Thursday, August 28, 2008

Biblical Femininity

I receive a daily thought via email from Revive our Hearts ministries (Nancy Leigh DeMoss). This is one that I received this week regarding the beauty of femininity. I agree that we do glorify God when we strive to be the feminine women that He created us to be. When I'm out and about, it is often rare to see women that truly display this character trait. Displaying Biblical femininity is not only an outside characteristic but also includes what's on the inside and how we conduct ourselves in conversations and actions. It's my desire to be more aware of this in my own life. Here's what Nancy had to say:

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I remember watching the ladies' free skate program in a world skating championship a number of years ago. My ears perked up when I heard the commentator, Dick Button, talk about one of the performances. He said, "She's a very ladylike skater. She makes me feel very relaxed when I watch her." He was describing the beauty of femininity.

There's something engaging about femininity when it's truly lived out. When women are true women and men are true men, it can touch people in powerful ways. It reflects the order God intended when he created man in His own image—"male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27).

You don't have to be a championship figure skater to display femininity. Could someone say of you, "She's a very ladylike teacher" or "a ladylike executive" or "a ladylike mom"? Whatever position or season of life you're in, you can glorify God by being a true woman.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cheap Entertainment

My mother-in-law, who lives in Texas (with my father-in-law who couldn't get off work), is visiting with us this week, and my husband is on vacation from work, so we're taking a break from school this week. Since we're not traveling anywhere, we've been trying to think of some fun things to do around home. Yesterday, we went bowling, and unless it's free, it's pretty hard to find cheaper entertainment than bowling.

I didn't actually bowl since it is sort of easy for me to get off balance right now. I remember bowling when I was about seven or eight months' pregnant with my second daughter. I stepped over the line and immediately started sliding down the alley with my bowling ball. I don't remember how I landed, but nonetheless, I did land. It wasn't pretty. We were with a church group, and yes, it was rather embarrassing. Madison was 3 years old at the time, and I remember she started to cry quite loudly as I guess she wasn't sure what had just happened. There were no physical injuries, but after that episode, I've made it a personal rule to not bowl when I'm that far along. So, I was just a spectator yesterday.

The cost per game per person was $2, so with four people bowling two games, including the lovely shoes, it was $20. Now that's hard to beat. Everyone had a great time, and even Amelia was given several chances to try to knock down some pins. We were also practically the only ones there except for a couple of guys next to us and a group of older people way down at the other end. The guys next to us included a mentally disabled man and his friend who was obviously there to help him. It was a blessing to see him having such a good time, and I think it was a good lesson for the girls to see.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Blog Entries Worth Mentioning

When you have a chance, you might want to take a look at Mrs. E's blog. She has a couple of new posts, and I especially enjoyed reading her post about their current school year and how they get everything accomplished. I would love to spend a few days at her home - I'm sure I'd be taking LOTS of notes!

We had a great time at my sister's home yesterday. She hosted a tea party for my Aunt Jane's 60th birthday. You can read more about it here and here.

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Here's a few paragraphs that I recently posted on our home school group's web site regarding something that has been on my mind recently -

It’s that time of year when most of us are placing a lot of time, focus, and thought on our home school. If you’re like me, I generally let my brain rest from such activity during the summer break. I was fortunate this year to know early on the curriculum I intended to use when we started back, so I was able to make the purchase and even get our school room prepared and organized at the beginning of the summer. This left me with several weeks to just relax and enjoy my family and home. That time of relaxation officially ended a few weeks ago, but I’m pretty sure we were all ready for some structure and schedules to return to our household.

As we have returned to a daily routine, I’ve noticed that others have also. The email lists I subscribe to are already being flooded with field trip opportunities, extra-curricular activities, co-op classes, etc. It’s enough to make your head spin if you’re not careful. And that is an important key, we all must be careful to “be careful” in this area. In the July-August GHEA Newsletter, this very topic was discussed. In a nutshell, it brought up the idea that we as parents can be victims of peer pressure in the homeschooling world. I especially enjoyed a story within the newsletter titled “Somebody Else’s Priorities,” written by Raquelle Sheem. The main character was Mrs. Robin – “a new homeschooler, anxious to give her little chicks a good education.” Mrs. Robin was confronted by several well-meaning friends whose children were excelling in different areas – singing, music, foreign language, and medical training. The other parents were so thrilled with the success their children were having in those particular areas, they did their best to convince Mrs. Robin that those things would also be best for her children. Once again, eager for her children to have a good, well-rounded education, she was quick to hop on board with all of these activities.

What was the end result? She and her children found themselves absolutely exhausted. She came to the conclusion that she must drop something, but all those things were good things. How would she choose?

Surprisingly, one of her typical enemies, Thomas the Cat, gave her some wonderful advice after hearing her predicament. “Everybody always thinks what they’re doing is important or they wouldn’t be doing it. But just because it’s a priority for them doesn’t mean it has to be for you, does it?” I thought that was very well said, even if it was a cat.

Most of us have been around families that are excelling in areas that we are not, mainly because we’re not participating in those areas. Sometimes this can lead to a sort of peer pressure where we think we are shortchanging our children if we don’t allow them the opportunity to do the same. In the midst of this pressure, we need to stop and think about what is best for our children. There are so many good things available for homeschoolers right now, but choosing to do all of these “good things” is definitely not best.

