Monthly Archives: May 2007
I need a new science curriculum for the Fall. It’s mostly for my 5th grader, but it would be great if the others (3rd & 1st grades) could participate. I really want it to be earth science, focused on geology, particularly rocks & minerals, if possible. I would highly prefer it to be Christian and young-earth creationist in perspective. I don’t want a unit study, just the science part. I want it to have experiments and other hands-on activities. I’d consider doing a pieced-together curric — like, use books A, B, & C, planning out the schedule myself — if I can’t find something actually created as a homeschooling curriculum, but I’d rather purchase ONE resource that will last me all year (or at least half the year).
I’ve found a few, but don’t know anyone who uses these, so I thought I’d lay it out there for anyone to chime in their reviews and/or suggestions. Some of them sound great, but I don’t know what their worldview is. OTOH, I don’t want to buy something just because it’s labelled “Christian” and have it turn out to be lame.
Connecting Students to Science Series: Rocks & Minerals, Grades 5-8+
(09/20/07 — Edited to add: As a homeschooler, I delight in materials that work straight off the shelf. It is one of the joys of homeschooling that the parent can learn right along with the child. This book is NOT like that; it is NOT a good homeschooling text. It was written for a schoolteacher who has a classroom of many who already has a solid understanding of Geology. For instance, it gives instruction to have you take the children out of doors and to collect 8-10 rocks and 8-10 minerals, and you, as a teacher are supposed to give guidance afterwards to correct the children’s selections. However, if you, as the homeschooling teacher, don’t currently know how to visually differentiate between a regular rock and a mineral, well, then, you’re up a creek, because no further guidance is given, other than to use additional, suggested texts for identification.)
Rocks & Minerals, Grades 2-5 (This sounds like what I am looking for, and was created as a hs’ing curriculum, but I’m concerned that it won’t be challenging enough. And at only 48 pages, will there be enough info & activities?)
A Reason for Science, Level E (I like that it’s geared towards homeschooling, is hands-on, comes with a kit of materials, as well as the books… but is it too hyper-Christian?? And, I really want to foster my 5th grader’s interest in rocks & minerals. Is there enough geology in this program?)
I’m so torn about the whole Christian curriculum idea. For those who don’t know, we are committed, firm believers. But, I was raised in a Christian school, and the materials and methods used there, frankly, left a bad taste in my mouth. I want *excellence* in my kids’ education, not just a science lesson with a Bible verse. Yet, perhaps more than any other subject, the study of science can contain so much material that is interpreted in a way that would deny the Creator, seeking to explain life without a life-giver. I want strong science by intelligent scientists who are also Christians, and who can help my children and I see how the Biblical account of creation, and other “sciency” subjects in the Bible can be supported by the scientific method. I hope that makes sense.
My dear hubby, who knows I love birds, got me a new bird feeder on Memorial Day. Actually two of them — one for seeds, and one hummingbird feeder. The hummers haven’t discovered theirs yet, but the birds have discovered the hanging seed feeder. Semi-unfortunately, it appears that some bird or birds have decided that they will throw out all the seed that is not what they want, leaving mostly the red milo all over the ground below the feeder. While messy, this actually attracts a whole new crowd of birds. I’ve noticed this before, with my other feeder, which I’ve had for years. It’s a lovely cast iron, freestanding feeder, shaped sort of like round gazebo impaled on a pole. Some birds perch on the side rails, and others hop right into the midst of the seeds and get to work. Other birds hop around the ground, eating the seed that has fallen.
I get sort of bummed out that the same ol’ birds will come ’round, no one new and exciting. However, I was reminded of a birding conversation that I participated in, on the Sonlight forums, that pretty much everyone feels like that about their particular location, yet what is common to me is exotic to someone else, say, on the East Coast, and I should be thankful for the birds I do have regularly.
So, my daily visitors right now have been:
House finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)
House sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater)
Curve-billed thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre)
White-winged dove (Zenaida asiatica)
Mourning dove (Zenaida macroura)
All common to the US except the thrasher and the white-winged dove.
