Sunday, February 26, 2012

Raw, Vegan, Gluten and Guilt Free Cinna-Cookies

I was looking for some GF recipes for pretty much anything new. I found a similar recipe and altered it to my preferences. I am sick of the same old GF food where half of it leaves me craving the real thing. I have tasted the real thing since I was only diagnosed as gluten intolerant last year.  Now that 90% of the grocery store items are off limits, I am left to drool on the sidelines. This recipe may be the best thing I have tasted in months!

These cookies are absolutely delicious. I wouldn't even have to say it if you could smell them!

10-12 depitted dates
1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup raw almonds
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 diced apple, optional (Mac, Macoun, or any sweet but not too bitter)

Blend all ingredients (except the apple!) in a food processor or Vita-mix until completely mixed. You may want ear plugs, it is quite loud. Certainly not for making during nap time for any little ones! You will know you are done mixing when it looks a bit like brown and tan sand, or small pebbles. I stopped blending when I knew the ingredients would stick together nicely in a small ball.
Get ready to get a bit dirty, clean bare hands works best to blend the apple into the mix. Then take a ping pong ball sized amount, roll into a ball then flatten. Repeat until all the mix is used. You will get about 12-15 cookies.
Place in food dehydrator for about an hour on 145F, then you can turn down to 110F for up to 7 hours. I preferred to only do the first hour, then refrigerate. Warning: You will be tempted to hide them on your family and have them all for yourself. They are very filling, so make sure you share. :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Disrespect in a Time Aimed at Rewarding for Respect

 The apple sure doesn't fall far from the tree! Wow, that statement never meant much to me before. But we truly do influence our children with every move we make. Taekwondo, is a Martial Art, but is also about Respect. We bring our children there to learn skills of the body, but also of the mind. Tae Kwon Do translates to mean  "The right way of using all parts of the body to stop fights and help to build a better and more peaceful world."
Every month before testing night at my DD2's Dojang, there is a night of Board Breaking. This is the busiest day at the Taekwondo Center every month. This week was especially busy and very important that my daughter attend Board Breaking because she was going for her Yellow Belt test two days later. More than 40 kids showed up and were accompanied by parents, brothers, sisters and many screaming toddlers.
The parents were what shocked me the most. I really wish I could recreate the whole scene for you here and set the undertone with a smell. You would be holding your nose, and trying not to gag on rotten eggs and dirty diapers.
All the students of the Dojang went in to class to line up and do their warm up exercises, and were reminded that the child who showed the most respect would be rewarded with a medal at the end. Her Grand Master had dangled the carrot. And DD2 was a hungry rabbit. She new it was a Gold Medal, and had tried every month to earn it, learning from the clues of the other previous winners. The children then were called to sit behind their boards, and watch as the other students went through their lesson. As each child watches, he/she is to be quiet, sit with crossed legs, and watch patiently. This being the busiest class of the month, the parents are often invited to remove their shoes and sit quietly inside the room.  My husband, father, myself and DD1 sat in the stadium chairs and watched. One other father sat up in back, and all the rest of the parents were walking around the waiting room and sitting in the classroom, wiggling this way and that. This particular class, some parents were moving around taking pictures and aiming their flashes in every direction.
So, with that said, I watched as each adults counterpart child acted in a similar way. Children were wiggly and talking and moving around. Where was DD2? Sitting criss-cross apple sauce, arms between her knees, staring intently on her Grand Master, or staring straight ahead. Like an Angelic Statue. There were a few other well behaved kids, don't get me wrong. But she was amazing. I know how wound up my DD2 can get, so even I was super impressed. She set a goal and she went for it. And succeeded. The competition may not have been stiff, but there were a lot of them and one of her.
When we got out to the parking lot, one parent smashed my drivers side door with her car door and smashed my mirror backwards. No apology. I even got out of the passengers side, walked around, checked for damage, and not a single acknowledgement. My fathers car was blocked in by 4 or more other cars. I was livid, because there is another lot to park in when this lot runs out of room. Not one car was in that lot. I am thankful my laryngitis was fully in effect, or I might have become one of the disrespectful parents.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What is Deschooling to my family?

