My Grown Up Journal

In my last post, I mentioned I’m becoming a student of my daughter.

My cousin suggested keeping a reflection journal for homeschool.

I tried it because I had recently purchased this beautiful notebook from TJ Maxx for absolutely no reason other than it was pretty.

Journal

I wanted to use my pretty notebook!

So, I started to write and reflect.

Can I tell you something?

It has been amazing!

It has helped me focus on what worked and didn’t work each day. I try to write every night, although that doesn’t always happen.

I like to write about the highlights and the things that didn’t work. Like coloring. I’ve learned that my daughter doesn’t like to color in the pictures in her workbooks. We had an unpleasant time when I made her color the pic in her workbook. I mean, come on! It’s coloring! 🙂 Who doesn’t like to color?

My daughter.

In reflection, I decided if she doesn’t want to color the picture, she can just leave it blank. Really, does it matter? The next day, she had another “Color this camel” page. I calmly asked her to color just one thing, to see if she would color one small thing without complaining. If she complained, I’d just let it go, because, really, that’s a minor thing. She chose the smallest picture- a sun. She happily colored it and then we moved on. Victory!

I also noticed if she is asked to draw something, she happily draws a picture and will work on it for a long amount of time. And she’s very proud of her drawings.

The verdict? I’m not going to force her to color a picture and argue with her about coloring. Not worth the effort. If she wants to draw a picture or just skip the coloring, I’m okay with it. There are bigger worries in life. And the coloring doesn’t affect her learning.

Blurred Journal

My journal- blurred out for privacy!

I don’t think I would have even thought about this if I didn’t sit down at the end of each homeschool day and put my thoughts on paper.

I haven’t journaled in years, but I’m loving it!!!

What about you, my friend?

Do you journal? Do you homeschool? Do you journal about your homeschool day? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Week 2 of Homeschool and Puppy Chow

 

We have completed our second week of homeschool and already I’ve made big changes.

I’m becoming a student of my daughter.

I’m watching her learn, noting what works well and what doesn’t, and adjusting from there.

We purchased the complete curriculum LIFEPACS from Alpha Omega. It totally spoke to my teacher soul! Small workbooks (called worktexts.) Self tests. Tests. Perfect for me and the work samples I need to keep in her portfolio (another state requirement.)

Not so perfect for my daughter.

She’s okay with it. But after a great first week, the shininess and newness of homeschool wore off and she started to complain. A lot. She was doing worktexts for every subject.

To mix it up, I introduced Five In A Row. It’s a completely different approach to learning. We read a book Five Days In A Row (get it?) and learn and explore through the context of that book. Social studies, science, literature, math, health and art. All through one great read aloud!

I tried FIAR (Five In A Row) this past week and it was a hit! SG didn’t even realize we were working on geography (finding China on a map, locating the Yangtze River, discussing the size of the river, looking at online photos of the actual Yangtze, and discussing the number of people who live by the Yangtze.) We also discussed the fact that her maternal Great Grandmother was just 2 years old when ‘The Story About Ping’ was published and her little eyes shot wide open. We discussed what makes a book a ‘classic.” All on day one of our “row” of the book ‘The Story About Ping.’ She was totally engaged the entire time!

It. Was. Amazing!

We are still using our LIFEPACS. We spent a pretty penny on that set. But instead of their social studies and science being the spine of our learning, I’m going to let FIAR become our spine for those subjects and sprinkle in some LIFEPACS here and there.

I do love our LIFEPACS. We will continue to use the language arts, math and Bible LIFEPACS as the spine for those subjects.

However, I have purchased the first two books in the math curriculum Life of Fred, which I’ve heard so much about! All good, of course!

I plan to introduce Life of Fred next week. I’ll let y’all know how that goes. It looks like a wonderful and fun way to learn math.

Here’s how we ended week two- with a delicious and no bake treat- Puppy Chow!

Puppy Chow

This is my childhood friend’s recipe. I substitute vegan butter and Enjoy Life chocolate chips to make it safe for SG.

This was a fun end to our great week of learning.

Safe Puppy Chow

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick vegan butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 bag safe chocolate chips
  • 1 box Crispix cereal
  • 1 box powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Place vegan butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips in a bowl and microwave in 20 second increments until melted. Stir well.
  2. Put cereal in a large bowl. Pour mixture over Crispix cereal.
  3. Stir until cereal is coated.
  4. Pour in a large grocery bag with a box of powdered sugar.
  5. Shake. Let stand. Shake several times until coated.

Note:  This can easily be made peanut free by substituting with almond butter, Sunbutter or any other peanut butter substitute.  I made it once with Sunbutter and it turned out just fine.

1st Week of Homeschool: A+!!!

Our first week of homeschool is over and done with.

