Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Love Your Eagle! - German Pre-School

One day my little daughter, on the way home from German Pre-school, enthusiastically said "Mom, would you like to see my eagle?"
"Definitely." I replied.
Needless to say, I was surprised when she pulled this out of her bag.

"Well that's not an eagle, that's a hedgehog," I laughed.

As it turns out, the German word for hedgehog is Igel which sounds to my ears just like eagle. (As a side note, the German word for eagle is Adler.)

Monday, January 30, 2012

How to Start Eating Healthy – Simple Dietary Changes for Families

Recently, two separate friends told me about their husband’s serious medical issues.  Each of them had come to the same conclusion; that a poor family diet was the main contributor to the family’s health problems.  So both of them began researching healthy eating, immediately felt overwhelmed by the vast amounts of conflicting information, and ultimately had no idea what to do or where to start.  Depending on what you read, a number of common themes emerge:  meat is bad, fruits and vegetables are tainted with pesticides and herbicides, gluten causes hyperactivity, nuts and dairy can cause allergies, the fish in the ocean contain mercury, etc.  Hmmmmmmm…… meat, fruits, vegetables, gluten grains, nuts, fish and dairy have just been eliminated. What should one eat?

I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist, but I do consider myself a healthy person. I am not overweight and I try to exercise every day. My mother (who still runs three miles every day in her late 60’s) taught me how to eat healthy.  But somewhere along the path of life, I myself lost my way. Eight years ago I was about 30 pounds overweight when the serious matter of food allergies appeared in my family. At the time I was overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do.  My husband and I researched food allergies diligently, and it became obvious to us that our diet choices were largely to blame for our son’s illness. Having spent the past eight years of researching various diets and allergies, and trying to determine which foods are healthy and which ones are not, I have come full circle. 

Both of my friends are highly intelligent women. I believe that intuitively they know which types of food are nourishing and which are not. However, with all of the convenience products so ubiquitously available, they have just lost their way and need a little guidance to get on track. Although there are many different diets out there on TV, the internet, and in magazines, there are several basics that are advocated by nearly all of them.
I think there are some simple changes that many families can make that are a great launching point for much-improved health. I truly want my friends and anyone else out there who is suffering from medical issues or poor health to know what it is like to feel alive and vigorous through better eating habits. Here are my recommendations:

Make one simple change per week, and don’t cut out foods. Instead, replace unhealthy foods with more healthful choices that give energy.  Just remember that it took a long period of time to fall into your dietary rut, so you should expect to take a slow approach as you create your new dietary habits.
  1.  Replace sodas, coffee and alcohol with a combination of fruit juice, milk or milk substitute, and water.
  2. Continue eating whatever you eat at mealtime in slightly smaller portions, but add two vegetables to each lunch and dinner meal to make up the size difference. This could be something like carrot sticks and cucumber slices, steamed cauliflower and broccoli, a salad with mixed vegetables, homemade salsa and guacamole, a can of corn, bell pepper slices, or squash and potatoes.
  3. Replace white breads with whole grain or whole wheat breads.  Try to buy your bread fresh from a bakery to avoid the preservatives.
  4. Replace junk food snacks such as cookies, donuts, and chips with something like a rice cake with peanut butter and an apple, a slice of bread with cream cheese and a banana, or a hard-boiled egg and some grapes.
  5. Replace white rice and white pasta with brown rice and whole wheat or whole grain pasta.
  6. Replace convenience food meals with homemade meals made from scratch.  This is a bigger change than the rest, so try to phase it in slowly over two to four weeks (perhaps one week for breakfast, one for lunch and one for dinner):
    • Breakfast Examples–
      1. Replace cold sugary cereals with low sugar alternatives. This really narrows the selection to just a few such as Cheerios, Corn Flakes, and Shredded Wheat.
      2. Replace sugary packets of instant oatmeal with steel cut oats, old fashioned oats, muesli, or another whole grain such as millet and then add a few nuts, and dried or fresh fruits. It takes a little longer for these grains to cook, but I find the time goes fast if I cut up the fruit, sweep the floor, empty the dishwasher, fold the laundry or perform some other task I have missed.
      3. Add a vegetable such as carrots or bell peppers to a morning meal that would typically consist of meat and eggs.
    • Lunch and Dinner Examples - 
      1. Replace packaged stir-fries with homemade.  Boil your own brown rice, and slice and fry meat and veggies with a little soy sauce.  Check the internet or Heart and Soul Blog Hop for some great recipe ideas.
      2. Try making a soup in the slow cooker. Soak beans the night before for 12 hours, rinse in the morning and start cooking on low in the crock-pot for the day. When time is available add:
        • grains – pearled barley, whole wheat cornels or rice
        • vegetables – potatoes, turnips, leeks, spinach, tomatoes, sweet potatoes
        • meat – chicken, beef, pork, fish 
        • spices
      3. Add two vegetables to meat and potato meals.
  7. Replace condiments and pre-packaged sauces with homemade or organic choices.
  8. Read labels at the grocery store, and try to avoid products that have unpronounceable ingredients in them.  The shorter the ingredient list, the better.
  9. Replace conventional foods with organics and don’t worry about the added cost. This is your life and you want to live it with peak health!
  
