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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Amy Inspired

Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce



Amy Inspired

I loved this book! It was kind of frivolous, a little quirky, had some really meaningful life-searching type questions, and a bit of silliness! It was right up my alley! From a Christian perspective, I did find a few questionable turns of the plot, but overall the book was quite interesting and entertaining.

The main character was realistic enough to be believable but peculiar enough to be endearing, as were the supporting characters. I don’t know if it has to do with this time in my life or specifically with this book, but I could really identify with the main character.

The author’s use of descriptive language, the parts I usually skip over, even in the “classics,” were so thought-provoking and honest that I even found those parts readable and attention-grabbing. She does not go into heavy, detailed descriptions of scenery, for example, but she does briefly describe surroundings and thoughts in realistic ways that made me think that is precisely how I would have described a feeling, for example, but would never have thought of saying it just that way!

This was a book that I was able to “get into” from the very beginning. I enjoyed the fun characters, got mad at the ones who were behaving badly, and was irritated with the, well, the irritating ones!

I gave serious thought to throwing a few quotes into this review, but I just couldn’t risk ruining the moment for you when you read it yourself. I highly recommend this book and am definitely interested in checking out other works by this author.
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NOTE:  I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for posting a review including my honest opinion about the book.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Memoir Mondays Week 10

I accidentally missed participating in last week's Memoir Mondays post!  I didn't mean to, but I was so busy that I just totally forgot about it.  I remembered this week, though, and I hope you enjoy reading it.  :)

1. Did your family participate in Black Friday? Was it something you looked forward too? If they didn’t, what was the tradition for the Friday after Thanksgiving?


No, my family does not participate in Black Friday unless we can do it on the internet.  We discovered almost 8 years ago (when my daughter Mary Grace was born on December 2) how wonderfully convenient it is to shop on the internet and have our Christmas gifts delivered right to our door!  I'm not one of those women who loves to go shopping, and I especially dislike it around the holidays when the stores are so busy and crowded.  It's also very hard for me to shop and not want everything I see!  (Just being honest.....) For those reasons, it just makes more sense for me to shop on the internet as much as I can and avoid going in the stores.

For many years now, my family and I have taken the day after Thanksgiving to put up our Christmas tree and decorate the house.  I don't remember if my husband and I started that tradition before we had the children or if it began after that.  My older two children and my husband don't care too much to help with the tree or the decorations, so my younger daughter and I usually do most of it.  The others are usually in the room nearby, though, keeping an eye on us.  They also sometimes help clear the "regular" things off the shelves or hand things to us or help clean up when we're all done.  We love to listen to Christmas music while we work, and then we all enjoy looking over everything when it's finished. 


2. Did you wish you had more brothers or sisters? Why?

You know, I've never really thought about having more brothers or sisters!  I suppose if I'd had more of them I would have liked it, but after all these years it's kind of hard to imagine there being more than my two sisters and me.  Because I have a twin sister, I always had another child my own age to play games with and go places with and that kind of thing.  For that reason, I probably wasn't as likely to wish for a brother or sister as many other children. 

When we were 15 years old, our mom had a baby, and we were really excited about it!  I do remember being glad that we were going to have a baby sister.  Now that we are all 3 grown up, it's nice that all 3 of us can be friends.  Even with our age differences, our children are all of similar ages, too, and they enjoy playing together too (most of the time).  Now I'm glad that there are the 3 sisters, but I don't find myself wishing for more.  I guess I'm just not imaginative to think of there being any other than we three.  :)

Because I so often don't have time to link up my post until later in the day, I'm including the address to April's blog so you can take a look at her post.  (Note to April:  I will link up sometime today!!)  Thanks, April, for taking the time to come up with these questions each week!  I really enjoy posting on them, and I hope folks enjoy reading them too!  http://bzoohomeschool.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

C-O-N-C-E-N-T-R-A-T-I-O-N !!

I am planning to try my best to post at least once or twice about my use of essential oils with my children.  I recently began trying to use more natural things like essential oils to help with medical conditions and attention issues and those kinds of things with my children.  I borrowed a really good book from my sister about aromatherapy and essential oils, and I've been reading through it every chance I get.  I've been able to try a few of the book's suggestions, and they do seem to be helping.

