Review Games

Nugget’s favorite school day is review day.  It’s always the day before co-op and we usually play a game to review the memory work from previous weeks.  We don’t do any other school work on review day and I think that’s really why Nugget likes it so much.  ;)

However, if you’re like me, you are always looking for a review game that is fun, not too easy and allows for plenty of review questions.  Today, Nugget suggested using a board game for review.  His idea: answer a review question before you can move your piece and the number you spin dictates which week your question comes from (6=material just learned, 1=material from six weeks ago).  He chose Chutes and Ladders for the board game and it worked perfectly!  It takes longer than you think to finish (or longer than you’d like, depending) so Nugget got plenty of review.

  

Chore Chart 2.0

Well, I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoyed our time off between semesters.  We did school for a few days each week for the first few weeks.  The last two weeks were pure vacay though.  I didn’t realize how much I needed or wanted that until I was in the midst of it.  And once we took time off, it was hard to start back up again!  In fact, our first week back to co-op was cancelled because of snow and windchill.  I knew we’d be adjusting for the cancellation by moving the weeks back and adding another to the end of the school year so, I just took the whole week off!  :)  This week, however, it’s back to business – much to Nugget’s chagrin.  :)

Speaking of Nugget…he turned 7!  With a new number, he also received… drum roll please… new and improved chores!  Yay (for mommy)!  Nugget’s currency is video game minutes; he does chores, he earns minutes.  However, it had become very clear that earning those minutes was way to easy.  He had gotten to the point where he’d wait until about an hour before video game time and do a flurry of chores to earn his hour of game time.  I couldn’t help thinking that something about this wasn’t right.  That along with a growing habit of back talk and negotiating told me this kid needed more work!  So, I sat down with my Hubby one night and we came up with a list of chores that could be done to earn video game minutes as well as how many minutes each chore would be worth.  Previously, chores had been worth 10 minutes each.  We decreased that payoff to 5 minutes each, unless otherwise noted on the chart.  We also required that certain chores, like music practice, take as many minutes to do as are “paid.”  One of the rows is labeled “rake/shovel” and awards minutes for helping to rake leaves or shovel snow.  The minutes granted equal the minutes worked.  I left some blank rows at the end of the chart for things that come up irregularly.

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The top portion of the chart is where Nugget earns money.  He starts each week at $1.50.  He can earn less.  :)  He is required to do his morning 5 (get dressed, make bed, potty, brush teeth, read Bible), set the table when asked, eat at least one bite of each food served and his bedtime 5 (clean up, pajamas, potty, brush teeth, reverence during story/Bible reading/prayers) with a good attitude.  There is no option to NOT do those things, only whether or not he does them pleasantly.  If there is complaint or disrespect, he loses a nickle.

Clean up used to be a separate line item.  However, I felt that it needed to happen regardless of desire or earnings.  So, it is included in the bedtime 5 in the top portion of the chart.

The middle portion of the chart is the jobs for minutes as described earlier.  Some of these job names include how many times per week that job may be done.  If Nugget could, he’d Lysol the house everyday!  So, for example, that job is limited to twice per week.  ;)

The bottom portion of the chart displays a system of consequences.  Fits are rare in our home.  But when they occurred, the consequence was only ever a time-out by the front door or alone in the bedroom.  Well, as I said before, the whole reason for this chore chart revamp was a new wave of back talk and otherwise disrespectful communication.  So, I instituted a system I used when working in daycare.  The first offense receives a warning.  After that, each repeat of the offense results in a strike.  And as in baseball… three strikes and you’re out.  In this case an out equals the loss of 30 minutes of video game time.  Three outs means grounded from video games for a week.  Yikes!  I doubt we will ever be forced to go that far, but it’s there if we need it.

Maybe this all seems too complicated.  Maybe parts, or all, of it seem too harsh.  I think we each know our children best and we do what works.  I browsed several chore charts on Pinterest and lists of age-appropriate chores before landing on the ones we chose.  And I want to point out they are by no means set in stone.  This chore chart can and will change as Nugget changes.  He’s growing up and his responsibilities, rewards and consequences should too.  Now, Nugget mops the floor – weekly!  My floors were never mopped that often before!  He also helps me with laundry to a greater extent than before.  He comes with me to gather laundry from the hampers and listens as I explain which clothes we’re getting (colors, whites, etc.).  He helps me load the items into the washer, watches as I measure the detergent (someday we’ll get the pods that he can use without having to measure) and helps turn the knob to the proper setting.  Then he helps hang clothes or move them to the dryer, add the dryer sheet and start the dryer.  Finally, he helps me unload the dryer, fold the laundry and put away the laundry.  To his future wife I say, “You’re welcome!”  I’m not kidding when I say that I believe I will have an 8 year old doing his own laundry.  And why not?!

