books that I read for the month of January.

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

This book is about the world of classical ballet. It starts in the 70s when Joan, a professional ballet dancer, meets and falls in love with a very talented Russian dancer named Arslan. It fast forwards in time to where Joan is now living in LA with her husband Jacob, whom she has known since high school, and their son Harry.  Joan is a ballet teacher and she is teaching Harry and the neighbor’s daughter Chloe ballet. The story goes back and forth from when Joan was with Arslan to her present life.  The book also tells the story of Harry and Chloe.

The book gives a glimpse into the life of ballet dancers, but I have a feeling that it is much worse than what the author described. I always thought of the movie Black Swan when I was reading this book and that was some crazy stuff.  I also have two friends that were professional ballet dancers and they don’t have anything great to say about that world.  The stories of the characters were interesting and I didn’t expect it to end how it did. It wasn’t a huge surprise though.  It was a really easy book to read and I actually read it on a recommendation of someone that loved this book.  I would give it 3.5 stars.

 

The Martian by Andy Weir

Mark Watney and his team are on Mars when a dust storm strikes. They have to abandon their mission and head home to Earth. Mark is struck by an antennae as they are trying to leave and thought to be dead so his crew leaves without him. Mark isn’t dead and comes to. This is his story of his life on Mars trying to survive and get help to get him off of the planet.

It was a really fun and interesting read. Mark’s character was so likeable and there were so many times when he would say something that would remind me of my husband. The book is categorized as Sci-Fi, which I usually don’t have much interest in reading, but I had heard good reviews from a few blogs that I follow and the book really piqued my interest. I had read that this book talks about Engineering and that some of the stuff in the book might go over a layperson’s head, but I really didn’t feel like it was that difficult to get through. Sure, some of the stuff I didn’t know, but it didn’t make the book hard to read. I definitely think that this book is one that both genders would really like (I told my husband about it and he started after me and finished before me with positive reviews on the book too). Also, it didn’t seem like the book was that far fetched.

They are coming out with a movie of this book later on in the year and I can’t wait to see the movie. They have an all star cast lined up and it should be good. I think that the back story to the book was also very interesting (the Author tried to get it published, but no one gave him an offer so he published it on his website for free and then his fans wanted it on the Kindle so he published it with Amazon for $.99 and it took off from there).

I would definitely recommend this book.  I give this book 4.5 stars.

 

As You Wish:  Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

This story is about the making of the movie The Princess Bride told from Cary Elwes point of view, with additional comments from other people involved in the making of the movie.  The book was a very quick and easy read.  I didn’t find that it was the best writing, but I didn’t mind that because I enjoyed the story.  Once I finished this book I immediately ordered The Princess Bride by William Goldman because I want to read the original book (I can’t believe that I haven’t read it).  I also really want to watch The Princess Bride again because I now have some background information about some of the scenes that I didn’t know about before.  I would give this book 4 stars.

 

What is on my nightstand for February:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood — I’ve been working on this book for awhile (the other books were library books and I had to finish them before they were due, so this one got put on the back burner).

The Brothers K by David James Duncan — I heard great reviews about this book (it is almost five stars on both Amazon and Goodreads).  It’s a long book at 654 pages.

My book club hasn’t met yet, so I don’t know what book I will be reading for that.  I think that those books will keep me busy, but there is always the chance that one of the books that I have on hold will become available and I’ll have to put one of the above on hold.

What are you reading this month?

-Heather

Please note:  This post contains affiliate links, so if you purchase from my link (Amazon only) I will get a small percentage from the sale with no extra cost to you.  The extra money will go directly towards supplies for our homeschool.  Thank you for your support!

 

Happy Groundhog Day

groundhog

Will he or won’t he?  By the time that this has been posted we will know if Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow or not.  Legend has it that if he sees his shadow that means that there will be six more weeks of winter weather.  If he doesn’t see his shadow then we are supposed to get six weeks of Spring weather.  Of course, we all know that this groundhog cannot predict the weather (he hasn’t been found to be very accurate), but it is a fun tradition to see what Punxsutawney Phil will do.

