Friday, February 25, 2011

Homeschool Curriculum Review: God’s Design for Science

With homeschool curriculum fairs around the corner, I thought I would start posting about some of the curriculum we use. We are eclectic in our homeschooling, using books from various sources.

I’m starting with our science curriculum

since it is one of my favorites!


I can not say enough about this curriculum!

“God’s Design for Science” is created by Answers in Genesis, the organization that defends the Christian faith and creationism and is also affiliated with the Creation Museum in Kentucky. The curriculum covers four different areas of study, one each year:

Life Science (pictured above), Astronomy,

Physics, and Chemistry & Ecology.

The curriculum is Bible and creation-based! It’s great to explore the world with God in mind!

You can use the curriculum for 1st through 8th graders. The books give instructions on what to do for each grade level. There is a beginner level for younger children, along with a “regular” lesson for older children. These reading portions, along with various activities and questions, create your child’s lesson for the day. This facet of the material allows you to use the curriculum for up to eight years and also teach multiple children together.

I started teaching Life Science this year with my 5th grader, 2nd grader, and 1st grader. I cover the beginner level with everyone and then continue on with my 5th grader to cover the rest of the subject matter. My 5th grader will go through the curriculum for four years altogether, using the regular lessons. My 1st and 2nd graders will actually be able to use this curriculum for the eight years. The first four years we will go through the simpler level. The second four years we will cover the material at the deeper level. I don’t have to look any further for a science curriculum for at least a few years – when my older child will enter high school. “God’s Design for Science” is an economical choice, since it can be used for so many years.

The curriculum is thorough and easy to use! There are activities and experiments that use fairly normal household items. As the teacher, it is easy to learn along with the student when you read the material to them. You don’t have to review the lessons for a huge amount of time beforehand, since everything is laid out so nicely. A CD-ROM contains all of the worksheets, quizzes, and tests that you need, making it easy to print these items at home when you need them.

My kids and I both love this curriculum! If I could only find a curriculum like this for history, I would be set! ~smile~

For more info., check out Answers in Genesis’ site. There are great descriptions and samples available for you to view.

This post is linked to The Homeschool Curriculum Review Round-Up.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Poor Man's Stroganoff - Layers of Goodness

What could possibly go wrong when you combine…
A Tasty Ground Beef Mixture
Along with some Sour Cream and Parsley?IMG_7929
This beef stroganoff is not your typical stroganoff recipe with succulent gravy and chunks of meat.  Nonetheless, it IS tasty, and our family enjoyed it thoroughly for dinner tonight.
Poor Man’s Stroganoff
*Serves 4-6
Taken from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
6 ounces turkey bacon, diced
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 medium red or yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
¼ cup flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
½ teaspoon paprika
1 cup sour cream, light or regular
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
Cooked egg noodles or rice, for serving
In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1-2 teaspoons olive oil and saute diced bacon over medium heat until crispy. Transfer bacon to a paper-towel lined plate and set aside, leaving any grease/oil in the pan. Add sliced mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for about one minute (if the pan is too dry, add a teaspoon of oil as needed). Add salt. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are softened and have given up most of their juices. Transfer them to the same plate as the bacon.
In the same skillet, brown the ground beef or turkey with the onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Drain the grease.
Stir in the flour and tomato paste to the meat mixture and mix to combine well. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 1 minute. Add the beef broth and bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking to combine all the ingredients. Simmer vigorously for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is slightly reduced and thickened. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and paprika. Cook until flavors blend, about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add sautéed mushrooms and bacon back to the skillet. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the sour cream, mixing well to avoid lumps. Stir in the parsley. Serve over egg noodles or hot, cooked rice.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Embracing and Promoting Work

For years I have tried to break out of the cultural norm of thinking that the weekdays are for work and the weekends are for fun.  I remember, during our early days of marriage, my husband and I would get into arguments over our Saturdays.  He wanted to *work* around the house, while I was ready to *relax* and have fun with him.  Even now, I still struggle… The weekdays are so challenging sometimes that I just can’t wait(!) until Friday.  I do agree the nature of our weekends may be different than the weekdays, but for most of us, especially parents, they still involve a lot of work

When I think about work, I have to go back to the Bible – the place where God’s truth lies and waits to direct us.  As I tell my kids, when God set up the world, he put Adam and Eve on a playground.  Oh, wait!  No, he didn’t.  He put them in a garden.  For what purpose?  To work.  God created us to work and to get pleasure from that work. 

