Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lego Models and the Zillio

Homeschool Update:

Last week in our history curriculum, we were studying the Indus River Civilization.  Okay, I have never even heard of* the Indus River Valley, but apparently it is modern day Pakistan.One of the arts and craft activities was to build a Lego structure to resemble a building  from this time period.  I thought that Briggs would really love this opportunity to build something with Lego's and count it as school.  It took a while for him to get past no instructions/ I've never built a city or building like this before/ I just don't know where to start, Mom.  He finally got past his apprehension and here is what he came up with:  (He suggested I put this on the blog)

For Christmas, we got the boys a Zillio.  It is a really awesome contraption that helps secretly teach math skills thinly veiled as games with names like "Mountain Goat Scramble" and "Homing Pigeon II."  The thing I really love is that it can be adapted for a very wide age range, from preschoolers to 6th graders.  It teaches 10 essential math skills:
number lines

Basically, when Max plays, he just practices counting.  When Briggs plays, he multiples and divides.  They can even play the same game at the same time, using different skills.  In mom world, it just doesn't get any better than that!

*Confession:  I NEVER got history.  I just never really understood it.  It wasn't taught chronologically and I just memorized the facts hoping I could ace the test that way.  I remember taking Western Civilization as an AP class as a senior in high school.  The whole time I was thinking, when did this happen?  Where are we talking about?  Was this BC or AD? How does this fit in with anything that I have a frame of reference for? Calgon take me away!  So my ulterior plan with this whole homeschool thing is to re-learn some history and hopefully understand it this time:)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Winter 2011

Wow, where has the time gone?  There certainly hasn't been a ton of down time lately.  Since I last opined on the intricacies of coaching a 3 and 4 year old basketball team, I have somehow found myself coaching Briggs' 7-8 year old team as well.  So, until now, every week has been busy with multiple practices, planning, and two games on Saturdays.  Something tells me it's going to be this way for many years to come, God willing.  Max finished up his last game this past Saturday.  They only lost one game, that being the first game where I was somewhat rattled by the chaos of it all.  Since then, I've just gone along with the flow and the boys have "played" great.  Max scored in all of the games and committed his fair share of what would have been atrocious penalties in any other league.  But, he had fun, learned a little, I was able to pray with the team every week, and God allowed me to minister to my assistant coach who lost a young grandson during the course of the season.  Time well spent.
The Wildcats!
Briggs' team on the other hand hasn't really gelled just yet.  The league is clearly split into the "good" teams and well, teams like ours.  The boys certainly give it their all and I couldn't be more proud of them but we've only won one of our first six games thus far.  Mercifully there are a few other teams in the league with similar records.  God, through His grace, has allowed me to share with a divorced dad and encourage him in small ways, conversations I most likely would not have had if I were not coaching. 

Baseball evaluations were today and I was surprised at how much we enjoyed getting ready, hitting, throwing and catching, Spring temperatures, there's just something about it.  Should be a fun season.  While Briggs waited for his turn, Max decided to collect every rock he could find at the ball fields, which happen to have gravel rocks for the parking areas.  He has a rock collection he's started for school and wants to "collect" everything he sees now.  At one point he had placed them down on a bench, spun around several times, and then did some sort of pre-martial arts battle bow movement towards them; when he saw Leslie and me trying not to laugh at his routine, he became embarrassed and quickly went on to other games.  He's become quite the character these days.

Despite the busyness, I must admit that I greatly enjoy being so involved in the boys' lives.  Along with basketball, we've still had time for the boys to be in "Mission Friends" and "Passport to the World"  while I sit in on a New Testament class on Wednesdays and Briggs has started Cub Scouts.  He was SOOO excited after his first den meeting.  There's a pinewood derby race coming up and he has been very excited to work on the car, every day he's begging me to work on it with him.  I'll have to make a separate post about going through that process, good times though.  The only thing we seem to miss out on these days is sitting around watching television, which really isn't missing out on anything at all.

Some notes about church.  Briggs is growing up so much, it's amazing how focused he is sitting through a sermon that lasts for around a solid hour, not counting music and prayers.  He diligently fills out his sermon notes and asks very insightful questions.  Nearly every week that we're in town he has his scripture memory verse well rehearsed.  We have a routine where he confirms it to me just before he leaves for his class; he's so proud when he does it, and rightly so.  And his prayers are so sincere and well balanced.  Oh that he'll come to be a true child of God soon.  Max, well Max is pretty funny.  After every class we'll ask him what he's learned and invariably he says he can't remember.  And then at some random time of his choosing he'll surprise us.  Tonight at some completely random moment he broke into telling us all he was learning about Shadrach, Me-Shadrach and Never-kin-ezzer and then broke into some King David stuff.  During prayers he asked me what I learned today.  I told him we were studying Acts and how God is in control, he acted stunned and said "wow, why didn't my teachers tell us that!?"  A few nights ago during prayer time, he prayed for "Jesus to have a good day", I had to catch myself before correcting him to consider whether that was cool or not. I couldn't think of any good reason for not praying for Jesus to have a good day so we're just going to roll with that.

Alright, enough rambling for one night.  I don't have too many pictures that just fit ,so I'll just throw in some from a recent a snow day.  I'm sure posts on scouting, baseball, and tee ball are forthcoming, if I can find the time to actually to get on the computer...   


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Macaron Obsession (not the coconut kind)

edited to add *Seriously?  I had obsession spelled wrong for like a week and never noticed?  And how am I qualified to teach my children at home??

I don't remember how it all began, but over the last year, Briggs and I have had a love affair with macarons.  Quite of an obsession really.  He has been obsessed with convincing  me to make them as often as possible and I have been obsessed with getting them right.  These delicate little French cookies are difficult to make at best, but I plugged along, undaunted by a year's worth of failure.

Besides having a sweet tooth that won't wait, once I happened upon images of rows of pastel hued macarons in French Patisseries on the Internet, I knew that the only way I would probably ever taste them (at least in the near future) would be to make them myself.  Spelled both macaroon and macaron, they are delicious and beautiful in any language!

So many failures, I wondered if I would ever get them to turn out!  The process of folding the beaten egg whites into the ground almond/confectioners sugar mixture or 'macaronage' as it is called, has to be perfectly folded- one turn too few or too many and ruin!  I should have documented more of the flops, but there have been many like this and worse:

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, they turned out perfectly!  I was so excited I had to take pictures.  I made three kinds: chocolate, strawberry, and lemon.  The shells are all the same (basically egg whites, sugar, and almonds), just colored and filled with different ganaches, buttercream, and preserves.  Briggs and Rod love the chocolate ones, I love the fruity ones, and despite his smile, Max won't touch them. 

Je crie, tu cries, nous crions tous pour macarons!