One example is from a trip I took a couple of weeks ago to visit my friend Heidi Strawser.  While on the plane on the way, I started to feel really yucky and sick.  I had read that peppermint essential oil helps ward off nausea, so I took a tiny bottle of it along with me.  As soon as I began to feel bad, I opened the bottle and took several really deep sniffs of it.  Then, for a while after that, I kept the bottle close and took more deep breaths every few minutes.  In 5 or 10 minutes, I felt just fine!

What really inspired me to write this post, though, was an experience that I had a couple of days ago with my younger daughter, age 7.  Mary Grace is usually pretty attentive when we're doing her homeschool work, but that day she was way off in space and just wasn't having any luck at all trying to concentrate.  I was getting very frustrated trying to work with her, and I could tell that she was getting frustrated as well. 

I opened up the aromatherapy book and looked to see what kinds of essential oils might help with concentration.  I found as many of the suggested oils as I could, filled a humidifier with purified water (since I don't have an aromatherapy diffuser I just used what I did have!), and added several drops of 3 different essential oils that I had on hand.  As I was standing at the sink filling the humidifier and adding the oils, I heard Mary Grace call out, "Hey Mom!  What are you doing?!"  I told her what I was doing and that it would help her to be able to concentrate.  Then she began explaining to me that she didn't need any essential oils to help her concentrate.  I turned around to talk to her about it, but she wasn't there.  I took a closer look and saw that she was at the kitchen table (where she was supposed to be doing her work), but she was upside down with her feet in the air!  Needless to say, that confirmed to me the need to get those essential oils going to see if they helped!

The truth is that, for the first few minutes, I didn't see any improvement.  After about 10 minutes or so, though, she actually began to pay much better attention to her work!  I was very pleased and a little surprised.  It wasn't too long before she was working very well, and we actually were able to finish that day's work without tears and frustration.  While I can't guarantee that the essential oils were responsible for her improved concentration, they sure did seem to be.  I can promise that I will absolutely be trying that again!
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bright Ideas Press Review


You have probably heard of Bright Ideas Press, and you may be familiar with their "The Mystery of History" series.  Did you know, though, that among the other resources they offer is a book called A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers?  I received a copy of the book to use with my children and review for the TOS Homeschool Crew, and we love it! 

The book is meant for use with students from about 3rd grade to about 8th grade.  Like many homeschool resources, however, it could be adapted for use with just about any age or grade level.  I don't think I would probably try to use it with children who are younger than 3rd grade simply because the material might be a little difficult for younger children to understand; I do think it would be suitable for most older students, though. 

The book includes 32 weekly lessons, 26 biographies of famous composers, a comparative timeline, maps, composer information cards and game directions, coloring pages, resource suggestions, and more!  There is no music included with the book, but there is information included to help you find the music to go along with the lessons.  In fact, we found that we could find many of the suggested pieces of music on the internet.  While we couldn't always find the entire piece, we were often able to find at least a short section of it--enough that we could get an idea of what the entire piece sounds like. 

I really like that a suggested schedule is included at the beginning of the book.  While I don't always choose to use schedules that are included with materials I use for homeschooling, I still like it when they are included.  It is very helpful to have an idea of ways to use the materials and the approximate amount of time I should be devoting to each lesson or activity.  Then I can tweak that information to make it work for my family. 

Of course a book like this one can't contain information about every single composer who lived.  The authors tried to include those composers who had a great impact on the world of music.  They also, of course, had to limit their list to the number of composers that can be studied within a typical school year.  I really appreciate the fact that they chose to leave out certain composers whose lives were immoral because they could not include information about the lives of those composers since it wouldn't be appropriate for students to read! 

My children and I haven't had time to finish using this book since it will take about a school year to complete, but we have absolutely enjoyed what we've done so far!  I have been very pleased with it myself, and I've been just as pleased with my children's reactions to it too.  I wasn't sure how much they would like this study since so many young people are not "into" classical music.  I think that learning about the lives of each composer has helped my children to be more interested in each composer's music.  I know it works that way for me! 

