Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Audio Books

For some of us, the antiquated language of {insert author name here} is challenging and cumbersome to read aloud. Books on tape may be a relic from our past, but the concept is still current.  Have you ever considered audio books? This would be a great way to make the reading more manageable.  However, don't use it as an opportunity to get caught up on laundry, but sit down and enjoy being read to alongside your children. 

Check out Audible.com and iTunes to purchase audio books.  Librivox.org and our Black and Gold Library have free downloads.

Audio books would also be a great way for a traveling or commuting parent to stay connected with the history and literature being read at home.  

Are you an audio book fan? If so, what are your favorites?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Magical Moment

Today's Magical Moment is from Jenny Bischoff.  Jenny and her husband, Paul, have three kids--Kate (Lower Middle School), Georgia (Primary), and Calvin (Jr. Kindergarten).  This is their sixth year at SLO Classical Academy and Jenny is also the Wednesday NOL (Nice Office Lady).

The LMS class was given an assignment to make up a puppet show about Henry VIII, and my daughter was put into a group with three other girls. These inspiring girls wrote a 6-page script, designed costumes and backgrounds, composed music to accompany the performance, and even got together over the weekend to rehearse. They were not told to go to all these lengths, and it seemed as if they didn't view it as "work," but play with a purpose. (Many renditions of "Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived..." were heard around my house.) It was a joy to stand back and watch them, and definitely a magical moment to see their creative brains working together. This is one of the many reasons I love being part of the SLO Classical Academy family!

Another magical moment occurred when last night my 8 year old daughter was reading in bed and suddenly came running out to us in the living room, all excited about something in her book (which was the classic Hamster in a Handbasket from the Animal Ark series... haha). "Mommy, you know what I just read? The daddy hamster in this book is named Henry and when the mommy hamster had a bunch of babies, they named one of them Elizabeth! Just like Henry VIII and Elizabeth!" We all love to catch historical references in everyday reading, and realize that we"get" it, right? It was rewarding to see my little girl "get" that connection, even in her little chapter book. We had a moment of conversation about how much more enjoyable reading can be when we make connections like that, plus she was pleased that she could share it with me and know that I would "get" it too. Learning together as a family is awesome!

The joy that accompanies learning as a family really fosters deep connections.  How exciting to share in the "aha" moments of our children.  Thank you, Jenny!  Just a reminder that tonight is our Parent Meeting at 6PM at Grace Church. You won't want to miss out on eating together as a community, a financial update and details about next year as they are unveiled.  See you there!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Free Friday

Did you know a Fresh & Easy is opening in San Luis Obispo?  Fresh & Easy is a market that in their own words, "offers freshly prepared meals with no artificial colors, flavors, high-fructose corn syrup, and no added trans fats, and we do it with honest, low prices every day."

Every time they open a new store, they donate $1000 to a non-profit in the area.  We know we are part of an amazing school and vibrant community, so let's spread the word!  Go to Fresh & Easy and on the right side click on "Charity Donations."  Choose the San Luis Obispo location and nominate SLO Classical Academy.  After you do that, don't forget to be Free by Five and turn off your electronics.  Our beautiful "winter" weather is back so maybe a hike along the Johnson Trail or a beach picnic is just the thing to unwind and relax.  

Just a reminder that our Parent Meeting is Monday at 6 PM.  Happy Weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What's on Your Night-stand: Student Edition

SLO Classical Academy took to the streets, er playground, to ask a question: What books are on your night-stand?  

Gracie Wathan
Track B, Intermediate

E-book: The Giver, Lois Lowry
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
Goddess Girls 1-4, Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams
Garfield's Food for Thought

Caroline Rein
High School Junior

Eli Newman
Track A, Intermediate

The Guardians of Ga'Hoole 
Book 1, Kathryn Lasky

What is your student reading?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Pretty much anything encased in puff pastry is delicious, right? These portable hand pies would make a great dinner on the go.  Serve with veggies and dip if you need the portability or a nice green salad. Puff pastry is found in the freezer section of the grocery store and does need to thaw, so read the package for directions.  I must confess, I skipped the raisins.

