Heart of Dakota - HOD MtMM - Unit 23

Friday, February 10, 2017

It's really hard to say what year has been my favorite.  Each year I say the newest year is my favorite, but then I remember why we loved a previous year so much. I have to say though that Missions to Modern Marvels is really fantastic. Not only are we learning the how and why history happened during this period, but we are also learning how it felt to be one of the people who experienced the heartbreaks of this time. What's even better is that we are also seeing how God's people were raised up and meeting the needs of the hurting during some of the darkest days of history. It gives me hope for our future that God will always remain involved. This week we learned about the Cold War and the "Iron Curtain" as Churchill called it. Even though a dark curtain had been drawn God was still bringing light to those nations that were being oppressed in so many ways.

Heart of Dakota - HOD CtC - Unit 23

This week we learned more about Rome and why it became such a powerful world power in ancient times. I am so thankful to have to opportunity to teach my boys, but sometimes to be honest, I love the chance to learn and grow with them just as much. This year's studies have shed so much light on Biblical history of which I have always been fascinated. In re-reading these parts of history again I am understanding all the more. I love that the boys will have an opportunity to re-visit portions of history in years to come. I'm seeing the benefit in my own understanding after touching on it again. The more you understand the more rabbit trails there are to follow. Silas has asked some really amazing questions which have taken launched us off into searches about the hows and whys of things. Homeschooling can be so awesome!

Cooking with Kids - Won-Ton-A-Fun

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Nǐ hǎo! Any of you who have followed our little blog for a while know that we are no stranger to international cuisine. For that reason I was especially excited to see that our Raddish delivery this past month was inspired by the Chinese New Year. One of the things I love most about our Raddish boxes is that it forces us out of our rut. Most families have go-to recipes, but sometimes it's nice to mix it up a bit.

Each month our Raddish box comes with 3 detailed recipes, a cooking tool, a badge for our apron, and table talk conversation starters. This month we got a dumpling press. The badges are always super cute! I also love how durable the recipe cards are. They can take a beating or a splash of this or that and be easily wiped off.

Each month there are also Bonus Bites which often include a grocery store scavenger hunt and extra recipes. There are also subs for vegans or other food preferences. Silas and I went to the store together and looked through the store to check off each item. 

I find it's easier to get all of the ingredients out than to grab them as you go, especially for a beginner cook.

 The first recipe we tackled was the New Year's Dumplings. Silas made the sauce and the filling.

Next we added the filling to the dumplings and pressed them together. We couldn't find round dumpling wrappers which made using a circle press a challenge, but it worked well anyway.

Ok, so, yum right? We doubled the recipe as sometimes it seems like the Raddish recipes are made for smaller families (which we are.) However, I have 2 growing boys and a man to feed. Doubling the recipe made a TON, so we had leftovers for the next day which is always nice.

This was a pretty simple meal, but it was delicious. The sauce made the dumplings especially scrumptious. Aedan is my self controlled eater in the family. He rarely has seconds unless it's his very favorite. This meal he had thirds if that tells you anything.

While in the grocery store Silas spied these chocolate covered biscuit sticks. They weren't actually Chinese, but we found them in the Asian section. They are from Thailand I believe. It made a nice sweet end to our meal.

Another day we decided to make the Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry. One of Aedan's favorite meals I make is Asian Beef and Snow Peas. We decided to sub snow peas for the broccoli and see if we could get a thumbs up from Aedan.

First we made the sauce.

 We always add some kind of fruit to dinner as well for my kid that it's hard to get too many vegetables past his lips.

He will tolerate snow peas.

This was delicious as well!

We had leftovers from the dumplings and added those to the table as well. Winner!

Another thing that is often included in our Raddish boxes are an activity of some sort. 

This time we made Chinese lanterns to decorate the table.

I love that each month always includes a bonus recipe. We still had Egg Drop Soup to make, but it was nice having the Simple Sesame Noodles to pair with it. We toasted sesame seeds to toss with the noodles, and fried a few won-ton wrappers to add to the soup. We also added strips of fresh spinach to the soup as well.

These simple noodles were really tasty. We made simple baked soy glazed chicken breasts to go with it. Well that is all for this month. In February we have a Valentine's Day box to enjoy!

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Monarch Room Coupon / Referral Code: tzztnp

Simply go to Raddish Kids to sign up. I hope your family will enjoy these wonderful boxes as much as we did!

