Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Today I made Gazpacho. Yummy! We have had lots '0 tomatoes coming from the garden. We put up almost 20 quarts over the weekend. We will probably have to put up more this weekend and I need to start drying some. In the meantime, we enjoyed this cold, super-healthy soup. Some might be too freaked by the amount of veggies in one bowl (let alone cold), but I find it refreshing and guilt-free.

4 cups of tomato juice
1 onion, minced (I used a red onion)
1 green bell pepper, minced (you could also use a milder yellow or red pepper)
1 cucumber, chopped
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced (I used 2)
3 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T red wine vinegar
1 or 2 T of fresh, chopped basil
1 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper to taste

In a blender (or food processor), combine everything! Blend until well-combined but still a little chunky. Chill at least 2 hours before eating. Don't bother seeding the cucumbers and tomatoes. I think that is extra work when you already have so much chopping to do. I also made California Wraps using spinach wraps, chicken and avocado.
I sent Troy to work with some tortilla chips just in case he felt like he needed to dip them in the soup.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Telephone...The Watch Pig

Sometime back, my husband was gone overnight to a Men's Retreat. My little boy, Josiah and I snuggled into my bed with our two boy cats and drifted off to sleep. I was suddenly wakened to one of the cats sitting squarely on my face. "Crazy cat," I thought, and proceeded to throw him off the bed. Of course, sleep was elusive for a good long time after that. I chuckled to myself when I thought of being alone with Josiah and our "watch" cat. Josiah would be more helpful if anyone ever tried to break in. My cat would be as helpful in a crisis as a stuffed pillow.

When I was a little girl in the hills of Arkansas we had a pig named Telephone. The story goes that my dad went into town one day to pay the telephone bill. While there he was drawn to the sale barn and used the telephone bill money to buy a pig. This wasn't the first time or the last time that Dad brought home livestock in the back of his black Chevy pickup. There was the duck that thought he was a chicken. We brought home a lady duck to remind him that he was, indeed a duck and he abandoned her. Quite sad, actually. For a few years we had a goat named Dew Drop. There was very good reason to name her that. We had Job the mutt who was so pitiful looking that we couldn’t name him anything but Job. We had a few cows, a whole lot of free range chickens and we always had cats. Telephone the pig was nothing like the character of Wilbur in the children's book, Charlotte's Web. In fact, in my humble hillbilly opinion, most pigs are nasty and aggressive. They are fairly clean, but usually have the personality of an agitated telemarketer. Telephone was no exception. When Telephone first came to live with us he fit neatly into the wooden pen my dad constructed for him. As he grew, Telephone was able to climb out of the wooden pen, regardless of how many additions that were added to the top. He terrorized the chickens. He rooted up the vegetables in the field and would occasionally butt small people to the ground. Telephone the pig was massive and ornery.

One day, Telephone the pig took on quite a different roll than the pesky pig we all knew him to be. Telephone the pig was to become Telephone the Watch Pig. We lived way, way out in the country. Picture the deep dark woods. Imagine a long dirt road that cuts through the deep dark woods. Our house sat right in the middle of these deep, dark woods at the end of that long dirt road. Sound spooky? Actually, it was a great place to be as a kid. Lots of running room, plenty of space for pets and pigs. Our nearest neighbor was about 1/4 of a mile away. My brother had a lot of outside space to practice his trumpet. Visitors that headed down our road were usually friends, the occasional sales person or the Jehovah Witness ladies.

The Jehovah Witness ladies were really nice people. They would come out just because they enjoyed visiting with my mom. Mom would serve them cinnamon tea and they would to some obligatory banter back and forth about their obvious doctrinal differences then settle down to talk about their kids and the latest cross stitching techniques. On this particular day, mom was at home piddling with chores, getting caught up from work. She, by chance, passed the open door and saw the strangest sight. Parked in our dirt driveway were the Jehovah Witness ladies. They were hunkered together; both scrunched into the passenger seat with terrified looks plastered on their sweet faces. Telephone, the psycho watch pig, was standing on his hind legs with his front legs resting on the open driver’s side window of the car. He was doing his usual snorting and stomping (Telephone could throw quite a fit). Mom stood for a moment stunned at the sight then rushed out the door and proceeded to shoo Telephone away from the car. Immediately, one the Jehovah Witness ladies flew into the driver’s seat, rolled up the open window and backed the car down the driveway....rocks and dust flying from beneath the car's tires…. The ladies frantically yelling and gesturing at my mom over the dashboard. "We've got to go...We'll call...See you soon." They turned the car around and went racing down the long, dirt road with Telephone the Psycho Watch Pig barreling after the car like some big, loopy dog. Job, the mutt dog, just watched. I'm sure he thought, "I ain't touching this one!"

