Almond Cheesecake Brownies

IMG_1538Almond Cheesecake Brownies. Oh. My. Heavens. These ARE Heaven.

There are a million brownie recipes out there. And to think, I used to believe that using the box mix was making them “from scratch” because you weren’t buying them already made at the store–HA! I’ve come a long way. 😉

I have a tried a number of brownie recipes over the years and I have my favorites. But when Randy told me he wanted me to make him brownies for Father’s Day, I knew it was time to write my own recipe. The request to incorporate cream cheese into the brownies came as well. Challenge accepted. I came up with a plan that was actually quite delicious! I decided to make a cheesecake batter to spread throughout the brownie batter. But the real kicker would be to incorporate Randy’s favorite dessert flavor–almond. So instead of vanilla extract in the cheesecake, I used almond extract. Win! Almond has a distinct and powerful flavor so generally, you don’t need that much of it. However, I did use 2 whole teaspoons in this recipe because the chocolate of the brownie is so rich that I didn’t want it to hide the almond flavor. But if you want a more subtle almond flavor, only use 1 teaspoon. And if you want to replace the almond extract altogether with vanilla, just use 1 teaspoon of vanilla. 😉

IMG_1541My recipe for these brownies comes together from a lot of tasty research. I wanted to put something together that was relatively simple, but also rich and decadent. And the inspiration, of course, comes from my one and only. 🙂

IMG_1540Grab a tall glass of cold milk and enjoy!

Almond Cheesecake Brownies

Brownies:

  • ½ lb butter
  • 8 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 TB instant coffee
  • 1 TB vanilla
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt

 Cheesecake:

  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350*.

Over a double-boiler, melt the butter, the semisweet chocolate, and the unsweetened chocolate. Stir until smooth and allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, stir the eggs, coffee, vanilla, and sugar together.

Combine the chocolate and sugar mixtures and stir well.

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder and add to the chocolate/sugar mixture.

Pour batter into a greased 9×12 pan.

In a food processor, combine the softened cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and almond extract. Whip until smooth.

Add dollops of the cheese mixture into the pan of batter and spread or swirl together with a knife.

Bake 30-35 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly and then enjoy!

Here’s your handy printable! almond cheesecake brownies

 

IMG_1538

10 Essentials to Keep in your Minivan this Summer!

IMG_9829Summer is finally here and most schools are getting out this week if they haven’t already. And even though we’ve been done with school for a few weeks, now, I still feel underprepared when that first full week of real summer weather hits us. (Wait, I’m going to be in a swimsuit this week?! Am I ready for this?? Have I shaved?! Do I even have time to shave?!?!) Not to mention, I still don’t have swim diapers for the 18-month old. Time to stock up on our summer gear and load up the van so we’re always prepared. Last year, I had our tailgate stocked with a bunch of “just in case” items that proved to be super helpful in getting us out of the house quickly and whenever we were staying somewhere longer than expected.

So, what should you have in your minivan or car this summer so you’re always prepared? I load up a big Thirty-One utility tote and keep it in the back. Here’s my list:

  1. A ziplock bag with sunscreen and bug spray. I don’t think an explanation is necessary, here. Common sense summer items you never want to be caught without!
  2. A ziplock bag with baby powder. This is a miracle-worker at getting wet sand off sticky little bodies/feet! I keep it in a bag so I don’t get powder all over the van.
  3. A gallon of water. Helpful in cleaning off dirty hands and feet, and in case of other emergencies. 🙂
  4. A bag of swim diapers & regular diapers–obviously only necessary if you have a child in diapers. Keeping an extra bag in the car is helpful to ensure you won’t run out. 😉
  5. An extra container of wet wipes. It doesn’t matter if you have kids in diapers or not, I think we all know that wet wipes are great for a number of reasons! Cleaning sticky hands, faces, water bottles, or the inside of the car itself!
  6. A bag of sweatshirts–one for each family member. You know the drill–you go somewhere during the day and it’s hot so everyone is in shorts and a T-shirt. But then you stay into the late evening and it cools down and you’re outside and now you’re chilly. Run to the van and grab a sweatshirt for those cooler summer nights!
  7. Kids’ beach toys & beach towels. I just keep these in the car so that when we do go to the lake or beach, it’s one less thing I have to pack that morning. I keep my kids’ beach toys in a large mesh laundry bag. This way I can easily shake all the sand out of everything before it goes back in the van, and the toys dry quickly. And yes, wash the towels between beach visits! 😉
  8. Umbrella stroller. Again, only if you have a child young enough for one. During spring and fall, I keep our jogging stroller in the van for those long walks and hikes, but during beach season it no longer fits so the umbrella stroller is perfect to always have on hand!
  9. Extra empty plastic bags. They act as extra trash bags for the “carry in/carry out” state parks, and laundry bags for those wet swimsuits that come off before the kids hop in their car seats. You can store a bunch in an old cylinder wet wipe container, too!
  10. Picnic blanket. I pretty much have this in my van all year ’round, but it’s worth mentioning.