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Heart of Dakota - HOD CtC - Unit 22

Friday, February 3, 2017

This week we finished up our study of Ancient Greece and journeyed to the birthplace of Ancient Rome. There is little I remember about history from school sadly, but I do remember Greece and Rome. I had a great middle school teacher that brought it to life for her students. I still remember the Greek alphabet song she taught us. I hope my boys will grab hold of some of the memories we have made through learning about the civilizations of the world. The more experiences the better in my opinion. I hope they will be able to look back and say they remember.

Heart of Dakota - HOD MtMM - Unit 22

Well hello there! I tend to click on things that have cake and whipped cream too! This was a really interesting week in history. I am totally and blissfully happy learning about modern history with my boys. We studied the rebuilding of Europe after WWII, South African Apartheid, Chairmen Mao and the Berlin Wall.

Heart of Dakota - HOD CtC - Unit 21

Saturday, January 28, 2017

We are steadily making our way through the days and weeks here in our little corner of the woods. It feels good to have accomplished what we have so far, and yet I'm not ready to say goodbye to this year's learning. It really is a privilege to spend my days with these incredible boys. I try and remember that on the days that feel painfully hard, and on those days that my inadequacies shine through far more than my strengths. God is somehow still faithful to be my strength when my weaknesses want to show up and raise a ruckus.

Heart of Dakota - HOD MtMM - Unit 21

How is it that each year I face feels so long in coming after all that praying and planning, and then it so quickly fades away? That's how I'm feeling heading into the final third of our year. The older and taller this big kid gets the more tightly I want to hold onto him, but yet I know he will grow up all the same. I'm thankful for these days together - messy, difficult, silly, strange and treasured days.

Heart of Dakota - HOD CtC - Unit 20

Monday, January 23, 2017

This week we studied the Golden Age of Greece. Silas has been fascinated by all of the strange customs of ancient Greece. They were such a fascinating people and culture! It's been just as fun for me to learn these things the second time around. I have more time this time around to sit and chat with Silas about what he thinks about it all. We are both learning so much together.

Heart of Dakota - HOD MtMM - Unit 20

This week we reached the end of WWII. I'm so glad we have learned how there was also hope in such a dark time. I never knew I'd become such a lover of history when I took on this homeschool life. It's been so refreshing to learn it in a different way.

Rosie the Riveter was a famous image of the time. It was meant to encourage women to take part in the wartime production efforts. This picture still is seen in so many places today.

Heart of Dakota - HOD CtC - Unit 19

Friday, January 20, 2017

We have been happily studying the land and people of Ancient Greece over the past few weeks. I asked Silas what his favorite culture we have studied so far has been. He said that Greece seemed to be where so many interesting things and people lived and that the Greeks are his favorite so far. It's been fun reading the myths and Aesop's fables with him. There is so much wisdom in those tales from long ago. Silas didn't realize how many sayings come from those stories that we use in our everyday speech.

I really love our Robert Frost poetry study each week. We usually take the time to find out more about the poem. This week our poem was "The Birthplace." I thought this painting turned out beautifully. He's getting better every week!

Heart of Dakota - HOD MtMM - Unit 19

We are moving right along through our year. For the past few weeks we have focused on WWII. We have really enjoyed all of the books that have told the story from many different perspectives. So much was going on in the world during this time, so it's been really enlightening to hear how this war was experienced throughout the world.

Raddish Cooking Kits - Food for Snowy Days

Monday, January 16, 2017

We have had our share of cold days here in the midwest this year. These are my favorite days to get in the kitchen and make things to warm us up. Fortunately, our Raddish kit came with lots of great ideas on where to start. I knew these recipes were bound to please my picky eater, but I also loved that they included a salad. Each kit has given my little "Mikey" a chance to like something new.

Dear Just a Mom...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Before I had kids I had many plans. In fact my plans didn't even include kids, not for a really long time anyway. However, suddenly my life changed forever the day I found out I was pregnant. Surprise! By my choice I chose to postpone some of those plans. Even so, my dream job turned out to be the very one I have, and the plans I made have been incorporated into this quiet life. Those plans just happened on a smaller scale, and they happened with the people I love the most. I don't regret this choice for one single moment. 

Let's face it. Deciding to live a simple life as a homeschool or stay at home mom will meet (if it already hasn't) a whole lot of resistance. It won't necessarily come in the form of people telling you that you shouldn't follow that leading of your heart. Instead it will come from the never-enoughs. They would have you believe that being just a mom simply isn't enough. You know the ones. They serve on boards, run programs, have titles, write books, are at every service opportunity, and (cough) have way cleaner houses than you (I mean me.) Their well meaning messages will sound like this: Dream big. Change the world. Have it all. Make a name. Do your part. Save the planet, the country, the you-name-it. You simply just aren't doing enough, or so they say. The problem with this message isn't the message itself. All of those causes are good and noble things, and if that is the season you are in by all means tackle the thing. The problem with that message is that it speaks out against another kind of choice to live a simple and more slow paced life that is true to your season.