Where exactly did this tradition come from?  It’s an interesting one that has some connections to Waldorf.  In the Waldorf community February 2nd is celebrated and is known as Candlemas.   It is the halfway point between the winter equinox and the spring equinox and the Waldorf community celebrates this with candles (for this religious holiday Priests would bless candles on this day, hence the name).   “The celebration of Groundhog Day began with the Germans, Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states “For as the sun shines on Candlemas day, so far will the snow swirl in May…”. The settlers found that groundhogs were plentiful and were the most intelligent and sensible animal to carry on the legend of Candlemas Day.” (groundhogday.org)  Groundhog Day was first documented in 1841 in Pennsylvania.

Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans,[9] the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.

Punxsutawney, PA is the city is the most well known city that celebrates Groundhog Day and the groundhog that is used is always named after the city.

To read some more fun facts about Groundhogs and Groundhog Day you can go to Wikipedia and www.groundhog.org

Happy Groundhog Day and being halfway done with winter!

-Heather

 

 

Weekly Dinner Menu

plate

Here is our menu for this week:

Sunday:  Chicken Tikka Masala (you might notice that this was on last week’s menu, but we didn’t get to it last week, so it goes on this week).

Monday:  Quinoa Salad (again this was from last week and it didn’t get made, so this week it will).

Tuesday:  Veggie Curry from the book Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker (affiliate link).  We have made around 15 recipes from this book and they have all been delicious!  I think the only complaint is that a little more salt was needed and that is an easy fix.  The recipes are super easy too!  I highly recommend this book for everyone.

Wednesday:  One Pot Zucchini Mushroom Pasta

Thursday:  Orange chicken (frozen from TJs) with broccoli & rice.

Friday:  Hamburger and rice (this was a dish that I had growing up and I LOVE it.  It is ground beef, green beans, peas, corn, tomato sauce, water, & rice all mixed together to form like a stew/soup).

Saturday:  Salmon

 

Stop Motion Animation

Lego

My sons both LOVE Legos.  They play with them all of the time and it seems to be the only thing that they care about.  When I am not looking my oldest son Nathan sneaks off and gets one of my laptops (yes, I have two but it was because one of them was broken for a long time and I needed one while the other one was waiting to be fixed).  He doesn’t read or write yet, but he knows how to spell L-E-G-O.  He also knows how to spell things related to Legos by looking at the instructions.  He always navigates to Lego videos on YouTube.  He happened upon one and he wanted me to watch it.  It was a stop motion animation video that was really well done.  After we finished watching the video I told him how stop motion animation worked (homeschooling at its best!).  He said that he wanted to do that.  I asked him to please wait so that I could get ready for the day and then I would help him.  He didn’t want to wait and was very eager and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity, so we got right to work.  Here are the steps that we took.

  1. Get a backdrop/scene set for what you want to take pictures of.
  2. Find a steady surface or a tripod for your camera and set those up with the camera directed at your scene.
  3. Start taking pictures of the thing you want to make a video of.  In each picture the thing (in our case a Lego man and snowmobile) will want to be moved just a little so that when the video is played it looks like it is moving.  Remember to keep all hands out of the pictures 🙂  This part takes a long time!  My son took over 200 pictures for his short movie.

    IMG_8936

    Positioning the Legos just so

  4. Once you are done you want to go through your pictures and edit or delete ones that need to be.
  5. Upload the photos to a movie maker program (we used iMovie)
  6. Add in sound effects
  7. Save your movie and share it with everyone.

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Nathan did all of the picture taking himself.  He was very patient and seemed to enjoy it very much.  My husband and I worked on uploading the photos and doing the iMovie, but Nathan gave us input as to what sounds he wanted to use.  He has been busily taking a whole bunch more pictures, so more videos will be sure to follow!

Drumroll please……Here is Nathan’s Arctic Adventure!!!

 

-Heather

p.s. This project is so not Waldorf, but it is something that he is really passionate about and I would hate to miss such a great learning opportunity that he enjoyed so much because it didn’t “fit in” with what a philosophy says.

p.p.s.  I will be putting a password on my computer so that he can’t continue to sneak off with my computer to watch videos!

p.p.p.s.  I just learned that Lego has an app to make these videos from your phone.  I heard that it is super easy to do.  I’m not sure that my son will be able to keep the phone still though.