Now you’re ready for whatever this summer has in store for you!

 

A Nod to the Ol’ Food Blog…

IMG_1433I haven’t posted about food in a while. Granted, I’ve been nauseous for the past 5 months, but I’ve also had a lot going on. And it takes a lot of effort to photograph food when you have three hungry kids plus a husband waiting to eat. I seriously don’t know how I used to write about food almost daily! And take pictures! I’m glad I don’t feel the weight of that blog journey anymore, but I do miss writing about and photographing food. There have been a few times the past couple of months when I’ve made something special and wanted to blog about it but just didn’t have the energy to try to capture a good picture and put the recipe into print. But I decided it was time. So I’m about to have a food-explosion blog post and hope you’re ready for it! 🙂

We’ve got some hot weather around the corner, and the changing of seasons always gets me excited about what new dishes I’m going to create in the kitchen that will satisfy the seasonal cravings. (Think: fruit pies, tarts, grilled food, pasta and potato salads! Yeah, summer!) I realize that cooking in the summer does not appeal to most people, even if you have air conditioning, so I wanted to share some of my tips to beat the heat and still provide a filling dinner for your family.

During summer, I love making a good pasta or potato salad because I can cook the pasta or potatoes early in the morning and assemble the salad before it gets too hot, and stick it in the fridge. Then, when my husband comes home from work, he can throw some meat on the grill (which he loves to do) and we have a perfectly hearty side to go with it and don’t have to heat up the kitchen! One pasta salad I’ve made quite a few times just in the last month, is my spring asparagus salad. It’s so refreshing and has a light oil/vinegar dressing rather than a creamy one, so it doesn’t weigh you down.

To make a classic potato salad (which I just made a couple days ago and planned to take a picture, but someone in the house ate the all the leftovers before I was able to stage an appealing photo–then told me to make sure I wrote about how it’s so good that you can’t leave it in the refrigerator unattended or it will be gobbled up…) I start by quartering a whole bag of red potatoes. Then I boil them just until fork-tender (about 15-20 minutes) and then drain and steam them under a towel for an additional 20 minutes. For the dressing, I combine just under a cup of mayonnaise, about a 1/4 cup of buttermilk, plenty of salt and pepper, and 2-3 TBs of freshly chopped dill*. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm, I cut them up and add them to the dressing. I also add a quarter of a red onion, chopped, and about 2 stalks of celery, chopped. As you can see, I’m not one to do a lot of measuring these days, so I apologize if you prefer exact measurements. The onion and celery can be added “to taste” depending on how much crunch you want in your salad and how much you like the taste of onion or celery. If you want some real specific measurements, Ina Garten has a few potato salad recipes with exact measurements and they’re pretty fool-proof!

IMG_1442*What else can you do with fresh DILL?! You know that pesky ingredient that you only bought to go with that one recipe and now you have leftovers of it in your fridge and you don’t know what to do with it? Unless you’re really into pickling your own cucumbers, dill can be like that. I do make a lot of potato salad in the summer, so I generally grow dill in my garden, but we’ve had such cool weather until now, I haven’t started the garden yet! Ina Garten has a recipe for cheddar-dill scones which is a scrumptious way to use up that dill! The recipe calls for a full cup of chopped dill, but you certainly don’t need that much, you’ll still get some of the flavor with less of the herb.

