Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Proud (in a humble kind of way) Mommy.... :>)

Madison stole home last night and scored the winning run for her team. She was ecstatic! "I want to do that again!" she said.

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For the first time (and it was all her idea), Cari fixed breakfast for all of us this morning. We sat down at the table and enjoyed being served cold cereal, toast with blackberry jam, yogurt, and our choice of ice water, orange juice, or hot green tea. Thanks, Cari!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Our 2008-2009 Homeschool Year

I know, I haven't even finished the 2007-2008 school year, and here I am talking about the next year already! I'm a little excited because I've never been this decisive in knowing what I wanted to use. Next year will be our eighth year, and I think each year has been completely different than the others. Maybe the first two years we used the same curriculum, but every year since, we have made big changes. There is just way too much to choose from! I'd love to hit on something and stick with it - maybe that will happen with Amelia!

I've been very pleased with our curriculums this year, although we did struggle with the math choices at times, but that's taken care of now. I needed to find something different for history, science, and Bible, since we'll be completing what we did this year. Last year at the curriculum fair, I looked at My Father's World and was really impressed. After reading reviews and doing other research, I think this is the way we're going to go. One of the wonderful aspects of this curriculum is that it has the daily lesson plans written out for every subject! I don't think I've ever had that done for me, so I'm really excited about that. It also appears to have some very good literature worked in, which is an area I really want to improve next year.

Here's a breakdown of what I've chosen. Yes, it is subject to change as it hasn't been ordered yet, but I'm trying to just not look at anything else!

For Madison: (7th Grade)
History, Science and Bible --- My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures
(using the additions for upper grades, including Advanced Missionary Biographies, Country Reports, and Apologia Science Exploring Creation w/General Science)
Math - Teaching Textbooks
Writing - Writing Strands Level 3
Grammar - All-in-One English Series
Literature - Progeny Press

For Cari: (4th Grade)
History, Science, and Bible --- My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures
Math - Rod & Staff
Grammar - Easy Grammar and Daily Grams
Writing - Writing Strands Level 3
Literature - Progeny Press

We also plan to order the Dave Ramsey homeschool curriculum - Financial Peace for the Next Generation.

I predict we're going to be finished with this school year somewhere around the first of June. I'd like to take five to six weeks off and then start back sometime in July, hopefully getting a lot accomplished before the new addition arrives.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Scenes from last night

We had our first ladies meeting at our home last night. Since it was the first meeting, I wanted it to be special. We probably won't do this every time, but for this night, we chose to do a little extra with refreshments. Special thanks to Madison for helping get the food ready and to Cari for watching Amelia while Madison and I were getting everything put together.



For beverages, we had hot tea available in several flavors, as well as cold sweet tea and lemonade. I absolutely cannot get enough lemonade nowadays. I tried the Country Time powdered lemonade, but for some reason, I would end up with a headache every time I would drink it. For the meeting, I bought some fresh lemons and made my own. It was just what I needed. When I first made it, Madison said it tasted like Chick-Fil-A's. For sweetening the lemonade, it's best to create a simple syrup of 1 cup of water and 3/4 cup of sugar. You simply let this boil on the stove until the sugar is dissolved. This is then added to 1 cup of fresh lemon juice and 4 cups of water. It was really good this way, but later I added a little extra water and pitched in some fresh lemon slices and these two things took away some of the sweetness and made it a little extra tart.




For our refreshments, we made the egg-olive sandwiches and cucumber sandwiches featured on my sister's blog from Cari's birthday party. We also made hot spinach and artichoke dip and a super simple dessert that I don't actually know the name of. Angela may have given me this recipe - I can't remember. It sort of tastes like lemon meringue pie, which is one of my favorite desserts. All you need is ginger snap cookies, cream cheese, and lemon curd jelly. Spread the cream cheese on the cookie and add a drop of lemon curd jelly to the top. The cookie softens as it sits, and that's when it really tastes like a bite of lemon meringue pie. I apologized that the food didn't really match and for all the lemons, olives, and spinach. I know that pregnancy cravings can be a little crazy sometimes!




