Our Newest Member

We have a new member added to the family. She’s a blue Great Dane. Her name is Elley. Elley-phant, that is.

This is when the day we brought her home. 4-22-11

Elley at 10 weeks and the same size as our 6 yr old Cockapoo, Meg.

Here is Elley, May 5, and she's up to my 9 year old's knees

May 13, Elley letting me know what she thinks.

At 15 weeks (may 29) she's gotten a lot bigger! She's weighing in at about 40 lbs now. Elley is now at my 9 year old's waist in little over a month's time!

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It’s looking like a short summer.

We were able to end school earlier than public schools around here this year. The thought was to have a longer amount of decent weather to enjoy. We’ll see how that works. ;-) So far our little monkey has enjoyed a week alone with the grandparents, spray parks, and playing basketball. As much as I want to feel like the summer vacation is in full swing, I’m struggling. There is way too many things going on in my life to feel remotely close to a vacation.

We’re in the process of turning our spare bedroom into a classroom which I’m very excited about. I think it will solve quite a few issues we’ve been having. As great as it will be when it’s done, it’s taking me longer than I would’ve wanted to get this thing done. Guess it’s harder than I thought keeping up with 2 dogs (one a Great Dane puppy) and a 9 year old while failing miserably at keeping the house in order, coming up with healthy meals and redoing a bedroom. I’m ready for some order to my chaos. Once the room is done I’m taking a vacation! LOL I’m almost ready to paint the room, so I’ll try and post before and after pictures. :)

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Tremendous women with tremendous hearts.

Ted talk: Healing mothers who found forgiveness

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Can a room gauge your emotional state?

Maybe I’m the only person who has this happening, and that’s quite possible, but does anyone else seem to have one room in particular that is a measurement for your state of wellbeing at that time? My room is the spare bedroom. Also known as, the ‘Throw anything that doesn’t have a home room’. It seems this room will, at times but most certainly not now, be pristine and every inch of it hums order and harmony (and not only when I know visitors are coming). I walk by the open door and sigh happily. Yes, I really do that.

What I have come to realize is that this room is my emotional wellness gauge. When I feel overwhelmed, out of balance (be it either physically or emotionally…or both at the same time as it usually happens) that room becomes a whirlwind of crap. Full of items the family and I have acquired and have no real use for so we stick in there instead of finding a home so that it will be used. If I had to guess at what’s in there now it would be: piles of clothes that my daughter has outgrown and I need to donate, things that were downgraded once the new Christmas presents came in, upcoming special event presents that have yet to be wrapped yet the wrapping paper holder is probably lying on its side in the floor… I’m sure I could go on, but it’s really all just too much. I’m hoping there’s someone out there that can say… “Yep, you just described my (insert your room name here).”

It’s the end of the school year so my daughter and I are both a little frazzled and looking forward to a break. We also have extended family from several directions that are in need of our attention both physically and emotionally. Somewhere in the midst of “life”, we are in the process of trying to start a new business. We over-extend ourselves in certain areas though we insist we make choices to not do so. These are all valid reasons for my spare room to be in shambles, but in the end they are still just excuses. I know this. I always know this, but it takes it getting to a certain point before I say “no more” and get control again.

The Process:

Step One: Spend several weeks/months (depending on the level of things) walking by the room while being exasperated every time I glance in the direction of the open door that I have repeatedly asked my daughter to keep closed. (Maybe she’s trying tell me something?)

Step Two: Spend another few weeks with it nagging the back of my mind while I work on things that absolutely MUST happen now. Examples would be playing a game of Wii with my daughter before we leave for Vision Therapy or maybe reorganizing my classroom, which really shouldn’t be done until after the school year, because I know what will happen when I clean the spare room and I’m not quite ready for that.

Step Three: Acknowledge that it’s been long enough and vow that THIS weekend it will get done. This usually takes two weeks to accomplish, at least.

Step Four: Break down and clean the (insert your favorite expletive here) spare room.

The task usually ends up not being nearly as harrowing as it seems beforehand, but the real kicker to cleaning this enigmatic alcove isn’t in end result of a clean room. It’s the process of ridding our family of the unnecessary both figuratively and literally. I find that once that room is where it should be then I force myself to get the rest of me back on track. Maybe it’s the irritation if feel at myself for all the excess we acquire and don’t seem to notice or maybe I just understand that purging that room of its chaos allows me to surrender myself to the idea that only I make my life calm and systematic. Again, I know this, but my old friends overdo and laziness seduce me from time to time (and yes, I can overdo and be lazy all at the same time). I know that I will not organize that damn room until I am ready to purge myself of the bad habits I have allowed to creep back in. So, it’s still there…looming. I feel that I am definitely in Step Three so I should be on track very soon. This hopefully will mean I will be more frequent with my posts. :)

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Paleo Chicken Pot Pie…Yum

I was really wanting something that resembled comfort food, so I decided to make Chicken Pot Pie. I used the Savory Pie Crust Recipe from my favorite paleo cookbook. The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook

Savory Pie Crust (makes 1 crust)

1 1/2 c Blanched Almond Meal Flour.
(See previous posts on my feelings about the importance of brands in this area.)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP minced scallions (green and white parts)
1/4 c grapeseed oil
1 TBSP water

Preheat oven to 350. Combine almond flour, salt, baking soda and scallions. Add the grapeseed oil and water and stir until thoroughly combined. The cookbook says to use separate bowls for wet and dry ingredients. I didn’t. I put in dry then added all the wet before stirring. (Do what makes you happy.) Press the dough into 9 1/2 in pie pan and bake for 12-15 min, until golden brown. Remove and let cool. You won’t be baking it again, so no worries about pulling it out early.