I read a great post by momlovesbeingathome by the exact same title as this one, and thought, “There’s an idea I can steal!” This post ended up being way longer than I thought it would be, but here’s mine:
Before I had even left high school, I had decided that I wanted to homeschool my kids. I wanted to provide for them the academic excellence, freedom, and support that I did not get, as a student. I went to a small, private Christian school, for which my parents (and then, just my mom, after my parents divorced) scraped and saved to send my sibs and me. It wasn’t the best experience. I don’t begrudge my parents their decision to send us there; they were honestly trying to do the absolute best for us kids. However, after elementary school, the education we received was really sub-par. Well, it was probably above average, but when “average” in American schools is so poor, then “slightly-above-average” is still poor. KWIM?
The school was very small, and electives were very limited. My senior year, I had the choice of taking either physics or choir. Singing is my JOY, my delight. When I sing, I most feel like I am doing what God made me to do. Yet, I needed physics for college. What’s a girl to do? I took choir. I got a D in college engineering physics my first semester in college (after graduating as valedictorian of my 16-student senior class, and never getting below a B+ in anything my entire life). My senior year, I could also have taken either art or advanced math. I took math.
My school did not have any kind of formal assistance to help seniors onto further education. 😕 A school that doesn’t really care about education? What’s up with that? Totally by the grace of God, and the kind assistance of Mrs. McCarroll, my English teacher, I was able to obtain a full-ride scholarship to Tulane University. Upon arriving there, I discovered what a miracle that was, as I was surrounded by a school population, 98% of whom were better-educated than me.
After I got to Tulane, I also found out that I could have taken an AP exam and tested out of freshman English. Had anyone told me that at my high school? No. I knew that there were AP classes in public schools, so anything I had heard about any AP exams, I thought just pertained to those in public schools. It ended up OK: I had a delightful year of college freshman English (instructed by a Hasidic Jewish professor who loved debate, and who confided in me that he had given me the only “A” of any of his freshman English students that entire school year. Well, of course. The ones who were “A” students had taken that dumb AP exam and already tested out of his course!)
I also found myself holed up in the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, poring over books to find out why I believed what I believed. My education had been pretty much this: “Christianity is good. Evolution is bad.” The school I went to was so pro-Christian that they didn’t even talk about anything non-Christian. Not in science. Not in history. Not in English. No myths. No discussion of non-Christian religions. It was just lacking.
And… my school provided no extra work, no advanced classes for the academically curious. I felt like there was so much more that I should have learned! So much more that I wanted to learn! But there was little guidance, little challenge, little investigation, little delight in learning. It was a school, I think, established simply to protect kids from what they might learn in a public school. Anything established on the defensive, IMO, is poorly established.
The year my oldest turned three, I started investigating homeschool curricula. Since all I knew was that I didn’t want to use A Beka (which was what was used in my Christian school experience) or ACE (which was used in my husband’s short, but very poor experience in Christian high schools), I was quickly overwhelmed with the options available to me. After more than a year of research, I settled upon K12, which was created by Bill Bennett; I had been very impressed with his book The Educated Child. But the K curriculum would take about 6 hours of my time each day, and it cost about $800. I despaired, because I didn’t think I could do that much school with my 5yo each day, and my husband gave a resounding, “NO” to the cost. Then, a friend from a Bible study stepped in and told me I was making it too difficult; K should take only 1.5 hours/day, and here’s what she used: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Five in a Row, and a simple math program (which I didn’t like, so I’m not linking to, or naming).
I still use “EZLessons,” and am a big fan of it. I still think FIAR is a stellar program. But, even though both my 5yo and my 3yo learned to read that first year, I found myself not wanting to continue. I needed more structure. I needed some guidance and support. But, I didn’t want the hyper-structured homeschooling systems like Alpha Omega; I wanted to be more hands-on than that. But, it seemed that the style of school I wanted to do did not exist: literature-based (not textbook-based), Christian (but not “too” Christian, in light of my history), structured (but not too structured), parent-involved, academically challenging (but not too brainiac — like Classical programs), and not a program that needed me to be amazingly creative.
