Thursday, April 13, 2006

 

I've Moved!

I've decided to move my blog over to homeschooljournal.net. The main reason is because I want to support a great homeschool online community, and I like being with more homeschoolers. They also allow categories, and have a very easy interface.
So, please come see me at my new home, and change any links you may have to this blog. Go to:
learningumbrella.homeschooljournal.net

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

 
Carbon was a big help building the worm box.
I gave him a bunch of my yarn scraps, and he cut them up to put out as nesting materials for birds. So far, no birds have come to take some yarn, which is bumming him out. Hopefully they'll find it soon!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

 

Our new "pets"

We finished the wormbox we've been building, and this weekend we drove out to a worm farm my husband found with an internet search. The farm was about 40 minutes away from our house, and it was an interesting place. They were very happy to show Carbon how the worms were bred and how they compost. It was cool, and I'm glad to support a small business, but these little crawlers are expensive! It was $15/lb for the worms, and then we also had to get some bedding to start the box with. We're following the advice in the book on the subject: Worms Eat My Garbage. I'm not completely thrilled with how much space the box is taking up in my kitchen, and I know I will not be thrilled at all if it causes an infestation of fruit flies this summer, which the book warns can sometimes happen. But, it'll be nice to break down our kitchen waste faster, and the boys are really into this. In fact, we may have to put a lock on the box, because Carbon is very excited about "checking" the worms all the time. His dad is making him a little plexiglass container for a few worms, so he can watch them as they move about and dig. That will be cool, like a window underground.
So, I've got a big box of dirt and worms in my kitchen - the sacrifices we make for the environment and our childrens' education!

Friday, April 07, 2006

 

If it's Friday, it must be Pizza

I'm trying to simplify some of the things that make my life crazy. One of those things is deciding what's for dinner - not making dinner, just deciding. Isn't that silly? Don't get me wrong, I love to flip through cookbooks, or surf on over to allrecipes.com, and I love to try new and adventurous recipes and ideas. I love to be in my kitchen, kneading dough or cutting out cookies. But - - - it does get overwhelming to always be trying something new, to never be able to grocery shop without a list of those "special" new ingredients for some exotic new dish. So, I'm taking some of the pressure off myself. I'm just going to make homemade pizza every Friday, unless we're doing something social. It's perfect and easy. I can mix up the dough in the early afternoon while Carbon naps, and let it rise until dinner time. Then, I can prebake the crust and leave it sitting until my husband gets home. Everyone can put what they like on their part of the pizza, and it bakes up in less than 15 minutes after that! Everyone likes it, and it makes decent leftovers for a quick Saturday lunch, if there are any leftovers.

Wheat-Free Pizza Crust

1 1/2 c. gluten free flour mix (or 1/2 cup rice flour, 1/2 tapioca flour, and 1/2 cup corn starch)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup water, barely warm
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

1. Measure the water, add 1/2 T of sugar, and drop in the yeast to dissolve.
2. Beat together the egg, oil, vinegar, and the rest of the sugar. Add the yeast water.
3. Stir in the dry ingredients until smooth.
4. Cover and let rise. It may look soupy or like pancake batter - that's OK.
5. Pour onto an oiled cookie sheet, with edges. Spread with a spatula, then bake about 5 minutes at 350F.
6. Top with your favorites, and bake about 10-15 more minutes.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

 

Easter Egg Ideas


It's that time of year - time to dye some Easter Eggs! It's sad, I'll have to buy some eggs. My chickens all lay brown or blue eggs- not great for dyeing.

I got a cool idea from a magazine in the dentist's office, but I haven't tried it so no personal guarantees!: Tie Dyed Eggs can be made by placing hard boiled eggs in a colander in your sink. Dash a 1/2 cup of vinegar over the eggs. Now take 2 to 3 colors of food coloring and drip them onto the eggs, gently shaking them about to spread the colors around. It was suggested to start with yellow, then do darker colors on top.

Another egg idea, this time using vegetable dyes, comes from My Bountiful Life.

A lot of ideas from Twin Groves School District - I like the marble eggs idea.

Or you can virtually decorate an egg at akidsheart - it's silly.

Yet more ideas for eggs are over at dltk-kids. I'm going to try their stone easter egg technique.

Amazing Moms has some ideas that are very small child friendly - but I'm not going to glue yarn on my egg faces to make hair. Just not my style, sorry. I am intrigued by their idea to wrap eggs in plants, stuff into a nylon, and then boil. I might try that one.

Another idea that I haven't seen on any of the sites I've surfed:
Masked Off Eggs
materials: hardboiled white eggs, masking tape, scissors, hole punches, egg dye (commercial kit is fine). For the hole punches, experiment with some of the cool ones that are sold for scrap booking - I've used a little carrot and a little tulip punch but the bunny one didn't work on masking tape. You'll have to try what you have.
1. set up - boil the eggs, mix the dyes, protect your work surface, etc.
2. cut out shapes from the masking tape, and apply to the egg. The eggs need to be really dry so the masking tape sticks on all the way. Press the edges down firmly. Be creative here - my cousin cut out strips and arranged them to look like the Kiss band logo, and I cut out ovals and arranged them to be a rabbit. Whatever you can think of, or randomly stick on little punched out shapes.
3. Dye the eggs in desired colors, then let dry.
4. peel off the masking tape to reveal your design.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

 

start them early


Here's Carbon helping paint his Grandma's new house. Get kids started early and they'll be skilled help later!

 

Women Making the World a Better Place

It's a beautiful day today, with the sun gracing us with its presence and the clouds gracing us with their absence. I managed to do 45 minutes of yoga uninterrupted, and take a shower by myself (no babe in arms). I've had my coffee and yogurt, and a little phone chat with my mother. I feel like one of the luckiest women in the world today!
So, I think I should turn my attention to ways I can spread the joy:
A Stitch in Time, is a yarn shop that helps at-risk teens
Warming Families sends blankets and other warm items to homeless families
Women for Women International goes all over the world, even to some pretty scary places, and helps women support themselves and their children and live happier lives. I'm impressed they provide counseling services to women who have been raped in war torn areas.
Any other projects or charities I should put on my list?

Monday, April 03, 2006

 

Grumpy children

I think Daylight Savings is stupid. Who can explain to me why this is a good idea? My whole day today is an exercise in trying to ease my kids onto a slightly different schedule, and they are grumpy little ones right now. Actually, Carbon has been grumpy a lot since his sister arrived. He's still pretty great with other people, but he can melt down for me. I was feeling like this is a sign that something has gone wrong with my mothering, but I found a great discussion in the book What Mothers Do by Naomi Stadlen: "A cross child trusts his mother and has expectations of her. He asks more of her than of other people because she is close to him and seems to understand him. ... Children's crossness, which can often indicate how much the children trust their mothers, is usually misunderstood". What a reassuring idea! He just trusts me and believes I'll somehow make it all better for him! He doesn't all of a sudden dislike me and prefer his grandma or his dad.
The rest of this book is also very good. It points out that the "work" of mothering is hard to pin down, misunderstood, and easy to fail at but hard to "successfully finish". So true - it's a very vulnerable position for our egos, really! I can't ever point to my children and say, "see what a good job I did today". The work I put into them so easily disappears under hunger, tiredness, or other situations that cause them to "act out" and show me up as a "bad mother". And I'm not "working" when I'm with them - I'm actually doing more conventionally defined work when I ignore them all day! The old complaint of "I got nothing done today" can be heard when you spent the whole day playing, feeding, teaching, interacting, comforting, planning, watching, protecting, and entertaining your kids!

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