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Meatloaf Spaghetti

What?  Meatloaf Spaghetti?  Well…sort of.  ;)

I realized yesterday that my fridge was filling up with leftovers and they would quickly spoil if we didn’t hurry up and eat ‘em.  So, my plan was to reheat the mini-meatloaves and cook some broccoli.  Which didn’t get my kettle whistling, if you know what I mean.  Nothing says boring like reheated meatloaf!

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But wait – I could roast a spaghetti squash, crumble the meatloaf into some marinara and VOILA!  Spaghetti and meat sauce!

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How I roast spaghetti squash:

1) cut in half, scoop out the seeds & fibers

2) cut small notches into the flesh and press pieces of garlic into the notches

3) spread a tablespoon of olive oil over the flesh side of each half of squash

4) sprinkle with S&P

5) lay squash flesh side down in a baking dish

6) roast at 450 for 30-40 minutes

7) allow to cool for 5 minutes then scrape out the flesh with a fork

With a side of GF garlic bread, this meal was a hit!

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Christmas Cookie Exchange

 

If you haven’t been to one already, a Christmas cookie exchange is probably in your future.  If not, host one!  Thanks to the women in my Bible study group, I have a collection of recipes that are perfect for a last minute cookie exchange.  These treats are easy, delicious, and some are even gluten free!  Yes, those gluten free ones are tasty too.  ;)

 

IMG_0487[1]First up, cute rice cereal Christmas tree pops.  In addition to the usual rice cereal treat ingredients, you’ll need green food coloring, cinnamon candies and craft sticks.

http://www.ricekrispies.com/recipes/trimmed-christmas-tree-treats

A classic staple is a molasses spice cookie. Here’s a great – easy – recipe for a cookieIMG_0485[1] most, if not all your guests, are sure to love.

http://whatsgabycooking.com/molasses-cookies/#.UqCxGmRgaQ0

Another favorite is the peanut butter cookie with a chocolate treat in the center.

https://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recipe-details.aspx?id=5191

IMG_0488[1]For a twist on this traditional peanut butter pastry, try adding cocoa powder and red sanding sugar.  Aren’t they beautiful?

http://iambaker.net/red-velvet-peanut-butter-blossoms/

If you’re looking for something “healthy” to bring to the exchange, try these glutenIMG_0484[1] free options:  ginger spice cookies from PaleOMG and dark chocolate coconut bites from Inspired Dreamer.

http://paleomg.com/soft-chewy-molasses-spice-cookies

http://inspiredreamer.com/dark-chocolate-coconut-bites

Some cookies not pictured were Vanilla All-Spice Thumbprints (Be careful with these!  They’re tiny and very good so it’s easy to eat a lot of them.), Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies, and Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies.  Putting Nutella in a peanut butter cookie?  Um, genius.

What is your favorite cookie to take to a cookie exchange?  Do any of these recipes look like a new favorite?  I hope so.  My Bible study gals and I had a great time eating cookies, drinking cider and talking about our holiday plans.  I hope you’re able to attend or host an exchange as well!

Paleo Chili

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This recipe comes from The Dawn of Paleo. I halved it for my family of three and made mashed potatoes on the side. It was a great opportunity to use some of my crockpot chicken broth. I didn’t have tomato sauce, so I used tomato paste and added some water. I also switched celery for the sweet peppers. Note to self: put sweet peppers on grocery list.
It’s a relatively quick chili that can be cooked in a large soup pot rather than the slow cooker. I didn’t have enough time for that. Yes, I procrastinated.
This recipe reminds me…I need a new can opener.

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Let Santa Come to Christmas

“Christmas has nothing to do with dancing elves, reindeer with red noses and snowmen who sing.”

