Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ready for School?

"Can we start our math today?" This is music to the ears of a homeschool mom. Although, in my mind I still had at least a week to prepare for the new school year. We usually ease into it; adding a subject each week or so during the month of August. But how could I refuse those sweet little eager faces? So now I am scrambling to organize the "school closet" and create schedules. Gone are the days of wistfully imagining a clean house and quiet time if I send my dear ones off on a big yellow bus, gleefully grasping shiny new lunchboxes and monogrammed backpacks. I know families who love public/private school and bloom where they are planted. But, we are a homeschool family. That is the lifestyle we love. We can take a field trip anytime. We can wear costumes or pj's to our school. I love seeing their faces as they learn to read bigger words or understand a difficult math problem. I love hearing them talk about what they learned in history or science just because they thought it was cool. We can pray and talk about God and study creation. And we can start whenever we want! I don't know if I am ready... but since the kids are, I must rise to the challenge. Dear Lord, please give me the patience and energy I will need to start this school year in a productive way. Help me to be a good example of diligence and to have a positive attitude. Above all, help me to love my children as you do. Help me to speak kindly and be encouraging. Help me to also be a good wife to Dan- being patient and respectful and loving. Thank you for giving me such a precious family. Amen.

***Although my children are getting older, I have made a few batches this summer.
Still a fun and creative way to learn...
Play Dough
1 c. plain flour
1/2 c. salt
2 t. cream of tartar
1 c. water
1 T. oil
1 envelope unsweetened kool aid mix, any flavor
(using kool aid lets you easily vary colors and scents...try a different one each time)
Mix all ingredients in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook until mixture pulls away from sides of pan, stirring constantly. Place dough on large square of waxed paper. Knead when cool enough to touch. Store in airtight container.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Make a JOYFUL noise unto the Lord!

Here I am at Laurie's house. Yes, Grandma has come for a visit. This seems to be the only way I can make sure that she posts on her blog! She thinks the house is topsy turvy. I think it is wonderful! They are working on some renovation projects. Someone is singing all the time. Laurie is singing as she cooks and cleans up the kitchen. Dan bursts into song every now and then as he is hammering and nailing on the new hardwood floors he is installing. Sarah sang her upcoming solos in the Christmas play. Hannah sang the last number she did for Church service. Peter and Abby did a little Christian rap and we all had to crack up. Then the delight of my morning was when Laurie sat down at the piano with me and I accompanied her to "When Answers Aren't Enough" and I was just beaming. It is such a blessing to enjoy my musical family, so see how they all love the Lord, and use their talents to honor Him. And we had fun. We really did.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Busy Busy!

I have recently noticed how many people respond the exact same way to the question: How have you been? The response: "Busy." Are we all overcommitted? It sure feels like that sometimes. I do notice that I seem to get a ton done on days when each hour is reserved for something specific. The days I simply stay home and do normal household chores? I can barely finish them sometimes. Hmm. What is going on there? I used to really only feel the crunch right before Christmas. Shopping, plans, parties, meals, baking, etc. But now it seems like there is more to do all the time. I find myself thinking, "As soon as this event is finished, I can relax." Well, there always seems to be another event at the end of the tunnel! Don't get me wrong, I love events! Parties, plays, showers, trips, sleepovers-- my kind of fun! I am just more aware these days that my calendar is full. This fall, we have made a real effort to be at home more as a family. This has meant saying no to some things, but I think it is a good plan. Not only does it save money on gas, but my children are growing up before my eyes, and I don't want to miss it! Okay, back to the subject of busyness. The story of Mary and Martha has come to mind a lot lately. Martha was wonderfully hospitable, but it was Mary who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to Him. I pray that I will not let preparations and plans get in the way of my time spent with God. I pray that God will give me the strength to complete my tasks; but I also pray that God will draw me close to Him when I am consumed with too much busyness.
Here is a recipe perfect for a busy day when company is coming!

Barbecue Chicken
(This recipe is only a guide. I don't use a recipe anymore, and only guessed at these amounts. I would adjust amounts and seasonings depending on amount and type of chicken pieces, and on how spicy you want it to taste.)

Chicken pieces, thawed, rinsed, and drained, put in a 9x13 baking dish

1/4 c. oil or melted butter
1 1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. vinegar or lemon juice
2 T. worcestershire sauce
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. prepared mustard
1/4 c. brown sugar

Mix ingredients for sauce in a glass bowl. Microwave until hot. Pour over chicken pieces. Cover baking dish with foil. Bake at 300 degrees for about 1 hour. Serve with rice and green beans. I usually make sweet tea to drink and bake a chocolate chess pie for dessert.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Happy Heart