IMG_1438So I also thought I’d share some of our dinner plans for the week. I try to meal plan in order to save money at the grocery store and stay organized throughout the week. The links to these recipes all take you to my old food blog, which is still active, though I never use it. There are TONS of recipes on there, so you might see more than one thing to try! And if you’re looking for food ideas in the sweltering heat, here are a few options…

I work on Mondays and usually pick up my groceries (LOVE Hannaford To-Go!) on my way home, so dinner needs to be relatively simply. Temps are in the 90s today so we’re sticking with a HEARTY pita-pocket salad and watermelon. NO OVEN! 😉 Tomorrow night we’ll be grilling up some pork ribs, I’ll make a potato salad early in the morning to serve at night and we’ll try out some corn on the cob. I know it’s early in the season, but I couldn’t resist! Wednesday the temps should be a little cooler, so the stove is going back on but we’re still keeping it simple: cheese and pepperoni stromboli with a Greek salad.  Thursday, we’ll have chicken caesar sandwiches, and Friday I’m serving up Western pizza! Simple dishes to get us through the work-week. This weekend is Father’s Day weekend so it’s all about what Randy wants to eat! (But let’s be honest, it almost always is anyway–he’s my true inspiration for cooking.) But specifically for this weekend, he’s requested a veggie garden pizza lunch, steak tips supper, and on Sunday, my famous carbonara with caesar salad (and my homemade dressing) and bruschetta for his after-church dinner. Oh, and I’m also supposed to make homemade brownies with a twist–I’ll fill you in after I decide how good his idea comes out. 😉 Whew! A viewer once asked the Food Network’s Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) if she had any tips for starting a food blog and she said to buy a treadmill! I can totally relate–haha! I did gain some weight while doing that year-long food blog of mine so now I have to be smarter about how I balance my meals and activity because so far, my love of cooking hasn’t died down. Hopefully you enjoy this weather and have some inspiration for future summer meals and check out my old blog–whenever I randomly stop by, I still get inspired to make something I haven’t made in a while!

 

Keeping some structure to your summer (and your sanity intact!)

Summer vacation is here!!! Well for this homeschool crew, anyway. To the rest of you who might have a couple weeks to go–hang in there! Or maybe I should say, savor the last couple weeks that your kids aren’t “BOOORRRREEEEDDDDD!!!” 😉

No joke, I didn’t have the “summer system” I’m about to describe ready for our first week of summer vacation, and boy, oh boy, do I wish I had! While you’re in the midst of the craziness of a school schedule, starting each day in a relaxed mode and enjoying some morning cartoons on “Boomerang” (Hello, Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry–you bring back so many memories!) may sound like paradise, but let me tell you–after just 2 days of so-called “relaxation”, I was pulling my hair out. No schedule or structure=no sanity around here. And starting each day off with “screen time” is a recipe for disaster (or at least a pastime best kept for Saturday mornings only). The bickering, the whining, the boredom… I just couldn’t take it. It didn’t help that the weather hasn’t been great (today, Thursday, is the first sunny and warm day all week). Time to whip our summer into shape and help me remember that I do actually love my children. 😉

I used to be a public school teacher and now as a homeschool mom, I was very surprised that on our last day of school, I was just as elated to be done as I used to be on the last day of public school. Homeschooling, when done well, is no joke. It’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of heart work, because you’re teaching your own children. It’s exhausting. But the reward is great. And summer vacation often can’t come soon enough! But summer is more than just hanging out, going to the playground, park, or beach. While summer vacation is a great time to enjoy time with our families and children (especially if your kids go to public or private school) it is also a crucial time to continue training them. During the school year, we’re so focused on academics and distracted by our busy extra curricular schedules, that it’s hard to establish a good chore routine or spend the time it takes to work on our character building. These things are so important and take dedication, especially at the start, so summer is a great time to work on them.

We are using We Choose Virtues, a Christian character-training guide (not just for homeschool families!) for our character work. You can read more about how we’re implementing that in my last post. But it’s also important to get the kids into the habit of helping out around the house and doing chores. It can be so easy, especially when busy, to just do it yourself–let’s face it, the cleaning goes faster and comes out better that way–but it’s important to start teaching our kids the value of taking care of themselves and our home early. This takes a lot of work from the parent at first, which is why it can be hard to dive into it during the school year. And let’s not forget the importance of keeping up with our academic skills during the summer so we don’t lose our reading knowledge or math facts while on break. And if at all possible, I would like to avoid hearing “I’m BORED” on a regular basis this summer. (Okay, maybe it’s not possible, but I have hope.)

