Monday, January 31, 2011

Meating the Budget Part 1

Giant (our local supermarket) had a sale on meat this week and our freezer was getting low, so I stocked up.

It worked out to 40 cents a meal in meat (per person) which will give me about 80 cents a meal per person total. I stockpiled about 16 (8 person) meals with most of those giving leftovers or stretching to include guests.

The big deal was that they had chicken leg quarters at 79 cents a pound!

Maryland's Eastern Shore (the part on the Atlantic side of the Chesapeake Bay) is home to a lot of mega chicken farms, so chicken is our local cheap meat, but you could do this with pork or beef.

Here's what I do when I buy a lot of chicken legs:

1. I set up with spices and plastic bags. I figure out what I will make and label the bags before I start!

2. I take the leg quarter and skin it by grabbing the skin at the middle and pulling it off. I then chop it in half at the joint. For me, 4 leg quarters is a batch because it gives me 8 chicken pieces. If I have an odd number, I freeze some in 2 piece bags as add-ons for guests, or I give them to my Mom!

3. I sprinkle the pieces with spices and put them in the right bag. This time I had 5 batches and I used lemon pepper, taco seasoning, curry powder, and garlic rosemary. I left the last batch plain.

That's it! I stick them in the freezer. The spices are absorbed deeply into the chicken as they freeze and thaw. I can thaw them and bake them or stick them in the crock pot (thawed or frozen). Leg quarters are also great for making stock and cooked chicken.

I also got boneless chicken breasts. Two make a perfect meal for 8 - 10 people as cutlets or Indian food , and they are easy to cut while semi-frozen.

Lastly, I got some sweet and some hot sausages. I've decided that the best meat to make chili with is hot sausages. Sweet Italian I slice up while semi frozen, fry and then toss with pasta, tomatoes, olive oil, herbs and Parmesan cheese. Yummm.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Court of Honor

This was Mxyl's first time MCing a Court of Honor.

He did very well!

He handed out a lot of awards...

And then he got handed a lot of awards - a perfect Court of Honor! I think he got 6 or 7 merit badges and he is moving toward his next rank advancement.

One of my favorite things about Boy Scouts is the way they move boys gradually into positions of responsibility in the troop. They don't just insist the boys be leaders, they train them to be leaders.

It's not just leadership, it's responsibility. He needed to bring some of the refreshments, so he made the brownies. A yummy way to learn responsibility!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow Days

We had Wednesday and Thursday off and a two hour delay today. Given that Monday was a furlough day, it's hard to complain about our 1 1/2 day work week!

We've had a lovely time with the Emperor being home. We both got a lot of tasks crossed off our to do lists. You know: phone calls, home school planning, washing the carpets, that kind of stuff.

We both spent a lot of time hanging out with each other and the kids.

I went out to dinner with a friend. It was a nice relaxed week.

The Emperor and the Zoomlians spent a lot of time getting cold and wet, but they didn't seem to mind.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Playing Games

There's nothing like playing board games inside on a chilly day!

They are playing a Busytown Mysteries game that Oob got for Christmas.

We don't really do TV much, so the Busy Town Mysteries video series is a new discovery to us. Oob and Choclo are entranced by the videos.

I've had a soft spot for Richard Scarry since I was their age. I used to love to read every label on every page! The videos really seem to be good at getting kids thinking and I've seen an uptick in curiosity about a number of things that I traced back to the series.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Weather Science Round 1

I have a dear friend who teaches my kids Spanish. We were talking portfolio review stuff and she happened to mention that she finds it tough to make time for messy science experiments.

We are all about messy science experiments!

I also realized that a lot of the fun messy science stuff for younger kids had fallen by the wayside as my older kids did fun messy (dangerous) science experiments while the little ones were otherwise occupied (you know, watching Bob the Builder).

The obvious solution was to do a little science class for her kids and my younger kids with the older ones working as lab assistants. We had the first class on Tuesday.

I decided to start with weather since we are having a lot of weather. Nothing like teaching current science events: Hey! It's cold out! Why is that?

We started with an explanation of the seasons (this requires a dark room): Klenda held the Sun (a lamp with a bare incandescent bulb (don't use a florescent bulb for this). Zorg held the Earth (globe) at the appropriate tilt and orbited (walked around) the Sun while all the Zoomlians sang, "The sun is a mass of incandescent gas..."

Now that it's stuck in your head too, back to class: I had put a dot of clay to show our location, so it was easy to see - Hey! We aren't getting much sun! Look! Australia has all our sun! The North Pole was completely dark and the South Pole was completely bright.

We went on to show that "not much sun" was only part of the reason we are so cold right now. I had the kids hold their hand flat (palm facing the "sun") about 6" away from the bulb. That felt pretty warm right away. Then I had them hold their hands at the same distance, but at an angle. The near part felt warm, the part angled away felt almost no heat at all. With our part of the Earth angled away, the little sun we are getting is much weaker than our summer sun.

What else makes us cold in the winter? Wind! And what makes wind? A very clever guess was "The rotation of the Earth." That's partly true, but not the main reason. The big answer is: the sun! Yes, we're all about that "gigantic nuclear furnace" here!

