Valkyrie’s Log – Blending, Baking, Confucius and confused Cultures

Milk and Whisk

Location: Home, Colorado.
Status: Cultured.

Today should have been a day of long walks and cupcake baking. But instead was all culture killing and Zhou dynasty quizzing. Our Saturday had consisted of Kombucha bottling and Banana Bread baking, banana bread so good that we totally ruined our appetites for dinner and ended up going for a very pleasant guilt induced evening walk for nearly an hour. Guilt for putting ice-cream in our lunch time smoothies (1 apple (peeled), 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1/4 vanilla ice-cream, splash of milk and 2 ice cubes) that were supposed to be paired with salad but somehow the salad became unnecessary😅 Also mild guilt for the accidental dinner of L’s freshly baked banana bread, only mild as it was almond flour banana bread with relatively low sugar content (comparatively speaking).

So today started out as a “back on track” healthy active day. We had tuna salad for lunch and only the smallest square of banana bread 🤤 Then I was going to make yogurt and L was going to knock out the rest of her Social Studies from the previous week. But boy oh boy do the social studies of the Phoenician culture and the Shang & Zhou dynasty’s know how to swallow a day whole! Mid lecture, having pasteurised the milk to 180ºF, while clarifying the tactics behind the Mandate of Heaven and the influence of Confucius… I dumped my thermophilic culture into a piping hot half gallon of milk. Yogurt makers of the world will be simultaneously gasping in shock and groaning in sympathy. I put the whole pot in the fridge in a vain hope that if I cooled the milk down to the required 110ºF fast enough and scraped the meagre amount of leftover starter yogurt into the pot, things would somehow magically be saved… tune in again tomorrow to hear the most likely inevitable plight of our latest batch of Instant Pot yogurt (I’m going to give it the night in the hope that those few mighty cultures will take a leaf out of their Viking host’s book and conquer the whole darn pot!).

Grateful for:

  1. Banana Bread and Skype

Valkyrie’s Log – How to teach your homeschool student to enjoy exercise

Location: Home, Colorado.
Status: Working it out.

We became the proud owners of an FTX Inspire home gym a couple of weeks ago and now that it is all set up, we’ve made ourselves a fitness plan. I told my husband I wanted to work out a little every day, I find it much easier to pop down to the gym in the evening and knock out a 20 minute work out than to commit to an hour 3 times a week. These workouts will supplement our morning dog walks of 40 mins minimum and keep us in good shape for twice weekly hikes!

I love a good table so here is what I made for my daughter L and I (M for Mom). Explanation of exercises is below. We can fill in the sheet as both a record of (hopefully) our improvements in strength, and as a record of L’s Physical Education.

Upper Body 3×10

1. Pull Ups 3 x 10 or 4 x 5
2. Inclined seated press  3 x 10
3. Negative Push ups 3 x 10
4. Standing Shoulder row 3 x 10 each side
5. Rotator Cuff Pull out (elbow in) 3×10 each side
6. Bent Row 3 x 10 (3-5kg)
7. Tricep extensions with rope. Elbows tucked
8. Tricep dips on bench
9. Bicep curl elbow tucked
10. Hanging knee lifts

1. Squats x25
2. Push ups x10 (Knees down if needed)
3. Straight arm pull down (v low weight) x25
4. Lying leg lifts x15
5. Crunchies x25
6. Russian Twist x25
7. Jumping Jacks x20
8. Burpees x10
9. Mountain Climbers x20

Lower Body 3×10

1. Side Leg Out (handle on ankle) 
2. Goblet Squats
3. Reverse Lunges
4. Calf Raises (stand on toes)
5. Hanging Knee lifts
6. Hands through reverse squats (rope through legs, back to machine, heavy weight)
7. Glute Bridges 
8. Back Extensions 

The quantities for Upper and Lower body work are a target for us to work towards as we build our fitness over the next couple of weeks. The cardio numbers were higher originally but my husband decided it was best to start low and build up rather than to have numbers that felt wildly unachievable.

To begin with we will focus on form and familiarisation with the machine. Yesterday I did 10 of each Upper Body exercise just to get the hang of it, some 10’s were enough, others were easy. L will use no weights, working mostly to her own body weight and building up strength befitting her build, for her using the machine is more about novelty rather than necessity, no baby body building here! I will work my way up to weights that make the numbers achievable but still challenging and then I’ll work to build up the numbers.

The most important factor is to enjoy working out together, focus on form & fun, quantity (repetitions) and quantity (weight) come second.

Grateful for:

  1. A healthy family who enjoy staying fit and strong.
  2. The convenience of a home gym

Valkyrie’s Log – How to avoid a Pizza Coma

Cauliflower Pizza Base

Location: Home, Colorado.
Status: Cooking.

October in Colorado is not like October anywhere I have every been. We are in the middle of an Indian Summer. Whether this is a normal occurrence or an anomaly will remain to be seen, but with temperatures of 28ºC/82ºF during the day, I am not complaining! So sunny, dry and warm are the days that we hardly notice that night temps are around 3ºC/37ºF! In fact we open the windows in the morning to let the cool in before the thermometer rockets to the sky!