So I set out creating activity bins and charts. Oh, the internet can be such a useful resource for ideas! 😉 We have an outdoor bin of “boredom buster” that’s filled with some traditional outdoor toys and some not-so-traditional outdoor toys. (Letting kids play with play dough outside gives them a thrill and helps gets rid of the indoor mess!) Our outdoor bin is filled with bug nets, Play-Doh, multiple kinds of chalk, bean bags, chalk paint, jump ropes, paddle balls, tether balls, and bubbles–all of which can be purchased at the dollar store and are easy and cheap to replenish as the summer goes on.

Then we have our indoor activity bins–one for Abby and one for Noah. These focus a little more on academics, but are still unstructured. Abby (going into first grade) has a folder with math worksheets and some journal-prompting sheets, dry-erase math games (from her centers this past year), flash cards for sight words, flash cards for math facts,  learning sign language cards, leveled readers, dry-erase activity cards (from Usborne books–also great for long car rides!), a dry-erase board and marker, and silly putty. Noah’s activity bin also has silly putty, a dry-erase board and marker, dry-erase activity cards, his salt tray for forming letters, alphabet and number cards, and Ninja turtle memory game cards.

Based on some helpful ideas from the internet, I set up a summer schedule which has the kids doing their chores, playing outside, practicing their memory verse (from We Choose Virtues), choosing an activity from their bin, and many other things, daily. Check it out! You can download it and adjust it to fit your family’s needs, too! I’ll post the link to our chore chart, as well, so you can see what kinds of chores we’ve included. Our kids are 5 and 4, so we have nothing major, and these aren’t chores we will pay them an allowance to do. We also don’t count basic things like making the bed as “chores”–those are just part of taking care of ourselves and our things. Our chores are helping with the kitchen and dishes, etc, and we do them because we’re a part of the family.

2017 Summer Schedule

2017 Chore Chart

I hope these ideas help you bust through summer boredom or at least establish a working family routine this summer if you’re in need of one! Happy vacation!

Heart Work with the help of Mario Brothers

The other day I made Ree Drummond’s amazing cinnamon rolls. The recipe makes about 32+ rolls. (I also made Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies, my own chocolate oatmeal cookies, and some mint chocolate chip and cookie dough ice cream.) I think it’s safe to say my pregnancy sweet tooth has been turned on and turned up! There are plenty of sweets for everyone, so if you’re hungry, you should stop by. Please. (I just heard Randy yell from the kitchen, “There are baked goods everywhere!” and it wasn’t in an excited-kid-in-a-candy-shop-kind-of-way, it was a I-have-no-where-to-put-down-my-coffee-cup-kind-of-way.)

Those cinnamon rolls, though. They are so delicious and just a tad labor-intensive. But a lot of the work that goes into them is also dependent on the yeast, and whether or not its done its job. There are many references to yeast in the New Testament, and how it only takes a little yeast to work through a whole batch of dough–it can be good yeast and make the bread rise well, or it can be bad yeast and spoil the batch. When I made the cinnamon rolls this time around, I was afraid I burned the yeast and killed it. It wasn’t able to do its job the way it normally does, and the rolls didn’t rise as well as usual. They still tasted delicious because they’re covered with cinnamon, sugar, butter, and delicious maple icing. But I knew the truth. They weren’t as good as they should’ve been.

I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts and books lately about raising kids. being a mom, homeschooling, etc. As a homeschool mom, it can be easy to feel a lot of pressure to raise “perfect” kids. Or at least “perfectly educated and well-mannered” ones. We are home with them, so we have all the time in the world to turn them into wonderful little specimens, right? 😉 But what I’m realizing/learning/accepting as Randy and I work through a parents’ Bible study together is that the work I do to turn out God-fearing children is futile if God’s not already in it. Just like I can work the dough all I want to turn out delicious rolls, but if the yeast isn’t good, the rolls will fall flat.

Our church recently had a parenting conference where one of the speakers outlined God’s work and our work in parenting (what is actually within our power and what is not). You can read about his list of things that are part of the parent’s work when it comes to raising God-fearing children here.  (And please do, it’s a great read!) When we dwell on the fact that so much of our kids’ lives are not within our power to control, it can feel freeing, and also scary! It can also be tempting to throw our hands in the air in a moment of frustration and say, “Forget it! I have no control, anyway! Do what you want.” But this is not what God wants. In fact, we are commanded to teach our kids the things of God and to evangelize to them, even though we’re not guaranteed the results we want.

