Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Series of Unfortunate Events

My husband recently started reading this series of books by Lemony Snicket to the boys. They are very much enjoying it. It is good bonding time with dad. But here is why I am recommending these books. I believe they are written at an upper elementary level. The books are written in a very unique way. The author chose to use a lot of intense vocabulary. Then, he takes the large words and explains exactly what they mean in the context. The books are like one big vocabulary lesson that the kids enjoy immensely. I am trying to figure out how I can make a curriculum out of this. Maybe a lapbook is in order. Although our first attempt at a lapbook didn't go so well. But I think if I only do the lapbook with one at a time it might work better. I will have to contemplate this issue some more.

On a side note, my husband was asking me about a book that he had read as a child. It was not one that I remember reading (and of course now I can't remember the name of it). He was amazed that I hadn't read it or had it read to me. That got me thinking about my childhood. I learned to read at age 4. As my older cousin was learning in school she taught me. I remember reading for endless hours, especially in 5th grade. That was the year Pizza Hut started the BookIt program. A girl in my class and I were in a very heated battle to see who could read more books. I think at some point the teacher got sick of us and stopped keeping track, either that or she just ran out of room on the chart. I also remember some out loud reading time in school occasionally. The thing I do not remember is my parents reading to me. That's not to say they didn't. It's merely saying I do not remember it. Maybe it's because I preferred reading to myself. Maybe because I learned to read at such a young age I can't remember before that.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Simple Solution to a Difficult Problem

About six months ago we were doing a health lesson about bones and calcium. We did some research and learned all about alternatives to milk. Soy, as you may know, is a very popular milk substitute right now. The soy industry is marketing the health benefits of soy very well. One of my children absolutely loved it. And due to the benefits we thought we would get we started consuming soy milk. I generally only had it for breakfast, mixed in a smoothie. I later learned that soy may affect hormones. So after my incident last month, I removed all soy from the house. This month, I did not have a repeat situation. In fact, I overall felt much better. My advice would be to be careful what you believe about health benefits of products. Especially things that say all natural. Natural doesn't automatically mean it's good for you. Plus, a lot of things simply start with a natural ingredient, and then chemically modify it. I digress. I could go on and on about that topic. I will just leave you with this. Listen to your body. Just because something is good for someone else, does not make it good for you. God made us all unique and special, inside and out.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Very Personal Blog

I am not normally one to share deeply personal information on my blog. I am here to inspire others. But I have something that I have been struggling with and need some advice from some other moms. So I am going to share more than I normally would, and pray that the right people will see this to offer advice. If you know me personally and would rather share your advice privately, I would appreciate that as well. I'd even enjoy a coffee or ice cream with ya.

Six years ago, after my son was born, I had my tubes tied. Since that time, I have struggled with extremely heavy menstruation. It is very regular, just very heavy. I am not sure if the two things are related or not. I am just exploring all my options to get this to stop. The last cycle was the worst. I was in church, just sitting. When I stood up I had to go home and change my clothes. I was nearly in tears. But I was reminded of the woman who touched the cloak of Jesus and was instantly healed. I prayed hard after that, and was better all afternoon and for the rest of the time. I am trusting God, and making some lifestyle changes that are supposed to help. But I am still curious if someone else has had this problem, and if having a reversal would actually help. I would also love to chat with anyone who has had a reversal to find out the results of that. I am considering the reversal for another reason as well, but am also considering adoption. Please weigh in your thoughts on that as well.

