Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Finding a Secular Science Homeschool Curriculum

It's almost laughable. A secular science curriculum?  They are out there, and they are extremely hard to find. Lots of authors tip toe around the Christian majority who homeschool, and there are so many creationism curricula it's unreal.

Well, let me show you what I've found so hopefully you won't be driven to wine at 10:30am. Some stuff I've used, some stuff I will try this year. Please feel free to comment below if you've used any of these and have had success (or not) with them.

  • Intelligo unit studies are a great resource.  Last year my son did one of their astronomy units, and found it very inspiring and thorough.  They are so secular they have TWO unit studies on Evolution, and frankly, they are one of the few curricula I have ever seen to have it.
  • Last year we used Noe Science and if I get around to it I will write a complete review of it.  Currently the entire curricula is missing because of our move....so I'll have to find it first. It came with a science kit, lots of experiments and was pretty fun to use.  There are no tests, which I didn't like, so it was hard for me to know what my children were retaining.  We did Biology, and I'm sure it's pretty obvious, but evolution was never discussed.  Also, there is a biblical verse in the beginning, however the rest of the curricula had no reference to any religion.
  • Real Science Odyssey is said to be a secular science curricula. This is a contender this year for my butterfly.  I'm betting this particular curriculum is to easy for my little science geek son, but it might be a good fit for my girl.
  • Focus on Middle School Science is more of a contender for my son.  They also claim to be secular.
  • Elemental Science is also a contender for us next year.  They go from pre-k to 7th grade and up. Edit: We ended up not choosing this curricula, so I have no personal experience with it. Comments below have noted that this is not quite a secular curricula but more of a neutral curricula. They do not cover evolution.
  • Building Foundations is another secular curricula. It comes in different levels up to 8th grade.
  • Last one I found that seemed worthy of a nod was the Nancy Larson science curriculum. This curricula is for kindergarten through fourth grade.

So there you have it.  Hopefully with this post I've saved some sanity for you.  If I missed any curricula just link it below, I'm happy to add any secular science curricula my readers may find.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - All primal

I'm grumpy...and I'm going to admit something.  I hate sitting down planning menus.  I truly enjoy eating from said menus.  We eat better, and stay within our budget when I plan out menus. I know some people sell menu plans...I sincerely wish I had the extra money laying around to buy one.  Also, we have a leg of lamb we got at the end of last summer that's been sitting in our freezer.  It's been in there long enough, maybe too long.  It must be eaten before it gets any more burned. Anyway...here I go with this week's menu plan.

Monday: Leftover Cookout stuff
Tuesday: Paleo Kung Pao Chicken (can you believe it?!)
Wednesday: Fire Roasted Paleo Chili
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: Pankoconut Fish Sticks with sweet potato fries.
Saturday: Going to a cook out!
Sunday: Roasted Leg of Lamb

A recipe I'd like to try out this week: Breakfast cookies!
One recipe we tried last week that was awesome was this seasoning recipe for tacos.

Linking up with Organizing Junkie, be sure to check it out for more menu plans (just in case you hate to make them like I do!!).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

No Sugar Jalapeño Raspberry Vinaigrette

After the stress of moving I've needed to clean out my diet.  Less hard cider, more salads. The stress of this move helped me put on five pounds, and I don't want my salads to be the same old boring salads.  I've always found that when I make my own dressing they taste so much better.  I had been craving a Jalapeño Raspberry Vinaigrette and I couldn't find a primal/paleo recipe anywhere so I made one up myself.  It was so good I had to share it with you.  If you like a sweet/spicey combo this one is for you. You should know, this recipe does not store long in the fridge.  Make small batches!

  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 of 1 jalapeño (or 1/2 if you want it really spicy)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt

  1.  In a blender mix raspberries, your bit of jalapeño, and your garlic clove.  Pulse until they are well blended. 
  2. Add in oil, honey, vinegar and salt.  Blend again until you've reached your desired constancy. 
  3. Chill in the fridge for an hour or two to let the flavors blend, best if used within 24/48 hours. 
  4. If you need it to last in the refrigerator for more than two days, add a tsp of organic lime juice.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Settling in

As of today, we've been in our new house for 20 days. Strangely it feels like we've been here longer and I've been unpacking, cleaning and dealing with life.  I've noticed a few differences from when you move long distances vs. short.  The largest difference being the kind of pause your life takes.  When you move long distances, you have to bring everything to a close.  When I left Denver, I had to stop playing with the fun loving Denver Pops Orchestra, I had to give up the awesome violin/viola studio that I had started from the ground up, and any activity the children were a part of had to be ceased.  We cleared our slate.

