I popped out of bed, well not really, I slowly got out of bed, yet quickly made my way downstairs this morning, to get muffins in the oven before Steve had to leave for work at 7:50. Normally, my routine is to spend some time praying and reading the Bible from 7:00 to 7:30 and then I have my shower, but sometimes I can't. I find when I do follow this routine though it really sets my day off well. My muffin recipe was inspired by the Nourishing Traditions cookbook.
Yesterday I ground up a combination of millet, brown rice and oats for the flour in these muffins. Then I combined the flour with buttermilk using my kitchen aid mixer. I managed to get this done at 2 pm yesterday. My goal was for the flour to have 24 hours to soak. It had about 18 hours, so that is good! I have found that I can eat small quantities of gluten, not as much as I thought I could, and my body really needs those gluten flours to be soaked. Since I can't just eat gluten like normal, one of my goals has been to come up with some gluten free baking recipes using soaked flours. There is not a lot about this on the internet so I realized I would have to do some trial and error baking. Fortunately, these muffins have turned out super delicious each time I've baked them. The reason why I soak my gluten free grains is because all whole grains contain phytic acid in the bran of the grain. This acid inhibits digestion as well as absorption many of the good nutrients in the whole grain. I can totally tell a difference after I eat soaked whole grains versus unsoaked whole grains. You can ask me privately what the difference is!!! :) :) :)
I made several varieties of muffins, plain pumpkin, pumpkin with raisins (Andrew's request!), pumpkin with chocolate chips (my favorite!), and strawberry banana for Steve. They were all quite yummy. The strawberry banana ones didn't rise as high as the pumpkin ones, I think because they were soooo moist with possibly too many strawberries and bananas! But they were still super yummy!
Since I did a double batch, I was not done baking muffins until 10 o'clock! It worked out fine though, because I was in the kitchen doing lessons with the boys anyways. And now we have breakfast already ready for tomorrow, plus some extra muffins in the freezer for later!
We started out this school year using the unit study method. I was basically going to do the three R's with the boys every day, all year, and rotate through with history/science/fine arts. I realized that there was no way we could condense our study of the Middle Ages into 6 weeks, nor was it going to be beneficial to try and do 2 hours of history a day, and so I finally made a plan to add back in the other subjects. After today I realized how wonderful it is to have variety in what we do during the day! It makes school so much more enjoyable! The boys seem to like the quicker rotation of lessons throughout the day and there was a point during mid-morning as I watched my boys doing their work at the table where I thought how lovely it was to have them occupied in such a way that they were happy and not running around the house with mounds of energy! Channeling their energies is a very good thing! We took about 2 weeks off at Christmas time and honestly, I really struggled! I thought it would be great and that I would get so many other things done, but I really didn't, and I came to realize that having a plan and a structure to our days is very very helpful and beneficial for me and the boys! Plus, I just LOVE learning, and love leading my boys in learning!
So some of this may be redundant, but here is a rundown of our morning:
First thing we do is read our Bible Story. I read the short story to the boys, then Andrew, my 5 year old, tells me what "stuck out to him", then Micah (7) and Isaac (12) tell the story back to me in their own words. Micah really struggles with this, but I know he can do it, it just takes mental effort that he doesn't want to do, so I do push it, and Isaac retells the story with incredible detail and makes it look absolutely effortless. Narration is so important to me because I know it is a key way of locking the story into their memory! After I read the Bible story, I have started reading to them from a devotional called His Mighty Warrior. It is basically a paraphrase of different scriptures, written as if from God, to the boys. It includes the scriptures where the author took the paraphrase from, and then a short prayer. We pray together and then go over our Bible Memory verses. This probably takes 20 minutes or so all together, sometimes more, depending on how long the Bible story is, and how difficult or compliant the boys are being!
For a while I just used some hymnals we have for our hymn study but I've come back to using this because I love the fact that the authors include something about the author of the hymn as well as the story behind the hymn. We are learning Take My Life, and Let it Be, by Frances Ridley Havergal. It has the sweetest story about her. It talked about how everyone was just drawn to her as a young lady and her secret was that she prayed for people everywhere she went, silently in her heart, she prayed God's blessings on them. One night she went to a party and everyone seemed really down. She prayed for them at the beginning of the evening and by the end of the evening they were all smiling and joyful. That night she was so excited about what God had done that she couldn't sleep. God gave her the words of this hymn that night and she wrote them down. It is the sweetest song, and I pray that my boys make it the prayer of their hearts!
