Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What's for Dinner?

Shrimp with Edamame and Lime over Rice
From Everyday Food, June 2011, serves 4

This dish is light, clean and easy to toss together.  Don't have any edamame on hand? Substitute frozen peas instead.

1 c long grain white rice such as jasmine or basmati (you can use brown rice, too)
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 lbs. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I buy frozen shrimp and defrost under cold running water)
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 c frozen shelled edamame, thawed
5 scallions, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces, white and green parts separated
1 T fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
salt and pepper

1.  Cook rice according to package directions.
2.  Heat oil over medium high heat in a large non-stick skillet.  Add shrimp and garlic, stirring occasionally, cooking for 4 minutes.  Add edamame and scallion whites. Cook until shrimp are opaque and garlic is golden, about 3 minutes more.  Add scallion greens and lime juice, cooking for another minute.
3.  Season with salt and pepper; serve with rice and lime wedges.

Some Wednesdays will also have a "bonus" idea for kid's lunches.  Today's idea is from Everyday Food:  "Put last night's dinner to good use: Sliced chicken breast, meatloaf, roasted vegetables, or hummus and lettuce are perfect for filling small pita pockets."

If you have an idea you'd like to share, please email me and include a photo if you can.

Be sure and sign-up to receive blog posts by email so you won't miss anything.   Leave a comment when you do so you're entered into the drawing for a prize!

posted by Joy Newman

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bibliotheca: Library Home Edition

Today's tidbit involves digitally organizing your home library.  Home schooling requires books. Whether you have an extensive collection of books or just a few, having organized bookshelves is a benefit. What's the use in owning books if you can't quickly and efficiently find them on your shelves?  In today's technological world, it should be no surprise that you can now keep track of your home library digitally.  You can catalog movies, tools and toys, too.  Keep track of who borrowed your copy of Five in a Row. No more buying duplicates because you forgot you already owned a copy of Don Quixote.  Some programs and computers allow you to scan the bar code. If your computer doesn't have a built-in camera, additional scanners can be purchased.  There are many programs available, but just to get you started:

LibraryThing is in their own words "a cataloging and social networking site for book lovers."  You can catalog your books, separate them into categories, and chat with others who like similar books--basically Facebook and Book Club combined.  They offer several different accounts. A free account allows you to catalog up to 200 books and there are various levels of paid accounts.  Add books to your account by entering title, author or ISBN number.  Books can be viewed either by cover or in list format.  Their site offers a "tour" that highlights how to use LibraryThing.

Readerware is available for Windows and Mac OS systems.  They offer software for cataloging books, music and videos beginning at $40 per category.  Input your items and they can be viewed any number of ways: tree, thumbnail or fish-eye view. They also offer a tutorial and a 30-day trial period.

Book Collector is a program that works with both PCs and Macs.  Enter book by title and author or ISBN number and browse your collection in a list form or by cover image. They offer mobile apps as well. This runs $30 for the standard package.

There are other digital cataloging programs out there, such as Delicious LibraryBookCat, and  Book Librarian Plus.  If you know of others or use one already, please leave a comment and tell us what you think. With the long weekend coming, perhaps it's a good time to organize your home library. We'd love to hear from you--how are your books organized?

Two more tidbits this Tuesday:

Did you know you can sign up to receive blog updates automatically? On the right hand side, look for "Subscribe to Blog Via Email." Fill in your email address and new posts are waiting in your inbox. Sign up this week and be entered into a drawing for a prize!

Don't forget--tonight April Kemp will take us on a "Walk Through History."  Meet in the Lewis Library at 6:30.  You won't want to miss it--hope to see you there!

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above sites. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Magical Moments: First Day of School

The first day of school.  

Those words conjure up many things--the smell of newly sharpened pencils;  shoes, uncomfortable and stiff in their newness; butterflies of nervous anticipation at the beginning of a new year, or your first year.

The first day of school is magical in so many ways--seeing old friends, meeting new ones.  Excitedly waving to last year's teacher and wanting to show her how much you've grown over the summer while shyly smiling in the direction of this year's.

The first day of school often brings tears as parents drop off anxiously excited kindergartners--it doesn't seem to matter if parents have done this before.  Suddenly, the kindergartener looks tiny and their backpacks even bigger.

The first day of school is filled with paperwork and a flurry of activity in the office.  Supplies are checked, questions are asked and answered, new families are shown the ropes.

(Double click the collage to view it in a larger format.)
Thanks to Lisa Boyd, Trina Dart, Jaime Mickey & Joy Newman for photos
Posted by Picasa

The first day of school is filled with surprises as the new Associate Director and Lower Middle School Teacher, Mr. Wathen, serenades us with a revamped Bob Marley song.

There was magic laced into every element of the first day--
did you feel the magic?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Free Friday

Take a deep breath. It's been an exciting and hectic week as we all adjust to new routines and schedules.  