I was afraid that my inability to well-organize our days was to the educational detriment of my children. I couldn’t plan; I didn’t know what to plan. I needed something/someone to say, “This is what you should do today.” Yet, I couldn’t compromise and do school in a way with which I didn’t agree, even if they gave me a schedule. I gave up and enrolled my son in a charter school, Abraham Lincoln Traditional School for the following fall.
Later that month, July 2003, I was absentmindedly perusing the CBD homeshooling catalogue that had been mailed, and I felt like God spoke to me. He said, “You really want to homeschool, right?”
I replied, “Yes.”
“You don’t really want your son at Abraham Lincoln, right?”
“You don’t really feel like that’s the best for him, right? You’ve wanted to homeschool since before you were even married, right?”
“But you don’t want harm to come to him since you are poorly organized, right?”
(with tears) “Right.”
“Then it sounds to me like you should become better organized.”
In other words, I felt like God was telling me that instead of running from my weaknesses, I should confront them. Instead of accepting a compromise for my child’s education, I should do what I needed to do to better educate myself to make up for my lack.
So, I set to work investigating different homeschooling planners. I also told my husband about the conversation with God, which brings up another point: Prior to starting homeschooling, my husband wasn’t a fan of the idea; he thought only weirdos homeschooled. I didn’t really sell him on the idea of homeschooling, but he begrudgingly let me do K with our son. So, I thought my husband had been supportive of me enrolling Ethan at Abraham Lincoln, and I thought he’d be upset when I told him that it looked like I was going to homeschool him again for his 1st grade year. Imagine my shock when my husband expressed delight! That K schoolyear, my hubby had come 180* about the whole thing, and thought hs’ing was the right thing for us to do! I thought I had done so poorly with our son that first year of school; my husband thought I did great! (But, encouragement is not one of his stronger suits, and he’d never expressed his approval to me.) I was shocked, and viewed it as one more thing, one more “sign” that I was supposed to homeschool.
The next day, I was talking on the phone to one of my few homeschooling friends about my new decision. I already knew that we had similar goals for our children’s education, as we had spoken at length about it before. She said, “I just placed an order for this school year from a company that someone else told me about. I think you need to see the catalogue. They match everything you’re looking for. And, they’ve scheduled it out.” I packed everyone up right then, and went to her house to pick up the catalogue.
I brought it home, read it cover to cover, knew immediately it was right for me — for our family — and started ordering Sonlight materials the following week. That was almost four years ago, and we’ve been “Sonlighting” ever since. I don’t use their language arts (we’ve tried SL, plus a number of other programs; we’re currently using — and loving — Rod and Staff.) This year, we didn’t use their science, and next year, I think I’m going to probably use Bob Jones/BJU which is — gasp! — a textbook-based program, and is sort of a joke because… my husband got expelled from Bob Jones University, which produces the materials. 😆 But, at the heart of it, we’re Sonlighters. We’re currently in Core 3, with my 4th grader and my 2nd grader participating fully, and my K’er participating in some of it.
I’m so glad I — with encouragement from God the Father, my hubby, and my friend– decided to continue homeschooling. This year, our 5th, which is coming to a close (our last day will be June 19th), is the first year I’ve really felt like we’re in it for the long haul. I pray to God that we can continue homeschooling until our kids graduate high school. It has been so effective, and is such a blessing to our whole family. I’m not totally dogmatic about homeschooling; I don’t believe it’s for everyone. But, for those who think that it might be for them, I urge you to at least try it.
…mostly get the thumbs-down.
After writing a bad review a while back on my blog, the company contacted me and sent me five coupons for free product.
I tried Soft Baked Gingerbread Spice Cookies. These were actually really good. They were really small, and an odd mini-hockey-puck shape, but tasty and chewy. Still, at $4ish for a box of 12 eensy-weensy cookies, I probably won’t buy them again.
