Saturday, September 26, 2009

Processing Persimmons

We've been fortunate to be able to take advantage of some of nature's bounty at our new home.  We've harvested  and frozen a supply of black raspberries and black berries earlier.  Now we're stepping into new territory with PERSIMMONS!  I'd never tried them before but the Toolman has fond memories of persimmon pudding.   Fritz's neighborhood buddy has several persimmon trees on his property and we'd already gotten permission to take as many as we want.

The first thing we've learned about choosing persimmons is to throw out all the rules you learned about selecting produce at the store.  Unlike peaches or grapes, you WANT your persimmons to be squishy and look old (we only picked up the ones that had fallen from the tree).  Here's what our harvested basket looked like--

The first task was to wash everything (it had been on the ground after all).  Then we removed the leaves, which pop off as a whole unit, and the little black tip at the other end.  Most recipes call for persimmon pulp so we need to find a way to squish out the insides and separate the seeds.  We tried using our Squeezo first, but the seeds were too large.   Next, we tried the colander that came with my spaghetti pot.  It worked, but there weren't enough holes and the process was too slow.  It looked like a quick trip to Walmart was in order.  We came home with a mesh strainer.

The strainer fit snuggly over one of my large stainless steel bowl.  We loaded it up and began mashing with the potato masher.   Fritz was thrilled with the initial orange goop and the "mess" of it all.  Here's his contribution--

He soon discovered that this took a lot more time and energy than mashing bananas for banana bread.  His enthusiasm waned and I was left alone in the kitchen to finish the job.  Even my enthusiasm waned after several hours of mashing persimmons, but I'm too frugal to pass up the "free food."  I ended up freezing 18 one cup servings of pulp.  I found a booklet of old-time persimmon recipes to try--puddings, breads, cookies, etc. so look for future entries when we eat the fruit of our labor (pardon the pun).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Review: Nutrition 101

"Let food be thy medicine

and thy medicine food."  Hippocrates

 I'll admit when I started this school year, teaching my Schnickelfritz about nutrition wasn't high on my list of priorities.  We were still trying to master Readin' , Writin' and 'Rithmatic.  Still, I had made a commitment to review the materials sent to me so I began to read Nutrition 101 to see how I could incorporate it into our lessons. 

Have you ever gotten a new car and then suddenly noticed how many cars just like it were on the road?  The other cars were probably there all along, you just weren't attuned to them.  In the same way, as I began to read about good nutrition I became more sensitive to how often it came up in conversation-- the saddest case being a news story about the epidemic of Type II Diabetes in our children.  It became clear to me that teaching Fritz good nutrition can have as big an impact on his future as reading and writing.  We want our kids to eat nutritionally so why not teach them the wonderful way God made foods to benefit our bodies (this is a Christian-oriented text). 

 The book is organized into six units:

  1. The Brain and Nervous System

  2. The Digestive System

  3. The Respiratory, Olfactory, Auditory and Visual Systems

  4. The Muscular and Skeletal System

  5. The Cardivascular and Immune System

  6. The Endocrine System & Emotions

Each unit has four chapters detailing specific organs and structures of the system, what they do,  and what foods help them work better.  The chapter ends with a recipe to try, discussion questions and activites for younger and older students.  Nutrition 101 could be used as a straight textbook for older students.  It's heavy on vocabulary and too advanced for my little guy so I've been reading the text myself and sharing simplified information with him.  We've been studying the five senses so I jumped into Unit Three.  The colorful diagrams of the eye and ear are perfect to copy for his lapbook.  I had hoped Fritz would be more enthusiastic about tasting the recipes if he helped prepare them, but that wasn't the case.  The "Getting Started" section has tips on dealing with picky eaters that we are now incorporating into our meals.

Perhaps the most valuable are the  30+  appendices:  advice on selecting produce, vitamin and mineral charts, recommended daily allowances, alkaline vs acid foods (if you don't know how your body's pH can affect your health, read Unit 2),  the toxins in household cleaners and personal care products, etc.   You can download sample pages from their website.

Nutrition 101 is available from Growing Healthy Homes on CD for $79.95 or in hardback for $99.95.  This is the "cost" of the book but it comes nowhere near the "value" of the book.  What if, by following the book's advice, you boost your children's immune system and save on three trips to the doctor's office?  What if feeding your body with the proper fuel gives you more energy and stamina to play with your kids and keep up with everything that needs to be done?  What if making some lifelong changes in your diet protects you from chronic illness like diabetes or an acute crisis like a heart attack?  In that case the value of this book would be priceless.

You can see what my fellow crewmates thought of Nutrition 101 by clicking here


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Our Homeschool Room

It's been several months since I joined the Homeschool Crew.  Back in the beginning, we were full of enthusiasm, but had nothing to review yet.  Not wanting to waste the energy that came from the excitement and anticipation, we fired off emails and messages to each other to introduce ourselves and get to know each other better.  One of the conversation topics was "What does your homeschool room look like?"  I loved looking at other's pictures, but wasn't about to post my own until after some serious cleaning.

This past weekend, my parents came for a visit (a good motivator to clean).   And this week we're getting our house appraised (even more cleaning).  As I looked around today I thought "Well, it's never going to get better than this.  If I'm ever going to take pictures of our homeschool room, this is it."

We do most of our schooling in our walkout basement.  Math-U-See videos and messy science experiments  are done elsewhere.  The chalkboard was given to us by a fellow homeschooler.  When her church remodeled, they gave her all the classroom chalkboards, and she passed the blessings on to others. 

