I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Museum Day - Ybor City

All together at the Old Ybor City bakery, now Ybor City Historical Museum
Last Saturday, we took advantage of the Smithsonian Magazine's Free Museum Day to visit Ybor City's Historical Museum.  It was a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon, learning about local history - a good fieldtrip opportunity.
In honor of the many immigrants that came to Ybor in the 19th century
Thousands relocated to Ybor with the promise of labor and affordable housing.  They worked in the cigar factories, the booming local industry in those days.

Michael and Michelle patiently waited as I took some shots of this Seminole Indian, or so they thought...

The old bakery's oven
The museum was housed in the old Ybor bakery, which burned down in 1833.  All that was left standing was the outer bricks on the building and the oven.

Cigar workers

The 'lectore'

Cigar worker's house
The park ranger gave us a tour of one of the old houses where the tobacco workers lived and gave us some interesting facts about why they came to Ybor City. The cigar factory owners offered inexpensive house loans at zero interest to be paid in eight years. 

Courtship room
 He also told us this was the "courtship room."  I thought that was interesting.  It sounded like people really gave their daughters an opportunity to entertain their suitors in a much safer environment than today's daughters have. 
Each house had its own garden plot where they grew most, if not all, of the vegetables they ate.

...and I'm glad we don't have these any more!

Linking with Five Minutes for Mom

Monday, September 27, 2010

What's for lunch? - Hot Cheese Toast

I expect my children to ask me this question on school days by around 11 AM.  Lunch isn't just the time when we eat, it's also when we take a one hour break.  I'm not certain of whether they are hungry or just in need of a break when they ask me that question, but I do know that if I don't have something prepared already, I'd better be thinking about what is for lunch and getting it ready. 

This morning, Emily was the first to ask.  I know she was hungry because she was sick last week and didn't eat much, now she is trying to get caught up. 

Tasha Tudor Cookbook
 I was in the middle of looking at one of my favorite cookbooks this time of year when she asked.  The very first recipe in the book is called Nancy's Cheese Rounds. I decided that an appetizer like this one with fruit would do just fine for our lunches today. 

My interest in Tasha Tudor began about 12 years ago, when I first started homeschooling my oldest daughter.  I loved reading Tasha Tudor's children's books to her, and we both enjoyed Tasha's beautiful illustrations.  My youngest is now the same age as Gabi was then, so I am going through those beautiful books with her too.  Tasha Tudor created a fascinating world around herself, a simpler and very appealing world to me.

When I first bought Tasha's cookbook, I went to her website and discovered that she had written a page commenting on her cookbook and said that the publishers had changed her recipes before printing and halved all the garlic in them, saying that the public wouldn't like having so much garlic.  Ever since then, I have doubled the garlic in all the recipes.  So, my version of her Hot Cheese Rounds has double the garlic, plus mine aren't round, they are just regular bread shapes.  No need to be that fancy when I'm not making these for appetizers.

Hot Cheese Toast
Adapted from The Tasha Tudor Cookbook

6 slices of sandwich bread - I followed her advice and used Pepperidge Farms, but not white bread.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg, well beaten
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper

Heat the broiler.

Place two pats of butter on each side of your bread slices, then fry them in a hot skillet until brown.  Cool

In a bowl, cream together the cream cheese and the egg yolk, then add the grated cheese, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the cheese mixture on the bread, taking care to spread it carefully to the edges so the toast does not burn.  Put the toasts on a baking sheet and place it under the heated broiler until the cheese is puffed and browned.  Keep a sharp eye on it while broiling.

I think Tasha Tudor would have been proud of my dish, served with home grown figs.  If you happen to have a fig tree, you must have one with this dish...  If you don't have one, she would tell you to put one in your yard right away and enjoy!

You can see more great recipes by clicking on the sites I'm linking with:
Meatless Monday
Mouthwatering Monday
Hearth and Soul
Tempt My Tummy
Delicious Dishes

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nature Journal - Camphor Tree

On our Friday nature walk, we went looking at trees.  The Camphor tree that grows near our back door is a favorite with the kids because of its low branches; it's the perfect climbing tree.  It also caught our eyes because it has a few red leaves, a reminder of fall colors in other parts of the country.  We decided to focus on it and learn more about it.

Michelle was interested in its branches because she has been learning how to draw texture in art class, and drawing tree branches was part of her assignment.  I love it when we can bring several subjects together.  Her drawing of the Camphor tree would do double duty - I color copied it, so she could use it for her nature journal and her art assigment.

We discovered that the Camphor tree is an evergreen, native of South-East Asia - China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. 

This motivated Michelle to go to the globe and locate those countries.  One of the beauties of the Charlotte Mason method is that kids are eager to learn and discover things on their own, it instils the love of learning in them; and that is one of our goals in education.

