Tuesday, August 20, 2013

back to schooling

Crazy crazy last few days.....

After going back and forth (and back! and forth!) all summer long, my kids decided they wanted to try out the elementary school here. 
(When we moved in March, rather than having them switch schools, we finished out the year homeschooling and we LOVED it). 
Doing homeschool with my kids was a fantastic experience--we all learned so much. One of the things I didn't like about it, was every time I seemed to find someone else who homeschooled (I was hoping to find a group we meshed well with), the first thing they wanted to talk about was how terrible public schools are. bash bash bash. I don't believe this at ALL. Our last few years of public school have been wonderful years--we have loved our teachers so much. What it came down to when we were deciding what to do this school year, was that my kids missed having friends at school (how can you blame them?), and wanted to go back. I am so happy I got to work with my kids at home, and if the opportunity presents itself again, I will jump right on it.  

a-a-a-hem. anyway.

So this weekend......great stuff.

Friday was spent doing some last minute school shopping and back to school haircuts. Saturday we took the kids to a movie and out to eat......a "last hurrah" of sorts. And Sunday we spent the day as a family and had our traditional back to school feast.

Monday I moped around the house because my baby birds were leaving the nest the next day.

and then....

My poor, sweet, adventurous Lu fell so hard on our tile that we ended up in the ER with a concussion.....no fun, at all. Scary stuff.

I had quickly gone from feeling sorry for myself that my babies were leaving me all day for school, to just wishing and praying that my sweet girl would feel good enough and be healthy and strong so she COULD go back to school.

The Dr. wanted her to wait just one extra day.....

last night's sunset via my iphone

So that, my friends, is perspective. 
How quickly my wants changed--going to school all of the sudden didn't seem so terrible, did it? 
We are hanging out today watching movies and "resting her brain", so she can start school tomorrow.....thank goodness.


Our back to school feast. 
I'm so glad I decided to do it on Sunday before all the craziness of Monday happened. 
We call it a "feast"......it's really just an easy dinner (last year we did grilled pizza), but we make it "fancy" by having a cake. Robby and I shared our memories from school (1st and 3rd grade memories are pretty funny), and we all laugh about it as we feast.

On the menu
Fish Tacos
 - Robby blackened tilapia--he used THIS recipe and is was soooooo good
 - homemade guac: avocado, lime, onion, cilantro, salt.
 - homemade salsa: tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, adobo pepper, vinegar, salt.
 - red cabbage with cilantro, salt and pepper, a splash of vinegar
 - sour cream
 - toasted corn tortillas
"Smashy" Black Beans (black beans cooked with lime juice and garlic and smashed while they cook)
Corn on the Cob

and of course, really chocolaty cake.
Chocolate Chocolate Cake
This is the same recipe as my chocolate coconut cake--but this time I didn't add coconut to the frosting. 
The coconut milk makes the cake extra soft and gives the frosting THE best creamy texture, but if you're not a fan of coconut flavor you can't actually taste the coconut milk.....try it!
I added just a few drops of pure almond extract to the frosting this time.

Chocolate Cake
2 ounces semisweet chocolate 
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
3/4 cup boiling water 
6 TBS butter, melted 
1 1/2 cups sugar 
2 large eggs 
1 cup coconut milk 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups cake flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
toasted coconut (for topping, optional) 

 Preheat oven to 350°F. 
Line bottom of 9" pan with round of parchment paper, butter paper, and sides of pan. 
 Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot water and cocoa powder. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. 
 In a bowl add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs (adding one at a time) until thickened slightly and light colored (about 3 minutes). Slowly add coconut milk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined well. Add flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. 
 Pour batter into pan, and bake in middle of oven until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool cake completely before frosting. 

 Chocolate Buttercream 
3/4 cup butter 
2/3 cup cocoa powder 
3 cups powdered sugar 
1/2c-3/4 cup coconut milk 
1/2 tsp - 1tsp vanilla, coconut, or almond extract (real, NOT imitation)
 Beat butter, cocoa, powdered sugar, and extract, and add coconut milk a little at a time until you reach a consistency you like. 

Toast a handful of shredded coconut (I like unsweetened) at 450° for a few minutes and sprinkle on top with some berries if you like. 

up next: back to school photos!


thyme Sarah said...

You've captured the ying and yang of it all in terms of schooling/homeschooling. We had moved 5 times before we decided to try out homeschooling. It is such a decision that fits a particular child, parent, age, stage...and then in a year, everything could change! We gone back and forth so many times on whether or not to continue homeschooling...at times it was ME who didn't want to continue but my kids begged me for one more year. My conclusion is there's pros and cons with any type of schooling due to the nature of the child's learning and social style. What is great is that we have the option. I have one in college now and one a Jr. in H.S. (who refused to go to school when I balked at high school). I hear you about the "school bashers". Here we contend with the homeschool/evangelizers that believe we want to rewrite history and biology. :(

kassidi bridge said...

I love you guys, and I'm so sorry about Lu. Hoping all goes well, and they love their new school and teachers. Looks like I need to go make a cake! My mouth is watering. You are wonderful, my dear.

Sarah said...

I'm glad Lu is feeling better! That end of summer feast looks delicious! I love fish tacos.

The Rowley's said...

Poor Lu! Hope she's feeling much better and ready for her big day tomorrow!

Tiffani said...

We had fish tacos and chocolate cake too! Yum! Hope they had a great first day!

Meg said...

I'm so glad she's ok. Perspective is key for a happy life.
I like your take on homeschooling...you do what's best for your kids, your family, and what your kids want, and you see good things in every option...even the one's you aren't taking. Like. Choices can be good and good, good and great, or better and best. Education doesn't always have to be good vs bad. Good job, Sheena!

safasmiles said...

Really sorry to hear about Lu, hope she recovers soon. Life never goes according to plan and we always get our perspectives checked every now and then.

That chocolate cake looks yum! And I like coconut in everything!

Leanne said...

Just tried this chocolate cake today...holy flippin' delicion. This is the best chocolate cake I have ever had. I didn't use to be a cake fan because most cakes are dry and bland and the frosting is too sweet or too hard or too buttery or waxy or fluffy... You have officially made me a cake fan. :D Also, it used to be that anytime I cooked a gross dinner, my husband would ask, "This recipe was from a blog, wasn't it?" and yes, it was. I had pretty much sworn off blog recipes. But everything I've tried from your blog has been a definite keeper for us--including my husband (which is a big deal, haha). Anyway, sorry to gush, just wanted to say thanks, and you should absolutely publish a cookbook (with your own recipes, not just your photography, though I'd want your photography in it too, haha), because I would buy it. The end.