Monday, August 30, 2010

Through the Eyes of a Child

Every now and then my little Tomato likes to borrow my camera and take photos.  
This is a peak into her world.

Meet Sophie Bear, Tomato's loyal companion.
Tomato felt that a close up picture of Sophie Bear was necessary.  
Catching her big sister, Peanut, lost inside a good book.
Two photos of Sophie Bear were simply not enough.
This must be a nod to her little brother's faithful companion, Buz.
Yes, this is truly her world, and I love to be a part of it!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Food in the Home

Grilled Chicken & Brown Rice and Spinach Salad
Brown Rice and Spinach Salad
(courtesy of Everyday Food magazine)

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 garlic clove minced
1/4 tsp sugar
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 c cooked brown rice, cooled a little
1 cucumber - peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, & sliced
2 c baby spinach
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

In a large bowl whisk together oil, vinegar, dill, garlic, and sugar.  Season generously with salt and pepper,  Add rice, cucumber, spinach, and tomatoes and toss to combine.

For grilled chicken I combine olive oil and Montreal Steak seasoning in a gallon sized zip lock bag.  I then add about 6-7 boneless skinless chicken breasts, and toss.  Then I just pop them on the grill!  
I am still working on getting the grill marks to look neat, but I never think about it until it's too late.  :-(

Around the House

Little Potato is ready for dinner!
Menu:  "Last Night's" Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Soup and Leftover Homemade Bread

Today's cleaning project:  The entryway, inside and out.  Doesn't it look wonderful?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Kingdom of God is like yeast....

It is amazing how simple a freshly baked loaf of bread is. 

As a catechist for the Catechisis of the Good Shepherd, I am reminded of the parable of the leaven which we present to children as young as 3.  "The kingdom of God is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."

How is the kingdom of God like yeast?  What happens to it when it is mixed with flour and a little water?  It grows!  It changes the lump of dough into a loaf of bread.  With a little care it grows and becomes something so wonderful and simple.

My children love the way the dough rises.  They especially love the smell of the bread as it is baking.  When it comes out it is so wonderful!  Potato and Bitty had so much fun "knocking" on these loaves, to hear that special sound it makes when it is done.  Bread is such a simple thing, yet so full of comfort and wonder.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

One Half Day

A peek into the second half of my day....

Lunch consisted of "pizza" on some homemade bread that needed to be eaten.  We ran out of pepperoni, so we used ham instead.  The kids enjoyed having a picnic on the back deck.

Tomato is looking to see how many tickets she has earned by doing her various duties and chores.  

Before the room was picked up.

After the room was picked up.

I share this closet with the girls.  This is before...

A little potty training during the closet cleaning...

After!  These pictures make me realize that no matter how much I feel I got nothing accomplished all day, I must remember all that I HAVE done.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thoughts On Homeschooling

Today, we began Week 1 of our homeschooling year.  I'm not very creative with making "the first day" of school special, we just simply, begin.  As usual, it did not go the way I envisioned it in my mind, but we did it.

For our family, homeschooling is not a religious conviction, rebellious action, or political statement.  I was a teacher at the private school level for about 6 years, so I am very comfortable teaching.  We tried public school for 1 year, and, at the time, it did not work for one of my children.  My husband and I simply feel that our children will do better learning at home, and at our Catholic Montessori center nearby.  Socialization???  What does that mean?  Do they have friends?  Do they ever leave the house?  Are they street smart?  Are they afraid of the outside world?  My answer to the socialization question is that it is simply a non-issue where we live.  We are blessed to live in an area with a gazillion awesome families and friends.  We never feel alone. 

Let's begin with mathematics...

These are our math books for the year.  I absolutely LOVE this curriculum! 

This is my most favorite math manipulative used in Right Start.  See the beads entered?  The child "sees" that 6 is 5 and 1!  This AL Abacus is fantastic.  So far we have done addition, subtraction, and multiplication on this nifty little tool.  We look for patterns and even learn to understand trading.  I wish I learned mathematics with an abacus!