I like that accepting God’s power, love, and grace in the life of my family takes some of the pressure off of me. But it doesn’t remove my responsibility, and I’ve been thinking lately about how to be more intentional about teaching Godly characteristics to my children. At the beginning of the year, we did a unit on the Fruit of the Spirit. (All of my lessons are outlined in my blog and you can see them by clicking on the link.) But just like reading and math require continued practice, so do learning and exhibiting Godly characteristics. It can be easy during the school year to get so focused on academics that it’s hard to squeeze in character-training. That’s one reason I think the summer break is an excellent time to practice these characteristics and others such as manners and social skills. For us, this is where We Choose Virtues comes in. I purchased this simple, 12-week program a while ago but haven’t found the time to start implementing it until now. We only have 2 weeks of school left, so I wanted to start now before I get too relaxed in summer. For 12 weeks, we will focus on one characteristic each week. My job is to read the parent cue card (which also has a Proverb linked to each virtue) and implement 1-2 of the fun ideas for introducing the characteristic to my children. Then I also have to notice and give them praise when I catch them exhibiting that characteristic during the week. They can’t call my attention to their good behavior, I have to notice it. We decided to tie a reward system to this program, also. My kids love playing Mario Brothers on the wii each weekend, but they can lose time playing because of bad behavior. So I thought, if they can lose time for acting poorly, shouldn’t they be able to gain some time by acting the way we’re teaching them? Of course, I want them to understand the value in having these characteristics in a lifelong, eternal sort of way, but at their age, there’s nothing wrong with some immediate gratification. 😉

So here’s our Mario Brothers time chart set up:

The 2 posters are from We Choose Virtues. I made the Mario chart myself and stuck velcro pieces on it so we can swap out what characteristic we’re working on and so that Mario can move forwards and backwards. What I like about this system is that there is redemption. If we’re working on self-control and one of our children loses control over something on Monday, Mario will move back 10 minutes. But he can still move forward again when Randy or I catch that child remain self-controlled in a difficult circumstance later that day or week.

So we begin this new adventure Monday! I’m excited for it. Remembering to keep my children and their hearts in my prayers is such an important piece and I’ll admit that sometimes I fall short there, so that’s my own goal right now. When I don’t pray for my children, it’s like forgetting to add the yeast to a dough I’m making. And at least if things get frustrating at times, we have plenty of cinnamon rolls, brownies, and ice cream to soothe our souls (and satisfy our sweet teeth)! Seriously, come over for a treat. Anytime. You’ll be doing us the favor! 😉

Is there TIME for that?

Can I just say, I LOVE our homeschool curriculum! It’s seriously awesome. There are many things to love about a curriculum, but one thing I’m thankful for today is the amount of time that’s allotted for free exploration, and fun, hands-on activities. This curriculum does a great job making room for “margin space” in homeschool life. I’m in a moms’ Bible study and last night we were talking about how much margin we leave in our lives for the unexpected, or the “fun” stuff that can present itself when we’re not prepared for it. Are we expecting the unexpected? Are we leaving enough margin in our daily schedules to allow for hiccups, or for playing with our kids even when we have other things to do? Do we have enough margin for things to take longer than expected and not get upset over it? These are questions we had to ask ourselves. It’s a struggle for me, sometimes. I’m a planner, but I’m working hard to not be an over-planner. I’m learning the value in saying “no” and leaving enough margin in my schedule. Although I typically start my day with some sort of plan for how it will go, I’m now asking God daily to give me the grace to accept and embrace the changes that come–the ones I haven’t planned for.

I’m the type of mom who searches for ways to make learning fun and to incorporate all the senses when possible. I love doing crafts, experimenting in the kitchen, and enjoying our tasty experiments! I love exploring outside when we can. So I love that our curriculum includes an “exploration day” every week (also helpful when the week doesn’t go quite as planned–there’s a cushion day). And I love that it schedules in fun, interesting, hands-on activities throughout the week that go with what we’re learning (like having a family Sabbath celebration, or measuring Noah’s ark in cubits, or using clay and toothpicks to build our own “Tower of Babel”). I like that I don’t have to come up with all the fun and interesting stuff as “add-ins” because they’ve already included a bunch for me!

IMG_20170427_121427722So today, after a week of beginning to learn to tell time, we made a clock pizza! And it was scheduled right into our curriculum. I happen to have a fruit pizza recipe that is better than the suggestion given (which used actual pizza crust, whereas mine uses a sugar cookie crust–yum!) so I used that and we made an educational and delightful treat! Nice to have the time to do these things together. 🙂 Doesn’t mean the whole day was perfect or that on other days, we don’t get to the fun part that I’m looking forward to, but today was a gift. And no matter what comes, planned or unplanned, tomorrow will be, too.