We also found that camphor oil comes from the Camphor tree, and it has medicinal uses.  The girls got to smell the crushed leaves where the oil is extracted from.  The wood from Camphor trees is supposed to be nice for building furniture.

 One of the things we like about this tree is that the leaves, when they come out and they're new, have a nice redish tone to them.

Emily's drawings and labels of the Camphor Tree
 I read in Floridata that Camphor trees are an invasive species in the South East United States, so I used the opportunity to talk to the girls about the problems we have here in Florida because of plants and animals that are brought from tropical areas in other countries, like the Burmese Python that has invaded the Everglades, and how important it is to not allow exotic animals or plants to be brought and released into the wild where they can disrupt native species. 

I am not sure how our Camphor tree ended up in our back yard except that our home's previous owners loved trees and planted a variety of them everywhere.  They were from out of state and missed the trees they were used to seeing in their home state.  They actually travelled there and brought trees home to plant.  As a result, we have lots of nice trees, and most of them are great additions.  The birds love nesting in them, and we enjoy watching and listening to them.

 We will have to decide whether we can keep the tree.  If we do need to cut it down, maybe we will keep some of the wood and have something made out of it...

I am linking with:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eggs, cells, and science!

We've been getting an egg a day from our spring chickens since they started laying last week.  We've never had eggs like these.  The chickens we had before were getting feedstore layer crubs...  We've since learned that wasn't the best and set out to make our own chicken feed mix, and made sure they spent lots of time out grazing in the yard.  The results are remarkable...

Today, we began studying a lesson about the cell in science.  The girls got to look at our little eggs with their magnifying lenses and discovered that the shells have lots of little, tiny holes everywhere... Eggs are living things, a connection with last week's lesson!  Those tiny holes help keep moisture levels just right for the chicks that could be growing inside the egg.  God thought of the smallest details when He created everything!

Discovering the tiny holes on the egg shells

...so we cracked a couple of those eggs as part of the lesson.  They are so orangey and healthy looking!  The girls had them for snack when we were done. 

One big cell to look at!
Tomorrow, we'll be learning some more about cells with more hands-on fun.  We are really loving our Life Science curriculum this year.  The lessons are making great impressions on them, so they remember what they've learned.  What could be better?

Linking with Friday blog hop and Friendly Friday Follow!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Done for this day!

On Wednesdays, Don leaves for school with Gabi at around 8:30.  They commute together, because his job is just down the road from her college campus.  We try to get our day started by 8:00.
Michael checks his planner to see what he has to work on today.

Michelle recites her vocabulary.  We are learning Greek words that are common roots for English words this year, using English from the Roots Up. It is a simple and straight-forward exercise, through every-day repetition by recitation, she learns a word a week, plus several derivatives of each word.  There is some historical background to the words in the textbook, and we go through that.  For example, we learned the the word 'biblos' means 'book' and comes from the name of a Phoenician town in antiquity named 'Biblos.'  The papyrus from Biblos was used to make scrolls (Biblos).  And thus we get the word 'Bible' which originally was written on scrolls (biblos). 

Each new word has an index card with the word written on one side and six to eight derivatives and their definitions on the other.  On Fridays, we do a review of all the words we have studied so far.

Right after this we go through our Bible verse for the week, repeating it together (chanting) for memorization.  This too is tested on Fridays.

Michael works on his science experiment.  He usually has two experiments a week to do for his Physical Science class.  I think this is his favorite school activity. 

In this experiment, he was learning about electricity and chemical reactions.  The bubbles coming off the battery were oxygen on one side and hydrogen on the other.  To prove that, he had to trap the bubbles to see that there was twice as much of one as the of the other, proving that it was the gas from H2O - twice as much hydrogen as oxygen. 

He then had to write a lab report explaining everything using the steps of the scientific method.

Michelle did all her morning lessons, then she had her reading time just before lunch.  She chose to read a book of fairy tales.  Reading has a calming effect on her, and this is a great thing considering how worried I was a couple of years ago about how she would do in school due to her difficult time at the orphanage in China.  Her favorite things to do now are reading and making jewelry with beads.  Her reward at the end of the day is to go to her room and play with beads.

Michael had piano after lunch, so I packed up the kids and went off to our wonderful piano teacher who lives about twenty minutes away. 

Part of my difficulty today was that Emily is sick with the flu.  We tried to make her as comfortable as possible for the ride.  I was glad she didn't get sick in the car, and she went back to bed when we got home.  I'll be making some congee for dinner tonight - a Chinese chicken and rice soup, or porridge, they fed to the babies in the orphanage.  Both girls associate it with comfort food, as I continued to make it for them when they came home from China. 