Right now for history we are mainly learning about the major events of the Middle Ages through the lives of famous men of the Middle Ages. I'm not sure that I love this, and I really want something to supplement and tie it all together, but for now it is what I have. I have definitely supplemented our study with great historical fiction books as well as some picture books about knights, castles, medieval stonecutters and millers, but I think maybe something like Story of the World would be good to tie everything together.
After I read a chapter about one of the famous men the boys draw a picture about what I read on a small note card.
In this picture Henry IV is crying a river of tears outside of the castle where Pope Gregory VII is staying. Pope Gregory had excommunicated Henry IV as well as commanded him to step down from being Emperor. He was so convincing that Pope Gregory allowed him to come back into the church and back into his role as Emperor. Long story short, Henry's tears were fake, he wasn't really sorry, and he ended up a few years later, sending Pope Gregory into exile. Reminded me a bit of when my boys cry, not because they are really sorry, but because they got caught and don't want to experience the consequences!
After the boys finish their cards we add them to our Book of Centuries.
Here is another thing we added which the boys have enjoyed. This is a VERY simple art instruction book. I figured it would be good to start with something very easy for my boys who have never had any real art instruction. I got it from my friend Marietta! Thank you Marietta!
We also started a study of Rembrandt that I find so enjoyable! I printed out on card stock several of Rembrandt's paintings, which I will rotate through and leave on the kitchen table. The first day I had it out, I had the boys each look at it for several minutes and then I put it aside and asked them to tell me about the picture. I will also be reading them several books about Rembrandt and we watched a short, cute, video about Rembrandt today from the library. My goal will be to study one artist every 6 weeks, which is what Charlotte Mason recommended.
In addition to artist study, we are also listening to a George Frederic Handel CD during breakfast and lunch as well as various other times throughout the day. I have a Sower Series biography of him that I am going to read to the boys as well. We are planning to go to an orchestra concert in February and I believe one of the songs they will be playing is by Handel, so I'm very excited about that! We will probably rotate through composers every 6 weeks or so as well.
Studying the fine arts is so simple this way and adds so much richness to our school day!
I started this with the boys last year and only got through three lessons. I don't remember why I stopped doing it because we really were learning a lot! My plan is to finish it now, before the baby comes in early April. We have to do a lesson a week and each lesson is pretty long, so I divide up the lesson into a little bit, three days a week. The boys all really enjoy it and so do I!
We learned about animal pollinators today and the author recommended that the boys right down or draw pictures about each animal pollinator they learned about it. The picture above is done by Isaac. I love his drawings!
On another note, here is Benjamin, finally being changed out of his nightime disposable diaper. He is such a little helper and he always takes the diaper, whether it is disposable or cloth and puts it where it needs to go!
Now he is clean and fresh in his mommy-made diaper! I am very happy with the diapers I am making him and much prefer them over the ones I bought. I haven't put him in cloth yet for night time. I think I'll try that soon, but I've just been nervous. He has struggled on and off with diaper rash since starting cloth diapers and I'm afraid that if he spends a night in a wet diaper things will get really bad!
We did basically everything above by 11:30 this morning. Micah had time to start his handwriting and math and he finished it after lunch. Isaac sat down with me during Benjamin's nap time and did his computer based language arts and math lessons. And that was it for school today!
Steve ended up coming down with the flu that has been ever so slowly making its way through our family and stayed in bed until early afternoon. When Benjamin got up at 3:15 from his nap I took him to Goodwill to look at books :) and Wal-Mart for some groceries. We didn't get back until about 7 and the boys were really hungry after only having had a very "disgusting" smoothie that Isaac made out of frozen strawberries and blueberries. Apparently Steve thought I told him to have Isaac make them a smoothie out of those ingredients instead of strawberries and bananas! Poor guys! I quickly made scrambled eggs and toast, then read them one of our new stories I found, then brushed their teeth, put Benjamin down, then went and prayed with each of the boys, and then came down here to put together this post! Here is one of the books I found:
What a cute story... the boy walks through a forest, then a marsh, then a sand dune, then right on the beach and in each location he sees... and there is a list of the wildlife in that area that you get to look for in the picture and try to identify. I am so thankful for being able to buy books at the thrift store because I just love them but I would never buy all the books that we have full price!
Anyway, wooh!, I need to go get ready for my day tomorrow. It was a good day, a full day, and I'm thankful that God has given me the opportunity to spend so much time with my boys.