Category Archives: Fun

Easy Vegan Organic Energy Bars

vegan energy barsYesterday I had a craving for a high-energy, chocolatey snack, so I decided to make my own all-organic, vegan energy bars. I have seen various versions of these online lately so I had a basic idea of what goes in them and in what quantities. I made this recipe up myself as I went along and I was very pleased with the results. There’s no baking involved, but I did stick them in the freezer for 45 min. to set before I cut them. My two-year-old wasn’t crazy about them but the rest of the family gave rave reviews.

Ingredients:
1 c. dried fruit (I used a combination of apricots & raisins)
1 c. almond meal (if you use almond butter you can reduce the amount of water you add)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus about 1/4 c. more to sprinkle on top just before freezing)
1/2
cup water
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tbs. maple syrup
1 tbs. walnut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice blend
2 cups raw nuts and or seeds of choice (I used pumpkin and sunflower seeds)

Blend all ingredients except the 2 cups of nuts in a Vitamix or food processor. The mixture should be moist but not soupy, kind of like chunky nut butter. Scrape into a bowl and stir in 2 cups nuts and seeds. Press into an 8″ x 8″ square pan and sprinkle the additional shredded coconut on top. Freeze for 45 min., then cut and enjoy.

 

#FridayFavorite: Duolingo

duolingoI am so very happy that I discovered Duolingo at the end of last year. As a home schooler and life long learner, I am always looking to try new things, pick up new skills, and spark interests in my kids. This amazing site allows you to learn a host of new languages absolutely FREE, and the quality is very comparable to Rosetta Stone, which we’ve also tried. Thanks to Duolingo, my husband, 8- and 9-year-old, and I are all learning German and Spanish (in my case brushing up on the Spanish, which I had been meaning to do forever) this year.

The site offers brief lessons that are easy to keep up with, and you can select the pace at which you’d like to learn so that you receive reminder e-mails at the right frequency for you. Besides the regular lessons, you can engage in discussions with other language learners, and practice translating documents, so you get a pretty well rounded language experience.

I love, love, love this site and highly recommend you check it out if you’re interested in studying other languages.

Classical Conversations Practicum & Foundations Tutor Training

It’s been a while since I’ve written about home schooling, so I thought I’d give an update on the latest. We’re just winding down to our summer schedule, which includes reading more great books at our leisure, practicing Spanish conversation, and lots of time in nature. We also just attended a Classical Conversations Practicum, which is a fabulous three-day, free training for parents (kids’ camps available at a very reasonable price) on classical education as well as the CC theme for the year. This year’s theme is rhetoric. I love these events because they are so encouraging and thought provoking, and I meet the most wonderful people. I can’t resist giving a little plug here, so if you’re interested in attending one near you, check out this link for more details, times, and dates: http://parentpracticum.com.

For CC tutors and directors, there are afternoon trainings during the Practicum for Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge. I attended the Foundations training at this Practicum, and I was really impressed. The trainer had brought a posse of extremely talented, close knit tutors from her community and incorporated lots of demonstrations of ways to present the content in the classroom. Even with a year of tutoring already under my belt, I learned so much from them! It was inspiring to see what good friends these tutors have become. They’re obviously helping to elevate one another to the highest standards of excellence while keeping it lots of fun. I hope to foster this same kind of environment as I direct my own community this year.

Another great thing about the Foundations tutor training was that issues like discipline and classroom management were brought to the forefront and plenty of ideas shared from experienced tutors. I hadn’t had any experience leading a classroom when I started tutoring, and I was primarily focused on creativity in presenting the content rather than setting classroom expectations and having a plan of action for disciplinary issues. I thought that since parents are usually in the classroom with their children, I could leave that entirely up to them, but I’ve since realized that every classroom needs clear expectations and some form of discipline in order to run smoothly. I later found lots of great classroom management ideas on Pinterest, but I wish I would have used them from day one. If you are going to be a CC tutor in the coming year, be sure to spend some time thinking about your strategy for maintaining order. The kids quickly become good friends and are excited to see each other every week, so it’s normal for them to be energetic and chatty when they come together. It’s important to keep things fun, but also to emphasize the importance of respect for others, respect for the property, following instructions, etc. for the benefit of everyone participating.

