Happy Thanksgiving 2016!

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This year, we stayed home and played host and hostess to a small group made up of family and friends. There were ten of us around the table, including the four of us. Viewed differently, there were six adults and four children.

Thanksgiving plate

Thanksgiving yummy food

I made Quorn vegetarian turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green beans, fresh salad with greens, tomatoes and petite sweet peppers, cashew gravy, five-minute cranberry relish, corn and dinner rolls (bought frozen). For dessert, I made pumpkin pie, white cake with cream cheese frosting and crustless cranberry pecan pie. We drank apple cider.

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If you decide to try the cranberry relish from the link above, which is from Forks Over Knives, you should not add the orange zest from both oranges. Maybe just the zest from one orange. I found it too bitter and then I had to add more dates to take away the bitterness and the cranberries got overpowered by the date taste and texture. Don’t say I did not tell you.

My mother-in-law brought turkey and dressing made with animal fat for those around the table who were not of the vegetarian persuasion. Food is an emotional issue for most people and I have no desire to change anybody’s lifestyle. I live my life and hopefully everybody else can let me be just as I let them be.

At Thanksgiving, you will not persuade anybody to change their diet, religion or politics anyway. So we chose hospitality and kindness, as we always do, and we didn’t make a big deal out of our differences. We have told the children not to say anything bad about other people’s food choices. We respect everybody’s freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness in their way.

My children love animals so much, they have never asked to taste meat, in case you wonder. In fact, as we are now going through the Little House in the Prairie series, they are getting the picture that living in the big woods or on the prairie included eating a lot of wild animals. They don’t like it. They are thankful we don’t have to live off of animals shot by somebody.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is about the Pilgrims, good food, and gathering my husband and children around the table. I love feeding them.

This year, we turned on the TV for the first time so they could watch Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in New York City and then a bit from the dog show. It’s an American thing and they need to know some of these symbols of Americana. I liked the song about kindness – I forget which show it is from, but my son picked up on it and told me later on about it. I know they learned a lot as they watched the parade.


Mom Monday Week 47 – Thanksgiving Every Day

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The idea of taking one day out of the year to eat well and think about what you are thankful for really, really appeals to me. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, if not THE most favorite. I like the Thanksgiving menu and the whole idea behind the holiday. I think about the Pilgrims and what they had to go through – can you tell I am an immigrant? I know the feeling of looking back on my first year in a foreign country (Sweden and then the US) and knowing God’s protection and blessing has been upon me.

Thanksgiving Everyday

Having said all that, Thanksgiving should happen every day, in my opinion. Personally, I have chosen to write down ten gifts I already have in my life – every day. It’s a great reminder to walk away from discontentment and into the attitude of gratitude.

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Because, let me tell you, I need reminders. I forget how blessed I am. Freedom of speech, for instance. Here I am, blogging away, whatever I want to say, whenever I want to say it. It’s hard to believe that for the first 15 years of my life I lived in a Communist country where media censorship happened by definition.

How about health? Sunshine? Food? Shelter? An Internet connection – access to lots of information which could only be accessed at the library a few years ago? So many things to be thankful for.

Now what about sickness? Rain? Being laid off? Do you have the faith to trust that seemingly negative events in your life will turn into blessings later on? You see, everything can be seen as a positive element. It only takes faith.


Mom Monday Week 30 – Ripe Raspberries

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Sometimes you just need to eat raspberries slowly to wake up to the sanctity of the now. Ripe, juicy, sweet, tart, red raspberries.

I am reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Finally. I have been circling and circling around this book, avoiding it because it is a New York Times Bestselling Book. Sometimes bestsellers disappoint me. So I did not have the courage to pick it up.

But then, thankfulness seems to be the answer to all my questionings.  Continue reading »

I am reading Ms. Voskamp’s book and I am blessed. I am learning to slow down.

I have been so busy this summer. Why? I don’t know.

mom monday wk30

This is a new experience for me. Summers have always meant really, really hot and slow days. Slow. Not this summer. Soccer camp, zoo outings, violin lessons, Safety City, swim lessons, summer reading programs, reading to the kids, starting a history curriculum, finishing up my second book, Alliance Française meetings, Maker Faire…

We did not even attend everything we wanted to. For the first time since I became a mother, I missed VBS. What?? That’s right. We had a conflict with another event we had signed up for before they announced the VBS dates.

I have yet to make it to the Heritage Center in Townsend where they have amazing workshops for children in the morning. I also would have liked to take them to the Museum of Art. No chance.

Why this busyness? Maybe because they are older and we find more programs suitable for them.

“…urgent means slow… the most urgent necessitates a slow and steady reverence,” writes Ann Voskamp. “Life at its fullest is this sensitive, detonating sphere, and it can be carried only in the hands of the unhurried and reverential – a bubble held in awe.”

And so I started turning people down when they asked me to teach another class (I already teach four) or when they asked me to show them real estate (I still have a license, but don’t use it much).

Because classes to teach will always be there and real estate will always be there, but my children are only small once. I plan on shedding some of my other responsibilities later this year, when my tenure comes to an end. I believe in being responsible and finishing up a job started.

But I want to live life slowly. More slowly than what we are doing now.

Are you in awe at ripe raspberries this morning? Are you taking it slowly?


Thanksgiving Unit Study, PreK-K

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Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you will leave me a comment below about the things you are most thankful for. Among other things, I am thankful for the United States of America – this greatest experiment in the history of human civilization. Without this country, we would not know what life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness mean. In our homeschool, we took three days to study about Thanksgiving.

