Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11

Merry Christmas
from our family to yours.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

More Gingerbread

My kids love to decorate gingerbread houses.  What kid doesn't?  The last time they did one I bought a kit and gave it to their grandparents (DH's mom and dad) to do with them.  This time I bought a kit again but those same grandparents are in West Virginia.  So I gave it to my mom and dad (their more local grandparents) to do with the kids. 

It was so hilarious watching my mother panic.  She really isn't crafty at all and the more I laughed, the more she said, "this isn't funny."  She even told my son that she flunked out of arts and crafts when she was in school.  Do they even have an arts and crafts class?  She did give it her very best effort and no help from my dad I might add.  Although he did suggest propping the roof panels up with some popsicle sticks because they were sliding off.  But he was definitely keeping his hands out of it.  I suggested watching a movie while we waited for it to harden some before adding more candy.  It was getting a bit heavy and the roof just wanted to slide right off.  I am SO helpful.

And look it came out beautifully when all was said and done.  And now the kids have a very strange yet funny memory made with Memere. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Snow Has Hit New England!

All of one half inch fell Monday night and the kids went right out to play in it Tuesday morning.  Because of previous rain and flooding and subsequent freezing in our back yard the kids uncovered a nice strip of ice to slide on.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cooking Up Some Business Education

Dear Daughter is deep into her Christmas cookie baking for the baking business she's been operating since she was 9 or 10 years old.  Since our first year homeschooling we had decided to take the month of December off from official school.  We wanted to focus on the joy of Christ's birth and really celebrate by doing things together as a family and just relax. We had extra time on our hands and the business seemed a good way to begin a real life lesson doing something she enjoyed.  And it has proven worth while.

Some years have been more successful (and chaotic) than others with orders coming from every direction.  And other years she waited too long to get started and felt the consequences.  Last year she decided not to sell Christmas cookies but to knit hand warmers instead.  They were beautiful handwarmers but she found she wasn't disciplined enough to be knitting every spare moment.  As a result she couldn't knit up as many pairs as she would have liked in order to make the profit she was looking for.  But she was also wise in not taking more orders than she could handle.  It was definitely a good learning experience and I'm glad she tried it.

The Baker in 2007
 So this year she is back to the cookies.  She's 14 now and the cuteness of the 9yo business woman has worn off.  She is at an age where her cookies MUST speak for her.  Certainly there are still family and friends that order just to support her I'm sure.  Thank you!  Though, fortunately for her she has had a few years to build up a name for herself within certain circles and she does bake quality homemade cookies from scratch.  They are YUMMY and they speak well for her!  Which is good because it takes a great deal of effort for her to get up the courage to just hand out her order forms.  She is not a born salesperson but I believe this can be learned.

Over the years she has gone from needing lots of help and guidance from Mom to being able to handle a large portion of the biz with no help from me.  She's not afraid to call me home when she gets in a pinch though, as she did yesterday.  It all worked out fine and I think she just needed me there to encourage her and get behind her and make her some lunch while she continued her work.  I only needed to fold and fill some boxes and she was cool as a cucumber again. 

It amazes me now that I think back to where she was when she started.  Operating a business is an excellent hands-on way to learn from real life experiences.  Aside from the science and math of baking, DD has learned how to choose a good recipe, how to analyze her past sales to see what her customers like and what questions to ask to learn more about what they would like to see from her.  She has gotten free marketing tips from relatives with ideas for bringing out new recipes midyear.  In addition she now knows how to plan for large orders and shop for the best ingredients at low prices.  When DD started in her first year we made up an order form on Excel together.  Her computer skills have improved since then and she is now creating worksheets to keep track of all her orders, income and expenses as well as tithes. I hope she continues some type of business endeavor going so I can show her how to polish up those worksheets to look like professional reports and get her using more of the formulas that Excel has to offer.  A math program we are looking into for next year is Your Business Math.  Although it's geared for 8-12 year olds and she can do everything involved, I like that it incorporates all of the business aspects together to make math more meaningful for her.  I'd prefer and will be looking for something similar that is written for 9th-10th grade level but if I can't find anything I am going to use this program and possibly incorporate her own business into it and add some additional elements to make a full year credit-worthy program.  

