Thursday, July 2, 2015

Quote of the Day {July Blogging Challenge}

I'm sure a lot of people are going to share their favorite inspirational quotes. In fact, I'll visit all my blogging friends so that I can add more quotes to my growing collection.

I don't have one particular quotation that comes to mind today. Instead, all that comes to mind is the phrase that keeps being repeated at our house lately.

"Well, not with that attitude you won't!"

I don't have any idea where that comment originated, but it has popped up at least a couple of times a week lately.

Just this evening, Lauren asked Brennan if he wanted to get his hair cut before he goes to camp this weekend. He responded that he didn't think Mom would have time to take him. I overheard and chimed in, "Well, not with that attitude I won't."

Perhaps it's just one of those inside joke sorts of things that other people wouldn't understand, but it rarely fails to get a laugh around here. Our attitudes are probably a bit more positive than they used to be, too.

©2009-2015 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Introducing Me! {July Blogging Challenge}

My blogging friends Jennifer at A Glimpse of Our Life and Lynn at This Day Has Great Potential have issued a challenge to blog something every day for the month of July. I'm not sure I'll be able to participate every day because I have this pesky little move coming up next week, but I'm going to join when I can.

The prompt for today is Who. I guess that means I'm supposed to tell you who I am.

I'm Cristi.

When asked to describe myself, I often jokingly ask if I'm supposed to do it in twenty-five words or less. Here are the words and phrases I most commonly use to describe myself.

Follower of Christ
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Military Wife
I was raised an Air Force brat and then married back into the Air Force. In just a few weeks, we're off on another Air Force adventure -- our ninth new location since we've been married.

Homeschooling Mom
In the fall, I will be teaching a high school senior, a high school freshman, and a fourth grader.

Allergy-friendly cook
I avoid eating milk (or any products containing milk) and gluten. My youngest daughter cannot have any milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, nuts, or corn. I do a lot of cooking from scratch.

Aspiring photographer
Depending on my mood and how much free time I have, I enjoy taking photographs. I also enjoy making digital scrapbooks, but I don't have as much time to devote to those projects as I'd like.

I spend less time driving now that my oldest daughter can drive herself. Instead I'm sometimes up late at night waiting for her to come home from one activity or another.

This blog started as a way to record Lauren's wait for a heart transplant over six years ago. It has continued as a place to record our homeschool days and adventures.

My goal this year is to run 500 miles. I'm well over half-way there.

This week I'm sad to be leaving so many of my Arizona friends behind.

And much, much more.

We'd love to have you join the blogging fun this month -- either by posting on your own blog or by visiting some of the bloggers who are sharing from their hearts this month.

©2009-2015 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Motivate Your Child {Review}

I've read a lot of parenting books over the past eighteen years or so. About a year ago, I swore off reading any more. It wasn't that the books weren't full of good ideas. They were. Even the books I hated usually had some helpful tips to learn. The problem was that most of the books carried an implied promise. They promised that if I just did things their specific way, then all my parenting troubles would be over. When the promise didn't come true and I still had parenting troubles, I was left in a difficult position. Was I not following the plan in the book closely enough? Was I not consistent enough in my praise? Did I just need to try harder?

Last January, several of my blogging friends started talking about the book Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. Based on their reviews, I put the book on my "to read someday" list, but hadn't gotten around to it. In May, the companion book Motivate Your Child Action Plan was released. I was able to be part of that review team and read both of the books.

The authors of these books have an approach to parenting that is unlike any I have read before. Instead of relying on behavioral systems with rewards and punishments, they focus on "heart parenting." Heart parenting deals with internal motivation, the conscience, faith, and relationships instead of external programs or tricks.

Motivate Your Child introduces the idea that the conscience serves four roles. It prompts you to do what's right, deal with wrongs, be honest, and care about others. Internal motivation comes when children (and adults) follow the promptings of the conscience and don't rely on external motivation. As a parent, I often spend too much time being my child's conscience and not enough time teaching them to rely on their conscience for internal motivation. This book helped me realize that I can't find easy solutions to behavioral struggles in our home. No amount of sticker charts, candy, or promised rewards will be as effective as me taking the time to build relationships with our children and teaching them to have their own internal motivation to do what's right.

Motivate Your Child Action Plan steps in to fill in the some of the understanding gaps I had after reading Motivate Your Child. The first book gives a lot of knowledge and biblical support for the heart parenting concept, and the second book shows parents how to implement those theories in real life. It's not a step-by-step plan to follow, however. Instead of giving the parent answers and then arguing that it will work for every child in every family, the authors outline a path for each family to follow in order to find the right strategy for them.

These two books will perhaps have more of a lasting impact on me and my parenting skills than any other book I've run across. They both encourage me along my parenting path and challenge me to do better. They acknowledge that parenting isn't for the faint of heart, but also reassure me that the time spent teaching my children will not be wasted. Long terms gains don't come from taking parenting shortcuts now. Long term gains come from pouring my heart into my children every day.

