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Monday, September 27, 2010

Making Your Home a Haven

 So I am doing this book challenge.  Let's face it, it's barely a challenge for me. It's more about finishing up some books I have been meaning to.  And that's fine.  I'm not knocking it!

But this is a real challenge for me!

Women Living Well is hosting a fall challenge to make your home a haven.  You mean, my home doesn't have to be full of chaos and yelling?  Who knew?  So I accept this challenge, and hope to report to you that I'm all peaceful at the end of October.  Or headed toward peace.

My MOPS Bible study is about contentment, so this challenge ties in nicely with some attitude changes I am looking to make, with God's help.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall into Reading

I'm participating in Callapidder Day's Fall into Reading challenge.  Some of these are books I need to finish, and others are books I want to read.

1.  When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling by R.C. Sproul, Jr.
I started this book about two weeks ago, and just need to finish it up.  I love that he is helping to remind me why I want to remain faithful to the call to homeschool.

2.  A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century by Oliver DeMille
This book describes ways that parents (whether homeschoolers, public or private schoolers) can help their children become leaders.

3.  How to Pray: The Best Of John Wesley (VALUE BOOKS)
This is a very short book.  No excuses for not getting this one done!

4.  Toward the Sunrise (Daughters of Fortune, Book 3) by Judith Pella
This is a fictional story of 3 sisters during WWII.  I am really enjoying this series.

5.  Homeward My Heart (Daughters of Fortune, Book 4) by Judith Pella
Really, I am going to finish the whole series.

6.  Ezekiel in Life Application Study Bible NIV
I've read it before.  We're studying it in Sunday school.  It kind of makes my head want to explode.

Okay, I am going to just stop there.  I think this is a manageable list.  Yay for books!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Home really IS cool

In an attempt at openness, I want to tell you that homeschooling is hard.

I have really been struggling with our decision to homeschool.  It is not so much that I am not feeling called to do it.  I do think it's best for our children.  God has entrusted the care of my children to me, not the government, not even the church.  My problem lies more with my nearly crippling lack of confidence.

Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of why I am doing all this.  Homeschooling, mothering, housekeeping.  I got stuck in the drudgery.  I'm overwhelmed.  I look around and see nothing but chaos.  I am reactive, not proactive.  I have no routine--no rhythm to the day.  I kind of lost my joy.

I started to hear these whisperings in my ear.  Things like:
You are not smart enough.
You are not organized enough.
They're going to miss something important.
Just let someone else do it.

Oh dear.  I am a big believer that this is the devil's best way of messing with my head.  Little whispers of self-doubt.  In all of this, I started to think I had to be the one with all the strength and organization and know-how.  Me, me, me!

Seriously?  I know better.

Here are the facts, people:
God has called me to mother and teach my children.  He will equip me.
God doesn't care if I look organized or not.  He cares that I treat my children with love.
Education is less about fractions and predicates, and more about loving Christ.
God chose this path for me, and I need to be obedient.

Homeschooling is not the popular path.  It ostracizes me from almost everyone I know.  People at my MOPS group.  People at church.  Even people at the store ("shouldn't those kids be at school today?").  It isn't an intentional thing.  I certainly don't sit around feeling superior to anyone.  Quite the opposite.  Honestly, sometimes I view it as a burden in my life.  And, of course, that is when it is most difficult to be joyful about my path.

I have to be careful who I listen to.  I especially need to tell that little lying voice to shut up!  I have to intentionally seek out encouragement.  It isn't always easy to find.  A lot of people are waiting for us to quit.  Someone said to me, "Hm, I thought you'd be over this homeschooling thing by now."  Many people think it's just crazy.

Homeschooling is kind of crazy.  But crazy in a great way.  It is the hardest thing I've ever done (as I lump it into the "mothering" category at our house).  I have always been refreshed or encouraged at the right moments.  I know it is what God wants for our family.  I know He will direct me and give me the strength to do it.  I know He is already growing me in the process.  The growing part is a little frightening.  But, in the end, I pray that I will have grown in faith and obedience, and that Hub and I will have raised our children to love the Lord, and have equipped them to teach their children the same.