 Lastly, for this season of baking, I told her I would be happy to volunteer to help as an employee but that I would not be telling her what I would do.  She has to give me direction as if I were a real employee.  That's a harder transition than I realized.  For both of us!  DD has a hard time telling mom what to do and mom has a hard time NOT telling DD what to do.  We'll have to keep working on that, during business hours of course!

So although she will bake for her customers any time of year, people generally look to her for their Christmas cookie baking.  Today is the last day of baking for the season.  Her last delivery will go out tonight.  And DD is looking forward to tomorrow...and rest.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Carnival is Up

The December 2010 edition of The Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival is up and fully loaded over at Bugs, Knights and Turkey's In the Yard.

Gingerbread Day

It was one of those days that starts off as any other day and then somehow turns into a very cool day.  It was a happy kid, happy mommy day and we now call it "Gingerbread Day." 

We baked lots of gingerbread cookies in the morning and finished up just in time for lunch. One thing I normally don't like about gingerbread cookies is that they tend to be hard but these were perfectly soft and chewy and we ALL loved them, and we are a hard crowd to please.

After lunch dd asked me to do something with her so I suggested we read a book.  I really wanted to choose the story but she did too so I offered to read two stories and then ds joined us and we ended up reading three.  Am I the only adult who wants to choose the story just as badly as the kids?  Honestly, if they choose all the time there would be MANY books we would never even get to read because they don't appeal to them at first glance.
So anyway, th ebook my daughter chose turned out to be none other than...

Hello?  I see a theme devolping here and I'm thinking of some coloring pages I printed out from the Jan Brett website a couple years ago that I never threw away because I knew I would use them someday...  I know I'm not the only homeschooling mom that would have jumped on this opportunity to continue the developing trend. 

As soon as storytime was over I ran to see if I still had the printouts.  Low and behold I did.  It was a perfect set of two blank gingerbread houses with all the trimmings to color, cut and glue onto the paper gingerbread house. 

Jan Brett has a wonderful website.  If you have never been, you've got to go right away!  Here are some cool spots on her site if you are going to have a Gingerbread Day of your own:
Video - Make gingerbread baby cookies with Jan Brett
Online Interactive Craft - Trim a Gingerbread Baby House
Video - How to Draw a Gingerbread Baby (Caution:  Spoiler if you haven't read the book yet!)
Printable - Animal Masks
Printable - Coloring Pages
Game - Gingerbread Baby Board Game

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Our First JBQ Meet

For the very first time, our church has put together a Junior Bible Quiz team and last week we had our first competition.  It was exciting and scary and encouraging all at once if you can imagine such a thing.

Junior Bible Quiz (JBQ) is a national organization that helps kids learn Bible truths through healthy competition. Each team is made up of 2-4 kids with up to 4 substitutes.  Children who want to compete in JBQ must be in 1st through 6th grade.  Each child is assigned a variety of questions and answers to study from the Bible Fact Pack.  The Bible Fact Pack is filled with 576 questions and answers about the Bible and Bible doctrine and this is where the competition questions come from.  (Although this is put out by the Assmeblies of God, there are several other denominations who use it and go to competitions as well.)  All the teams have several meets per year and then best teams move on to regionals and so on.

Within Junior Bible Quiz there are two leagues:  "A" League which is made up of kids who have been in JBQ for a while and "B" League for kids in their first year.  Age doesn't matter and I have seen this to be true as my 6yo daughter (one of the youngest kids there) made 8th place in overall score her very first meet!

Fortunately we had plenty of support with us including the other mom of our team and my oldest daughter who is too old for JBQ.  (They do have a Bible Quiz version where they have to memorize books of the Bible if you are interested for older kids.) 

I was a little nervous before the meet but once we got there it was easy sailing and I had no problems.  The organizers do a great job of keeping everything simple and flowing right along.  The kids were also nervous but I didn't notice it in them until they were actually IN their first round.  Prior to that they were playing and happy and only concerned about when they would eat next.  LOL  So once in the first round there was some "stagefright" going on but since they had to compete in four rounds, they were able to work through it by day's end.

