Dissection – Middle School Science

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We did our first “real” dissection in science last week!! It was an earthworm. We have been using BJU science for the past 2 years an I love it. It’s super thorough and with the DVDs there’s a ton of amplification. As much as I love the guided teaching, I think labs are super important – so we try to do as many as we can.

As much as possible I like for the kids to do the labs -the selves – and not just watch them. I’m a snob. I think watching is watching, not doing. I’ll be totally honest, a lot we watched. 15 pots of soil with different contaminants added, grow for two weeks measuring daily – oh yeah – watched it!! Other really easy, self explanatory labs – observed. Celery in colored water…dissecting flowers…microscope work…Done! And, usually loved.

Deep into seventh grade Life Science is… Animal dissection. The bane of 7th grade for students and parents! LOL!! I wanted my kids to have this experience so last week we had our first real dissection lab!

To make life easy on me and raise the likelihood labs will get done, I buy the BJU kits from Homeschool Science Tools. Yes, IMHO, it’s overpriced. But, time is money and I don’t have the time to drive all over the place here (or in the big town an hour away) to gather supplies. If I want a lab done its got to be easy and on hand. I’ve found the kits to be worth the money.

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Back to dissection…

My method for this whole new phase is this – we do the lab alongside Mrs. Vick with the DVD running and pause as needed. It worked perfectly for the earthworm lab. We found everything in the worm, the pace was great, and there was no confusion. If you lack confidence in labs – this is the way to go!!

The lab itself was fascinating, but the kids reaction was priceless. Big LOVED it. She didn’t was to give up the scalpel. Vet school would not phase her… Little tolerated it. I was surprised since he’s such a dig-in kind of guy. Whether the my love it or not, I think it’s an important part of the learning experience and we’ll keep doing the labs.

In fact… next week is a frog!

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No Spend January – My Tea Lesson

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My latest No Spend January epiphany…

I love Sonic iced tea. I have a drink sticker so I could get route 44 drinks for 99ยข. Bonus! (I thought…)

Last week Big and I needed to buy a refill box of tea leaves for home, since there has been NO Sonic this month. We were appalled that a 48 bag (family size) box of decaf tea was $7.69.

Then I crunched numbers…

Sonic – 44oz of tea – likely more like 35oz with the ice – $.99

Home decaf – $0.16/liter (about 34 ounces)

Savings per drink – $.83
Drinks per day – 2
Savings per day – $1.66
Savings per month (roughly 25 days) – $41.00

Savings per year (based on 25 days and 12 months) – $492.00

The $7.69 a box, full price at the non-Walmart more expensive grocery store, is looking like a pretty good deal. I’m guessing with a coupon, a sale, or Sam’s I could find it for less than $7.69. So no need to give up my tea – I just need to do it smarter. ๐Ÿ™‚

Monday Morning

Monday, Monday… Today is a little bit of a rough Monday morning. Usually I LOVE Mondays and attack them with vigor, but today I’m not feeling well. I don’t know if its a cold or something more. I think today will be a day of rest and recovery. Hopefully this will pass soon.

One thing I find SUPER helpful in our homeschooling, sick or not (but MOST helpful when I’m not 100%), is a weekly school schedule. We get a ton more done when its written down and the kids can find “what’s next” without having to come find me. If we don’t have a list the time they need another assignment is usually when I go change, or shower, so there’s a huge gap between subjects. Then, the school day will drag and drag. The schedule eliminates a lot of that dead time.

When the kids were younger I made my own schedule in excel. I aimed for Saturday, but more often every Monday morning, to fill in our weekly assignments. I’d take a quick look at what we did the previous week, what scheduled events we had, and plug in our work. When we worked through assignments I’d highlight them to mark them as done.

Last year I switched over to using Homeschool Tracker Plus. I’m starting to see that I will, at some point, need to track our stuff and generate resumes and transcripts. After researching I felt HST+ would help with that the most effectively. It will do it all – but there is a fairly steep learning curve. I wish many of its features were easier to use and more intuitive, but it does the job. I love that I can download some schedules, as well as save ones I make for Big for Little to use later. It’s pretty handy and I’m glad I took the plunge.

Now, every Monday morning I print a schedule for the kids. I make sure (sometimes even before I print!) that the correct assignments are in grids and that what we did last week matches the schedule. I regularly have to tweak and update, but it’s worth it.

