It’s a Start

Things aren’t all in place here but you are very welcome. More tweaks to the theme, explanations, and posts to come. I have some stuff to add which isn’t there yet and will be doing an actual post soon.

Today was Rachel’s tenth birthday so I am still recovering from a very busy week (which will get busier before it settles down.)

A frugal recipe: Spring Rolls

When I wrote about our attempts to stay home instead of going out to eat several people requested some of our recipes. As I mentioned most of the quick stay at home recipes are really convenience foods that I have found are cheaper than making from scratch (like Aldi’s Asian Style frozen veggies with sauce) but some of the foods, though worth it to avoid going out to eat still are expensive and with our eldest’s food allergies VERY expensive to get versions she can eat. Spring Rolls are one of those foods.

Aldi’s egg/spring rolls are roughly $3.50 a package of four making them nearly the same price as those at the restaurant. Problem is that they are kind of tricky to make and if you buy the wrappers to make them yourself they are still fairly expensive. Enter the spring roll wrapper recipe. It takes some practice but Rachel LOVES making them and then you can fill them with whatever your heart desires. (These take a lot of strength to roll to the right thinness–we have yet to get them there which means they are a bit to thick–you really need a pasta roller to make them thin enough.)

We use this recipe for the wrappers although we found that you don’t really need to refrigerate it to make it work (we don’t, it is hard enough to roll as it is without having it cold.) Because we can’t get them thin enough we make a quadruple batch to make 10 egg rolls, if you can get them thinner you can make a smaller batch and make many more.

For the filling:

I had used ready made broth that Rachel can eat (Swanson organic–I think) to make some soup

because it had been yucky out. We threw a 1lb bag of regular carrots, two leeks, and an onion in the food processor to be sliced and threw that in the broth while it cooked. That was our filling. In the future I would throw in some sliced cabbage and some texturized soy protein (we don’t eat much meat but you could throw in some left over pork or chicken.)

Once everyone was done eating soup I put a strainer over a bowl and let the liquid drain out of the veggies.

We then followed the recipe for the spring roll wrappers, quadrupaling the recipe.

First we put the eggs, flour, and water in the food processor (I LOVE my Bosch), putting it on high for about 12 minutes–you want the gluten to do its work and the dough should be hard to the touch but very elastic. Once it prepared you will want to separate it into 1-2 inch balls. If you can roll it super thin or have a dough press/noodle press then go with the smaller balls. We were hand rolling and it took a lot to get them as thin as we did.

Grab a ball of dough (cover the rest because otherwise they dry out pretty quick) and smash it as flat as you can with your hands (this was Issac’s job.) I use a silicone baking mat for all rolling–it is one of the few things I have found that doesn’t make a sticky mess and require tons of flour. Once flattened roll dough out as thin as you can, flipping and rotating every few minutes. This is a great job for kids who love rolling dough–the dough is not sticky and doesn’t require tons of flour. Hold it up to the light every so often to find thicker areas. Ours were too thick –you want them to be only a little over a millimeter thick, if that.

Once you have it as thin as you want moisten the top of the wrapper then add the filling (make sure the filling is relatively dry). Cover the filling with the side closest to you, pull wrapping it tightly then fold the sides in (very similar to making a burrito) then roll it over itself until the whole thing is wrapped. It is best to have it super thin and have several layers although ours only had one layer–this makes for a thicker shell though the kids liked it as well.


Finally, fry the rolls until golden brown. It is better to deep fry them though if you rubbed oil over them you can put them in the oven. This is where a thin wrapper is best as frying a thicker wrapper means you have to cook it longer to get the inner wrapper cooked through.

Yeah it is more work to start but if you get the kids involved it is fun. Plus you can freeze a whole bunch and warm them when you are in the mood for a quick meal. We also make all kinds of perogie/calzone style dumplings along this same lines–I make a biscuit or pizza like crust (usually I just make extra dough when I am making biscuits/pie/pizza and freeze it for when I have filling ready) then add similar fillings, boil or fry them then freeze for a quick, easy to heat, and VERY filling meal.

It saves us a lot of money and if the kids are involved they learn a lot about how their favorite foods are made, not to mention how to prepare healthy alternatives to ready made junk food.

Wordless Wednesday (or look at our new play shelter!)

Cool damp weather brings out the worst in me–this week I am taking it easy as I am relying on my herbal supplements, eating right, and wisdom to keep my arthritis from having a full-fledged flair-up.

