Monday, October 24, 2016

Popcorn Balls - A Fall Tradition

Truth be told, I had never in my life had a popcorn ball until I was in my mid to late 30's.  My husband mentioned in passing that his grandma always made popcorn balls around Halloween.  Being the wonderful (and humble) wife that I am, I surprised him with a batch of these ooey-gooey treats one year and it has now become a tradition that the girls and I enjoy working on together.

The recipe I use is fairly easy, and fail proof, because I have never had success with anything that says "bring to the soft ball" or "hard ball" stage.   This recipe has none of that nonsense.

1/2 stick of butter
1 regular size bag of marshmallows
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
3 quarts of popped corn

Melt the butter and marshmallows either in the microwave or over low heat on the stove.   Once the butter/marshmallows are melted, stir in the salt and vanilla.   (You could also add food coloring at this point if you wanted.)

Pour the melted mixture over the popcorn and stir well, making sure you get all of the popcorn covered.  Let the popcorn mixture cool slightly to avoid getting burnt.  Next, butter your hands....yes, really, and the kids will love it, trust me.   Use your buttered hands to shape the popcorn into the desired size, pressingly tightly to make the "ball" stick together.

Have a non buttered person (snicker) ready with the plastic wrap, so that the process will move quickly.   You'll want to wrap the popcorn balls pretty tightly to keep them from getting stale.  Cleanup can be a bit sticky (har har har).   Let your items soak in hot water for a few moments and you'll be good to go.

You could add food coloring or cinnamon candy flavoring to add a bit of fun to your creations.   You could also add peanuts, M&M's or other candy to the popped corn before add the marshmallow mixture.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Weekly Wrap Up - Academic Updates

We've just wrapped up our ninth week of the new school year, so I thought I'd give you an update on what is and isn't working.

Bible:  We're all enjoying our in depth study of the book of Proverbs.   The girls are getting much better about picking out poor choices vs. wise choices and are memorizing a great deal of scripture too.

Language Arts:  Both girls are still using Learning Language Arts Through Literature, with Lindsey being in the Tan Book and Olivia in the Gray Book.  This program has worked well for us over the last few years and both girls really enjoy the style.  I've finally wised up this year and have started assigning the book study reading several weeks before we get to the book study so that we are ahead of the game.

Spelling:   Thankfully, the spelling has clicked a little better for Lindsey this year.  Her weekly scores are far better than they were in years gone by.  I have to admit that I have been a bit surprised by a few of her spelling words so far, like "cigarette" for example.  Olivia is enjoying her spelling/vocabulary and is especially fond of her creative sentence writing work.  I love reading her sentences, as she reminds me a bit of "Anne Shirley" at times.

Science:   Olivia is really enjoying her Life Science curriculum.  She has been doing a great job with note taking and drawing sketches to go along with what she's studying.  I've decided that since she's putting so much work into her notebook, that it will count for a good portion of her grade this year.   She's also enjoying the labs and experiments.

Lindsey's Introductory Science is not nearly as involved as I'd expected it to be.  She enjoys the short video lessons. Since the lessons are so short, I have her do 3 days worth in one sitting, twice a week, typically Monday and Wednesday. She's already on week 13, and we'll probably finish this one up before the end of the calendar year.   On Tuesday and Thursday she's working through Apologia Astronomy to balance out her time.

Latin:  This really is going well, however with our schedule being a little out of sorts early on, we're about two weeks behind where we should be.  I'm glad, however, that we can take our time and master the lessons even if it's not at the same pace as other subjects.    It's also fun now that the girls are starting to recognize Latin root and derivatives in lots of other subject areas. I can see that they really are "getting it" and not just memorizing the list of words each week.

Math:  I'll be honest here, Algebra has been a real pain in the rear end recently.  The biggest issue has been that the teacher's manual (and answer key) are printed as super small replicas of the student text page with the answers showing.   When the lesson is on graphing and the graphs are so small that I can't see coordinate points or even tell if the graph has numbers it makes it impossible to tell whats right and what's not.  I finally had to call the vendor and ask for assistance.    Thankfully they were able to email me a full size answer key so HOPEFULLY we can get back on track.   I also don't like that the answers are shown, but not the work showing how the answers were achieved, as this makes it a lot harder for me to try to show her where she went wrong.

Lindsey's 6th grade math is moving along pretty smoothly.   She's working through a unit on geometry right now and is really enjoying it.   She's been using geo-solid shapes I picked up a few years ago, and those have helped her be able to get a little more hands on with her math.

