Friday, August 23, 2013

In My Life This Week, 8/23/13

Does this city look like it might be treacherous when it's covered in ice?  I think so.
In my life this week (and last week)...  Amy and Betz are at teen camp this week, so it is somewhat quiet around here.  Poor Emily, who often feels like she is being neglected, misses being neglected. :) As soon as the girls left for camp yesterday, I sat down and made myself a list of to-do's that did not include ANY housework. This was the stuff of organizing our school year, ordering books, and catching up with correspondence! I am stuck on English and math for the middle two girls, but Emily's books are all on their way. That's one third of a relief.

This is also the week between Monocogman's 50th birthday and mine.  A lovely young woman from church gave us -- get this -- 100 truffles, 50 for each of us, and several pounds of caramels and fudge, all homemade.  Thank you, Cassandra, that is just what I needed for the birthday that marks the death of my metabolism!  
Each ribbon color signifies a different flavor. We have, among others, coconut creme, raspberry almond white chocolate, cinnabon, lemon cheesecake, hazelnut, cafe mocha, banana creme, orange... my favorites by far, for anyone paying attention to my preferences for future reference, are the orange, mocha, and hazelnut.  In the fudge box we have peanut butter, chocoholic, and regular ol' boring fabulous chocolate fudge, as well as caramels and dark chocolate sea salt caramels. Those dark chocolate sea salt caramels are wonderful.  I am really grateful that the Lord gave me several chocolate-addicted children to sneak these from me. It's just too much, and I have neither the sense nor the foresight to freeze the majority of these temptations!

In our homeschool this week...  we are all signed up for co-op for the first time.  Amy and Betz will be taking health and US government, and Emily will have physical science and ancient history. Their electives are art, ASL, culinary arts. I am very impressed with the organization of this group and with the VERY reasonable registration fee.  I am stumbling out of my comfort zone to team-teach the 3rd and 4th grade science class with another mom who is new to the co-op.  We are both nervous, but between the two of us I am sure we will be able to pull this off.  I hope.  I pray.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… There are some thing I said I would never do, and joining a co-op is one of them. That was not a conviction, but for a while I thought it was one. I hope I am learning not to be so dogmatic about the future, when I have no idea what the future holds, where my kids will be at, and what the Lord might ask me to do. Our children grow in many ways, and their needs change. It was time for me to step back from our usual routine and evaluate some potential changes in our schooling that might help meet those changing needs in a way that God can use and bless.  I realized my reluctance to change was due more to my own fear/selfishness/discomfort than it was related to my girls' needs. Maybe someone else can learn from this?

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… as I said, the middle girls are at camp.  That means this week I am going to church and the grocery store and Culvers and the library, but NOT to the nursing home or to Amy's three employers' homes!  Maybe we'll get better gas mileage this week?

Also, we recently had visitors to our home from Siberia. They have three really nice BOYS whom we enjoyed immensely! It's just amazing how two families can be from totally different worlds and have different backgrounds and not know each other very well, but love each other when they are both servants of the King of Kings. This is a wonderful thing to have in common.  
Overlooking Duluth Harbor

We took our friends to Duluth harbor to see the ships and the view and all the water, etc, climbed a tower, had a picnic, and enjoyed each others' company for the long ride there and back. At church Wednesday evening they blessed us by singing a hymn in Russian. The Lord has really blessed our family with the fellowship of others who are in the ministry, Christian families who are consecrated to the Lord's work regardless of the cost.  Not everyone has this privilege.

My favorite thing this week was… being 49 while my husband, who just had his birthday, is 50.  This gloating on my part is short-lived, twelve days, to be exact.  I catch up with him tomorrow.

My other favorite thing was trying kefir for the first time.  :)  We made kefir fruit shakes, and later I poured it over my granola. It certainly was an interesting experience. Kefir tastes kind of zippy and feels like it is frothing in your stomach.  I liked it enough to start my own culture!

My kiddos' favorite thing this week was… Emily's favorite thing was going shopping with Alison.  That special sister time has to be cherished!  It goes so fast!

Things I’m working on…  still working on my school order...................