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Once the schedule is printed it goes on our schedule board. I used to put it in the kid’s notebooks, but this way it’s easier for me to have a completed work list and transcript tracker. When the kids complete an assignment they highlight it. Highlighted means done, and done well. I love having the list posted in an easy spot to see – its so much easier to get a visual on where we are in the day, and it’s motivating. By Friday I love seeing this:

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One other bonus of the schedule – independence. The kids love managing their work and with the list there is substantially less nagging. “What’s left on your list?”, is usually the only thing I need to say to help the kids get back on track. It’s awesome!!

Homemaking Tuesday – $0.54 Breakfast for 4

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I don’t like breakfast. I know it’s the most important meal of the day, but it’s a hassle to plan and execute. It seems like I make the same things everyday. We’re not cereal people, (I’m too cheap to pay for milk that gets thrown out), so I stick with muffins, coffee cake, fruit, and the occasional scrambled eggs.

I fairly recently came upon a new recipe that we LOVE! Popovers!!

Cheap! Easy! Filling! Protein! Stuff that’s on hand!!

Does it get better??

POPOVERS
Mix together:
2 eggs ($0.20)
1 cup milk ($0.23)
(Better at room temperature)

Sift in:
1 cup flour ($0.10)
1/2 t. Salt ($0.01)

Stir until combined, but not super smooth. Don’t over mix.

Preheat oven to 425.

Spray down a muffin pan (I don’t have a “popover pan” and while I LOVE all things kitcheny, you really don’t need one). I usually get 10-11 popovers from this recipe. Fill 1/2 full.

Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes, then turn oven to 350 and bake another 12-15. My oven runs hot so I go 12, and then 13-14.

These are great with butter and jam or lemon curd. Delicious!! I will say, I don’t care for them cold, but the kids do, so it’s all good!

Cost – $0.54 for breakfast for 4. Add in some fruit and milk and you’re set!!

Shrimp Scampi!!!

So the dudes were gone tonight. Little had a Scout camp out and DH was working. That left Big and me home alone, which can only mean one thing…

GIRL’S NIGHT!!

This morning I refereed three basketball games, and then watched Little’s game. After the game we all drove to drop Little and his bud off at camp. Big and I went for some snacks (within budget ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and then we headed back home. Since then it’s been COUCH DAY!!

I took a nap. YUM and much needed after basketball! I was worn out! LOL!!

We watched a ton of Phineas and Ferb. LOVE IT!

And Big made me an awesome dinner – Pioneer Woman’s Shrimp Scampi . It was FABULOUS. I’m not a huge seafood person – but I practically licked my plate. It was insane. She has mad skills.

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So now we’re back to chilling. More
P&F… A little Law and Order for me (headphones and the iPad)… Reading online… Warm puppy dogs…

A perfect girl’s day!

Iced Coffee

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I love iced coffee. Love. When I was a kid my mom would drink iced coffee and I would think it was so disgusting! LOL!!! I’ve never been a huge hot coffee person, but every morning I drink an iced coffee.

I have a Keurig machine and used to use that for my morning coffee. I’d stick a pod in, stick a large cup of ice under it, an brew. When it was done I’d pour in my flavored creamer and be done. It was quick, easy, tasty.

Then…

My sister RAVED about the Aeropress. “Buy the Aeropress”, she said. “You need an Aeropress”, she droned on… for about a year.

In December I relented. At the local coffee shop they had them, and I’m a big fan of shopping local, so I sprung the $30.

If you drink ice coffee – BUY ONE.

Today.

It’s amazing!! The Aeropress is like a French press, but no residue, no sludge, SUPER easy to clean up, and cheap filters. It takes, after heating the water, 20 seconds to make coffee. The coffee is dark and rich – but with no bitterness. Yumtastic!!

For a cost comparison, here goes:

K-cup (I use 2/day) – $1.00/day
Aeropress (25 g for a double iced coffee) – $0.72/day

It’s so weird to cost it out because at $13/pound for great locally roasted coffee, it’s still cheaper than a Keurig iced coffee. I would not have thought that!! This morning I made a Keurig cup to compare, and honestly, the Aeropress blew it away. And really, is there anything better than the smell of a newly opened bag of fresh roasted coffee!? I love that and I’m so happy to inhale as much scent as I can every morning!

So there you go! Awesome, cheaper, fast iced coffee. What’s not to love?