Friday, July 24, 2015

Yummy Beef Enchiladas

Just a little review of a Pioneer Woman recipe I tried last night.  I am no longer afraid to try homemade beef enchiladas!  The sauce is easy and delicious!  The enchiladas are fresh and delicious.  I will add that I only used one can of green chilies since I have littles who don't care for things to be too spicy.  This is one pinterest pin that did not disappoint!

One tip- use the 9 x 13 pan.  I used a jelly roll pan because that is what I always use for my chicken enchiladas.  These fit in the jelly roll pan, but as they cook and bubble the sauce also bubbles over and makes a mess of the oven.

Simple Perfect Enchiladas

Why the big switch from CC to Tapestry? Plus a flour recipe...

Food Storage Made Easy Healthy Flour Recipe

Now that certain babies sleep all night, most nights, I have been able to spend a little more time in the kitchen.  Once upon a time, I made about 98% of our food from scratch and probably a good 75% was grown or raised on our farm.  Then came babies #4 and #5 and they really did me in.  I am now able to spend time in the kitchen and it makes me so happy!  Today, I plan to mix up this healthy flour recipe (above) in my grain grinder in hopes of weaning the children off store bought white flour that I had reverted to over the last couple of years.  And then after we eat some healthy cookies I will get back to work on lesson planning!

Why would someone who was queen DIY revert to processed food, non-sprouted grains, and store bought milk?  Choices.  There are only so many hours in a day and new babies take up a lot of hours (both night and day).  In the daily duties of mom and teacher, I had to make choices.  I also decided at that time to tutor Classical Conversations Challenge program.  While it was a rewarding job with a nice compensation, it did eat up any tiny bit of free time that I had once enjoyed limiting my choices even more.  Even without new babies, it was a very time consuming job.  At the training we were told to plan for 20 hours a week of prep and to just stop after that even if we didn't feel prepared because our family would need us to spend no more than 20 hours a week.  So if you are wondering why the big switch in curriculum companies after 5 years of CC, this is it.  The last year I tutored Challenge 2 and before Christmas, my two oldest kids (who LOVED CC) begged me to please not sign up for another year.  This led to the great curriculum search...and all sorts of "Oh Dear" moments trying to find another curriculum that would match up with Miss A's first two years of high school and still manage to graduate her with the required credits and desired classical education.  Luckily I found Tapestry and she will graduate with all necessary credits and a classical education in the summer of 2016!

Flash forward to today.  I have one year of Tapestry of Grace under my belt.  We used it on a trial basis last year.  I pulled the oldest two out of CC and they only did Tapestry.  The middle two went to CC with me, where I tutored the Essentials Class (MUCH less demanding than Challenge).  These two did a blend of Tapestry and CC.  Once CC was over in the spring, I switched them to full Tapestry and I LOVED what I saw.  It all came together.  We could have great family discussions since we were all on the same page in history.  My 5th grader literally devoured all of the reading.  She read everything on the Upper Grammar list plus the books on her brother's Lower Grammar list.  In addition my 13 year old reluctant reader even found some books that he devoured.  And after the first 6 weeks of Miss A wishing she was in CC, she began to see the reason Tapestry is such a great curriculum.  For once in her life, she had time to actually digest the literature.  Tapestry is a 36 week curriculum and CC is a 30 week curriculum.  For a student with severe dyslexia those 6 weeks are HUGE.  She had a true history course, rather than a debate strand.  I switched her to Math U See and she was able to finally progress in math.  We hired a tutor for science and writing instruction was well thought out and improved her writing more in one year than the improvement I had seen in 3 years of CC.

So what are my plans for 2015-2016?  Tapestry of Grace for everyone and I am in the process of beginning a co-op.  As of this week, we have 30 children signed up.  We are looking for a facility because we have outgrown my house where we met last year.  Teachers are all in place.  Curriculum is all bought and we are all working on getting the first 9 weeks planned together to lighten our load by working together.  It is an exciting time, but also busy.  Still it isn't as busy as before.  I just can't tell you how much easier life is when you sleep uninterrupted for days at a time.  They are little still, so I still have at least 1-2 nights a week where duty calls and someone has a bad dream or wets a bed.

So below, I will outline a few of the major benefits of Tapestry that made me choose it over other classical curriculums available to homeschoolers.

Literature- uses great books, alternate books list allows for choices if you have already read the selected text, thorough literary analysis, weekly recitation/read aloud practice, philosophy work ties into literature as you see how philosophy affected types of literature written, nice mix of poetry, drama, prose, novellas, novels, etc,  SCRIPTED socratic discussions, Scripted! with page numbers in the text to back up the literary analysis so you can easily show the student how to find the answers, organized weekly evaluations and student activity pages you can print out or buy.  Did I mention scripted?  Meaning, if I am sick any other parent can fill in for me with ease.

History/Geography- Uses college level texts along with living books, included map work and government to tie it all together into a complete social studies program, student activity pages and maps, writing assignments are aligned with history content each week, scripted socratic discussions, weekly evaluations, 4 year history cycle and more.  (can you tell that I was the literature teacher and my friend taught the history?  I'm sure she could expand it even more!)

Writing Aids- Writing is wonderful.  My kids have been IEW kids for years now.  I love IEW, but I am so happy to have instruction for more variety in our writing.  The writing covers all types of writing from essays to debates to powerpoint presentations.  Each writing type has a rubric.  You just print it out at the beginning so that the student can see their expectations.  It includes lesson plans for grades 1-12.  Writing is aligned with history so they write each week about history.  In addition there are 4 classical literature papers to write in the rhetoric level.

Arts/Activities- Someone else has already searched pinterest and listed tons of crafts and activities for my kids.  I only have to look at the list and choose one or two each week.  In the older ages arts/activities is a fine arts credit, studying art of that time period.  Everything is aligned with the history as it is your spine.

Worldview- From studying missionaries to current trends in philosophy there is so much richness here.  In order to streamline even more, I just choose one level and do the worldview as a read aloud.  The older kids have their own books for their fine arts, but they still sit in on the younger world view read aloud.

Others: This post is not even doing justice to all that is included in the Tapestry curriculum.  It also includes a timeline, vocabulary, people, lapbooks, weekly audio CD's, and unit celebrations.  The teacher notes are thorough and don't require any extra research.  All you need to teach is in the guide. The other great thing is that I can still implement a lot of the things I love about the Charlotte Mason method.  I add in a little tiny bit from the Ambleside Online curriculum for my kids, especially the citizenship and science/nature study readings.

Price: A curriculum that includes all of this must be expensive, right?  Well it isn't cheap, but it isn't anywhere near what I paid for CC.  I look at it this way, I am spending most of my school budget on books instead of paying tutors.  I don't need a tutor with the thorough teacher notes and because they are so great, it is so easy to get together with a family or two to have your own tapestry co-op.  I also look at it as an investment.  Once I purchase all 4 years, I will then rotate it with the other kids and there is very little to purchase at that point, since I will own all of the books.  Last year, I spent about the same on curriculum and books as I would spend on ONE student in the CC Challenge program or 2 kids in Foundations and 1 in Essentials, which is what I did last year.  The difference, of course is that I was able to teach ALL of my kids for what I had previously paid to teach ONE student.  Also, I am able to purchase books one unit at a time and that spreads out the expense over the year instead of needing all the funds on one day of the year.

If you want to know more about this curriculum, check out this page of the website.  It has a great discussion of all that this curriculum is in short videos.  I'm currently working toward being a Tapestry Advisor and I will post my advisor code once I complete that training.
Explore Tapestry