Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chocolate and more...but really who needs more than chocolate week!

It's interesting to me that I feel so cooped up because it's winter and feel like we've been so board. I tell everyone, in fact, how cooped up and board we are. Then I look back at the past few weeks so I can blog and I realize that I need to stop saying that. We are still having tons of fun and doing interesting things despite the winter blues. I am so grateful that when I start complaining and get into the "woe is me" mood, praying daily for summer to miraculously arrive that instead the Lord shows me how blessed I truly am and how much I have to be thankful for, regardless of the season.
So a few weeks ago we finished up our study of Japan w/ an afternoon of origami. The kids really loved it. I was surprised at how good at it they were. I'm not very good at things like that. I tried for hours to make an origami crane last year and ended up shredding my paper in frustration in the end. This year things went much better. We made origami dog faces, butterfly fliers, noise makers and dinosaur heads that chomped!

On a recent visit to my mom and dad's house they took the boys out ice fishing. They had so so so much fun. They didn't end up catching a fish of their own but one of my dad's friends had caught one and they enjoyed catching him and re-catching him in the shallow live well that had been dug for him. They came back very happy and very very stinky.

We had a very important job to do the past few weeks. Some friends of ours went on vacation and we were commissioned to take care of their three guinea pigs (Papa, Rocky and Rex) for two weeks. They picked the right kids for the jobs. I was very impressed with their diligence to care for the little critters. They made sure they were well fed and happy at all times. They loved to pet and play with them. We were sad to see them go but I won't miss cleaning up shavings all over the house or cleaning their cage (thanks again Seven for helping me w/ that...not a fun job lol). Nor do I plan to get our own anytime soon for those very reasons. If, however, you need some critter sitters, we would be happy to oblige anytime. I like the idea of just "borrowing" pets for short periods of time so the novelty doesn't wear off.

We had a wonderful field trip last week to our local fire station (thanks to Stacy who organized it!). It was so much fun, so informative and sparked a lot of great conversation for the kids and I about fire safety. Isabella , Jason and I had just watched the movie Fireproof (really awesome movie I highly recommend it) and the main character was a fire fighter and saved a few lives in the movie. It was really really neat to go to the fire station a few days later and meet real fire fighters, real people who save lives. I admire these people so much that they choose to risk their lives everyday to help others. The kids learned a lot and they loved seeing the fire fighters slide down the pole for them. Ian sleeps with his new fire hat next to his bed every night now. He has decided to set aside his aspirations to be a mountain climber and be a fireman instead, but he plans to mountain climb on the weekends lol.

The kids made a really neat Lincoln log structure with Jason the other night. They were excited that I took pictures to blog it. We have begun to judge things on if they are blog worthy or not haha. This was definitely a blog worthy construction.

So, this past week was chocolate week. I wanted to do something fun for Valentines day but also educational, of course. I also love to take a theme and spread it through the whole curriculum. Chocolate, being as wonderful as it is, was a perfect choice! We had chocolate math lessons all week. Isabella and Hannah did fractions and multiplication with Hershey bars and Isaac, Nova and Ian did counting, graphing, adding and subtracting with m&m's. We also all graphed with Hershey hugs and kisses and as most of you know we did our chocolate survey. Mika joined in wherever she thought she would get the most chocolate.
We also read a book throughout the week called "The Chocolate Touch" and we studied the history of chocolate, where it is grown and the chocolate making process. At the end of the week we made our own chocolate (with a make your own chocolate kit). I am salivating just thinking about it! I have not had sugar in a month and a half so I was trying really hard to be good all during chocolate week. I told myself at the beginning of the week that if I would allow myself the homemade chocolate only. It was so worth the wait. It was so rich and chocolatey...mmmm...I could go on for days. Anyway, not everyone shared my confection affection. Bella and Isaac didn't like it at all (which was fine with me, because I got to eat their pieces). During the process of making the chocolate we tasted and touched all of the components. We first tasted cocoa butter, then the cocoa powder, we even got to eat pieces of real cocoa beans that came w/ the kit (see crinkled disgusted faces below haha). It was really fun. All of those things were very bitter but still had a distinct chocolaty smell and flavor. I actually liked the cocoa bean despite it's bitterness, the kids did not. In the end our chocolate would probably have been classified as "semi-sweet" so the kids weren't very impressed (except Ian who shares my love for anything chocolate) but they really enjoyed the experience for sure.
Here is our kit
This is the cocoa bean
Bella and Nova's opinion of the cocoa bean