All in all, it was a wonderful night, and I was so glad we were able to get together. The film we watched was awesome and held nothing back. I see why it won the award at the film festival. The discussion afterward was very interesting. I'll be looking forward to getting together once again and seeing the remainder of the film at our next meeting in May. We all know and realize that our instruction comes from the Lord and then our husbands, but it is great to get together and encourage and learn from one another.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Found the camera cord....

So here's a few more pictures from the birthday celebrations:


Three Sisters at Tea




Amelia, Nana, Aunt Jane




I don't think that's the proper way to drink tea, Cari. (w/Aunt Angela, a.k.a. hostess)



And this is another day - Friday, another story - birthday party #2..... I'll leave it at that.

Friday, April 18, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to CARI!!

My second oldest turned 9 yesterday! She had a great day with lots of phone calls and emails from friends and family, and my sister hosted a wonderful birthday tea party for Cari at her home yesterday afternoon. The food was delicious, and the table settings were very pretty. Cari was definitely "queen for a day" and loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, I cannot find my camera cord to post some pictures, so until it turns up, you can take a look at some snapshots over at my sister's blog.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Frugal Meal Idea

I'm always looking for tasty meatless meals since meat seems to be the highest priced item on my grocery list. I wanted to share the recipe from our meal last night - NACHO BREAD PIZZAS. It was quick and easy, which is always nice. Madison had softball practice (yes, she changed her mind and decided to play this year), and we got home around 7:15. We were sitting down to eat within 30 minutes - and that was without any pre-preparation. Everyone loved it, and there was not one bit left. Even Amelia and Cari - the sometimes picky eaters - were asking for more. Next time, I plan to double the recipe. I'll only have to buy an extra can of beans and loaf of bread as there were enough of the other ingredients left over.

Here's the recipe:


Nacho Bread Pizzas
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray
Show:
30 Minute Meals
Episode:
Multi-Tasking

1 loaf baguette or semolina bread, day old is fine (I used French bread. In the past, I've used wheat sub rolls and made individual pizzas - just whatever is on sale.)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 (15-ounce) can black beans
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
Salt and pepper
1 cup prepared salsa, any variety
2 cups shredded Cheddar, smoked Cheddar, Monterey Jack or pepper Jack
1 heart romaine or 1/2 iceberg head, shredded
1/2 cup green olives with or without pimiento, chopped
1/4 red onion or 2 to 3 scallions, chopped
2 plum or vine tomatoes, seeded and diced

Split bread lengthwise. Hollow the bread out and cut each half in half across, making 4 boats.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil, 1 turn of the pan, garlic and hot peppers. Drain beans. Add half of the beans then mash the remainder of the beans in the can using a fork. Add mashed beans to the pan and combine with whole beans. Season beans with hot sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. When the spicy beans are hot through, spread them evenly across all of the bread. Top with salsa and liberally sprinkle with cheese, covering bread to all edges. The boats will only be half-full. Melt cheese in the oven until it bubbles and begins to brown.

Top Nacho Bread Pizzas with lettuce, olives, onions and tomatoes and serve.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Ladies are Meeting

After some discussion with some of the ladies at our newly formed church fellowship, we are going to begin having a ladies meeting/Bible study for the ladies of our church and anyone else who would like to attend. This will be done in the spirit of Titus 2. Unfortunately, I've had very few true Titus 2 women as mentors in my life, and I am so looking foward to this. Most of those whom I have learned from over the past few years have been women over the internet that I really don't know. Although I'm thankful for these women and what they have taught (and I'm still hopeful to continue learning from them), I'm so excited that this is going to be happening in person with real people! Not that those other women aren't real, but you know what I mean.

The plan for now is to meet once a month and to use this time to encourage and learn from one another as we discuss our roles as women in light of God's Word.