I started a Christmas reading plan a few days ago from the You Version Bible app. It was going well, until today. The sentiments above are just a sampling of what the author shares as she discusses how Mary must’ve felt after Gabriel came to her. Or as the author puts it, “divinity invaded humanity.” I think he goes too far, though.

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The devotional content goes on…

“Either Christmas is a bold-faced lie or it is ultimate truth. It can be nothing else.
Either the manger should be placed in the same category as elves, jolly old Saint Nicholas and flying reindeer … or it is absolute, divine and eternal Truth.
Christmas is not about the holiday spirit that rushes toward us the day after Thanksgiving and compels us to shop, spend, and eat.”

I agree that Christmas is not only about the shopping and eating. Does anyone really think that? But do Santa, my Christmas tree, stockings and a stuffed elf spy have to be completely separate from God and Christmas? If so, why have them at all? I don’t think I’d like to visit the author’s house during the holidays. Bor-ing.

 

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The ornaments on my tree are so much more than money spent. When I look at them, I see the star topper my husband and I picked out for our first Christmas together. I see memories hanging on boughs and branches. Souvenirs from travels God has allowed us to take. Some from our families of origin, some from the pre-kiddo days and others from more recent years. Many are gifts from long distance family who wish they could be closer; figurines that represent interests or hobbies. Isn’t God in that?

IMG_0528[1]When I look over at the mantel. I see three hand made (thankyouverymuch) stockings, each one a representation of its recipient; the fabric thoughtfully chosen. I see personalized receptacles ready for tiny gifts, hand picked by the giver. Can’t God be in that?

 

IMG_0530[1]When I search the first floor, I find a small, plush elf hidden by my husband. Is he only there to teach the gospel of good works? When I see him, I see anticipation and silliness. Is he on the shelf? By the window? In the tissue box? I see fun! Surely, God is in that.

And Santa. Oh, Santa. Sant Nicholas. Did you know he was at the Council of Nicaea, defending the divinity of Christ against those who claimed He was only human. Look it up! Google it! Go ahead, get out your Encyclopedia Britannica! St. Nick was a bishop AND delivered gifts to the less fortunate. Santa loved Jesus! Now, that’s divinity invading humanity.

The day after Thanksgiving doesn’t bring a rush of holiday spirit that “compels [me] to shop, spend, and eat.” Nope. Actually, this year it was on the Sunday before Christmas. ;) We put up the tree, decorated and listened to holiday music. Together.

Divinity does invade humanity. But not just at Christmas and not separate from everything but the nativity.

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You Version reading plan:
“Joy! To your world! A Christmas Countdown”
Carol McLeod and Just Joy Ministries.

Hearty Breakfast Sandwich

sausage & applesauce biscuit

Yesterday and today, we have feasted on sausage and applesauce biscuits for breakfast.  They are super simple, grain-free, dairy-free and protein packed!  The recipe for the biscuits can be found at paleomg.com.  Just click here:  http://paleomg.com/breakfast-biscuit-sandwiches/.  I make mine smaller than Julie suggests so, I get about 6-8 in a batch.  You’ll want to adjust the cooking time.  Check them at 12 minutes.  The sausage is Earth Fare breakfast sausage.  I add a sprinkle of Lawry Salt because Nugget thinks it’s too spicy.  ;)  Just brown it in a pan on the stove.  For the applesauce, we used 10-12 apples picked while on a trip to a local orchard (central Indiana folks click here).  Peel them, core them and toss ‘em in a slow cooker.  Add 1/2 cup water, 2 heaping tsp of cinnamon, 1 tbl of honey (preferably raw and local), 1 tsp of vanilla, and a generous pinch of salt.  Cook on low for 6 hours, stir occasionally.  The honey and vanilla add a lovely, smooth, floral taste.  If the variety of apples you are using have a stronger flavor (i.e. Jonathan or Granny Smith) you may not need the honey.  To assemble the sandwich:  allow the biscuits to cool at least 5 minutes then gently slice in half.  Spoon some of the sausage onto the bottom half of a biscuit.  Just a spoonful of applesauce for the next layer and then smush the biscuit top on there.  Biscuits can be kept in the fridge in an air-tight container.  To make the sandwich with leftover biscuits, just slice them straight out of the fridge then place under a low broiler for a few minutes or in a toaster oven.  Continue assembling as before.  Enjoy!  If you’ve never eaten sausage with applesauce, you have no idea what you’ve been missing!