This Month's Featured Resources...

Father's DayTravel - CookingLatin WW2

Tuesday, June 30

Home (Kimbra)

Wellness Wednesday : 4 Reasons You Should Cook at Home

You'll make better choices.  

Vegetables look much more appetizing when you're standing in the middle of the farmer's market than when you're staring at a fast-food menu. Instead of being led by pretty menu pictures, you'll make something that's better for your body.  After all, healthier choices at the market lead to healthier meals at home. 

You'll eat fewer calories.

People who cooked meals at home at least six days a week consumed fewer calories than those who frequently ate out, a study published recently in the journal Public Health Nutrition found.  You probably have no idea what's actually in that restaurant meal you're eating. Do they use olive oil or vegetable oil to cook the meat? Is there added sugar in the sauce? What about food coloring? Is the spinach organic or covered in pesticides? How much salt is in that soup?  All of these add up to lots of extra calories!

You'll know what's in your food. 

Restaurants don't always give every single ingredient, and occasionally substitutions are made.  But when you're cooking the food yourself, you know exactly what went into it.  You also know what your family's needs and concerns are.  As an added bonus, you will know whether those ingredients are organic or not, since you purchased them.

You'll find it's easier than you think. 

Start simply -- with a breakfast smoothie or one dinner a week. Then build up your repertoire. Don't try to imitate your favorite "Top Chef" until you've gotten some experience with the basics.  And remember, if you can read, you can cook!

Take it to the Next Level

Start freezer cooking to save some time.  Devote an entire day to cooking enough meals for a month.  Purchase all of your ingredients on one day and spend the next day cooking from sun-up to sun-down.  (Here is a basic introduction to freezer cooking.)  Yes, you'll be tired, but your freezer will be stocked with enough meals for you to enjoy several weeks of low to no-prep dinners (and breakfasts, too!).  Check out some basic freezer cooking ideas.

French Navy (Camera Obscura)

Louisiana is one of the states that we've never when presented with a few days off, we thought we'd just hop on down there and see what we could find!!  (In the upcoming weeks, we will be creating units on all the wonderful things we experienced, so be sure to look for those...)

History Museum in Shreveport

Our first stop was the State Museum of Louisiana, where we learned the basic background.  We learned that they have just as much oil and gas activity as Oklahoma does, and that cotton and rice were king crops for a long time.
We got to see the native wildlife, and the boys were very impressed with the pelicans.  They learned that Louisiana is nicknamed the Pelican State.  We also saw some historical krewe costumes from various Mardi Gras parades around the state.

Science Museum at Shreveport

The Sci-Port Discovery Center was one of the ASTC membership museums, which means that we could pop in and look around for free with our card!  (If you don't have a membership yet, and you travel at all, you should look into one.)  This is similar to our Omniplex, but had a few novelties.
We flew airplanes and learned to navigate ships by the constellations.  We also played on giant pulleys, life-sized compass and protractors, and shot ourselves up into the air!  Mom thought the last one was really fun!
The sky started to turn a weird shade of green, so we decided to head on down the highway and see where it took us...
Fort St. Jean Baptiste in Natchitoches
This place was pretty neat for a little hole-in-the-wall!  You know we love our history, and this was something we had never studied.  Fort St. Jean Baptiste was a French fort and trading outpost during the French & Indian War.  They have recreated the fort, complete with actors, to bring history to life!
It was nice to get out of the car and walk around a bit, and we learned some science along the way when the boys stopped to ask about all the algae growing in 'de swamp.
We poked around the trading post, picking up a bit of French along the way, and learned how to make an outdoor brick oven for baking outside in the heat and humidity.  We visited both the enlisted men and officer's quarters, and got to try on some of their uniforms.  Did you know that it's not just the Dutch that used wooden shoes?  The French wore them, too!

Le Vieux Village in Opelousas

About two hours from New Orleans, Opelousas IS creole country.  We visited three different museums, and learned a lot about creole history, but were only allowed to photograph in one of them.  Le Vieux Village offers a glimpse of early life in St. Landry Parish.  While the set up is similar to places we have visited in Michigan and Oklahoma, each region is unique, and we never tire of comparing and contrasting how the various cultures once lived...when the world was considerably more isolated.
The end of the road came for us in Opelousas.  It was getting dark, and we had been in the car for over eight hours....on the road for nearly fourteen, with all the stops.  We found a roadside motel and checked in, with the intention of making it to New Orleans the following day.  However, Mother Nature had other plans for us....and what unfolded was a fabulous journey through our past!  That however, is another story for another day...