It's true: most wind is caused by the sun heating the atmosphere. Warm air rises and expands, cooler air sinks and shrinks. To show warm air rising, we took some warm bubble juice outside (I had gotten a party pack of little bubble bottles and set them over the oven to warm). We used our warm air to blow bubbles and... voila! They rose. A bit, anyway.

It was nice to have it 43 degrees, after so many frigid days, but it made this experiment less dramatic. Leena came up with a good twist that saved the day. She made some bubbles by blowing (mild upward flotation) and then some by swinging her arm. The bubbles made with ambient air dropped like rocks! See! Warm air rises!

And that was the end: 30 minutes that Klenda complained felt like 15, never a bad way to end a class. Tune in next week when we will make clouds and rain...indoors!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wrapping up Klenda's Birthday

Klenda had a great birthday! We celebrated with grandparents on the big day. This was our first true "from scratch" cake. It came out pretty well!

And then a slumber party the next day. The "cake" is made of 12 cupcakes arranged in a number 12.

In our grand tradition of excess, the cupcakes are marbled, filled, and had mini chocolate chips added to the batter!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Special Monday

The county has been furloughing teachers on semi random days. We have four furlough days this year, but it's hard to complain when two of the four were the Emperor's birthday and the day of the March for Life!

The Emperor is off with Mxyl, Klenda and Zorg at the March, so I am here with the three younger kids.

It's been nice to focus on my little guys!

We did a fun paint project. We used gold and silver paint (among other colors) on black paper. This then evolved into an blotting and printing project.

We put together our life sized skeleton floor puzzle.

We read lots and lots of Dr. Suess!

We explored outside.

We had a bath with foam paint.

We changed the fish tank water.

We made bread and cookies.

We played around with different patterns.

Leena had a great time being the biggest kid.

Just a nice quiet day!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Leena's Crazy Scarf

The scarf surfaced again! It's crazy colored and crazy textured and she loves it!

In current knitting news, I am knitting my sister an extra long, extra wide, extra thick scarf. She lives in a frigid high altitude valley. I am knitting her the scarf only because she declined my generous offer to knit her a warm and fuzzy beard. Did I mention that she's a nun?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Klenda!

In honor of her 12th birthday, we present seven quick takes about Klenda!

1. She's a deadly word master and punster.

2. When she is being "pun"ished, she does the best eye roll in the world.

3. She is a voracious reader.

4. She is Danger Girl!
Walking on slacklines!
Riding horses!
Jumping down stairs!
If it's active, she does it!

5. She's been to the emergency room 8 times!
But she's OK!
No permanent damage!

6. She's CRAAAAAZY!!!

7. She's wonderful! But you knew that, didn't you?

Happy birthday, Klenda, we love you and we wouldn't have you any other way!

More quick takes with Jen!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Knitting Projects

How do these things get started? Leena went with me to a yarn store and fell in love with a multicolored fuzzy yarn. Could I make her a scarf? Why not?

Klenda saw the yarn and decided she wanted to knit, too. Back to the store! She picked out some beautiful (literally: that was the name of the yarn!)blue stuff. She knitted a scarf for Mumpy for Christmas while I knitted the multicolor for Leena. She's lost it already, but I'll post a picture when she finds it.

I had gotten 2 skeins of each, unsure of how much I would need. One skein does a scarf nicely, so Klenda took Leena's extra skein and is knitting a scarf for herself. I took the extra skein of "beautiful" and did another scarf for Klenda.

It may help to know that I am a fantastic scarf knitter and a less than mediocre hat knitter and that's really about the limit of my knitting.

At any rate, I finished Klenda's scarf last night and Zorg admired it (always dangerous when I am in knitting mode!). So, I asked him if he would like a scarf.

Zorg: No, thank you. Can you knit me a beard?

Well, as it happens, I inherited skein of brown hairy yarn that I never used because I thought it would look.. uh... brown and hairy.

My new score:
Scarves: fantastic!
Hats: less than mediocre.
Beards: I have been wasting my time on scarves, I was obviously born to knit beards!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Best Tips Ever!

I don't usually link to other people's posts, but this post from Jen offers the best tips ever for living a happy life when you are very very busy!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Pictures

We experimented with Cherries Jubilee as our Christmas dessert. Easy and fantastic! You can't see the large blue flames in the picture, but we were all impressed!

Here's what our cookie tray ended up with!

Here are the Zoomlians opening presents (I think it's the Lazer Tag set).

And what Christmas would be complete with out a large creepy black spider walking on the ceiling?

This was Klenda's present to Mxyl. All the Zoomlians are entranced. Unless you count me.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Portfolio Review

I'm off to my portfolio review in a few hours and I thought I'd get my blog stuff all in one post.

I've been using the blog to complete my paperwork since I started the blog, but, for some reason, it never occurred to me to just take along the blog instead of trying to describe all the great stuff we did! We'll see how it goes...

Our science stuff is here.
Our US History mega unit is here.
Gingerbread is here.
Physical education is here.