A Homeschool Day In The Life Of A 6 & 4 year old

dayinthelife

Over at Simple Homeschool they have been doing a series called, “A Homeschool Day In The Life Of…”  A guest writer will describe one day in their homeschool life.  I thought that I would join in because it has been interesting to see how everyone’s days work out (they are all very different).

This was our Monday

6:45am:  Both boys are up and asking if it is okay to get out of bed.  Yes, it is but we ask them to let us sleep for a bit longer.  That doesn’t happen.  Nathan (age 6) comes and talks to me until I finally get up at 7.

7-7:30am:  I clean the litterbox, feed the dogs, then put away all of the dishes in our dish rack from last night.  The boys play with their Legos.

7:30am:  I get breakfast ready.  My husband prepared steel cut oatmeal last night in our pressure cooker set to a timer so that it would be ready in the morning.

7:30-7:40am:  Eating breakfast and coloring.

7:40-8:30am:  Boys are happily coloring at our dining room table.  I am checking email and reading blogs that I follow.

8:30-9:20am:  Nathan wants me to print out some coloring pages of some new Legos that have come out.  Lego does not have these coloring pages because they are brand new.  He wants to watch Lego videos and I tell him no.  He ends up having a tantrum and being upset with everyone.  He goes to his room to cool off.  Anderson (age 4) stays and colors and asks to listen to the audiobook of The BFG, so I put that on.  I finish looking at stuff on the internet (I need to cut this time down!) and start to write this post.

9:20-10am:  Nathan is hungry again, so I make him an egg sandwich and then go and take a shower and get ready for the day.

dayinthelife2

Practicing writing his letters

 

10-11:15am:  We are doing the Language Arts section from the Lavender’s Blue Curriculum.  Instead of doing the “normal” circle time that is done in Waldorf we sit at the table and recite a few poems and songs that are listed in the curriculum.  We do some active activities to get the bodies moving and then we move to the family room where we review what we learned last week (the letters S, H, X, Y, & Z).  We go over the sounds of each letter and each boy tries to come up with words that starts with those letters.  Nathan practices writing the uppercase and lowercase letters from the above.  Then we read the Nixie of the Mill Pond (a Grimm’s fairytale).  We go back into our dining room and color a tower and a needle for our main lesson book.

11:15-11:45:  Break time.  The boys go off and play with their Legos.  I get the paper and supplies ready for water coloring next and quickly check my emails.

11:45-12pm:  We do the water coloring painting for the week.

12-1pm:  Lunch and the boys listen to James and the Giant Peach on an audiobook.  After lunch it is free play and the boys go into the family room and play with their Legos while listening to the audiobook.

1-2pm: There is an online conference put on by NASH (National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers) that I listen to for an hour.  Nathan takes photos for the stop motion animation videos he wants to create.  Anderson plays with our big cardboard brick blocks and then with Legos.

2-3pm:  We talk about our skeletal system and then do a project of cutting out paper bones and putting them together on a piece of paper to make a skeleton.  We also feel our own bodies to feel the bones.

dayinthelife3

3-3:30pm:  Take the dogs for a walk and play outside afterwards.

3:30-4pm:  Boys play outside and I browse the internet.

4-5:15pm:  Prep for dinner, make it (we were making homemade pizza), and do dishes too.

5:15-5:45pm:  Dinner.

5:45-6:30pm:  Feed the animals.  The boys play, I sweep all of our floors, and my husband starts putting together bookshelves.

6:30-8pm:  The boys and I go to the library.  I have items that are due and that need to be picked up by today or I incur charges.  The boys play on the computers there and we read some books.

8-9pm:  My husband gets the boys ready for bed and then he reads to them for bedtime (usually we start bedtime at 7:30).   I’m on the computer during this time.

9-11pm:  My husband and I watch some TV and then we go to bed and we each read for 30-45 minutes and then go to sleep.

This was our day.

-Heather