Monday, June 29

Carry On (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)

The final goal of speech therapy is carry-over and independence. As a parent, it's very frustrating when your child is performing correctly in a speech therapy setting, but seems to be making no progress at home.  There are several factors that play into this scenario of frustration and failure...
The First Factor : A lack motivation on the child’s part.  It's difficult to blame them for this because we must learn to motivate even the most difficult child.
The Second Factor : The second factor is parents not having the time and/or patience to do the work.  We understand what our child is saying, but often forget that others do not.
Here are some fun, easy, and FREE resources for you to use with your child to reinforce that carry-over process.

Friday, June 26

I Am Woman (Helen Reddy)

 The Women on 20s Campaign has declared that America needs the face of a woman on its currency, and that the first woman should be the abolitionist, Harriet Tubman. The campaign petitioned the federal government after Tubman won an online poll that featured fifteen historic women — including Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and Susan B. Anthony — as candidates to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank, the majority of banknote redesigns occur in an effort to stay ahead of counterfeiting threats. While the last redesign of the $1 note was in 1963, excluding the $2 bill, all other currency denominations have been reissued in the last 12 years. The $20 note was redesigned in 2003.
The average circulation life of a $20 bill is 7.9 years. In 2014, more than 1.7 billion bills featuring the nation's seventh president were printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Approximately 30 percent of all notes printed in 2014 were $20 bills.

While the Treasury cannot say for sure why certain presidents and statesmen were chosen for specific denominations, they do note on their website that "currency notes are of deceased persons whose places in history the American people know well."  The only requirement is that whoever appears on a note must be deceased.

Women are rarely acknowledged as important contributors to the creation and development of the United States, and I understand the motive of the campaign.  I just don’t agree with it.

Even today, economic injustice continues in the form of unequal pay, limiting women’s ability to reach their full economic potential. For every dollar a while man earns at his job in the United States, white women earn 78 cents, black women earn 64 cents, and Hispanic women earn just 54 cents.  (source : AAUW)  It’s not from a lack of effort; those discrepancies are still present when all other factors (eg, college degree and experience) are the same.

If having Harriet Tubman’s face on the $20 bill was going to improve women’s access to said bill, I’d be all for it. But instead, it only promises to distort Tubman’s legacy and distract from the economic issues that American women continue to face. While adding representation of women to an area historically dominated by men can be encouraging and boost women’s morale, the symbolism risks masking inequalities that are far more important.
So what do you think?  Better yet, what is your reasoning?  I would love to start a discussion…a healthy, respectful discussion…in the comments section below!

Thursday, June 25

Freezer Cooking 101 : June

We've got two great recipes for you this month, based on what's currently in season.   Bon Apetit!

Crusted Tilapia & Homemade Fries

  • Tilapia (6 fillets)
  • Cornmeal (1/2 cup)
  • Paprika (2 tsp)
  • Salt (1 tsp)
  • Potatoes (8 medium sized)
  • Olive Oil (2 tbsp)
  • Seasoning Salt (to taste - at least 2 tsp)
  1. Combine cornmeal, paprika and salt in a bowl. Put tilapia fillets in the mixture, patting well to ensure even coating.   Then place on baking pan.
  2. Slice potatoes evenly into 1/4" slices.  Mix olive oil and seasoning in a bowl, then put potatoes into bowl and thoroughly cover with oil.  Place onto baking pan in a single layer.
  3. Bake at 400 on a greased baking sheet for 25 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork.  Potatoes should be done at the same time as fish!
Freezer Assembly Instructions
Place fish, cornmeal, paprika and salt in a large freezer bag and shake well to evenly coat fillets.  Place in freezer.  Note - the chips do not freeze well.  Cook them the day that you want to eat them.
Thaw and Cooking Instructions
Remove from freezer and thaw in the refrigerator.  Place on greased baking sheet and bake at 400 for 25 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork.

