Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Glazed Walnuts

One of my favorite new snacks has been glazed walnuts.  I found the recipe here but omitted the vanilla and added raisins.  I LOVE the raisins in there.  Kylen told me we should make it for company (the ultimate compliment for a recipe that meets my dietary restrictions!).  The store was out of raw walnuts once, and regular tasted fine.  The best raisins I've found are at Trader Joe's.  They are less dried out than what is typically in stores, and they don't have any bad ingredients added.  I also discovered I liked cinnamon a lot more when I tried the brand Simply Organic.

Glazed Walnuts

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups walnuts, raw

½-1 cup raisins (optional)
2 tbsp. agave nectar

¼ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon or to taste (optional)

Place oil and walnuts in a skillet and turn heat to high.  As soon as you hear the slightest sizzle, reduce heat to medium or low.  Toast walnuts a few minutes until they smell nice and nutty.

Stir in raisins.  Stir in agave and cook for a minute or two; add salt. 

Remove walnuts from pan and add cinnamon to taste.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

May Highlights 2016

I took more pictures in May than in June, thankfully.  :)  Highlights included:

*Easter #2
*Homeschool Prom (Yes, you read that right!)
*Mother's Day
*Gatherings with Friends
*New Healthy Recipes
*Piano Guys Concert
*Greg's Birthday

Kylen still had a full school schedule and his usual activities.  There were several nice gatherings with friends, most of which I didn't take pictures of!

Easter #2
Greg's parents are Romanian Orthodox, and they celebrate Easter at a different time.  Usually it's close to our Easter, but this year the two dates were far enough apart to merit a second gathering.  We shared a light meal and dessert, knocked eggs, and enjoyed watching video footage of Greg's Uncle.  Something new we tried was making our own natural dyes, which I had been wanting to do for years.  We stuck with easy methods, and only one really worked out: purplish grey from dark grape juice.  We also got a couple of faint reddish-orange eggs from paprika.  Yellow from green tea and blue from cabbage both failed.  We had dye tablets left from old kits that we used for the blue, turquoise, orange, and yellow you see below.  Oh well!  Maybe someday we'll try a couple other dyes.  Greg really liked the purplish grey.  It reminded him of rocks.

Greg's mom loves cats.  Aren't their glasses cute?

Homeschool Only Prom (HOP)
A group of families at our co-op decided to put on a prom for Christian homeschoolers with an emphasis on honoring God.  The students were invited to play a central role in the process by helping with planning, fund-raising, etc.  I have very mixed feelings about dancing, despite the fact that God's people in the Bible danced.  The biggest problem for me is that I have extremely negative associations with it.  Dancing has been so thoroughly hijacked by the world, especially in terms of suggestive moves and immodesty, it is hard for me to be around it without feeling uncomfortable.  Yet, I believe there IS a positive way of dancing.  We asked Kylen if he was interested in attending, and he was.  It was awesome that Greg and I were able to be chaperones so we could evaluate firsthand.

Although our experience couldn't wipe away decades of bias, it certainly helped my views become more balanced.  There were no couples, and a strict dress code was enforced.  The MC was a gifted individual who blew me away by how well he handled the dancing portion.  (His name is Ryan Starr, and he offers dance lessons in a Christian-friendly setting.)  He taught the teenagers numerous group dances in which their partners were always changing.  They simply started out with whoever was standing nearby or across the way!  Not much opportunity for awkwardness there.  Some of the dances were straight out of Pride and Prejudice.  It was all very fun to watch, and the food was fabulous.  Kylen had a great time and couldn't think of any way to improve it.

Mother's Day
As much as I enjoy the CDA Resort buffet, how could I choose to do anything other than continue our tradition of eating there on Mother's Day?  Afterwards, we attended a 50th birthday and adoption celebration!  :)

Basketball and frozen yogurt.  :)

New Healthy Recipes
I've discovered some great new healthy recipes the last few months.  Hoping to do posts about them!

The Piano Guys
Best concert I've ever been to (not that I've been to many!).

