pinterest-dd591.htm Oak Creek Academy: September 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wowsers! End of the Month Already?!?

Hard to believe it is the end of the month already. Where has time gone? How have we use up almost 30 complete days already?  In this month there has been:

  • 5 Saturdays
  • 5 Sundays
  • 1 holiday
  • 19 school days
  • 2 birthdays
  • 1 extended family dinner
  • 6 baseball games
  • 1 weekend Boy Scout camping trip
  • 5 baseball practices
  • 2 co-ops
  • 1 flat tire
  • 1 trip to Salvation Army for donations
  • 1 trip to Haz Mat (I really don't like those CFL bulbs!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • 1 Mom's Meeting
  • 5 Sunday services
  • 3 times to play bass guitar
  • 1 date night & not having to pay for childcare
  • 15 therapy sessions
  • 9 Tae Kwon Doe meeting times with anywhere from 1 to 3 classes taken each time
  • 4 Boy Scout Meetings
  • 2 dental appointments
  • countless grocery shopping trips
And that, dear readers, is a wrap for September.  Good night and bring on October!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Delight, Passion, & School ~ WHAT?

1. A high degree of pleasure, or satisfaction of mind; joy. His delight is in the law of the Lord. Ps. 1. 2. That which gives great pleasure; that which affords delight. Titus was the delight of human kind. I was daily his delight. Prov. 8. 
Delight is a more permanent pleasure than joy, and not dependent on sudden excitement.
 DRIVEN, pp. Drivn. [from drive.] Urged forward by force; impelled to move; constrained by necessity.
Are there things in life that you delight in?  Things you are driven to accomplish?  Activities that you wish you could just linger over for hours and not have to switch gears?

Could it be reading? Playing bass or guitar or some other instrument?  Do you like to linger in the yarn section of a craft store?

These activities are so much more enjoyable than other activities because they do bring a certain amount of pleasure and joy.  I'd venture to say that even when there is a difficult aspect to something we delight in doing, we are able to keep at the task for longer and see the task to completion.  The challenge does not seem insurmountable.

 It stands to reason, then, that delight driven, when applied to a school setting, would be an urge or movement toward seeking out those things that bring a satisfaction of mind; that which affords pleasure.

If you've heard of "unschooling", you might wonder what the similarities and difference between the two is.  To me, the distinction is very subtle.  Both are similar in that there is a passion, an interest, a desire to learn or figure something out.  Both still have some degree of parental input and help!  It is this degree that is subtle difference.

In delight driven, the parent may be asking question such as "What would you like to read and learn about?", "what is the most unusual thing you can think of to research and write about?", "what will get you excited to read?", or "how about we brainstorm to come up with some fun things to investigate?".

It's my understanding that, in unschooling, the child directs the learning, the passion, what to read or do next.  Wikipedia, says something similar (check out link for more info):
Unschooling is a range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including play, game play, household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum. Unschooling is controversial.[1] Unschooling encourages exploration of activities, often initiated by the children themselves, facilitated by the adults. Unschooling differs from conventional schooling principally in the thesis that standard curricula and conventional grading methods, as well as other features of traditional schooling, are counter productive to the goal of maximizing the education of each child.
Here at Oak Creek Academy, we are leaning more toward the delight driven.  We take advantage of the public library, the internet, the folks we know, and the boys sheer curiosity to help them learn.  We try to read up, so that we can answer their questions that seem to come out of left field.  We'll admit when we don't know, but will do our best to find the answer.  When they struggle with something in math or grammar, we do our best to get it figured out and apply it to the real world so that our kids will have a better understanding of why said topic is relevant to learning and life.

Parting thoughts ~ regardless of where your child attends school, is there something they are crazy curious about?  Is it something you and your child can investigate together?  Is it a small spark you can ignite and let the flame grow into a huge passion?  Could this passion direct their choice in careers alter in life?

Just a thought!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Syrup ~ Is it worth it?

There was a time, not so long ago, that I would buy everything from the grocery store, blindly.  If it is sold there, it can't be harmful for me right?

I am learning, bit by bit, that just because the FDA says something is okay to consume, does not mean your or my body knows how to handle it or digest it.  There are many additives, stabilizers, food colorings, artificial sweeteners, etc that reek havoc on our bodies.  Making the switch to single ingredient foods or making from scratch is difficult and can be time consuming, at first.  However, I am finding it is worth the effort and the taste of the food is so much better.

