Thursday, February 24, 2011

Basketball and Baking

Busy, busy, busy.  We've been baking up a storm around here for Cupcakes on a Mission, our fundraiser for Amanda's summer missions trip to Uganda.  Last week she and I made 14 dozen Chocolate Mint cupcakes, and tonight we are finishing off the 11 dozen Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcakes baked this week.  I should buy a cow for all the butter and cream we are going through!  And eggs, vanilla, sugar, cocoa ....  Our friends have been enjoying their treats, and between the cupcakes and the support checks that have come in, Amanda has raised half the amount she needs!  yay!

Rich Chocolate Cupcakes
based on Martha Stewart's Devil's Food recipe

3/4 c. Hershey's Special Dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. instant coffee
3/4 c. boiling water
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup ( 2 sticks) butter, melted
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 1/4 c. sugar
4 lg. eggs, room temperature
4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. sour cream, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
2. Whisk together cocoa, coffee, and boiling water until smooth. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
4. Place melted butter, oil, and sugar in mixing bowl. With electric mixer on medium speed, beat until mixture is cooled, about 5 minutes.  
5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. 
6. Add vanilla and cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. 
7. With mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture and mix until combined. Then add half the sour cream, mixing until combined. Scrape down sides of bowl, and repeat with the remaining flour and sour cream. 
8. Divide batter between the 24 lined cups.  Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out clean - about 20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes and place on wire racks and cool completely.

Tomorrow we head to Greensboro for the state homeschool basketball tournament - Amanda's final time, since she's a senior.  :-(    Jason's middle school team got knocked out in the regional tourney last weekend, so he gets to be a spectator this weekend. Amanda's varsity girls team is undefeated this season, and is hoping to continue that streak through this weekend and claim the state championship.  Here's hoping!  It still isn't all over, though, until after "Liberty" in mid-March!  "Liberty" is the HSPN East Coast Homeschool Basketball Championships, an open tournament for homeschool teams from all over the eastern US, held at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.  

Amanda was chosen to the All-Conference All Star Team!

Jason won an All-Tournament Award for his great play during the tournament

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Top 20 Reasons to Homeschool

in no particular order...

1. God is present and acknowledged.

2. If your child claims the dog ate his homework, you can ask the dog.

3. The commute is easy; no traffic! and no chance of missing the bus

4. Fewer back injuries ( students in schools often haul around 20% or more of their body weight in book-laden backpacks)

5. Cleaning out the refrigerator can double as a chemistry lab

6. The teacher can kiss the principle and it is not a scandal

7. You can post the Ten Commandments on the wall and not get sued.

8. The only debate about the school lunch program is whose turn it is to cook.

9. If you get caught talking to yourself, you can call it a parent-teacher conference.

10. No mad dash in the morning to have everyone ready to head out the door while it is still dark!

11. No Child is Left Behind, because the kids can work at their own pace and at their own level

12. You believe in the Creator (gasp!), moral absolutes ( what?) and showing respect to adults ( really?) and you want to teach that to your children.

13. You want to learn about all those things you missed out on when you were in school.

14. No arguments over what to wear to school

15. You can go on vacation in September when tourist spots are much less crowded and less expensive.

16. You become the primary shaping influence in your child's life, rather than his peer group doing the shaping

17. You get to spend every day with the children you love and experience the joy of discovery together

18. Your child does not have to ask permission to go to the bathroom

19. Your children get to participate in real-life activities with you instead of artificial, fabricated Learning Activities

20. You can promote positive "socialization" and leave out the "socialism"

Saturday, February 12, 2011

TOG Co-op : Papier Mache Minotaurs

I co-teach the Dialectic class ( middle school age ) in our TOG Co-op this year, and although we do mostly discussion and review through games such as BINGO and Jeopardy, we occasionally throw a craft in for fun.
We are doing Year 1  so we've been reading about ancient cultures including the Minoans and Mycenaeans of ancient Greece.  For the 2 weeks before Christmas Break, we decided to tackle a papier mache project: the Minotaur head!  The Minotaur was the legendary half man/half bull that was kept in the Labyrinth, a maze at Knossos in Crete.   Even though our class is made up of mostly non-crafty boys, they loved this one, and the results were pretty impressive.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

With God All Things Are Possible

Tonight was our monthly homeschool support group meeting, and the topic was "Homeschooling through Hard Times".   Five members shared from their hearts about trials in their lives, how they muddled through, and lessons the Lord taught in the process. The challenges were different... taking care of aging, ailing parents while also homeschooling teens,  going through the illness and death of a close family member, financial difficulties, a child with a brain tumor, divorce....  but a common theme echoed through all their testimonies, and that is that with God all things are possible,  God provides in miraculous ways, and He takes care of His children when we are obedient to follow Him.  Not only that, but some of the greatest lessons in life do not come from textbooks and lesson plans, but are the result of experiencing real life.   Children in these families learned lessons in compassion, patience, humility, perseverance, gratitude, and many other things, and it is likely those lessons would have been missed had those children been put in school in order to "keep up with their studies".

Our meetings normally end before 9:00 pm, but tonight we didn't finish until almost 10.  I couldn't bring myself to end the meeting before each speaker had had a chance to share what God had placed on their hearts, and although some people had to leave before it was all over,  more than I expected stayed all the way to the end. And many still stayed for lime-coconut cupcakes and lemonade afterwards too!   I hope many people took home a nugget of encouragement from the meeting tonight. I know that I did.