Friday, August 29, 2008

Finally, a LOOoooonngg Weekend

Since we've got a long weekend in front of us, I decided I'd better blog the last one before this one is over. We'd been trying to get away and visit family to the north for nearly two months, and we finally made it last weekend!

The process of getting ready always turns into more of big deal than it should be, but we always survive it somehow. We laugh about my lists, but every time I don't make one, we forget something. This time it was actually quite rewarding. We were able to take LOTS of hand-me-downs with us, and they'll make great school clothes for our sweet niece. PLUS there is more room HERE now. The whole hand-me-down process is really worthy of a post all its own. Another time.

We got out of town within 30 minutes of our goal, which I consider an amazing accomplishment. It was a long but not too traffic-horrific drive to our first stop - Papa's house in Santa Barbara. Papa and his wife, Dorothy, were as excited to see us as we were to be seen!

After deciding to keep with our tradition, we headed to Goleta Beach for a picnic and pier walk.
While we were waiting for Papa and Dorothy to arrive with lunch, an incredibly beautiful flock of pelicans flew by in the traditional V formation. I've seen lots of pelicans at that beach, but NEVER a flock in formation. SOoo cool!! We actually ALL saw them again later in the afternoon.

My sister and three of her kids joined us after they got out of school. (Our beach day WAS school!) The kids swam, boogie-boarded, and played in the sand, and the grown-ups soaked up the sun and scenery. We spent Friday, Saturday, and part of Sunday together and had such a good visit.

On Sunday we got to spend time with part of the other side of the family, with Woody's middle sister and family. Again, it was a great visit.

We know we're where we need to be, but it sure would be nice to be closer.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Buried Treasure

Ages ago, my sister's oldest daughter's preschool teacher introduced our family to the concept of cake-mix cookies. You can use the dough almost like playdough, except it tastes a lot better, even before you bake it! The girls used to make letters, numbers, shapes... you get the idea.

Last week, I was rummaging through my recipes looking for something easy, yummy, and preferably something requiring only ingredients that we had on hand. What I found was buried treasure! The recipe originally came from this website: (a fantasic LDS resource!), shared by Cindee Alexander. Thank you, Cindee!!

Suffice it to say that we have a new family favorite! It kicks the concept of cake-mix playdough cookies up a notch.

Here it is: Pumpkin Chocolate Chippers

2 boxes Spice cake mix, or yellow
1 large can of pumpkin (approx. 29-30 oz can)
2 cups Chocolate Chips (We used mini chips.)

Mix well. (We discovered it takes some muscle!)
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Makes a ton!

If a ton is too many for you, you can use 1 box of cake mix, a small can of pumpkin, and a cup of add-ins. Truly, no eggs, no oil. The dough is really too gooey to use as playdough. If you want that recipe, let me know. :o

Oh, we didn't have Spice cake mix, so we used one French vanilla cake mix and one carrot cake mix and added about a tablespoon of Pumpkin Pie spice. Delicioso! Next time we're going to try white chocolate chips. You could add nuts, too, or craisins. Hmmm... the possibilities are endless.

It does make a ton - but not an endless supply. Guess it's time to make some more.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Middle Ages, Botany, and Olympics, Oh My!

Like Michael Phelps, here at Wonderwood Academy we are on a roll!

We have already had four awesome days of school for the 2008-9 year. We started on Monday, August 4th, so it would have been six, but I was attacked by a very feisty bug that knocked me off my feet for a few days. I am SO grateful, ornery bugs notwithstanding, for generally decent health. This time last year I was just home from a nearly two-week stay in the hospital facing a three-month plus recovery time. It goes without saying, but I will anyway – I don’t EVER want to do that again!

What I LOVE doing is watching Jelly’s and Doodle’s enthusiasm climb from general excitement to pure and simple joy as we delve daily deeper into our “Learning Adventures.” Each time we begin a new unit study, the 24/7 aspect of homeschooling and its influence on our lives is reaffirmed. The girls have a tendency to immerse themselves in whatever period of time we are studying. Our current focus is on Medieval Times – the Middle Ages.

So today for “Show and Tell” (We started this when the girls were little and they won’t let me forget to let them do it nearly every Monday after lunch! I thought they’d have outgrown it by now, but it has turned into a good opportunity for them to do oral presentations. Who knew? ;o) Doodle (4th grade) shared her Princess Minnie doll, who is currently studying to become a knight. Jelly (6th grade) presented her entire collection of Enchanted items, putting a Middle Ages twist on her explanations. She has also been consistently naming her main character during playtime, Giselle. I don’t fully understand how it works, but Giselle and Princess Minnie are definitely having Medieval Times time-traveling adventures these days. It so warms my mama heart to hear facts and fancies we’ve learned during “school” being developed into amazing scenarios for “after school” playtime adventures!

We continue to love Math-U-See, so other than needing a new level for Jelly pretty soon, no changes there.

Our basic curriculum this year is again based on Learning Adventures. We’ll be finishing A World of Adventure and moving into A New World of Adventure. I do have specific timeframe goals but as always, they are not set in stone due to our fondness for rabbit trails.

We’re reading The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite de Angeli, along with miscellaneous other books about knights, castles, cathedrals, King Arthur, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and plants. We’ve whittled Ivory soap, dissected a rose, watched most of the DVDs our library has on the Middle Ages (still a few to go – we like to watch them while we eat lunch), eaten porridge for breakfast and beef barley soup, with dark bread for sopping, for lunch. Pease porridge and bannock are on the menu for dinner later this week.

Lapbooking and notebooking are natural fits with our unit studies, and so we continue to do both. Currently the girls are working on lap/notebooks for both history (Middle Ages) and science (Botany). We’re using a combination of project packs from Hands of a Child and free resources gathered from all over the web. This week we’re adding Art (beginning with Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts) and next week when piano lessons resume we’ll add Music Appreciation.

I’ll post pictures and links soon. I’d do it now, but I’m too tired due to staying up late to watch the Olympics. We’d be lapbooking those, too, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day!

Go Team USA!

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