For the filling I used the following (in approximates):

2 cups chopped chicken (I used leftover rotissary chicken so it was a mixture of white and dark meat)
1/2 large onion (more if that’s your taste)
1 stalk celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1/2 small sweet potato, diced
2 TBSP arrowroot powder**
1 cup chicken stock (low sodium)
Pinch of salt/pepper (*the crust will be somewhat salty so if watching salt intake you might hold out until the end and taste)

Saute the vegetables in about a TBSP of olive oil until soft (or to the texture of your liking). Next, add the salt* and diced chicken stir until chicken is thoroughly combined. Finally, whisk together the chicken stock and arrowroot powder and pour into vegetable/chicken mixture stirring constantly for about 1 minute, until thick. Pour mixture into the crust, top with pepper and serve hot. I served it with some heated sliced peaches in fruit juice (no syrup).

** I had to go to a health food store to find arrowroot powder. It works as a great substitute for corn starch.

Turned out really tasty a definite ‘have again’ and made great left overs (for one) the next day. If you have a family of over four I would double this recipe. Might just double it anyway to have again in the next day or so.

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Paleo Pecan Sandies… Yum!

In my search for paleo friendly recipes that satisfy my need for grain products, I have discovered a great cookbook. The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook, by Elana Amsterdam. (*Note: Please see previous posts about my feelings toward the brand of almond flour that you use.) I used several of the recipes during the holidays for some “Christmas goodies”. One has been a huge hit. So much so that it has been placed in my ‘what you take with you to a get together’ repertoire. I’m a little late on the add but here it is anyway.

I call them Pecan Sandies but I believe the book refers to them as Pecan Shortbread Cookies.

2 1/2 cups of blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup grape seed oil
5 TBSP agave nectar
1 TBSP vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.

In one bowl your combine you almond flour, salt, baking soda, and pecans (it’s crucial that you toast them, makes all the difference). ** I sift in my baking soda (and powder as well if recipe calls for it). It may not make a difference but seems to me you don’t have that nasty little surprise of a bitter bite when you sift them in.

In another bowl you whisk together the grapeseed oil, agave, and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until thoroughly combined.

Roll the dough into a large log about 2.5 inches in diameter, then wrap it in parchment paper. Place in freezer for 1 hour (although most times I do it the night before so I can just do cut and bake cookies the next day). Remove, unwrap, and cut it into 1/8 inch slices onto your prepared baking sheets. Bake for 7-10 minutes (but watch the first few batches). Let cookies cool on sheet for a bit before transferring to serving plate.

Hope you all enjoy them as much as we have. Definitely check out the above cookbook. Was really well put together!

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Resource For Home School Teachers

I think this is an excellent resource for any teacher, but us home school teachers have to stick together. If you haven’t seen it before you should definitely check it out. If you have but haven’t used it much, like myself, this is definitly worth a second look. I’ve decided one of my new years resolutions is to use this resource in my teachings. :)

It has tons of videos separated by topic and age/grade levels. I also like that it isn’t your usual group of videos from youtube.com or something. Very neat site.


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Homeschooling On the Rise… Interesting.

Good to know our thoughts are not isolated.

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OK, I’m Convinced.

I’ve known this to some degree for a while, but because, well.. I love my sugar in all it’s forms, I’ve been much more resistant to the paleo lifestyle than my wise husband. It’s been becoming more clear as the days go by that I have to stop being in denial and fully commit to this, but again I’ve been resistant. I know that I really am addicted to certain foods, b/c I WANT them. I am a former smoker. I know what that feeling means. I also realize that I’m transferring these bad habits to my daughter, which just turns my stomach.

I’ve read the paleo book by Robb Wolf, which was very well written, but I think I’m more an auditory learner. So I just watched this video that explains sugar and the problem with it and it all clicked. Sigh… So here it is. It’s long but very worth the time.

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The Evolution of Teaching Evolution

I recently read an article on Education Week’s website that I found interesting. You’ll have to read the story in full for yourself here.

The idea is that because of a Dover, PA, school district’s attempt to teach “Intelligent Design” as a viable scientific explanation of life and the federal courts saying “I don’t think so”, a lot of debate has spawned from why isn’t Intelligent Design a viable alternative. To which the US District Court in Pennsylvania concluded, “the overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID [intelligent design] is a religious view, a mere relabeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory,”.

So what did this mean? I think that it means the scientific community realizes they can’t sit back and hope someone will speak for them. Maybe they realize that just like in all silent majorities… silence can’t be heard, or that the loudest group isn’t necessarily the most reasonable. Maybe they realize it is time for them to give a clearer view of what the theory is and how it should be taught. So begins a new wave of teaching for K-12 science teachers. This article discusses the new initiatives being taken. I would have loved to hear more, and hopefully it will be successful enough to make mainstream news.

My favorite part of this article is a quote from Mr. Horwitz, a senior scientist at the Concord Consortium. Horwitz said, “We thought deeply about how to teach concepts to kids this young. I didn’t want children to ‘believe’ in science; I wanted them to understand it as an explanation for the natural world.”

Lovely thought, isn’t it? Theories and ideas are easy to shape and change as we learn new pieces of the puzzle. Beliefs are much harder to shift no matter the new information learned.

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