Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chocolate Napoleons a la Dawn


Each month my church observes the Lord's Supper on the last Sunday and follows with a fellowship meal. We try to have a simple theme for the meal to make it interesting. For this month's "The French Connection," I felt compelled to make a pastry. As today was busy enough with sports and a field trip, I took a more complicated recipe and altered it. This one gets a 4 out of 5 stars rating from me for ease. Brian got a sample, and exclaimed, "Yummmmy! Wow! Can I have another?" I decided that merited a post. Here's the recipe:

2 boxes puff pastry dough
2 5.85 oz boxes instant chocolate pudding
1 16 oz tub Cool Whip
milk- about 2 cups
chocolate almond bark

1. Follow instructions on pastry dough box for thawing dough and preheating oven.

2. Unfold pastry onto a lightly floured cutting surface. Cut into 9 rectangles or use a cookie cutter to cut as many of desired shape as possible. I used a leaf-shaped cutter since it's fall. Place cut-outs onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake as directed on box.

3. Transfer baked puff pastries to wire rack and cool completely.

4. In a large mixing bowl, mix the 2 boxes of pudding and cool whip with a large spoon. It will make a thick, lumpy mixture. Add in 1/2 cup of milk and stir. Continue to add milk in small amounts and mix with hand-held mixer until you have a smooth and creamy, but stiff filling. I did not use a measuing cup for the milk and do not know the exact amount I use altogether, so use your judgment on this step. Be careful not to add too much milk or the filling will be runny. This filling also makes a great pie. Just add it to a graham cracker crust.

5. Gently open each pastry puff and fill with one spoonful of pudding mixture. Reclose each pastry.

6. Place 2 squares of almond bark in a small, microwavable bowl. Microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until it is melted.

7. Drizzle melted chocolate over puffs and allow it to harden.

8. ENJOY!!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mathletes Week 2

Last week one team member started a chart like this one:

A- 34, 29, 24

B- 33, 28

C- 32, 27

D- 31, 26

E- 30, 25

He noticed that each person's counting decreased by 5 so he decided only to complete Amy's row.

A- 34, 29, 24, 19, 14, 9, 4

Then he counted backwards. If Amy said 4, then B said 3, C- 2, and D- 1. Diego was the correct answer.

He used a chart, skip counting, and counting backwards to find the answer.

Hint for this week:

Draw a picture of the 15 houses on Mr. Sullivan's street. Use pencil to write in the house numbers. Consider the first few houses on a street, then the house Mr. Sullivan might live in, and then the first few houses that come after that. Use trial and error to find the answer. If you do this and it works for you, when you report, tell me you used the trial and error method. If you find a different method, explain it to me. I may post your idea next week.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mathletes Hint

Hi Team!
Here's a hint to help you solve this week's challenge:

This week's problem cannot be solved by simply adding or subtracting. Draw a picture or a chart to represent the "story" within the problem. You can even act this one out with your family. The answer is there if you look for a pattern.

A- 34, 29
B- 33, 28
C- 32, ?
D- 31, ?
E- 30, ?

Saturday, September 20, 2008


BT is taking golf lessons this month. He enjoys his time outdoors and getting to hit balls. He also gets to see many of his good friends as the class is for homeschoolers. The best part is that the lessons are free, and there is no charge for the use of the course or clubs. What a blessing!
Bruster and I get to spend the time together either in the clubhouse, finishing up any lessons not completed by golf time or outside, putting or bird watching. Sometimes he putts, and I get to socialize with my fellow homeschool moms, a rare treat. We homeschool moms must tend to our socialization from time to time too!
School is back in full swing (Ha! Ha! Pun intended) around here too. This week we remembered the Alamo and began reading about the Cherokee Trail of Tears.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Soccer Time

Bruster had his first soccer game Saturday. He is the cutie pie in the green uniform to the left and is a "green dragon" this year. In his age division, score is not kept, but he gave it his best effort Saturday. He blocked two goals; goalie seems to be his favorite position. We all had a great time watching him play.