Our first meeting will be April 23rd at 6:30 p.m. at my home. I'll have refreshments available at 6:30 (no one needs to bring anything), and we'll begin our topic for the evening at 7:00. We're going to start by watching "The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women." Here's a description I borrowed from Vision Forum:

The 16th century reformer John Knox wrote his famous tract "The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women" to oppose a notorious European female tyrant who sought to stamp out biblical Christianity in his beloved Scotland. When we approach the issues of our day we wish to borrow his biblical perspective to apply his blast against those who rule in the wake of his monstrous queen. This group, we shall see, far surpasses the queen's iniquities in both kind and degree. Today, the feminists are our monstrous regiment!

This film calls women back to a life filled with joy and beauty that can only be found by following God's Word. Content in this documentary is mature and handled with sobriety.


Audience discretion must consider content including images of aborted fetuses and discussion of Planned Parenthood agendas.

The film is 80 minutes long, so we'll probably watch the first 40 minutes or so and then use the rest of the hour for discussion. If you're in the area and would like to join us, send me an email or give me a call, and I'll give you directions to my home.

(If there is anyone who would like to come but Wednesday is not a good night for you, let me know what would be a better day. Wednesday was sort of just "pulled out of the hat." As most of our schedules are pretty flexible, we could try meeting on another day the following month if it works out better for most of those wanting to be involved.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring!!

Fall is my favorite season, but spring is definitely a close second! The thermometer was showing 80 degrees a while ago, and it feels wonderful. It's warm, but there's a very nice breeze blowing. We're anticipating some strong storms this evening, but I welcome them if they will wash some of the pollen away. Praise the Lord, I haven't had any problems with allergies as of yet. I've just had to add a new daily chore to my list of sweeping off the porch and deck, but I'm thankful I have a porch and deck to sweep!

I've been working in the yards this week pulling weeds and admiring the greenery and flowers that are making their appearances. Some of them have been a surprise as I didn't remember everything that I had planted last year. In the past couple of years, I've purchased very few annuals. I did plant some pansies several weeks ago just to add some color until the others begin blooming, but that's it. What I do to add to my flower garden is scope out the garden section of Wal-Mart when I'm doing my weekly shopping. I look through the clearance section for perennials. Of course they're barely surviving and may not be the prettiest in the garden center, but apparently they still do have some life left. I purchase them and provide them a new home in my garden where, more often than not, they flourish wonderfully. Sometimes it is not until the following year that I see their true potential, but it's worth the wait and the money savings.

My claim to fame in the area of flowers is my hosta plants. My husband's aunt gave me an ample supply of these when hers needed some thinning out. After planting them a few years ago, I diligently put Miracle Grow on them on a weekly basis. Now they are huge and actually look like bushes when they're fully grown. I'll take some pictures and post them in a few weeks as they still have some more growing to do.

I have many things planted around my yard that loved ones and friends have shared with me. Every year when they begin to peak through the ground, I'm always reminded of those people. A few weeks ago, I planted some blueberry bush cuttings from a friend who has monstrous blueberry bushes that produce tons of blueberries. They seem to be doing well, and there are a few blooms, but I'm assuming it will be another year or so before I see them produce.

When our home sells, since I can't dig up the whole yard and take it with me, I think these gifts are what I'll miss most.

As long as we're here, we're going to go ahead and plant a small garden. I know I want to plant tomatoes and peppers, and my husband wants cantaloupes (Speaking of my husband - today's our anniversary! - 16 years.) I want a herb garden this year also. Haven't decided for sure what else I'll plant. We're thinking about joining a local farmers co-op that delivers weekly organic vegetables, so we may not have to plant too much. I definitely want to do the tomatoes as we eat lots of tomatoes and tomato sauce throughout the year, so it would be great to have enough to do some canning. I also love to make homemade salsa with fresh tomatoes.

If you're not in the spring mood yet, may I suggest that you read this article by Lanier Ivester. I was fortunate to hear her speak at a homeschool mom's meeting several years ago. She is a beautiful young lady that I would describe as "humbly elegant" if that makes sense. I remember how quiet everyone was as they listened to her as she recalled her own experiences of being homeschooled. She was speaking at the home of her in-law's, which was a beautiful, older Southern home, and I have to say I enjoyed that particular mom's meeting probably as much as any other I had experienced.

