Thanksgiving 2017

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Did you have a good Thanksgiving celebration? We did. We stayed home and I prepared Quorn turkey (vegetarian, gluten free, soy free), gluten free dressing, cashew gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, sauteed broccoli, cranberry salad, bread sticks, and pumpkin pie (gluten free, dairy free).

Thanksgiving dinner with friends

Thanksgiving dinner with friends

I thought of making a salad, but I got too lazy. So I just cut up some Campari tomatoes and they got consumed. I know. I should make more of an effort with salad, but we just had so much going on, it was hard to get motivated. Continue reading »

We also had a few other dishes, but there was no room on the table, so we left them for another meal. I had made zucchini bread, corn bread, and this Romanian cabbage dish that is one of my fondest childhood memories. Anyway.

Flock of wild turkeys

On the way to piano lessons, a flock of wild turkeys crossed the street in front of us.

We ate. We had fun with friends. The four of us and three friends, a homeschooling mama and her two children. Her husband had to work that day, so we were happy to have them over and share Thanksgiving with them. Our kids play together well despite the age difference and it is always nice to have them over.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the kids and I worked on felt turkey crafts. A few years ago, I saw it on this blog, but it never worked out for us to put it together. Somehow this was the year when it finally happened for us.

It was very time-consuming, but worth it. The kids wanted to learn how to sew a basic stitch and how to sew buttons. They did some of the sewing and most of the cutting.

Felt turkey

Our son’s turkey

Even though our felt turkeys are not perfect, we like them a lot. It was a whole day of arts and crafts. It stressed me out. In a way, it was good for me, because it forced me to stay away from regular textbooks and our normal routine.

It’s good to shake things up a bit and teach the kids some handcrafts and sewing skills. That’s just as much learning as anything.

Felt turkey

Our daughter’s turkey

We also read some books this week – three from the library and two from our own shelves. They were all fun, but I always cry when we read Squanto. The kids already know and they ask me, “Will you cry again?” before we start.

Thanksgiving books

We own Squanto and Turkey Trouble. The other three titles are from the library.

On the way to our piano lessons, a flock of turkeys crossed the street in front of us. We thought they were really cute and took pictures of them. It was a fitting scene for our Thanksgiving celebration this week.


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.


Thoughtful Thursday Week 48 – Give Thanks

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To celebrate Thanksgiving, we went to Asheville, NC. The Omni Grove Park Inn serves a Thanksgiving Grand Buffet, plus one can take a look at the Top 10 National Gingerbread House Competition creations for 2015. Here are some pictures for you…

National Gingerbread House Competition

 

National Gingerbread House Competition

 

National Gingerbread House Competition Continue reading »

National Gingerbread House Competition

 

Omni Grove Park Inn, Thanksgiving Buffet

The four of us in front of the Omni Grove Park Inn, Thanksgiving 2015

 

National Gingerbread House Competition

 

National Gingerbread House Competition

National Gingerbread House Competition

 


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 46 – Thanksgiving Holiday

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That’s it, folks! No more school for the next seven days. I am declaring a Thanksgiving Holiday this week. I need to catch up on housework, writing deadlines and editing my new book, 101 Tips for Kindergarten at Home. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to get it out, but it’s a great lesson. Our plans get interrupted by life. And we all know that life is what happens while you are busy making other plans…

mom monday wk46

I spoke with another homeschooling mom who shared the same dilemma: how do you get it all done? If you focus on housework, school work will lag behind. If you keep all the school assignments up to date, your house starts looking like a tornado just went through and the laundry piles turn into small hills.

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Which reminds me of a humorous incident online a few years ago, when I was contemplating homeschooling. I joined a few Yahoo support groups for different types of homeschoolers and asked the question, “Is it really efficient? Can you really get school work done in the morning? If so, why do I hear that a lot of homeschooling moms give up because of dust bunnies?”

I got some clever answers which were avoiding the real issue, i.e. that homeschoolers are super-busy and school is rarely finished in the morning. I suppose nobody had the courage to say, “Hang on to your hat! You will be super-busy!”

The wittiest answer I received was, “You will not get done in the morning because you and your kids will have so much fun, you will not want to stop.” I appreciate framing the issue that way. How much fun am I having vs. Let’s get school out of the way so we can have fun. I really do. I learned a lot from that exchange.

And, may I just say, from talking to friends who put their children in public or private school, they are busy too. So busy, they have to tell their children to choose only one extra-curricular activity. If you are contemplating homeschooling or getting discouraged by it, remember that the grass is NOT greener on the other side. Life is crazy busy no matter how you school your children.

If you are looking for French Thanksgiving vocabulary, – and who isn’t? – I wrote about it here. If you want a Thanksgiving unit study lesson plan for elementary kids, click here.

With that, let me say Happy Thanksgiving to you! I hope you have lots of fun with family and friends, eat yummy food and count your blessings, for they are many.


