Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Listen to Your Mama

I know my children very well. That's not to say I don't know some things about them, we do not inhabit the same mind, after all. Thankfully. But, I've spent a huge amount of their lives with them, and I *do* know their reading preferences.

Dominic only likes comedy. He prefers it mixed with action, like in the Ranger's Apprentice and Brotherband series by John Flanagan (we really like the audiobooks for these, by the way, available on audible), but comedy is where it's at for him. He's also a huge fan of Anne McCaffrey, adventure with some comedy thrown in.

Xavier likes dystopian societies. He likes them for the first couple books, then ends up throwing the last one across the room, a boy after my own heart. (Have you ever noticed that many dystopian series come in trilogies?) He and Gabriel both have a love/hate relationship with emotional books.

Gabriel likes adventure books, things by Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler are favorite authors, with Sherlock Holmes being high on his list of series as well.

But, even though I've been teaching my children for 8 years, they still don't trust me. Maybe it's because I occasionally make them read things I know they'll dislike but that I think are important. Most recently, this was Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cr. I knew Xavier would hate it; he's just so incredibly empathetic that it would hurt him. It did. After he read it, however, I had him write about why he did or didn't like it, and why it's an important book to read even when you don't like it. He was on board with this and gave excellent reasons for both parts of the essay.

Still, I knew when I assigned "To Kill a Mockingbird" that he'd love it. Gabriel loved it. It is still one of my favorite all time books, and it fits Xavier's reading personality perfectly. Plus, I think it's an important book to read.

He balked. He drew the reading of that book out for three weeks, reading a few pages here and there, until I told him I wanted him to finish it this week. He still had more than half the book left to read when I left for work yesterday at 1:00. This was the text I received 2 hours later.

Yep. I know my kids.

*Affiliate links contained in this post. If you choose to purchase a book by clicking on one of the links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale price.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Darwin Chicken

Last night, I made stir fry for dinner and went ahead and cut up the chicken for tonight's dinner. Although this is a recipe I've been eating since I was a kid, it's relatively new to our family, since I had forgotten about it. There's no need for a real recipe, but at the end of this post, I'll tell you how it's made. First, the story of how it got its name 

Our family loves playing with words. For some reason, a couple members of our family enjoy mispronouncing words. I don't know why, I just know they do. Jalapeño is one word that is almost never pronounced correctly, even though we all know the correct way to do so.  Instead, everyone says ja-lop-en-yo. Tonight, when I said I was making ja-lop-en-yo chicken for supper, Gabriel thought I said Galapagos chicken. This prompted Xavier to rename the meal Darwin Chicken. It is now the official name or this meal. 

Typically, we eat this with fry bread, and I've been trying out a few different recipes for gluten-free fry bread. I've liked both the ones I've tried. 

So, to make Darwin Chicken, there's a formula you follow. Use the amount of chicken breast you need for your family. For every 2 pounds of chicken, I use one jar of diced jalapeños. Cube the chicken and marinated the chicken in the jalapeño juice for at least three hours. Toss in flour and fry. Don't overcrowd the pan, since it actually takes longer to cook that way. 

I hope your family enjoys this recipe. Do you have any recipes you'd like to suggest for us?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Anne McCaffrey

I first read an Anne McCaffrey book when I was 12. I know this because the book set my parents subsequently bought for me were inscribed for my 13th birthday. I have loved Anne McCaffrey ever since.

I introduced my own children to Anne McCaffrey's worlds at much younger ages. I don't know how old Gabriel was the first time he read about Pern, but Dominic has been listening to the audiobooks for at least 2 years. He is 11.

This semester, we decided that a unit study of the Pern books was in order. Dominic and Xavier had been relistening to the Pern books in chronological order, but we decided to read them in the order McCaffrey wrote them in, as she suggested.

One of the things I do when creating a unit study is to pull vocabulary words from the books, in addition to quotes, historical and scientific references, and more. Although I have been reading Anne McCaffrey's works for 25 years, I never realized until now how rich the language is in her books. And, because I have been writing down quotes I enjoy, I have also acquired a greater appreciation for her turn of phrase. Here are just a few quotes I've found from the first two books in our study, Dragonflight and Dragonquest.

Talking about Lessa
She was used to waiting. Perversity, endurance, and guile were her other weapons, loaded with the inexhaustible patience of vengeful dedication.
Many of my favorite quotes come from Masterharper Robinton:
Gratitude is an ill fitting tunic that can chafe and smell if worn too long.
Silly people waste time assigning or assuming guilt
Life at the mountaintop Weyrs assumed a glamor all out of proportion to reality...

Fantastic descriptions run rampant in Anne McCaffrey's books:
The black maws of the individual wears, set in the face of the inner wall, were voiceless mouths, greeting hime all astonished.

And Mastersmith Fandarel, well known for his love of efficiency certainly has his times as well:

Ah, but a man can sleep anytime. A laugh restores the soul.

And, I think that last quote is my current favorite. "A laugh restores the soul."


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