Today was Day 2 of Time4Learning Supervision. Our daughter set to work, knocking out her entire 25 left over Mathematics modules in one day. Some sets she flew through independently, some required a little explanation… some a little more. But she did it. Unfortunately she had lost two days to one subject so was not finished in time for a movie, but we did take time for pizza and a work out before bed.

Pizza and work-out may not seem to go hand in hand, but when you have cauliflower pizza, the post dinner coma is a thing of the past. Now I’m not going to pretend to be any kind of foodie blogger, so here is a link to the recipe I used. I’ll just say, the first attempt I made cauliflower puree instead of cauliflower rice. Then I used frozen cauliflower rice but didn’t thaw and squeeze it. This time I thawed it, squeezed a LOT of liquid out of it and I think it would have been perfect had I had the right amount of Parmesan and not used grated cheese as a substitute. It tasted great but had a more rubbery texture than it would have. So there are my tips, here is the recipe. Bon appetite!

Grateful for:

  1. The weather! When you have the sun everyday, it becomes easy to take for granted! Talking to friend back in Ireland has reminded me to appreciate it!

Valkyrie’s Log – When your homeschooler gets stuck in Math

Category World School

Location: Home, Colorado.
Status: Brain Dead.

Thursdays are a very World School centric day of our week. I have set my daughter up with a schedule and she knows the minimum time she needs to spend on each subject. We also signed up for Time4Learning, an online curriculum that, for her grade, covers Maths, Language Arts, Social Studies and Science. I have created an Activity Plan for her so she can recap Mathematics Grade 4 (my lack of confidence in what she had absorbed while in mainstream school made me keen to start her on a grade below and move on to Grade 5 after Christmas) as well as working on Grade 5 for the other 3 subjects. The good thing about the plans is that she knows how much she has to do and when it needs to be complete. She has the freedom to do more some days than others, her target is to be finished by Friday Evening. Friday Night is Move Night. If she isn’t finished by Friday… there is no movie night. It seems harsh and a little counter intuitive to what I had hoped for with world school. But until she becomes more intrinsically motivated, some extrinsic motivation is required. There have been many distractions of late (packing up out, quarantine in Mexico, cross america road trip , hopefully with some “normality” there will come some more focus.

This week I discovered that she had somehow not completed her previous week of social studies, how this happened and how I missed it is beyond me, but here we are. This does not make up a huge portion of working week, so she was able to catch up pretty quickly. But this does mean that she’s had a couple of movie night that should not have been! This makes me all the more determined that this week I will have to make sure she is clear on the consequences of not completing her week’s work. It just so happens that this week her maths, which does take up a heftier portion of her work, has kicked things up a gear with long division!

She attempted to tackle it on Monday morning, it did not go well. We were both sad and unsettled from the sudden recall of her Dad back to work. So it has been looming over her and she was in no hurry to tackle it!

Thursday mornings are also Game School. Where she meets up with 2 other girls her age to play teacher guided board games utilising Language Arts, Mathematics and STEM. I had given her the option of skipping it to give her more time to catch up on her work, but as her only current social outlet that doesn’t involve Skype, she was willing to risk Movie Night to go.

Deciding that it was going to take a little supervision to make sure she didn’t get overwhelmed, I sat down with her after Game School and we started working her Mathematics modules together. I am usually hesitant to get too involved with the Mathematics. I learned different methods in school (while being world schooled myself and then back into mainstream school in Gibraltar and Iceland in the 90’s) and it is definitely her Dad’s forte not mine! But I got my notebook out and decided I would learn the current method at the same time as helping her get a handle of it.

Page of long division sums

7 hours later, 3 modules out of 28 completed. THREE! I am glad I was working with her because if I had been focussed on my own work I would not have believed that she could have taken so long while working properly! It was also important as I have discovered that she doesn’t always read everything that is presented to her, or doesn’t clarify or go back over things she doesn’t fully understand, rather relying on her ability to pass quizzes… even if she has to do them several times. This means that when she gets stuck I can say “Did you read all the instructions?”, “Did you write out the key points?” and “Watch the instructions video again” if she is still stuck, then I’m happy to stop what I’m doing as she really is actually stuck.

So a period of closer supervision is required, making sure she is clear on each stage before moving on. Hopefully this will be a temporary measure, and she will get into the habit of reading everything she is being presented and take more self satisfaction with knowing the answers and acing the quizzes first time.

When I get frustrated with her I try to remember that my experience of world schooling included a very clever, very helpful brother and a fully engaged mother. My daughter has a playful dog and a mom who is still working, albeit part time. It is understandable that her journey is a little different.

Grateful for:

  1. The ability to dedicate 7 hours to helping my daughter conquer long division.
  2. Access to an online curriculum that challenges her.
  3. The opportunity to improve MY mental maths! Mathematics is something that fascinates me, hopefully my interest will inspire her to have some intrinsic curiosity for the subject.