Monday, April 15, 2013
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Really, who wants to eat the "same old, same old" pizza? I know my family likes variety.
We have only purchased grocery store pizza a few times.
I just prefer to make my own at home. It's what my family prefers to eat.
In years past, we did make classic pepperoni, but as our kids have gotten older, they are not big fans. "It's too hot. It's too spicy." You know the drill.
So, what kind of pizza do we enjoy? Well, the closest to traditional would be spinach pizza with very light cheese (we all kind of have an aversion to too much cheese, especially Olivia, Cierah and me.) And we also enjoy barbecued bean pizza.
Yep, you read it right.
Have you had Bush's Grillin' Beans? Oh. My. Word. Good stuff. We use the Grillin' Beans in place of sauce and toppings, adding pineapple and light cheese, plus a tiny bit of oregano. Sooo good.
But perhaps the most unusual (yet VERY loved and requested) would be...Pugush.
"What's pugush?", you ask.
Well, ask five people and you're likely to get five different, albeit slighly similar, answers.
For our family, pugush is a simple recipe, handed down from my mom's 100% Polish side, that I would affectionately rename "Polish Perogie Pizza" if I could. Have you ever had cheese & potato perogies? If so, consider that you could enjoy them "on a pizza." That, my friends, is Pugush.
Here is my recipe, tweaked just a tiny bit from the recipe my mom handed down to me. I would encourage you to give it a try. It's very filling, so perhaps just some lovely fruit like blueberries or fresh strawberries served as a side?
PUGUSH (Polish perogie pizza) Makes 1 large rectangular pizza
7 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled, cut into 1" cubes, boiled until tender.
8 oz extra sharp cheddar OR colby jack, shredded.
4 tbsp margarine (or any butter/substitute you prefer)
1 medium/large onion, finely chopped for saute
1 can evaporated milk (can use skim)
Dough: (you can substitute any pizza dough you prefer)
3-¾ cups flour
1-½ tsp. salt
1-½ tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. oil
1-½ Tbsp. quick rise yeast
1-½ cup warm water
Peel and boil potatoes until soft/tender for mashing. While cooking, grate cheese and sautee onions in butter over low/medium heat with lid on pan, stirring frequenly to prevent burning (can add more butter if needed.) Sautee until translucent/tender. When potatoes and onions fully cooked, add onions/butter to potatoes, then add 1/2 can evaporated milk and mash as for mashed potatoes. Continue to add milk and then salt to taste, until a spreadable mashed potato consistency is achieved (dont' overthink it.) Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375º
In a large bowl, place first 4 ingredients of dough. In separate, smaller bow, add warm water and yeast, wisking well to incorporate. Pour this into the larger bowl and stir with a large spoon until hand kneading is necessary. Knead for approximately 4 minutes on flat surface.
Spray pan with cooking spray, then work dough into pan (I use a rolling pin for this, as the dough does not spread very easily). Prebake for 3 minutes.
Spread cheese/potato mix over dough carefully, then bake for 15-25 minutes (check bottom of dough. Pizza is done when dough is lightly browned to the middle.)
Cool 5-10 minutes, then slice and enjoy.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Mondays are a crazy blur of discombobulated oxymoronic organized chaos. Oh my word, it's not easy getting 6 people out of bed, dressed, fed, and hair "done" for school photos. (You know, "done", as in actually brushed and then rebrushed 14 times before we leave the house, not including the additional hair Mulligans on the way to school.)
It's even more difficult to grab 4 backpacks (one on wheels because my oldest has to bring ALL her curriculum with her for the school day), a canvas bookbag crammed to full-over with teacher guides, tin whistles and more, a lunchbox full of drink bags, and the day's potluck donation. Add 3 swim bags and a purse that could rival a crane ball as a weapon, and you get a glimpse into the crazy pace of it all. But "it all" is our life, and truth be told, we kind of like it a tad chaotic. Okay sure, could do without the tin whistles serenading us "cacophany style" down the road, uh hem, but other than that, it's reeeally okay.
Monday, September 3, 2012
Challenge A (a first time CC student's experience)Okay, so! We are "up and running", as they say. We have officially completed our first two weeks with our new Classical Conversations(CC) community. Specifically, my oldest child has completed her first two weeks. Her siblings have been "doing school" lightly all summer long, and have completed math, reading, copywork/handwriting, math drills, typing, and some grammar review with me each day since their older sister began her new schooling with CC.
If you are an "on the fence" parent (wanting to try CC but hesitant to jump in with older children who have never been in Foundations and/or Essentials), here is what I want say to you. Ready? Don't miss it. Here it comes....................I want to encourage you, ENCOURAGE you, E-N-C-O-U-R-A-G-E YOU that your child can succeed and that you will not feel unsupported in your endeavor.
Seriously, I cannot say enough good things about our local community and the parents, tutors, and highly committed director who are making this transition as painless as possible for my family and me. I have sincere encouragement and support and so does my Challenge A student (who has never had Foundations, never had Essentials, and has had only minimal exposure to Latin prior to our joining CC.)
She loves the familiar layout of her days at home (which, with the exception of one adjustment I had to make to her schedule, follows the order of her full day at CC each week; the continuity at home is great for the students.) I will say she works hard. We are up at 7:30am and her schooling starts at 8am sharp. She works a full hour per strand ("subject"), and must stay on task if she wishes to avoid homework or keep it to a minimum. She finishes her schooling at 2:30pm, completes chores for 15 minutes, then must address any homework promptly, since she's a competitive swimmer and puts in 90 minutes at the pool 5 days per week. As I said, she works hard.