Greg's Birthday
Our dear friends brought character to Greg's birthday by sending his gift in their infamous jumbo mustard tub.  It was a delightful reference to their shortsightedness in purchasing more mustard than they could possibly use in a lifetime.  For dessert, I indulged Greg's request for flan.  He opened a new game, which we promptly played.  :)

Memorial Day
In honor of Memorial Day, we met my uncle's family at the cemetery in memory of my grandparents. It's always neat to see all the flowers.  Then, we had a great time visiting at a pizza and salad buffet.  On the actual day, we attended a Memorial Day BBQ with several families.  Lovely group of people, and the potluck was outstanding.  I got a recipe for the most amazing baked beans ever!  (Still holding out hope for the corn casserole!  Wish me luck!  ;)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Kylen's 2nd Year of High School Evaluation

It was fun last summer to look at what we planned at the beginning of the school year and then evaluate at the end, so I decided to do it again.  :)  I'm pretty happy with how 10th grade went.  Switching to a new math curriculum made a world of difference, and science was greatly improved by taking a more eclectic approach.

One of our biggest challenges was juggling homework with outside activities, especially after Kylen got his license.  Days were often cut short by youth group, basketball, or other outings.  He made up for it by getting up earlier and doing the bulk of lighter subjects, such as violin, over the weekend.  Occasionally he completed some work after co-op on Mondays, something we didn't do previous years.

The black text for each subject is from back at the beginning of the year followed by my current thoughts in blue.  :)

Math ~ Algebra II ~ 1 credit
We're FINALLY switching to Teaching Textbooks.  We have high hopes that this will be a happy math year instead of a nightmare like the last three years.

We didn't miss the customary two hours of math drudgery every day!  Teaching Textbooks was great.  I didn't purchase the videos, since the book includes sufficiently detailed lessons.  Kylen rarely needed help, and when he did, I was usually able to figure it out.  Sometimes we had to bring in Greg, afterall it's been 17 years since I've done this stuff!  I also have him review at the end of each year using an old A Beka textbook on basic mathematics.

Honors English II ~ Poetry & Literature and Composition ~ 1 credit
We're using the same currick as last year (literature based), but I'm bringing in a poetry unit this time.  We will also be substituting our own essay topics.

Kylen started each morning reading for an hour from the current classic in his literature currick.  He read 14 books and plays plus six novels of his own choosing for recreation.  Instead of following the outline of the modules, we waited until he finished the main book before going through the introductory information.  This prevented spoilers and allowed him to enjoy the story without worrying about what he was supposed to look for.  I didn't have him do any of the writing assignments and only covered context resources for a couple of the authors.  I researched each book on Amazon and had him skip those that sounded boring/tedious or if he didn't like them after a couple chapters.  For writing, we spent several months going through the poetry curriculum at the link above plus their intermediate and advanced curricks.  This ended up being a surprising success!  It improved his impression of poetry, which he's never liked.  He managed to write a number of poems that I plan to have him put into a digital scrapbook.  We assigned some essays, and he made huge progress on his novel.  In fact, he's nearly done with it!  He attended two writer's workshops for Christian teens, entered a few writing contests, and reviewed punctuation and grammar rules.

Science ~ Biology ~ 1 credit
Most of the homeschool families we know use Apologia, but Kylen has never liked that curriculum, or even science for that matter.  Last year, we tried A Beka, and he didn't like that either.  So this year, I decided to try a video based program.  In addition to watching videos, I will be printing out the book that goes with it and having him read this book: Exploring the World of Biology by John Hudson Tiner.  Also, he will be doing live biology labs at co-op.

The video based curriculum, Biology 101, was shockingly easy.  Supposedly, by printing out their companion book, you could turn 4 hours of video into a 1 credit biology class.  There's no way!  Their allotted times were way off for everything.  What was supposed to be an hour might take Kylen 15 minutes.  I'm serious about making sure that when we say an academic credit is 150 hours, it really is 150 hours.  As a result, I ended up massively supplementing and am pleased with the results.  The curriculum recommended reading grade school books, which I thought was a great idea to help solidify basics.  He read Apologia botany and zoology 3.  He also read the book Exploring the World of Biology, as originally planned.  Someone left an older edition of Apologia biology out on the free table at our co-op with the test and solution book, and someone recommended to Kylen that he take it home.  I'm so glad they did!  The experiments at co-op were based on Apologia biology, and it worked well to have him memorize all the module summaries and take the tests orally.  He watched tons of episodes from Blue Planet: Seas of Life to break up reading monotony.  I feel like this was a good balance for a kid who hates science and has no plans to major in it.  It wasn't as rigorous as a full blown Apologia curriculum, since he didn't read the book or do any of the homework, but it also wasn't a dumbed down year of science.