When we came back home, Michelle did the dishes while I went outside and did  gardening and collected eggs from our chickens.

Michael got back to work doing his math lesson and reading for King's Meadow. 

Michelle finished writing in her nature journal, more on that soon...

Chores and dinner await.  The day was over at around 3:30.

Read-a-loud for tonight is: The Secret Garden

 Linking with Simple Lives Thursday!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Smithsonian Museum Day - don't miss out!

The Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day is this coming Saturday, September 25th.  Museums from all over the coutnry participate.  Follow the link and get two free passes per email address.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nature Journal Blog Hop #1!

School Room Reflections

If you are joining my Nature Journal Blog Hop, please copy and paste the picture or html code above in your post!  That way others can learn about it!   Link up is at the bottom of this post.

So, we went on our weekly nature walk on Friday morning.  The girls look forward to it and were all excited to walk out the door.  It's our time to explore and discover new things together.  Most of the time, we go out to see what we can find, but on Friday I had one thing I wanted them to check out.  I had gone out earlier in the week thinking about trimming the wisteria that grows out of control all summer.  When I came up close though, I discovered that there was a pair of cardinals making a lot of noise and fluttering around.  They had their nest built in there, so I had to change my plan and postpone trimming for a while; but I decided it would be a nice opportunity for the girls to see the pair and their nest.  So, we headed on out to check them out, and they were there making a fuss at us again for getting too close.  We didn't look inside the nest, so as to not disturb them too much, but I suspected there were babies in there.   We also saw another pair of cardinals along our driveway, in the big oaks.  For some reason, those are the ones they drew in their journal.

Jet Clouds

As we walked around the house and over to the driveway, Emily looked up and discovered jet clouds.  There were several planes flying overhead at that time, around 8:30 in the morning; probably loaded with commuting businessmen, unaware of the streaks they were leaving behind them all over the sky.  Emily marveled, and I enjoyed one of those precious moments when my kids make a great new discovery.  Of course, I was asked how the jets made those clouds, so I tried to explain water vapor and condensation - big words I had to remember to review later and maybe follow up with more information back inside.

Florida Native Morning Glories
We found a native Morning Glory vine climbing up another bush, its delicate purple flowers only there for a few hours before the sun would dry them up, greeted us as we walked by. 

Once inside, we pulled out the Handbook of Nature Study, where we learned all about cardinals, my favorite resource to use after nature walks.  We also looked at our birding guide and learned about where cardinals live, and how they migrate during the different seasons.  We looked at animal migration maps for other birds and butterflies at Journey North, a site where you can record your observations.  We recorded our sighting of Monarch butterflies on our walk there.  That was a good opportunity to do some geography review.

The girls just love these walks, and Friday mornings work out best for us because Michael is gone to his martial arts class with Gabi then, so I have the morning to do something like this with them.

When we went inside, they drew their pictures, each focusing on what they learned or liked about our walk.
Michelle's Picture
Michelle's picture reflected some of the things she has been learning in our art classes, like the texture on the trunk of the tree.  Her cardinals show the difference between the male and female cardinals.  I think she liked that it was a sunny morning too!
Emily's Picture, and "the biggest raindrop in history!"
 Emily had all the different things we saw in her picture and wanted to label them, so I wrote them down for her to copy.  She also drew herself and Michelle looking out the windows of the house.  Her father's comment when first seeing the picture, "that is the largest rain drop in history!"  She laughed.  I only suggested that there might be either eggs or babies in the cardinal's nest.  She drew hatching cardinal babies, just coming out of their eggs.  My favorite was the jet "stream" (cloud).

Since Michelle is older and more advanced, I asked her to write a paragraph about our nature walk.  I showed her a way to organize a word outline to help her get started.  I taught her about the importance of organizing our thoughts and information before starting to write, and how that helps people understand what we are trying to say better.

She gave me the important words about cardinals, the topic she wanted to write about, then I helped her organize them around the circle, forming a web.  Visual cues, like graphic organizers,  really help her understand better and make writing easier for her.

Join the Nature Journal Blog Hop by following the link below!

Happily linking with Autumn 2010 OHC!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Flashback Friday

Emily - July 2007

I love looking back at old pictures, especially children's pictures.  I remember the day we took this picture, it was a beautiful day, so I'd decided to do school outdoors.  Emily, being the youngest, thought reading books was the coolest thing.  Her brother and sisters, mom, and dad all did it; so she was determined to do the same. 

Wasn't she the cutest China doll?  We adopted Emily in June of 2005.  She was born in China, in Hunan province, in South China.  She has been such a sweet blessing to us. 
 Happily linking with Flashback Friday, Friday Blog hop!, and Weekend Blog Hop.
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