First, we did some crafts, coloring pages, math unit studies and other activities from this list:

Children doing Thanksgiving crafts at the table

My children doing crafts at the table

Girl cuts a turkey craft for Thanksgiving

My daughter enjoyed the crafts, which gives me energy to bring craft time back more often

Boy cuts a Thanksgiving turkey craft

My son cut lots of feathers, and even helped his sister a bit

Little girl with Thanksgiving turkey crafts

Brother did not have the patience to sit through a photo shoot with the paper roll turkeys, but he made one of these

  • Cute Turkey Buttoning and Matching Color Activity (Preschool) – This will have to wait until next week when I can get supplies. I was going to buy them the day before Thanksgiving, but we got snowed in.
Girl playing with snow

My daughter taking advantage of a snow day

Enjoying our first snow day of the year

My son enjoying our first snow day

  • Even Cuter Turkey Buttoning and Color Matching Activity (Preschool)
  • Cardboard Turkey – This website inspired me to make my own turkey craft. Homeschooling moms are allowed to make their own crafts, aren’t they?
Turkey Craft I made just because I felt inspired. But then, I realized it inspired the kids to see their mom cut and paint.

Turkey Craft I made just because I felt inspired. But then, I realized it inspired the kids to see their mom cut and paint.

Boy making Thanksgiving Craft

This particular Thanksgiving craft personalized the holiday when we wrote what they were thankful for on every feather of the turkey

Small girl cutting paper with pink scissors

More than anything, my daughter loved cutting paper in small bits

Little girl with Thanksgiving turkey craft

She is thankful for Jesus, good food, birthday cakes, her brother, snow and the Titanic

Boy with Thanksgiving turkey craft

Thankful for snow, sun, sister, parents, God’s power, and evergreens

We learned/sang some Thanksgiving songs:

Then, we read these books:

            • Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving
            • Turkey Trouble
            • One Tough Turkey
            • Happy Thanksgiving, Biscuit (still to get)

Finally, the children watched some videos:

  • A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving – 25 minutes. It’s such a classic piece of Americana. They liked the silly parts and how Snoopy set the table. Later that day, when daddy came home, they set a Thanksgiving table with their toy kitchen set, complete with a tablecloth (daddy’s coat) and referenced how Snoopy tied the corners of the tablecloth. One of the characters uses bad language once and I had to explain to the kids we don’t talk that way. Also, that they will meet people who talk that way and we should love them as Jesus does and pray for them and respect them.
  • Plimoth Plantation and Scholastic Virtual Field Trip – 5 minutes of skipping around the video, to see different characters present their lives. It’s a longer documentary, for upper elementary grades, too boring for my kids. The Google Earth presentation of the Mayflower itinerary fascinated them and reminded them of the Titanic’s attempt at crossing the Atlantic. I would have never put the two together. It seems our Titanic visit and its wall map showing the intended itinerary over the ocean is still fresh in their minds.
  • Mayflower movie trailer – 1 minute.
Little girl sweeps the floor

She made most of the mess and was willing to clean it up.

Teaching a Thanksgiving unit study inspires me because I know from experience what it is like to move countries. While growing up in Communist Romania, I used to listen to The Voice of America – a forbidden activity. Their broadcast about Thanksgiving has stayed with me ever since. Who would have thought I would end up in the USA, homeschooling my American children and teaching them about Thanksgiving?


Our First Official Homeschool Break

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We homeschool for six weeks and take a week off. Many veteran homeschoolers have recommended this schedule as a sanity preserver, so I am going with the voice of experience. We have homeschooled now for six weeks and this is the first official school break in our home. It’s exciting.

I thought this would be the week when I finally finish some writing projects and can applesauce, but I have all kinds of other appointments which I was not planning on. On top of that, our monthly Ripley’s Aquarium science class happens to be this week and we still have another session of our Adventurer Club to attend before we take a two-week break from that…

Looks like learning will happen despite the break from the 3Rs.

The curve ball is the bug my daughter has been fighting for a few days now and which has transferred to my son today.

Speaking of my son, I asked him to sweep the floor after lunch and he did a great job. I still had to sweep a bit after him in places, but he has made a lot of progress since last week. He was proud of what he accomplished. After he missed the trash can though, he got discouraged. He asked me to sweep up the mess. I told him that he was still learning and encouraged him not to give up. He was still negative, but stood there and watched me sweep.

After I cleaned up the trash can area, he came back to me asking me to let him try dumping the dust pan again. He did not miss this time. I felt he was growing right there before my eyes, not just in home ec. skills, but also in attitude towards work and in his self-image.

Work is an important component of the Moore Formula (besides academics and service). I think children learn so much by working and performing chores around the house.

As I look up, I thank God for every day I am able to stay home and teach the kids.

As I look up, I thank God for every day I am able to stay home and teach the kids.

When we visited their grandmother in the hospital over the weekend (that falls under service, by the way), my son narrated a whole book to her of his own free will – Curious George Gets a Job. (Narration is a Charlotte Mason method.)

Of all the books we have read to him recently, he thought of that one because George broke his leg and had to wear a cast – like grandmother, who fell and broke her leg, and has to wear a cast now.

My daughter sang I’m a Super Sleuth – which she learned in church recently – also of her own free will. Children are so good at comforting others. They are natural at it.

I feel so blessed to be able to stay home with them and teach them and watch them grow and learn.

Homeschooling blesses me just as much as it blesses them. Which is why, when I look up at the sky, I thank God for my life. How did I get to be so lucky?