I also tried the really cinnamonny Cinnamon Crunch Granola. ~sigh~ It’s just bad. The actual flavor was good. But the texture and the size of the chunks just makes it really difficult to eat.
We also got another box of Very Berry Crunch Granola. My five year old said, “It’s a little bit not as bad as the last box!” My 9yo said, “Maybe they took a picture of some different granola for the picture on the box. I’m serious! Maybe they did!” It was still bad. The chunk are too dense, and too large for actual granola. It doesn’t really taste like berry, either. There are berry seeds in the granola, and berries in the ingredient list, but doesn’t taste “very berry.” But, at least I didn’t have to chuck this box in the trash. I ate the big chunks dry, as a snack from the bag, and ate the smaller bits as cereal. I will definitely NOT buy this again. Ever. Even with a free coupon.
We also have tried all three varieties of their “snack bars,” which are sort of like cookies. The only one I may buy again is the chocolate variety. However, I think Enjoy Life needs to remove the inedible bits of brown rice flakes from the ingredient list. They’re probably trying to add texture, but the flakes are hard, get stuck in the teeth, and generally detract from the overall result.
We have tried both varieties of their bagels. Ugh. The best that can be said of them is that the cinnamon ones have a nice, strong cinnamon taste. Otherwise, their greatest use were as teething biscuits for my baby daughter.
So. I’ve obviously given Enjoy Life’s products a good shot. I think they’ve got a great marketing company, blitzing grocery stores and convincing them to sell their attractively-packaged items. However, it’s my guess that unless Enjoy Life dramatically improves the taste of their products, or cuts the line down to what they do well, and not try to be so far-reaching, they’re going to tank, as a company.
I just wish that Kinnikinnick would hire Enjoy Life’s marketing company. Kinnikinnick has such tasty, reliable food — but it’s plainly packaged, and rarely advertised, so they don’t get the props they deserve.
I’m trying to create/alter g.f. bread recipes to get a nice, textured, high-fiber, whole-grain bread. Since I’ve been gluten-free for 4.5 years now, and done a lot of baking from scratch, I usually know what is going to work, and what’ll taste good. I rarely have total flops, of the variety that have to be dumped in the trash. I came up with a mix that I thought would be stellar. It’s not. It’s officially a flop. I now have two bad loaves of bread and 15 cups of mix that I’m not sure how to redeem. Ugh.
We started the day with breakfast with my kids, my mom, my Uncle Kevin & Aunt Maryanne and myself eating breakfast at the lodge. The lodge is gloriously beautiful, built in 1928 of native stone, and perched on the very edge of the Grand Canyon. Indescribably beautiful views sweep out the huge plate glass windows, so lovely to behold that it doesn’t seem real. The kids and I had the breakfast buffet. It wasn’t cheap, but it was reasonable, considering the location, the setting (a sit-down restaurant), and the high quality of the items. There were enough g.f. items to satisfy me, and for Wes, we supplemented his mounds of eggs, bacon, sausage and fruit with some GFCF banana bread that I’d made for the trip. The staff was knowledgable about celiac disease, which was a blessing. The buffet came with both a hot drink and a cold drink for everyone, and with tip, the four of us (five, actually, because Audrey was free) feasted for $35.
After breakfast, Uncle Kevin, the kids and I trekked to Bright Angel point and back to the Lodge:
Last week, my mom accompanied my kids and I up to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Ostensibly, it was to spend time with her brother & his wife, which we did, a bit. Mostly, though, it was just my mom & the rest of us, which was fine with me. My mom makes a really good travelling parter.
We arrived at the Kaibab Lodge on Tuesday evening about 5:30. The Lodge has a nice gift shop — not too pricey, and containing a lot of locally-made arts (as well as small “Navajo” rugs made in India and “Hopi” baskets made in Pakistan and the like). Our arrival date, Tuesday, May 15th was their first day being open for the summer season, so there were a few bumps in the check-in process; they had a new computer system for the restaurant which slowed everything down as staff learned how to use it. However, the staff was *wonderful* — very friendly and warm, very accomodating and eager to help. Of the smiling proprietess, Ellen, I thought, “She would make a good homeschooling mom.” Well, the next night, I found out that she is a homeschooling mom, using Oak Meadow with her two boys, aged almost-9 and 13.