So of course I would decide to help the kids build a new shelter today, this time out of wood and tarps instead of just bungee cords and tarps. 🙂

It is comprised of an old apple tree, an old wooden climbing toy, scavenged wood, tarps, lots of bungee cords, some nails, plus an old sliding board from the climbing toy. All aspects of this shelter were scavenged, nothing was purchased for the project.


Yes, this project included hammering, and sawing, and carrying heavy things. Yes, I know those are not wise things to be doing when you are already fending off an attack of rheumatoid arthritis.

(The kids helped a lot and did a lot of the planning though I had to do the sawing and some of the carrying and hammering.)

It was well worth it. I spent the rest of the day resting and playing Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon, huddled in a pile of blankets trying to keep warm–which was nice in its own way.

I have actual work I need to do but was not up to that so just sat and rested.

The kids spent that time playing in their new shelter and discussing how the next one will be even better ( Rachel spent quite a bit of time perusing Issac’s new “The Dangerous Book for Boys” for how to build a tree house–I have a feeling that will be their next such project. :))

(This shelter is nice because it is out of the wind and when we do get snow will provide a place for the kids to get out of the elements without having to climb the hill to our house. 🙂 They can’t wait for snow!

A Day in the Life 4(of some very busy kids)

One of the things I am going to attempt to do this year is make a weekly “Day in the Life” post. Knowing myself it will be rather random despite my intention but if I try to remember it will be a good way to remind myself of how much the kids are actually learning on a day to day basis.

I got Brain Age for my DS from my hubby for Christmas. I was mildly excited–not thrilled because I HATE math games (struggling with dyscalculia makes math NOT FUN, not even Soduko.) Anyway I tried it out and spent some time stuck at “walking speed ” doing math problem after math problem. Blech. Eventually, however, I figured out how to unlock new games, some of which were reading and spatial which are my areas of expertise.

The cool things is the kids saw me playing and wanted to try. Rachel and Esther both set up accounts and even attacked the 20 and 100 timed math problems and the reading aloud (which are taken from books I read in late high school and college–like The Turn of the Screw and The Warden.) Issac has even tackled the non-reading ones like number memory. This little game has done what I have struggled to do with the oldest two–both of whom struggle with dyslexia/dyscalculia. They are writing numbers as answers to timed math problems trying to beat their old times (yes you use the stylus to write the numbers and it misreads if you write the number backwards, meaning that Esther has FINALLY learned how to write her teens and higher numbers in the right order and Rachel has figured out the difference between 2 and 5 when writing.) Praise the Lord!

I should mention that I have spent years working on these things with them–I have tried doing daily practice, fighting with them about working, battling it out to get them to do a single worksheet. And along comes one little video game that keeps daily records, has them write and gives them incentives that they enjoy (persevering means that you get an extra large stamp and may be able to get your brainage lower (mine is down to 25 from the 80 I got when I started.) The girls are determined to get into first place against me and this stuff is NOT EASY.

What else have we been doing? Watching a Martha Stewart Baking video together because the kids picked it out at the library (we have a slew of new recipes to adapt!) Watching some of my childhood favorites (Goonies and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) and talking about the cultural significance of the films as well as all the historical characters that showed up in Bill and Ted. We have also watched the making of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure at Rachel’s request–she has been trying to figure out how they make movies and so wanted to watch the documentary. This also led to some great discussion on how we learn and how movies are made.

Rachel was feeling a bit icky again (teeth are coming in) and watched a cartoon they got for Christmas–Around the World in 80 Days. This lead to an hour long discussion and questioning about how they lost a day. She explained to me her theory (she knows her Narnia and thought that time went faster and slower in different places) and then we discussed how it worked for real using ball I drew a map on and then later watching some live web cams around the world to see what it looked like at our time. (Another thing I had already “taught ” but which obviously didn’t stick although now she really gets it.)


The kids also spent several hours playing that they were farmers (we got Harvest Moon so they decided to play it in “real life” pretend play–I would explain but it was way to elaborate and included using Magnetix to make plants that “grew” each day). They also spent several hours playing “school” in the school room–Rachel was teaching Esther and Issac reading and some other subjects (Esther for fun–she reads better than Rachel, Issac because he wants to learn and is trying o figure it out.) They also played outside in the snow for some time (which I later found out they were walking and sled riding to and from “school” and that that was all part of the big, elaborate game), cleaned the kitchen up for dinner, did laundry, and worked on Esther’s new paint-by-number. It has been a busy day and lots of learning without “teaching” has occurred. In fact, a lot of things that I had TRIED to teach them when they weren’t interested were learned a few minutes because they wanted to learn it. Very cool.