The family had a different sort of appreciation for Telephone after that. He continued to chase cars and guard us against visitors. It got to the place where my parents or one of kids had to escort guests to and from the house. The extensions that my dad built onto Telephone's pen were never tall enough. Some how that crazy pig always escaped. Sadly for Telephone, a necessary part of country life came too soon. Telephone was loaded back into the black Chevy pickup and taken to help provide for the family in another way. Later, we did get two more pigs to take his place. They weren't quite the characters that Telephone had been. Visitors found their way to our doorstep...free of hassle. Unless you counted tripping over a few chickens on the way up. Cars would cruise with ease up the driveway. We missed that pig.

I've often wondered if maybe the Secret Service has it all wrong. Why spend thousands, and millions of dollars training ordinary guys? Buy a few pigs. Set them outside the White House. I guarantee you, a few hillbilly pigs like Telephone the Psycho Watch Pig would deter any raving lunatic that came stumbling across the White House Lawn. There are a lot of crazies in the world. We as Christians are given a greater protection than the most diligent Secret Service agent. We are given protection for our minds, our hearts and often physical protection from danger. Several years ago I was involved in an event that would change my life forever. I had a massive car wreck that left me with lifetime disabilities. Did God provide me with protection? Absolutely. For one, I survived. More importantly, He gave me protection of the mind and heart. He gave me strength that would take me through the difficult days and years ahead. He helped me see a rainbow at the end of a very dark cloud. He made me see a purpose in what I had suffered. My broken body could heal. Not perfectly, but adequately. My car could be replaced. It was my heart that needed healing and my mind that needed comforting. God did that and more for me. He protected me from years of bitterness and heartache. He protected me from disappointment and disillusionment. The most well-trained military personnel, the heaviest gates, the burliest bodyguard could not provide such protection. Even Telephone the Watch Pig couldn’t do as much.

Pumpkin Lapbook

This is our Pumpkin Lapbook we did for our 1st grade year. I am not really sure where I got everything, but I do remember taking a look at some pumpkin lapbooks at
http://lapbooklessons.com and using ideas I saw there. You shouldn't have any trouble finding printables and minibook ideas for Pumpkins. It is a popular theme with elementary school teachers. I have many myself I have used before when I taught.

This is the back cover. Don't know why I have this up first, but oh well! It is a pumpkin observation sheet used while we carved a pumpkin. Actually, this is the clean one. The original one got ruined.

Here it is opened up. Again, I can't remember where all of it came from! Sorry! Should have done a better job in keeping records. I plan on doing a 2nd grade version so I guess I need to start researching!

Another collection of things to do.

The front of our lapbook. I used lots of scrapbook paper, pumpkin stickers and orange and yellow raffia. This one was such a hit that my mom used it as inspiration to teach with. She gives art classes to Senior Citizens in a nursing home. They make all sorts of jewelry, paint, watercolor paintings and she showed this to the therapists as inspiration for patients who need sensory activities. I made them a Snowman Lapbook complete with touch and feel activies, etc. And I didn't take any pictures!

Again, I believe that most of the activities I found from looking through other some other gals creations at
http://lapbooklessons.com. I believe there is also a link for The Pumpkin Patch Parable activities by Liz Curtis Higgs. We love this book and I have used it for several years in a variety of locations around harvest time. And intend on using it again this year!

4th of July Lapbook

Here is our 4th of July Lapbook. To be honest, I don't remember where I got most of the stuff from. I can take some wild guesses! I did use lots of scrapbook paper, stickers and other odds and ends. I was blessed to get stuff at Hobby Lobby when they were marking down all of their stuff for the 4th. I even got some extra for a Flag Lapbook or a Constitution Lapbook, etc., etc.

This is the front. I am sorry it is so blurry. I battle with my little digital camera. If I were so inclined I would figure it out, but that's how it goes! I did copy and paste a vintage 4th of July postcard from online.
This is the back. I used some ribbon, construction paper and cut out the cover of our bulletin from church that Sunday! I believe in using all you have! This holds copywork, etc.
This lapbook I made to open up like a book. If you look really close in the left hand corner you will see some sparkle. Josiah and I made stars from baggies, glitter and sparkly stars.

Opened up in all its glory.

The top flap. It was a cut and paste activity.

More stuff.

I believe the majority of activities I got from
http://homeschoolshare.com (all free!)
and some more activities from liveandlearnpress.com...which has several free downloadable lapbooks if you sign up.