On an unrelated topic, does anyone have any good ideas on how to motivate kids to do their math?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Nuclear Energy

As I was writing about our party, I realized I had not yet posted about our science class on Thursday. We were studying nuclear energy. There's not too much exciting to report. We did a lot of reading. The most interesting part for me was reading about the Manhattan Project and learning some of the other names involved (other than Albert Einstein). There were some worksheets that the kids took home, including a word search. Each family was also assigned a different biofuel to read up on and report about next week (to finish up chemical energy). The project for the day was to build a clay model of a nuclear power plant. We used modeling clay that you can bake to harden it and keep as a souvenir. Two of the models turned out quite well. The others all came apart in at least one spot. I'm actually surprised they didn't turn to dust due to the fact that I started painting my son's bedroom and forgot they were in the oven. Ooops. Oh, and for those that were worried, the sushi came out quite well - so bring your appetite next week ;-) For those that don't know what I'm talking about, you really don't want to. This week we will be talking about thermal energy, if I can find a thermometer. Anyone know where I can get a cheap one (or borrow one)?

Monster Mouth Pasta

So, we had a party today. We were celebrating Evan's 6th birthday, my wonderful husband's 36th birthday, and their favorite halloween. We had the party 2 days after halloween, so we could get all the decorations at half off. OK, that's not really why. It just kind of worked out that way. We got a book halloween food and crafts from the grocery store a while back. I thought it would be kind of fun to try out some of the cool ideas. A few of them ended up being really good, so I will be adding the recipes into my meal rotation. My favorite was the pasta. I will not add all the decorating steps. I'll leave that up to your imagination. Here's the recipe:

1 tsp of vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 slices of bacon
1 lb ground beef
2 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 slices American cheese, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 pkg jumbo pasta shells (about 18 shells), cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 13x9 baking dish. Heat oil in large skillet over medium. Add onion and bacon; cook until onion is tender. Add beef; cook and stir until beef is no longer pink. Stir in tomatoes, cheese, salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into cooked shells; place in prepared baking dish. Bake 3 to 5 minutes or until hot.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

God's Design for the Physical World

We had our first science class today in our wonderful new house. It was so much fun I can hardly contain myself. We had 14 children ranging in age from 3 to 13. Okay, so only 8 of them actually participated in most of it, but they all made windmills (with some mom help). The curriculum is from Answers in Genesis. It is called God's Design for the Physical World. The first book is about heat and energy. Today we talked about all the different kinds of energy. The kids did a worksheet about energy conversion. Then we talked more specifically about mechanical energy. That is when we made the windmills. It was great fun to see the kids actually excited about learning. When we were going through the worksheet about energy conversion and they actually got it, I was amazed. Even the 7 yo was getting it. It is so great to see the kids learn to work together with other kids of all ages rather than being confined to a class full of kids the same age. I would highly recommend this curriculum, just based on the first 2 lessons. I have looked ahead, though and am very excited about what's to come. Hopefully, next week I will be able to get some pics of the models they are going to build. It should be quite interesting.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vinegar - The Ultimate Multitasker

As most of you know by now, we have moved into an older home. It has some issues here and there, but nothing major. One of those issues was the shower door. Shower doors have a propensity to build up soap scum and make every little thing visible. Unlike curtains, you can't just throw them in the washer. My first thought was to steam it. That did not even make a mini dent. So then I had an aha moment. I know vinegar works great on windows and mirrors, why not the shower door. I took my little spray bottle and wiped, wiped, wiped. It worked quite well. I did have to break out vinegar's good friend baking soda for some of the thicker spots. Now, much to my delight, my shower door "shines like the top of the Chrysler Building". So that got me to thinking. How many uses can we come up with for vinegar. I will get the list started, but please add your uses in the comments. Let's see if we can get to 100.
1. Clean soap scum from shower doors.
2. Clean windows.
3. Clean mirrors.
4. Cheap and effective fabric softener. $2.99 for a huge bottle as opposed to over $5 for the small bottle of fabric softener. And I think my clothes and towels are softer. Plus it helps get the sweaty smell out of Chris' work clothes.
5. Cooking (better not forget the obvious one)
6. Salad dressing (another obvious one)
7. Soothes stings from jelly fish. Always carry a spray bottle to the beach. If you forget, the lifeguards do have it on hand.
8. Volcano experiments (just add a little baking soda and some red food coloring you get great lava, Mentos and Diet Coke make great fun too)
9. Cleaning coffee pots.
10. Ant repellant
11. Coloring Easter Eggs
12. Decalcify chicken bones (it was an experiment to show how important calcium is to our bones, the bone turns rubbery)
13. Kill weeds on the driveway and sidewalks
Thanks to my friends for the next suggestions.
14. Gum removal from fabric
15. Tenderize meat
16. Clean tile
17. Pickle eggs
18. Clean silver (with the help of baking soda and aluminum foil)
19. Remove stinky odor from wet sneakers.
20. Apple cider vinegar for dandruff and athlete's foot.
21. I learned from a friend that apple cider vinegar has all sorts of health benefits, but I think I'll save that for another blog. I will do more research and possibly some self testing first.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Boy Meets Girl Equals Techno Failure

