Writing With Skill

The single best curriculum choice for this school year is definitely Writing With Skill. Cameron is doing level 1 this year. It is amazing.

For most of the year so far, Cameron’s been narrating or outlining one day, writing one day, learning writing skills one day, and putting writing topics into practice one day. This week he started literary analysis/criticism, which he will continue through most of the rest of the school year (the last few weeks will focus on research and research reports). For that, he reads on day one, we discussed using literary terms day two, he wrote an essay answering specific questions day three, and day four is focused on literary language.

I really wavered on whether to get Writing With Skill for Cameron given his writing issues. Boy am I glad I did! It is hard. He has to really work. But what he is producing is utterly amazing. His writing skills have improved dramatically over the course of this year. Writing With Skill is truly the best middle grade writing program I have found (I like IEW, too, but, as the teacher, find WWS to be much easier to use and the quality of writing produced by most kids using WWS to be better).

I did it!

I utterly failed once at making gluten free tortillas. The second time I tried soft paleo tortillas and, though I made them too thick, they tasted very good. Today I made Gluten Free on a Shoestring’s tortillas. I followed the instructions exactly including using Better Batter flour (I wanted to give myself every possible chance to be successful this time around.


I used the bottom of a mixing bowl as a template for making them circular. I ended up with 16 tortillas about 4″ in diameter. A bit small, but they worked just fine. And they tasted good! I used them to make avocado hummus quesadillas much to Ani’s delight (that was one her favorite lunches pre-gluten free).


Cameron said they were really good. That’s truly high praise since Cameron thinks very few things I make are really good. I’ll call this one a complete win!

Utah Randomness

1. When you come upon a big open space while walking around an airport, it simply begs for you to use it as a place to do your form and some kicks.

2. Waking up at 5:30 almost every morning to walk nearly 3 miles in the freezing cold is a bit insane, but also means you will come home a pound lighter than when you left.

3. Climbing 4 1/2 feet up a wall does not mean you almost died even if it feels like you did. Climbing is hard. My best friend is amazing to watch climb. I’m pretty sure she’s SpiderWoman. (Ani made it up significantly farther than the 4 1/2 feet I did.)

4. I did not need to worry about feeding Ani in the airport or in Utah. Many restaurants are glad to accommodate someone who needs to be gluten free and/or have gluten free options right on their menu.

5. Seeing the Salt Lake Temple up close for the first time is rather anti-climactic. Even though I know it is huge, it looks so small stuck in the middle of downtown with skyscrapers surrounding it.

6. At night and from the right angle, the Salt Lake Temple is absolutely gorgeous and amazing, however.

7. I like the Christus in the DC Temple’s Visitor’s Center better than the one in Salt Lake. The DC one has a hint of a smile while the Salt Lake one looks like he is a bit mad. Getting to the one in Salt Lake is way cooler, though.

8. The acoustics in the Tabernacle are fabulous.

9. Taking a tour of the Conference Center is absolutely worth it. Just being in the auditorium, where so many general authorities sit at least twice a year, is incredible. Plus the view from the roof can’t be beat.

10. Witnessing a 9 year old be touched by the Spirit of Elijah while at the Family History Library is very cool.

11. The Logan Temple looks like a castle.

12. I have trouble filling my lungs at 4300 feet.

13. The people across from the Bountiful Temple who have a TARDIS in their driveway are, clearly, awesome.

14. Seeing old friends (my young women president when I was a Laurel and her daughters who are close to my age) makes me happy. Meeting old friends in person for the first time (I’ve known them on-line for about a decade) is so much fun.

15. Temple hunting is a most excellent pastime. I have now gone from going inside of two temples (DC and San Antonio) and seeing one from very, very far away (Salt Lake) to going inside of three temples (added Logan), seeing one from far away (Ogden), seeing one from the not so far away road (Brigham City), touching two (Salt Lake and Oquirrh Mountain), and seeing three more up close (Bountiful, Jordan River, and Draper).

16. I never dreamed I’d go to Utah in February and not take my winter coat.

17. Even when you’re only able to get together every 2 1/2 to 3 years, it’s so nice to have such a wonderful best friend.

Cheating on My Books

Usually I have three or four books in my “reading now” folder on my Kindle. A book I’m reading at night to the little guys, a book I am reading to myself for fun, my scripture study book, and maybe a book I’m reading with one of the big kids for school. Lately, though, I’ve had those plus three or four extra reading to myself for fun books.

It is kind of odd and I haven’t decided if I like reading that many books at once or not. It’s nice to be able to switch to a different book if I get bored, but at the same time, I feel a little bit scattered. I also kind of feel like I am cheating on my books with other books. I mean, with as much as I read, it’s obvious I really get around in the literary world, but it’s just a little different when it’s with multiple books at once!

Learning Styles, School and Taekwondo

Ani and Cameron have very different learning styles. In school, Cameron learns best by hearing and doing and Ani learns best by watching and reading.


They were having a private lesson last week and their instructor made a comment about how differently the two of them learn their forms.


Even though school is mental and taekwondo is physical, the kids’ learning styles are the same for both. In taekwondo, Cameron learns best by doing and Ani learns best by watching.

A Week of Gluten Free Food

We were joking around calling Ani Gluten Free Girl so of course she drew herself as a super hero.

On Friday, lunch was gluten free crepes with turkey bacon and nutella (not necessarily at the same time), blackberries and strawberries, and meringues that Cameron decided would be fun to make bright blue. Dinner was baked potato bar (toppings: butter, sour cream, grated cheddar, red onions, and green peppers).

On Saturday, for lunch we had poblano peppers stuffed with rice, bacon, shrimp, cheese, and onions. For dinner we had Indian butter chicken and gluten free naan. Ani made gluten free peanut butter truffle brownies for dessert.

Sunday was Fast Sunday so we didn’t eat breakfast. We usually eat a big dinner made in the crockpot in the middle of the day on Sundays and then have a snack like popcorn if people are hungry in the evening. Dinner Sunday was butternut squash and chickpea coconut curry.

On Monday, breakfast was flourless peanut butter chocolate chip blender muffins. For lunch we had avocado and hummus quesadillas using homemade hummus and soft paleo tortillas, nectarines, and leftover mini muffins from breakfast. For dinner we had two types of pizza. One crust was from a gluten free Hodgson Mills mix. The other was a cauliflower crust.

Tuesday we had baked sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar for lunch. For dinner, we had shrimp, avocado, and roasted corn salad.

On Wednesday, breakfast was baked oatmeal bars. I liked it, but none of the kids were fans. Given the amount of time it took to make, that’s not something we’ll be having again. For lunch, I took all our little containers of leftovers out of the refrigerator and we ate whatever looked good. Dinner was steak, poblano, and mushroom tacos using Udi’s gluten free tortillas. For dessert we had So Delicious coconut milk chocolate almond ice cream bars.

Thursday, we had grilled zucchini hummus wraps in the Udi’s tortillas for lunch. We had planned a dinner that was in our freezer that had gluten in it (made before Ani was diagnosed), so we got Ani an Amy’s gluten free frozen meal.

Eating gluten free is turning out to not be nearly as hard as I thought it would be. We have to be a little more creative, but the food is tastier than what we were eating before. Best of all, our Gluten Free Girl is feeling so much healthier. That makes it totally and completely worth it!