2013 National Gingerbread House Competition

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We took two days off from homeschool to celebrate Thanksgiving, but does learning ever stop?

Ice Sculpture Pilgrims, Grove Park Inn

Ice Sculpture Pilgrims, Grove Park Inn

What if we took a trip to a hotel that has been around for 100 years – where we saw a 1914 Ford T-model and where the likes of Thomas Edison, John Ford and many politicians and celebrities have stayed? Would that qualify as a field trip?

The main lobby features two giant fire places - The Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC

The main lobby features two giant fire places – The Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC

Thanksgiving Day found us at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. My husband’s family came there to meet us and we enjoyed a great feast.

Grove Park Inn Icesculpture

The banquet hall featured ice sculptures such as this one.

We also got to walk around this century-old establishment to admire the 2013 National Gingerbread House Competition Top 10 winners in four different categories: Adult, Youth, Teen and Child. I wish you could smell the gingerbread. Enjoy the pictures!

Gingerbread House

 

Gingerbread House - Top 10 Finalist

Gingerbread House

Gingerbread House - Grove Park Inn

Gingerbread House - Grove Park Inn

Gingerbread House, National Competition

Gingerbread House, North Carolina

Gingerbread House, Grove Park Inn Exhibition

Of course, we spent a few minutes gazing at the Grand Prize Winner – two adorable Panda bears chewing into their bamboo sticks.

National Gingerbread House Competition Grand Prize

Holding my daughter as we look at the 2013 National Gingerbread House Competition Grand Prize

Before we left, we looked for the outdoor fire place and we found it. We also found this adorable teddybear.

Children with Sleigh, Teddybear

Our children posed in front of the outdoor fireplace, with an oversized sleigh and teddybear – The Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC

I feel very tempted to put this down as a homeschool field trip, but I won’t. It will go down in our family history as a family trip and a Thanksgiving celebration.


French Friday, Thanksgiving Vocabulary

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In the United States, we just celebrated Thanksgiving – a harvest feast of giving thanks for all the bounty of the land and for the goodness of God toward us. You probably took a Thanksgiving break in your homeschool. We did.

Even though they do not celebrate Thanksgiving in France, imagine explaining to a Frenchman about this American holiday. You would need some specific terms, wouldn’t you? So let’s learn some Thanksgiving vocabulary in French. Click on the link below the picture to open a PDF with printable flash cards.

Thanksgiving vocabulary in French

French Thanksgiving

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving celebration!

For more posts in the French Friday series, please click here.

À bientôt!


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?


Thanksgiving and Homeschooling

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This time of the year, I reminisce about how, just before Thanksgiving, when my son was one, my heart told me I would homeschool. I did not understand it right then. Hindsight is 20/20. But I should have seen it coming, this desire to homeschool. I should have known it was going to grow and take over my life like few things have conquered me.

You see, five years ago, I scoured the Internet for “Thanksgiving crafts.” I made a list of supplies and bought them dutifully. My son watched me as I printed, measured, cut and pasted construction paper. Of course he could not help. He was one. I made this:

Pilgrim Boy Thanksgiving Craft

Pilgrim boy Thanksgiving craft I made in 2008

A pilgrim boy. I also printed out two Indian children – a boy and a girl – for him to color. Hopefully, they are in the box of early craft projects I decided to keep. My son grabbed the crayon and scribbled all over the coloring page like only a one-year-old can. I felt so proud.

That should have been my first clue that I wanted to homeschool. No preacher or friend pressured me into it. Alas, I don’t read my own heart-directed actions well. At the time, staying home with my child for a few years seemed like the most I could do before running back into the work force. I grew up thinking that exchanging my skills for money was the only dignified way to live my life. Motherhood fulfilled me, but I was programmed to want a career, too.

I discovered that the more time I spent with my son, the less I wanted to leave him. Then, I felt the desire for a second child. We welcomed our daughter and, by then, the little bud, my desire to teach my own, had grown into a plant I could not ignore. And yet, I did. I pushed it to the side, sleep-deprived and up to my knees in diapers and bibs.

The pilgrim boy graced our Thanksgiving table every year. I protected it from chubby hands by placing it on top of a book shelf the rest of the time. It collected dust. I felt it held a secret message, a prediction for the future, but I was not ready for it.

Two years ago, the plant – my desire to homeschool – had become a small tree. God asked me to stop pretending like it did not exist. I researched homeschooling thoroughly. The pilgrim boy craft, with its enigmatic smile, revealed its secret.

I will always treasure this Thanksgiving craft because it was the first inkling my heart gave me that my children have turned a PDA-wielding professional into a craft-seeking, cut-and-paste project preschool teacher. At home. The other grades will come in due time. Wait. Kindergarten already has. We are still at home. I would not have it any other way. This post has been linked to Blog and Tell with @hsbapost Show us your Orange