Beef and Potato Hand Pies
Everyday Food, Sep. 2011
makes 8

1 T olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced medium
salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb. ground beef (or turkey)
1 T smoked paprika
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, diced medium
1/2 c golden raisins
flour for dusting
2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.  Add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat until browned, 5 minutes. Stir in paprika, potato and raisins.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

2.  On a lightly floured work surface, gently roll out the puff pastry sheets to smooth creases.  Cut each sheet into 4 squares. Place 1/3 c beef mixture into the center of each pastry square.  Brush edges lightly with water, fold over filling to form triangles, pass to seal. Sprinkle with additional paprika, if desired.  Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheets and bake until pastry is golden and puffed, 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

A quick reminder that Friday morning is the Dad's Reading Group. They will be meeting at 6:30 AM and discussing Fahrenheit 451.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Doodle for Google

Have you heard of Doodle 4 Google?  It's a doodle contest, where students are invited to create a new Google homepage logo. This year's theme is "If I could travel in time, I'd visit..."  What an exciting theme! It seems tailor made for a SLO Classical Academy student. Grand prize includes a trip to New York and a $30,000 scholarship.  Contest details can be found here.  To see Google's other doodles that have run around the world, go here.

Happy doodling!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Magical Moment

“I LOVE School!”  The first words out of Sia Faber’s mouth as she piled into the car at pick up last Thursday.    

Friday, January 20, 2012

Free Friday

This week, the Moore family shares with us their latest family reading book.  Ken and Brigid are a Track A family and this is their second year with SLO Classical Academy. They have four children: Connie (Upper Middle School), Abigail (Intermediate), Joseph (Kindergarten) and BrigidAnne (1 1/2).  

"We just finished reading Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred Taylor.  Set in the South in the 1930's with themes of  racial conflict, family unity, and justice, it was a bit heavy for the holidays.  Still, it was interesting to see how my sheltered kids reacted to the inequalities and injustices faced by the characters in the story." 

Another Friday is here. Just a reminder that today is a mini-work day on campus from 11:30 to 3:30.  And after helping out at school for a bit, remember to be Free by Five o'clock and step away from your electronic media.  Rain is in the forecast so maybe it's the perfect time to start a new family reading book, such as the one above or one mentioned last week or have a family game night.  Whatever you choose, enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reading Aloud to Independent Readers

Being able to read independently is a huge milestone for students. It marks a turning point in their academic career, one that parents are all too eager to see. To be honest, when a child can read for herself, it takes a lot of the burden off of mom. Unfortunately, some moms wrongly assume that an independent reader neither needs nor likes mom to read to her anymore....

Click here to finish reading this great article and come back tomorrow for another SLO Classical family sharing their read-aloud-book.

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with the above mentioned site.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What's for Dinner?

I am a planner. I typically plan our meals for the week during the weekend so I can do one shopping trip and know each night what we're eating.  Sometimes, we have a busy weekend or I just get lazy and neglect to do so and end up wishing I had!  A few months ago, I heard of someone who plans her meals monthly.  I rebelled at the idea at first but kept thinking about it and found myself intrigued enough to give it try.  The verdict? I LOVE it!  I love sitting down once to plan our meals and my weekly shopping lists practically write themselves.  

Here is a great monthly printable if you'd like to give it a try.  I print a new one each month, but you could laminate a blank one and use a dry-erase pen.  And, here is another menu from a woman who plans breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner.  Her menu options are available in Word format so you can edit it and then print.  How about you--are you a meal planner?

The Barefoot Contessa has a wonderful roasted broccoli recipe.  It takes a little more time and thought than steaming, but has wonderful, bright flavors.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SLO Green Shorts Film Festival

WHO: Green Shorts Film Festival in partnership with Rideshare & SLO International Film Festival
WHAT: Has an immediate call for 1-2 minute short video entries!
WHEN: Festival date is March 11, 2012. Deadline for submissions is March 2, 2012
WHERE: San Luis Obispo County – more info on location and how to submit at SLOGreenShorts.org
WHY: Green Shorts brings awareness to issues of sustainability while inspiring creativity

If you or one of your children is an aspiring filmmaker, this could be just the thing for you! Check out their website for more details.
And, congratulations to Lindsey Cheney, the winner from our drawing.  Look for your Jamba gift card in your family file! 
(Number picked using random number generator.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Magical Moment

Today's Magical Moment is brought to us by Jill Talley. Todd and Jill Talley are a Track A family with three children: Karena (Primary), Violet (Kindergarten) and Daniel (Jr. K.) This is their third year at SLO Classical Academy.