Looking for encouragement?
Jeannie's Journal post on fear
Before You Say "I Quit"
The Call of God from CMA

"For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
1 Sam 16:7

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bacon really does make it all better

I don't normally consider myself to be a very creative person.  I'm not crafty.  I'm not artistic.  But, I can look at a fridge and pantry full of goodies and see something delicious!

This week's CSA brought (more!) beets, as well as potatoes and onions.  This looked like a perfect recipe for breakfast.  Only...something was missing.


Oh, I love bacon.  It makes the boring exciting.  I think I could go vegetarian if it were not for the bacon.

I only used the beet greens.  I think that a lot of people don't eat greens, which I find kind of sad.  They are super easy and tasty.  They soak up all the flavorings in the dish, so, in my opinion, they end up being the best part.  In this case, second only to the bacon.  I set aside the actual tuber part of the beets for another dish.  What?  I don't know.  I'm open to suggestions.

I just rinsed the greens, and coarsely chopped them.

Yummy, and pretty!

I had a bunch of cute little red potatoes.  I cubed them.

I also coarsely chopped the bacon, and fried it up in my trusty (non-cast iron, sadly) skillet.

Mmmmmm.  Bacon.
Greens & Potato Fry with Bacon

1 bunch greens of choice (beet, kale, spinach, chard, collard)
a few potatoes
1 lb. of bacon (yes, I used a whole pound.  I don't want to have regrets.)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced

Wash and coarsely chop greens.  They should still be quite damp (but not wet) when they go into the pan.  Set aside.  Chop and fry bacon.  While bacon is cooking, cube potatoes.  Chop onion and garlic.

Remove bacon, once crispy, and drain.  I poured off most of the bacon grease, but I am not your cardiologist.  So do what you want.  You need some fat in the pan for the potatoes.  I won't tell if it's bacon grease or olive oil.  Whatever makes you happy.

Add potatoes, onion and garlic to pan with fat (or oil) in it (medium to med-hi heat).  Then leave them alone!  They need to brown.  Give them a few minutes to start browning, then stir and let them sit again.  After they are brown, you could cover them with a lid to help the middles steam.  This will probably take about 10 minutes or so, depending on how small your potatoes are.

When potatoes are done (taste one to see, but don't burn your tongue), throw in greens.  They will cook down in a couple minutes.  Sprinkle generously with salt & pepper.  Mix in the cooked bacon.

Log on here to thank me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week in Review--Week 5, in which we do school at the pet store

I can barely remember what we've done this week.  So I suppose this will be short!

Everyone has done some math, language arts, spelling, social studies, and science.

We finished Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Goofy is 1/3 of the way through his math book already.  That little overachiever.  I suppose I'll have to order his next book by mid-October at this rate!  He also read 3 new Bob books this week.  He's super adorable while reading.  He just loves it.  His whole face lights up.  He's just so happy to be reading!

Scrappy has had a reading breakthrough as well.  He finally (FINALLY) has a good attitude about it!  He loves his reader and can't wait to read more.  His reader is marked as Kindergarten level, but I think it's more 1st or 2nd grade.  He can read tougher stuff, I promise.  I'm working on developing his love of reading.  The fluency will come.  It's the love that needs to be nurtured.

Funny did some research at the local pet store about firebelly toads.  She really wants one.  I don't especially care either way.  I fear I'll end up taking care of it.  She's been a tad frog-obsessed for at least a year.  I figure it's not a fleeting interest, at least.  I'm inclined to let her get one, as long as Hub agrees.

Oh, one other thing.  I've been reading When You Rise Up by R.C. Sproul, Jr. this week.  It is wonderful!  It has been a great encouragement to me, as it's been a week of questioning homeschooling (it happens, let's just admit it).  I've been struggling with the different-ness that accompanies homeschooling.  I have been reminded that I belong home with the kids and that I am really helping them thrive.  And they, in turn, are helping me thrive.

