Saturday, August 30, 2008

The sound of Classical Conversations

Click on this link to find and listen to my new podcasts:
  • The Challenge Years, Parents Stay Engaged
  • The Challenge Programs and Utilizing Socratic Circles (*upcoming)
Also, now in the "1 Smart Bloggers" feed on the right side of the page, you'll see the Classical Conversations' Program Overview Series. Click on the link to find all the newest sound files, interviews, and podcasts from Classical Conversations. OR, click on the icon for Classical Conversations' podcasts in the "More Information" section.

Keep those 1 Smart Mama tips coming - and let's stretch it out for another week or so. With so many CC programs starting, I'm sure new, challenging questions soon will be bubbling up to the surface.

And, enjoy Labor Day, a celebration of hard work throughout this past year and a much-needed rest before the hard work of this next year begins.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tip of the Week - Hard Questions

Aren't children amazing at coming up with the hardest questions to ask? Why do fireflies glow?, and, Why do you always go through the grocery store in this direction? are the easy ones.

For the next Tip of the Week, I want to hear about some of the toughest questions your kids have asked about faith, life, and everything in between. What is your strategy or hint for dealing with the difficult or too-young-for-this! kind of questions?

So between now and next Monday (Sept. 1), write in and share your smart mama ideas!! You can leave a tip by clicking on the "comments" link at the bottom of the post.

Let's get started!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tip of the Week #1 - Cooking

Drum roll, please...

For the cooking tip of the week, I've picked this great idea for a meal exchange, suggested by okcyndi:
This year at Classical Conversations, I'm going to start a meal exchange. Anyone who wants to participate can bring an entree, and she can take one home from another mom. I'll specify size of entree (serves 8), and folks with very large families can bring two and take home two. (actually anyone can bring any amount that they'd like and take home the same number.) When cooking, it's simple to double a recipe, so this kind of exchange will give you two meals for the work of one meal! I also thought it would be a great community-builder and just plain fun!
Thanks also for the great ideas from Jen - balancing beauty and bedlam:
C.O.S.T. cooking...cook once, serve twice. De bone that [leftover] chicken and have the boys throw it in a tortilla with cheese and salsa (and any other fun things you have on hand) and you have two meals done in 2 days.:)
...and carol ivkovich:
My smart mama tip...Gordon's Food Service has a case of ready made pizza crusts (24) for about $15. Buy these and keep pizza toppings on hand for a quick meal. :-)
Thanks for sharing your ideas! You are all such smart mamas! Stay tuned for the next "tip of the week" topic, appearing tomorrow...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Buzz about Boys

Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, a writer for the Edweek blog "Curriculum Matters," wrote today about new ideas in boys' literacy. Here are a few other sites that deal with the same issue:
According to the Wall Street Journal article, books like the "Wicked History" series from Scholastic are the new innovation in convincing boys to like reading.
"'There has been a real revolution' in books that 'have more kid appeal,' especially when it comes to boys, says Ellie Berger, who oversees Scholastic's trade division. 'It's a shift away from the drier books we all grew up with.'"
By "drier books," is Berger talking about ones whose heroes make hard choices to do the right thing? Anyone else spot a problem with this? What are we teaching them to emulate when Genghis Khan, Vlad the Impaler, and Leopold II are their new heroes, and "gore" and "gross" are the selling point?

All this talk about boys' "motivational needs" is great. There's nothing inherently wrong with fun, silly books either, unless those books are not a tune-up for something more substantial. Instead of inspiring our sons to be motivated by true heroes, we lower our expectations--and, by consequence, theirs.

The other problem is that this type of solution misses the roots: families not reading together, and fathers not taking an active role in mentoring their sons.

As I've mentioned before, Dr. James Dobson's book and video, Bringing Up Boys, gives a detailed account of the statistics about modern boys whose fathers have abandoned their instruction in the things of God. He says 25% of American boys over five years old never see their biological fathers again. Why Boys Fail picks up on some of this when the author talks about boys missing out when they have no male teachers (i.e. role models).

The parents' role is to actively pursue the godly upbringing of their children. For girls and boys, that includes sharing the great stories of literature and giving them real heroes to use as models.

Monday, August 18, 2008


...thanks for all the great 1 Smart Mama cooking tips - 4 days to go, so keep them coming!

Saturday, presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama spoke with Pastor Rick Warren for the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency (read the transcript). Unlike previous conversations about school choice (see previous post), this time McCain mentioned homeschooling!

Other mentions of home-centered learning in the news:
And finally, although education writers often ignore the fundamental loss of skills in American schools today, a blog post by Ron Isaac on Edwize takes note. Here's a snippet:
...students, regardless of the size or type of school they attend anywhere in this nation, tend not to be adept at isolating information, compartmentalizing fa[c]ts and ideas, and processing direct quotations so that they, the student, can re-work it into a paraphrase that can possibly be used to support their own original contribution to the topic at hand?
Bingo - isolating, compartmentalizing, and processing ideas - sound familiar? The symptoms are everywhere...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tip of the Week - Cooking

You've given me a fun idea. Instead of me talking all the time, why don't you take a turn? Post your 1 Smart Mama "tip of the week," and we'll choose one of the best to post on this site. If you like this idea, we'll try a different theme every week or every other week.

Since this is the first time, let's make it a little longer than a week, so you have time to come up with a great idea.

So, between now and next Friday, August 22, write in with your 1 Smart Mama tip for cooking. This can be a recipe, a time or money-saving idea, or a way to make mealtime fun for your family.

I'm excited! Now let's get cooking...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cooking...from 1 Smart Mama to another

One thing about 1 Smart Mamas - they are incredibly busy people. And so, we have to come up with ways to get everything done and still keep the home running smoothly and the family fed.

I don’t cook. So my husband usually makes a hot breakfast and my boys have learned to make lunch for themselves. We just kind of scrounge around the cabinets for dinner or go out to eat.

Sometimes I feel guilty about not cooking. There’s that guilt again. I should be smart enough to know that two good meals a day with a light dinner is a good thing. Well, I felt guilty this week and stumbled upon an easy recipe that those of us who are smart enough to be gourmet chefs but too lazy to follow a recipe may enjoy.

Chicken a la Leigh. - Buy a whole chicken. Take it out of the plastic wrapping and wash out the insides. Throw away the gizzards because thinking about what to do with them would be too much like cooking. Throw the clean chicken in a covered crock pot and cover with a bottle of barbeque sauce. Cook for 4 hours on high. I don’t know how to use low because that would mean it takes more time.

Serve with a bag of good bread, microwaved Bird Eye Steamfresh veggies, and a bag of mixed greens that your 10-year-old threw into a bowl. Have your 12-year-old put salad dressing and butter on the table.

Eat outside on paper plates and you’ll feel like 1 Smart Mama as the chicken disappears.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

If we are the light...

...then we should be attracting bugs...

It's here! My first official Podcast! Click here or on the title of this post to listen in now. Or, subscribe to the full feed from the new Classical Conversations website.

Here's a note from the moderator:

I'm Cyndi Kane, director of CC in Tulsa, and Leigh has asked me to do some podcasts with her. Here's the first podcast, and Leigh chose a topic called "If We Are the Light, Then We Should Be Attracting Bugs!" - a great topic!

Hope you enjoy! Let us know which method of listening to this file works best for you, or if you have any problems.