Also, I am attempting to type out all my family's favorite recipes so that later I can make each of the girls their own cook book.  Problem is, after I started this project on Google Drive, I realized you can't print Drive documents. At least, I don't think you can. Copying and pasting to Open Office messes up the formatting.  *sigh*

I’m cooking…
Experiment #737
Even though I have lived almost half a century, I STILL don't seem to be able to make a menu plan and stick to it.  That means that most days at about 4:00 pm (like now) I am wondering what is for supper.  (I could do without this stress...) A glance into the cupboard/freezer revealed a can of black beans and one of diced tomatoes... some frozen chicken... some tortillas, a bit of onion, cheese, maybe some left-over rice... and the remains of a bottle of salsa. Oh, and some Progresso roasted garlic cooking sauce that has been there forever... Sounds to me like the makings of some sort of Americanized enchiladas.  Combined with the garden's green beans with Montreal Steak Seasoning and a bowl of fresh fruit, we had a colorful and delicious meal!  My family is so impressed with me.  If they only knew.

I’m grateful for…  a scripturally authorized church and a husband/pastor who loves God and his word.  I'm also grateful for the people whose path the Lord has put us in, visitors to church and Bible study, and for those who keep coming back.

I’m praying for…  guidance for school choices, a truly blessed week at camp for Amy and Elisabeth, and for friends going thru the fire.

Something I am ogling or have my eye on…
Thymes Olive Leaf scented candle (or room spray).  I discovered this fragrance this week and spent some of my birthday money on a small bottle of lotion.  I'd love to have my whole house smell like this!

A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…
There needs to be a homemaker exercising some measure of skill, imagination, creativity, desire to fulfill needs and give pleasure to others in the family. How precious a thing is the human family. It it not worth some sacrifice in time, energy, safety, discomfort, work? Does anything come forth without work?
~ Edith Schaffer

*   *   *   *   *

  Greater love hath no man [woman] than this, 
that a man [woman] lay down his [her] life for his [her] friends [family].
John 15:13 
Unauthorized Sally Version

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

32 Places to Find FREE Clipart, Illustrations, and Photos

This was shared by my Google+ friend, Betsy.  She says, "I know many of you may search and search looking for the right page or printable for your child/ren and simply can’t find it. I also know that many of you can’t just go purchase every page or printable you come across for sale in the hopes that it may work out for you…"  

Check out this awesomely helpful blog post HERE.
Thanks, Betsy!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I was reading thru some of my old posts this morning and wow, our life used to be exciting!  We had kids playing in orchestras, doing art projects, traveling (believe me, we are still traveling), hiking in the desert, building stuff, sewing... we're just as busy as ever, but now that 3/4 of the girls have matured quite a bit our busyness doesn't look nearly as  It's still fun; it's just more... more what?  I am suffering from Adjective Deficiency Syndrome.

Today is Day 2 of day care substitution for our neighbor girl.

8:48 a.m.:  Make playdough.  I came here to my blog to find my tried and true playdough recipe, and behold!  I have never posted it!  So here it is:

The Best Homemade Playdough Recipe
1 cup flour
1 cup water
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/3 cup salt
1 TBS vegetable oil
Schilling neon food coloring
1. Mix dry ingredients together in a medium saucepan.
2. Add oil and water.
3. Cook over low/medium heat, stirring. Once it begins to thicken, add 4-6 drops of food coloring. (Or, if you are going to divide your lump into two or three colors, add food color with kneading.)
4. Continue stirring until the mixture is much thicker and begins to ball up.
5. When the dough is no longer wet, remove from pan and put onto wax paper or a cutting board to cool until it's not hot to the touch.
6. Knead playdough until it is cool and smooth.
This will make you about a cup and a half of playdough. Beware of mixing those neon colors. We got an ugly ball of something that was supposed to be purple and ended up looking like an old bruise.  And if your guest gets the ugly one, you feel bad for her and have to make a whole new batch so both girls can have pretty playdough.  Store in airtight container in fridge.  Keeps for ... a week?  Two weeks?

9:22 a.m., a half hour later:  Still playing with playdough. :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

No, this is not one of those "how many things can you find wrong with this picture" puzzles.  I can already spot about twenty -- don't tell me.

We have a house guest for the next few days, a neighbor girl who HATES day care. :)  Emily, big-hearted as she is, thought it would be much nicer for her friend to spend her time with a real family than to go to a day-care center. And I agreed. I feel bad for kids in day care. So we have Autumn, and we'll see if these girls still like each other at the end of the day. :) 

It's only 10:00 am, and already they need suggestions about what to do. Here they are making Wacky Cake, the one where you put vinegar and oil and vanilla into the dry ingredients already in the pan, add water, and stir it all together. We added some chocolate chips, of course. What is dessert without chocolate chips? And now there is a huge mess on the kitchen table, a mixture of spilled flour and cocoa, a dribble of oil, and lots of cake batter. This is something that would normally stress me out, but you know what? It only took 15 seconds to wipe it all up. :)  I'm improving.

Okay, cake's in the oven, and it's now 10:32.  What else can we do? 