History:   Lindsey is studying the Middle Ages using History Portfolio's.   This is putting the time frame into bite size portions for her and making it a bit more interesting than a standard history curriculum, although it's still not turning her into a history lover.
Geography:  As with science, Olivia is putting enormous amounts of time into her notebooking for this year's geography curriculum.   I'm really happy to see her take such initiative, so I'm changing the grading breakdown for this course as well.

This is our last week of volleyball, with the championship tournament scheduled for Saturday morning.  The kids have had a great time, and I've enjoyed coaching this year.  Although, I will admit I'm looking forward to getting Monday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings freed back least until basketball starts.

I guess that's about all for this week.  It's been kind of low key and just knocking out a bunch of schoolwork and housework.   Next week we'll have  a shorter school week, and hopefully a cool project to share with you all!

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap Up!

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Who Wants to Review??

I'm sure you've noticed the abundance of product reviews I've shared this year.   In case you weren't counting, there were 33, just for the Schoolhouse Review Crew alone!   People have asked how I've gotten involved with such a grand opportunity, so here's the skinny on how YOU can apply to review products for the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

First let me say you must be a blogger, and have at least one homeschooled student.   If you meet those two criteria, then pop over and read the other requirements at the Review Crew Blog.  Once you've read the requirements, it's time to apply.   Simply click over and fill out the 2017 Crew Application, be sure to tell them that Joesette H. referred you!  (There will be a spot for that information on the crew application).  

Just a little incentive, the goal of the Review Crew is to DOUBLE the size of the crew this year, adding another 100 new bloggers!!   Your chances of being picked are better than ever!!

Once you've filled out the application, continue to blog on a regular basis and wait for someone from the Review Crew to get back to you.   Easy, right?   so what are you waiting for?

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Weekly Wrap Up - Back to Not Average

Last week was apparently an anomaly, as this week has gone back to busy busy busy, go go go.   I'm good with that really.   I like that the kids are active and involved (which of course means I'm active and involved).

Friday night we traveled with our volleyball league to go watch the James Madison University ladies play volleyball.  This was the girls first taste of college sports, and the infamous "JMU Zoo".   Our girls helped with the pre-game tunnel, got lots of autographs and got to work on a serving drill during half time.   It was a really good match and the girls all came away with an excitement and better understanding of why we do the drills that we do.

Sunday, the girls partnered with the local FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and served as prayer ministry volunteers at the local Fields of Faith.   This event brought out students from all over our county and inclusive city schools to hear an inspirational message, worship with the praise team and be offered an opportunity to receive Christ.  What an awesome time to watch my children praying for and ministering to the youth of their community!

Tuesday was our homeschool group field trip/work day at our local Love, Inc. facility.   I was disappointed in the amount of folks who turned out, but super proud of how hard these kids worked all day!  

Wednesday was our monthly co-op.   I taught on the Ukraine this month, and we created some Ukrainian folk art.   Since I again forgot to take my camera to class, here's the example I created of a Ukrainian rooster.
Thursday was an impromptu day off school.   My brother took the girls for a ride through the mountains, picnicking and then tromping through a local pumpkin path.  (He of course didn't take photos, gah!)   I spent the day caring for my Momma while he was away.   The girls also had a leadership class in the evening at church, followed by volleyball practice.

Friday was our typical short day.  We started off with a trip to the chiropractor, then knocked out our math, language arts, spelling tests and Bible lesson/quiz before heading out the door to the girls IEW class.

The temperatures here have really started to plummet, causing the leaves to start to change pretty quickly.  I hope to have some good photos to share with you all next week.

Remember, you still have time to enter my Economics for Everyone give away!   Have a great weekend!

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap Up.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Weekly Wrap Up - An Average Week

This was a good week, nothing over the top exciting though to blog about.    The funny thing is, it's these average weeks that I'm enjoying the most, as opposed to the crazy ones.   I guess it shows I'm maturing (not to be confused with getting old) ahem.   I actually had time to put out some fall yard decorations!

Lindsey was a bit under the weather early in the week.  Nothing serious, just over active fall allergies that made her feel fatigued and blah.   She was still a little trooper and kept up with her school work, volleyball and dance schedule.   We did end up skipping our morning trips to the gym so she could sleep in a bit.

The only change from our normal routine was going to the dentist for the 6 month checkups.   No cavities in either girl, and we're apparently only 2 baby teeth away from being finished with losing teeth.   Of course, then we'll have to contemplate braces for Lindsey.  Although, with her hair trigger gag reflex, that may not be feasible anytime soon.

I've shared several product reviews on the blog this week.  One of those product reviews is Economics for Everyone.   While it's hard to be excited about economics, it is exciting to get a chance to win a free curriculum product!   Be sure to pop over to my review post and enter!
Economics for Everybody
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