2021 Spelling Bee

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My children have been participanting in the BHEA Spelling Bee since 2015, I think. BHEA stands for Blount Home Education Association – a homeschool support group in a county other than our own. But, such is life. There is no homeschool group in Sevier County that runs a spelling bee, as far as I know.

Spelling Bee 2021

Spelling Bee 2021 Participants

We are also members of the Cedar Springs Homeschool Support Group in Knoxville. They used to run a Spelling Bee, but not anymore. They have shifted their focus to science. Continue reading »


Our Weekly Bread: 15 of 36

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This week, we made dinner rolls. Just like that, I got tired of buying dinner rolls from the frozen section. We do not usually get them anyway. But for a big celebration like Thanksgiving or Christmas, we like to have dinner rolls on the table. We buy wheat rolls, which makes us feel like we make an effort towards health. However, I feel like we should step it up a notch.

Dinner Rolls

Dinner rolls, fresh out of the oven

Enter this recipe for dinner rolls I shall tell you about. I have had this recipe in a cookbook somebody gave me when I graduated from college. Ah, the good old days when people gave me cookbooks for a graduation gift. Continue reading »


Our Weekly Bread: 13 of 36

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The garlic knots were a success. The kids wanted to make them again the following week. This time, my daughter insisted we make them into “croissants.” What you do is you get the dough split into several pieces. Then, you rub them into long “snakes.” As you twist the long, thin pieces, you bring them together into a circle. They look really good.

Dough

Our daughter shaping the dough into “croissants”

I wanted to at least provide a variation on the same theme. Therefore, I proposed we use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. They came out delicious.

The crust got a bit more crunchy, but the inside was still fluffy. That’s a nice contrast to have in a pastry, of course.

Croissants

Our garlic “croissants”

This time, I chopped the garlic instead of crushing it. It made it easier to spread over the croissants.

I read that you can freeze the dough or the finished product. Here’s the thing: we eat this whole recipe in one sitting. What has leftovers to freeze? Maybe I should triple the recipe and then just freeze the dough. But we are not that kind of family. We make it, we eat it, no leftovers.


Our Weekly Bread: 11 of 36

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This week, we used the sourdough starter to make sourdough bread. When you have a bread machine, you skip all the kneading. It only took ten minutes to measure ingredients into the machine and push start. Three hours later, we had this amazing bread loaf which everybody loved. I tried a little piece to see if I will react to the gluten. Since I did not, the next day I had a bigger piece. So far, so good.

Sourdough bread

The kids and I made this sourdough bread.

Next time I make it, I will use bread flour, just to see the difference. This first time, I used all-purpose flour. The recipe allows for either, or. Continue reading »


Math Options – Facebook Live

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After our camping trip, I found I had no time for the weekly Facebook Live event. Sorry I missed my weekly rendez-vous live with you all last week. So this week I spent over 20 minutes talking live. The topic? Math options.

Math Mammoth

Our favorite math curriculum, Math Mammoth.

Love it or hate it, math is essential. I happen to love it. My kids like math. Like reading, the more you do it, the more you love it. Continue reading »


Camping Trip

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We went camping last weekend, with some friends I had met 25 years ago, when we were in college together. It is so much fun to reunite with college buddies and catch up. Now we are all parents of (almost) teenagers. Such a new experience!

Catching Frogs

Catching frogs was one of the things they did in nature while camping.

My friends found a private campground called Blackberry Blossom, in Unicoi County, still in Tennessee. The campground is located 45 minutes away from Roan Mountain State Park and Cherokee National Forest, where you can pick up a part of the Appalachian Trail. In fact, the highest point of the Appalachian Trail happens to be there, at the trail head, and we took a picture in front of it. Continue reading »



Great Words, Great Works

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Great Words, Great Works represent a list of books, compiled by the National Spelling Bee organizers. These books contain the 450 words which make up the School Level Word List. The organizers have picked these books for their literary value, engaging plots, and vocabulary.

Spelling Bee Titles

Three titles from the list put together by the National Spelling Bee

The book list, just like the word list, changes every year. This year, they released the list earlier, due to the quarantine. Proactive parents would do well to get these books for their kids as soon as possible.

One thing stays the same: the books are organized by grade and even the first grade books present challenging words. The point is, read them all. Even if you have children in 5th grade and 7th grade, like I will have next school year, you should read them all. Continue reading »


Lessons from the 24th Week

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This was THE week we have been prepping for since August – Spelling Bee week. We also traveled to Nashville for TeenPact One Day, a political workshop for homeschooled children. In addition, we had another Science Olympiad practice in Knoxville, for Circuit Lab. Last but not least, the orchestra practice competition started this week.

TeenPact 2020

TeenPact 2020

Our son decided to practice a lot more than what he usually does. Well, when you go out of town for two days, you cannot meet practice goals. He is learning that our goals must meet the reality of the schedule. He has three more weeks when he can strive for the same goal though. Continue reading »


Lessons from the 23rd Week

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We spent three days out of the classroom this week. Even though I know learning happens, it makes me nervous to not have “school” done with books, at home, in our regular habitat.

One day, we went hiking with our friends from Wild + Free Great Smoky Mountains. Another day, I had to take my son to Knoxville for Science Olympiad practice (Write It, Do It). And yet another day, my husband drove all of us to Knoxville again, so that our daughter can test her latest boomilever with her coach, while our son met with his partner for Mission Possible to schedule the next move.

Icicle

Now that’s an icicle!

Lots of learning happened, of course, but, at my core, I am not an unschooling, carschooling, relaxed homeschooling type of mama. It makes me nervous that we are not progressing through our books.

We attend church in Knoxville, too, so this means we drove two hours round trip four times in one week. People commute like this every day for work, but I am glad we do not have to do it regularly.

The hardest thing we did this week (besides driving to Knoxville four times) was hiking in 36F. That’s 2 C if you are wondering. Just above freezing. We got warmed up as we went along, but the picnic was tough. We ate in a hurry and left.

Icicle Flag

My daughter found an icicle flag.

The kids have fun on these hikes and that’s what keeps me going for more. Also, I enjoy the fellowship with like-minded mamas. I won’t pretend I do not need these hikes for my own soul. All in all, we had a good week.