Update: Just after I posted this I went to read to the kids (we just finished the last Elyon book , Rachel has decided to make her own way through the next series by the same author and is on chapter 5 so we are instead rereading the Half-Magic books after our Bible reading each night.) The kids were being awfully quiet so I went to find them–I found Esther doing the math problems on Brain Age, again (btw those are addition, subtraction, multiplication 0-9), Rachel reading the book Esther is pictured with, and Issac taking a bath because he wanted to.

About the pictures:

The only non-Esther shot is Rachel in the car yesterday right after she discovered that she did, indeed, love Almonds (our favorite car food). The rest are Esther while she showed me some of the things they had been doing today as well as a bit later when I caught her playing the math part of Brain Age, again. The 3 table tent was their farm house. The rake was part rake, part horse. The book is a new favorite from the library: Miss Hunnicutt’s Hat. Oh, and the crazy falling shot was her falling onto the old papasan cushion that they decided to keep after the chair broke and which was where they were planting their “garden” today. Oh, and don’t mind the mess–they were playing dress up for the farmer thing which required that the dress-up box be dumped in order to find everything. 🙂

Krispy Kreme imitation recipe

I had several email requests for this so am just going to post it here. 🙂 I found this several years ago and I have no clue where but it is a favorite of ours and has saved us quite a bit of money (especially since we have a place that sells Krispy Kremes within walking distance. ) It is some work to do but the kids think it is fun and with our food allergies I have found ways to substitute things the kids CAN eat for those they can’t–though they aren’t quite as good that way. 🙂 I have also been known to use Splenda instead of the sugar which worked all right. 🙂 For doughnuts that REALLY taste like Krispy Kremes you have to follow the recipe and use what it says–just saying.m Oh, and having a doughnut cutter REALLY makes a difference.

 

Ingredients:

 

  • DOUGHNUTS:
  • 2 pkgs. yeast
  • 1/4 cup water (105-115 degrees)
  • 1-1/2 cups lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • vegetable oil
  • CREAMY GLAZE:
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4–6 tbl. hot water
  • CHOCOLATE FROSTING:
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4–6 tbl. hot water
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate chips or semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Dissolve yeast in warm water in 2-1/2-quart bowl. Add milk,salt,eggs, shortening and 2 cups flour. Beat on low for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in remaining flour until smooth. Cover and let rise until double, 50-60 minutes. (Dough is ready when indentation remains when touched.) Turn dough onto floured surface; roll around lightly to coat with flour.

Gently roll dough 1/2-inch thick with floured rolling pin. Cut with floured doughnut cutter. Cover and let rise until double, 30-40 minutes.

Heat vegetable oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees. Slide doughnuts into hot oil with wide spatula. Turn doughnuts as they rise to the surface.
Fry until golden brown, about 1 minute on each side.
Remove carefully from oil (do not prick surface); drain.

Dip the doughnuts into creamy glaze set on rack; when slightly cooled spread chocolate frosting on top.

CREAMY GLAZE:
Heat butter until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING: Heat butter and chocolate over low heat until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in water 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency.

On Being Frugal and Eating Out

This post got me thinking about the changes that we have made over the last 11 years regarding our finances. We have gone from being very in debt spendthrifts who ate out constantly (it was our only “date” type activity other than movies) and bought all kinds of things when we wanted, and who bounced more than a few checks while living paycheck to paycheck them to having no credit card or car debt (and now no hospital debt), almost never eating out, buying all clothing items at the thrift shop, and slowly building up a “cushion”. We don’t use a budget, because neither of us work well with a budget (we naturally overspend when we have a budget) and budgeting doesn’t work well when you are trying to give freely without one hand knowing what the other hand is doing. God is blessing our lack of budget giving and our “keep a general idea how much money is spendable in the bank” attitude. We no longer stress about money and now both of us, together, balance the check book and hold each other accountable about where money is being spent.

That is not really the point of this post but it does explain where we came from and how we got here–a little anyway. So how did we go from obsessively eating out to NEVER eating out?

  • The easiest part is that food allergies make eating out more hassle than it is worth. When we discovered our food allergies it was too hard to find someplace everyone could eat. It helped break the habit. Quitting cold turkey for two years REALLY helped.
  • When we discovered food enzymes and were able to eat out again we had to be careful and analyze WHY we were eating out.
  • Once we understood WHY we could figure out how to replicate those aspects at home. In our case it was having a nice meal together, without a lot of fuss, of our favorite foods in a nice atmosphere. Replicating those aspects at home turned out to be easier (and cheaper) than expected.