*The curriculum we use is My Father’s World. I fell in love with it at a homeschool convention 2 years ago. I wouldn’t be so bold to say it’s a perfect curriculum, but it’s perfect for us, right now. You can check it out here: mfwbooks.com

IMG_20170427_121029268This FRUIT PIZZA is a great dessert for any spring/summer gathering and is SUPER easy to make. Even a pretty nauseous pregnant lady with 3 little kids running around can whip it up in no time.

IMG_20170427_121232446I use Pillsbury sugar cookie dough for the crust. They come in squares, now, so I lay them all out on a greased pizza stone and then roll them together using powdered sugar instead of flour to prevent sticking. Then I bake according to the package instructions, but usually have to add a few more minutes since we’re making one giant cookie, here!

For the “sauce”:  – 8 oz cream cheese (softened), 1 TB vanilla, 1 TB milk, 2 TB apricot preserves, 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, drizzle of honey. Whip together with a hand mixer until smooth.

Spread the “sauce” over the cooled cookie, and then decorate with fruit! Today I used blueberries, sliced strawberries, and sliced kiwis. Sometimes I add grapes. Blueberries made great numbers for our clock. What a fun snack for all of us!

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Plastic Easter eggs are taking over our house…

Ideally, I would like to get better at sharing our special occasion homeschool activities BEFORE the actual holiday so the ideas can be used by others who are interested. Haha! Right now I pretty much use my pregnancy nausea as an excuse for everything (because it truly can be paralyzing at times) so that’s my excuse for not getting to our Easter egg centers earlier. On Friday, we somehow managed to do our centers, go to a playground, go out for lunch, take a hike on the local rail trail, and make it to our church’s Good Friday service. No wonder we all came home and crashed and I was tired for the rest of the weekend! But I wanted to share with you our new centers, particularly the ones that used plastic Easter eggs you might have laying around your house right now…

For Abby, I set up centers using all plastic eggs (which is a great way to use up those leftover ones from Easter). These were ideas I came up with back when I was teaching first grade. There are so many cute ideas all over pinterest, etc, that can be adapted for whatever you need. I was so excited to break out my old eggs and worksheets that I once used in my classroom and to start using them with my own child.

Here are some ideas:

COMPOUND WORDS This was particularly fun for Abby, and the whole way home from our Easter celebration, she kept trying to come up with other compound words. This led to a discussion on the difference between syllables, sounds, and actual words (that make up other words). She did a good job coming up with some on her own, though, like “sidewalk.” She’s a thinker!

RHYMING WORDS I knew this would be an easy one for her, and she loves rhyming, so she saved it for her last center since she always saves the ones she’s looking forward to doing the most for last. haha!

WORD FAMILIES It was really fun for me to see Abby read through these words with such ease. This is a great way to help reinforce onset and rime practice. I wrote the rime on the longer part of the egg (ex. “ock”) and then a bunch of different onsets on the short part of the egg (“l”, “r”, “bl”, “cl”, etc) and she would rotate the egg to say and then write the different words. Since we had limited time on Friday, I only had her write one word for each word family, but when she has more time through the week to go back to it, she can write more.

Another couple examples that I have but we didn’t do yet are SYNONYMS & ANTONYMS, and then a sight word game where the sight words are written on a slip of paper inside an egg and the student “finds” it, and writes a sentence using that word. Our curriculum also did a brief mini-lesson on homophones this past week and if I had more time, I would’ve reinforced that with a homophone egg center, too! The options are endless!

For Noah, he had some fun, creative centers including a letter egg hunt, and you can see more about his centers and the centers we did last week on my updated center page.

Oh, and I have to share with you our Saturday night “Sabbath” celebration. We just finished up going through the 7 days of creation in Abby’s Bible reader and we culminated it with our very own Sabbath dinner celebration. We did ours Saturday night instead of Friday. I made a nice big dinner (which I don’t do often these days, since I’m not feeling well, but was able to make an exception) of roasted chicken and sides, and set a nice table. We had the 2 candles, and a loaf of homemade challah bread, which I must say, came out great for a first-timer! Then we had a relaxing evening of watching Disney’s “Moana” and were ready for Sunday’s day of worship and family time!