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Mutant Bunnies

Posted by on February 12th, 2018

Curriculum for Health, PreK-12

Health is one of those vague areas that is both broad and awkward. And how do you decide what to cover? Is health stuff like “brush your teeth and don’t eat what you find on the sidewalk”? Or is it “here’s how the heart works”? So many choices. I think it’s a good idea to get a good spine going, and then customize it to how it fits your family. Better to customize your faith component than have someone else tell you how to do it, I feel. But I’m weird that way.

A free, complete health curriculum – all the way to high school.

Posted by on April 5th, 2017

Cooking school for kids: Onions and garlic

This week: French Onion Soup and Cheesy Garlic Bread

So I started looking for a curriculum framework for this cooking class. I decided I’d stick with going through foodstuffs, starting with the fundamentals and then moving into other combinations and exotics further down the line. I reasoned that they’d have to pick up fundamental physical skills so they might as well get a little schooling in fundamental flavors at the same time.

What’s more fundamental than garlic and onions? Nothing. Unless you’re a devout Buddhist, in which case my class has very little to offer you, because we’re also doing meat. Sorry.

Onions

As a sack of onions was a whopping $.59, it was an easy choice for chopping practice: uneven shape (so they have to figure out how to stabilize), slicing practice (regular cuts), and using the whole produce item (chop everything up, even the strangely-shaped bits). But then, the obvious question: what do you do with a mountain of onions?

Caramelize them, that’s what. Melt the butter, toss the onions to coat, salt them a bit, and cover to sweat. Leave them to soften about 10 minutes. Uncover, and stir every 5-10 minutes. The moisture will help you scrape the fond off the bottom which will, in turn, add color to the onions. They should be golden brown by about the 40 minute mark. Try one – if you like how they taste at this point, you’re done! If you want them darker, keep stirring every 5 minutes or so until you get them the way you like.

At this point, you can either put them away, or start turning them into soup.

Option A: Freeze in 1/4 cup portions. Keeps for a long time in the freezer.
Option B: Heat up 8 cups of stock. Get out some flour, and stir it into the onions. Cook for a minute or two, and start ladling in the stock. Once the two are combined, let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Posted by on March 10th, 2017

Avast, the briny sea

Grilling boneless chicken breasts , Rule 7: ALWAYS brine them first.

Not even negotiating on this one. Brine, brine brine. The end.

1/4 C coarse salt

1/4 C sugar (brown preferred but white will work)

1/2 tsp black peppercorns (20 by count if you have to ask)

2 bay leaves (I won’t hold you to it; I typically toss in 3)

1 C hot water

3 C cold water

1 lemon, sliced thin

1 sm onion, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, mashed

About 8 breasts chicken

Method:

Combine in a large bowl: salt, sugar, peppercorns, bay leaves. Add hot water and stir until crystals are dissolved. Add cold water, mixture should come to about room temperature. Add chicken, then top with lemon, onion and garlic. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. 

Posted by on September 30th, 2016

Gack.

February sucks. (Which is why it’s particularly nice that it’s now March.)

Why? Because as far as the school year goes, it’s Hump Month. (Stop Thinking That Right Now, You.) Seriously: you’ve survived the onslaught of the holidays, with that 3-day weekend blip for MLK. Once you’re past Valentine’s and Presidents, what’s left?

A whole lot of Are We There Yet? until spring break kicks in, that’s what.

No wonder more people want to quit homeschooling in February than any other month. (Okay, I don’t know that for a fact. But if the homeschool message boards are any indicator, the number of posted topics that read “I WANT TO QUIT” sure seem to spike around 2/18.)

What do you do?

Take a break. Flexibility is one of the main reasons we started homeschooling in the first place. We did school lite over the summer precisely so we could drop everything and say to hell with school for three days in the middle of the “regular” school year and not feel guilty about it.

Revisit your plan. Maybe the reason your kids say school is boring is because, well, school is boring. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut – drop the curriculum blinders and look around. Maybe it’s time to shake things up a little.

Get them out of the house for a while. Yes, I know going out while the weather’s crappy is a pain. But it’s a change of scenery, leaving the house if half the fun, and your kids get a nice dose of vitamin D from the UV rays. See? Now it’s a health lesson.

Chin up. Spring break is coming!

Posted by on March 9th, 2010

Hippies

Pookus recently finished a month-long book project wherein each student developed a short story, illustrated it, and then pasted it all together into a blank book. They had an author’s tea where each student read their book aloud to assembled parents and classmates. I know I’m bragging when I say Pookus’ book drew a healthy amount of appreciative laughter, both for story and illustrations.

Her book was entitled The Carnivorous Bear-Eating Frog, a humorous little tome about a mysterious creature that attempts to lure a cute little bear into a lake to be eaten. Fortunately, the bear overpowers the frog, promptly dispatches the amphibian and hauls him home for dinner. Bear invites everyone he knows to share the feast, laughter abounds, the end.

Pookus brought her creation home today and with it came a grading rubric. She received an A-, and the written comments indicated that points were removed for – are you ready for this? – “Random violence”. Because… self-defense is random violence? Are you KIDDING me?

Posted by on June 9th, 2009

Not From Around Here, Are You?