Here is how we did it:

  • I figured out our favorite types of food then looked for quality, cheap alternatives at Aldi. The kids and I used ethnic foods as a homeschool project and got all kinds of kids ethnic food recipe books out and tried what looked good. We love Mexican, Italian, and Chinese foods which are all cheap and easy to make at home. Figure out what everyone’s favorite eating out foods are then figure out how best to replicate those at home. If it is something that has a special recipe a lot of websites have “secret recipe” copies that are awfully close (I have a GREAT imitation Krispie Kreme recipe if someone wants to try it.) The small amount of work making it is well worth the $20-$40 saved by NOT EATING OUT.
  • Changing the atmosphere in the kitchen helped as well. When we do an “eating out” meal we set the table extra nice and make sure the kitchen is really clean. A lot of it a matter of attitude–if you spend some time cleaning up so you can “eat out” at home you will feel great about doing it. Get the kids involved–they LOVE to help when they are thinking of it as “eating out”. (Getting out the Chinese bowls and chopsticks or setting the table like a fancy restaurant or even eating off paper plates changes the feel.
  • Make the food ahead. I keep some of our favorite “eating out foods” in the deep freeze for when we are in the mood to go out. Since convenience is part of why eating out is fun, having the foods ready to go makes it easy to switch gears and eat in. If you are into Chinese takeout, Aldi carries a great range of Chinese specialties that taste the same as the restaurant version and cost less than the price of a single meal to feed a family of 5. If you get the whole range they have available you can have a Chinese takeout meal made at home (with everything from egg rolls and stir fry, noodles or rice plus General Tso’s Chicken ) ready within 5-10 minutes with no driving for the price of a single meal of the same from the restaurant– plus have enough leftovers for two whole meals for your family of 5.
  • When I realize how much money we save just by staying home then I don’t look at the price of the foods the same–sure the foods are slightly higher priced than what I would normally pay for a homecooked meal–but when you consider that if you went out, by the time you pay for gas, tip, and the restaurant bill that same meal which cost $5 to prepare and 10 minutes time would cost 45 minutes time and $45. The same goes for fast food joints. Keep some quick meals of the sort you enjoy at home in the freezer for those times where you are tempted to go out.

Also, set aside a little for the money you save by NOT going out to purchase something you enjoy doing as a family. One of the best things we did was find something else we enjoyed doing as a family to replace going out–for us it is playing video games together or going to the park or walking around the mall (not buying stuff.) Considering that for us not going out saves enough money to buy one video game that will give the family hours of fun is a pretty good incentive to eat at home. When the kids start bugging to go out we point out that a trip to the Chinese restaurant is the same price as two DS games (which they can play together since they each saved up for a DS) or one computer game (which Daddy plays while they watch) or two purchased DVD’s or a month of free rentals at Netflix puts the going out into perspective. If you don’t like those think about what your family likes to do together, then use those things as an incentive to eat at home and use a little of the saved money to do a fun activity together. One of the cool benefits we found is that by doing this we changed the “feel good” aspect of eating out–if you train your children to associate feeling good and being a family with food you are setting them up for trouble when they are older. Move the focus of family away from food and food becomes just one more way to be together instead of way to feel like family.

If you are here from WFMW you can click here to see more tips.

Wordless Wednesday

or not so wordless. The following were taken while I baked cookies to put in Christmas presents this afternoon. The kids had just spent the morning outside sled riding and decided to have a “Christmas Tea” for lunch which they did completely on their own without my help, including the getting dressed up bit. This consisted of putting on Christmas music, dressing up in their best clothes (Issac in his suit, Esther in her fairy costume, and Rachel in an old prom dress from the thrift store), cleaning the kitchen so they could have a spot to dance, and drinking peppermint and licorice teas while eating animal crackers and dancing to the music. Cleaning up the kitchen entailed putting away the various projects they had left on the table from the day before–a spider web built from construx, a spider and lawnmower built from K’nex, a stuffed ladybug for the spider to eat, some homemade flavored marshmallows that didn’t go quite right. Issac was a little gentleman and served the ladies who practiced not being the leader while dancing. This went on for 3 hours while I baked cookies and packed them up. I should mention that I had also just cleaned the fridge which is why there are several garbage bags in the background which my husband hadn’t taken out just yet. ( He is sweet like that.:))

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There are two videos, the first is Issac dancing with Esther, the second Issac dancing with Rachel.