My husband had a magical moment with our kids on New Year’s Day as they hiked to the top of San Luis Mountain to ring in the New Year. After spending some time at the top of the mountain and taking in the incredible views, my husband told the kids it was time to head down. As he was gathering the kids he looked over and found our kindergartner sitting on a rock drawing in her home school nature journal, something she had packed in her backpack unbeknownst to anyone else. My husband was so tickled to see his six year old daughter sketching all that she was taking in. It was a wonderful reminder to him to slow down and ­­­­­­­­­­­­take in the joy of nature and discovery.

Later that night after hearing the story, I took some time to look over the entries the kids have recorded  over this first half of the school year. It is fascinating to see what they have decided to record. I have a couple of post-it notes stuck on the front of our nature journal that gives them ideas of things they might want to collect or sketch in their journal. I also have utilized these two books: Handbook of Nature Study and Keeping a Nature Journal.

 Todd and our kids at the top of San Luis Mountain on New Year’s Day 2012

nature journal with the post it notes with entry ideas

Top row:  Keeping a Nature Journal and Handbook of Nature Study
Bottom row: feather collection and sketch of a palm tree in our neighborhood

This nature diary is truly a source of joy for our children. So much so they don’t want to leave home without it. 

Thank you, Jill, Todd and family for sharing your magical moment with us!  Today is the last day to enter our drawing for a Jamba Juice gift card. Leave a comment on our Courage post to enter.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Free Friday

Happy Friday! You made it through our first week back after vacation. Pat yourselves on the back for a strong restart.  

Earlier in the year, one family wrote about how family reading time has become an oasis for them.  Several families have asked for suggestions on family read aloud books so be watching for these from time to time. Today, we hear from Scott and Merideth Eades, a Track A family in their fourth year at SLO Classical Academy.  Merideth is also the Co-Director of our Jr. K program.  They have three kids: Hayden (Primary), Luke (Kindergarten) and Sam (5 months).

We are on the last book in the Little House series, The First Four Years. The series has been our family read aloud for the last year.  The kids are sad to see it end.  The jury is still out on what we will read next. I'm thinking The Great Brain series.  

Since it is Friday, we'd like to remind you to be Free by Five o'clock--step away from electronic media and enjoy face-to-face time with those around you. Maybe tonight is the night to start your family read aloud time.  The Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival is today through Monday and tomorrow is their Family Day. However your weekend is spent, may it be filled with joy and rest.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

SLO Regional Rideshare

School's back in full swing and perhaps your resolution is to simplify and streamline your schedule.  What better way than to carpool.  Better yet, what about SchoolPool

SLO Classical Academy has partnered with SLO Regional Rideshare to pilot the SchoolPool program.  This is a FREE service for SLOCA families this year that allows you to register your kids, your carpooling needs and then matches you with other SLOCA families looking to commute at the same time you are!  Setting up a carpool with another nearby SLOCA family on the same track can reduce gas costs, save time, and simply give you one leisurely morning a week.

As an incentive, SLO Regional Rideshare will be pulling the name of a SLOCA carpooling family each month for a $20 cash prize. To register for SchoolPool, click here.

If you have any questions, contact Brenda Tebbets in the SLO Classical Academy school office at 548-8700 or Angela Nelson at Rideshare at anelson@rideshare.org or 781-1385.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's for Dinner?

There is nothing quite as comforting as a bowl of home-made chicken noodle soup. Luckily, making soup from "scratch" doesn't have to take all day. Using good store bought chicken broth can fill in for home-made and buying a rotisserie chicken can save time, too.  Add a squeeze of lemon at the end to brighten the flavors or adding leftover rice is also delicious.  I know there are a million wonderful soup recipes so consider this just one easy option.

photo by Joy Newman

Chicken Noodle Soup

celery stalks
egg noodles
chicken stock, store bought or home made
Italian parsley
salt and pepper

If not using pre-cooked chicken, then cook your chicken. (I frequently use chicken tenders because they cook quickly. Quickly fry them in a pan or poach them in water or chicken stock.)  Allow the chicken to cool slightly before shredding using two forks.

Cut the onions, celery and carrots into desired size (I like the veggies kind of chunky.)  Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and drizzle some olive oil in the bottom.  Add the onions, celery and carrots and saute until slightly soft.  If you'd like to add some garlic, add it here so it cooks with the vegetables.

Add desired amount of chicken broth (I like Costco's boxes of chicken stock and use 2-3 boxes depending on how much soup I'm making.)  Allow the stock to come to a boil before adding the egg noodles.  Boil the noodles according to the package.  Once the noodles are done, add the chicken into the pot.  Taste and adjust seasonings. 

