This Month's Featured Resources...

Ten Days of RoadschoolingWWII Activity PackLego Easter Mardi Gras

Tuesday, December 30

Molasses (Hush Sound)


How about a simple cookie recipe to bring to that New Year's Eve party?  These will help you kick off the New Year with healthy intent....

Oatmeal Molasses Cookies

  • 2 c. all purpose wheat flour
  • 2 c. oatmeal
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • mini chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Stir together flour, oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt.
  3. In another bowl, mix sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and molasses.
  4. Mix in dry ingredients.
  5. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes.  Cool on baking rack.
**Recipe to turn them into homemade Oatmeal Creme Pies.**

These healthy cookies are so good that Cookie Monster is chasing them!

Monday, December 29

Christmas Wish (She & Him)


Ahhhhh.  The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas - a scourge to teachers and students alike.  Whether public, private, or homeschool, I challenge you to find a learning environment that runs like a machine during this time frame.  

Everyone is excited about the impending winter break and holiday merriment!  No one, not even the teachers, want to trudge through the daily grind.  So what's a teacher to do?  Why - make it fun, of course!  The kids knew they had to do school, but they didn't mind with these fun activities.  Now that we are on break, I can look back and say, they may actually have learned something.  Gasp!
Each boy was provided with a Lego catalog, an ordering form, and a pencil.  They had to write down item numbers, price, and tax for their entire wishlist.....then tally it up!  (Don't tell them it's math...)  All I have to say is, these kids better get a job quickly if they want to support their Lego habit!  We also accessed several Christmas 'school' ideas, like this spelling unit, on SchoolhouseTeachers.com.
They were required to build a trap to catch these gingerbread men that kept running around the house singing "Run, Run, as fast as you can...you can't catch me...!"  FINALLY, we set upon a trap that worked!  The gingerbread men were tasty.  :)
We continued our Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, and made a game out of how many people we could RACK each day!  Some days it was people in blue shirts, and other days it was specifically kids that were being toted around while their parents finished Christmas shopping.  The gifts shown above went to random adults.
I wish we could find pictures of the last gingerbread house I attempted to make with the kids....since it looked as though it'd been hit by both an earthquake and tornado, we dubbed it the "Oklahoma House," and it's a thing of family legend.  Suffice it to say, when our artistic son wanted to make a gingerbread house this year, he asked to do it A.L.O.N.E.   (L.O.L.)  He created this from scratch, using leftover Halloween candy that we had set aside for crafts.  He even made the fondant wreaths and trees, and hand-dropped all of those tiny icicles!  If you're a great cake-designer, then this probably looks like child's play to you.  However, I am truly impressed --- and design-challenged.

While he created this masterpiece, his brother and I struggled to put together a 100-piece puzzle.  We all have our unique skill sets!
We painted picture frames to take to the nursing home and made a wooden lawnmower for Daddy.  He wanted a new lawnmower for Christmas, and this was the closest that the boys could fit within their budget!  We also found these stained glass characters in Grandma's art closet and made wind chimes from them.  We used sticks from the yard and some hemp twine to bind everything together, and made "Spring Garden" and "Snoopy" art! 
In the church pageant, one son played Santa Claus.  The other played Joseph.  I thought the character assignments were a good fit!  Santa learned all about the true meaning of Christmas from the Holy Family.  My mother used to have a book and statue, called Santa and the Christ Child, which was my favorite holiday decoration....so I loved the ending of this pageant.

Friday, December 26

Here We Come A-Caroling


It's the most wonderful time of the year!  Right?  Well, sometimes, we forget that's not the case for everyone.  Case in point, the majority of residents at nursing homes are left alone and lonely during the holiday season.  Too many of the residents don't receive visitors, let alone gifts, and we wanted to change that this year.  Granted, it was only one home, and we only brought small gifts.  But it made a difference to those folks for that day...
Our trio of boys spent time at home creating cards for each of the home's fifty residents.  We also purchased bags of sugar-free candy and made up goody bags for everyone.  Finally, we found small gifts (picture frames, holiday pens, puzzles, etc) for each person.  At the facility, we greeted everyone and spent some time wishing each person a Merry Christmas!
This was a new experience for the boys, and one that they were ultimately uncomfortable with.  Many of the residents kept trying to "trade" something for the youngest because he was "so adorable!"   He didn't like that.  The older boys weren't comfortable with all the requests for hugs and kisses...  We moms, however, were happy to hand out hugs!  So many people, elderly and young alike, just need to be touched.  Hugs never go out of style!

Based on our experiences, we are toying with the idea of setting up an Adopt-A-Grandparent program with the local nursing home.  It would give the boys more opportunity to do compassion care, and also fill an emotional need for some of their residents.  Have you ever done the Adopt-A-Grandparent program?  If so, would you be interested in sharing your experiences?  We would love to hear from you!!