Freezer Jam

Summer is the best time for savoring foods, but if you have more berries than you can eat quickly, consider making some freezer jam.  It's super easy, very yummy, and makes a fantastic gift!  We typically triple or quadruple this recipe, if we are able to get bulk produce during peak season.

Ingredients for Strawberry Jam:
  • Ball Canning Guide (optional)
  • 4 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1 package dry pectin
  • 2 c. crushed strawberries

  1. Mix crushed strawberries with sugar, and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the pectin into the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 1 minute. Stir the boiling water into the strawberries. Allow to stand for 3 minutes before pouring into jars or other storage containers.
  2. Place tops on the containers, and leave for 24 hours. Place into freezer, and store frozen until ready to use.

Tuesday, June 23

Mr. Heatmiser (Big Bad Voodoo Daddy)

Wellness Wednesday : Survive Your Hot-Weather Run

Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned runner, the heat of summer can be very dangerous.  It's not just the heat that you need to be aware of, but also the humidity.  Plan ahead, and always have an emergency plan in place.  

Know the signs of heat-related illness, and heed them!  I used to run quite a bit in the heat of summer until one day, while marathon training, when I tried to do a 20+ mile run on a 100+ degree day.  After a bout of heat exhaustion, my thermostat seems to be permanently disabled....and now running in the heat is pretty much impossible.  Let my mistake be a warning to you - you are not immune to the heat!!!!

1. Plan ahead.

Do your runs in the early morning or evening, not at peak sun hours. Take advantage of the extra daylight.  Make sure to look out for heat advisories and warnings. Rearrange your training schedule if the day is unusually hot or humid. Check the weather early in the week and adjust your runs accordingly.

2. Invest in climate-controlled clothing.

Wear light clothing and sports shirts that repel moisture.  Compression socks actually help cool the body since they keep the blood flowing well...but wear the white ones.  Running caps help to cool the body while providing sun protection.

3. Monitor your water intake.

Drink at least 8 oz. of water every one to two hours on your run. Wear a hydration pack or fuel belt that allows you to carry water. Plan your routes around water fountains or stores where you can refill your water mid-run.  Hydrate BEFORE heading out.  Monitor your pee, too....light pee = good, dark pee = not good.  Another trick is to weigh yourself before you go run, and then weigh yourself when you get back.  Every half pound lost should equate to one glass of water.  Drink up!

Make sure you're replacing your electrolytes, too.

4. Take your run inside.

Seriously - would you complain about running on a treadmill during a blizzard?  It may be beautiful outside, but it's just as dangerous to your core temperature.  It's a short-term fix that will bridge your workouts during extreme weather days.

5. Acclimate yourself.

As the hot weather approaches, take caution with your runs. Work yourself up to long runs as you get used to the heat.  Don't switch to tank tops as soon as it hits 70 degrees....wait a bit, because you're going to need those tank tops on the 100+ days.

6. Map out a new route or a new time.

Get up and get your long run done before (or as) the sun comes up.  This give you plenty of time to get in the miles at the coolest part of the day.  Change up your route so that you are in wooded areas or places with more shade.

7. Block the sun.

Make sure to liberally apply sunscreen and wear a hat or visor. This will block the sun from hitting your face directly.  You might also wear UV protection clothing.  I recommend a visor, since this will still allow the heat to escape from your head.

Take it to the Next Level

Electrolytes are lost both in sweat and in urine. Some athletes lose a lot while others don't, and there's wide range of the amount lost. As you can see in the table below, sodium and chloride are lost in larger amounts than potassium, magnesium, and calcium, as well. The values listed represent the amount of electrolytes contained in a liter of sweat. Keep in mind that individual athletes lose varying amounts of sweat, so use the table below as a ballpark reference.
 Concentration in Sweat (mg/L of sweat)

Table adapted from Sports Nutrition: A Practice Manual for Professionals, 5th Edition.
Good electrolyte replenishments include :  

Thursday, June 18

The Body Machine (Schoolhouse Rock)

Welcome to the second part of our anatomy & physiology unit study for elementary and early middle school aged students.  You can easily interchange this with Part I, which focuses on different body systems.

Part I of the Human Body Unit Study

Digestive System
Immune System
Muscular System
The Five Senses
Hands-On Fun!