An Unschooling Homeschooling Giftlist

So many of the big sites have Christmas giftlists that are great, if you had all the money to buy the stuff and knew the exact people they are talking about, maybe. Geekparenting.com did a cool one of geeky stuff for babies and really all you need is to hand a geek a Tigerdirect or Thinkgeek catalog and have the perfect wishlist. But I was thinking, what about an unschooling family? What about a nontraditional homeschooling family? The following is a list of the cool educational/fun things I have been way too tempted to buy around the net.

Acrobotics: We have a set of these and the kids LOVE them. They are actually my husband’s and the kids often beg to play with them. They have used these not only to build strange towers with geometric magnets that I picked up on clearance at Saples but have learned all about how magnets worked, poles, repelling, and how various joints work. (I should mention that they learned all about 3-d shapes using the cheap plastic geometric shapes magnets I got at Staples. VEry cool.)

Tetris Magnets: These are just too cool. Plus what better way to learn spatial relationships (other than Blockus of course, which is almost as cool.)

Blokus: We LOVE Blokus. This is a game that is easy for even a 4 year old to grasp and which the whole family enjoys. It helps children develop problem solving skills and spatial relationships.

What better way to introduce kids to the periodic able than on a shower curtain. My kids LOVE to take baths and read EVERYTHING they see. Having a giant periodic table in a place they are likely to view it and spend a long time viewing it is perfect. If we had this it would go on the inside of our decorative curtain facing the tub. We had a giant aquarium one up that way and the kids took great delight in finding all the fish and turtles and figuring out what they were. Of course this is also cool.

Having killed off several ant farms in my life time I find this VERY cool. Especially great for families like ours who due to allergies cannot have pets. What a great way to study ants.

Giant plush microbes. Much better than beanie babies. 🙂 What kid wouldn’t love their own plushie E. Coli or Lice.

 

If you are not so sure about the microbes, what about a diy music box kit. I know my oldest who LOVES music boxes and always wants to take them apart would LOVE this.

Then there are the CRanium games. We LOVE Cranium games and still play Hullabaloo even though it is a bit young for all three kids it is great for listening skills. This one looks like a GREAT game for all. Since we have several ages playing and all three kids LOVE playing games we like to look for games that are good across the age ranges. This one looks awesome.

So many other things out there but that is good for now. 🙂 The point is that there are many books and activities out there that are fun AND educational. My son is getting The Dangerous Book for Boys which my husband and I perused before I wrapped it. There are so many cool things in it that remind me of the activities my brother and I did growing up. I think the girls are going to get as much out of it as he will. 🙂

What my non-traditional students did Friday, all day.

Remember I said that the kids would get tired of playing Fate and go find something constructive to do. Two days of Fate was enough. They did play this morning then totally got caught up in this idea.

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It is a fort made of 3 nap/exercise mats.

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Some duct tape.

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Some structural items (yard sticks, a drafters straight edge, other random stuff).

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A sheet, the pages from Geosafari, and lots of paper.

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Those are flower beds around it and yes that is a mail slot in the door and a chimney.

The walls were Issac’s idea, which inspired Rachel and Esther. They have been working on it for 4 or 5 hours now and playing house in between building. And are now rebuilding it because Issac’s idea of fun is to knock things over. The girls are trying to find a way to make it more structurally sound without more duct tape–because they used all the duct tape.

Update: They gave up and decided to make three houses out of something stabler–our three card tables –they added doors to eac, and roofs, and flower gardens. My living room looks like Hobbiton.

A Day in the Life 3: Unschool vs Traditional School– a Reminder to Self

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This past few weeks have been a time of waffling in regards to various areas of our lives. Shamus and I both have been too easily tossed in the winds as far as our decisions have gone, making a decision we feel God pulling us towards only to second guess a day later. I long to work through them here but some of them I can’t because they are too personal or would border on gossip. The school question, however, I am willing to put out there although I know some will not understand and may even judge me because of it. Before I explain let me tell you that in all of these questions of decision we have been waffling internally yet God is keeping us head on–giving us instant reminders as soon as we begin to waffle. Today was just such a day.

As I have mentioned before, we have a classroom in the basement set up in the traditional classroom style. It is especially good for Rachel to know it is there–it is a reminder that we are responsible for her education and that we take it seriously–even if most of her learning does not occur there. In fact, we haven’t used it in a few months–other than as an art studio where they set up shop with oils and acrylics while I worked on an oil painting.