This is kind of a random post, out of the normal school or inspiration catagories. I used to be very tech friendly. My dad brought home our first Commodore 64 when I was 9. I loved it. I excelled at it. I took every kind of computer class I could in school. Starting with typing, all the way through computer programming. I have never had a problem figuring out technological stuff. Until I met Chris. You know how it is. A boy meets a girl, he wants to think he knows more than the girl, so the girl acts all impressed by his knowledge and pretends to know nothing. The girl just lets the boy take care of all the technological stuff. Skip ahead in time 12 or so years. The girl got lazy and now the boy really does know more than the girl. It's not that I'm a total moron when it comes to technology. But I realized I was a little out of touch when my ten yo son showed me that there are games on my Ipod. What? How is it that I went from being totally in touch with the future to my son knows more than me? AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! I guess I need to stop being so lazy and start paying better attention to technological things. Though I do need to add, that I am very impressed with my son and his tech savvy. The amount of stuff he knows is amazing. Now if I could just get him to apply that to his schoolwork, the world would be a wonderful place. Well, at least my world would be.

Monday, October 6, 2008

God's Love is Like Mashed Potatoes

Well, not exactly. Yesterday at church our pastor used this analogy and it really made an impact. I suppose you're wondering exactly how God's love can have anything in common with mashed potatoes. I did too. 1 John 3:1 says, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God." The key word is lavished. Pastor spoke of a lavish plate of mashed potatoes and gravy, to illustrate the term. I don't know about you, but talking about food is usually a good way to get me to pay attention.

So once he has my attention and talks about God's love being lavished on us like a big plate of mashed potatoes, he goes on to an analogy with even more impact. He talked about the difference between foster children and adopted children. Being an adopted child myself, I am profoundly aware of that difference. Adopted children are chosen for life. We all have been chosen by God to be adopted into his family. I was adopted as an infant, but as a teenager I really struggled with being adopted. Being raised Catholic, I believed in God and Jesus, but I didn't understand about having a relationship with Christ. I didn't see God's love being lavished on me. I thought if my own mother didn't want me, how could anyone else possibly love me. I felt like I had a hole that could only be filled by my mother. The truth is, it was a hole that could only be filled by my Father. At age 19, I had that hole filled by opening my heart to God and receiving His love. "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life" John 3:16. At that point, I finally realized that my self worth had nothing to do with my mother and everything to do with who I am in Christ. I am a child of God. He loved me enough to die for me and my selfish sins. It didn't matter if anyone on earth ever loved me. However, it was at that point that I also realized that my parents chose me. I was not an unwanted accident to them. They chose me. But I never really thought about God choosing me, until last week. My self centered brain thought I chose Him. Chris and I have been reading through Romans. Romans 8:29-30 says, "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified he also glorified." I didn't really get that until yesterday. My parents chose me, but God predestined me. What that means to me is that He chose me before I was able to be chosen. I didn't yet exist, and God chose me. But it gets better. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord," Romans 8:39-39. That is the love that is being lavished upon us. If we tried to lavish our love on each other, we all put together couldn't come close to God's love. But even that minute amount would make the world a wonderful place. So remember, in this time of political turmoil: God is in control, and nothing can separate us from His love.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