Camping Lapbook

We made this lapbook this summer after we had spent a week at VBS. Our church had a Camping Theme and Josiah was thrilled! I will disclose up front that my idea of 'roughing it" is a Motel 6. At the end of our Camping Unit, Josiah and Daddy camped out. Of course, it was in the Living Room (do to some really hot weather and scary storms), but all in all it was a success!

This lapbook camp exclusively from http://homeschoolshare.com, but we also did activities courteous of Smokey the Bear http://smokeythebear.com. Smokey the Bear has fun for all ages!

I used a variety of scrapooking paper and stickers. I also used some cute wilderness buttons and attached them to ribbon. Fun!

Monkey See, Monkey Do Lapbook

We just finished (well, almost finished) our Monkey See, Monkey Do Lapbook. Basically, we learned a little about monkeys and Africa and read a lot of Curious George books. Josiah has always loved Curious George and has a lot in common with the little monkey! I must have had some forewarning of what was to come because Josiah's first birthday was a Curious George party!
I am not a very good picture taker, but I will try the best I can to explain what is on each page.

This section opens out from the center of the palm tree. I cut the palm tree from construction paper and each top leaf can be lifted up. The little cutout monkeys are answers to addition and subtraction problems found in the Barrel of Monkeys pocket. I got the cutouts at the teacher supply store. A very inexpensive way to add color without using your computer ink!
The green polka-dotted pocket is actually a little file folder that opens up and reveals some sort of science or discovery project we did. I got the file folders at the teacher supply store as well. I plan on using them in other lapbooks.

This page opens up to find all of the little books we did while we learned about monkeys and Africa. I will put some links at the end that inspired me. The yellow thingy across the middle of the book is actually a felt sticker that says bananas. It came with a monkey (that I put on the front of the lapbook) and a few smaller bananas.

These are a variety of activities. The top petal book is actually monkey idioms. There is a great little book at Homeschool Share already to print out, but I ran out of space and had to make my own smaller version. The Curious George puppets (which Josiah loved) and the Invent and Built It came from either the PBS Curious George site or the publisher of Curious George Houghton Mifflin (links to follow).
The Finding the Ending Sound pocket goes with the little monkeys (g,m,t). This is actually a little young for Josiah, but he loved it anyway. I got this activity from The Mailbox Magazine.
The yellow-pocket file folder has another activity we did together.

This is the cover. I copy and pasted a Curious George Picture I found online into my publishing program (Printmaster). I used scrapbooking paper throughout the lapbook as I do in most of our lapbooks.

The back of the lapbook is just a pocket that he could put his copywork and any worksheets or coloring pages we might have done.
The sites I used for this unit were:
The Publisher of Curious George, Houghton Mifflin
(this also has an author page and we had intended on making a minibook, somehow it was forgotten)
The PBS site for Curious George.
Wow! This has a little bit of everything. What I used the most were the Science and Engineering activities. They certainly have enough material to print of to make several lapbooks!
This is one of my favorite sites ever! They not only have a Monkey Lapbook (which I used some of the components from), but a Curious George Lapbook as well.
are sites you can go to purchase lapbooks or unit studies for Curious George.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Some of this and that...

I shouldn't even be on the computer tonight. I am up to my eyeballs in piles of homeschooling "stuff" trying to get myself together for the new school year. We did school through the summer but it was really relaxed and I flew by the seat of my "Bermuda shorts." We did just return from a week with the in-laws. I have made my husband promise me a trip fairly soon that involves just the three of us...with no chance whatsoever that we bump into someone that even resembles someone we know in real life. Enough about that...I'm a bit traumatized from that last trip, but I'll get over it (with counseling and possibly medicinal assitance).
Anyhoo, it is my goal in the near future to fill my blog with pics and resources of our lapbooks (we have quite a collection) and any other resource that has been beneficial to us in our quest for cheap, yet memorable learning experiences. Josiah is a very kinsthetic learner...I have found a eclectic style of schooling works for us. I really wasn't a good curriculum follower even when I taught school. I suppose it also makes sense for me to "create" my own since I occasionally write Children's curriculum for cash!
Enough of that ridiculous self-promotion! It was my goal to get as much put on the blog over the summer...obviously, other than changing my background a few times, I haven't achieved that goal. I need to allot myself time everyday to do just that...instead of playing those silly quizzes on facebook (that in itself is a whole other issue).
For now, I need to get back to the project at hand. I will have to say that I feel really blessed to be able to spend this time with my son...and I am able to use some of my training and education to help him along. I miss my creative (yet slightly fruity) teacher friends. It has been hard to know that teaching will probably not be my lifelong occupation. But at least this way I can still play with pocket charts and math manipulatives. And finding uses for all those adult wipey containers my mom brought me from her job at a residential care facility...I'm in heaven.
More later....
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