Sometimes being a parent isn't easy. I'm thankful for these two fabulous books from the National Center for Biblical Parenting that can help me find a path toward becoming a more effective parent and building strong relationships with my children.

©2009-2015 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Spinach and Vegetable Soup

Lauren is my "something new" eater, and I'm constantly in search of new recipes for us to try. Last week we had a new soup that turned out quite well. I started with a recipe from Build a Menu and then tweaked it enough to call my own.

Spinach and Vegetable Soup

a splash of olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
4 small carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves
2 cups water
1 large carton (quart-sized) chicken broth
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
4 Roma tomatos, chopped
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 pkg (8 ounces) fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Saute onion, carrots, celery, and garlic until they soften and the onion starts to turn golden. Add water, chicken broth, kidney beans, and tomatoes. When the liquid boils, add quinoa. Cover and cook on low for about 20 minutes. Stir in spinach and stir until it wilts slightly. Add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with crusty french bread or gluten-free toast.

Makes a big pot of soup, probably enough for six or eight people.

©2009-2015 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tales from the Circle C Ranch {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

For years I've heard fellow homeschool moms talk about the Circle C Adventures series of books written by Susan K. Marlow. I know that many young girls love anything and everything to do with horses, but I never loved reading books about horses and neither did Addison. I should have read some of the Circle C books anyway; we've been missing out on great stories.

Lauren and I have been reading one of the newest releases, Tales from the Circle C Ranch. I also received a digital version of Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook to use for further study.

The Circle C Ranch books feature Andi Carter, an independent spirited tomboy growing up in California in the late 1800s. Circle C Beginnings books are intended for children ages 6-9, and the Circle C Adventures books are for children ages 9-14. Tales from Circle C Ranch is geared for ages 9-14 and spans the full time frame of both the Beginnings and Adventures books. The stories are not simply excerpts from the books but rather short tales from her life that have not already been told.

Each one of the eleven chapter in Tales from a Circle C Ranch is a stand-alone story about Andi Carter and her family. I decided that it would make a fun summer read-aloud for Lauren and I. According to the readability calculations I did, it's written at a third or fourth grade reading level, and Lauren probably could have read the book independently. By reading it aloud to her, I avoided any arguments (and grumpy feelings) about assigning a book to be read instead of letting her choose her own books during our school break.

Lauren's favorite chapter was "Virginia's Riding Lesson" in which twelve-year-old Andi teaches a friend from school how to ride a horse. I think Lauren liked it most because it was full of action and excitement. What started as a quiet outing on horseback turned into scary moments as their horses got caught up in racing along with a herd of wild horses. Another favorite was a chapter earlier in the book telling about the year that six-year-old Andi didn't have enough money to buy her mother a birthday gift.

I liked the way that each of these stories was engaging and interesting while still being age appropriate to read to Lauren. Even the stories towards the end of the book where Andi is older and her sister is courting are told in a refreshingly innocent manner. I also enjoyed having a collection of books where each story was completely separate from the others. We read a chapter while waiting at doctors' appointments one day, set the book aside while Lauren was sick, and then picked up without worrying if we had forgotten something from the chapter before.

Tales from the Circle C Ranch worked well for us, even though we hadn't known anything about Andi Carter until we picked up this book. Lauren, however, wished that we had read the other books in the series because the stories occasionally referred to events that had been chronicled in other Circle C books. She also now wishes that we could get the rest of the books in the series.

Although we haven't used the Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook yet, I'm very impressed. It was created by A Journey Through Learning, a lapbook company with other products we love. Each chapter of the Tales from the Circle C Ranch book has at least one corresponding activity in the lapbook with extensive historical information relating to the topic at hand. For instance, Andi has her picture taken in the chapter "Aunt Rebecca and the Hat" and the lapbook materials explain how photographs were taken in 1876. In addition to the historical readings, the lapbook contains mini-books to record information for each chapter. Lauren saw that I have these lapbook materials and has already requested that add it to our school schedule as soon as we start back in the fall.

Tales from the Circle C Ranch is 160 pages long and costs $7.99. The corresponding study guide and lap book costs $7 for a digital copy.

Dynamic Literacy Review

Crew Disclaimer

©2009-2015 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Making High School Plans

If there were a yearbook for homeschool moms, I'd definitely be nominated for the "least organized" award.


I can keep track of appointments, medicine schedules, volunteer commitments, and all sorts of other things, but I just cannot keep track of schoolwork. The work does get done. My kids learn enough each year to pass to the next grade. It's just that I may never be able to accurately say whether our math curriculum took us 184 days or only 169. I guess those sorts of details aren't really all that important to me. (And thankfully, they haven't been all that important in terms of homeschooling laws in the states we've lived in.)

I realized that I needed to do a better job of keeping up with homeschool work when Addison started high school. I also knew that I needed a simple way to plan for her high school years.