 You don't have to have a title, or to see your name in print, or to be a speaker in the next big thing to impact your world. You really don't have to have it all right now. You do have to grow in love, kindness, patience, forgiveness, and gentleness in order to change the lives of those who fall under your care or who are in your sphere of influence. Sometimes that is far more difficult than doing the big things anyway. Joy and peace can only overflow when you have left enough margin in your life to experience and appreciate the little faces before you or the ones you sit across the table from each day.

There's a children's book on our shelf called The Very Last First Time. It's about the first time a girl got to do an important task on her own without her mother's help. It was the very last first time the mother would see her daughter have that experience. I don't know about you, but my very last first times are running pretty short. They are more like a count down to the very last time of just about everything. My oldest will be entering high school next year. I have 4 more birthday cakes, 4 more Christmas mornings, 4 more first days of school and 5 more last days of school. Time that felt so slow when my boys were little is flying by as they say. 

So for what it's worth, it's ok to be happy with this simple life. Thankfulness is the antecedent to contentment if you didn't already know it. Don't buy the message that says you are just a mom if you choose this simple life. If you're like me you know your time will come. In the meantime you will fine tune your skills in the quiet of mornings, naptimes or evenings. I promise you there is a whole world to get to know while you tackle this great task of motherhood and educating your children. If you are a person of wonder you will never be bored. There is always something new to learn, a skill to hone, a gift to practice. Write if you're a writer. Cook if you're a cook. Study if you're a teacher. Keep your foot in the door of your dreams. They don't have to die just because you have chosen another path for now. This time will pass, and there will be many days to come to enjoy your new season when the house is quiet again.

 My husband is a hospice chaplain. Every week he sees how life's choices play out in the end for people from all walks of life. Guess what those folks never, ever, say? They never say they wish they had done more. They never say they wish they had gotten more degrees, or had traveled the world or had a bigger house. Without fail they say they wish they had spent more time with their family. In the end none of the greatest accomplishments will stand at your bedside anyway. No one will stand by the bed and call you doctor, pastor, professor, author, speaker, or any of that. If you have lived your life well the people that will stand at the foot of your bed when you breathe your last will be your family. And guess what? They won't call you by your title or accomplishments. They won't wish you had done more. They will call you mom. Just, mom.

Hear me friend.  Keep doing what you love.  It's more than enough for now.  I promise.

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My Homeschool Journal - January 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

When I started this blog 5 years ago my intention was to keep a yearbook of sorts. It was also meant to be an accountability to myself. My thinking was if I have to blog about it I will actually do it. My husband was a little afraid (if I'm being honest) that homeschool would be like one of my many hobbies that grew like a forest fire and died a slow death while taking up space in the storage room where all my other old hobbies live. If you ever want to know why I do weekly updates, that's the real story. What happened though was that homeschool became a part of all of our lives. It wasn't just a hobby it was how our family lives and learns together. It hasn't gotten old yet, and I pray I can make it to the end of it all.

So, in an effort to let you in on a little that goes on with me, I decided to take part in the monthly Homeschool Mother's Journal. I saw a friend post hers the other day and thought it was such a great idea. I'm not super awesome at weekly or daily commitments, but I can handle one a month. It will give me an opportunity to reflect on how things are going around here at Monarch Room, but also to share how things are going with us as a family. I would love to hear from you too if ever you are so inclined. Sometimes this homeschool journey can feel a little lonely. It's so nice to have friends that are on the same path, so we can each give each other courage for the next leg of the journey.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com {Review}

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

This past month I had the opportunity to review a yearly membership with SchoolhouseTeachers.com. When the cold settles in I love to hunker down and enjoy a few fun extras while we are cozy in our warm house. This is my favorite time of the school year because it’s when we have the chance to slow down and enjoy enrichment activities that we might not have as much time to do when we are running around during the warmer months.

Our school days are already pretty full, so I'm not normally looking to add too much to our days. However, sometimes interest strikes, and it's fun to take a rabbit trail every now and again. I love enrichment activities that add fun and spice to our normal everyday lessons. I am often searching Pinterest or blogs for inspiration. I was pleased to see that the SchoolhouseTeachers.com website was far more than I expected it to be. It was great to find an all-in-one place to search for inspiration rather than hopping from place to place. I was pleasantly surprised at how many useful and fun courses I found.

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