Then, God set up a system:   work only Monday through Friday.  No!  He said that six days were to be full of work and one day was devoted to rest and worship for God.  This may seem grueling, but if we are working and resting properly, as God sees fit, we should feel rejuvenated.  We should examine our work and rest lives and see if they are how God would want them to be.  Ask yourself if you are setting aside the “Sabbath” day of rest well enough.  It is something I am continually trying to improve.

If you have a typical Monday through Friday work schedule, think of Saturdays as another day to be productive.  Most of all, don’t get frustrated about it.  Ask God to help you be joyful to work and to be joyful as you work.  I am not saying your weekend can not be more leisurely and social.  Weekends provide great opportunity for more rest and relaxation and time with friends and family.  However, if we can expect and purpose ourselves to work, we can fight against setting ourselves up for disappointment when we do have to work on the weekends.

Lastly, what type of life are you expecting from your children?  Are you modeling a life of work and productivity – and contentment therein - or are you modeling a life of ease and entertainment?  Also, do you expect them to work?  Do you involve them in chores?  Do you talk to them about the meaning and value of work?  Do you work alongside of them and also give them tasks for which they, themselves, can be responsible?

My children feel such satisfaction when they work.  They oftentimes are not gung-ho about starting a project.  However, once they get going, I see them getting into their work and even singing and humming as they do it sometimes.  Children do not know what is best for themselves, so we must teach them!

Have a blessed weekend!

Enjoy your work  and your rest! 

Some resources for you:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chocolate Waffles with Berry Sauce


These were our leftovers after making a double batch!

Good for the next morning!

My notes:

*I used some freshly ground whole wheat flour and some Ultragrain flour.  I was afraid to use all whole wheat flour because mine is red wheat, which is supposed to be heavier than the white wheat the recipe uses.  I’m sure you could use all-purpose flour and have a good turnout.

*I did not have Sucanat, so I used half brown sugar and half white sugar.

*For the strawberry sauce, I actually used frozen strawberries and a frozen berry blend I get from Costco.  I also added some maple syrup, and it turned out delicious!

*I made a double batch because I was worried the original recipe would not produce enough.  As you can see from my photo, the double batch produced more than enough, so a single batch probably would have been just fine.  ~smile~

Whole Wheat Chocolate Waffles with Strawberry Sauce

Recipe found at “Happy Healthy Mama

Makes 4 (6 1/2 inch) waffles

2/3 cup white whole wheat flour

1/3 cup wheat germ

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1/3 cup Sucanat

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

2 eggs, separated

8 tablespoons butter (1 stick!), melted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 heaping cup chocolate chips

For the Sauce

1 (12-16 ounce) bag frozen strawberries

To prepare the sauce, put the frozen strawberries in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir frequently.  As the strawberries start to thaw, use a spoon to break them apart.  Continue to stir frequently as they heat.  After about 10 minutes, you should have a sauce with strawberry chunks.  We think the sauce is perfect with strawberries alone, but if you think it needs more sweetness, feel free to add a tablespoon or so of agave nectar or Sucanat.

Preheat your waffle iron.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, flaxseed, Sucanat, baking powder, baking soda, sifted cocoa powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg yolks (save the egg whites in another bowl), butter, and vanilla.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently whisk them together until they are just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Fold them into the batter and stir to ensure the chocolate chips are evenly distributed.

Butter, oil, or spray your waffle iron.  Spoon a full 2/3 cup onto the waffle iron and use the back of a wooden spoon to spread it out.  The batter looks like brownie batter and as it’s cooking, your house will smell like you’re  baking brownies, too!  Allow the batter to bake for about 30 seconds, and then close the lid and bake until the waffle is ready.  Serve immediately.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine’s Day Recap.

How was your Valentine’s Day?  Did it live up to all of the Hallmark expectations?  How about your own?  Hopefully you didn’t expect grandiose things and feel let down.  I am learning the lesson of not expecting too much out of situations, and just life in general.  Expectations can cause a real let-down feeling.  Instead, it can be such a blessing if we are able to go into situations and appreciate the good that does come to us.

With that said, today was a bit of a crazy day, especially since my husband basically had the worst computer blowup he has had in his entire career thus far.  He had a handful of major outages going on, and being the manager he is now, was shouldering much – on less than three hours of sleep.  I would like to say this type of thing is atypical in our home, but, alas, it has become somewhat normal.  It is not easy.  God is definitely taking us through a season of refining and has been for a few years now.  As Brian said today, “It would just be nice to have a breather for a while”.  He’s right!  God is in control, though, and we are trying to live each day as best as we can.