I never thought I would get so excited about a game. I have NEVER been a sports fan. I don't even enjoy the Super Bowl or the World Series. But something happens when your child is on the field. I became that crazy mom on the sidelines yelling, "That's my baby!" He really is my baby, even though I haven't been able to cradle him for years. "Behold! Children are an inheritance of Jehovah; the fruit of the womb is his reward," says Psalm 127:3. What a joy it is to be a soccer mom.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Patrick Henry

Each year our homeschool association hosts a Spotlight Night at which our children give presentations related to their course of study. Last year, our family completed a thematic unit on the American Revolution and the founding of our nation. BT thought Patrick Henry was the most interesting of our founding fathers and memorized an excerpt of his most famous speech, Liberty or Death. The video above is of the recitation he gave that night. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


When my boys were toddlers, I knew when nap time was over because invariably the sounds of BT bouncing about, putting on a show for Bruster, followed by cackles from the crib would resound down the hallway. One day this we're-up-now-Mommy announcement came in a very unusual way. I heard BT yelling something, as though he were frustrated, then a loud THUMP, followed by Bruster's cackle. It scared me at first, and I took off for their room as fast as I could.
I cracked the door to see that BT had an open book placed on the floor in front of him. He looked at the book sternly, positioned his fists on his hips, and proclaimed, "Boo cadoo! I cun do!" With much anticipation, he jumped onto the open pages of the book, only to shake his head in frustration when he landed on top of the book and not within the world of the illustrations. Those of you familiar with the show Blue Clues understand what was going on. There is a segment in each episode in which Blue and Steve sing, "Blue skidoo... we can too." Then they jump into a book, painting, etc., and explore the drawings up close and personal. Ben just knew that if he persisted he could "cadoo" just like "Boo."
This is one of the funniest things that I have ever caught him doing, and those of you who know him would agree when I say that he is a real corker! I'm still laughing over that one, but it made me wonder.... Are pre-schoolers the only ones who have difficulty drawing lines between fiction and reality? How often in my life have I tried to skidoo? I open up Martha Stewart Living. (sing along with Blue, if you know the tune) Do-do-do, do-da-doo... THUMP! I just can't seem to pull off the ideals she sets before me. I see a model on the cover of a magazine. Do-do-do, do-da-doo... THUMP! I cannot manage to skidoo into a size 2, no matter how hard I try. I see a career-oriented woman being praised for her accomplishments, and do-do-do... well, you get the point.
The reality is that no matter how hard we try, we cannot have it all. Therefore, we must guard our hearts against the many skewed definitions of womanhood prevalent today. How do we do that? By looking to the only place we can find absolute truth, the Holy Bible.

Titus 2:4-5 tells me to "have love for (my) husband and children, to be wise in mind, clean in heart, kind; working in (my) house, living under the authority of (my) husband; so that no evil may be said of the word of God."
Proverbs 31:27 & 30 instructs me to "looketh well to the ways of (my) household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised."
I take these words at face value and believe my life as a wife and mother is to be one of service... service to my husband, my children, my home. It means that my life is not my own, to do with as I please, but is the Lord's and is to be used for His glory. It means that I regularly check my motives. Does this "thing" that I must do or have fit into God's plan for me as a woman, a wife, a mother? Are His glory and my home life in the forefront of my thinking? It means being continually poured out, fitting into my husband's plans, considering his needs before mine. It means not ingesting the idle lies the world dishes out about who I should be or what I should achieve.
Seems like a tall order, doesn't it? It is, and I have never lived it perfectly. But when I am tempted to skidoo, I look to Christ. When I remember that He left the riches and glory of heaven and endured the cross and the wrath that I deserve, I realize that leaving a career to work at home pales in comparison. When I reflect on his body that was broken and blood that was poured out, I know that my responsibilities at home are just not that hard. When I contemplate his agony, it becomes clear that submitting to my husband who loves me dearly is not as sacrificial as I want to make it out to be. When I remember the price Jesus paid for me, the need to skidoo is squelched because I know that I do not need the recognition of this world to feel important. I know that I have a loving God who is pleased by my service at home and who gives me the grace each day to be satisfied in Him.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Old Dogs

As you may have already noticed, the Home School Dawn blog has received some remodeling. Along with new pictures and a new color-scheme, I have added a new gadget to the sidebar, "Our YouTube."
I found myself posting a lot of videos. This is a favorite project of ours, and so I wanted it to be a permanent fixture on our blog.
After several hours of failed efforts, I finally got it right. I guess you can teach an old dog a new trick.

To date there are seven videos:
1. Our Pictures- a slide show of favorites
2. Super Nohnie- BT's 3rd grade writing project that I described in an earlier post
3. Lonely Bird History- BT's 2nd grade writing project, described in an earlier post
4. Case of the Missing Cow- BT's 1st grade writing project, described in an earlier post
5. Pebble Bay- Bruster's 2nd grade writing project
6. The Astronaut Who Was Afraid of Heights- Bruster's first grade writing project; He won 1st place in the 1st grade division of our state's Reading Rainbow Contest for this one!
7. God Sends Rain- Bruster's Kindergarten writing project; He received an honorable mention in the Reading Rainbow contest for it!