These basic principles pretty much cover my idea of healthy eating and the way my family eats at home. Now let’s talk about cheating on the diet. We live in Europe and don’t want to miss opportunities to try crepes in Paris, fries and waffles in Belgium, gluhwein in Germany, and other European foods – and we don’t! We follow our good eating habits 95% of the time, but we throw it all out the window when we go to parties and out to dinner. We also try the local food on our vacations. We live life, feel healthy and hope you do too!

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Natural Parenting Group Hearth & Soul Hop The Chicken Chick

Sunday, January 29, 2012

South Germany Dance Championship Competition

The fasching season begins November 11 and lasts until Ash Wednesday. This is also the competitive time of year for dancing.The three girls in our family are very involved. We have been to several competitions and now have a little something to brag about.

Both my daughter and I along with our respective teams have qualified for the South Germany Dance Championship Competition. (The little one is not old enough to compete.) In addition, to my march dance, my daughters show and march dances, two others dances from our club have qualified. One is a couples dance for ages 6-10 and the other is the individual dancer for ages 6-10. Here are a few pictures of the dancers.

 


This is our totally awesome coach. She teaches my youngest, the show dance for my older daughter and my dance all on a volunteer basis.

March Dance



Show Dance 

Individual Dancers

Couples Dance

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weekly Homeschooling Schedule

 
A typical week in our homeschool is very busy as in many others out there. We aim to have our daily school completed by lunch-time and reserve the afternoon for field trips, sports, hobbies and friends. When we first began homeschooling we participated in many field trips and quickly became overwhelmed with activities which made it difficult to fit in "school". This general plan helps tremendously.

Last year we attempted to finish school by lunch, but rarely did. This year a few changes made all the difference. First of all there is a rule that the kids need to start school for the day as soon as they wake-up. Last year they always waited for me. After preparing breakfast, starting the laundry and everything else we usually didn't get started until around 9:00. Starting school upon waking works well since they both have activities they do on their own, with each other and with me. Now some days they are finished by 10:30 am depending on how early they rise.
Each kid has their own weekly to-do list. The items listed in blue they can do either together or mostly on their own. Here is what a typical week looks like.

3rd Grader

Minutes Days per Week Subject
15 5 Read to Mom
15 5 Listen to Mom Read
30 2 Silent Reading Books
15 5 Writing
15 5 Spelling
15 5 Mother goose
30 5 Math
30 2 Science Experiment
30 2 German Kids Television
30 3 Rosetta Stone - German
15 2 Silent Reading - German Book
30 5 Spanish Kids Television
15 3 Piano
15 3 Geography Puzzle
60 1 Finish missed work or special movie

5th Grader

Time Days per Week Subject
15 5 Read to Mom
15 5 Listen to Mom Read
30 2 Silent Reading Books
15 5 Writing
15 5 Spelling
15 5 Poetry
30 5 Math
30 2 Science Experiment
30 2 German Kids Television
15 5 Write a Sentence in German
15 2 Silent Reading - German Book
30 5 Spanish Kids Television
15 3 Violin
15 3 Piano
60 1 Finish missed work or special movie

In addition to the items listed above the children play outside daily a minimum of 20 minutes per day. During this time they like to play monkey-in-the-middle, or other very physical games with my husband if he is available, or play in the creek behind our house and explore nature. We listen to folk songs and classical music in the car and during meals. Finally, famous works of art are displayed every two weeks following a short discussion of the piece.