Stuffed animals are universal (more or less), right? But here is a classic example of Why We Aren’t Quite Average. Other people’s children carry around bears, mice, turtles, etc.

My children carry around:

p-640-480-cf3664e6-1572-4ce0-84dc-18fa64142c6c.jpeg

A marsupial
and

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A giant plush representation of a plague virus. And they love them.

I was reading another homeschooler discussion the other day, where the mom was listing different kinds of homeschoolers:

  1. normal ones,
  2. mouth-breathing ones,
  3. gifted ones,
  4. and “the ones we all think are just plain crazy – come on, everybody knows at least ONE.”

We fall firmly into categories 3 and 4.

Posted by on February 25th, 2009

Unburdened by tact

Why do I love 5-year-olds? Because they are generally unburdened by the constraints of tact. Oh, to be an age where you can freely express your mind and be utterly unconcerned about the reactions of others. (Whereas now I’m merely mildly concerned with the reactions of others.)

So: we took all the kids to see a family theater performance at the Kennedy Center on the weekend. “Unleashed: The Secret Lives of White House Pets” revolves around the uncertainties expressed by a new First Daughter and her beloved but high-strung Chihuahua. They are sent back in time to meet previous White House pets, and in the end gain some confidence and courage, happy happy.

The story takes them through eight (yes, eight) visits, which was a lot even for older kids. The material was stretched pretty thin at times, and was particularly tedious in spots where the author inserted multiple rather dry monologues.

Well, we finally reached Pet Eight, a snake owned by Alice Roosevelt. Unfortunately, halfway through The Snake’s slightly lengthy monologue, The Boy decided he’d had enough.

We were in the SECOND ROW, house left. I was sitting in the middle of our section, when suddenly from my left, The Snake’s monologue is interrupted by:

“BLAAAAAAH BLAH BLAH, BLAH BLAH BLAAAH BLAH.”

My head snapped left, along with every adult in my row and the lady sitting directly in front of me. I could see the Husband turned in his seat, shielding the boy in an attempt to hush him.

I slowly, guiltily returned to face forward, only to be met by grins from the other adults: apparently, The Boy was not alone in his sentiments.

Posted by on February 20th, 2009

Decompression

Well, when the new semester started up The Boy and I started off with a schedule where we sat down and did workbook pages every day, twice  a day for about 20 min at a time. This did not bear any fruit, and in fact resulted in a couple of somewhat frustrating days.

Solution: take a break, just cool off and learn other stuff less formally for a while. Outcome: The Boy has suddenly decided that maybe reading is a good idea, and has taken off on a tear of sounding out letters to  make words. I think we may be getting somewhere.

Posted by on February 9th, 2009

Life in the Uninformed Lane

I live out by the left elbow of a leftist county, located in an equally leftist state. (Okay, to be fair, it’s not true that the entire state is leftist. Just the two most populous counties, which unfortunately leaves the other 22 in the lurch.)

The husband hasn’t quite acclimated himself to the everyday nonsense that passes for liberal ideology around here. I grew up here (not in the elbow – I was much closer to the armpit) so I’ve developed something of an immunity (mostly in the form of ignoring that which you cannot change, namely the attitudes of one’s friends and neighbors. And family.) On the other hand, there are days when even my well-callused brain cannot ignore the rank idiocy that passes through my sphere:

So, Pookus brings home a class newsletter this week announcing the upcoming activities to celebrate “Peace Week”. This is the time of year where the entire school has to give up instructional time to “celebrate peace”. Now, I don’t mind celebrating peace. I think peace is a great thing. But observe:

…as part of our Peace Week activities, we will be viewing An Inconvenient Truth

Ummm… WTF? They’re also viewing a movie about a Mexican boy who illegally enters the US to reunite with his mother… who is already here illegally. Husband says not to fly off the handle, a movie about illegal immigrants may be a good story anyway – but I’m inclined toward the They’re Indoctrinating The Kids Again Damnit argument. It’s not like there isn’t already a demonstrated history of it.

First, on the subject of Peace Week (which is scheduled specifically to coincide with MLK’s birthday): Hey! People! Mr. King was about civil rights, not peace. Yes, he achieved his goal using non-violent methods, and he did it peacefully… but by canning it as peace, y’all are really missing the point of his struggle.

I can only guess that the logic process (if you can call it logic) went like this:

Mr. Gore : awarded the Nobel Peace Prize :: Gore : represents peace

It’s a stretch, but so much fascist ideology is. I wonder if any of them know that the Peace Prize is the only one that the Swedes don’t award? (The Norwegians do.) And by the way, they gave that same prize to YASSER ARAFAT. Boy, there’s someone who represents peaceful measures.

If you’re going to make the kids sit through two days of movies to honor MLK’s struggle, hmm, let’s see, what’s a movie about another civil rights leader who achieved his goals using peaceful means, and has a worldwide reputation… GHANDI, maybe?

I could go on for pages about idiots, idiots who don’t bother to read history, idiots who don’t bother to read current events, idiots who don’t connect the dots between current events, history, and common sense – but I’ll just leave it as URRRRRGGGGGHH. Thank you for listening.

Posted by on January 10th, 2009