Fast forward a few years.... I was reading something over at Biblical Womanhood the other day and there was a link to an article by Lanier Ivester. I thought the name sounded familiar, and after a while I remembered why. She writes beautifully, and you can't help but smile as you're reading.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wonderful News!

The Lord is blessing our family with another little one around the first of November! My first doctor visit will be April 25th. I had planned to wait until that point to make the official announcement, but oh well! I've definitely been feeling the symptoms, and the typical nausea I've had with the others has been in full swing. It does seem to be getting better, though.

I've been blessed with very easy pregnancies and my labors and deliveries have been without incident. But I've always requested an epidural, and usually after two tries, only one side takes. The side that doesn't take is excruciatingly painful. I've wondered if I'd be better off without the epidural so the pain is spread out and not confined to one area? I'll be looking into natural childbirth this time - something I've never even thought about for one second with past pregnancies - but I'm still not ruling out trying the epidural again.

That being said, I've been visiting a chiropractor in the past week. The thought occurred to me that maybe there is something wrong with my back that prevents the epidurals from working. With the chiropractor being the "natural-remedy-doctor" that he is, I got the feeling that he didn't necessarily endorse the epidural. He did encourage me that chiropractic care can help with the labor and delivery, and he has numerous testimonies to hold up that statement. I figure it's worth a shot. Although I've always heard wonderful things about chiropractic care, I've been scared to go. I was afraid it would hurt, but there has been no pain at all. I guess if you have pain to begin with then it might hurt a little, but all we're doing is making adjustments to get things in line. I was very happy to hear about an instrument he uses called the Pro-Adjuster, which is used to adjust your neck and spine in a gentle manner. I did have a table adjustment also, but it wasn't anything like I expected, and there was no pain involved whatsoever.

I usually have back pain at some point also, so I'm hoping regular visits will help with that, too. And the best part of all is that my insurance company is paying for the majority of this! When all is said and done, I'll be sure to give my opinion as to whether it made a difference or not. For the time being, I can note that I did noticeably feel better after my first visit.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Time in the Kitchen Just Got a Little Bit Shorter!


I now know how Rachael Ray gets those meals cooked in 30 minutes. It's all about the knife!! If ever our TV is on during the day, you will usually find it on the Food Network. All of Rachael Ray's recipes don't always appeal to us, although some do, but we do always enjoy watching her chop those vegetables! Madison has been asking for a Furi knife for a while - the kind like Rachael uses. I had some extra spending money a few weeks ago, so I purchased the 7" size on Ebay. It was new and sealed in the package, and it was much cheaper than the Food Network store.

We received it last weekend, and we (well, mostly Madison - she's having way too much fun with this) have been chopping like crazy. I'm amazed at how much easier and quicker it is to prep for a meal now! I have one moderately sharp knife that I've used for years, but it's much smaller than this one. It has worked fine, and I've never really thought about getting anything else. Sometimes we just need to listen to our children!

For cutting chicken, I've always used kitchen shears as it was way too much trouble to use a knife unless the chicken was slightly frozen. I was making chicken nuggets one night this week, and I was actually getting to use the knife as Madison was not feeling well. With the chicken on the cutting board, I ran the knife through the chicken in a matter of seconds and quickly had strips. I just knew that the chicken close to the board wasn't cut through and that I'd have to do it again, but it was all the way through! I quickly made a few slices in the other direction and immediately had my nuggets - in less than a minute!

The knife is just the right size and weight, and the bright orange rubber? handle is very easy to grip. I'm very pleased, and I hope to purchase a couple more in the future in different sizes.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

White Sands National Monument

The drive to White Sands was beautiful! We had to drive up into the mountains and then come back down on the other side to reach the White Sands. When we were nearing the top of the mountains, we looked through a clearing, and you could see the "sea" of white down below - at least 30 miles or so in the distance.




When we arrived, the sand looked as white as snow. Had we not been wearing short sleeves and bare feet, we could have made some great Christmas card pictures! It was nice and warm that day, and we had a good time hiking through the sand. This was my favorite part of the trip!