Therefore, that is what I did today!  I tried to live the best I could.  I tried to make the most of my Valentine’s Day, even though I saw my husband very little.  I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity we did have tonight to go for a drive together and pick up a hot chocolate and a Frappe.  He needed a break and wanted to spend some time with me, and that was greatly appreciated.

Enough said… what did we do for Valentine’s Day??

Well, the celebration started yesterday when we donned our red apparel – well, at least the girls and I did – and I did my daughter’s hair in this neat heart pattern.  There was a heart on each side of her head, and of course, the flower just made it sweet.  ~smile~



We had treats laying on the kitchen table for the kids.  They were excited to see them when they woke up!

For breakfast, we enjoyed

Chocolate Waffles with Berry Sauce.

(I plan to post this recipe separately).


I cut Brian’s napkin into the shape of a heart and made a note.

In the afternoon I let the kids watch a movie and made Chocolate Popcorn with Sea Salt.


Valentine’s Day can’t be Valentine’s Day without a decent amount of chocolate – well, at least in my house.  ~smile~

At night, as I already mentioned, I shared a lovely drive with my hubby – an extremely nice way to end the day.  Red heart

What did you do with your day?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My niece’s birthday

Last week we celebrated my niece’s seventeenth birthday.  It’s amazing to think about how she moved in with us over two years ago now and also amazing to see the work God has done in all of us.

For breakfast I made one of my niece’s favorite delights…

Lemon Scones!!!

I have been thinking more and more lately about how I need to start prepping my breakfast food at night time, so I tried it this time.  I prepared the scones the night before and refrigerated them overnight.


In the morning, I baked them and glazed them.  They turned out wonderfully, and I was so glad!


For dinner we had Pizza Hut – my niece’s favorite pizza, and I surprised her by bringing home ice cream cupcakes from Maggie Moo’s, which she exclaims has the “best ice cream in the whole world!” 


Happy Birthday, Kaylee!

May this year bring you joy and fullness

through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

More “Blue”

My son has been a gem.  He is usually quite helpful, but when he has a goal in mind, he really steps up to the plate. 

My son’s class was told by their Royal Ranger commander at church  that they should really earn the money they need for the book they were to purchase in order to work towards their next badge.  The book needed to be purchased this week, so it was on my son’s mind a lot… How is he going to earn some money to pay for the book?

These were his ideas…



I love this boy! 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pink and Blue


This is actually a photo of our family over four years ago, before adding a teenager and another baby.  ~smile~

Tonight I picked up my oldest son from basketball practice.  He is nine years old now.  We gathered his items and walked through the double doors of the gymnasium.  He walked a handful of feet in front of me, dribbling his ball, appearing sporty and intimidating.

About halfway down the hallway, we saw some large, 3-D snowflakes that were crafted by students on the wall. 

I said, “I like these snowflakes.  They are neat”. 

He replied, “Oh”.

My mind started thinking, “Pink and blue… pink and blue…”

After driving a short while on the road, without much conversation, I heard him making noises in the back seat.  I looked back and asked, “Are you shooting things out the window?”

“Yes, I’m shooting the lights,” he replied.

Pink and blue… pink and blue… I can’t stop realizing how different men and women can be, especially after watching the “Love and Respect” DVDs by Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs.  Even in my interactions with my husband, after nearly 14 years of marriage, I am often reminded of our different perspectives.  Somehow, in the midst of these differences, though, it is God’s perfect will and purpose to bring about awesome marriages and noble societies.  It is meant for us to learn to work together, to respect the other gender for what they are created to be. 

Our pastor spoke this week about the sensitivity of a man’s ego.  He basically said, “Women, when you say or do something that disrespects your husband’s ego, it wounds him deeply”.  It’s so true, yet how easily we can fall into the trap!  Since I heard my pastor’s words, I have thought in my heart, “How often do I really respect my husband?  Do I feel respectful towards him?  I should… God, help me.”