If I were the grading type, and I am… I’d give our week an A+!!! Yes, with three exclamation marks!

When I started with my long range plans, I mapped out a general “we should be in this chapter by midyear….” And then I got really crazy and wrote down exactly how many pages SG should complete per day per subject to reach the goal of finishing the curriculum. Then I read the chill out blogs and erased the page number requirements.  Er, guidelines.

And I did some soul searching and decided it was time to relax. I want our learning time to be enjoyable, fun and full of excitement! Ok, I know not every subject will be super exciting, but I want SG to grow to love learning! I have to take the public school mentality out of my brain, and imagine a cozy, home learning environment.

I am so thankful for all the blogs I’ve read that said to relax, don’t stress and enjoy our learning time together.

People keep writing, “Learning happens all day, throughout the day, in natural environments and through play.” It’s so true. Now that I’m paying attention, I see SG thinking through things and asking questions all day long.

Today at breakfast, SG was talking about the difference in age between the Huzz and me. (Almost 2 years)

“Mom, when you’re 40, will Daddy be 42?”

Yes.

“And when you’re 42, Daddy will be 44?”

Yes.

She would’ve kept going but I was actually writing this post and told her to eat her breakfast. Why did I stop her? I’ve still got so much to learn!!!

There she is, eating breakfast and working on counting by 2’s. Just because she wanted to and has a curious mind. 🙂

(We just finished week 2. I have written about that and it’s coming soon. I’m just behind in posting. I’m so excited to actually find time to blog this school year!)

A Fresh Start

Yesterday my daughter started first grade. We are officially homeschooling.

Last year for kindergarten we did an online public school and it wasn’t a good fit for us. I called it homeschooling, but really, it was public school at home.

We have only schooled for two days and already the change is amazing! Both of us enjoyed our laid back and relaxed learning time. My daughter learned plenty in the past two days and actually enjoyed doing it.

The highlight of her first day? Studying the bible! Be still my heart.

She also enjoyed our read aloud, which was done on our sofa, complete with soft pillows and a cozy blanket.

Last year sucked the joy out of both of us. I never had the energy to write a blog post because I was just plain worn out. We just don’t trust restaurants and I cook every meal my daughter eats. So, between cooking all the time, cleaning, the online school and life in general, I was super frazzled.

And my daughter didn’t like learning last year either.

This morning, day two of our new journey, my daughter walked into the kitchen and exclaimed, “When are we going to start homeschool?!?!”  What a huge change!!!

This year is a fresh start. I have plunged deep into homeschool blogs, Pinterest boards, and curriculum reviews. I have printed and downloaded like a mad woman. I even purchased a laminator! It’s been so much fun preparing for teaching first grade (Again! I’m a former public school teacher. Once upon a time I taught first grade.)

Day one and day two are officially in the books. I can’t wait to see what the next 178 days of first grade holds for us! (My state’s requirements is 180 days of school under our homeschooling option.)

Maybe I’ll have the time to even blog more this year! 🙂

Until later, my friend.

Homemade Shopkins Cookie Cakes!

We were invited to a 5th safe party this year!  That’s a record, friends!  We are always humbled, grateful, excited and a bit nervous when we go to parties.  The anti-histamine the allergist has SG on has helped tamp down her constant contact reactions tremendously, but it still occasionally happens.

So, my sweet cousin N invited us to her daughter’s party and offered to have only safe foods.  I offered to make the cake.  N requested a Shopkins Kooky Cookie cookie cake.

The Huzz and I are always up for a good cake challenge, and we tackled this one the way we do best- together.  I baked the cookie cakes and he did all the decorating with the frosting.  Good ‘ole Pillsbury frosting.

We surprised N with an extra cookie cake- Cheeky Chocolate.  As I shaped Kooky Cake with the raw dough, I realized I had enough dough left for an extra cookie cake.  I showed the Huzz several images and he picked Cheeky Chocolate as one he thought he could well.

Without further ado, here are our results:

kooky-cookie

cheeky-chocolate

The baking of the cookie cakes was my part.  I simply use this food allergy friendly chocolate chip cookie recipe from Silk.  Click here for the recipe.

I take about half of the dough per cookie cake and shape it with my hands until the desired shape is reached.  For Kooky Cake, I shaped it into a circle as big as my round pizza pan.  We put parchment paper on the pan and shape the dough on top.  For Cheeky Chocolate, I formed a tall rectangle.  I baked the cookie cakes on 350 on convection for 13 minutes.

We let the round cake cool almost completely before the Huzz cut out the bite marks in Kooky Cake.  Then we let the cookie cakes cool completely before the Huzz decorated the cookie cakes.

