Thursday, September 27, 2012

Six Nights A Week!!!

Is all Dancer has to wear her retainers.  Yea!  We celebrated by having lunch at Pizza Ranch.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement

We lit, and burned all day, a white candle to symbolize purity and light, the cleansing presence of the Holy Spirit with our hearts and minds.

Signing the Constitution

Our co-op is studying government and elections this fall.  After learning about the constitutional convention and how our founding fathers, except for Ben Franklin, didn't believe in bathing making it a very stinky convention, we wrote our own classroom constitution.  The kids decided that we would have a signing just like the founding fathers.  I typed the constitution and printed it on fancy paper changing words in the preamble and end to reflect our classroom instead of the United States, the kids dressed up, we had a "feather pen" and signing ceremony.
To make the feather pen I used a piece of craft paper that was 18 inches by 7 inches and cut it out in the shape of a large feather.  Making tiny cuts all the way down the sides made it resemble a fancy feather they would have dipped in the ink to write with.  To keep its shape I hot glued a wire down the length of the inside of the feather and then on to a pen, finally covering the pen with craft paper.  This made the pen really heavy and hard to write with but the kids all opted to us it instead of a regular pen.   
The founding fathers of our classroom constitution.
Our next topic is going to be the Executive Branch of the government and we started out by learning about presidents.  Each of the kids picked a president and made a box of information.  On the boxes they put facts, quotes, interesting trivia, pictures, a time line of their life and anything else they wanted to add about their chosen president.  Then in class they each had a few minutes to present the information on their boxes.  They impressed me, we have a class of good public speakers :)  This is Spark giving his presentation and I just noticed his dress up sweater didn't stay on very long, I see it is in a ball on the desk behind him.  He is all about comfort. 
It was interesting that out of the list of all the presidents the kids only chose five different ones and only one chose a president after the invention of color film.  And even with all that overlap we had very little duplication of information.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Crocheted Amigurumi Gnome

He is really easy, I whipped him up while watching the movie Cocoon.  Actually, he didn't even take the whole movie to get him completed, so it would be possible to make him and still have a little bowl of popcorn.  You can find the pattern here.

By the time I got to crocheting the blue yarn I couldn't help but think that I was making a Bomb Pop.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stalking the Redhorse Sucker

Dancer wants to do one of her 4H projects this year about a fish called the redhorse sucker.  This is a fish that is native to Minnesota.  It is fun to catch but not eaten very often because it has many small bones in it's flesh.  We saw a lot of redhorse being stunned while watching an electrofishing demonstration this summer.  This fish is very fiesty in the water and fun to catch.  It can be challenging, especially when the water is strewn with boulders.

We went fishing beneath a dam on the Mississippi river.  The dam is little ways north of us.  It is a fun place to fish and this year the water is really low which makes river fishing easier.  All the rocks in the background of the picture below are normally underwater.  The rocks are big and jagged and hard to balance on.

The redhorse has large scales on it's silver sides.  The side looks like a carp with the large scales.  It is easy to see the red part of it's name.  The sun was already shadowed by the bluffs on the river bank.  In the sun the fins are an even more brilliant red.

The redhorse sucker is a bottom feeder, note the fleshy (not toothy) mouth.  It's mouth points downward for vacuuming food off the bottom of the river.  The fish is being held up with an ice fishing gaff, it's violent thrashing would break the fishing line.  The best bait for catching this fish is a big fat nightcrawler.  Fish near the bottom in a slower moving area or pool in the river.  Dad spent a long time fishing in a likely part of the river while jealously watching the rest of the family reel in fish after fish in a different area.  The point of our trip there was specifically to catch a redhorse for Dancer to take pictures of so we had success!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Apple Cobbler

Doesn't this look yummy sitting on our stove top?  I made this in a glass pan and realized after I took the picture that it the pan doesn't show up.  I found that entertaining.  This recipe is super simple, super good.

Apple Cobbler

apples - about six cups
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

4 T. softened butter
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
2 eggs beaten

Lightly butter 9X13 pan.  Fill with peeled and cut up apples.  In large bowl, or just toss in the pan if you don't want to dirty another bowl, apple, sugars, flour, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.

Mix all topping ingredients in another bowl and combine well to form a thick batter.  Dollop the batter on top of the apple mixture.  As it bakes the batter will meld together and make a solid cobbler top. 