This move however all of that was unnecessary, to my relief.  It did pose one problem.  Our life still carried on while we had to move and unpack.  The most time consuming commitment we had was my children's swim team. It was worth the time commitment, and I'm proud of what they did...but moving while your kids are competing twice a week is not for the faint of heart. Luckily the season is now over, here's a photo of their awards ceremony/pizza party.

One room in this house has received most of my attention and that is my sun room.  This room has so much potential and I see it's potential every time I walk into it.  I also see dollar signs. We are going to be using this room as our school room this year.  I can't think of a more lovely way to do school but in a bright sunny room. I'm not one who usually focuses on problems, but I want to list the problems with this room and if any of my readers have suggestions post them in the comments below.  I am open to suggestions!!

  1. The carpet is old and stained.
  2. The windows have black mold around the weather stripping.  I've wiped the mold away, but I worry about the integrity of them and I'm concerned they may need to be replaced soon.
  3. The walls are brown and yellow.  At our old place we rented the family room had wood paneling and brick walls.  The room was hideously ugly and there was nothing I could do about it.  It turned me off on any kind of wood paneling so I'm thinking a paint job is in order in this room.  I'm thinking it might be the most affordable thing on this list so it might be the first project.
  4. The sunroom has a door to the back porch which is not covered by a soffit or anything else so when it rains the door gets a lot of water on it.  Some of this water leaks inside and the door itself is showing some mild water damage.
I'm reminded that living on the east coast is wet, specially compared to the dry climate of Colorado.  I told my husband last night how a spot of mold wouldn't have concerned me out there, but I felt here it could easily get out of hand.

So that's what's been going on.  I haven't posted much because life is just keeping me busy and I haven't hit my rhythm just yet.  Moving is so tough crazy, and it's hard on the wallet.  So many projects will have to wait until we recover.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Keeping Chickens Cool when it's HOT!

The past few days at our new house have been super hot.  We haven't built the permanent chicken run yet, so my girls have a make-shift run in the back of the yard where there isn't a lot of shade in the heat of the afternoon.

I think most people don't realize chickens handle the cold much better than they handle the heat. Here in Pennsylvania it gets really humid when it's hot, so my poor girls really pant in the afternoon.  Here are a few ideas I have come up with to keep them cool.

  1. This is the most important, and almost a duh: they must always have access to water. In intense heat, a chicken can go downhill really fast if they don't have access to clean water.
  2. Secondly, they should have some shade that isn't the chicken coop. I've found that coops get super hot because of a lack of circulation.  Even well ventilated coops can get really hot on the hottest days.  If your birds aren't situated under trees or some other shade, get them a tarp or a shade umbrella.
  3. Try freezing a cup of water in a disposable plastic cup.  On hot days around noon, I replace their water, and drop this huge chunk of ice in.  It only stays cold for about an hour, but they drink up the cold water gratefully.
  4. Refrigerated watermelon is also a nice afternoon treat.  It's cold, and full of water and should help them beat the heat.
  5. Frozen berries are also a great treat. They take some time for them to get into so it's also a good boredom buster.  Cold, sweet yummy treats on a hot day.  Yes, please?

During really hot days, chicken stool may be more lose than usual.  This is possibly due to all the extra water they are drinking.  When chickens are working on staying cool, they will pant, and pull their wings away from their body.  This is all healthy behavior, but be on the look out for droopy behavior, or pale comb and wattles.  If you see this, give your chicken a dip in a cool bucket of water.  

What are your ideas to keep your chickens cool on these hot summer days?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Menu Plan Monday -- All Primal

I'm back to it again.  After being in a weird stasis while moving, we are now detoxing with healthy primal/paleo foods.  We are going strict again to lose the 5 or so pounds we gained while being stressed about moving and drinking too many Angry Orchard ciders.  Here's what we're eating this week.

Monday: Chimichurri Meatballs with a big salad
Tuesday: Chicken Satay with grilled veggies
Wednesday: Fish Tacos
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Grilled Sausage and Garlicky Summer Squash Fritters
Saturday: Grilled Chicken Legs and Avocado Kale Salad
Sunday: Roast Beast!

Here's our shopping list, and since we just moved it's huge.  Most of this we don't have in the house.

2 pounds of ground beef
2 pounds of chicken tender/strips
1 pound of fish (light fish, tilapia or whatever is on sale)
1 package of sausage
3 pounds of chicken legs

small ginger root
1 onion
3 avocados
fresh cilantro
2 summer squashes
bunch of kale
2 tomatoes
Bag of carrots
Package of mushrooms

Lime juice

Linking back to Organizing Junkie


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