Proverbs 15:13 says, "A happy heart makes the face cheerful..."
As I was reading my devotions this morning, I realized something. I have become a complainer. Ugh. You know, one of those people who walk around with a crease between their eyebrows and frown lines to match. Complainers wear us out. I know this because when I look in the mirror, I feel exhausted. After reading several verses about being cheerful, I realized that God understands our need to vent, but also wants us to find the joy even in our adversity. Let's talk about venting. It is good to be able to share our frustrations with a trusted friend or dear husband. But only God can meet all of our needs and be there every time we "need to vent." His word says to be cheerful, patient, and selfless. Complaining, tantrums, criticism, pity parties, etc. are not constructive behaviors. For some reason, my toes really hurt right now. Okay, so now for the "happy heart makes the face cheerful" part: I became frsustrated last week while waiting at a lawyer's office for some documents to sign. Let's just call it a "retro" office. Meaning its decor hasn't been changed in 3o years or so. The vinyl sofa wasn't so bad. The plastic flowers and gold carpet added to all of that is simply cosmetic, and was easily overlooked. However, the fact that they called their computer a "word processor" was alarming. Even Dan thought it looked ancient, and he might have actually been transported in time from the set of "Leave it to Beaver." Never mind that the person printing/copying the documents had trouble replacing the toner cartridge, and vocalized this for everyone within a block of the office. Thank goodness there was a two-year old issue of Reader's Digest on the end table. Dan and I read it together while trying to look as if we were not fazed by the situation. We couldn't look at eachother, though. Laughter would have erupted and we might have slipped off of the vinyl sofa onto the gold carpet. Well, there were dead leaves down there! Wouldn't you know they never did get the document ready that day. We had to go throught the process once again. This time, they had a new printer, which wasn't compatible with their antiquated "word processor/computer." So, the poor girl had to make do with a typewriter and some liquid paper. By the time we got out of there, we were thankful for the THREE year old issue of Reader's Digest waiting for us on the end table. We will enjoy laughing about that experience for a long time. I wonder what surprises await us when we return this week to sign yet another document. Maybe I should take an extra typewriter ribbon just to be on the safe side. Enjoy your day. Find the humor in it. I think God will be pleased.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thank you

Thank you for the encouraging comments. I will continue to trust that God is in control. Reading His word and trusting in Him to bring us through this has really helped me today.
Here are the recipes from yesterday. (We will be having leftovers tonight!)

Encouragement Pot Roast
one 2-3 pound beef roast
one envelope french onion soup mix
one can cream of mushroom soup (or mix tobether: 1/2 c. milk, 1 T. flour, 1 T. melted butter, 1/2 t. pepper if you don't have the mushroom soup)

Put roast in glass baking dish with cover. Sprinkle soup mix over roast and pour can of soup or milk mixture over the roast. Bake covered at 300 degrees for 3 hours. (There will be a well-seasoned gravy left in the baking dish, perfect for the potatoes.)

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes
about 4 pounds of yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
large pot of boiling water
1 t. salt
1/4 c. butter
1/4. sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Add salt and potatoes to boiling water. Boil 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft enough to mash. Drain potatoes, but leave just a little water so they will stay moist. In a large serving bowl, use masher or mixer to mash remaining ingredients into the potatoes.
Delicious alone or with gravy.

Maple Green Beans
2 cans green beans, drained
1T. butter
1T. pure maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the beans with remaining ingredients. I do this in the microwave for 5 minutes, stirring after 2 1/2 minutes.

I hope you enjoy this meal. It is an easy one to prepare.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Encouragement Pot Roast

Yesterday was one of those days. I woke up with anticipation. It should have been a day of new beginnings. Life had been tough, in some ways, for the last few years. But it looked as if things were improving. We felt that we were about to turn the corner, having learned much from past mistakes. However, we were let down when an agreement was broken. It felt like a kick in the stomach. I felt helpless and hopeless. I know that people will disappoint us. I needed to be reminded that God never will. He is always with us, no matter what the situation. And no matter how bad things seem, He is right there, with His arms around us. Yesterday has left its scars, but I made it through today. God gave me the strength He has promised. Oh, I had moments of tears, anger, and fatigue. But then I decided to receive God's grace and then share it! My husband did not deserve to come home to a sad, sloppy house with nothing to eat in it. So... I made him Encouragement Pot Roast! It smelled wonderful when he got home. I served it with homemade mashed potatoes and maple green beans. You see, he needed encouragement today. He needed to know that we are in this together, and I am strong enough to help him! I will post the recipes tomorrow. My husband needs a kiss goodnight! :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

From the Kitchen with Love

There is nothing more inviting than a cozy kitchen filled with the aroma of a cake in the oven or spices simmering on the stove. For me, preparing a meal or a special dish for someone is an expression of love. From birthday cakes to comfort food to holiday goodies, I love to treat the ones I love with something delicious. When I see a smile slowly stretch across the face of my husband after a long day at work as he stops at the stove to smell one of his favorite dishes, or hear a sigh of contentment as he takes a bite of his favorite dessert, I know I have succeeded.