  Our music area.  Fritz loved this keyboard we found at Target.  The keys light up to show which notes to play.  We would visit it in the store and he would play "Jingle Bells" over and over.  Now that we have it at home, his favorite songs are "Moonlight Sonata" and  "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desire."

Here are our desks, not that we use them much.  We sprawl on the floor or cuddle on the couch or use the chalkboard.  He seems to enjoy phonics so much better if we arrange magnetic letters on the board than using flash cards.  Leaning against the wall is our "energy dissipation system,"  also known as gym class.

Here are the bookshelves, straining under their burden.  It's a passion and a weakness--biographies, Landmark Books, DK and Usborne reference books.  I never pass up a good book sale.

Down the hallway is our take on the Konos timeline.  The yellow, left-hand side is B.C. and the blue on the right is A.D.  Christ is above the door.   We're using the Konos I figures. 

Since I'm also doing a review of Mystery of History III, I'm having to fill in some figures using the History through the Ages cd-rom.  There's also a photo of my Schnickelfritz for 2002.

I should end this with a disclosure:  the room seldom looks this good.  There are usually Geo-tracks or wooden train tracks sprawling across the floor.  Math manipulatives and Jenga blocks make tunnels and mountains. Other days there are marble runs and roller coasters.  Everthing gets scattered by a scooter or the dog chasing it.  At least I have proof that for one day at least, it was clean.

UPDATE:  I don't want some of you moms who struggle with organization hating me for these pictures.  Let me assure you after spending the winter months and a particularly muddy past week inside that our basement doesn't look this good anymore.  Right now there are two K'nex rollercoasters waiting to be seen by grandparents visiting next week.  There is a pile of muddy shoes by the back door.  One day there may be a Lionel train set out, the next day he switches to wooden tracks.   It's a classroom, playroom, storage area, and it gets messy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A cozy campfire

When we purchased our property last year there was a circle of stones in the backyard with evidence that previous owners used the spot to burn their paper trash.  Over the summer, my hard working hubby cleaned the spot of debris, felled several dead trees, and split them into firewood.  Now that the weather is turning cooler,  we've fallen in love with our  campfire circle.

Some nights we bring out the reclining chairs and just watch the stars pop out overhead.  Once we used an extension cord so we could listen to a Hank the Cowdog tale on CD.  There's almost always marshmallows available for roasting and we've cooked hot dogs and bratwurst as well.  The Toolman surprised me with a large dutch oven and tripod he found on Craigslist.  He used a wire brush on his drill to remove the rust and seasoned it for me.    So far, I've only ventured into serving up a mess of nachos in the oven, but the Department of Conservation is having a dutch oven cooking class later this month.  

In an age where we're bombarded with electronic sights and sounds and practically a round the clock  quest to be entertained it is a refreshing and soul-soothing change of pace to simply watch glowing coals and listen to the crickets.   

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Review: Studypod

Not everything we get to review with the Homeschool Crew is curriculum.  The Studypod is an example of a tool that doesn't teach anything by itself, but can make teaching and studying a little bit easier. 

When closed, the Studypod measures roughly 6 1/2" X 9" X 1 1/4" and can fit on the shelf with your other books.    When you open it up and set the "kickstand" to prop it upright, it can hold textbooks, cookbooks,  etc.  leaving you with free hands and more workspace.

On the day the Studypod arrived in the mail, I had to crank ice cream for the church social  that evening.   (The Toolman was working on other projects  so this was going to be done with arm power, not with the high torque drill).  The Schnickelfritz wanted to be with me, but he also wanted me to read to him.   We loaded a book into the Studypod and set it on a chair across from the churn.  I could read the pages and Fritz (with the important job of sitting on the churn) could reach over and turn the pages.

It didn't take us long to find other uses:


Here is our buoyancy test set up in the kitchen.  The manual is held open to the experiment and we don't have to worry about the pages getting wet by it lying on the counter.  

 Here is the "kickstand" to prop up the pod and book.


Of course I immediately  thought of using this as a cookbook holder.   This spiralbound book doesn't need the metal brackets to hold the pages back.   I just set this up for the picture, but if I were really going to cook, I'd use the brackets to hold a clear page protector up and keep the inevitable splatters out of my new cookbook.

The Studypod comes in black, blue and pink.  The Bookpod, also available from Genio comes in black, grey and tan.  It's really the same product with a different, more inclusive name  (someone worried the name "Studypod" makes it sound like it's just for students).    I think they need to expand the name beyond just books-- a musician ucould use it to hold sheet music .  I know several speakers at our county's Tea Party who would have liked it to keep notes from flying away.   It's really an Anytime-you-need-an-extra-pair-of-hands-to-hold-papers-upright-thingy (Ok, that's probably too long a name to fit on the box). 

Both versions of the pod retail for $19.95 on Genio's website .  If you order more than one ( if you have more than one student, they'll fight over it), the price drops to $16.95.  And here's a special bonus for Homeschool Crew readers: enter the code TOSBLOG5  to save $5 on your order. 

If you want to read other crew member's reviews or see other creative ways to use the Studypod, click here.




Sunday, September 6, 2009

Council of Acheivement

Last spring, Fritz and I ran into one of his homeschool buddies at an International Festival.  The boy was preparing to go to a Pinewood Derby and had on his Royal Ranger's uniform.  I had been looking for a Christ centered activity where Fritz could meet more boys in our new community so we checked out the Outpost in a nearby town.

Fritz loved the commander and learned Blue Point Alert the very first night.  We worked super hard and managed to get all four advancement patches in six months.  Here he is getting recognized in front of the whole church Sunday morning.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...