Included in the book are directions for various activities to do as part of this study.  There are note-taking pages, review questions, directions for playing games with the composer information cards, directions for making a "folderbook" (sort of like a lapbook), information about using the maps, and timeline directions too.  With my children, I tried to spread out the different activities over the week in order to keep their interest by giving them something active to do nearly every day.  Not only did that help build interest, I think it also helped them to retain more of what they learned. 

The cost of A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers is $29.95 for the CD-Rom book or $34.95 for the paperback book (298 pages).   I received the paperback book for review.  I really enjoy having an actual book to use whenever possible.  I like that the kids and I can take it with us if we have appointments or if we choose to do our work outside when the weather is nice.  I don't always want to be tied down to my computer and/or to have to print out lots of pages each day or week.  I honestly think this book is worth the price!

If you want to read more reviews of this resource or reviews of some of the other resources that other Crew members received, just click this link.  I think you will enjoy reading some of the other reviews as well as finding out about some other great resources!

Wendy

NOTE:  I received this resource for the purpose of using it and writing this review.  I did not receive any other compensation.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Giveaway: Fall 2010 Issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!

Because I love The Old Schoolhouse Magazine so much, I'd love to introduce it to some of you who aren't familiar with the magazine.  TOS is a Christian homeschool magazine, and I absolutely love it!!  I've read it for years--ever since another homeschooling mom, Marie, introduced me to it years ago.  I have a daughter (now age 15) who has autism and whom I homeschool.  Marie subscribed to TOS, and she noticed that the then-current magazine included several great articles on homeschooling special-needs children.  I was thrilled when she let me borrow her copy!  I read it from cover to cover--the articles about homeschooling special-needs students and all of the other articles too! 

Now I work part-time from home for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine--something I never imagined I'd do when I first began reading and subscribing.  After reading the magazine for years, I found out about an opportunity to review homeschool materials for the TOS Homeschool Crew.  During my second year on the Crew, I found out about a job opening for TOS, and I jumped at the chance to work for them!  I can honestly say that I love my part-time job, I love the other folks who work for TOS, and I love the magazine itself. 

I enjoy receiving each new magazine, and to tell the truth, I sometimes try to force myself to "spread out" my reading of each one over a week or two instead of sitting down (like I'd like to do!) and reading it all in a few days.  I don't want to read it too quickly because it's so much fun reading each new issue, and I want it to last as long as possible.  Sometimes, though, I just can't resist and I read it all in a few days.  I suppose that's really ok, though, because I usually go back and re-read almost every article anyway!  I find that, on the first reading, it's all new and exciting and fun.  On the second reading, though, I can really absorb more of the information and remember it and put it to good use. 

I always keep my "old" issues of the magazine too.  Now that I have several years' worth of back-issues, I like to look through them now and then.  Because my children are always growing and changing, I often find articles in these back-issues that are meaningful and helpful to me right now.  These articles might have been fun to read at that time, but they may not have been relevant to me back then.  Now that my children are older, perhaps a particular article is just what I need for this year or for a particular child or situation.  I do loan my copies out, but I try to save them over the years so they are available when I need them or when someone else needs to borrow one. 

Before I tell you how to enter to win a free copy of the current issue, I will tell you just a little about what's in this issue.  First of all, there's a great article giving "10 Reasons We Homeschool."  I love this article!  It's so encouraging and fun!  Sometimes I read back-issues of the magazine that contain similar articles just to remind me why I keep hanging in there and homeschooling my children even when it gets difficult!  There are also articles about keeping a transcript.  I remember reading such articles years ago and thinking that it seemed like that would never be relevant to me.  Now, though, I have an 8th grader for whom I will need to start keeping a transcript next year!!  This article came at just the right time.  There are articles about geography, parenting teens, analyzing novels, and even cooking and freezing meals for later use.  Whether you have preschoolers, elementary or middle schoolers, or even high school aged students, you will find articles that were written "just for you" in every issue. 

If you are NOT a subscriber to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, then you are welcome to enter to win a free copy of the current issue.  This is a brand-new still-in-the-wrapper copy of the magazine that I bought just for this purpose.  Below are the ways you can enter.  Please leave a separate comment for each entry since that will increase your chances of winning.  Also, be sure to leave me a way to contact you so I can let you know if you win.  I will draw for the winner on or around the first week of December. 