When we finished up China and the Olympic games, I figured why not just stay in Asia. It was a bonus that right after the Olympics were over Disney Channel premiered their Cheetah Girls movie that took place in India. I know that is not really a traditional educational method, but anything I can use to get my kids interested in a topic is a blessing in my book. We also rented the movie Jungle Book from the library. Not the Disney cartoon. It is what the boys call a "real people movie". The story actually reminds me a lot of Tarzan, only it takes place in India. They get a glimpse of the history when India belonged to Great Britain. We also found a cartoon version of the story Riki Tiki Tavi. But I think my favorite story was the Raja's Rice. It involved the math of doubling. My kids were shocked to think of the entire country covered knee deep in rice. Maybe it's just because I'm such a math geek that I liked it so much.

We had a little trouble with the menu for India. I wish the new restaurant they are putting in the mall had opened up. That would have made my life so much easier. But Chris managed to make a curry chicken that was quite delicious over rice. Actually it was a mix that we got at Publix (before I found it cheaper at walmart). Just followed the directions on the box. We also made the mango drink from the book Another Trip Around The World. That was probably the only thing the boys enjoyed about the meal.

We are going to take a couple of weeks off from our travels due to moving. I don't want to have all kinds of library books checked out and accidentally get packed. But when we resume we will be starting with Japan and a trip to the Wasabi Japanese buffet. If Chris gets enough overtime, we may also hit the Japanese steakhouse. Anyone know of any Russian restaurants around here?

Monday, August 18, 2008


I decided, that due to the Olympic Games taking place in Beijing, China, we would skip ahead a bit in our countries and cultures lessons to China. We have been learning little bits, but today we read the best book. It is called "The Great Wall", by Elizabeth Mann. I don't think it was even on our list in the curriculum. It really gave a great overview of the history of China, the emperors, the wars, Ghengis Khan, etc. There is also some great artwork in the book. I noticed on the back of the book there are others: "The Brooklyn Bridge", "The Great Pyramid", "The Panama Canal", "The Roman Colleseum", and "Machu Picchu". I have not yet checked to see if any of these are at the library, but I hope so. There are a few that we can use in our studies of future countries.

In continuing our tradition of eating our way around the world we are having a Chinese dinner tonight. I am sure it is not very authentic, but it is easy and will give them an introduction. I am not a big eater of Chinese food myself, so I had to pick stuff that I knew would get eaten. The menu is: Chicken Fried Rice (Chicken Helper from Betty Crocker), Lo Mein (Asian Sides, Teryiaki Noodles from Knorr), and Chicken Won Ton Soup (Campbell's). We probably should be having some stir fry vegetables or something, but we're not.

Next week we are travelling to India. I am not at all familiar with Indian cuisine. Anyone who has any suggestions, please comment.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

God was with me today, but I need some advice

Today, I had one of the most severe challenges I have had to face as a mom. As many of you know, my son has some sensory sensitivities. He especially struggles when he has to get a haircut. He has never liked it since he got the very first one around 2 years old. But I have never had him react like he did today. He was swinging his arms at me (not actually hitting), pulled the clipper plug out from the wall and screaming at the top of his lungs. Now mind you we live in an apartment building. I'm sure people heard him screaming "you're hurting me" at the top of his lungs and probably thought I was beating him. I managed to get about 3 random strips of hair cut, down to 1/4". Before he went into his violent rage. That is when God intervened in my heart. I gave up. I walked away. I ended up taking him to have the job finished by professionals, where he sat and chatted with the lady like a little gentleman. He told her all about China, because that's what we've been studying this week. I was so proud of the way he acted in there, and told him so. But I don't know how to deal with his earlier reaction. That is not ok. We talked after about how it made me feel and he understood that it made me very sad. The bigger problem is, he is becoming very defiant in general. Every time we tell him to do something he doesn't like, his reply is "you can't make me". The thing is, he is a very good boy. He is always very empathetic to how others are feeling, and very concerned when people are sick. He is very well behaved when we go out and when he is around others. At home is a totally different story. Is it just the age he's at? Is he trying to test my limits and see what he can get away with? I hate having to share this for the world, but I need some wise counsel and quickly.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


From the book of James, Chapter 1. Verse 2-4: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Verse 12: Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.