It's a long time 'til 5:00...

(I think I need an imagination!)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Prompted Again

Okay, I'm trying to make a habit of this. On my bucket list is making a book of some of my Arizona blog posts and photos, using one of those self-publishing companies. And since my girls love to read my "journal" here, maybe someday I'll add to that list a book of my Minnesota life.

In my life this week... the usual taxi service, laundry, and anxiety over what to make for supper.  The two girls who STILL have not finished school are actually doing some this week. It's not entirely their fault that they have not completed the 2012-13 school year. Who can do school when they are so busy living?  Oh wait, that school stuff belongs in the next section.

In our homeschool this week... social studies. Booooring. I am hoping to change this for one child by reading some of the old Landmark American history series with Emily next year. In fact, the entire school experience here needs a good overhaul. Some decisions need to be made soon, and I'll do that if we can just stay home long enough to look at some new materials.  Botany? Astronomy? Greek and Latin roots? What? 
Also, Amy is still working away on the GED prep. She must take and pass the tests by the end of December, since nationwide the test will be changed in 2014. The testing centers will be filling up soon. And, never fear, she IS planning to finish high school even if she passes.  :)

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… relax. No child gets through school without some major holes in their education. Kids in public schools often graduate without knowing how to write a check, pay the rent on time, or show up at work. It's okay if mine don't know what xylem and phloem are, or where Myanmar is by the time graduation rolls around. Education doesn't end when 12th grade does. They have a lifetime to learn. They know who Jesus is, and in the long run, that's all that matters.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… This week we're going to Walmart (probably two or three times), the library, the community garden, and to church. Nothing remarkable in the plans this week.

My favorite thing this week was… having nineteen for Bible study last night!

My kiddos' favorite thing this week was… Emily enjoyed a bike ride with her daddy this morning.  They watered our plot at the community garden, then rode along the river and through the park.  Any personal attention is always Em's favorite thing. :) Betsy's favorite activity was accompanying nursing home residents to Walmart and being given a bus ride right to our doorstep. 

Things I’m working on… I have to admit, I am not working on anything at the moment. I would have much to say if this category were called, "Things I should be working on..."

I’m cooking…  
Stovetop Peach Cobbler!  It's too hot to turn on the oven, and we needed something to eat for supper with a big salad.  This was really good:
What?  Who put that ice cream in there? We didn't get icecream!
3 C peeled and sliced peaches
1/2 C sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1 T butter
1 t lemon juice
1 C biscuit mix
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C milk
cinnamon and sugar
Combine the peaches and sugar in a 4C measuring cup, then add water to make 3 1/2 cups total.  Pour this into a skillet or saucepan with the butter and lemon juice, and over medium heat, bring to a simmer.  In the meantime, stir together the biscuit mix and 1/3C sugar, then stir in the milk.  Spoon over the peaches in four to six plops and cover.  Simmer over low to med-low heat for 12-15 minutes, or until dumplings are cooked through. (They will not brown with this method.) Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar; serve warm.

I’m grateful for… Lamentations 3:22. It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

I’m praying for… my daughter.

Something I am ogling or have my eye on… nothing. Really.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…  
My sweet niece, Colbie Ann, born June 8

Monday, June 24, 2013

Family Friendly Fiction

There is a new community on Google+, Family Friendly Fiction.  Post your recommendations for read-alouds that would be suitable for a Christian family, and check out other people's suggestions, too!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Blogging Prompts

Jane has inspired me. I have the epitome of blogger's block, and maybe having some prompts will help me to get started again. These come from the Homeschool Mother's Journal. Thanks, Jane!

In my life this week… This week? As in, beginning with Sunday? Or in the past seven days? We got home Saturday night from a trip of many miles, and Sunday we turned right around and went to spend Father's Day with my inlaws. So that means this week I am tackling Mount Washmore and trying to get back into the routine of making supper. (There's always waffles, right?) Emily and Betz are enjoying their second year at the one room schoolhouse. Amy is working three mom's helper jobs this week, and Alison will be back to work at Culvers. With all of our traveling this summer, as well as Alie's students being on vacation, the violin lessons (and hence, her income) are not very consistent. I can TOTALLY see why some music teachers require a contract, as well as payment a month in advance. 
Ignore the truck.  That's an anachronism!

In our homeschool this week… Wow. Homeschool? We haven't done any of that in a while, not officially. We do need to take the useless-but-required-by-law standardized tests. And even though we aren't finished with last year's school, I need to start thinking seriously about the coming school year. I would love to have someone come to my home, someone who thinks just like I do about school, and put it all together for me. It would be scripted, so I would know just what to do and say, and when! Or else we could just completely unschool. (You know I have been saying that for twelve years.) One would think that a mom who has been homeschooling for twelve or more years would have it all figured out by now. 

