Saturday, February 23, 2013

What do you know about Russia?

Last week at our weekly Classical Conversations, we were in charge of the family presentation.
The rules for what you are allowed to do for this presentation is pretty much wide open. Families have shared their music talents, songs, bible verses, devotionals and historical facts. We decided to share some fun facts about a country that means a lot to us: Russia.
Prior to our presentation, I made a poster about Russia.

One of my friends snapped this shot during our presentation. My son makes the silliest faces!


For our presentation, I simply read out a list of fun facts about Russia. Here is our list…




Russia, the largest country in the world, occupies one-tenth of all the land on Earth. It spans 11 of the 24 time zones and it is across two continents (Europe and Asia) and has coasts on three oceans (the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic).

Russia is a transcontinental country, extending halfway around the northern hemisphere and covering much of eastern and north-eastern Europe and the whole of northern Asia

Russia has Borders with 15 countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Norway, Poland, Ukraine

Mt. Elbrus, in Europe, is located in Russia.


Russia is a federation of 86 republics, provinces, territories, and districts, all controlled by the government in Moscow. The head of state is a president elected by the people. The economy is based on a vast supply of natural resources, including oil, coal, iron ore, gold, and aluminum.


Russian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet instead of the Latin and is one of the 5 most spoken languages in the world

There are 33 characters in the Cyrillic alphabet


The Trans-Siberian Railway (connecting Moscow and Vladivostok) is the longest railway in the world

The Trans Siberian from Vladivostok to Moscow will take you 152 hours and 27 minutes if you do it non-stop (6 days, 8 hours, 27 min) - 8 hrs by plane


Where is the largest McDonald's in the WORLD? In Moscow and in Beijing (700 seats per each).


Russian chemist, Dmitrii Mendeleev, created the periodic table of elements by arranging them according to scientific laws. The whole world uses this periodic table.


Friday, February 22, 2013

How has homeschooling changed you?

I'm fairly certain, for good or bad, Cohen is definitely a different person than he would be if he were not homeschooled. What surprises me, is how much I've change because of it.


I look at every moment as a teaching moment. As a parent, we probably all do this to a certain extent, hopefully. Prior to committing to homeschool Cohen this year, I really looked at our experiences as fun. I always asked myself, “How can we have fun with this?” Now the question in my mind is, “How can we have fun learning about this?” For example, Cohen decided recently that he wants to be a Knight when he grows up. This is a very noble profession, and highly unlikely. Since he’s interested in this topic, I decided to take a break from reading about the Spanish Conquistadors and early American Explorers and picked out a few books from our library about knights. We’ve read stories about the Sword in the Stone, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and lots of other fun Knight tales, such as…


The Bravest Knight


Night Knight


The Knight Who Was Afraid of the Dark (Picture Puffins)


Instead of just dismissing his infatuation with Knights, we learned about their significance in history. It was a lot of fun, but had I not been homeschooling Cohen, I’m certain we would have never dove that deep off into tales about Knights.


I appreciate the hard work of all my teachers. Trying to get a child to sit still long enough to have them remember something is a tough job! Add 25+ kids to the mix, and I imagine it’s near impossible. Sometimes, in the middle of a lesson, sometimes Cohen just has to get up and dance, shake, wiggle, or sing.




My son has such an interesting personality and learning style. He loves music, so anything you can put to song, he will remember it. We have counted to 30 everyday for weeks, and he still can’t do it, but ask him about the Byzantine Empire and he can tell you all about it. I’m baffled how teachers can do this with 25+ little personalities. I have a greater appreciation for the teaching profession in general, because they have to deal with the red tape, legal issues, parents, administration and time constraints that I don’t have to deal with when I teach my child at home.


I understand why preschool/elementary school setting is important, but I also understand why it's important for me to be his first teacher. There are definitely benefits to a traditional school setting. There are also huge advantages to homeschooling. I believe had I not homeschooled, I would not have understood the importance of being his first teacher. As mentioned before, school teachers have lots of kids with lots of different learning styles in their classrooms. I cannot send my child to a school and expect the teacher to fully train him on each and every educational, social, and spiritual matter. I am and will always be his teacher (whether we homeschool or not) and it is my responsibility as his parent to make sure he understands the things being taught at school. It is also my top responsibly to teach my son about Christ and His love for us. This will never be the job of his school teacher. 

I think this is the main problem with the public school system. Over the years, as a society, we have decided it is the school or the teachers job to train our child. How can a teacher that has 25+ children in her classroom possibly teach my child how to open doors for ladies, or to say “please” or “thank you.” How can I expect my child to treat his teacher and classmates with respect, when I require none of that at home? How can I expect my child to sit still and listen to the teacher, when I’m not teaching him to be respectful, quiet and sit still during “Big Church”?


I can clearly see how I'm having an impact on his life. One of the most rewarding things about being a parent is that you get to mold this little person into the person they will become. Forcing my child to obey the first time may not be a big deal when I’m asking him to clean up his toys, but if I don’t make him obey now, what’s he going to do when I give him a curfew and keys to my car? We as parents have a huge responsibility to train our children so that they can become productive members of society. If I teach my child that everything in life will work out the way he wants and he will never be unhappy, I’m disobeying God. I should be giving my child small doses of real life experiences in ways that he can understand and respond, NOW, so that in years to come he has a good grasp on how he should behave.