The Lodge itself might best be described as “rustic.” Many of the cabins, including the one in which we stayed, are at least 50 years old. You’re paying for the location (about 20 miles north of Grand Canyon SP) and the service, not really the cabin itself. It wasn’t cheap — our duplex cabin was $114, with tax, but in my travels, I’ve paid more for worse. Our cabin had wood floors, a fair-sized main room with a double bed, desk and two chairs, (and room for the playpen, in which Audrey slept), a separate bedroom with another double and a twin, and a bathroom with a large shower and a curiously hard-to-find light switch. (Main lodge and cabin pics thanks to the Kaibab Lodge website.)
Kaibab Lodge also has a restaurant, which had fairly good, not-super-pricey meals (more extensive than the sample menu found on the website) and friendly, helpful (though not particularly efficient) waitstaff. In the main building, in addition to the restaurant and gift shop, is a TV lounge with loads of tables & chairs, a pay phone, and a spot to hook your laptop to, if you need internet access while on vacation.
After a few mishaps with the payphone, since my mobile (not surprisingly) didn’t have service, I was able to get ahold of my Uncle Kevin, who was staying within the Park. He and my Aunt Maryanne already had planned out their evening, so my mom & I decided not to drive the 20 miles to the park, but to do an off-road drive. Our hope was to view the Canyon to which we had been travelling all day.
The day previous to our departure, I had received my June copy of Arizona Highways in the mail, which was serendipitously all about the Grand Canyon. I only had time to delightedly breeze through it. Something that caught my attention was a little article about Marble Viewpoint, located only 13 unpaved miles from Kaibab Lodge. We hopped back into the truck to find the viewpoint, which we did, mostly with ease. Just outside the Lodge, we saw a group of six mule deer, grazing by the road. We travelled about a half-mile south of Kaibab Lodge to the well-marked turnoff for the Viewpoint. The first 9 miles of the trek was on really well-maintained dirt road; the last almost-four miles was much rougher, including a place where the road diverted, temporarily, around a fallen tree. When we got to the viewpoint (and undeveloped campground), I must say that I was disappointed — NOT because it didn’t have a sweeping, gorgeous view, but because, in my infamiliarity with the places and sights described in the Arizona Highways article, I didn’t realize that this viewpoint featured sights over the very place from which we’d just travelled — the Vermillion Cliffs, House Rock Valley, and Marble Canyon. Shoot. I mean, it was *so* lovely, but since we were looking for the actual Grand Canyon, it was disappointing to not find it. I should have realized by the name of the viewpoint: Marble Canyon is where the Colorado River turns northwards — kind of an almost-as-grand canyon, but not the real thing.
We spent sunset on the western edge of Marble View. During our whole trip, the air was somewhat misty/dusty/partially obscured. Still, one could see much farther, and much more colorfully than the pictures show.
Marble View to the west:
For More Information
Watch top chefs, doctors and news reporters compete to make the best gluten-free meals!
Date: Saturday June 23, 2007
Hyatt Regency Penn’s Landing
$100 VIP Admission*: 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
$50 General Admission: 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm
$35 Kids under age 12: 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm
* VIP Admission includes special meet & greet with doctors,
chefs and reporters and an autographed copy of Beyond Rice Cakes.
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and CNN Newsroom Anchor Heidi Collins invite you to the Philadelphia Gluten-Free Cooking Spree. The event joins together the medical and lifestyle aspects of celiac disease to educate both doctors and chefs about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet.
Here’s how it works:
* Top chefs, doctors and reporters will be put on to teams of three. Each team will have one chef, one doctor and one reporter. Together, the doctor, chef and reporter will work to create the best gluten-free meal.