1.  For one entry, simply leave a comment here on my blog telling me why you would like to win the current issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

2.  For 5 entries, post about my giveaway on your blog and include a link to this post.

3.  For 5 entries, grab my "Homeschooling Blessings" button and put it on your blog.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog! 

Blessings,
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Friday, November 19, 2010

KB Teachers Review



KBTeachers (originally called KnowledgeBears.com) is a website which seeks to provide parents and teachers with the latest teaching tools and materials. Some of the things you will find on this site are worksheet generators, graphics and clipart, online and offline activities, printable worksheets in various subjects, answer keys, coloring pages, and handwriting practice sheets.

I have tried out several websites for the TOS Homeschool Crew and for my own personal use.  One thing that I particularly like about KBTeachers is that it, unlike many other educational websites, has information aimed at older students as well as younger students.  When my children were all in lower elementary grades, it was easy to find resources and materials to use with them, but now that they are in middle school, it's gotten much harder.  I love that this website helps meet the needs of teachers and homeschooling parents who have middle school and high school students!

KBTeachers offers seasonal activities and holiday activities and worksheets too. One particular place that seasonal activities can be found is in the monthly “Webquests” section. In Webquests each month, you will find a calendar page for that month with lots of activities and links for certain days. For example, did you know that October 1st was Homemade Cookies Day? I didn’t either! For that day, KBTeachers provides a short information sheet about the history of cookies and baking. Then several links to relevant websites are included in order to give teachers easy access to additional information for further study and more fun!

There are English Language activities, cursive writing sheets, grammar and writing sheets and information, many kinds of math worksheets and activities for various ages and grade levels, science and biology resources, and more! Many of the worksheets are offered in color OR black and white too.  I like to do the activites in color if I can, but with my older children in particular, sometimes it's nice to have the option of printing things out in black and white too.  Occasionally my younger daughter wants to color her own worksheets, so she's glad I have that option at times.

I also like that KBTeachers will try to provide resources that aren't currently on their website if you have a need for something in particular.  There is so much already offered on their website that you probably won't need anything else.  If you do, though, I think it's great that they are willing to try to add it just for you!  They are constantly updating and adding new materials for each season and holiday, so you may find that what you need is there when you need it.

KBTeachers offers a free trial if you want to try them out to see if this website might be helpful (or just plain fun!) for you and your children.  Subscriptions cost $29 for one year and $49 for two years. 

Click on this link to see how the Crew members liked KBTeachers and how they use it in their homeschools.

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NOTE:  I received a free trial subscription to KBTeachers for the purpose of writing this review.  I did not receive any other compensation.  The opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Corps of Re-Discovery Review

 

Have you heard of the Corps of Re-Discovery?  If this company is new to you, I think you'll enjoy checking them out!  It is run by a mom and dad along with their 3 homeschooled sons.  They gave their business this name because, when President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to find an east-west water passage to the Pacific Ocean over 200 years ago, he called them the "Corps of Discovery."  This family chose to call their business the Corps of Re-Discovery.  They, like Lewis and Clark years ago, want to learn about new cultures and make new discoveries.  And they want to share their discoveries with us! 

I recently received a coin pouch kit from the Corps of Re-Discovery for review. 

This kit sells for $4.99.  It includes the leather which is already shaped, has the holes punched in it (for sewing), and has the snap parts already attached.  It also includes plastic string for sewing. 

The kit was really easy to sew!  I did have to use scissors to shape the end of the plastic string so that it would easily go through the little holes.  After that, though, it was a cinch to sew. 

I really like that it was an easy activity, but it produces a sturdy little coin pouch that looks like it will last a long time.  My daughter is 7 years old, and it wasn't too difficult for her to do at all.  I think even older children would enjoy this as well.  It doesn't really require any sewing skills, and I think it is completely appropriate for boys as well as girls.  In fact, boys might like it even better than girls.  And of course it can hold any small "treasures," not just coins.  The finished size is about 4" X 3 ". 

Some other Crew members received kits for making tomahawks ($5.50)    

fringe pouches ($11.99)
                                                                                 
corn husk dolls ($4.50)

and small patchwork quilts ($11.99). 