Friday posts will be a mix of highlighting weekend events around the county, encouraging weekend relaxation and other various topics.  For instance, the Rutiz Family Farms in Arroyo Grande has pumpkin engraving. You carve your name or a picture into young pumpkins and when the pumpkins are ripe, they look something like this:

Check their website for stand hours and sign up for the newsletter so you'll know when to go back and collect your pumpkins.  

One thing you’ll find every Friday is our “Free by 5” slogan. We’d like to encourage you and your family to unplug by 5 o’clock and be electronics free.  Research has shown the average person will have spent seven to ten years watching television by the age of 70.  Today’s world has so much more than just TV with smart phones, the internet and video games.  Let’s be intentional about unplugging and spending time together with family and friends. Technology is a wonderful tool but tools are meant to be used, not rule over us.  Perhaps an entire night is too long for your family, so start by blocking off the hours of five to seven.  Find something that challenges and benefits your family.

It was a short week and a “soft” start to another year. Enjoy the weekend and the beautiful weather.  Happy Friday!

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with Rutiz Family Farms.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mission Statements

Two years ago, on the first day of school, Susie Theule, our director, presented a seminar on creating mission statements.  In the beginning, many people were expecting this:

Instead, people left feeling inspired, encouraged and reminded of why we have chosen this path of home education.  We would like to encourage you to sit down and write a mission statement (or two or three!) that encompasses your mission as a home educator, as a parent, as a family.  You may be surprised at what a powerful exercise it ends up being.  

To get you started, here is SLO Classical Academy's mission statement:
"SLO Classical Academy engages students in the diligent, creative pursuit of wisdom, beauty and virtue through a classical, rich, interdisciplinary approach to academics, a nurturing community and a commitment to inspiring each student to reach his or her full potential."

Your personal mission statement as home educator is the statement you want hanging on the wall or written in your heart to come back to when you are discouraged, when your child is giving you difficulties, when you are so tired you can’t see straight, when you entertain whether or not you want to keep doing this…
To assist you in finding the answer, you may find it helpful to start by asking some questions and by listing some of your favorite words.

Start with questions.

Why have you chosen to educate your children this way?
By what do you want your home to be characterized?
What do you want for your children?  Your family?  Now?  In the future?
What do your children want?
What do you believe about the family’s role in a child’s life?
What do you believe about education?
What do you want for yourself in educating this way?
What do you want for the community?

Look at your favorite words. Examples:

              flourish                       vibrant                           dynamic
                  alive                             lifelong learners           thrive
                  grow                            reach                               inspire
                  persevere                    love of learning             intimacy
                  prepare                       leaders                            serve

Mission Statement Samples:

  • Our belief is that learning is a lifelong adventure in which the whole family shares; and that children's minds readily absorb knowledge when they have stability in their surroundings, love, encouragement, and discipline, together with the freedom to wonder, explore, imagine, and ask questions.
  • Our goal is for our children to be independent thinkers, able to learn at their own pace, pursue their own interests, and develop confidence and self-discipline in the comfort and security of their own home.
  •  Our hope is we will raise our children to do their best, to realize their special talents, to be concerned for the needs of others, to become responsible citizens, to wise, to be skillful and knowledgeable in every area that will be useful to them in their future, and to grow up to live fulfilling and meaningful lives.

Susie’s Mission Statement (as director):
I want to be a part of creating and maintaining a vibrant community that seeks to inspire children to develop an absolute zest for learning, attain the tools they need to think for themselves, and grow in virtues that will allow them to flourish now and in the future.  I want to be in a community that faces challenges and celebrates successes together for the sake of not only children but for our growth and development as parents and adults and for the community at large.  I want to be a part of something bigger than myself – I want my life to matter, even if I am never remembered for it.

Let's make a commitment as a community, to sit down individually, as a couple, as a family, and write mission statements.  If you'd like to share yours email it to:  and we will post them.

When you discover your mission, you will feel its demand. It will fill you with enthusiasm and a burning desire to get to work on it.”   ~ W. Clement Stone

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What's for Dinner Wednesday

Hello! I’m Joy Newman and I contributed recipes to our previous publication “Let’s Eat.”  Instead of a paper publication, Wednesdays blog posts will feature a weekly recipe or food related post.  

For those who are new to our community, welcome! We’re so glad you’re here.  A few notes about the recipes.  I like to abbreviate teaspoons as “t” and tablespoons as “T.”  When I reference olive oil, I always mean extra virgin olive oil; salt refers to kosher or coarse salt; and pepper means freshly ground pepper.  If I mention Parmesan cheese, it’s usually freshly grated as well.  I point these things out, not to make you buy things you don’t normally buy, but for clarification. Table salt is a different kind of salty than kosher salt so you may have to play with the listed amounts. 

I love to cook and I realize not everyone shares this passion.  Since I love being in the kitchen, a recipe that seems quick and easy to me, may not be for you.  Please feel free to pass along quick, nutritious, delicious meals from your own recipe book. I love trying new things!  I have a deep respect for dinner-time and the power of food in bringing people together.  Let’s journey together this year as we seek to encourage each other in this necessary element of our lives while we provide sustenance for our families.  Bon app├ętit!