This brings me to today's post ~ Homemade Chocolate Syrup, is it worth it?  In one simple word ~  YES!  A brief history here.  I have often been disappointed in the taste of Hershey Syrup!  It never tasted as good as I would have hoped, there was a lingering after taste that was not chocolate.
I've seen on Pinterest a couple different Homemade Chocolate Syrups and decided to make one this morning.  After it had cooled, ever so slightly, Thing One and I had chocolate milk.  I was so excited to actually taste chocolate, to have a chocolate aftertaste.  If we weren't in major need of more milk, I would have gone back for seconds!

The recipe I followed, from here, called for the following items:
  •  1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup water
  • dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
That is it folks!  5 items and you can easily pronounce each word.  Here are the directions:
  •  in a small saucepan, add sugar, cocoa, and salt.  
  • whisk together gently.  
  • add water.  
  • bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.  
  • reduce heat and cook 1 minute.  
  • remove from heat and add vanilla.  
  • cool.  
  • store in the refrigerator.
The taste is so worth the minimal time and effort.  Another fun aspect, I get to use a mason jar!

Quick quiz - How many ingredients in the homemade version?  Did you remember five?  Awesome, that is correct.  Now for the list of ingredients for Hershey Syrup:
  1. high fructose corn syrup
  2. corn syrup
  3. water
  4. cocoa
  5. sugar
  6. potassium sorbate
  7. salt
  8. mono and diglycerides
  9. xanthan gum
  10. polysorbate 60
  11. vanillin, artifical flavor
Most of the items (6 of them, just over half), I recognize and know basically what they are.  If there is a link, I wasn't sure and had to look up.  Other than the vanillin, all seem to be used to help keep the items mixed well; oil and water were a common example of what needed to stay mixed.  Potassium Sorbate is used to preserve the food or give it a long shelf life.  It is also chemically made, not a naturally occurring item.  Does that make you wonder what it is doing to your body?

Keeping the homemade version in a mason jar, will allow for a quick shake to keep things mixed just nicely.  We also don't need items in this to allow for a long shelf life since it will most likely be consumed quickly.  Also, the individual items, when separate, have a decent shelf life.

Will you allow yourself about 5 minutes to make something homemade?  You might just like this version better!


Craziness of Life

Life sure can get turned upside down at times!  Moving along just fine and something hits that sends many ripples or huge waves it seems.

No huge waves here!  Just days of lots of activities, eyes needing new glasses and feeling tired all day as a result, school, and MAJOR catch-up on things that have not been maintained well.

Love when MAJOR things get tamed down!  It feels good to dive in, with determination, and get the job done.  The one thing I have been working on, might just be finished in a couple days or so!  Woo Hoo!

Other MaJoR tasks around here still (by room sort of):
  • utility room (workbench, craft supplies, seasonal stuff, etc.)
  • kitchen cabinets (all those blind cabinets and little ones up high over fridge that hold stuff we just don't use)
  • closet shelves (clothes and toys)
  • books (don't throw rocks at me!  We have some that just have not been read ever, I think, or are reference guides we just don't need)
  • miscellaneous piles of paper
  • under beds/desks/tables
How often do you purge your house?  Yes, we know A LOT of transient military folks, this question is geared to non-military, non-moving often friends.  How often do you fill up trash cans with broken stuff that is just useless?  How often do you go to Salvation Army (or other donation places)? 

We need to get better at this!  The idea that if we had to move suddenly and pay by the pound to move all this stuff is crazy.  We would be in some severe debt to move stuff we just don't need or use!

On the bright side though, I/we have made more trips to Salvation Army this year than prior years.  Still hope to get in 2 or 3 really good ones though.  Lots of books, movies, clothes, kitchen stuff, and loads of other stuff.  I do plan to get things up onto Craig's List and possibly E-bay and market them as great Christmas gifts or School stuff!  If they don't sell well, will re-evaluate if it's a "keep and try again later" or "donate"!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Christmas Stockings & Stuffers

Growing up, did your family have stuffed Christmas Stockings?  Were they small and slightly filled so they didn't rip?  Is this something you've been doing because your spouse had them as a child?

Growing up, Kevin's family didn't!  Mine did and the number over the hearth has grown from 7 (for my parents, siblings, and myself) to over 20 with in-laws, nieces, and nephews.  Ours have always been the same ones and small, but not mini!

