Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Challenge of Homeschooling

It was a beautiful, sunny day on Monday. Unfortunately, the baby (and our canning adventure) kept us up until around 5am Sunday night/Monday morning. So...I wasn't exactly in the perfect state of mind to begin something as challenging as teaching my extremely antsy daughter....

Alayna and our dog Mia relaxing before school. 

So, despite the sleep deprivation, our homeschooling year started yesterday. It's already well into September. We really couldn't put it off any longer.  My daughter is 5 years old, and we're doing a mixture of preschool and kindergarten this year. I take heart from the knowledge that this year doesn't really "matter"...that she doesn't even HAVE to start school yet. That if I really can't do this, I can send her to public kindergarten next year with no harm done (well, very little harm done ;-)

I had am image in my head of how it would go....

(The baby photo bombed the picture)

And the reality was NOTHING like the image I'd held in my head! haha!

I got frustrated, she got frustrated, we both cried, and I sent her to her room...twice!...all in the span of about two hours. I realized, finally, that I was expecting way too much of my young (very young maturity-wise) daughter who has NEVER had schooling of any kind before. It's like I expected her to know this stuff already. What the heck was I thinking? Obviously, I'm here teaching her for a reason....

So...after apologies were made, we ended the day on a good note. She had fun. Her take home? What she told Daddy as he tucked her into bed? That she had fun! Score one for Mommy!

Today went MUCH better than yesterday! We even got done early. I was much more easy-going, and because of that, she was much more willing to listen to me. We did a couple games, a couple worksheets, lots of coloring, and alphabet flash cards.  Here's hoping the rest of the week goes so well!

 Working on an alphabet puzzle

 Cutting (I've done her a huge disservice in that this was the first time ever that she's cut something). Ooops! 

Coloring in one block for the very first day of school. She'll color one per school day. Once we reach one hundred, we are having a party day! 

Mia wanted to go to school, too....

And of course...gratuitous picture of the baby. 

Monday, September 8, 2014


The Fun Begins...

There was an Apple Festival in town this weekend. It's a big deal in our small town. The longest parade I've ever sat through (I swear, our daughter got more candy in the parade than on Halloween!), a huge farmers market, activities for the kids, and a petting zoo. Not to mention entertainment. Anyway, one of the farm stands was selling huge boxes of tomatoes for $5 each or two for $8. So, we bought two. If we'd had more room in our stroller (and had brought more cash with us), we'd have bought more. It ended up being around 30 lbs (yes, you read that right) of tomatoes for $8.

So, my awesome husband made me my very favorite dish for dinner: Chicken Tikka Masala.  THEN, we made 4.5 quarts of diced tomatoes (plain) and about 9 pints of home made tomato and cilantro salsa. It took a lot longer than expected. It's 3 am...and we're still water bath canning our tomatoes.

We got the recipe for the salsa here. It is very important to note that you cannot just pick a tomato-based recipe and can it in a hot-water bath. You could give your family botulism, which is deadly. Tomatoes are almost acidic enough on their own to can without adding acid, but when you add things like onions and peppers, it becomes more alkaline. This means it is unsafe to can in only hot water. What you really need is a pressure canner. However, there are certain recipes (such as the one we used) that have been tested for safety. You can't change the ingredients a whole lot because you'll mess up the pH. We did tweak ours a little bit. We completely omitted the green chilis. But, since the recipe stated it was safe to reduce the amount to taste, and because we didn't add extra onion, jalapeno or garlic, it is still safe to can without a pressure canner.

Here's the salsa with everything added before cooking

Here's the recipe as we made it: 

10 cups of tomatoes, diced
5 cups of onion, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cups 5% vinegar
dried cumin (to taste)
dried oregano (to taste)
fresh cilantro (to taste)
salt (to taste)

We cooked it all over medium heat for twenty minutes, then poured it into cleaned and sterilized jars. 

We boiled in water bath for 15 minutes and DONE! 

We also made cans of diced tomatoes. Those were easy. We just diced a bunch of tomatoes, put four tablespoons of vinegar in the bottom of each quart jar, and added some salt. Then, we added the tomatoes, closed to jars, and boiled them for EIGHTY FIVE minutes (yes, that's right...and we had to do two batches!!).  They better be good after all that! 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Beginning A Brand New Adventure!

And Introducing....

Well, this is my first post, so I figure I should probably introduce the people I will be writing about. I'm guessing many readers are curious as to where I got my name from. It's not really very interesting. It's just a Doctor Who "thing". And it was suggested to me by someone...I didn't even come up with it on my own!

My name is Christy. I'm married to my best friend, and we have two absolutely amazing (though definitely trying at times) children: a 6 month old little boy and a 5 year old little girl. We have a dog named Mia who is also a treasured part of our family. On Monday, we're starting two brand new adventures: Kindergarten AND home school!

Through much discussion and research, my husband and I decided to home school our daughter for preschool and possibly beyond (and eventually our son). We have chosen to use purely secular materials, and our reasons have nothing to do with religion, but with me WANTING to teach them at home. Also, the schools in our area aren't exactly exemplary.

On top of home schooling, I also try to cook our bread for the week instead of buying from the store. I also make little packets of home made instant oatmeal, granola, granola bars, and many types of muffins for grab-and-go breakfasts. We are trying to eat well, get healthy, cook from scratch, and begin canning our own food. In fact, tomorrow we will be making a huge batch of diced tomatoes and salsa. Our first ever attempt at canning anything that isn't pickles. We've gotten REALLY good at pickles! Haha!

It's going to take a lot of motivation, organization (one thing I am not good at!), and time management...

So...an adventure it surely will be!