Monday, February 28, 2011

A Sobering Look at History: The Holocaust

We took a field trip last week to see a play "My Heart Is In A Suitcase".  It was a story about a Jewish family living in Germany during the Holocaust.  The family suffers persecution that gets progressively worse.  The father's business is taken away and he can't get a job. Things take a turn for the worse after the Kristallnacht and the parents decide it's best to send their daughter away on the Kinder Transport to Great Britain. Their hopes are that her parents will not be far behind her, even though the parents realize they probably will never see her again.  Sadly, the parents never make it out.  They were denied a passport to emigrate before the borders closed down.  In the end, the mother and father were sent to separate concentraion camps and neither of them survives.  Needless to say, it was a tear jerker.

I hadn't planned on learning about the Holocaust this year since we are doing history chronologically and are still around the Middle Ages. But, in preparation for the play last week we started reading about Anne Frank. Jenna and I had read it before, but this was pretty much new for Jared so I wanted him to have an understanding before we went to see the play. We also read a few Holocaust survivor stories.  I came upon a story that I'm still reading about a survivor, Stanislaw Smajzner, of the Sobibor death camp.  I wouldn't recommend it for young children (under 7th or 8th grade) since there are some horrific details.  I also found some resources here as well as a virtual tour of the Auschwitz & Birkenau concentration camps here.  I was surprised by the degree of complexity of these camps (I have a hard time using the word "sophisticated" for this instance).  I always imagined them to be much more primitive than what they were and didn't realize the extent of premeditation involved.  It's hard to believe that it was only around 70+ years ago. It is estimated that approximately 6 million Jews were victims of Germany's deliberate and  systematic attempt to annhialate the entire race of the Jewish popluation in all of Europe. 

Some of the topics we discussed in our study: propaganda, genocide, persecution, ghettos, World War II, euthanasia, emigration, Nazis, Hitler.  We looked at a map of Europe throughout our study to see where all of this was taking place, including Lithuania, where my husband's family immigrated from.  We talked about standing for who we are and what we believe, no matter what.

This was definitely the most sobering unit we've covered so far this year.  I think we can all walk away from it having a new appreciation for the value of life and liberty!

Friday, February 18, 2011

License for Sun!

It's been about a year since I had a small amount of basal cell carcinoma removed from my cheek.  Not a happy day for me. Just about every time I go to the dermatologist I have something removed and tested.  Because of that I'm a nervous wreck before I go! It is my least favorite outing every 6 months.  My friend, "Bro. Smith", and I call the dermatologist "Dr. Whack-a-mole" because we both go through the same thing. Guess it's just one of the downsides to having fair skin.

Since then I have been very careful with sun exposure.  The plastic surgeon that I saw (for stitches on another spot!) gave me a lecture on sun exposure. He told me to get some wide brim hats, wear clothing with SPF in it if I could, not to go out in the sun between 11-3pm and to always wear sunscreen.  I told him how much I love the sun and how good it makes me feel.  He replied, "Well, we all do.  But you and the sun are not friends anymore."  That was a sad day for me.  But I went out and got some hats and a daily SPF 70 sunscreen for my face and since then I have been very careful not to sit out in the sun.

I just recently had a physical and went in because I was feeling overly fatigued.  I just felt sluggish and tired all. day. long.  I woke up feeling tired and looked forward everyday to bedtime.  I thought there must be something wrong with me.  I started to wonder if I was depressed.  It got to the point where I didn't know how I would have the strength to make it to the store! How pathetic is that?  So, the doctor ordered blood work to see what was up.

I found out that I'm Vitamin D deficient.  My levels were extremely low.  So low that I have to take a 50,000 unit tablet of Vitamin D once a week for 12 weeks. My doctor told me that she's seeing this happen to a lot of people, particularly women and children.  She told me that I need to get 15-30 minutes of unprotected sun daily.  (Yay!) The important thing is not to allow yourself to burn. 

I just started taking it, so it's too soon to see results but I sure am looking forward to having more energy!

Go get some sun!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our Fondue Dinner

Flowers from my Honey

One of our favorite restaurants is The Melting Pot.  I love fondue!  Last year we started a Valentines Day fondue dinner tradition.  I found some recipes online that taste just like The Melting Pot. The kids were excited all day with anticipation for our big meal.  They love to help out (especially with decorating the marshmallows for our chocolate fondue).  One reason I love fondue is because it takes longer than a traditional meal and it gets the whole family talking and having a good time.