Who doesn't love pasta? Add some fresh heirloom tomatoes and it's even better.  This fresh, summery pasta is sure to please everyone and is easy to make.  If you don't have a garden, check out a farmer's market for fresh tomatoes.

photo by Joy Newman

Pasta with Marinated Tomatoes
Adapted from
Martha Stewart Living, August 2011

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs. heirloom tomatoes, sliced into 1/2-inch wedges or coarsely chopped
3/4 fresh basil, torn or chopped
3 T capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
2 t finely grated lemon zest
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes, optional
salt and pepper
1 lb. pasts such as pappardelle or fettucine

1.  Heat garlic in oil in a saucepan over low heat until pale gold, about 10 minutes.  Strain; reserve oil and garlic. Let cool.
2.  Combine tomatoes, 1/4 c basil, capers, lemon zest, red-pepper flakes, and 1/2 t salt in a large bowl.  Pour garlic oil and garlic over tomato mixture. Marinate, covered, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
3. Cook the pasta (al dente is recommended, of course); reserve some of the salted pasta water.  Add the warm pasta to the bowl of tomatoes and toss gently.  If pasta seems dry, add the reserved pasta water.  Top with remaining basil; season with salt and pepper if needed.  Add freshly grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy.

posted by Joy Newman

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday's Tidbit

Many of us have heard of this wondrous system known as the "workbox system."  Last spring, several moms hosted a seminar on how they use them.  Jenny Bischoff, one of those moms is sharing today on how workboxes operate for her family.  Jenny and her husband, Paul, have three kids--Kate (Lower Middle School), Georgia (Primary), and Calvin (Jr. Kindergarten).  This is their sixth year at SLOCA and Jenny is also the Wednesday NOL (Nice Office Lady).

For more information about workboxes, check out Sue Patrick's website.  Thank you, Jenny for sharing.

I started using the workbox system in January of 2011, after hearing about it the previous summer. We had had a rough fall trimester trying to "get it all done" while enjoying the learning process and maintaining some level of sanity. It wasn't happening. I was homeschooling a 5th grader, a 1st grader and a rambunctious 4 year old. One daughter was constantly distracted and never knew what she was supposed to be doing, the other daughter complained about her work and wanted to play all day, and the youngest (who hates to be alone), wanted to be in the middle of whatever we were doing, while jumping off of the furniture and singing at full volume. I was ready to try anything to help us get organized, stay motivated, and simplify our school day.

It was a remarkably easy transition to implement workboxes, and all three kids took to it beautifully. My oldest keeps her boxes in her bedroom, next to her desk, since she does most of her work independently and likes a quiet space. The other two have theirs in the school room where they can work with me. Now that we are using them, my oldest can easily see what she needs to accomplish for the day and when she is finished. No more wandering around the house forgetting what's next. My other daughter gets a break after each row of boxes to play for 10 minutes, which is enough motivation for her to complete those 3 boxes with a good attitude. She also loves knowing when she's done for the day, and enjoys looking forward to some fun activities that may be ahead in one of the boxes. The biggest improvement of all has been with my 4 year old, who now has his own set of boxes and school work that he can complete either with me or on his own (I give him some of each). He can still be in the same room with us, but is busily engaged most of the time, instead of distracting me and his sisters. He is learning the routine of completing tasks, and enjoying learning.

It's so versatile, those who are creative could really have fun thinking of things to include in the boxes. The time to prep the boxes the night before is well worth it, because our homeschool days are much smoother and more peaceful. My mental strain is greatly reduced - I don't have to juggle everyone's grids in my mind because everything is laid out for the day, ready to go. Even when we have an interruption in our day, it's so much easier to get back on track. We still have our occasional grumpy days and bad attitudes (mom included), but there is a great peace of mind that this system has brought to our homeschooling experience. It has given me a lot more confidence going into this next school year, and I love it!  I'm happy to talk to anyone about more details, or answer questions -

 SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with Sue Patrick.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Down Home Welcome

photo by Joy Newman

With a name like Down Home, it feels like we should be saying "Howdy y'all!"  Although Down Home has some country twang, Down Home is really supposed to be about our home life.  We want to nurture, encourage, inspire and educate on the home-front, to keep those home fires burning.  We want you to know that we recognize that in many ways the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.   Hopefully, reading the blog will not become a "must-do" on your already too-long list, but a "want-to." We  hope you'll want to read the blog, join the give-aways, offer feedback and join in the great conversation.  Without giving everything away, expect to see recipes, craft ideas, organizational and home schooling tips, tid-bits of information and inspiration in many forms coming from within our talented, creative, vibrant community.

As we begin another school year, let's commit ourselves to purposeful parenting, living in community, and learning alongside our children.  Semper discentis (always learning together).