We used these Pillsbury frostings:  1.5 cans of chocolate fudge, 1 can of cream cheese (it’s dairy free!), one can of vanilla hot pink frosting and one can of vanilla neon blue frosting.  And my frosting tool that helped me create SG’s beautiful Barbie cake last year.

As for the cake decorating, an artistic person is definitely a plus.  I could not have made these cookie cakes look like this.  The Huzz is artistic and is the one who made these cakes shine.  So, if you wanna try this at home – (and you should! If we can do it, so can you!) then an artistic person is most definitely gonna help make your cake beautiful.  (The feet and hands are just frosting- no cookie cake underneath.)

The cookie cakes were a hit, my daughter had a blast and there was not a single piece of cake or frosting left.  I’d say that was a successful party!

Thank you N for having a safe party when you didn’t have to… you’re pretty rad!

(Did I just date myself by using rad?)  Haha!

Happy cookie cake baking, my friends!

Today is a New Beginning

Kindergarten Stickers

We started homeschool today.

The realization that everything has changed hit me tonight.

And I cried.

And the Huzz stared at me.

And I cried some more.

Because everything has changed.

We chose not to send SG to pre-school for many reasons. I used to be a first grade teacher, so I knew I could equip her for kindergarten. Also, we were not comfortable sending our super contact reactive daughter to preschool.

So, I stayed home with her, which was always our plan.

For five and a half long and beautiful years, we did whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.

We:

Played

Sang

Danced

Snuggled

Laughed

Shopped

Learned

Cooked

Cleaned

And did I say Shopped… a lot!

And we did so much more, together.

Yes, we can still do those things. Just not whenever we want. I feel a heaviness that that chapter is behind us.

Yes, exciting things are about to happen.

I get to watch our child learn and grow.

But it still didn’t stop the sadness and the tears from falling.

I am NOT the sentimental type so these emotions have taken me by surprise.

I find myself thinking:

“What if I mess this up somehow?”

“How am I going to get everything done that used to take me all week to do?”

“What will our days really be like?”

“Will SG adjust and thrive?”

“How am I going to do this???”

I keep thinking of a sticker I have that says “Choose Joy.”

Choose JOY

I will choose joy.

We will adjust and thrive.

SG will bloom and grow.

We can do this.

Heavenly Father, please fill me with joy, for Your Mercies are new every morning!

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I’d love to know:
Do you homeschool? Do you send your child(ren) to public school or private school? Please share your back to school stories (especially kindergarten stories) with me below.

Note: I wrote this last night and am posting this a day late. Today was officially our second day of homeschool and SG tested on a first grade reading level! That was such a great ending to day two.

Allergy Friendly Cakes & Cupcakes

I have made a lot of cakes since becoming an allergy mom.  I’ve learned how to bake, frost and create.

I decided to scroll through my thousands (I’m serious!) of family pics and find all of the allergy friendly cakes, cupcakes and cookie cakes I’ve made and photographed.

Most of these cakes use my wacky cake recipe.  Click here for the recipe for wacky cake.  I’ve also made a few cookie cakes.  I use this recipe from Silk and instead of making lots of cookies, I shape it in whatever shape I need and bake it for 10-20 minutes.  I start checking it at 10 minutes and adjust from there.

Here are most of the cakes, cupcakes, and cookie cakes I’ve made:

Mickey Mouse Cupcakes for my Nephew

Mickey Mouse Cupcakes for my Nephew

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Spider-Man Birthday Cupcakes for my Niece’s 3rd Birthday Party

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Tinker Bell Cupcakes for SG’s 3rd Birthday Party

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Close Up.  The Ring Toppers Made the Cupcakes Look so Special!

A SpiderMan Cake for my "Baby" Brother

A SpiderMan Cake for my “Baby” Brother

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Simple Christmas Cupcakes

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Mini Vanilla Cupcakes for SG’s Friend’s Birthday Tea Party

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Frozen Cupcakes for SG’s 4th Birthday Party

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Thanksgiving Cupcakes

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Tea Party Cupcakes

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Jelly Tinted Vanilla Cupcakes Topped with Fresh Strawberries for SG’s Friend’s Birthday Party

Cupcakes for My Gigi's 85th Birthday Party

Cupcakes for My Gigi’s 85th Birthday Party

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No Frosting?  No Problem.  Just Add Coco Whip & Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips.

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A Cookie Cake for our Little Cousin’s 3rd Birthday Party

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I Included her Initials, Too.

My 1st Ever Cookie Cake!

My 1st Ever Cookie Cake!

Football Cookie Cake

Football Cookie Cake

There ya have it.  Most of the cakes I’ve made in the past few years, right here for ya in one spot.  🙂  I have made a few more but cannot find the photos.  Oh well.

Happy cake making, food allergy mamas and papas!