Monday, April 4, 2011

Math & Soup

We have officially begun "first grade math!" Sister completed the Saxon Kindergarten Math Workbooks and so, for a season, the Engineer took over math. That was wonderful! Time for just the two of them - it was a good thing. But, now that we've added softball to our evenings, setting aside a consistent chunk of time on weeknights has become difficult, so Sister and I are full-on embracing Saxon Math 1. And we are loving it!

There are a lot of different opinions on Saxon math. I've talked with people who fall on both sides of the fence. But - here's what I know. I did not get a good foundation in math and I paid dearly for that all through junior high, high school, and college. I will never forget turning in my last ever math exam as a sophomore in college. I hadn't even gotten out of the classroom before the tears started. I walked across campus, weeping with relief - I'd never have to take another math class again! (Never dreamed I'd be teaching it!) I don't want my children to struggle like that. And I am thrilled to be teaching through this with Sister. I am loving seeing the way math can be taught. 

Little Bit is loving it, too! - Well, building towers, at least! And Little Man has joined if for a few of our lessons. Lately, homeschool has taken place in the playroom. Sister and I set up shop on the craft table while the little ones play, play, play. (We are usually accompanied by our decaf iced coffees - a must in homeschooling! (smile))

So we're now officially in "first grade" in all our subjects. I am SO thankful to be homeschooling! What a blessing this year has been! Because we chose to do a "transitional year," we got to take our time mastering some things we were rusty on from kindergarten, all while diving into some first grade level stuff that we were ready for. OH, what a blessing!!!

We've recently complete Little Pilgrim's Progress. I think this would have been an easier read had we waited another year or so. Reading through it and answering and explaining was tedious, at best. We rarely made it through an entire page without at least one question. But they were good questions! All good questions! It just took us a looooong time. I considered putting it away to read through next year, but the children insisted we press on - which is always encouraging!

And now, I know it's warming up in some areas...but if you're looking for a good, healthy meal that will feed your family for several days, look no further! This is one of our favorites. I've shared a variation before. It is SO good! It will require your attention off and on for an afternoon, but for the next day or two, you won't even have to think about dinner. Your home will smell delicious. Your husband will come home and no matter how terrible his day may have been, when the aroma meets him, he will smile and kiss you and tell you you are beautiful and offer to bathe the children and brush their teeth. It is just that good.

Go to Sams and get two whole chickens for about $9 (you'll use one for this recipe - freeze the other). (Or if you're super healthy, getcha an organic bird.) Then grab a frozen bag of peas (again, you'll use about half depending on bag size) - roughly $2 at Walmart - and an onion. And some wild & whole grain brown rice (again, you'll use about half) (below) -$4 at Walmart. This is a little pricey, but will last you a good while and it's so good. Then have on hand butter, olive oil, salt, garlic, pepper, and fresh rosemary. 

Do NOT buy rosemary at the grocery store. Go to Lowes and drop $3 on a rosemary plant. Plant it in an east facing, sunny spot (that's been key for us) and watch it take off. I bought a few three years ago and now they're huge and full and I cook with them several times a week!

• melt butter and olive oil in large stock pot or dutch oven
• sautee onion (sliced) & garlic in pot until onion is tender
• place chicken in pot and brown on all sides
• add water, a dash of salt and pepper, and three rinsed stalks/pieces of rosemary (no need to pick each leaf off the stem - they will fall off as you cook)
• bring water to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover - cook until chicken is done and legs are falling off - about an hour, give or take a little (sometimes my bird is still a bit frozen inside, it just takes a little longer - don't fret, just go with it)
• carefully remove chicken from pot and place on large plate, slice into chicken to allow it to begin cooling
• grab your biggest bowl (I use a giant stainless steel bowl) and your finest mesh strainer, place strainer in bowl and bowl in sink
• carefully pour stock through strainer into bowl
• chunk strainer contents (careful to remove any chicken pieces)
• pour strained stock back into pot
• bring stock to boil, add rice (I use half of the bag shown above), reduce to simmer and cover
• go do a load of laundry, read a magazine, call your man and tell him you're thinking about him, whatever...
• forty-five minutes later (less if you opt for Uncle Ben's long grain rice - point here is to give your rice time to cook) pick your chicken (if you're new to this - pull off the skin/fatty covering and chunk. Now begin removing meat from the bone and break into bite size pieces - you can pull meat off the wings, legs, front and back of the bird. This is why our dog Scout likes me the most. I always invite her into the kitchen while I do this and sneak her a bite here and there.
• once your chicken is picked, add chicken to stock pot along with more rosemary (I usually put another 3 stems in -if your plant is a baby, use less, it's ok), garlic, frozen peas (however much you like), salt and pepper to taste. We like it heavy on the pepper.
• cook another five minutes or so - until peas are done

Now serve alone, or for longevity, with a salad. Literally, the last time I made this, we ate it for dinner for two days and lunch once, took it for dinner to another family, and sent some home with a college student. It goes a loooong way! You could freeze it - just go make it! It's so good and will surely be a blessing to your family!

*Note, I usually start making this around 2 in the afternoon and typically, it's ready to serve, simmering on the stove around 5pm - which gives me time to clean up from cooking, set the table, and sort of, maybe look like I did something today. (wink)

* 'Nother Note, you now have on hand everything, save an onion, you need to make it again - making this quite a $ conscious option!

In other news, we gathered the last of our oranges a few weeks ago. There was a good harvest this year, for which we are thankful! Little Bit can eat an orange like no one I've ever seen.

I leave you with Little Man...pondering the great adventures that await outdoors! Batman jammers and raincoat required.


  1. Hooray for math and new recipes! Can't wait to try this one - this is JUST my style, simple and flavorful and goes a long way! Now, how about the iced decaf coffee recipe?? :)

  2. We love Saxon! We did Saxon 1-3 then moved on to Teaching Textbooks 4, Saxon gave her an awesome foundation and now she teaches herself (w/ a little help sometimes). Wow you were ambitious with Little Pilgrims Progress, but what an awesome story. Veritas Press recommends they read it in 3rd grade, Liv just finished it and loved the adventure and thinks it is so cool that she read a book w/ 93 chapters, even if some of the chapters were only a page ;o)! I love Homeschooling!

  3. Hey,
    I love Saxon math. It is a wonderful foundation in its repetition. The teacher in me loves it, too. When I taught second grade, it was a great jumping off point to talk about why numbers do what they do, build understanding of why things come together. I can so see Engineer engaging in the hows and whys of the number sense. I think I remember him helping me through high school and math and science that way! And, Jocelyn said I missed y'all by minutes last week at Covenant. Sad!

  4. We are planning on reading that book next year! Love that rice- it's so good! I'll have to try this recipe!

  5. Sweet post! Unfortunately, as recipes/food go...that would only do us for ONE meal...really!! But, it does sound yummy. Too funny that you have that many leftovers from one bird. Just wait until Little Man can look you in the face...eye to meal...that's it! LOL!

    Great photos...I enjoyed this post...words and pictures...brought a smile to my face. :)

    Love to you!
    Camille xo

  6. Beautiful...thanks for the recipe! So glad to see homeschooling is becoming such a blessing. With a 2 yr old and a 9 month old, I have NO clue what we are to do about school. Love you!

    Oh, and happy recent b'days to you and the hubby. I think we were all at St. V's at the same time, making you two my official oldest friends : )

  7. Your posts just make me smile! I'm definitely going to try your chicken... we LOVE anything with rosemary!

    Way to go, Sister, on the math. Way to go Mama with the teaching! Jenn, your humble, honest, upbeat attitude about homeschooling never ceases to bless me!