Saturday, February 16, 2013

This Week's H/School Journal

In our homeschool this week...
....we continued the usual school work, but a little less of it, so that we could do a few other things.

...we went on a field trip to hear the symphony orchestra play a concert for kids.  In addition to hearing a wide variety of classical music, the kids (and I) really enjoyed the performances that were merged with the music:  Pole dancers; a juggler; an opera singer; even a magician who 'sawed' a woman into pieces.  I was so impressed by how well the organizers of the concert merged the music with other things to capture and hold the kids' attention.  There were a thousand kids in that concert hall and, if the cheering and clapping were any indication, I think the performance was enjoyed by every one of them!

Part of the Concert Hall...full of kids listening to great music.

...we devoted time to some crafting for Valentine's Day, which we all enjoyed.  The kids have been wanting to do more structured craft activities lately and I think this need was acted upon this week.

...we spent a few hours that we usually spend on school just cleaning and tidying.  The house needed it, true, but it was also because we were having people over for Valentine's Day dinner and that is always a great motivation to get some house work done.  The place still looked pretty 'lived in' at the end, and there were still a few piles here and there...but it was better.  In fact, I'd say that most of the mess that remained was due to my lack of organizational ability and time!

Places we went and people we saw...
...we went to the home of good friends early in the week and had a good time:  Visiting; playing.  It was lovely.

...we had good friends over for dinner on Valentine's Day and that was great for kids and grown-ups alike! the kids and I are off to a birthday party for a friend of the kids - it's a swimming party so I have no doubt that it'll be fun.

My favourite thing this week was...
...My parents were kind enough to feed my kids lunch and take them to karate one day this week.  This freed me to attend the monthly chapter meeting with other people who've taken a lot of Gordon Neufeld courses.  This is the second (consecutive!) meeting I've been able to attend and I walked out of that room (almost three hours later!) energized and recharged.  We're working on a course that Neufeld has developed but which hasn't been fully edited yet and which hasn't yet been released to the public.  The topic is Alpha children, which is of particular interest to me because I have one!  The idea is that, on our own time during the month, we each listen to two hours of the online course, and then when we get together we talk about it.  This process will allow us to finish up the course over four months. Some time, if ever I get an hour or two to write about this, I'd love to post on this subject because it's a fascinating one.  Anyway, it was truly a favourite part of my week.  We were a small (maybe a dozen people?) and varied group of interested participants:  H/schoolers; teachers; psychologists; stay-at-home moms; school counsellors; etc etc.  Really, the participants were simply people who work a lot with kids and who have a keen interest in working with kids in the developmental way that Neufeld espouses.  It was awesome that so many experiences were brought to the table; it was a rich discussion about various challenges and issues and the meeting was led by a person that I have much respect (and admiration) for.  I can hardly wait for next month's meeting...Mom? Dad? Are you ok taking the kids to karate again??

Things I'm working on...
...Well, there's lots that I should be working on!  Some weeks fly by so quickly that it's over before I feel like I have a chance to do anything or to figure out what's going to happen next week!  This week felt like one of those weeks.  Did you notice that I didn't blog as frequently?  That's because I was busy in the later evenings trying to figure out the following day and doing whatever was needed to make those plans happen; also, I was trying hard to bring a little more organization to some of the chaos around here - those efforts aren't particularly visible to anyone but me, but still, it took time and energy.

I'm cooking/baking...
...because I have little time for baking these days, I considered it a feat to put together (yummy!) rice crispie balls and cake, both in preparation for Valentine's Day fondue dessert.  And the fondue was delicious!

...Valentine's Day dinner was a potluck, and my contribution was one of my family's favourite meals:  Crockpot Chicken Cassoulet.  It's a mixture of vegetables, chicken thighs, beans, and tomatoes; all simmered together for the day in a delicious broth.  It's a wonderful dish served up with sprouted brown rice. other dinner that I cooked out of my imagination was pretty terrific-tasting (if you like beef and pasta)...and really simple.  I prepared it early in the day and just re-heated it before dinner.  I diced up a large onion, quite finely, and cooked that in a pan over the stove-top along with a pound of super-lean (pastured) beef.  At some point towards the end of that cooking, I added basil and oregano.  I then  sprinkled flour over-top the beef/onion, and cooked that in for a few minutes - a kind of roux, I suppose.  I slowly added milk, and eventually a larger size can of tomato sauce, and simmered these things together for about 20 minutes; it was thicker than soup, but not quite as thick as a stew.  I then combined this saucy mixture with a pot of pasta that I'd cooked alongside the beef, and spread the whole thing into a 9x13 pan.  I topped it with grated cheese (thank goodness for pre-grated cheese from Costco!) and popped it into the fridge.  Then, a half hour before dinner, I just re-heated it in the oven.  It was a great -tasting dinner along with a salad, and the kids all gave it two-thumbs up.  What I liked about it was that, although it took about 45 minutes to prepare, I paid very little attention to it - I stirred it every few minutes, and added things here and there; but at the same time I got my kitchen cleaned up and the kids working on a Valentine's felt like an effortless meal.  And of course, I loved that I didn't have the usual dinner-hour scramble because my main dish was all done and I had pre-prepared spinach in the fridge with which to make a five- minute salad.  The best part?  Well, because it was a very hearty and filling dish, we had leftovers for the following evening when Geoff was away!

I'm grateful for...
...the love in our family.  I say this because it was just Valentine's Day, but also because it's just plain true.  When push comes to shove, despite hard time and maybe because of them, there is a lot of love amongst the folks who live in this household.  On good days I can even see the love that God has for us reflected in what's going on amongst us here in our little household.  Even though there have been so many hard days in the past twenty months or so, I know that I'm going to look back on these days and know that we lived life for real in the nitty gritty of it all and that these are good days to cherish.

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