   To us, it's getting away from four hours of homework every night. It's getting away from peer pressure. It's also about getting the spark back in my kids eyes. It the interest, the passion and the desire to learn that disappeared when they went to institutionalized learning. It's realizing that attention deficit disorder and executive function disorder are the labels they put on kids when they don't conform to what everyone considers "normal". All the symptoms of those two "disabilities" have disappeared since giving them one on one learning. Yes, disappeared! And to me, it's not having to fight with the public school district about getting my kids what they need, and being treated like less than a human when I persist. 

   My kids are learning a lot more now than they were when they had hours upon hours of homework after 6 hours in school, sitting at a desk, being told to be quiet while soaking up everyone else's germs. My kids haven't been sick once since leaving school. Not one cold. It's been almost two years! 

   I am and probably always will be deschooling myself. I was a public school student and I never experienced any other type of learning. So to break out of that box for my kids education is quite an adjustment. 
   We don't have a typical day. Every day is different. We do cover math, reading, cursive, and grammar daily. The rest of the time we fill with foreign language, science, history or art. We also believe that learning to take care of ourselves, and our home is important. The kids are very much a part of grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, and care of the many pets, etc. 

   DD2 loves Tae Kwon Do, and meeting new people and hanging out with friends. DD1 seems happy to stay at home and hang with her friends and is in a phase where she does not want an extracurricular activity at the time. I am sure she will outgrow that, and I have to let her do what she is comfortable with.

   My kids do use a curriculum, which is different than some Unschoolers. However, it's very eclectic.  I put it together and change it up to suit our needs. The entire time we have been homeschooling I have also worked full time. Ironic, because when I was a stay at home mom, I didn't think I could pull it off. Not only have I worked full time, but I did third shift and second shift. Both two shifts I said I would NEVER do. But when you don't live a cookie-cutter life, I guess you really can do anything!

   I am finally going to a first shift position, with the convenience of 6 am to 2pm. A little bit back to what is my normal, which I am happy about. My kids are not morning people and like to sleep in. This will allow them to sleep in, complete their morning routine (shower, eat, get dressed, etc) and by the time I get home, they will be ready to do their lessons. Field trips will be easier and getting together with friends. I also won't miss Tae Kwon Do in the evenings, and there won't be any rushing to get everything done by the time I have to leave for work. That alone will take my stress level down quite a bit. 

There will always be changes, and we will always adjust. 


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mmmm Taters!

Today my DD1 and DD2 made some incredibly delicious french fries, potato skins, and smashed taters! We went grocery shopping last week, and bought way to many potatoes, so we went a little wild trying to use them before they went bad.  What turned out was not only delicious food, but a kids cookbook was born! Today, rather than write about it, I will show you! 

Adding the sugar to the water....

Slicing the potatoes...

Frying them up...

And, mmmm! Everyone chowed them down! 

We invited Grampie over to have Loaded Tater Skins too. We had a cheese sauce, bacon, sour cream and chives that grow in our garden. DD2 tends to pick them and eat them when she plays outside, so we knew she would want them in the ingredients, so we made smashed taters with the left over potato. 


All in all it was a good way to spend the day. We were able to cover many school topics within these lessons too, and they didn't really even know it! 
The key to learning is to not force it! Make it fun!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cooking 101

We are starting a cooking section in homeschool. I think it's a great way for the kids to learn independence, and about nutrition, in addition to actually cooking. 

On Friday, DD1 learned some blender basics. We covered speeds, proper order to adding foods so the blade doesn't jam or break, and a little on nutrition. 

Tomorrow may be Sunday, but we will have another cooking lesson. I am hoping to introduce using a sharp knife, and safety basics. We plan to make home made french fries, baked potatoes, and bacon. It looks like starches, and fats will be first! LOL. 

Watch for pictures soon, I plan to document this visually as well! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Creating and Enforcing Boundaries

I'm sure everyone has at one point in their life, had to handle someone who didn't know when they had crossed the line. Maybe they showed up at your house all too often. Without calling. Or just dropped their kids off, and left mid-adult visit. Or something else that irritated you beyond belief. I don’t normally feel this way, or even vent publicly, so if you know me personally, don’t worry, the next post won’t likely be about you! ;) 

Recently, new neighbors moved in down the street.  At the time of this post, it's only four and a half months or so into the relationship between our two families. In the beginning I was excited, and probably cheered out loud, "AWESOME!" They have a boy and two girls close to the same age of my daughters' ages. Their mom is really nice, and the girls are polite as can be. In front of me anyway. It was a dream come true. Obviously, I was ecstatic. The kids could hang out, and no driving all over to pick up and drop kids off at each others houses. There aren’t a lot of kids in the neighborhood that are close in age, so this was FANTASTIC! [I could get more in detail here of all the positives, but I am really anxious for feedback, so I will make this as short as possible.]
The downside to this relationship and how quickly it grew, was that it was too much, too fast. I saw the signs, but each little thing individual of all the rest, weren't really a huge deal. I couldn't justify saying anything. Even though I was left feeling sometimes more than agitated, I thought that maybe I was overreacting. 

