Green Chile Roll-ups (or Pinwheels, or Rollers, or Whatever) Recipe

It’s been a crazy busy week so far this week! Sunday was Doodle’s actual birthday. The kids spent the day with their dad, since it was Father’s Day, too, and came home for dinner. In our family, the birthday kid gets to pick what they want for dinner, and Doodle picked Chicken with Shallots and  Buttered Noodles. It was tasty!

Today, we had a field trip with our homeschool group. It was a walking tour of our downtown. It was really interesting, and fun, too. If you live in a city, I highly recommend calling your city’s historic society and seeing if they give tours!

Here’s another recipe from Doodle’s birthday party last week.

8 oz. Neufchatel, brought to room temperature
1 can chopped green chiles
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 sun-dried tomato wraps or whole wheat tortillas

Mix the cheese, chiles, garlic, and salt. Spread on three tortillas and roll up tightly. Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-3 hours. Cut into 14 thin slices.

Servings: 14

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving of 3 pieces): 76 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5g total fat, 12.3mg cholesterol, 249.3mg sodium, 33.1mg potassium, 6.5g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 0g sugar, 2.7g protein.

Constructed Languages – A different way to learn about OUR language

My thirteen year-old son knows more about grammar than I do, and I’ve been called a Grammar Nazi (I prefer “Grammar Advocate”, thankyouverymuch).  He’s really taught himself the majority of what he knows. In addition to a great understanding of English grammar, he’s also got a fantastic grasp of how our language works.

How? Through “Conlanging” – constructing languages.

He started out by learning Esperanto, probably the most well-known constructed language — although that honor might be shared with Klingon and Tolkein’s elven languages. Now he spends his spare time constructing his own languages.

Awhile ago, I had him write an essay about constructing languages. Here are a few paragraphs out of that essay:

When making a language, you must start with the phonology, which is the set of sounds in the language. A phonology is divided into two parts: consonants and vowels. Consonants are defined in English by three separate features: place, manner, and voicing. Place is where in the mouth the sound is made: options include labial (such as b or f), dental (such as th or a Romance t) and velar (such as k or German ch). Manner is how the sound is made: options include stop (such as t or g) or fricative (such as s or v). Voicing has only two options, voiced and unvoiced, and is whether or not the vocal cords are vibrating when the sound is made. Some languages have more or less distinguishing features in consonants: for example, the Slavic languages have palatalization.
Vowels have three distinguishing features as well: height, place, and roundedness. Height is how open your mouth is: options include open (i, u), open-mid (o), and close (a). Place is where your tongue is: options include front (i, e) and back (o, u). Roundedness is how rounded your mouth is: options include rounded (o, u) and unrounded (i, e, a). Many languages also distinguish length, which is how long the vowel is pronounced. Some have more than two length categories, and some have more than two roundednesses.


After the morphology comes the grammar. A grammar can be fusional, agglutinative, or isolating. With a fusional grammar, one affix has a variety of meanings; for example, when the English -s is added to a verb, it means present tense, singular, and third person. With an agglutinative grammar, one affix has one meaning; for example, the English verbal -s would be composed of three separate affixes: one for present tenst, one for singular, and one for third person. With an isolating grammar, there are no affixes; the English verbal -s would use helper verbs, like English “will” for future tense. Once you’ve decided on a grammar type, you can start coining affixes and/or helper words, but remember that they have to fit your morphology. You also have to pick a syntax; first decide your order of subject, object, and verb (for example, English is SVO, and Latin is SOV; Yoda-speak is OSV), and then your order of modifier and head (English is modifier-head; Romance languages are head-modifier). Once you’re finished with the grammar, you create your vocabulary. Simply create words and define their meanings; make sure they fit your morphology.

Okay, I’ll quit showing off now. I’m a proud Mommy.

I asked my son for some links for beginners to Conlanging, and he enthusiastically shared these three:

The Language Construction Kit

Geoff’s Homepage (which includes “Creating an Earthlike Planet” and “The Climate Cookbook”, too)

How to Create a Language

I’m very impressed with the way my son’s knowledge of language has grown through his hobby of constructing languages

Free College Lectures Online

I came across this site recently: Academic Earth. Now, I’m guessing that most homeschooling moms are autodidacts, but these are useful for the kids, too. For example, my 12 year-old son is very interested in science, and while I can find lots of interesting books for him about advanced science, being able to point him to college level lectures from top colleges is pretty exciting. (And I’m spending my spare time listening to lectures, too!)

Another site I recently found is The Teaching Company. They aren’t free, but their courses are outstanding. They’re available in audio CD, DVD and audio download.  They are pretty pricey – too pricey for me at their regular prices – but they always have many courses on sale, and if you have one in mind, check back every month and eventually, it’ll be on sale, too.