History ~ World History ~ 1 credit
Identical to last year.  Kylen will read BJU's World History textbook, and I'll be doing read alouds from Sonlight and Notgrass.  I don't test, quiz, or give assignments for this subject.  It's mostly reading, and it's incredible how much stronger his history knowledge is than mine.  Memorizing a bunch of dates and facts got me A's, but it sure didn't get much history into my head.

Kylen really enjoyed their textbook again.   I read 10 books aloud, usually during breakfast and lunch.  Our favorites were The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom and There's a Sheep in my Bathtub by Brian Hogan (didn't care for the references to speaking in tongues).  He watched the Ancient History Series and Holy Land series from Drive Thru History videos.  We visited an exhibition at the Spokane Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) and played a few versions of authors, including Explorers and Scientists.

Social Studies ~ World Geography II ~ 1/2 credit
This isn't a subject I planned for this year, but our co-op is offering it, and it sounds like a fantastic class.  Can't have too much geography, right?  Last year, we focused on location of countries, lakes, rivers, etc., read about flags, and went through an atlas and another book with information on a variety of world topics.  This class will have more culture with map work, games, missions/prayer, and personal projects.  Very different from what we did, so I think it will be worth another year of social studies.  We'll also get current events from WorldTeen again.

This class was indeed worth another year of geography.  There were numerous projects, including several presentations in front of a class of 20 students!  I couldn't give him that experience at home.  Much class time was devoted to lectures by guest speakers who had visited the countries being studied.  Another bonus: receiving a grade from someone other than me!  Before he is officially done, I am requiring he master a couple of geography games we didn't cover last year: world flags and world countries.

French I ~ 1 credit
We're going to try Rosetta Stone.  Last year's curriculum was fine, but Kylen feels he needs a change.  It was workbook based, but Rosetta Stone is on the computer, so it will definitely be different.  I may supplement with watching movies in French, reading Asterix comics, and memorizing French scriptures.

Rosetta seems to focus on speaking, so next year we will continue with Rosetta and add a textbook to improve grammar and writing.  He tried reading Asterix, but it was too difficult.  I had no idea French was so full of idioms!  He spent a half hour each day watching movies and cartoons in French with French subtitles, but the difficulty there - besides the speed of speaking - is the fact that subtitles often don't match vocals.  Who knew?  For something fun, we ate dinner at a French restaurant.

Bible ~ 1 credit
Between church, Bible study week day evenings, and youth group, I could count this as more than a credit.

And that actually increased once Kylen joined the leadership team for youth group.  I could have easily given him two credits of Bible this year.  Plus, he was more consistent with his personal time spent in the Word.

Art Appreciation ~ 1/2 credit
This is a class I'm teaching at our co-op.  I'm not using a curriculum but am planning it from scratch.  Class time will mostly be devoted to fun educational games and activities that will reinforce the information, and there will be optional homework for those desiring to earn a half credit.  I will probably do posts about it.  Homework will consist of reading through a textbook at home, watching online videos, drawing, and writing assignments.

Even though my class had very little homework other than watching videos and reading a textbook, I feel like the kids learned a lot.  The video footage totaled about 23 hours, nearly matching class time.  I also counted several drama performances we attended.  Lots of basic art topics were covered with an emphasis on learning famous artworks and artists.

Violin ~ 1/2 credit
Kylen is switching back to violin, which he's very excited about.  He tried cello over the summer and didn't care for it.  He's taking lessons at Creative Music Learning Center.  To get a half credit, he has a half hour lesson each week and 1 1/2 hours of practice minimum.  It works out to practicing about 1/2 hour four days a week.

Kylen enjoyed violin, but he is considering switching back to guitar.  I think he just gets tired of playing the same instrument and feels a need for change.  He had two recitals, and I counted attendance of two concerts as part of the class.

PE ~ 1/2 credit?
I'm not sure he'll be able to pull this one off, especially since he won't have basketball at co-op.  Greg wants him to try, so I'm having him be in charge of making it happen.  If it doesn't work out, no big deal.  He'll still have two years to finish up PE credits.

There was no trouble pulling this off!  He definitely earned a half credit just in basketball, maybe more like a full credit.  There have been a variety of other physical activities such as tennis, laser tag, tubing, and badminton.

I'm in the process of planning for next year.  At this point, we're in no hurry to start dual enrollment.  I could see him beginning college classes in his senior year, but there's no rush.  We continue to pray for guidance concerning his education and future.  :)