Tuesday, December 23

Hard Candy Christmas (Dolly Parton)


When we were kids, it was a winter tradition to make Daddy's infamous Red Hot Candy.  This stuff would burn your mouth, but it was oh-so-delicious!  He would always make two batches....one with just a little bit of cinnamon oil, and one to "put hair on your chest."  Think mild and hot salsa...  Nowaways, when the freezing temperatures come around, the first thing I want to do is make some of daddy's hot candy.  I'm bringing this from my house to your's....it's not just for Christmas, but the whole winter through. 

 Ingredients
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups light caro syrup
  • 1 tsp food coloring (we use red...your choice)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon oil OR 20 drops Young Living cinnamon oil
  • 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
**You're also going to need a candy thermometer...nothing fancy, just something simple.**

Directions

  1. Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. pan with foil; spray the foil with cooking spray and set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, combine water, sugar, corn syrup and food coloring. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook for 3 minutes to dissolve sugar crystals.
  2. Uncover; cook on medium-high heat, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 300° (hard-crack stage), about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in cinnamon oil (keep face away from mixture as oil is very strong). Immediately pour onto prepared pan. Cool completely, about 45 minutes.  We typically do this on a VERY cold night, and leave the pans outside to harden in the freezing temperatures.
  3. Break the candy into pieces using a hammer (pound lightly). Sprinkle both sides of candy with confectioners' sugar. Store in airtight container.
My dad and I....circa 1984.  This is at the very same spot that I recently took my own children...

Friday, December 19

The Merriest (June Christy)


Yesterday, we brought you some quick & easy treats to whip up with the kids.  Today, we're featuring a sneaky cookie....they're good for you and won't make your kids have a sugar crash.  Plus, they taste like a cookie should!
But don't take our word for it...try them out!

Apple Ginger Snaps

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup flax meal
  • 1  tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp clove
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats (for topping)
Grating fresh ginger
  1. Mix sugar, oil, molasses and applesauce.
  2. In another bowl, mix all dry ingredients except oats.
  3. Combine the two bowls, and thoroughly mix.
  4. Pinch of pieces of dough and roll into balls.
  5. Once all the balls are on the pan, use your palm to flatten them.
  6. Sprinkle with rolled oats.
  7. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
We used the leftover dough to make a mini-pie.  It was delicious!

Thursday, December 18

Baby, It's Cold Outside (Pearl Bailey)



Looking for a kid-friendly cooking project to warm up the kitchen on a cold day?  We've got two of them for you today!

Easy-Peasy Snickerdoodles

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup cinnamon
  1. Dump the first four ingredients in a bowl together.  Mix well.
  2. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a separate bowl.
  3. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into a ball.  Roll in cinnamon sugar, then place onto pan.
  4. Repeat until all of the dough is gone.  
  5. Using your palm, flatten out each ball.
  6. Bake 10 min at 375 degrees.

Quick Apple Dumplings

  • 2 tubes - crescent rolls
  • 2 apples (cored & cubed)
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Unroll crescents, and spoon a tablespoon of apple into each.  
  2. Fold the corners in to close the dumpling.  
  3. Arrange each dumpling into a 9x13 pan.  
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon.  
  5. Mix butter, sugar, and orange juice in a medium pan and bring to boil.  
  6. Stir in vanilla.  
  7. our mixture over dumplings.  
  8. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until crust is brown and juices are bubbly.  
  9. Extra tasty when served with ice cream!

Mini Cherry Pies

We had a bit of extra dough leftover, and the oldest used some jelly tins to make itty-bitty cherry pies.  He got this idea from a book we used to read, many years ago, and has been doing it since.  Pop some dough in the tin, chop up a maraschino cherry, cover it up, and bake for just a couple of minutes!

Tuesday, December 16

Review : Schoolhouse Teachers site

SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review
SchoolhouseTeachers.com is the homeschooler's online educational resource site.  It’s your one-stop helper-shop, with aids such as: printables, daily lessons, lapbooks, free e-books, and conference recordings on various homeschool topics prepared by recognized homeschool leaders.  You have access to daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly lesson plans by some of the best from within the homeschooling community.  Homeschool moms, you finally get a teacher’s aide with Schoolhouse Teachers!

If that weren’t enough, there are some seriously cool bonuses to having a Yearly Membership. One is a free monthly e-book…a real book, not just a short story.  There’s also the Schoolhouse Library, with reading lists, beautiful downloadable copybooks, and inspirational articles. There are sections on homemaking, homeschool living, monthly menu plans, and discounts for a multitude of vendors–there’s even a section just for craft ideas for the kids!  All of The Old Schoolhouse magazine back issues are online well, so that you can access the information as it becomes relevant to your school.  

The site includes both online and downloadable components – courses such as Lapbooking, Figures in History, and Literature are downloadable and printable in nature, whereas Physical Education, Guitar, and Animated Reading are best completed online.

