German Bread

IMG_0790Over the years, I have been asked countless times “what do you miss the most from home?” Usually, my answer includes “the bread!” (That is amongst other things, such as public transit, side walks, and my family, of course.)
Slowly, but surely, I have figured out a recipe that works and that provides a taste of home. I’ve been asked to share. This recipe makes 2 loaves, but doubles easily. I usually freeze one loaf after it cools. You can also make dinner rolls from this same dough, just add a little more flour. After they are cool, put them in freezer bags. You can pull them out in a pinch for lunch. They’re thaw really quickly! Here it goes:

6 cups of bread flour (or 4 cups of bread flour and 2 cups of whole wheat flour)
1 TBS dry yeast
2 and 3/4 cups of luke warm water
1/2 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt
3 TBS of olive oil
(Optional: flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chopped pecans, or oats as desired for change in taste/ texture)

Step 1: dissolve yeast in water, add sugar, let stand 5 minutes

Step 2: use hook attachment with your stand mixer. Add flour and salt to the bowl.

Step 3: add water/yeast mixture and oil to flour. Combine on low-med speed.

Step 4: once combined, knead on med-hi speed for 5 minutes.

Step 5: remove bowl from mixer. Place plastic wrap over bowl. Let rise in warm place for 1 hr.

After 1 hr:

If dough is still sticky, work in some flour with your hands. You don’t want it super dry, it will make it more crumbly. A little sticky is ok, just as long as it is still workable. Split 2 up between two loaf pans. Mine are coated, so I typically don’t even spray them, but do if you are unsure.

Bake for 1 hr in preheated oven at 375 F.

After you take them out of the oven immediately remove them from the pan. Let cool on cooling racks. Enjoy! It’s sandwiches for dinner at my house today!

Let me know how it goes!

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School Room Organization

Yup. It’s true. I’m an organization-junkie. I like it when our things are in order, because, frankly, it makes life easier when I don’t constantly have to hunt for things. But I also like the idea of organization. Yes, pictures in magazines and catalogs of organized “stuff” makes me feel warm and fuzzy! I read blogs and search Pinterest for organization ideas. Yup. That’s me. That’s how I like it. The reality is not quite that… [sigh!]… but I believe this is to keep me reminded that I, in fact, am not in control here!

Fact: Our school day is much smoother when we don’t have to hunt for things.

Fact: Mommy is much calmer when desks are not in a chaotic disarray.

Fact: Independent work only works if you can locate it independently!

Fact: We spend a lot of time in this room, we should all enjoy being there!

School Room Organization Blog Pic

Those are the facts. Here is our reality (from top left clockwise):

This corner houses our reading chair, time line, J’s workbox, cubbies for each subject and one for each boy, and my personal favorite: our new paper organizer!

Big boy’s desk holds the computer. Movable shades can be drawn to prevent glare from the window while doing research and can be opened for natural lighting while working at the desk. The shelf on the wall keeps our microscope and daily supplies.

These are our other two desks. I set them up in an L-shape so that I can see what J is working on or work on things with him. His immediate supplies are in the buckets on the wall, which he labeled himself! The wire above the white board holds current work and time line cards for the week.

Finally, the file cabinet side doubles as our spelling board. It works perfectly for our magnetic tiles and sometimes we spell our messages to each other. Our Latin Noun Declension chart can be hidden by the same sliding curtains as mentioned above during quiz time!

Curriculum Choice 8th Grade

My post on our 3rd grade curriculum options is already a few weeks old and it is about time I post what we are doing with the 8th grader!
When we chose to pull our boys out of school last year, I knew that we needed to stay on task and not fall behind, especially since the plan is to have him back in public HS next year. I knew I needed the support and diligence of a program that would keep us on task. Through my friend Corey, I stumbled upon Classical Conversations and their Challenge program. Challenge is a program for 7-12th graders that meets once a week for 6 seminars. At their weekly meeting, students have opportunities to discuss, present, learn, and challenge each other. All 6 seminars are facilitated by the same tutor. The seminars have fancy names like Rhetoric, Debate, and Logic, but what this means for Challenge B is that P will have Literature and Writing, Math, Formal Logic, Science, Latin, and Current Events. We have also added German to the mix.