Need more inspiration?  Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm Ruined

I was reading Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters, which is a dangerous book.

There's a recipe in here for Mayonnaise Biscuits.  I thought, that's weird.

Then today I was on AllRecipes, and then there they were again.

Clearly, God wanted me to make these biscuits.  I'm almost sorry I did.  Because they are THAT good.  And worse...easy.

I'm so sorry.

Mayo Biscuits

2 c. self-rising flour (I made my own:  1 c. all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt)
1 c. milk
6 tbsp. mayo

Mix all together.  Seriously.  That's how easy they are.  These are drop biscuits, so you just drop them onto a lightly greased cookie sheet like you were making cookies.  Only maybe a little bigger than a cookie.  Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes.  Done.

I tasted one when they came out of the oven.  This is a light biscuit.  You will not be making egg sandwiches with these.  It was so good, I whipped up another batch right then and there.  Dangerous.

Lazy Dinner

I know some people don't know how to cook.  I can almost understand it.  Almost.  Maybe your parents didn't teach you.  Maybe you didn't take home ec.  I don't know.  But this here is a lazy, from scratch dinner.  You can do it.  It's one of the first things I ever learned to make.  It's a forgiving recipe, and I've included some ideas for making it your's.

No, not the prettiest dinner.  But easy and delicious.

Pot Roast in the Crock Pot (aka Yankee Pot Roast)

1 roast of your choice -- Now right there, you might be panicking.  Relax.  Your local grocery store probably has some roast on sale right now.  My personal favorite is rump roast.  You could go with a chuck roast or a sirloin roast.  Anything will work.  The photo is of a rump roast, which often has this string netting over it.  You can cook it with the strings on, then just cut them off at the end.  What weight should it be?  Whatever you think will feed your family.  Mine is probably a good 5 lbs.  We might eat it all.  If we're lucky, there will be leftovers for Hub for lunch.

carrots -- I had 2 small bags of carrots from a local farm, so I put them all in (scrubbed and left whole, as they were only 3-4 inches long).  I usually put in at least 1 lb. of carrots.  You can add more if you like them.  Somehow, meat-flavored carrots are just extra yummy.  You could just halve them and they'll be fine.

potatoes -- Again, I had some red potatoes from the farm and most were small.  I scrubbed them and just threw them in whole.  You could use any potato, though something like a red or new potato would hold up better than a russet in the crock pot.  But any kind works.  You can halve them, too, or quarter them.  Or leave them whole if they are smallish.

onion -- I used a medium purple onion.  Need more onion flavor?  Use more, or use a different type, like a yellow or white onion.  Want a sweet onion?  Go ahead with the Vidalia or Walla-Walla.  (I just wanted to say Walla-Walla).  I peeled, then halved, my onion.

seasoning -- This is a lazy dinner.  So while I could've gone all fancy, I didn't.  I used the Costco version of Mrs. Dash.  And some kosher salt.  

Place cut veggies in bottom of crock pot.  Top with roast.  Again, if you have a rump roast, you can leave the string on.  Sprinkle seasoning over top.  I probably used about a teaspoon, maybe a bit more, of the fake Mrs. Dash and just a light sprinkling of salt.  I'll taste it when it's done and season it again if need be.

Add about 1/2 cup water (or beef broth) to the pot.  Put the lid on and set on low for about 8 hours or so.  Remove meat and veggies to a platter or bowl.  Don't forget to taste it all again.  Often, the veggies will need a bit more salt as most of it went on the meat.

If you're feeling crazy, you can use the juice in the bottom of the pot to make gravy.  But that's another post.  I usually just spoon some over top of the meat.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week in Review--Week 4, in which nothing goes according to plan

I couldn't figure out all week what was wrong with me.  I was so tired.  No, no bun in the oven.  I just have a cold.  Which explains why I had NO motivation this week.

Somehow, as ever, school manages to get done.  There's no rest for mama, is there?