If you'd like to see some of their reviews on these other products, click here
 
Wendy

NOTE:  I received this product free in exchange for writing this review.  I did not receive any other compensation.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Memoir Mondays Week 8

It's Monday again, and that means it's time for another Memoir Mondays post!  The weeks sure do fly by, don't they?  Here are this week's questions:    

1. Did you serve in the military? If so, where and when?


2. Describe what your family did to get ready for the Thanksgiving holiday.

I have never served in the military.  My dad did, and so did my husband's dad.  In fact, my twin sister and I were born in the Panama Canal Zone because our dad was stationed there during the year we were born.  I don't have any memories of being there, though, because we came back to the United States a few months after we were born.  (I usually try to remember to tell folks that I have a twin sister whenever I talk about my growing up years because I almost always refer to myself as "we."  I guess we spent so much of our time together from birth until we were teenagers that I don't really have many memories of myself without her in them!)

When we were young, our family usually didn't have Thanksgiving at our house.  We usually ate Thanksgiving dinner at our grandmother's house.  (My mom's mother's.)  I suppose we probably either cooked something to take with us or went to her house and helped her cook.

My grandmother always preferred ham instead of turkey for Thanksgiving (or any other time of year).  I think we usually had both ham and turkey, but if we ever had just one or the other--it was ham.  I suppose I probably didn't care much about what we had when I was really young, but as I got older I always wanted to have turkey.  I'm not a big ham eater.  I will eat it, but it's not my favorite. 

Occasionally we ate Thanksgiving dinner at my dad's mother's house.  I do remember that it felt a little strange when we went to her house for Thanksgiving since we were used to going to the other grandmother's house.  In fact, I think I actually remember those rare Thanksgivings when we went to my dad's mother's house even more because that was so unusual for us.  We did visit with my dad's parents, but we usually didn't go there on holidays since the other grandparents lived closer to us.  Also, my dad's parents often went out of state for holidays to spend them with my dad's sister who lives in another state. 

I may post more about our Thanksgiving menu and my Thanksgiving memories in the next week or so.  For now, though, I'd love to hear if you have a favorite Thanksgiving memory that you'd like to share!  If so, please tell me about it in the comments section below. 

Oh, and don't forget to visit April over at Heartfelt Homeschooling to see more Memoir Mondays posts. 

Thanks!
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2010 Digital Holiday Supplement from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

2010 Holiday Digital Supplement/Idea Book


You may have gotten an email with a link to the 2010 holiday supplement (pictured above) from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  If not, though, it's free to download a copy, and you are free to share the link with your friends or homeschool group, etc. 

The information in the 2010 holiday supplement is all new.  I haven't even stopped to read mine yet, but I think I will take a look at it tonight after I'm all settled down and ready for bed.  Here is the link: http://bit.ly/9nSitm

I am so pleased that I was able to contribute two articles to this supplement!  TOS was looking for articles/information about Christmas in other countries to share in it, so I asked two former foreign-exchange students to share information with me.  I wrote one article about Christmas in Sweden (with help from Paula Delking), and I wrote another one about Christmas in Finland (with help from Mona Stenbom).  I hope you enjoy them! 

Below is a message from TOS to you:

"Make your holidays merry with a special gift from The Old Schoolhouse®, our new Thanksgiving and Christmas Digital Holiday Supplement. This FREE 176-page digital magazine takes you around the world to explore Christmas in other lands and is packed with festive ideas, fun crafts, special recipes, and even activity pages for the kids. Plus, as a special bonus, we've included articles with advice from our 2010 Fall Schoolhouse Expo speakers."


I hope you enjoy reading your copy and sharing it with friends!

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Southern Girl in the North

It's so very hard to believe that my week here in Pennsylvania is almost over!  Noah, Mary Grace, and I arrived in Baltimore, MD, this past Saturday to visit with Heidi Strawser and her family.  They live in Pennsylvania, but we flew into the airport in Baltimore.  They picked us up and took us home with them for the week. 

Heidi is in charge of Special Projects for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  I got to know her when I began reviewing for the TOS Homeschool Crew last year.  I have worked with her some since I started working part-time for TOS this past March.  We actually met for the first time this past May.  We decided it would be fun to visit each other at home, though, so the kids and I made plans to come visit. 