If desired, finely chop some Italian parsley and add at the end. It really freshens up the flavors.  Enjoy with some crusty french bread, well-buttered of course!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point ~ C. S. Lewis

Our character trait this month is courage.  The SLO Classical Academy Character and Code of Conduct defines courage as: "Attempting difficult things that are worthwhile and facing difficulties and challenges with determination to do the right thing even when others don't."

How can we work on fostering courage?  Maybe start off with something small like thinking up a new food to try.  Perhaps each family member can write down one thing they are nervous about or afraid of (public speaking, sleeping without a nightlight, riding a bike without training wheels) and then in talking about it come up with one tangible way to face that fear and work on it a little bit at a time.  Think of people who have courage and discuss why they are courageous or how their actions showed courage.  Most of us will not have to rush into a burning building and pull someone to safety, but more likely our courage will be tested in other ways--talking with someone new, going somewhere unfamiliar, starting a new job, not joining the crowd in a questionable activity.

What are your ideas on instilling courage in your family? Leave a comment and be entered into a drawing for a Jamba Juice gift card!  Contest closes next Monday.  Don't miss our Classic Pre-School story hour tomorrow at 9:30 in the Lewis Library. Invite a friend!

You don't need a Google account to comment; just leave your name in your comment and click "Anonymous" after typing everything. 

Monday, January 09, 2012

Magical Moment

Welcome back! We trust you all enjoyed vacation and the holidays.  We hope you are feeling refreshed and ready for 2012.  Did you hear the exciting news??!!! SLO Classical Academy has updated the website!  

It looks so amazing. Many thanks to the team that worked tirelessly putting it all together. If you haven't looked at the new website, check it out! Better yet, grab a cup of coffee and read the articles under Philosophy to be reminded and re-inspired about learning SLOCA style.  You can read the new Missions statement, the Top 20 Reasons families attend our school, and about Latin at our school.  We are part of an amazing, dynamic community.  

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Free Friday

We are one week into the new year. Hopefully your last week of vacation has been fun and relaxing.  School starts Monday, so it's time to print out the grids, clean out the back-packs and get prepared to jump right in.

It's Friday so we'd like to remind you to be Free by Five and free yourself from electronics by five o'clock.  Cook dinner together as a family, go for a sunset walk, or start a family read aloud.  Whatever you choose, happy weekend!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

What's for Dinner?

photo by Joy Newman
please excuse the photos, food photography is very difficult!

Ravioli Salad with Cilantro Pesto, Olives and Pepitas
Heidi Swanson, 101cookbooks.com
taken from Everyday Food, Special Issue

If you don't like cilantro, this is not for you.  However, my family, who adores pesto, loved the fresh change to our usual basil-based pesto.  Trader Joe's sells pepitas.  To toast them, heat a small frying pan, add the seeds and toss until fragrant and slightly brown. This is a great recipe to bring to a picnic or potluck as it can be served warm or at room temperature.

1 c lightly packed fresh cilantro
1/3 c Parmesan, grated
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 T fresh lemon juice, plus more
1/3 c hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
2/3 c olive oil
1 lb. frozen or fresh cheese ravioli
1/2 c oil-cured pitted olives, such as Kalamata, chopped
fresh thyme leaves, optional

1.  Bring a large pot of water to boil. Meanwhile make the cilantro pesto: In a blender, combine cilantro, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, all but 1 T of pepitas, and a splash of oil. Blend until smooth. With  machine running, slowly add remaining oil until pesto comes together into a vibrant green sauce.  Season to taste with salt and more lemon juice, if desired.

2.  Generously salt boiling water, add ravioli, and cook according to package instructions.  Drain, transfer to a large bowl, and immediately toss with a big spoonful of pesto.  Allow pesto to absorb, 1 minute, then add 1/2 c of pesto along with all but 1 T of olives.  Toss gently but thoroughly and add more pesto, if desired.

3.  Sprinkle with remaining olives, pepitas, and thyme.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  (Refrigerate remaining pesto in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)

Monday, January 02, 2012

Magical Monday

Happy Monday!  2012 is officially here.  Do you make resolutions or set goals for yourself? Have you ever considered having your kids set some goals?  What a fun tradition to start having your kids fill these out now and collect them over time.  To download this sweet printable from thirtyhandmade days, click here.

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with thirtyhandmade days.