But the point here is to encourage you. Do you want the benefit of an intimate group of Christian peers, iron sharpening iron, for whom the academic bar has been raised while full support is given in teaching them to believe they can reach that bar? Do you want your child to learn to think critically and analytically, and to learn to express their convictions intelligently and persuasively? Do you want them to be able to regularly practice (and constantly improve) the skills of oral presentation in front of a group of adults and peers alike? Do you want them equipped to research and to formally document that research according to college standards? Back in the day, I dreaded "term papers" because they were always a "heavily weighted beast" of a foreign object that I had to somehow navigate successfully to the expectations of a teacher or Prof. (with little training or practice in the "how to" of producing such papers.) Not so with CC.
With CC, beginning in the Challenges, the students get plenty of practice in research, writing, and speaking. Oh, the absolute joy it brings me to know my daughter is gaining this advantage in her education.
In two weeks, she has already written FOUR papers. And she has already orally presented two of them. (Keep in mind, she had not previously had public speaking opportunities, other than National Spelling Bee and end-of-year presentations with another homeschool group we participate in.) Next week, she will orally present the other two papers (using only notecards and a key word outline for one them.) Sound like too much? It's not. Seriously, it's really not. The students are given much direction, plenty of encouragement, and PLENTY of grace as they learn. It's such a huge blessing on them.
If you've thought about Classical Conversations but have reservations about whether your children can succeed when jumping in later rather than earlier, please feel free to ask me any questions you might have about our experience. I will continue to post as we move forward in the months to come. But as far as our coming out of the proverbial gate, I do believe we're going to have a great run. I'm very, very pleased that we stepped out in faith and joined CC and that CC has embraced our family as well.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
So, the summer continues to fly quickly by (as summers are known to do). We've had dance recitals, visits with family, a few hikes through canyons and creek beds, chances to chase fireflies, fireworks (in spite of the drought), cool-offs at the Splash Pad, swim meets, and more. Oh, the sweet blessings of summer.
At the same time, I often feel like there aren't enough hours in a day to plan for our coming school year. Then again, it seems there is oddly little planning I can actually do because our new Classical Conversations venture must, to some extent, simply unfold. I'm trying not to worry too much (as if I'd have any real clue of what specifically to worry about). It's just that I'm so used to planning out our year, hour by hour, day by day, week by week. But this year must simply unfold a bit first.
So, what have I been able to do to prepare? Well, in late June, I attended the 3-day parent Practicum organized by Classical Conversations. Oh my word, I was so inspired, challenged in my thinking, and enlightened. Inspired that the classical model will be good (no, great!) for my children. We have incorporated classical elements into our homeschool learning for years, but I'm excited to make it our main focus moving forward.(I'd be here all day if I ventured into my convictions.) Challenged by parents who in turn challenge their children to their fullest potential. No backing down or "watering down" the hard work of,...well disciplined, hard work. And oh, the amazing things their students are able to accomplish when the bar is raised. (They in fact demonstrated the result of their year-long CC work for us.) Enlightened to the model and method of Classical Conversations as it relates to a classical education.
My oldest daughter will enter the Challenge program without the benefit of Foundations or Essentials. This summer, she has been listening to the Foundations Latin memory work on her mp3, and has been doing daily drills and some accelerated math as well. She has also read all the books assigned in her Challenge level for the year, so she will have a first-run familiarity with them before she has to officially read and discuss them in class. I know she will have her work cut out for her in adjusting to her new schooling, but I also think she will be motivated and encouraged by the friendships she'll form with her peers at CC.
My two middle children have been writing out the definitions of the eight parts of speech, as well as the list of prepositions used in CC (thankfully, they're coming off a year of heavy work with prepositions and prepositional phrases, so the list is merely a longer version of one they had previously memorized at home.) They are also continuing with math and daily drills.
My 5 year old has begun his Kindergarten math curriculum (we use Math-U-See), and is doing some light phonics and sounding out C-V-C words. All four are reading at least 30 minutes per day, the middle children read a page out loud to me, and the youngest listens to stories and sounds out some words in the text as we go.
So, what else can I do to prepare? Well, I'm reading Leigh Bortins'The Core, a book I would highly suggest any "homeschooling" parent read. (To be sure, all parents, who take a committed interest in their children's educations, homeschool to some extent, regardless of the schooling option they've chosen.) This book is literally filled with terrific practical suggestions on how to take advantage of the way the brain learns, to challenge our children to their fullest potential in their school work (or after-school work), and on how to make learning a priority in daily life at home.
I'm also tracking down resources to supplement our weekly history and science focus at CC. We already have many on hand (ie. Story of The World volumes and Mystery of History volumes). But we will also fill our book basket with living books from the library so the children can "sample and feast on" a variety of coordinated books each week.
I've already met several wonderful people from our CC community this summer, and have joined a book club based on The Core, to gain insight from others in the group as well. And yet...our new venture must simply begin to unfold.
And so we anticipate as August 20th quickly approaches. Olivia will begin Challenge A on that day. I plan to sit in on her first two weeks, to get a feel for her days so I can better assist her in adjusting at home. After that, my time will be divided to my other children's classrooms as well. Her siblings start 3 weeks later. We've officially made the transition to year-round schooling, so we'll all be busy doing something of educational value in the midst of our waiting.
If you are using Classical Conversations for the coming year, especially if it's your first year, I'd love to hear how your plans are going. Leave me a link in comments and I'll be sure to visit.
Live wise in Him!
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Live wise in Him!
Monday, June 4, 2012
We also enjoyed a fun-filled day of rafting and water slides at Big Surf waterpark. Olivia spent the entire 6 hours on her raft, becoming quite the "surfer", while the younger children preferred the water slides. This park is part of my childhood and I hadn't been back in 33 years. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it has been maintained and how much it's grown. We were blessed to get a very sizable discount by providing three food donation items (each) when we bought our tickets. Win-win.
Live wise in Him!