Being a homeschooling family, our schedule changes all the time. We have the flexibility to do that. But when we have something scheduled, I find it important to do those things, and keep the previous plans. It's how I get it all done and work a full time job. Our lessons are our top priority.

My neighbors are not so understanding to that fact. They think that whenever they text me, they can show up at my door five minutes later. Most of the time, I don't even get THAT courtesy. They just show up. Even during the school day. She has one kid homeschooling right now too, but she says she doesn’t have time for it.  To get a clearer picture, we’re not next door, but more like a five minute walk. When they show up, about 75-80% of the time, they are looking to drop their kids off for us to watch. It’s worded as “Can the kids play? I can’t stay because I have x, y, or z to do...” (Which has been known to be as simple as fold laundry, clean the house, or even as complex as a trip 70+ miles away to another state to visit another one of their children, who does not live in their home.)
Usually when a lot of this happens, I am at work. The girls are working with their father to finish up their lessons, and either the neighbors mom or dad will show up at my house, and say the kids want to hang out, but the parent has an errand to run and can they leave the kids to play. Does anyone else see this as emergency babysitting? Play dates in my eyes are planned ahead (even if just a few hours before), agreed upon by both sets of parents, and reciprocated. I’ve been known to say that I have errands to run myself, and their response? “Oh that’s ok, I don’t mind if you take them anywhere.” Really? You have errands to run, and can’t take your kids, but it’s ok for them to go with me? >>Insert eye rolling here.<<
I have asked that they contact either the DH or I ahead of time (preferably myself, so I could make sure the girls didn't leave any school work behind, and if they did have some, I plan things accordingly with the hubby, being that I’m the primary teacher.)
Here’s what I don’t understand. Why, if I have asked for the simple respect of planning ahead, does my husband get text messages like “...well, your wife said no, but since she’s at work, it’s YOUR choice.” That’s not a respectful person, never mind not being a friend, especially when challenging a relationship between spouses. 
I’m going to stop there, because I’m simply sick of dwelling on such negativity. I’ve been told it’s a toxic friendship doomed for failure. However, I still have hopes that this friendship can be saved. The kids play well for the most part, and it would be unrealistic to expect anyone to get along 100% of the time, including adults. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My 6th Grader the Entrepreneur!

So DD1 came to me tonight while she was supposed to be in bed. She brought me a five page business plan she was working on. Let me reiterate. While she was supposed to be asleep!

She has all sorts of ideas of how to earn money to buy another dog. She wants a Jack Russell to add to our family of pets. Mind you, we already have a 5 year old Italian Greyhound, three 6 year old cats, a painted turtle, 7 fish, and 7 hermit crabs. Guess who wanted all these pets? Ok, I admit, it was I who wanted the dog. Hmm, the 3 cats were the DH's doing, and oh wait, so was the turtle. (How that happened is a story for another day.) The fish came after that, intended as food for the turtle, but Squirt-the-Turtle didn't want to eat them. 

Okay, I admit it, most of the pets came from the DH and I wanting them. But those hermit crabs. Ugh. The smell when they molt. PEE - U! THOSE were DD1's request. And I, Mommy get to take care of them. Lucky me. 

But now she wants another dog. Of her own. (Thanks Animal Planet!) And she has a business plan. Man, homeschooling has changed everything. When she left public school, forming a paragraph in 4th grade was not even established in her abilities. Now, a year and a half later, a five page passionate business plan. You see, this takes me two, no, three places. One: a proud Mama who sees how far homeschooling can take a child who suffered executive function disorder and inattentive A.D.D. Two: I think we have overcome the concerns in #1. Three: She wants ANOTHER PET?! 

Obviously, she would have to earn every penny. That will take time. I sure hope by then, she changes her savings goal to something more realistic, like an iPod!