DH came to support the team too.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Highlights in Pictures

When we made our salt dough maps of Australia, I accidentally left my camera cord at co-op.  And thanks to my dear friend I have finally gotten it back - she is so wonderful, she brought it to me last week after several attempts to see each other fell through.  It was a busy month and fortunately I still had my camera so here is a briefing on what we've been up to...

Poppaw came to visit by himself for the first time ever!  Dear Mommaw stayed at home which was a first timer too and we missed her.

We took him to Old Sturbridge Village where he got to play with the kids.

DD has started up her seasonal Christmas cookie biz.  Here she is holding one of our family fav's, her famous butter cookies.  She's been making these longer than any of her other cookies and they are so yummy and buttery...there are certain people in our house who will not let her stop making them.  I won't mention any names but it's not this one...

...if you get my drift.
We decided to take Poppaw home to see his lovely wife in time for Thanksgiving.  There we visited with friends and relatives... silly...

...and just laid around...

I have no idea whose dog that is but he did make us all laugh.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Salt Dough Australia

I've been dying for a chance to have the kids make a salt dough relief map and finally our recent study of Australia presented an opportunity.  Before starting on this journey I visited Jimmie's lens to get some tips and a quick how to.  Her recipe works great and provides a lot of dough.  I doubled this recipe for 8 kids and had a bunch left over.  (We rolled out the leftovers and gave the kids cookie cutters to make ornaments and Thanksgiving decorations to paint later.)

Really, I followed Jimmie's instructions step by step so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel, rather I will just share our pics and note anything we did differently.

We used address labels instead of drawing the labels onto sticky paper.  Not as cute but quicker and less frustrating for the kids.

INteresting how two maps of the same place can come out looking so different...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Egypt Night

As part of their study of ancient Egypt, my daughter and her co-op partner chose to host an Egypt Night.  Here they are wrapped in the traditional muslin (sheets) garb of  the ancient Egyptians with faces done up and everything.  Being teen girls, I think they liked this part best and they spent oodles of time figuring and refiguring their robes, accesorizing and reapplying gobs of eye makeup. 

To start out the evening, they served traditional Egyptian food such as lentils with rice with a red sauce, boiled eggs topped with beans and parsley, lentil soup, bread, beef in a brown sauce (kind of like beef stew), cucumbers in a dill sauce and delicious honey bread for dessert which probably has another name but I don't remember what it was.  Basically it was stale bread drenched with honey.  I was pleased with the younger kids who tried these not unusual foods prepared in very unusual ways.  But there were no rude sounds coming from their table so I was very happy.  Most everything was good albeit not my kind of food and I probably won't make these dishes again.  It was interesting to taste what they would have tasted all the time and considered common.  They ate a lot of lentils!

After dinner the girls entertained us with a short skit.  In this portion of the skit, the girl on the right is ripping her heart out to have it weighed.  If she does not have a "good enough heart" it will be thrown to the crocodile to be eaten and she will not be allowed to go to the underworld.  She will die forever.  Jake the dog played the part of the crocodile.  He did very well too and gobbled her heart right up.

During the weeks leading up to the event they each studied the region, wrote reports on pharoahs, mummies and pyramids and they also put together some great items to display for the crowd attending Egypt Night.  There were short blurbs about Egypt posted on the walls here and there and items such as this hook and flail dd made out of aluminum foil, beads and electrical tape.  She gave it sturdiness using a wooden dowel and a coat hanger.  The fan folded item in the center is a "beard" made of paper to resemble the type the pharoahs would have worn.  Interesting to learn, much of what they wore was not their own.

They also had a couple games to entertain us with.   One we all played together was actually an ancient Sumerian game but we found it to be a good choice for Egypt Night too.  It was played with a game board dd made up a few weeks prior and tokens which had to moved from one oend of the board to the other.  You could play as individuals or as teams.  Although the board looked nothing like it, the play of the game was similar to that of modern day Sorry.

And the other game was pin the pyramid on Egypt.  The kids had fun trying to get the pyramids in the right places.

All of the game ideas, reports, recipes and crafts were from our latest KONOS adventure, History of the World I their high school curriculum in which my oldest daughter is working from this year.