Afternoons
Monday - history, crafts and socialization with our weekly History Co-op Group
Tuesday - music lessons
Wednesday - sports, free-time and socialization
Thursday - sports, free-time and socialization
Friday - sports, free-time and socialization

 

I am linking this post to The Homeschooling Hearts and Mind Blog which is hosting a virtual curriculum fair. Here is the list of posts from other blogging homeschooling families and how they schedule their time.

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Weekly Homeschooling Schedule by Julie @ HighHill Homeschool

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Week 5: The Nuts & Bolts: Pulling it all Together by Leah @ The Courtney Six Homeschool

Our Schedule's Working! by Eunora @ All Things NoriLynn

Homeschooling: How do I do it all? by Debbie @ Debbie's Digest

Virtual Curriculum Fair--- Wrap-up Angie @ Petra School

Virtual Curriculum Fair: 5 Ways to Use an iPad in Your Homeschool by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots

A Peek Into Our School Day by Melissa @ Grace Christian Homeschool

A Day in the Life... by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Homeschool and Life: How we get it done by Jen @ Forever, For Always, No Matter What

Homeschooling at My House by Jessica @ Modest Mama

Getting a Grip on Things by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Making Home School a part of LIFE by Cindy @ For One Another

Now Where's That Pencil Again? by Beth @ Ozark Ramblings

Something About Homeschooling I Really Didn't See Coming by Letha @ justpitchingmytent

Curriculum, Kids, and a Frazzled Homeschool Mama leads to Controlled Chaos! by Laura O from AK @ Day by Day in Our World

The Virtual Curriculum Fair – Nuts and Bolts by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

Staying on Top of Everything by Brenda Emmett @ Garden of Learning

How Does This Homeschooling Thing Actually Work? Fitting it all Together by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Nuts & Bolts: Pulling it all together by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy

Friday, January 27, 2012

Viking History Co-op. Books

We participate in a weekly homeschool history co-op which involves many hands-on crafts and activities. In conjunction with our Viking History Co-op we read many wonderful living books. Here are our favorite Viking Books in order of easiest to most difficult.



Magnus the Viking (The Adventures of Magnus the Viking) is a story about the Viking discovery of America.

From Viking Adventure by Clyde Robert Bulla we learned a lot about the Viking way of life.

Leif the Lucky taught us about the Viking discoveries of Greenland and America.

D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths is filled with delightful stories of Norse Gods and their Adventures.

Viking Tales by Jeannie Hall is written in two parts. Viking Tales is also available free on the internet. From the first part we learned about Harold Fairhair and some Norwegian History, the second part was another story of the Vikings discovery of Greenland and America.

We really enjoyed reading these books and hope you will too!


To read more about our homeschool history co-op activities click on Homeschool History under Homeschooling Topics on the right-hand side of the blog, or one of the cultures below.

Celts
Vikings
Scythians
Ancient China

Shibley Smiles

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cribbage - Addition Game

Most of the games we play also have a learning element and many of them are math oriented. Cribbage is a wonderful card game to re-enforce or learn addition facts. 

In addition to learning addition, this game is fun, involves strategy and allows parents to spend quality time with their children. I have many fond memories of playing this game with my father while growing-up, and now he plays with the kids when he comes to visit.

Here are the rules.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Buying a Car in Germany

One thing that works very differently in Germany than in the United States is buying a car. First of all, unlike the United States where salespeople greet customers upon exiting the car when pulling into a dealership, in Germany they leave customers alone until they are ready to speak with a salesperson. If the customer would like to test-drive a vehicle an appointment is necessary and they may have to return to the dealership a few days later for the test-drive. During the appointment there is plenty of time to speak with the salesperson and ask questions just as customers do in the United States. At this point car sales and post-purchase dealer interactions are somewhat similar.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Smart Cars


Smart cars are much more popular here in Europe than in the United States. They are very practical since the roads here are narrower and curvier in places.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tic-Tac-Toe - Handmade Gift



I was so impressed with this handmade gift. It is a tic-tac-toe game constructed from a quilted square and painted wooden disks. A friend of mine's entire family participated in making this gift to give to my daughter for her birthday. Her son cut the disks from dowels, one of the girls painted them and the other girl along with the help of her mother made the quilted square for the board.



One Artsy Mama I'm topsy turvy tuesdays NightOwlCrafting Clip With Purpose
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