Now here is my second favorite tool for teaching mathematics.  A simple dry erase board.  I don't have a big chalk board in our homeschooling room, so this does the trick.  My kids really enjoy using it too.  Writing math facts is not a chore with this little bugger!

This picture reminds me that I need to do something about the lack of proper lighting.  :-)

Now for language arts! 
Frontline Phonics (not pictured) - Preschool learning to read
Sound Beginnings - K through 1st Grade reading, writing, & spelling
Writing With Ease - 2nd through 4th Grade writing & grammar
The Writing Road to Reading - 2nd on up spelling & phonics

For history, I use Laura Berquist's recommendations in her Mother of Divine Grace curriculum.  As much as I would LOVE to do Latin this year, I need to be realistic.  All my children are attending Montessori school part time, so I plan to only focus on math and language this year.  Latin can come another year.  All the other subjects will be covered at Montessori.

I always enjoy talking about different homeschooling programs others use.  I could go on and on talking about books and programs.  It's that teacher in me, I suppose.  Now if I can just work on having a bit more patience with my kids, all will be peachy.  I tend to expect too much from them.

So as we end our first official day of school, I pray for patience and understanding.  If I need to slow down, I pray for the grace to do it, and not be a slave to my own schedule.  Our little Happy Apple School is not picture perfect, but I am okay with that.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wine Tasting at Home

Rappahannock Cellars Cabernet Franc 2008
This bottle was opened last night.  I usually prefer to drink from a bottle after it's been open a day.  Color:  dark rich red.  Nose:  blackberries with a mineral background.  Taste:  Slight tannins, creamy taste of dark fruits, acidity resembling oranges.  Pleasant finish.

This is a pleasant Virginia wine grown near our home.  The owners of the winery are wonderful people, and we always feel at home when we visit.   It's so nice to think we live in the midst of Virginia wine country!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Meet our Little Apples

From left to right:  Peanut, Tomato, Potato, and Bitty

Tomato is holding some recently acquired Audubon Plush Birds!  She has a growing collection.  These are the ones she is holding up.  I'm new at this blogging thing, so I thought I would give this Amazon Associates gadget a try.  No shameless plugs, just experimenting!

Welcome to The Happy Apple Home!

So, what in the world do I plan on doing here? 

I've got a few ideas:  I love food pictures, so there will be plenty of those.  Wine is something my husband and I really enjoy, so I hope to post wine tasting notes.  Together, we all have a love of the National Parks, cross country trips, and adventures, so I can share our love of our beautiful country with you.  Finally, sometimes I am inspired (or encouraged by others) to share stories from my past.  I've got a colorful history which has brought me to this happy place in my life, and I see every moment as God leading me and my guardian angel protecting me along the way. 

So let's get down to the basics, I have been married to a mathematician for 10 years (at the time of this post), and he keeps me sane and level headed.  I truly look up to him, and admire his great intelligence.  He is my best friend and I absolutely love being with him.  We have 4 beautiful children.  Knowing others use special names for their kids on their blogs,  I plan on using the same format.  My husband and I have always been little foodies at heart, and thus we have named each of our girls after some kind of food.  Our son developed his own special name by chance.  It just happened that way, unplanned...really.  So my oldest is Peanut, our second is Tomato, and our third is Potato.  Our fourth is simply, Bitty.  Someday he will want that changed, but for now he is okay with it.

We call ourselves "homeschoolers" though I like to think we are well-adjusted homeschoolers.  We've tried a few different kinds of schooling, and like to stay open.  But, for the most part, we homeschool.  This year my children will be attending a Montessori program part time, and we'll stick with mathematics and language arts at home to make sure all bases are covered.  We happen to live in an awesome community where socialization is really a non issue.  There are so many activities, it's hard to find time to get schooling done!

Finally, and most importantly, I'm Roman Catholic.  I was raised Catholic, I rejected all things Catholic, and then I embraced Catholicism and have never looked back.  That story will be a later post.  I always try to remember:  God first, my husband second, my kids third, and then everyone else.