Since we've been here, we've spent several days just "hanging around" here at their house.  I really wanted plenty of time to just visit and do the regular day-to-day kinds of things that they normally do.  I really feel like I know someone when I've spent time just visiting and being at home with that person.  We've gone to the grocery store, walked down to the post office to check the mail, stayed at home to visit, and visited a few local stores.

I embarrassed myself terribly at one of the stores we visited a couple of days ago.  I went into the store to see if they had any yarn.  Heid's daughter, Gracie, and my daughter, Mary Grace, wanted yarn to use to make knit hats and scarves on Gracie's knitting looms.  I told Heidi that I would run into the store really quick and ask if they had yarn before getting all the kids out of the car to go in and find that they didn't even have what we needed.  (So thankfully everyone I was with didn't hear me embarrass myself.)  So I opened the door, poked my head inside, and asked the sales lady, "Do ya'll have any yarn here?"  It wasn't until right after I asked that I realized the sales lady and several customers were laughing (quietly to themselves, but I saw them) because I said "ya'll."  It was too  late!  I couldn't take it back! 

I didn't really mind that much.  :)  I'm sure it would have been funny to me too if I wasn't from the South.  I've been telling myself that they were laughing with me--not at me.  Is that possible, though, if I wasn't laughing?  At least I had a part in making several folks smile that day!  I hope you are smiling and having a great day today, too.

In fact, I'd love to hear about something funny that recently happened to you or someone in your family or even about something else that makes you smile. 

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Doing School

Sometimes kids are so funny!  My friend Heidi Strawser's son, Ian, is 4 years old.  He likes to do his "school work" here at their kitchen table while his mom is doing her work on her computer.  He was working in one of those write-on and wipe-off workbooks that has numbers, letters, math problems, and those kinds of things in it.  He sat here for quite a while carefully writing his letters.  Then he moved on to the math problems.

I was very impressed with his math skills!  He did several addition problems, and he got all of them correct.  Some of the problems on the page were subtraction problems, but he did those as addition problems too.  I don't think he even realized that the sign was a - instead of a +.  Evidently he always does them as addition problems and is used to doing them that way. 

My daughter, Mary Grace (age 7), was watching Ian do his work.  Ian was proud of his work and wanted her to watch him do it.  Mary Grace loves Ian, so she didn't mind watching him at all.  Then Ian invited her to work in his workbook, so she took him up on his offer.  When she did the math problems, though, she did the subtraction problems as subtraction problems instead of as addition. 

Ian was watching Mary Grace do the math problems, and he was telling her that her answers were wrong since he thinks they are all addition problems.  Mary Grace was actually getting the correct answers, but of course Ian didn't know that.  In order to say it in a way that Ian would understand, I told him that Mary Grace was doing the math problems in a different way than he does them.  Ian cheerfully answered me, "That's ok!  I just do them the right way!" 

Aren't kids funny?  I love that little guy!





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Monday, November 8, 2010

Memoir Mondays Week 7


1. Describe your cooking skills and your favorite thing to cook.


2. Describe one of your favorite foods from childhood.

This week's Memoir Mondays questions have to do with food--one of my favorite subjects!  April, at Heartfelt Homeschooling , was thinking about fall and the cooler weather when she posted this week's questions.  She said that the cold weather makes her start thinking about doing some baking.  I really enjoy baking and cooking around the holidays too.

Now that my kids are old enough to help me, it's even more fun.  Hannah doesn't often help me cook, but she will occasionally watch what I'm doing.  I can talk to her while I cook, and I enjoy spending the time with her.  Noah will occasionally help me cook, but his favorite job is eating whatever I've cooked!  Mary Grace is happy to both help me cook and to eat whatever I've cooked (with or without her help). 

The first Memoir Mondays question this week asked me to describe my cooking skills and tell my favorite thing to cook.  I would say that my cooking skills are pretty good.  I don't cook fancy dishes with foreign names that I can't pronounce, though.  My family members all like regular meat-and-potatoes foods.  I do occasionally try "new" things, but sometimes they don't go over very well with my family. 