Ruth Martin also had a wonderful article in this same GHEA issue titled “Peer Pressure Isn’t Just for Kids.” Here’s a few quotes I enjoyed reading: “Because our traditional school friends and family tell us all the things their kids are doing, we feel pressured to provide all those activities for our children. But, because our activities aren’t housed under one roof [like within a public school setting], we run ourselves ragged trying to get our children to all these enriching activities. Then, we wonder when they tell us they’re bored when they aren’t occupied! Children who are programmed to a quiet life expect a quiet life; those who are programmed to a busy life expect busy-ness!…“make it your ambition to lead a quiet life….” (1 Thess. 4:11) Don’t be so worried that they’re going to miss something that YOU miss the blessing of being with them and teaching them…..If you find yourself with more books in the car than in your schoolroom, rethink all those activities.” There are many more wonderful words of advice in this article, and I’d be happy to pass along the newsletter to anyone who would like to read it.

The past couple of years, we’ve been able to pare down our activities and do what is best for our family and what is most enjoyable to us. Madison immensely enjoys sports and so is currently playing on a local softball travel team. Cari enjoys art, and since I have no talent in that area, I intend to make sure that need is met for her via outside classes. I want the girls to learn to play the piano, but thankfully, right now I’m able to teach them at home, alleviating the need to seek outside lessons at this time. That’s about the sum of our current extra-curricular activities, and that’s the way we like it. We enjoy throwing in a field trip to break the monotony from time to time and doing other activities within our support group, but when something becomes a burden to my family – or yours – it’s time to reevaluate our priorities. Maybe your family needs more activity then ours – or less. Most importantly, as you’re beginning your school year, I just wanted to encourage you to not fall into the trap of trying to replicate what others are doing or trying to participate in every activity that comes along at the sake of your family’s sanity. All in all, don’t be afraid to say “no” to the many good things. Save your “yes-es” for the best things!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Recent Photos

A few weeks ago, during Madison's last softball tournament, she fractured her right ankle while running to first base. If you're keeping up, yes, this made for our third trip to the orthopedic clinic this year. Hopefully, it was our last!

The following are Sunday morning photo ops:

When Amelia saw the above photo on the computer screen, she remarked, "I'm so cute!" Okay, we'll work on humbleness some other time. But I do have to agree!

Just another advantage of homeschooling...... Having a difficult school (math!) day? Take a break, go jump in the pool, and have a watermelon picnic!

And, lastly, here are some updated garden scenes....

I know I planted cantaloupe seeds, but for some reason this looks like a watermelon. I'm guessing that's normal.

I have some tomatoes making an appearance!

Is this what a cucumber is supposed to look like? I'm assuming it's not finished yet.

Friday, August 15, 2008


My family and I love pizza, and I guess our favorite carry-out would be Papa John's. But in recent weeks, we have begun making our own pizza at home. We are really enjoying it - it's much cheaper and tastes great! I've been adding homemade pizza to the weekly supper menu once every couple of weeks.

How do we bake our pizza around here, you may ask? First of all, I start with my favorite pizza crust recipe:

I add the following ingredients in order in the bread machine -

1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

When the dough cycle is complete, I take the dough out of the machine and divide it in half - this makes two thin crusts. Using two pans, I spray each pan with cooking spray and then sprinkle with corn meal. Then I roll out each half within a 1/2 inch of the edge of each pan. Now for the toppings.

Typically, I purchase organic canned tomato sauce and add Italian seasoning to taste. This is then spread onto the top of each crust. I always make one cheese pizza, so I simply sprinkle freshly grated mozzarella over the top of the tomato sauce. For the other pizza, I use whatever I can find in the 'fridge. This usually includes ground beef seasoned with Italian seasoning, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, olives, few jalapenos, and, of course, lots of cheese.

The pizzas are then placed in a preheated 400 degree oven for around 15 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown on top.

Most of my family likes Papa John's Spinach Alfredo Pizza, so we decided to try making our own last night, and it was great. This is the recipe we used. We did add a couple of extras - sauteed onions in butter and grilled chicken. Yummy!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Simple Way to Can Tomatoes

I received a phone call yesterday morning from an older, more-experienced-in-the-kitchen friend, and I'm really glad I did. I had a basket full of tomatoes that I needed to quickly do something with as they were at the peak of ripeness. I usually like to can salsa, but I didn't have all the necessary ingredients and wasn't in the mood to run to the store, so I decided I would just can whole tomatoes. I wasn't sure where to start, so I had assumed I would do some research on the internet. Then I got the phone call, which ended up saving me a lot of time when I mentioned to her what I was doing. Here were my instructions:

First of all, get some water boiling in the biggest pot you have for the number of tomatoes you are using. When the water comes to a boil, turn it off. Place as many tomatoes as you can in the pot so that they are completely immersed in the water. After about four or five minutes, take them out a few at a time and while holding under cold water, peel the skins off. (This was easy as the skins practically just slid off.)

Note: If your pot wasn't big enough and you need to add more tomatoes to the water, make sure you bring the water back up to the boiling point before adding them. The water needs to be very hot in order to make the skins come off easily.

The next step, assuming you've washed your jars, lids, etc., is to pack the tomatoes as tightly as you can into the jars. I would suggest leaving a 1/2" to 1" space at the top, as I did have some overflow during the process. Now it's time to put on the lids and the bands.

Place the jars on a cookie sheet, making sure that the jars are not touching. Put them in a preheated 200 degree oven, and leave them alone for about two hours. After two hours, turn the oven off and let them sit for another two hours or so. They are extremely hot, so it's important to not touch them for a while.

I followed those instructions and ended up with jars of sealed tomatoes, and it was so easy! It probably took around 30 minutes or less to get the tomatoes in the jars and into the oven - much less time than I had expected.