Bake in 375 degree oven until top is brown and apples are soft.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rosh Hashanah - Feast of Trumpets

The purpose of the Feast of Trumpets is to celebrate the Jewish New Year, God's Royalty, Day of Judgement, Remembrance and the birthday of the world.
Spark pretended to blow the shofar (trumpet), we talked about times the trumpet was blown in the bible and that the trumpet will blow when Jesus returns for the second time. 
Our shofar was made from paper.  We shaped the large brown sheets that came in our Rainbow Resource order into the shape of the shofar.  Then Spark and I covered it with paper mache.  Once it dried it looked a lot like a ram's horn so we didn't paint it except for the divot in the end and the mouth piece to give it the illusion of being hollow and really capable of sound.  We had other activities planned but time got away from us.  Instead of stressing and rushing around to try to get them in we just went with this. 
 We did make a delicious Rosh Hashanah meal.  It was honey orange chicken, velvet noodle pudding, and glazed carrots.  We were also planning on having the glazed apple cake but it was all gone before Monday and that was okay because this was a very sweet meal.  It was purposely sweet because it is to signify having a sweet new year so no sour foods are to be eaten.  The best dish was the velvet noodle pudding, the kids are already asking when we are going to be making it again.  We had also hope to try our hand at challah bread but, again, it didn't get done. 
We learned a lot, we didn't know anything about this celebration before, and now Rosh Hashanah isn't just a day that comes preprinted on the calendar. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's a Jungle Out There!

Homeschooling can be pretty rough.  So rough, in fact that Spark felt he needed to bring his nunchucks to class today.  Maybe he is worried about bullying.  Or maybe he is the bully, no he's not his sister can hold her own.  Either way you will notice that while we have a zero tolerace policy for some things, weapons at school isn't one of them.  He actually just got up this morning and came out with them.  This isn't the oddest thing he has come out wearing.     

The Great Dust Bowl Of 2012

Pulled most of the garden out and then Dad tilled for the spring.

It was so dry the weeds didn't even hardly grow so he quit tilling thinking that we wouldn't have any garden left if he finished! 

Those socks are never coming clean and he had to use the air compressor to clean his shoes.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Glazed Apple Cake

This is the first time I made this cake but, it won't be the last!

Glazed Apple Cake

3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 cups white sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs, beaten
3 1/2 cups chopped apples
1 cup chopped walnuts

1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butter

Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and soda.  Make a well in the center and add the oil, eggs and vanilla.  Mix well, the batter will be very thick.  Thick enough to make you think, "this isn't right."  Fold in chopped apples and walnuts, the moisture from the apples makes it more batter like.  Spread into a 9X13 pan.  Bake 350 degrees until pick comes out clean - about 40-50 minutes.  Glaze while it is still hot.

Glaze:  In saucepan combine brown sugar, milk and butter.  Bring to a boil and continue to boil it for 2 1/2 minutes stirring constantly.  Pour over cake where it will soak in.

Draw One Direction

To say Dancer loves One Direction doesn't even come close to how much she loves them, obsessed might be a better word.  Anyway, imagine the excitement today when she found a tutorial site on how to draw them.  Life is good :) 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pioneer Days

Row after row after row of tractors.  If there is a tractor model left that didn't get melted down for the war effort, its here.

Printing press.  Wish we could have tried this but a woman was just demonstrating how it worked and gave us a little card with Pioneer Days 2012 printed on it.

Made out of printers blocks.

A steam engine that blew smoke rings.  You don't see that everyday.

1912 - tractors have come a long way in 100 years.  This one had steel tires, and no cab, air conditioning, stereo, GPS, joy stick, t.v. monitor to watch the rows, comfy recliner like seat or pop holder.  This would be considered roughing it now days!
Not everyone was having a good time.

We enjoyed the day with our farmish kind of friends.   The boys went into the jail and we shut the door and said we were going to go get a malt but would be sure to stop back later to let them out.  Didn't go over so well.  Okay, malts all around.
I get the 2nd Hand Lions part but, zipper club?  I don't think I even want to know.
Yep, I can relate.

I want this.

"You know its John Deere 'cuz that's the farmin' way"

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Don't Judge A Bunny By Its Cuteness

Awww, they are cute aren't they, so soft and cuddly.  The one on the left, Willow, lives up to that definition but, the one on the right, Miranda, is a wolf in bunny clothing.
The kids had them out the other day to play with them while I walked the dog.  I brought Nikki over to see them and held her leash short so she couldn't lunge at them and do harm in a blink of an eye.  We didn't want to have a tragedy on our hands.
All excited and friendly like, Nikki, who is about the same size as them, gives their noses a sniff with her nose.  All is going well when all of a sudden Miranda becomes possessed and attacks her like a ninja.  I quickly whisked Nikki away to safety.  Darn attack bunny!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bugs with Sticky Feet

Bug legs have claws which have small, moist and slightly sticky pads that allow them to walk on walls, up-side down, etc. and defy gravity.