* A three-person panel will judge recipes: A food critic, Dr. Ritu Verma from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and a child with celiac disease will make up the panel.
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising celiac awareness and funds for research. NFCA is made up of professionals, medical specialists, and volunteers—all dedicated to working with leading researchers around the world to better understand celiac disease and to restore health and reclaim lives.
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness reports to the Internal Revenue Service under the tax identification number of 90-0108854. All donations to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness are tax-deductible. NFCA is a United Way Agency with Donor Option Number 15403.
I made this up as an offshoot of the GFCF Currant Spice Muffins I made a few days ago. I think the true test of GF (or GFCF) baking is when non-GF’ers like it. This quick bread was gobbled up by those attending the Bible study that my hubby took it to.
Cooking notes: I am posting this recipe as I made it, but there are several variations that would likely work well.
- You could probably use rice milk, soy milk or dairy milk in place of the rice milk powder and water.
- You could probably use light brown sugar.
- You could surely use nutmeg in place of mace — mace is related to nutmeg, but has a little more delicate flavor and isn’t so gritty.
- You could probably not use the rice protein powder, but you’d probably need to make the flour ratios as follows: 1 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1 1/4 cup white rice flour, 1 1/4 cup corn starch.
- If you only use one baking gum, up it to 3 tsp.
- Lastly, if you use smaller loaf pans, you might want to bake them at 350* instead of 375*, as they will require a longer baking time, and baking them longer at 375* might yield tops that are too brown.
GFCF Molasses Spice Bread
2/3 cup cooking oil
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup water
1 rounded TBSP rice milk powder
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground mace
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 TBSP rice protein powder, measured into a one-cup measure
Enough brown rice flour to add to the rice protein powder to make 1 full cup
1 (more) cup brown rice flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp guar gum
1 cup white rice flour
2 1/2 TBSP baking powder
1 cup corn starch
Preheat oven to 375*. Line two loaf loaf pans with nonstick foil. (I used large 9″x5″ loaf pans, but smaller ones could be used, instead.)
In a large bowl, whisk together until smooth: eggs, oil, brown sugar, molasses, water, rice milk powder, vanilla, mace, ginger and cinnamon. Add rice protein powder and brown rice flour, whisking until smooth. Add white rice flour, xanthan gum, guar gum and baking powder, stirring with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until well-mixed. Add corn starch, and stir until well-mixed. Batter will be very thick.
Distribute the batter evenly between the two loaf pans, and smooth out the top of the batter until they are flat and relatively smooth.
(Again! I forgot to check the clock while baking… actually, I set the timer, and forgot to press “start”, so this baking time is approximate.) Bake for about 45 minutes at 375*F, or until the loaf springs back to touch (doesn’t feel sodden or squishy) and tests -mostly- clean with a toothpick. (Toothpick may have a few baked crumbs, but not any wet batter.) Remove from oven, pull nonstick foil out of the pans, “unwrap” the loaves, and cool on a rack. (Or, slice and eat warm!)
Optional Vanilla Cream Cheese Spread
I haven’t found dairy-free *and* soy-free cream cheese yet, so I just made this with regular cream cheese, for those who can have dairy.
1 TBSP milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
Stir together first three ingredients. Add cream cheese, and with an electric beater, blend on low. Increase speed to high, and whip until well-blended. Add milk, 1 tsp at a time, if you would prefer a softer consistency. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Short post to say that it’s the top of the 9th, and the Diamondbacks are leading the Astros 9-1. Micah Owings is well on his way to pitching his first career complete game, and to improve his record to 3-1.
Can I please say, “I told you so!!”?
Baseball has always been my favorite sport, but I’m relishing the D’backs game even more, since the Suns’ disappointing finish to the season, last week.
Yay!! He did it. 27 outs, 1 earned run. Woo-hoo!!
Now, only Livan Hernandez has more wins than he does, this season. Brandon Webb and Brandon Lyons both have 3 wins, as well, but they both have more losses. Giving up only one run will really improve his ERA, too… Good job, Micah!!