I really didn't think much about high school planning until near the end of Addison's eighth grade year. (I might also win a "best procrastinator" award in the yearbook.) At that point, I did some  internet research to find out high school graduation requirements. I looked at several states to get an idea of what was required for High School graduation. In our case, I knew that we were likely going to move before Addison finished. I researched course requirements in our current state and a few states that are always likely possibilities for new military assignments. I also looked at few college websites to see if they listed any class requirements or recommendations for admission. I needed a starting place, even if I knew we'd have to adjust along the way.

I would recommend researching requirements earlier than eighth grade, especially if you are planning on having classes taken in eighth grade count towards graduation requirements. In Addison's case, she took a High School Biology class and a Geometry class as an eighth grader.  It turns out that many states require that three of the high school science classes have a lab component. Addison spent a few weeks catching up on the labs that I hadn't insisted she complete earlier in the year.

From our list of required classes, I divided them up into the appropriate number of years. It turns out that a high school requirements list looks remarkably similar to what she had been doing all of her elementary years. We planned on four years of English, at least three years of math, at least three years of science, at least three years of social studies, and enough electives to ensure that she had a well-rounded curriculum each year.

I remember when I was a senior in high school and many of us spent that year only worrying about Senior English. After meeting all the rest of the requirements, our schedules were filled with electives, work/study opportunities, or high school classes that would help us get college credit. I wanted something similar for my children. Although I'm a master procrastinator, I didn't want them waiting until their senior year to finish a bunch of state requirements.

With that in mind, Addison and I sat down and planned her English, math, science, and social studies classes for her Freshman year. It really wasn't any more difficult than the planning I had done for second grade, eighth grade, or any year in between. In most cases, we continued using the same curriculum companies that we had been using for years.
9th GradeBible I
US History
English I
Chemistry with lab
Algebra 2
Then came the fun part -- adding electives to the schedule. I'll be talking more about those next month.

For us, planning for high school isn't much more difficult than planning for every other year. Maybe that's because my "least organized" nature doesn't get all wrapped up in the details and doesn't fret over all the possibilities.

Next year I'll be planning for two high schoolers. Addison has already done most of her own planning and picked out her curriculum for the upcoming year. This week I'm trying to figure out some good English, social studies, and science options for Brennan.

This post is one of many that are talking about making plans for Homeschooling High School. Be sure to stop by and see all the tips my friends have to share!

Homeschooling High School Blog Hop 2015

Meg from Adventures with Jude on Planning Your Homeschool High School
Chareen at Every Bed of Roses with thoughts on Planning to Homeschool through the High School Years
April from ElCloud Homeschool shares Homeschooling High School: Planning For High School
Debra over at Footprints in the Butter asks: You mean I have to PLAN our Homeschool High School?!?
Michele at Family, Faith and Fridays shares Here's the Plan
Lisa at Golden Grasses says Don't Panic! Homeshcooling High School Blog Hop
Debbie at Debbie's Homeschool Corner Planning Out a High School Program
Gena over at I Choose Joy! shares her The Top Tip for Planning Homeschool High School
Kym at Homeschool Coffee Break shares on Planning and Preparing for Success
Tess from Circling Through This Life shares on Planning the High School Years
Erica over at Be The One shares Planning and Record Keeping for High School
Jennifer from A Glimpse of Our Life on Planning For Homeschooling Highschool
Carol over at Home Sweet Life on Making A Plan
Wendy at Life at Rossmont shares thoughts on Planning for High School
Cristi from Through the Calm and Through the Storm shares on Making High School Plans
Dawn Oaks at Double O Farms shares Planning for the High School Years
Leah from As We Walk Along the Road shares her thoughts on Making Plans for Homeschooling Through High School

©2009-2015 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ginger Chicken {Allergy Friendly Cooking}

When Lauren was in the hospital a few weeks ago, I have several physicians and dietitians ask me what she eats. She's been on a diet avoiding the top-8 allergens for the past three years. That means she can't have any milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, or treenuts. We eliminated corn products from her diet last summer.

After working with these restrictions for several years, I've become rather creative. It sometimes still seems like a pain to plan meals around this diet, but it doesn't seem impossible.

I've decided to record some of the allergy-friendly meals that I fix for our family to eat. Tonight we had Ginger Chicken, Brown Rice, Roasted Broccoli, and Mandarin Orange slices.

The Ginger Chicken recipe below is an adaptation of one of my favorite comfort foods from my childhood.

Ginger Chicken

Approximately 2 pounds boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 Tbsp ginger root, finely minced
3 Tbsp sesame oil
4 Tbsp coconut aminos (soy sauce will work if you aren't avoiding soy)
3 Tbsp jelly (I used an all-natural orange marmalade that didn't have corn syrup)
3 Tbsp white wine

Mix all the ingredients together and let marinate for at least half an hour. Dump all of it into a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until the chicken is cooked through. If you'd like a thick sauce, stir together 1 Tbsp tapioca starch and 1 Tbsp water until smooth, then add to the skillet and cook a minute or two more until it thickens.

Serve over rice with coconut aminos or soy sauce on the side.

©2009-2015 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.


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