Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Healthy Living--Food! It's a Blessing, not a Curse.

I have heard myself saying the same things lately to my kids, my friends, and random people as they come up in conversation. It seems that health is rather elusive as of late.  I'm starting to think whatever mainstream is touting, the healthier choice is likely the opposite!

We concentrate on 5 areas to be healthy at our house.  Here's #1!  FOOD! I think people have some pretty interesting ideas about food these days. Bottom line: God gave it to us. He expects us to master the food, not the other way around. We need to be thankful stewards of what we have.  If someone has to steer clear of a food for whatever reason, it's all good....just don't expect others to jump on board your conviction.  Give info (if asked) and let them choose.

I'm not a food Nazi, but then no one has allergies at our house so there's no immediately terrible consequences if we indulge occasionally. The two words I keep saying to myself and my kids are "small portions" and "occasional treats".  I don't like a long list of "bad..."  words, foods, things you don't do.  It seems to beg "cheating" and that brings guilt.  So I'd rather not have a lot of rules and be guided by general principles, common sense, and your conscience instead. (The Holy Spirit might talk about this if you're a believer too.) 

We try to cut down on processed food. Someone once told me to shop around the outside of the grocery story (usually the produce, meat,dairy and whole food are there). 

Breakfast is pretty simple around here. Typically we have homemade granola (used often in parfaits) and baked or crockpot granola on hand for breakfast. Eggs, sourdough bread and fruit (alone or smoothies) round out the offerings. I buy a box of cereal occasionally. Sorry, but a bowl of Life cereal just makes a lovely break some days!
                                                      Image result for picture baked oatmeal

Lunches are usually leftovers or sandwiches--on sourdough bread,  meat/cheese rolled, or lettuce wraps. Everyone gets their own lunch since we home school and we're working on our subjects and projects, it's just easier.  I usually check with the kids periodically to see what they've had to eat that day and suggest fresh veggies when needed. They seem to do well otherwise.

Suppers are the big planned productions. Sigh...we can call this meal "job security".  I'm not a foodie. I like to cook somewhat, but by 5 pm each day, I'm tired so  knowing that about myself, I usually plan easy food ahead. One thing that's helped is a menu for the month. We try to eat something different every night of the month.  Generally one night is a crockpot large meat dish (whole chicken, roast, and occasionally ham or pork roast or turkey).  We eat that and have enough broth and leftovers to make soup or pull the meat for sandwiches/rice bowls/meal salads.  We also generally have one soup a week in the summer and two in the winter. It's yummy, warm and healthy and reheats well! "Breakfast for dinner" is a quick Wednesday meal since we have classes all day and then AWANA at night.  Favorites there include: baked oatmeal, crockpot steel cut oatmeal, frittatas, omelets, french toast and pancakes.  I try to grill once a week--because one of the boys usually helps with that. I also plan at least one chicken and one ground beef/turkey meal a week because it's cheap when we get our meat from Zaycon and the farm.  We usually have a couple raw and one cooked. And sometimes I have a carb but not always. I think we have plenty during the day so don't need a lot more starchy things at dinner.  But hey, this week I had a cornbread stuffing mix and it was DIVINE with the chicken.  Once in a while...

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We rarely have dessert which was a hard lesson to learn coming from the farm where dessert was an after school snack AND an after supper treat every day. One might not have to wonder why diabetes runs in the family, huh?  I do try to add a smoothie here and there and if we just HAVE to make pudding or have ice cream, we use small custard cups and enjoy our small pleasures.  My daughter likes to bake, so I usually have her do that when we're going to be out for fellowship meal or for a get together with other families.  That way you can have a couple and share the wealth.  We sometimes grab a Blizzard at DQ...a large size shared 5 ways is about right.  And McD's ice cream, though I'm not sure what's in it, is a nice treat when we've been out all day and just need a little bite to get us through to dinner.  I keep those plastic sleeve popscicles in the freezer during the summer because I want the neighbor kids playing at my house where I can happen by and play a bit every once in awhile.  (I learn some interesting things and insert a few mom-ism's.)

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Some of our favorite healthy, fun choices are: 
Nuts (with a couple chocolate chips equals a candy bar),
Kale chips (20 min in the oven on 300 w/ a little oil and spices),
Water kefir (made with grape juice makes a great 'soda'),
Baked oatmeal w/ a handful of chocolate chips or blueberries (cut into "treat bars").

Some of my favorite ways to not waste food are:
The 'dump' soup out of bone broth --I've never had it turn out badly.  Good way to get rid of small amounts of leftovers. 
Smoothies are great places to use up that produce that's about ready to go bad.

Small portions and occasional treats.  That's the mantra EXCEPT-- The only time I'm a Nazi is if someone's coming down with some 'ick'.  Then NO SUGAR period, end of discussion. It's an immune suppressor.  Frankly, we cut way back on food period if someone's coming down with 'ick'. If you're sick you get filtered water, herbal tea, bone broth, veggie/fruit smoothies (maybe), and Vitamin C every hour until you are at least a day past ick!   Do not pass GO; do not collect $200; go to bed and/or go get an Epson salt bath with some essential oils. Rarely do we get sick. Very rarely does it spread through the house if we follow that protocol.

What are some healthy snacks you like? I'm always on a hunt!

These are recipes for things I talked about. But the disclaimer is that I don't think I've every really followed a recipe in my life. I kind of dump what I have in...

Monday, August 1, 2016

School Plans 2016-7

I'm so excited. I spent all of last week working on long range plans for the kids.  It's so fun to get out the new books and see all the exciting and wonderful things they will learn this year. We always are praying that along with knowledge, they will apply godly wisdom so that they truly can learn and apply their lessons as they walk with Jesus more each year.