Looking back, not a whole lot sticks out in my memory as the most favorite thing in it.  Only a few things jog my memory:
  • a folding pair of scissors from many years ago that I still have
  • a glitter wand key chain from the early 1990s that I STILL use
  • decorative pencils ~ nope don't have those anymore
Sometime, around now, I start mulling over this year and what to use as stuffers.  In the past, the following have been a great space hog for our big stockings or just a great idea:
  • new water bottle
  • box of character band-aids (not so much into "Dora" and the like anymore")
  • pencils (themed, with name, whatever!  Now we have WAY to many pencils)
  • crayons ~ again, even throwing out the broken ones, we have way to many
Things I might consider now; some old favorites some new:
  • duct tape
  • roll of quarters (depending upon how much we've spent elsewhere)
  • Chocolate Orange if we can find it inexpensive.  Last year it was about $6.00 per Orange.  That's to much for this person to pay
  • small Lego set or Mini figure
  • what might also work and hopefully be a hit, put change & a bit of confetti into a balloon and blow it up, just enough to fit stocking snug!
  • done this in past Easter baskets and possibly stockings was to put a healthier juice box in too
  • new tooth brush ~ maybe
  • fuzzy socks ~ maybe
  • candy
  • batteries
  • head phones
 Under the category title of "NOT Going into the Stocking" falls socks and underwear ~ those are necessities, not fun or would like to have category!

As we're trying to purge and pear down what we have within our house, Christmas will be better thought out this year.  From the items we would like to have to the dollar value as well.

What are you filling your stockings with?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Keeping {it} fresh . . .

Keeping it fresh! What it?

The it here is school!

Ruts happen when you go over the same area to many times without a change in course, even to the slightest degree.  Trenches begin to happen.  Trenches become deeper and more difficult to get out of.  There is the risk of habits, even bad habits, being formed.

How do you keep things fresh then?  How is school kept fresh?  How do we avoid the rut?  The bad habit of boring being formed?

For our household and schooling of our kids, it has been a few different things.  The quick list is home schooling, changing curriculum, and flexibility.

Home schooling began when we saw a need in Thing One that we thought he could benefit from being at home.  It was a desire to create a one on one environment that could be tailored to his needs, without the worries of others mandate of how education should be accomplished.  It has been an evolving journey that has become a life style for us.  We see the possibilities for pursing passions, delight driven schooling (no this does not mean our boys can take weeks off without doing anything!!!  I'll write another post about what delight driven means to us on another day).

Curriculum can be a scary aspect for schooling.  There are just way to many options!  Back in August, I briefly wrote about how it can be overwhelming, even after home schooling for a few years.  Here's a link to that post.  To keep school fresh, sometimes it requires a change in curriculum.  Sometimes that change comes just after ordering everything, sometimes it is mid year, other times it happens when you receive your box of stuff and have time to actually look at it without hundreds of folks wanting to look at it as well at a convention.  Probably the best resource I have seen, for choosing curriculum is Cathy Duff's "101 Top Picks".  In this book, I tell folks to first look at how she classifies learners into four different categories, then look at her spread sheets to see what works best for that kind of learner.  Once you have a few math or science or writing curriculums, then go look at them in this book for a review.  Her reviews are written well and give the strengths & weaknesses of each.  Once you have it narrowed down even more, THEN go to the manufacturers web-site.

Flexibility is probably the most enticing for us!  We enjoy being able change the order of subjects from day to day.  We enjoy being able to skip a subject one day to spend more time on literature, for example, then the next day double up on the skipped subject.  We enjoy being able to take a break for a walk, when the weather is begging for us to go outside.  We enjoy that school can take less time, because "disciplining" and "coralling" 2 kids takes a whole lot less time than 25 to 30.  We enjoy being able to take week long field trips.  We enjoy being able to use seasonal or holiday bucket lists, like this one, to add fun to school.  We enjoy that working with food can become a science and or math lesson.  We enjoy that we can quickly tie math, history, english, or whatever into real world applications.

Quick summary (like my quick intro paragraph); we are trying to keep school fresh by keeping our kids home for schooling so learning can become a life style, change the curriculum as needed and when needed, and to be able to shake in fun or linger on one thing when that "aha moment" hits!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Why is it that when the computer is down, you can think of a million things to "do" with it?

I've had various issues with the Mac in resent months and it's during those times, I keep thinking of things I want to get done.  Of course it is with Mac specific software as well.  Or I'll think of a few great things to blog about, but not take notes to blog later.  Lovely, when you want to find a way to write!  (Yes, there is still pen and paper, but I'm going to stick with what a couple college professors said, "Use a computer, learn to save, learn to edit, and then print".  With traditional pen and paper I made a lot more mistakes than I do in this format!)

Such is life around here!