Literature and Writing:
The spine of this seminar is “The Lost Tools of Writing.” LTW is a systematic program that teaches students how to overcome the three major struggles of writing. (I could go on and on about LTW, but that can be a separate post altogether. There is simply too much to say about this program.)
For the first semester, we will read “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom, “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls, “Little Britches” by Ralph Moody, and “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster . Students will discuss themes from these books and write persuasive essays guided by LTW. This is a continuation of Challenge A.
In the second semester they will switch gears and move on to short stories. They will read a collection of short stories compiled by Classical Conversations in a book called “Words Aptly Spoken: Short Stories.” They will also write their own short story.

Math:
This entails our biggest change from last year. We have shifted gears and chosen a new curriculum. We are deviating from CC’s recommended program and have started with Singapore Math. I used SM with our younger one last year and he really liked it. I researched the upper level curriculum and felt like it would be a better fit for P. We are using New Elementary Mathematics 2 Syllabus D. The downside for me is that lessons are not clearly laid out for us, which makes Math more hands on for me this year. But since I really enjoy Math, this is a welcome challenge. This particular curriculum is relatively new and encompasses Common Core Standards, which gives me the peace of mind knowing my child can easily transition to public school next year. (This is NOT an endorsement of Common Core, but a topic I have to consider given further schooling plans.)

Formal Logic:

 Introductory Logic, 5th Edition and Intermediate Logic, 5th Edition by Jim Nance.

Science:
No formal textbook here! I love how CC utilizes individual research and student presentations to learn about science. For the first semester, students will be researching different scientists, their contributions, etc and present their research weekly. There will also be a science fair project. For Spring semester, they will be reading “Defeating Darwinism” by Phillip Johnson, followed by a 5 week overview of chemistry, including the periodic table and atomic models.

Latin:
For Latin we are using Henle Latin. This is no change from last year. In fact, we are starting over at the beginning to solidify knowledge and really memorize declensions and vocabulary. I have also discovered a booklet published by Memoria Press that accompanies Henle very nicely. Daily lessons, exercises, and drills are already laid out, making planning a breeze and keeping the boy on task!

Current Events:
Much like science, there is also no textbook. Again, individual research and weekly presentations are utilized for learning. My husband is a news junkie and very excited about this seminar!

German:
P speaks the language beautifully and has expressed interest in learning how to read and write it. We are using a combination of different grammar books, and are also reading books together. My plan is to have him translate sections periodically, and also write letters. Again, this is pretty hands-on for me, but well worth it. My knowledge of German grammar is limited, so I’m taking this opportunity to learn it better. As I am trying to systematically break it down for the boys, I am in the process of developing worksheets and instructions. Stay tuned!!!

DIY Tri-Fold Board and Memory Work Board

As I’m getting ready for our CC year, I’m finding a bunch if great ideas. This one is great for your Memory Work Board!

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As a tutor for Classical Conversations I prepare a white board with all of the new memory work on it each week. Carrying in a large white board every week (while trying to make sure that the information does not get wiped off!) was always a bit of a struggle. So this year, after coming across this tutorial, I decided to make my own dry erase tri-fold board. However, after I made it and wrote out the first week of memory work, classroom schedule, and presentation name schedule, I realized that it would be nice to have it be a bit larger. So, my engineer husband came to the rescue! What we ended up doing was adding on two additional “wings” that were each 1’x3’ just like the first wings that I had already attached. So now, instead of having a 4’x3’ board, I have a 6’x3’ board! Here…

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Getting out of the “rut”

Our week started out with both my husband and I in a funky mood and feelings of being “stuck in a rut.” When he voiced his feelings to me on Tuesday, I was near tears, as I felt the same way. After a good night at work and a good nap on Wednesday, I woke up rejuvenated and ready to tackle the world.
We were supposed to go to the pool that afternoon, but the baby decided he wanted to take a late nap. My middle son was pretty disappointed, but then I remembered the “rut”! I suggested an early dinner, which he helped me make, and going to the pool afterwards until closing time. “Can Daddy come?” was the response. Absolutely, I thought, and what better way to sneak in a dinner date than to have the kids play in the water, while we eat.
As we were enjoying our scrumptious taco salad pool side, I asked my husband if he still felt in a rut. “Nope, this is just what we needed, honey!”
Voila! Rut broken out of, moods improved, everybody happy!