  • There are over 100 courses taught by outstanding teachers. Courses vary in length from a few weeks to a full year or more.
  • One membership covers every class on the site for your entire family, from preschool to high school.
  • Classes are not live, so you can start ANY time!
  • Options are available for co-op or group use.
  • Try it FREE for 30 days here when you register for a free Welcome Basket.
  • Join for $12.95 each month.
  •  Save over 10% on a one-year membership, just $139.
  • There are no per-class or per-child fees and you can cancel anytime.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review
I found the site simple and easy to navigate.  Since I was trying out this site in the weeks just before Christmas, I spent some time looking for holiday and winter specific lessons – and there were quite a few!  One of the first things that caught my eye was under the Freebies section, where you could print off an entire spelling unit that was Christmas-themed.   Here is a sampling of what I was able to find in less than three minutes, to plan out an entire week that included lessons for all of my students:

·         The Gift of the Magi, by O’Henry (complete story, unit & Lapbooking components)
·         A Christmas Carol (Hands-On History – complete unit)
·         Several writing prompts in Daily Writing
·         A Winter’s Tale by Shakespeare (Simply Shakespeare – lessons for two age groups & drama activity)
·         Gifts & Winter – several cross-curricular winter activities
·         Central Park in Winter – Everyday Easels cross-curricular unit for several age groups
·         Winter Snowman Scene – crafty section

Who doesn’t have to spend all weekend planning now??  ME!  They’ve done it for me….just go to the ‘search box’ and type in a keyword, and they will pull up all the lessons ever posted regarding that topic.  Easy peasy!
I also really appreciated the extras, like the reading e-books (which helped my struggling reader), Schoolhouse Expo seminars, homesteading lessons for adults, and member discounts.  Given the time of year, I especially enjoyed the “Twelve Days of Christmas Encouragement” section for homeschooling moms.  With the yearly membership, I was also able to pick up all of the past issues of “Molly Green Magazine” for FREE! 

Would you like to see how Schoolhouse Teachers works?  Watch a short video here.  You can also check out all of the site content that they have to offer at this link – try it out!  They even post freebies on a regular basis!


SchoolhouseTeachers.com is having a huge sale right now and through Christmas Day at 11:59pm ET. 

40% off the monthly membership ($7.77/month) or 50% off the Yearly Membership ($64.26/year). Homeschool families who join at this rate will keep it forever as long as they maintain a continuous membership. 
SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review
See more reviews of Schoolhouse Teachers at The Schoolhouse Review Crew!
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Monday, December 15

Homeward Bound (Simon & Garfunkel)


Some of you will remember seeing this post on our Road-Schooling Gypsies fan page a few weeks ago...

Words of advice :
1) Twenty-nine hours in the car is too long - even for a saint.
2) 88% Dark Chocolate bars are a good substitute for coffee.
3) Rumble strips save lives. Whoever thought of those was a genius!
4) Singing along to rock music with your kids for several hours in the wee hours of the morning is one of those bonding experiences you will never forget.

Have you ever had the feeling that something needed to be done?  You couldn't say why, but you had the intuition that it was time to act?  That's how I felt about getting home.  Something inside said that we needed to make tracks from Virginia to Oklahoma as quickly as possible.  And so we said our good-byes and left way before sun-up...
Somewhere near Knoxville, TN, we hit a snag.  Traffic was backed up along I-40 for several hours, due to a rockslide and overturned semi-truck.  Also, road construction as involved.  If you're ever stuck in traffic in Tennessee, call 511 to find out the scoop on what's going on and an approximate wait time.  We used this little opportunity to stretch our legs (because it was a parking lot) and start a new audiobook, The Bronze Bow.

We skirted around Nashville later in the day, and got hung up in a storm and road construction near Memphis.  Honestly, Tennessee is now one of my least favorite places.  It ranks right up there with Illinois and Indiana for places NOT to drive through...
The sun had long set, and the skies were opening up with torrents of rain, but we pushed through.  Around 1AM, somewhere in west Arkansas, I knew we could go no further.  When I say that we had an angel riding with us, that's not a platitude.  I had started to doze off - the kids were long asleep in the backseat (one with a spiked fever) - and nearly ran head first into one of the metal bars along the side of the highway.  It seemed as though someone shouted my name at the last second...thankfully.

The thing about driving through Arkansas is that hotel exits are few and far between, with the exception of the Little Rock area, along I-40.  Combined with the pitch dark, road construction, and torrential thunderstorm, I couldn't manage to find one until very late.  We stopped for a couple of  hours and then pushed on.

Little did I know that we were driving through flash flooding and tornadoes....  The angels stayed with us, though, and the kids were little troopers.  They sang along to the radio and stayed quiet when they sensed it was necessary, and we made it home safely.  I have never been so happy to see a muddy gravel road in my entire life!!!
Today's lesson : 
Remember as you travel this season - if you're tired, please stop.  It's better to arrive safely and late than not at all!