As Valentine’s Day nears, it is easy to put on our pink glasses:  to think about all of the romantic things our husbands can do, to build up many hopes and dreams about the day.  What if we were to take off our pink glasses, though, and put on a pair of blue glasses with regard to the day?  What would your husband desire for the day?  What does he want?  Maybe nothing!  Maybe just a sweet word from his dear wife that he married with a hot meal placed before him when he comes home.  Fanciful thoughts and elegant price tags are usually not driving the male gender’s expectations from us, yet how our husbands would be blessed by a selfless act of kindness!  Put on the blue glasses and think about something that would bless him, even if it means taking care of a task on the “Honey Do” list that he has made for you.


As tonight ended, my nine year old boy turned “soft”.  His focus was on relationship.  He wanted to be with us.  He wondered, aloud, when he could stay up later than the other children just so he could have time with us.  Yes, he is a boy, and he has real, masculine needs and thoughts, but he still has a need for love and affection – just as your husband does.

Think about how you can show respect (=love) for your husband and remember to put the blue glasses on first.  ~wink~

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Fun Banner

When we were planning the Mexican baby shower for my friend, I did a little online browsing to see if I could find any good ideas.  I found some pictures with colorful, pennant-style banners and thought that would be cute.  I found one that inspired me and went to the task!

I found some pre-cut pieces of scrapbook paper in my stash at home.  I folded the top of them over to create a tunnel for the ribbon that I used to hang the banner.  My son helped me staple the tops down.


Next, I made a decorative accent at the top of each sheet by cutting out the circular patterns from a scrap piece of paper.


I affixed the accents to the top with glue, trying to cover the middle staples in the process!


Then I made and cut letters out of other colorful paper and glued them down.  I also glued a folded, customized sheet of bright tissue paper to the bottom of each sheet.  My daughter fringed the tissue paper with scissors.


I made a couple, large tissue paper flowers to affix at each corner of the banner and strung a ribbon through the top tunnel of each letter sheet.

The result…


You could make a banner like this

for any special occasion!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mexican Baby Shower

Over the weekend, a couple friends and I threw a baby shower for a friend.  She is part Mexican so my friends had the idea of throwing her a Mexican shower.  Everything went well, and all had a good time!

We used plenty of color to spruce up the event!






My friend put chili pepper “trees” on the tables for centerpieces, and cellophane-wrapped salsa jars that she also used for prizes for the games.






We served a nacho bar:

  1. Taco Meat
  2. Homemade! Refried Beans (made by another friend)
  3. Nacho Cheese Sauce
  4. Shredded Cheese
  5. Lettuce (some plain and some with lime juice and salt)
  6. Tomatoes
  7. Tomato Salsa
  8. Mango Salsa
  9. Sour Cream
  10. Guacamole

Oh, and homemade cornbread, too!!

My friend, Yolanda, who is from Guatemala, made Tres Leches cakes for dessert.  I do not know which specific recipe she used, but this one is very similar to what she made.

My friend, Katie, planned the games.

The guests played a diaper game where you have to guess which chocolate candy product is melted inside.  That brought a lot of noisy, joyful chatter. 

A good follow-up was the game where a model was chosen from each group to display a pregnancy outfit that was made from an inflated balloon (which was the belly), an oversized T-shirt, fabric remnants, flowers, feathers, and ribbon.  Laughter filled the place, as the models came out in their creative garb!  It was quite a sight!

We were happy to have such an event come together so well and most of all, were happy to celebrate with our friend, Candice!

Best wishes and blessings for her and her baby!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Feeling Down? Look Around.


Last night when I was putting my seven month old to bed, I stood there for a few minutes, swaying with her.  I started to look about my daughters’ room and feel so thankful for what was around me…. furniture, clothing, sheets, curtains, a cozy and WARM bed… All of it reminded me of God’s great goodness and what I DO have in life.  It’s awful easy to think about what we are lacking, what we’re missing out on, what we do not have, what we are waiting for… but how many times do we stop and FOCUS on what we DO have?

Even now, as you read this, look about your house.


Think about all of the material possessions

you DO have right now.

Think about your comforts:

heat, electricity, transportation… 

Think about the people who are in your life right now,

even those who are causing you trouble,

and how you are not alone.

Think about God’s goodness in your life:

His salvation, deliverance, healing power,

grace, mercy, and love.


Think... and then, be thankful.  Thank God for what he has given you.  Thank Him for your life.  Thank Him for your loved ones.  Thank Him for your earthly possessions and privileges. 

Thankfulness is the sweet balm that carries us through hard times.  It reminds us of what we do have and how good our lives really are, even if they seem tremendously difficult.  Thankfulness reminds us that the thorns of life are merely a small part of a large bouquet of roses.  Praise be to God!