After spending nearly everyday with this amazing little boy, I find that it’s very selfish of me to allow him to get away with the little things or not hold him responsible for his actions. It’s easy for me to dismiss it. Who enjoys disciplining their child? Not me! And I think had I not homeschooled, I could have easily overlooked the little things he does to disobey or disrespect me by simply saying “I only have __ hours a day with him, so I’m not going to punish him during that time.” It is not our job as parents to make life easy on our children. It is our job to train them to do what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” –Philippians 4:8


It's made me a better parent. Homeschooling Cohen has definitely made me a better parent. I have studied him for the last year. His learning style, his interests, his hobbies, what makes him happy, what makes him sad, and what makes Cohen, well, Cohen. Had I not invested this year in homeschooling, I wouldn’t know all these things. By knowing and understanding my child’s behaviors, I have a better grasp on how to parent him. I’m far from perfect! I make lots of mistakes! But I like to think that because I’ve spent this year with him, I will have a better relationship with him for many, many years to come.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Would you like to hear a good joke?

Each week at tutoring, Cohen is required to do a presentation in front of his peers. This is one of the things I love about classical conversations. These kids have really come out of their shells this year.

I don't normally video Cohen while he's doing his presentation because it distracts him too much, but I knew this week was easy so I went ahead and videoed him anyway.

Cohen will do just about anything to make someone laugh, so telling a joke was perfect for him!



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Are you ready to explode?


Our science lessons for the last couple of weeks has been volcanoes. This is very exciting! I love all things science, and anything that can be hands on for my 4 year old is a big hit around my house.


We decided to try CCing It One Day at a Time’s volcano recipe.


I made her homemade playdoh ahead of time. I actually made a double recipe, so I had enough to share with all our friends at CC.


My crazy little helper stirring the playdoh. I had to take over shortly after this picture, because that stuff gets tough fast. I hope it works tomorrow when all his friends try it out.




Later that same day, we formed the playdoh into a volcano, and placed a piece of the egg carton inside. We added red food coloring and the baking soda.


I gave Cohen and medicine dropper and just let him go. He LOVED it!!








It took us a few tries to get the vinegar and baking soda ratio just right for an oozing volcano, but once he got it working, he played with this volcano for about 30 min. I just kept refilling his vinegar cup and he just kept going.



We actually came back after dinner and erupted more volcanoes! So much fun!!
I made a little bag of all the things needed for a volcano for all Cohen's classmates!




For more information, please visit CCing It One Day at a Time.


Monday, February 18, 2013

What are you having for lunch today?

I wanted to share a recipe today. For those that know me well, you know I’m not a cook. I don’t enjoy cooking, but I love to eat. I’m always looking for yummy things to put on sandwiches, because I usually end up eating a sandwich 4-5 times a week.


I’ve recently become obsessed with avocados too. So I’ve been trying to create a way to fix a yummy sandwich with avocados. Now, of course the easiest way to do this is just slice up an avocado and put it on the sandwich. The problem with this is, I only use about 1/4 of the avocado, and the rest just goes bad because I have no idea how to properly keep them (I’ve tried several things and none really work). Last week, I decided to try to make a sandwich spread with the avocado. It worked really well…so I’m going to share it with you.


Below are the ingredients…




1 Avocado

2 tbsp light mayo

dash of salt (you could even used seasoned salt or Tony's)

1-2 tbsp lemon juice (I use the bottled stuff, but a fresh lemon would totally work)


Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix. (I actually put mine in a food processor to make it kinda creamy, but you don’t have to. It’s yummy with lumps too!)


Take a heaping spoonful of this delicious spread and put it on your sandwich. I’ve had it on ham, turkey, and chicken and I love it on any of them!


If you have any leftover, just stick it in the refrigerator and use it again the next day. Mine started turning brown on day 4 (but it ate it anyway and it was still yummy!)



Friday, February 15, 2013

Can you show some love?

I’m really, really late with my Valentine cards this year! I actually put them in the mail yesterday, so I’m hoping the grandparents got them before they read this blog.


A few weeks ago, Cohen and I happened to be at the New Orleans Sculpture Garden near City Park and stumbled upon this sculpture. I took a few pictures, none of which turned out great because I’m just not a great photographer, and I may or may not have had to pay him a dollar to get what I got.


After editing (or maybe just loading it to instagram) this was the final picture.



I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out a card and glued all the pieces together. Here is the finished card…so sorry, once again, for the terrible photo. It’s laminated, so the glare was pretty brutal.




Cohen made a fun valentine creation too. I cut out the big heart, and gave him my 1” hole punch, glue, markers, crayons and scissors. This is what he came up with.




For dinner, we had a very special guest join us. Molly came as Cohen’s date, so we had our first double date with our son for Valentines Day. I do love this girl!




They decorated a cookie cake for dessert. This wonderful recipe can be found in Kids in the Kitchen Year 'Round Fun Cookbook, special thanks to Uncle Sam and Aunt Karen for this one!




The finished cookie…they put a few sprinkles on it.





I’d like to say, I don’t really “do” valentines day. I think it’s another holiday created by the greeting card companies to make an extra buck. I do however love crafting, baking and just making messes with my 4 year old, so any excuse to do those things, I’m all for it!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

How did you celebrate Cohen’s Gotcha Day?


Can you believe it has been 3 years since this adorable little boy was placed in our arms and in our family forever! My how time flies.


This year, we started out with cinnamon rolls on the Celebrate Plate.




I gave him the choice for where we would eat lunch. He picked sushi! That’s my boy! It was a super special lunch because Jace was able to meet us there.








For dinner we had pancakes, another of Cohen’s favorites. It was another wonderful day! I’m so thankful he’s a part of our family and I’m so glad I get to enjoy days like this with him!