Image result for awana books picThe kids are all excited to continue with AWANA another year.  Gabe is our last kiddo in the elementary aged group. He's excited to be in the Ultimate Challenge group and learn even more about life's questions, their answers and Bible verse support.  I love the concept of not just knowing what is right but knowing where in the Bible it is to always be ready to give an answer for the hope within you. Elly will begin the junior high program, Trek which like Isaiah's high school, Journey program, is helping transition the kids to more independent Bible study and spiritual disciplines while providing some accountability.  I think the accountability is so needed for us to walk in integrity in this world where evil is often called good and good called evil.

We are continuing Saxon Math this year with Algebra 2, Algebra 1 and Math 76. I am impressed with this curriculum. Isaiah and Elly both took the CAT survey tests and had 99th percentile rankings in math and I know Saxon's diligent and far reaching scope and sequence is a lot of the reason why. Of course we want kids who understand Math since it's a life skill for money management and economics but even more, Math is a great tool for developing attention to detail, accuracy and thinking skills.  This year, they are all on their own unless they ask for help.  I want my kids to learn to learn on their own and Math is fairly straightforward. It's either right or you redo it.  Asking for help is a skill my kids need to learn since it seems that they often try to go it on their own and don't ask until things are chaotic. I'm hoping learning this skill will also translate into their relationship with the Holy Spirit...learning to lean on Him and ask for help rather than go it alone and end up in the bad spot.

Image result for apologia science pidImage result for apologia physical science science picApologia Science has been another foundation we've used all the way up. I was impressed (and intimidated a bit) by the high school Biology Isaiah studied last year. This year, it's Physical Science for him which I think will be easier. We're going to focus on lab reporting for all the kids this year more.  The scientific method is great but making the necessary notations so someone else can duplicate your experiment is important and the discipline to do that well is a good lifeskill.  Gabe and Elly are going to study the Young Explorers Chemisty and Physics book along with their co-op's use of the AIG books on the same subjects. We are going to use the Notebook that goes along with it for more accountability for vocabulary, lab book, and nature sketching.  We'll fill in with Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study along the way as well since journaling and nature study is another foundation that aids the kids in learning to observe and appreciate the creation around them and their awesome Creator.  We're finishing up Nutrition 101: Choose Life! during the summer which was a nice blend of anatomy and nutrition and general health.  It produced some good discussions about what makes good health and how far one needs to go before food is ruling you and not the other way around.

Image result for miller/guerber story of the greeksImage result for notgrass world history picI found a great little gem in the Notgrass History series. Isaiah finished half of the World History (which also includes World Lit, English Comp and Bible Survey) last winter/spring. He's going to finish that up this fall semester.  I wish I had such a thorough and interesting World History book. I might not have hated Social Studies.  I love the "In Their Own Words" lit book that accompanies the history texts as well. Isaiah like the quiz/test format and is learning to do better with some of the papers.  He's counting on English Comp at Metro to fill in gaps since it seems that writing for Mom is not very motivating for him.  I'm anxious for him to have to fulfill deadlines and receive feedback from someone else.  El and Gabe are going to take a break from the overview style we've used every hear up to this point. They are going to do an in depth study of the Greeks with the book editted by Christine Miller called "Story of the Greeks" by Guerber.  It's an old book but the editting is wonderful and brings the Biblical worldview into the Progressive thought that would have been prevalent when Guerber wrote the book originally. The co-op kids are reading this together and will use the chapters to practice outlining, narrating and presentations while working on European/Asian geography and geography terms as well.  I think the Greeks are foundational for the Romans and in turn that is a huge part of our country's foundation so understanding the Greek's secular culture will help the kids deal with their secular culture today.

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Language Arts continues to evolve for us as I see what the kids are struggling with and try to meet that need.  This year, Isaiah's just going to plow through "The Best Grammar Workbook Ever". He seems to do well with the workbook format (much to my consternation) and needs the review. He's going to try out a Master's Book Biblical Greek Curriculum and add a Logic Workbook. We're hopeful that he will finish all of it before he hits Metro in the spring.  Elly and Gabe will continue with the All About Spelling curriculum which has been helpful in it's easy presentation of spelling rules. I think now that reading is easier, the writing will come.  We are going to use Grammar and Sentence Diagramming this year for co-op and of course practice our writing using writer's workshop (some IEW, some Lost Tools and just general writing skills).  They will continue some dictation which seems to help Elly more than the spelling lists and gives them a little handwriting practice.  Latin is going to review roots again and emphasize how those roots make up a lot of our English prefixes/suffixes which should aid our spelling and vocabulary.  We will continue to play with Spanish in the off weeks and summer.

We will continue to choose extra curricular activities that promote character and give life skills to the kids.  Everyone is on for Aikido this fall. El and I will go to the ladies' self defense class while the guys hit the Aikido classes.  I like the protocol, having to interact with all kinds of people and the physical and mental challenge.  Isaiah will continue with Vex robotics in the high school division and he's looking into the Navy Sea Cadets as well. He enjoyed working with Camp Assurance to teach VBS using the Child Evangelism Curriculum this summer and would like to continue with Elly next summer.  I think all of those activities will give him real world skills and make him accountable to other people and he learns more interpersonal skills and has a real opportunity to live his faith.  Elly will continue with ballet and tap class and add Irish Dance and Art this fall semester at the Learning Center.  She's always our motivated, creative one.  She has joined Bright Lights: a girls' accountability group and Bible study which is full of new and old friends.  Gabe is our sportsy kid.  He loved Upward Basketball and Y Baseball so will continue with those two sports and dabble in everything else.  He's going to do Irish Dance with El and Leathercrafting for his Fine Arts lessons this fall.  They all want to try drama next January together. I'm not sure they need practice with that ;).