Here is how we demonstrated that.  Take two post-it notes and glue them together so that each side has sticky side sticking towards the outside, sticky sides facing the same side.  Draw on a bug and cut it out.  Give it a little color to make them festive.

Bend the legs down and then the bottoms of the legs up to create the foot.  Now they will stick where you put them. 

Spark made ants and a tiny little ice cream cone and muffin for them to carry off. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Return of the Homeschool Co-op

Today marked the first day back at our homeschool co-op and the realization that yes, summer really is over ready or not.  The kids could hardly wait to get there but I, a major homebody, was a bit less enthusiastic.    Once I got there and saw everyone, I realized that I missed everyone over the summer and it was fun.  We have a lot of great classes, field trips, special days and projects planned so it is going to be a great year.
Also added this year is a baby, an ultra cute baby, that Dancer has not been able to stop talking about all afternoon and evening.  Dancer is only participating in art and sometimes phy.ed. so I think her plan is to spend the rest of the time playing with the baby.

Do Not Pass Go....

Do not enter our house at night because Vidalia, our guard cat, sleeps sprawled out in front of the door every night.  Or at least this is where she is every morning when we open the door to let the dog out.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Homemade Pop-Tarts

I would love to say that we found a healthy, you can eat it every morning, alternative to real Pop-Tarts but alas I know deep down that these are not it.  The only thing I can take comfort in is that it was filled with real apple from Grandpa Bob's tree making them taste far superior to store bought.

We made pie crust and rolled it out thin into rectangle.  Then we folded it in half and cut it into rectangles so the edges would match.  For the filling we put apples in the food processor to make them very finely chopped and then added cinnamon, sugar, and flour, same as pie filling.  Put a couple spoons of filling in each set of crust, fluted the edges, poke a few holes in the top and baked at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Call It Courage" Baked Coconut & Bananas

We are enjoying the book "Call It Courage" by Armstrong Sperry.  The gist of the book is a young boy, Mafatu, who, because of a storm that claimed his mother's life, is afraid of the sea.  Not real conducive to life if you live on an island and your father is the chief.  To over come his fears, and escape the jeers of other boys on the island, he sets out at night in a canoe to find another island where he can make his place among strangers.  Of course, instead of successfully finding another island, he is caught in a storm and washes up on the shore of what he hopes doesn't belong to the "black eaters-of-men."  This is where we left Mafatu to try a few island culinary delights that he is enjoying his first night in the island wilderness.
Baked Coconut
First thing was to get the milk out of the coconut.  Spark used a screw, a nail would have been easier but a screw was handy, to pierce one of the soft spots on the coconut.
He drained out all the milk and then ran it though a milk filter to remove all the random chunks of shell.  We each had a sip of this rather oily fluid, Dad was the only one who thought it tasted okay.  To be fair, none of the rest of us like coconut.  Spark then put the whole coconut in the oven in a baking dish for a good hour at 350 degrees.
After it came out and cooled, we started the arduous task of getting that bad boy open.  We all took turns whacking it with the hammer, sticking a screwdriver into it and a combination of the two of these techniques until finally....
only one band aid later.....
we broke it open.  Once it was open it wasn't hard to get the baked coconut off the inside of shell.  We each had a little nibble and deemed it tasteless and fibrous.  I told myself it is the process, not the product, and tossed the whole thing in the garbage.  I would recommend doing this again though as it was fun and adventurous. 
Baked Bananas
So for as unsucceful the coconut was, the bananas were the opposite.  These are good, good, good!
4 bananas
2 tablespoons butter
juice from an orange
1/4 cup brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Slice the bananas and place them in a baking dish.  Squeeze the orange juice over the top of them to keep them from turning dark, sprinkle the brown sugar over the bananas and dot with the butter.  Bake for 25 minutes, stirring and basting occasionally.  These were good by themselves and would be heavenly stirred in oatmeal or ice cream.

On The Banks Of The River

and Dad fished
and caught a lot of nice ones.  No fish for dinner, they had no bucket with and the river is the color of coffee so who knows what those fish are harboring.
The water level is very, very low. 
A stick full of the invasive zebra mussels. 
The rest of us looked for cross rocks, which we did on the shore because with the water so low they were all on the dry ground.  We were there with our farmish kind of friends and enjoyed PB&J sandwiches around a camp fire the boys wanted to start even though the temps were in the 90's.  The little blur in the right hand corner is smoke from the fire. 
A rainbow in the dam.