If you actually read this blog and have suggestions on what to write about, please share them in the comment area!  No, I will not write about politics.  My general thought is that each party is getting to nit picky with the other party and the USA has gone to out of wack from what our founding fathers had wanted for the country.

With that said, share what you might want to know about!  I might be able to come up with a descent post about it.  At least my take on it.

 Laughing at myself as I re-read the post. I obviously didn't read, edit, and hit publish as a few word choices were off!  Have changed what I've found so far!  Thankful there are to many critiques out there!  :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Happiest of Fridays!

Got to sleep in some today, well sort of. Body woke up to early and I realized I was hungry! That is one thing that is hard to ignore, role over and go back to sleep. After a bit of toast, went back and slept till almost 8:00. That felt really good! Not sure what all today holds. There is the usual: school, TKD, the occasional Friday Night Baseball practice, some cleaning. Hope to put some fun into the day as well.

What do you do to add a bit of fun in a day?  Especially when there isn't a large chuck of time to go somewhere.  I've mulling over putting a tent up on the deck (only flat surface in our back yard - the patio isn't fully flat either), pumping up an air mattress to let the boys have some fun out there.

Switching topics, do you blog on blogger?  Do you have the facebook, pinterest, and email buttons near the top of your site?  How did you get them?  Would like to add those too!

Hope you'll leave a comment, do enjoy reading them!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Want to take a look?

. . . finally updated the photo of how I came up with our boys blog names over on the right side of the screen.  The picture explains itself.  Here it is again, so you don't have to scroll down any!

In 2004, for Halloween, they went as Thing One and Thing Two.  I was really into making costumes with sweats as the base so that they could be used again.  The shirts for 2012 were just because.  Kevin and I have "Parent 1" and "Parent 2".

Parent 2

P.S. this is my 500th post since I started blogging! Some months I wrote a lot; some months were sparce. I am finding that I enjoying writing more, the more I do it! Wonder when I will hit 1,000?


We are getting hints of fall around here!  The weather the last few days has been incredibly cool!  Almost time to pull on a sweat shirt weather.

Yesterday, a few things happened that helped make Fall feel closer and more real.  First, when we start having cooler nights, the air pressure changes and the tire pressure light comes on in my van (Yee Haw, that happened).  Second, while at therapy with our oldest, went to use my phone, and it was totally dead.  Not enough power to say it was dying (I'd mistakenly left the screen saver thing to permanently on by mistake).  Anyway, went out to the van to charge it for a bit and walked through a few crunch leaves that we'd missed on the way in.  That was kind of nice!  Third, when Thing One and I got home, Kevin said it had gotten "to cold" with whole house fan on so it was shut off.

This morning it was nice to wake up feeling a bit chilled as we'd left our windows open all night.  A pair of socks and our winter comforter would have been nice.  Knowing our area, we are due for an Indian Summer sometime soon, then followed by "the real Fall".

In the mean time, I'm switching back to hot coffee and just need to find a good fall creamer now.  Any suggestions?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fall Sunday's

First weekend of the school year.   Everyone I know around here is back in school; public school, private school, home school, college, masters, you get the picture?

Although not all things have been added to the "school year" calendar, most has.  We've had Tae Kwon Doe, baseball, shopping, cleaning, organizing, grilling!  Still coming up is church and Sunday school followed by lesson prep and an extend family dinner.  Doesn't get much better.

Well, that isn't entirely true.  We had a big rain store that dropped the temperature over 20 degrees yesterday.  That was NICE and this morning it is still quite nice.  I hope to get to a few fun Fall type things this afternoon.  What's on my mental list, here's a peek:
  • make a "BOO" sign; something like this but my own take on it.
  • make Candy Corn Pretzels; however mine will have yellow and orange "chocolate" and white sprinkles
  • bring out a few fall swags (berries and leaves)
  • put out some fake pumpkins (we still need to shop for real ones)
If you'd like more fall ideas, here is a link to my Fall pinterest page.

Happy Fall Sunday folks,


Friday, September 7, 2012

~ Momentary Thoughts ~

This evening was another divide and conquer evening.  It's baseball season for Thing Two.  By the way, Washington Nationals team is doing REALLY well this season.  Thing Two's team name is The Nationals!  :)

Thing One was home from TKD, we'd had our English Muffin Pizza's, and he was off playing on his IPod.  I took the quiet opportunity to just sit on the deck (with a glass of wine of course).  Was interesting to hear the different birds talking to one another.