Simply click on the icon of the video you wish to watch and make sure your speakers are turned on. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Writer's Workshop

Each day we dedicate about forty-five minutes to writer's workshop. In the first fifteen, we
complete short grammar lessons, usually Daily Grammar Practice by Dawn Burnette. I also have the boys play games to reinforce skills or complete editing sheets during this time. The rest of the time is spent in the writing process. I give the boys one of many different graphic organizers to begin brainstorming. We use word webs, time lines, outlines, story maps, as well as many others. I then have the boys develop these further and do a very basic storyboard, explaining what will happen at the beginning of, in the middle of, and at the end of their stories.

After I think their thoughts are well organized, we begin the rough draft. When they were younger, they would dictate their stories to me and I would write or type them. Now, they are able to write independently. Know that their first drafts are no where near the quality of the published work. It takes weeks of editing, discussing ideas, and rewriting to get them polished. When I edit, I ask clarifying questions when the storyline becomes unclear or strays off topic. I also circle or mark misspellings or grammar mistakes that are within their range of ability to correct. I am also working toward having them edit each other's work. Finally, they publish their work by typing it and adding illustrations. They complete 3 or 4 published works per year.

Each year I submit their best stories to the Reading Rainbow Young Writer's and Illustrator's Contest. I have posted videos of the boys' final writing project for each year, 2006-2008, in "Our YouTube" gadget in the sidebar.

I am an advocate of "authentic" school work. This means having students create something or complete a task, rather than fill in blanks. I am so glad that I have been taking this approach with the boys because they have benefited greatly, but also, I have these wonderful mementos of their development.

Super Nohnie

Super Nohnie is a story about my mother, pictured to the left with BT. BT's grandma name for her is "Nohnie." She contracted polio when she was seven and is paralyzed in her left leg. She has worn a number of prosthetic devices throughout her life. In recent years, the degenerative condition caused by the effects of paralysis and neuropathy, post polio, has weakened her, and she uses a mobility chair.

In real life, Nohnie has many physical limitations, but in BT's mind she is a super hero who uses her prosthetics for the good of mankind. His love for her is obvious in his original comic book. Each word was written with the intent of honoring his very grand, grandmother.

Video of the story is posted in "Our YouTube" in the sidebar.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Art Work

Joyful Birds:

Red-winged Blackbird with Crows

Painted by BT

March, 2008

Eco-Friendly Fuel:

A Ruby-throated Hummingbird Sips Nectar

Pained by Bruster

March, 2008

Mad Libs

Before the boys were born, I taught 3rd grade at a public school in downtown Memphis. The grammar curriculum we used emphasized teaching the eight parts of speech during the 3rd level, so on Fridays for fun, I would do Mad Libs with my students. If you are not familiar with the concept, Mad Libs are a collection of paragraphs, each of which would be amusing in and of themselves. However, to make them truly "mad," about a dozen words are omitted. In their places are blanks with a part of speech listed beneath each line. My students would take turns providing the words for the blanks which reinforced their knowledge of the parts of speech.
Our boys have learned enough in this area to begin to attempt Mad Libs. We have been doing about five per week on Friday nights and have had a blast. Here is one of the funniest examples. I have italicized the words that the boys provided. Keep in mind that they were only told the part of speech and had to provide a word without knowing the context of the story.
If you are looking for a fun, inexpensive, educational, and easy activity, Mad Libs are great. The booklets are available at bookstores everywhere, including the book aisle at Wal Mart.

Safety Precautions for Campers
Attention campers! A few weeks ago, you were a miserable t.v., living in the pretty city with your gaseous parents. Just a few weeks at Camp Fobo will turn you into a self-reliant, fearless trashcan. But first, you must learn to exist in the wild.
Rule One: If you catch a coral and make a fire to cook it, always remember to pour apple juice on the fire when you are through. As Smokey the Salamander always says, "Leaping lizards!"
Rule Two: Do not go more than 7 million yards away from the trail. If you get lost, remember that bellies always grow on the north side of a gourd. If you have a compass, the needle will always point toward Wal Mart. If you run into a bear, do not give it apples. Just be calm and climb a candle stick. If you follow these rules, you can live very creatively in the woods.
from Off the Wall Mad Libs, copyright 2001, Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, New York