We managed to do spelling and some language arts.  I have to admit, it appears they are my first subject to set aside when we're falling behind.  Do I think it's easy to catch up on?  I don't know.  I think they aren't as fun as science and social studies.  That's something to work on.

We read a bit more about whales this week.  I was talking about sperm whales, and mentioned that Moby Dick was about a sperm whale, and Scrappy piped up and informed me he knew all about Moby Dick.  How, I have no clue.  I suspect he watched part of the movie with my dad.  We watched an IMAX movie about dolphins, which was great.  I love having Netflix.  There are a lot of movies on there that we can use to supplement our books.

For social studies, we made monk's cross necklaces out of clay.  The kids sculpted them and let them dry overnight.  If only I could get them to take a vow of silence, at least for a day.  Maybe even an hour.

The kids have been spending time with Hub developing a new hobby.  They've all become crazy for dominoes!  The kids built some domino runs (I don't know if that's even the right term) this week.

For art this week, we've started talking about the color wheel.  Even Silly wants to be involved with art, which I find surprising, since the book claims it's for ages 8 and up.  She is doing a fine job.  She just wants to do school with the rest of the kids.  I am not pushing her into anything, as she's just 4 and I think she should be spending her days playing ponies.  As long as she isn't interrupting us, she has been joining us this week.

We had a field trip this week.  Yay!  I am big believer that field trips and any real life experience is the best way to learn things.  Two weeks ago we read about the English pushing the Celts out of England to the west (Wales) and north (Ireland & Scotland).  This weekend we went to the Irish Festival here in town.  What a good time!  We saw some traditional dances, hand crafts, and learned some Irish language as well.

For more ideas, check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Eats for the equinox

I made this in late spring, when spinach was everywhere.  But now fall is approaching, and spinach will be back.  This is super easy.  The most expensive part of it is the bacon, so a splurge for the good stuff is definitely warranted, if you feel so led.

Penne, Spinach & Bacon

1 (12 oz) package penne
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 tbsp. minced garlic
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed, torn into bite-size pieces (The Flour Children tore the spinach)

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Heat 1 tbsp. oil in skillet over medium.  
Place bacon in skillet, and cook until brown and crisp.  Add garlic, and cook about 1 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes (with juice) and heat through.  Put spinach in colander and strain pasta over it.  The cooking liquid will wilt your spinach.  Toss all ingredients together with 1 tbsp. oil.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Week in Review--Week 3

Continued working through our spelling book. 

Language Arts
Oh, Emma Perl, how I love you.  I really like Primary Language Lessons, though we have not memorized anything.  I know they are capable of memorizing; they do it for AWANA.  So I don't know about the poems.  Maybe when we get to one that I think would be super nice to know.  I do like memorization.  Hub can still recite Jabberwocky and I still know the preamble to the Constitution.  Does it help us in day-to-day life?  No.  Does it make us awesome?  Yes.

Also, we continued working on proper vs. common nouns.

Social Studies
Turns out there are two Augustines.  Who knew?  Not I.  We read Chapter 3 in Story of the World about the spread of Christianity throughout Britain.  We're also reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  All of the kids love this book!  We also read a few medieval tales this week as well, The Sword in the Stone and Finn MacCoul.

We finally made our ocean boxes.  All year long, we'll be adding creatures to our "ocean."  We're going to try to make them out of clay, and if that doesn't work out, then we'll do cut outs from magazines and such.  We did an experiment where we learned that cold water is heavier is warm water.  We also started reading about whales.  We watched a number of videos.  Here's one you might enjoy.

Scrappy has really nailed double digit addition, so now he's onto double digit addition with carrying.  Funny did a great job on her quiz this week.  I finally got Goofy to slow down at math, mostly by saying, "not now."  Isn't that terrible?  I think if I let him he'd finish the book by the end of September.  I don't know, I suppose it's not a bad thing.

The kids turned in their block lettering practice.

We still didn't get to music and health this week.  That's all we're behind in now!  Yay for catching up!

Want more ideas?  Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.