The kids set the table and got out our "fancy" glasses and filled them with ginger ale. Before our meal Jenna asked if we could read  I Corinthians 13: 1-8 about love.  I told her that was a great idea.  So we read the scriptures and then our meal began.

This year I was a bit more organized and had all my veggies chopped, and each tray ready to go. 
We started out with the cheese course and used cauliflower, celery, red grapes & toasted french bread to dip with.  This is my favorite course!  I could have this and nothing else and would be totally satisfied. Ingredients: shredded cheddar & swiss cheese tossed with 1-2 tbsp of flour (to keep from sticking), cooking sherry, a scoop of fresh minced garlic, a few dashes of worcestershire sauce, black pepper. 

Next, we had our main course with the MoJo broth.  It has a little kick to it! We used chicken breast (also really good with beef/steak), broccoli and red potatoes.  The kids loved this.  I was surprised because it was a little spicy. Ingredients:  vegetable broth, jerk seasoning, orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, and fresh cilantro.

Last but not least, the chocolate course!  We used strawberries and valentiney decorated marshmallows to dip. You can also use brownies, pound cake, pineapple- or whatever you like with chocolate.  Ingredients: 3 squares of baking unsweetened chocolate, light cream, sugar, butter & vanilla extract. 

A good time was had by all!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lunchtime Conversation

A typical day in our home. We sat at the table having lunch and our conversation went something like this:

Jenna: "Mom- do you ever get out of your bathrobe?"

*laughter around the table*

Me: "Well, clearly I don't.  Because, remember yesterday- I wore it to the Valentine's Party?" Gotta love sarcasm.

(I look across the table and notice Jenna is also wearing her pajamas, and to the right to see Jared is wearing his as well)

Me: "And- do you ever get out of your pajamas?"

*Jenna's eyes look up at the clock, notices it's a few minutes before noon*

Jenna: "Um, yeah.  After 12 o'clock."

Me: "A lot of other homeschoolers stay in their pajamas to do school.  It's something we can choose to do."

Jared: "Not Xander and Chanel.  They get up and get dressed right away." (Thanks, Tiff! Ha.)

Me: "Well, good. That's what works for them. We don't wear our pajamas everyday.  Sometimes you work better when you get up and get dressed.  If we're ever having a lazy day and I'm having trouble getting you guys to work I'll do what Martin & Rayne had to do.  I'll have you get up and get dressed in your Sunday best."

*Eyes begin bugging out in both children's eyes*

On a side note:
1) It's now 12:55 and Jenna is still in her jammies
2) I am still in mine
3) Jared is still in his
4) I do plan to get dressed at some point and always try to before my husband gets home ;)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Winter Walk

Ever since it got cold we have pretty much been hibernating indoors.  We have become so comfy in our home that I didn't realize we were slipping into a monotonous rut.  Not that anyone was complaining- we just are in need of spicing things up a bit.  I decided to sign the kids up for a few classes over the next few months- I'm really looking forward to some of them!

Today, we bundled up in layers and took a winter nature walk.  The kids had gone out to play in the snow yesterday and wanted to show me some animal prints that they found.  I printed up a couple of animal track identification charts, got the camera, a vial for some stream water (to look at under the microscope) and we headed out.

After the initial shock of the cold wore off we really had a good time.  It was just what we needed. 

Some of the things we observed...

We came inside to do our sketches of something interesting from our walk.  Jenna sketched the Cattail  she picked from beside the pond.  Jared was going to sketch what we saw under the microscope of the stream water but...I think I need some help working the thing or a better one *scratching head*. Ha!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Valentine Tree

It's the time of year when we're stuck inside and become inspired to do fun crafts.  I found this idea on a blog recently and decided we had to give it a try.  The hardest part for me was finding branches! We only have baby trees around our house so we went on a search for these branches.  I spray painted them gray and then we made our little valentine ornaments for it.  We used felt, buttons, laces, rick rack, pearl beads, polyfill stuffing and let our imaginations do the rest.  I set the "tree" in a red pot and stuffed tissue paper around the base to keep them standing up.

Happy Valentine's Day!