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… One of my favorite homeschooling resources for the little kids was Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. There are no phonics involved, which may not be a good thing, but your child can be reading real words, and even sentences, in just a very few lessons. This was a huge confidence-builder for my girls when they were small.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… Oh good. This is the fun part. We spent all last week in Detroit and Chicago. The Detroit part was a preachers' meeting and that was awesome.  We heard good preaching, got encouraged and challenged, and saw some of our favorite people.
The McFohnsons.  A hybrid group made up of Johnsons, Forts, and a McCoy.
 On our way there and back we stayed overnight with our missionary friends in Chicago, the Ed Fort family. Their son now being our personal auto mechanic, we had some necessary maintenance and repairs done on the old van. We foolishly did not give our girls a curfew, and they failed miserably the test of going to bed on their own at a decent hour. :) We love this family! They have a most interesting work going on in Chicago. How many people do you know who can identify Assyrians, Hmongs, Pakistanis, Croatians, Chinese, Burmese, and many other nationalities on sight? Have you ever walked into a Muslim mosque to witness to the imam? or into a Buddhist temple to tell the priest about the God who loves him? Me neither. But these folks have.
If you know of a reasonably priced Chicago storefront that would be suitable for a church meeting place, do leave a comment here. The Forts and their church are in need of a permanent church home.
My favorite thing this week was… hmm.  So many good things happened this week.  My favorite was seeing a beautiful Catholic Filipino lady receive Jesus Christ as her own Savior. Praise God!
My kiddos' favorite thing this week was… without a doubt, spending all hours and hundreds of miles with the Fort kids, as well as singing and doing Bible studies with them.

Buckingham Fountain, Chicago.  What a crazy city!

Things I’m working on… laundry and more laundry. Also, I am working on being more diligent about keeping up my home. You'll be happy to know that I mopped the kitchen and bathroom floors yesterday for the first time since 199_... No, just kidding. Certainly I must have done that in this decade? The funny thing is, someone commented just recently about my "immaculate" house. She must have been visually impaired. I want people to feel welcome and comfortable in my home. I don't want them to be afraid to touch anything.
I’m cooking… well, not cooking, but this is worth sharing. We have been making yogurt drops for a sweet, cool little refreshment.  Get an 8 oz container of Greek yogurt and empty it into a zip-lock sandwich bag. Cut off a bottom corner and squeeze little blops of yogurt onto a cookie sheet and freeze. After a couple of hours, use a spatula to scrape them into a freezer container. They are so good! One or two drops are enough to satisfy a sweet craving! My favorite so far is lemon, but today we are trying blueberry.
I’m grateful for… the promises of God.  

Psalm 9:10, And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.  

Jesus never fails. He is not a man; he is God. He is faithful and true. He will answer.

I’m praying for… my daughter.

I rewarded my kids this week by… oh dear, I don't think I have rewarded them.  But I did treat Betz and Emily to a pretzel at Annie's yesterday.  Does that count?

Something I am ogling or have my eye on… for Amy's sake, this skirt at Kohls.  I won't put out $65 for it, or even $25.  I'm waiting for it to go on the 80% off clearance rack, with a 30% off coupon!
Chaps Striped A-Line Maxi Skirt
A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…  

And that's all for today.  I'm looking forward to renewing some bloggy friendships. Hope you're all having a great summer!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Welcome to the silent blog.

Amy posted on her blog about our wonderful trip to California a few weeks ago, making my blogging life easier. Here's the link.

I was going to say it looks like it's time to update my header photo, but this morning I received a report of snow flurries from a nearby friend!

Reminder to self: No grumbling. Snow is good. It's a beautiful reminder that my sins have been washed whiter than snow! 

♫ ♪   Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,   ♪ ♫
 grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt! 
 Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured, 
 there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt. 
 Grace, grace, God's grace, 
 grace that will pardon and cleanse within; 
 grace, grace, God's grace, 
 grace that is greater than all our sin! 

 Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold, 
 threaten the soul with infinite loss; 
 grace that is greater, yes, grace untold, 
 points to the refuge, the mighty cross. 

 Dark is the stain that we cannot hide. 
 What can avail to wash it away? 
 Look! There is flowing a crimson tide, 
 whiter than snow you may be today. 

 Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, 
 freely bestowed on all who believe! 
 You that are longing to see his face, 
 will you this moment his grace receive? 

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