Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You Know the Drill: When it Rains. . .

. . . .it pours!

Blog's been quiet lately.  I really have about 6 great posts in draft form, and another 4 or 5 kicking around in the old noggin.  But in the past 2 weeks we've been hit with. . . .

. . . . . recovering from my sliced finger (which my mother knows about)
. . . . . celebrating 1 birthday for a 19-year old
. . . . . hosting a sweet couple for dinner
. . . . . pulling off some surprises for my Dad's milestone birthday
. . . . . navigating the fun, fun, fun world of dr's appointments, follow-ups, consults and insurance for aforementioned 19-year old
. . . . . someone (who shall remain nameless) puncturing her palm with a knife, requiring stitches (which my mother ALSO knows about)
. . . . . celebrating 2 birthdays for the Birthday Sisters
. . . . . and hosting 1 science party for the youngest Birthday Sister (which causes her Mommy to remember why, exactly she gave up hosting birthday parties a few years ago)

When the school year started, I said I could manage my schedule if no one got sick, or nothing major happened.


Ha ha.

Ha ha ha.

Maybe I'll blog while eldest is in surgery on Wednesday.  (Thanks for praying)

Or maybe I'll play Bejewelled.  It's addictive.  (Which my Dad knows about.  It's his evil plot to get us all addicted to that game.  It's working.)

Or maybe I'll nap.

But I'll definitely stay away from sharp objects.  (Which is my evil plot to get banned from the kitchen.  It's working.)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saturday Supper: "Shy-dee-ay"

My brother and sister-in-law are, quite honestly, some of the most fun people I know.

When they got married, they had a cookbook produced, which they gave as their wedding favor.  It has a picture of monkeys on it. . . . .and there's a LONG story behind that, trust me.

Now, to be honest, I never - ahem - actually used the cookbook (there.  I admitted it.)

Until one summer.

When we used to visit at my parents' lake house in Indiana, we all took turns fixing dinner.  When it was their night, my sister-in-law whipped up this dish that was simply FABULOUS.

"Can I have the recipe?"  I asked, watching my children devour extra helpings.

"It's in our cookbook," she replied.

Oops.  Way to blow my cover.


I give you a yummy, easy, relatively inexpensive recipe, adapted from the famous "It's Chow Time" coookbook (pub. 2001, Monkey Lover's Press):

Grandma Darlin's Sheeyrea
(We call it Shydeeay)

1 stewing chicken, cooked (I use 1 large can of chicken)
4 c. chicken broth (use liquid from stewing chicken/canned chicken plus liquid from chick peas before using canned chicken broth)
1 can chick peas, drained
2 c. thin spaghetti broken into small pieces - don't substitute
3/4 stick margarine (I don't usually use this much!)
1 c. Uncle Ben's converted white rice (the recipe says it MUST be Uncle Ben's)
salt to taste

Here's what we do:
Get the little people in your life to break the spaghetti.  They'll have a blast, trust me!
In a large frying pan, melt butter, and then pour in the spaghetti.  Stir constantly to brown.

Next, bring the broth to a boil in a large pan with a good cover.  Put in cut up (or canned) chicken (make sure it's COOKED if you're using the stewing bird!!), chick peas, rice, salt (if desired) and browned spaghetti.  

Mix together, put cover on, and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is done.  You might need to add more broth - just keep an eye on it.

Now. . . here's where the recipe gets controversial.

The Sauce.

In a saucepan, mix together 1 small can tomato sauce, a dash of garlic powder, and a can of peas (shudder).  Bring to a boil.  Serve over the Sheeyrea.

I avoid making the sauce if at all possible. I have an issue with peas.  Don't ask.  It's a traumatic childhood memory.  (Again, secretly hoping my mother doesn't read my blog. . . . . . )

My eldest, however, LOVES the sauce, and if I didn't include it, she would cry "Foul!"

But she does read my blog.  So there.  I included it.

Rather noble of me, don't you think?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Freebie: Math Drills Made Motivating!

I think I'm in an alliterating mood :)

But let's get back to all-things-homeschooling, shall we?  (I never really, REALLY feel like we've started school until September. . . .it's the Yankee in me, I suppose.)

Here is the part where I confess my shortcomings as a teacher.  I have realized this year, that my students (who shall remain nameless) are exhibiting a weakness in math - fact recall.  They memorized the cute skip-counting songs, and can figure out the facts given enough time, but we need instant, memorize recall here, folks.

And I missed the boat. 


Deciding it was time to remedy that glaring weakness, I went to my favorite homeschool resource and asked for recommendations.  One stood out:  Xtra Math.

Basically, Xtra Math is math flashcards online.  But more!  Your student races a timer, and gets their own progress report on how they are doing. . . and it's HIGHLY motivating for my girls to try to turn the "square green" (aka - answer the question in less than 3 seconds) and to get a "smiley face" on their chart.

I can also run reports for me.  . . . .and just as a sneak peek, they look like this:

So here I can see what problems Amy knows (the smiley faces), which ones she could answer in less than three seconds (the green checks), which ones she got wrong (and what she put for an answer!), and which ones she ran out of time when answering.  Pretty neat, eh?

We are really enjoying Xtra Math.  I thought it would be too much for Amy (1st grade), but she's gotten the hang of it now.  We're incorporating it as a part of our morning routine. . . and I'm looking forward to seeing how our math facts improve!