Review games was another topic we spent a good deal of time on, including more great demonstrations. This was an area I hadn’t anticipated spending so much prep time on as a tutor. Every week, I’d agonize over finding the perfect review game, and I felt like I had to come up with a new one every week (at least for the first half of our year). There was a lot of trial and error. Again, I found tons of stuff on Pinterest, but it was hard to gauge what would work with my kids until I actually tried it. I had kids who were very competitive, and kids who were not at all. I had a couple kids who rarely wanted to play any game, no matter what it was. I was tempted to take it personally when a game didn’t work out. At the training I found out that most of the tutors struggled with these very same issues. It would have been great to hear this last year just so I’d know I wasn’t alone or doing something wrong. Turns out I really only needed 4-5 good games for my class and there was one they requested almost every week. I had a fantastic first year as a tutor and I LOVED my class dearly — these are just little things I wish I’d anticipated to make the year even more amazing. I have no complaints — I just mention these things here to help others who may be preparing to tutor for the first time.

Our new community is growing nicely and I’m excited to see who the Lord brings to join us over the year. We have more Info Meetings to hold over the coming months, and it seems that more and more people are hearing about CC all the time. We had 70,000+ students nationwide last year! It’s really exciting to be part of this dynamic community, which is stretching my whole family on so many levels. I look forward to reporting more as our journey continues to unfold.

 

 

Fortified (I’m Turning 40 Tomorrow!)

Tomorrow is the much-anticipated big day… the day I happily wave good-bye to my thirties (not that it was a bad decade, by any means) and turn to greet a fresh new decade ripe with possibilities and full of the promise of great ongoing progress. I guess we all love fresh starts, and although we can theoretically have one any day we choose, it always helps to have the momentum or pomp and circumstance of an appropriate event like a milestone birthday to take full advantage of the opportunity.

So, I keep getting asked what I am going to do to celebrate. In fact, I began celebrating at the beginning of the year and will continue to do so for as long as possible…hopefully forever. My gift to myself for this year and this decade, at least, is unprecedented health and balance. For one thing, I decided to get back into athletic shape, similar to when I was in high school, playing sports year-round and setting school and local records left and right. I want exercise and athleticism to again be part of my daily regimen, and even identity. I love the discipline and the connection with my body, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with working out regularly. So, as I’ve blogged about before, I signed up for a Spartan Race and am enjoying the training immensely.

I’ve also been pampering myself a lot more. I’ve never been much of a girly-girl, so for me one of the ultimate luxuries is making time to read, for pleasure and for my own education. Sitting down with a cup of organic decaf coffee and a great book for even half an hour is the equivalent of a spa day or a week’s vacation at this point in my life. On a similar note, writing just for the sake of writing is another guilty pleasure of mine, which is why I began this new blog earlier this year. In fact, at this very moment, I should be cajoling my children to do their math work (we home school), but since they’re playing happily together outside and the baby is napping, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to flex my fingers and reflect on how I’m feeling. Math can wait, especially on a beautiful day like today.

I like to keep things simple and natural, and every so often I have to remind myself to shed the unnecessary and get back to the basics. I’m feeling more comfortable in my own skin than ever before, somewhat as if I’ve been rediscovering what I’ve always known and loved about myself. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve been through and everything I’ve been given. Are there things I want that I can’t have right now? Things I regret? Sure, a few. But overall I am in a really great place, and it feels very solid and secure. I certainly didn’t get to this place by myself, but I’ve worked hard to get here nonetheless, and there are things I’ve learned along the way that can’t ever be taken away from me now. In short, I have so much more than a birthday to celebrate, so it’s hard for me to plan a day, or a week, or a party that could possibly capture who I am and how I’m feeling this year (especially on my budget – ha!). Instead, I will do my best to celebrate my Life, and all it includes, to the fullest, each and every day. Cheers!

I am Spartan, hear me roar!

Spartan graphic  I recently signed up for a Spartan race and I am so happy I did. The Spartan team sends me daily workouts, so I never get bored or wonder what I should do on a particular day. I never thought I could find the time to exercise EVERY DAY, but somehow when I see that specific physical assignment in my inbox each morning I feel (happily) compelled to rise to the occasion. I have been an athlete all my life, but now that I’m older and have young children I’ve been struggling to maintain a consistent exercise regimen unless I have a fun event to train for. I don’t like to run for running’s sake. I need a goal to pursue… a challenge to look forward to. The fact that I get to crawl through mud and climb walls and things makes it all the more exciting.

As if the workout motivation weren’t enough, Spartan also sends daily recipes incorporating most of my very favorite foods. So even my meals have gotten more interesting since joining this event, which is really more of a community. Love it. Thank you, Spartan! Looking forward to getting my @$$ kicked later this Spring, and I’m sure I’ll be back for more later in the year. Haha.