Cocoa Butter melting

After we added the cocoa powder and sugar to the cocoa butter
Our finished product!!

Certainly the climax of the week was tallying up our survey. Thank you all soooo much for participating. We had over 130 votes! The kids had so much fun collecting the data all week long. We had all made predictions in the beginning of the week and everyone was rooting for a particular kind of chocolate. The results surprised us all! In the beginning of the week Milk Chocolate had a strong lead but Dark Chocolate caught up and eventually passed it and was voted the favorite! The end results were as follows
Dark Chocolate --60 votes
Milk Chocolate--53 votes
White Chocolate--14 votes
I don't like Chocolate--2 votes
We also had 1 vote for allergic and 1 vote for chili pepper chocolate
None of us had predicted that Dark Chocolate would win. They thought it would be milk chocolate or white chocolate (their favorites). But dark chocolate (my favorite) was surprisingly the winner. I guess we like the idea of chocolate being good for us and the darker it is the better it is for your health!
In the middle of our chocolate week my sister came up for a visit with Valentines and chocolates for the kiddos! We just love it when they come visit. It was on the one really warm day (how sad that I am considering 50 degrees really warm) so we got outside to play. Madilynn was the most adorable pink marshmallow in her little snowpants and coat. I could just eat her up!

On Friday our friend Julie hosted a Valentines Day party and it was so much fun! The kids brough Valentines for all their friends and at the party they decorated bags to hold their Valentines. They also made soap and had a pinata. It was a great time. I loved Valentines parties when I was in school and was so happy we got to have a homeschool one!
Our church had a Valentine Marriage Banquet on Saturday. It was so awesome. It has nothing to do w/ the kids but I'll tell you about it anyway. I made a board of everyone's wedding pictures and their wedding dates. We had couples who had been married anywhere from 6 months to 50 years! It was so neat to make the board and look at everyone's pictures. It was my greatest scrapbook accomplishment ever, 7 feet by 3 feet! We decorated the sanctuary all pretty with individual tables complete w/ sparkling mineral water, candles and chocolates and we had a lovely breakfast buffet and romantic candle lit lunch for two catered for us in the resteraunt next to our church. Our pastor Don and his wife Amira gave some great messages about marriage. We were encouraged to understand our differences as men and women and be grateful for them and to keep our hearts pure and focused on the Lord in our marriages. We also played a super funny game and had a funny skit. It was such a great way to spend Valentines Day, not just doing something because it was Valentines Day but truly focusing on our love and our marriage from God's perspective. It made me so grateful to God for my wonderful husband! It was really a great day.

Amira gave a great message about keeping our hearts pure

Pastor Don expounded on keeping God at the center of our marriage

So this week is school vacation and I have packed it so full w/ things to do I will need a vacation from vacation by the end of usual. Blogging was on the beginning of the list and now that it's's on to my taxes...


Anonymous said...

It is wonderful hearing about all of the exciting things you all are doing. Great Lincoln Log structure! I hope you all are well!

Anonymous said...


I love all your blogs but this was a really fun filled one that I enjoyed ALOT!!

I miss you guys so much. I watched fireproof the other night, although i did not find it quite as awesome. I did enjoy it and think that it was a perfect time of the year for it to come out. It sounds like your adventures are keeping you all busy. I hope to see myself pop up in a blog soon, because that would mean we would seeeee each other!!love-ya sista