Monday, September 28, 2015

This Fall - Eat More Squash

Fall is upon us and the fall harvest provides wonderful, rich and flavorful options for our meals. I love the varieties of squash available at this time of year and the cozy warmth provided by baking some up. Squash is filled with beta-carotene. Your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A which is good for vision, healthy skin and immunity. Easy to prepare and versatile, squash is a welcome addition to many of our family meals.

A long time favorite in our household, this pumpkin chocolate chip muffin recipe has evolved and while still a bit decedent, with the chocolate chips involved, it does have less sugar than the original recipe and the butter has been reduced. I use all whole wheat flour. The muffins freeze well and are still yummy upon reheating. I usually double the recipe so that I have some to freeze - otherwise they disappear way too fast.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

12 standard or 48 mini
1 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
a pinch of cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup plain pumpkin (half of a 1 lb. can)
6 Tablespoons butter melted
1 cup chocolate chips (dark chocolate works for me)

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Thoroughly mix flour, sugar, spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Break eggs into another bowl add pumpkin and melted butter. Whisk until well blended.
Pour over dry ingredients and fold in just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Scoop batter into lined muffin tins.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until springy to the touch in the center.
Turn onto a rack to cool.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Second Language Learning - Family Unit Study

As a homeschooling mom, I kind of think of our whole life, as a family, as one big unit study.
A few of the ongoing study questions for the (not)quiz are;
How do we best live our lives?
How do we contribute to the well being of the lives of others?
How do we provide for ourselves?
What is the next set of skills I need to develop to accomplish?..... whatever the next goal is.

Yes, I'm a big picture person, but the big picture often leads into very interesting nooks and crannies. For example, like many others, one of my big picture ideas is that it is important to be aware of other cultures and understand that there are many countries, languages, customs to experience and understand to some degree. That idea has led us to hosting an exchange student this year.

Our exchange student is from Mexico and is the same age as my home schooled daughter. She attends school, but her presence in our family is influencing my homeschooling choices with my daughter. Her presence is also influencing my daughter's personal study choices. She has, as a result of more personal and direct exposure to the Spanish language, been more diligent about her own daily study and practice of Spanish.

For a teen, there's nothing quite like seeing someone of your own age be proficient in two languages to shine a little light on your own deficiency. My children are seeing first hand the usefulness of being bi-lingual. They are also becoming acutely aware of the need to use and speak a second language on a daily basis to become a master of it. Observing our student's process and progress in the English language is enlightening.

We are all adjusting to our new situation and learning not to take for granted what someone else experiences or understands or needs. We are all experiencing first hand the differences in how we each see things and how each of our view points have developed out of different cultural backgrounds. My children are seeing how our culture and life circumstances influence how we see things, what we expect and what we assume. We are all learning not to take too much for granted in our expectations. We are developing a deeper sense of the importance of communication between individuals, how cultural assumptions can lead to misunderstandings and also how reaching out to understand our differences can enrich our lives.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Last Days of Summer

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”
                                               L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams

We have had a wonderful summer. Beyond the regular summer routine of work, at the Reading In Motion office for my husband, continued classes at summer school for our oldest and continued practices of baseball and gymnastics for our aspiring athletes; there were days of tournament baseball, there were mini family outings, (the city, the dunes, the zoo), weekend trips and one longer vacay. There were opportunities to enjoy friends from both near and far. There was fun with local friends, visits with dear long time friends from Germany and new friends from Mexico. Many just plain ol' good times together.

It's hard to give in and give it up.

So here's a few photos in honor of letting go, savoring the last few days of summer and looking forward to the new season to come.

Enjoy the last lovely days of long light!