Snow day – seizing the moment

We’re getting hit by a lovely snowstorm here. It started snowing in the wee hours yesterday, and isn’t supposed to let up until tonight. We’re getting a good amount of accumulation.

We’re measuring the snow every three hours (during the day – I’m not THAT dedicated) and recording it. Tomorrow, we’ll make a graph of the snowfall. It has felt very steady, and it will be interesting to see if it really has been, or if it has fallen in waves.

We’ll have some fun, and learn and paractice real-life application of math concepts,  working with patterns, choosing which graph is appropriate and then making the graphs, along with whatever else just happens naturally.

This post is linked to Thirsty Thursday at FiveJ’s. You won’t regret it if you go read the articles linked on today’s carnival and on previous weeks. Neat, neat ideas.

Free Math Curriculum

This is one of the most amazing things on the internet, at least to me: A completely free, math curriculum. This page has math curriculum from first grade all the way to high school. There are printable worksheets, full lesson plans, and even online interactive curriculum. And the whole thing is free.

It makes it really simple for me to email math assignments to my kids. My kids don’t respond well to a “mommy lectures us” form of teaching, so this way they can learn independently, asking me for help when needed.

We do supplement with lots of real-life math (cooking, writing checks, balancing a checkbook, measuring things in the house when necessary, etc.), but we do that with everything.

I love this math program! (The one drawback, or potential drawback, anyway – you might have to explain the “funny” spellings to your kids, since the site is British.)

This post linked to: Thirsty Thursday at Five J’s.

Learning in the Car

A year and a half ago, we moved to the opposite side of town from where we’d lived for years (the reasons are kind of pointless now). Now it takes 45 minutes to drive to my mother’s house, and at least that to drive to field trips with our old homeschool group. My kids would object to even the most fun field trips, because the drive was so boring for them.

Then a few months ago, I bought a CD set of an audiobook of the history of the United States and we started listening to that in the car. The kids started hoping it was a longer drive to go places, so they could hear the CD! “Mommy, can we listen to history, please?”

I got a subscription to, and when we were done with the history CD, we all agreed on the new topic and I downloaded an audiobook about mythology to my Zune and we listen to that in the car.

Not only does it make the drives less boring and make that time educational, it also sparks really interesting discussions. Frequently, we’ll end up pausing the book so we can talk about what was just said. Since we’re all listening together, instead of all reading separately, it gives us the opportunity for some great conversations.

Recently, I found out that a lot of public libraries will let you “check out” audiobooks not only as CDs or tapes at the actual library building, but you can download the checked out audiobook for free over the ‘net. You can search Overdrive to find books in your area.

Exciting Field Trip – International Towne

We are very excited. Today is the second day of training for International Towne!

One of our favorite yearly experiences in our homeschool is participating in Young Ameritowne. We’ve done Ameritowne for four years now, but this will be our first time at International Towne.

I feel incredibly lucky to live in a city that offers such a neat resource. Ameritowne and International Towne are usually offered to public school kids, but the organization who hosts them, Young Americans Center for Financial Education, is happy to work with homeschool groups, too.

At Ameritowne, the kids each have a job (police officer, bank teller, delivery person, disc jockey, etc.) in different businesses (the bank, the college, the warehouse, etc.) to help make the Towne run. The setup at the location is adorable and really cool. The kids also have to write checks, make deposits, buy stamps, and learn about money management, supply and demand, and other financial and civic concepts.

A huge curriculum is made available to teachers (and, of course, homeschool parents). Teachers at a school can use this curriculum over the course of the school year, leading up to Ameritowne as the culminating experience. In our homeschool groups, each parent makes the decision how much they want to teach beforehand, but we have two training sessions in the two weeks prior to the event, in which we have the elections, learn about some of the concepts (supply and demand, advertising), have job interviews and get training for the individual jobs, and learn to fill out a check and keep a check register.  When the day arrives, the kids are excited and ready to buckle down and work! You’d be amazed at how hard even 6 or 7 year-old kids will work.

International Towne is different – it’s aimed at older kids, and the emphasis is on global economics. Instead of different businesses, the kids will each work in different countries. They will be working with exchange rates, international trade, cultural awareness, currency exchange. It’s still got a cute setup, and I’ll be sure to take pictures next week when we go for the actual event.

Last week, we had our first training, and the kids got to be interviewed (I got to be one of the interviewers – I love that part). They also did an international taste test, learned about some of the countries, and did a paper craft. This week, they’ll find out what their jobs and countries are and train for those. And next week is the big day, when we go to International Towne.  If it’s even half as cool as Ameritowne, it’s going to be an amazing experience – and we hear from other homeschooling friends who have done both that it’s even cooler.

If you live in Colorado and you homeschool, please look into taking your kids to Young Ameritowne or International Towne. If you live in Colorado and you public school, find out if your school participates in one of these programs – and if they don’t, ask them to! It really is that awesome.