During the holidays, one of my very favorite things to bake is pumpkin pie.  I absolutely love pumpkin pie!!  I don't use (or like very much) the traditional kind of pumpkin pie that most folks like, though.  Most folks make pumpkin pies with lots of cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves.  The recipe that I use came from my grandmother.  Her recipe doesn't taste so "heavy" and spicey like the more traditional recipes do.  Hers uses pumpkin (or sweet potatoes--either one tastes great), evaporated milk, a dash of cinnamon, and some lemon extract.  The lemon extract gives it a different flavor that is really yummy!  There are a few other ingredients too, but I can't remember right off hand what they are or exactly how to make it.  I could absolutely eat an entire one of her pumpkin pies all by myself!

The other question asks me to describe one of my favorite foods from childhood.  At the risk of sounding yucky, I'll describe one of the dishes I remember eating as child that I still enjoy a lot.  I don't really know what it's called, so I'll tell you what it is instead. 

When I was a little child, we often spent the night at my grandmother's house.  (The same one who gave me the pumpkin pie recipe.)  Every morning for breakfast, she made delicious, huge, fluffy homemade biscuits.  No, that's not the yucky part!  She also made patty sausage.  Nope, that's not it either.  When we ate the biscuits, we used to crumble them up and pour hot black coffee over them.  Then we mixed the coffee and biscuits together into a kind of "mush."  Then we ate the coffee-and-biscuits with the patty sausage.  (Don't try this with canned biscuits!)  It was, and still is, delicious stuff!!  It's one of my favorite food memories from childhood.

I also have fond memories of waking up at my grandmother's house in the mornings and smelling the biscuits, sausage, and coffee being prepared.  Then a little later when it was all ready Mamaw would call out, "Breeeeeeeeeakfaaaast!"  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.  Mmmmm.....

If you would like to participate in the Memoir Mondays meme, just go to Heartfelt Homeschooling and link your post to her blog.  If you don't want to do your own post, I'd love for you to leave a comment here on my blog telling me what food you most like to bake (and/or eat) during the holidays. 

Have a great week!
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Memoir Mondays Week 6

This week on Memoir Mondays, the questions are:

1.  How did you like being the oldest, youngest, or middle child?  What were the advantages or disadvantages?

2.  List all the costumes you have worn or characters you have been for Halloween.

Since I have an identical twin sister, I wasn't really the oldest child or the middle child.  I was sort of, well, maybe a combination of the two!  Since Melissa and I were born by C-section, we were born just a minute or so apart.  She was actually taken out first and then me.  My family has always teased me and called me the "middle child," but I don't know if one minute's difference is really enough to count.  :P  Our baby sister was born 15 years later, so for most of my growing-up years, it was just Melissa and me.

I have actually always acted more like the older sister than Melissa.  Even in lower elementary school, I was the one who always kept up with the milk money and lunch money at school for both of us.  I clearly remember feeling responsible for making sure Melissa had her money for snacks at recess and whatever else she needed.  In high school even though our class schedules were different, I remember passing Melissa in the hall and calling out to her to remember certain books to take home to study for a test, etc.  Melissa was always the happy-go-lucky, I'm-not-too-worried-about-it kind of person.  I was always the responsible no-nonsense one.  I'm happy to say, though, that she has become a little more responsible over the years, and I've loosened up some.  (But not a lot!)

Now for the next question.  My husband and I choose for our kids not to celebrate Halloween, but my parents did let us celebrate it when Melissa and I were children.  I actually don't have many memories of Halloween for some reason. 

I do remember one particular Halloween, though, when Melissa and I dressed up as martians.  The costumes had some kind of shirt or something that went over our shirts.  Then they had some kind of headpiece things that were inflatable.  The "hat" parts covered our heads, and there was an inflatable head (a cute little martian head, not a yucky, scarey one) that stuck up on top of our heads and made it look like we were both little two-headed martians.  I think I may remember these martian costumes particularly well because, every time we got in the car to drive somewhere else, we had to duck our heads down really low to fit our "extra" heads in the car!

I really don't remember what we dressed up like any other years except that one.  My mom wasn't a very prolific picture-taker either, so I don't think I've ever seen photos of any of the costumes we wore for Halloween. 

I hope all of you have had a happy and safe weekend!  Don't eat too much candy in the next few days! 
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