Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chango Bars

Last night was Tuesday night. Hereabouts, that means I'm required by law to make Brownie Tuesdays. Unfortunately for me, we had no brownie mix (yes, I use mix for brownies, since my ungrateful offspring don't like brownies made from scratch). Fortunately, I was able to create a suitable alternative, no one called the police, and I was not forced to spend the night locked in the chief's garage (or in the shed with our plow truck). Yes, the town is that small, although I've yet to hear of someone jailed with the plow truck or in the chief's garage.

This is a recipe which came from a story my youngest read in Calvert School's second grade curriculum, about the son of a Jewish baker married to a Mexican, who had
to bring food from his ethnic background to school for heritage day or something like that. Anyway, the kid brought Jalapeno bagels and Chango bars. No peppers ever enter my house, but the bars contained chocolate chips, and the boys were quite certain that they would enjoy making them, so we did. More than once. And, here they are for your culinary delight.


1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup margarine
2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
2-1/3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup mixed nuts

Melt the butter and margarine together. Meanwhile, cream the brown sugar with the eggs, then add the melted butter mixture to it. Blend in the flour, powder and salt, and mix until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, then pour into a greased 9"x13" pan, and bake at 350F for 45 to 50 minutes. Confession: having no mixed nuts, I used my old standby - chopped walnuts. No one complained.

This leads me to contemplate a question posed by Lakeland Jo recently as to why I homeschool. Well, that's somewhat complicated. My oldest 7 children started in private school, but it was 45 minutes from home. After a few years of them leaving the house (with me, of course) at 7:45 AM and returning between 4:15 and 4:30 PM, depending upon traffic, I decided that was enough, and put them in the local school. I drilled them on their basic mathematical functions, and taught them phonics and grammar (using a set of 1898 texts I had found at, you guessed it, a used book sale). Ryan was 5 years younger than Kellie, and I realized in first grade that the material the schools taught had been seriously downgraded. Mark is 3.5 years younger than Ryan. So, when Ryan was a few months short of 7, and in first grade, I was attempting to make him memorize his addition facts, using verbal drilling and worksheets. My exact words were, "This touchpoints and counting on crap doesn't work!" After a couple of weeks, Mark, then age 3, began giving me the answers, often before Ryan. So I started watching him out of the corner of my eye; the child had figured out the concept of addition. At first, he would put out, for example, three fingers on one hand and two on the other, and count them for the answer. Within a couple of weeks, he used only the second hand, and within a month after that, he simply had the tables memorized. Well, I have an entire house full of certified smart children, and I've never seen anything like this. I've been told that counting using one-to-one correlation is rare in 3 year olds, so this astonished me.

When Mark was 4, I started teaching him basic phonics. His birthday falls 2 full months after the school entry cutoff date, and I knew I'd never get him into Kindergarten, despite the fact that he was more than smart enough. Frankly, this is idiotic. My birthday is a couple of days before his, and I started Kindergarten before I was 5. I feel fully literate, can talk, and appear to have the ability to think despite the fact that I went to school "too early", so I wasn't going to hold back a highly intelligent child. Many years earlier, the director of a private school in Knoxville had given me a couple of copies of a magazine called Gifted Children Monthly, and I had kept them. In them was an advertisement for Calvert School. One phone call, and I had a complete Kindergarten curriculum, including a teaching manual; my little guy took off like a rocket ship. I was so impressed that I purchased their third grade curriculum for Ryan, so that I could teach him math, cursive and composition, after school. Well, he wanted to learn everything in the curriculum, so I taught him on weekends. After Mark completed Calvert's Kindergarten, in February, he wanted to go to "real school with Ryan." I called the school, asked if he could transfer from a private school in Baltimore, where he had finished their Kindergarten curriculum, and, miraculously, they accepted him. I had expected to fight to get him into first grade the following fall, but, here he was, going to school with his big brother. Within a week, the teacher, several aides from different grades, and parents who volunteered at the school were calling me to ask how I'd gotten him to learn this, since he was at what they considered an end of first grade level in all subjects.

And so the homeschooling continued. And I wouldn't give it up for the world.


Breezy Point Mom said...

Great story, Marjie. I am so glad you shared this; it really encourages me! I remember the story about the Chango bars, too!

Pam said...

You make me want to homeschool. You also make me want to eat a whole pan of chango bars.

Paula said...

... and since that's how we met, I'm sooooo glad you do! It's been a delight to take that journey together. I remember the story you referenced as well as the baked goodies that went along with it. Here's to homeschooling next year, too!

Anonymous said...

Great, great story and I love the name Chango. The boys (and all the kids)are so lucky to have you for a Mom.

The Blonde Duck said...

I totally agree with you on the homeschooling. I started kindergarten at 4 too b/c my parents found a small private Baptist school that would take me. I think the Sept. rule is ridiculous! Kudos to you!

Katherine Roberts Aucoin said...

I'm glad you are still a free woman, because these chango bars are wonderful! I could get into serious trouble with these.

Unknown said...

Chango bars sound good!

Jan said...

Fascinating story, Marjie, homeschooling is an alien concept to we Brits. It sounds like you did a great job with your kids. And your chango bars look terrific.

grace said...

i like that law. i may institute in my own home. :)