So, if they haven’t done their workbooks in a few weeks what are they doing with themselves all day? How can they possibly be learning if they aren’t taught? Shamus and I had this very discussion this morning because he occasionally likes them to bring him a workbook page so he can see what they are learning. He is very open to the new style of teaching I have taken on but is nervous because he hasn’t seen any evidence. I suggested he ask them what they are learning or listen to their conversations to see if they are learning anything new. He agreed and went in to have a chat with them. (Because I am under PA tutor law instead of traditional homeschool law I am considered their primary educator–it is because I have a teacher’s certification and 5 years of college that I can do this but it also means that Shamus is not considered their “teacher”. He recognizes this and holds me accountable instead of taking over teaching–though he will likely teach them programming and higher math as they show interest.)

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So what did he find out and what have they been doing?

They spent all of yesterday decorating their room for Christmas. I put up an artificial tree in their room with lights and Christmas balls and handed them reams of construction paper, glue, tape, and scissors. They spent hours cutting and pasting making tons of paper chains and other decorations and taping them around their room. While two were doing that the other one was playing Fate–a D&D type computer game with NO plot. If you have never played D&D and are a Christian you are probably nervous. Don’t be. Most of the game consists of trying to catch different types of fish, fighting evil creatures, and leveling up so you can get better stuff. You have to earn and save money, make wise spending decisions, choose different armor and other items based on percentage bonuses (yes, all three are reading what they need to do and understand percentages and how different percentages of different bonuses affect different functions of their character. Believe me this is tricky stuff that I can barely wrap my brain around–harder than figuring out percent off sales when shopping by a long run because you have to take in multiple affects.) They also had to keep track of how long each child had been on the game to decide who’s turn it was next and Rachel spent a long time helping Issac figure out the basic reading and how percentages work–this had him going around the house reading plenty of other things.

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They also wrote me a grocery list of the items they felt we needed based on what each child liked to eat. They looked in each of the cupboards for things that were missing or that we only had one of and helped me plan the list by making their own. They had to look up spellings or sound out those they were unsure of. And if they wanted it it had to be on the list. (I am talking my big monthly shopping list here–not even a once a week list.)

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We have also been reading about 4 chapters or so of the Elyon books per day–me reading aloud as they old laundry (we were a bit behind on the laundry and this has gotten us caught up.) Issac has also been helping me figure out the colors for a new painting and how they go on the paper. This goes far beyond “what color is this” and into “what color do I need to add to get this to the exact right shade of red.” Also, Rachel taught herself how to make pie crust by messing the first one up and then making the second one right because she didn’t follow the instructions the first time–she made a pie for herself and one for her brother and sister (small ones.) She also took on rice making and several other recipes because I was busy on a project I need to finish up.

Add to that them listening to old radio shows and my old records, playing board games (we played Where in the USA is Carman Sandiego yesterday which degraded into “how fast can you find the state”–I was amazed to see how many Issac knew.) They also watched “Mythbusters” online last night–Rachel just listened and we discussed their ideas of what would and should work and how they tested their theories. There have been many more goings on–including the girls playing Fate while Issac and I went shopping.

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Issac and I had a huge discussion about God’s love for us and whether He loves us even when He allows bad things to happen–for a 6 year old he has a better grasp of this than many Christians. He also helped me keep track of the grocery budget, decide how many of each item we needed to last us a month, and loaded and unloaded the cart. When we returned home the girls put away what we had and helped decide what items we just weren’t eating and those will go to the food cupboard. Putting a month’s worth of groceries away is a big deal (especially for a family of 5) and requires much ingenuity of stacking and storing. :)) We are now off to visit our final grocery store and my grandmother, dropping things off at the food cupboard and picking up some work for myself.

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Writing it all down is a wonderful reminder of how much they are learning and growing and living. (And don’t worry about the video game–they will be sick of it in a few days and have some other project they are working on–they always do. I write this up to them having the freedom to play for long periods of time without someone complaining about it–when you are free to do something as long as you like you get thoroughly sick of it. Believe me, I know. :))

Finally–you may be wondering how God reminded me that the kids are growing and learning a lot? After our discussion this morning I went out. When I got home I suddenly had a slew of unschooling sites in my feed reader with posts about the benefits, including one that linked back to my previous “unschooling” post.

Oh yeah, I forgot.

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*The photos are all from this year–I haven’t had time to take pictures this week but these all reflect things the kids have done this week. 🙂