There was the angry hummingbird, who I evidently disturbed by coming out onto the deck.  Some will go into the trees and watch to see what is going on, then come back to the feeder when they realize someone is just sitting down.  Not this one!  He hoovered, flew away a bit, came back, circled, hovered, and flew away for the time I was on the deck.  I'm thinking, "Bird, you're crazy!  We both want quiet.  I don't plan to bug you!"  It was a loose for the bird.

Somewhere uphill, it sounded like a momma bird was getting after her brood.  If you could putting words to the tweets, it would have sounded like a teenager coming in late, after school, with a bad grade.  Could just hear the "Really?  First week of school and you already have a bad grade!"  Made me snicker.

Downhill somewhere, and again putting human sounds to animals, it sounded like two teenage girls, unwinding from the week of school (can you tell school just started?).  It was just tweet, tweet, twEeT, tweet in a happy chirpy sound.

The contrast between the last two sets of birds just made me snicker.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Kevin's birthday is today! Nothing to special had been planned.  School, dentist, life still needed to happen.

No surprises on presents either!  :(  Here's a look at his presents this year:

Although he was with us when these were bought,
it made for an easy, good breakfast that we don't buy
all that often.

A box from each boy.  Again, not a surprise!

We had catfish for dinner and for dessert - ghirardelli brownies; home made vanilla ice cream; and home made, hot fudge sauce.

 Now it's time to unwind from a long day of life and start all over again tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What does homeschooling look like?

For every family that educates their kids at home, school will look a lot different, from one day to the next and from one family to the next.

At our house (and a few other home schooling families I know), the first day of public school is WAY different than a "normal" day of school, just because we want to emphasize the flexibility of home educating.

Ours looks something like this, for today anyway:
  • up to early in the morning, as I had to much going on my mind.  Mostly I wanted to make sure that I had time to make t-shirts for the family.  An idea I had awhile back to make new Thing One and Thing Two outfits for the boys.  The last was done in 2004 around Halloween.  It was time to update the picture on my sidebar!
 October 2004

 September 2012
  • Got the shirts finished, washed, dried.  Got myself ready for the day and Thing One and I were out the door for what we thought was 2 & 1/2 hours of therapy.  Due to illness and other unknown reasons, it was only an hour!  Woo Hoo, we got to come home early.
  • Oldest was eager to get to NEW math and wanted to watch the related video.  Lucky me!  I misplaced the DVD, but found it after a brief frantic search.  He breezed through math and grammar and almost forgot spelling.  Thing Two did his while we were at therapy.
  •  While Thing One was plugging away at his work, life kept moving on.  I spread out at the dining room table to pay bills and such.  Charlotte was in her spot like today was the same as any other day.

  • Took some time to go out to lunch and run a few errands.  We decided to go by Cafe Rio as they have $1.50 tacos on Tuesday.  Awesome, inexpensive food and par for the coarse we saw folks we know from church.

Men in my life!  Kevin has "Parent 1", I have
"Parent 2".
  • We came home very full and still had Mystery of History, Five in a Row (Roxaboxen), and Beyond Five in a Row (Cricket in Times Square) to read through.  This is how the boys entertain themselves while I read, a Klutz Lego set.  Definitely worth the money.  This set is only brought out during school
  • Now we are transitioning to afternoon events and divide and conquer.  Errands for Co-op on Thursday and baseball practice for Thing Two and TKD and Scouts for Thing One.  I may go crash and burn for a few minutes.
This, like I mentioned, is a rough sketch of a day in the life.  Hope your day has been wonderful.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Crock Pot Meals

Our days seem to be crazy! School, therapy, sports, church, youth group, worship rehearsal, scouts, co-op, mom's meetings!

I'm in the process of trying to find good crock pot meals for those days where I can find time to fix dinner, in the morning, but not in the afternoon.  I do have the "Fix it and Forget it" books, but there seems to be a lot of recipes that use a can of "Cream of ______" soup.  Will give it another reading, on another day.  For now, here are a few that seem promising.

Beef Stew
Easy Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Fiesta Chicken with Rice and Beans
Slow Cooked BBQ Ribs
Texas Pulled Pork
Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Okay, spent some times looking for recipes; this is a good start.  If you come back on another day, look for "crock pot" under Labels!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The 1st of September

Have been back up and running for a couple weeks or so. Turns out there were loose cables within the works.  When Apple took it apart to diagnosis the problem, they fixed it by putting it back snuggly.

So now that I am back up and running, I've been updating various lists and such (boys summer reading) and need to get to my 1,000 gifts list (I found some from awhile back I want to add).

Now to working on adding audio books to computer, then phone for our car rides to Gainesville once a week!