It is always difficult when we face trials. But sometimes, all it takes is a little perspective and we realize our trials are not so bad after all. Take a look back through history. Go to the book of Exodus. Read about what the Israelites had to endure wandering in the desert for 40 years. I read a book this week about a woman travelling the Oregon trail back in the early 1800's. The women and children spent most of the trip walking. Yes, I said walking, from Missouri to Oregon. Finding enough time to work out was not an issue. Putting a load of laundry in the washing machine, then the dryer, then folding it was not on their list of luxuries. Absolutely, we need to consider laundry a luxury. My family has more than 2 outfits each. We have clothes for every day of the week and beyond. I am blessed to have a washing machine and clothes to fill it with. I do not have to go down to the river and scrub my one outfit (other than the one I'm wearing) on a rock. Though there are still people in the world that have to do that. So today, I will consider it pure joy to do a load of wash. Because it means I am blessed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I am learning more about how this works every day. I have now added labels to my past posts. I have added links to some of my friends' blogs. Unfortunately, I am a bad friend. Some of my friends' blog pages have been lost. So to my friends who are not on my link, please forgive me and let me know your blog address again, so I can get caught up. And if you would prefer me to not link to your blog, you can let me know that as well.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Wow! I had no idea what I would discover when I embarked on a study of coveting. In fact, I think I am more confused about the idea than when I first started. Therefore, I am not even going to begin to unravel the confusion. But what I will share is why we don't need to worry. I have read these before, but it is always good to read them again.

First, from Matthew 6, verses 25-33 is Jesus speaking. He says, "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life - whether you have enough food or drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to Him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don't worry about these things, saying 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everthing you need."

This passage is repeated almost word for word in Luke. It must be pretty important for us to remember if God included it twice. But then Jesus expands on this idea a little more. Luke 12:16-21 Then He told them a story: "A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, 'What should I do? I don't have room for all my crops.' Then he said, 'I know! I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I'll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I'll sit back and say to myself, "My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!" "But God said to him 'You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?' "Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God."

That is all I can share today. I am going to continue to investigate this topic, and pray that God will unravel it for me and teach me what it is I need to learn.

Friday, July 18, 2008

All Things Are Possible

I often see, and use, little snippets of Bible verses as inspiration or what not. However, this doesn't always reveal the true meaning of the verse. God's Word is so much more complicated, meaningful, and valuable than little snippets of verses. For example, let's look at Matthew 19. Verse 26b says, "but with God all things are possible." By itself, this is an incredibly powerful and utterly true statement. I recently watched a video from evangelist Louis Giglio about some of the stars that were breathed out by God at creation. That alone is enough to convince me that ALL things ARE possible. We could leave it there and be incredibly strengthened and inspired by that. But then, we would miss out on the 'so much more' that God has for us. What could be more than all things? Well, that's God for you. Let's take a look at the context of that verse. Verses 23-24 say, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'" Jesus had just been asked by a wealthy man how he could get eternal life. He had kept all the commandments. Jesus told him to sell everything and follow Him. It was like he asked the man to cut off his arm. Clearly, happiness and eternal life cannot be found through material things. In verse 21 Jesus told the man, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me." What!?! If you want to be perfect! Romans 3:10-12 says, "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." So not only can wealthy people not have eternal life, but no one can. But wait, back to Matthew 19:26. "Jesus looked at them (His disciples who had just asked Him who could be saved) and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" So "all things" does not necessarily mean I'll get everything I want in this world. But God's plans are so much bigger and better than what I can dream for myself.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I Want to be President

No, I really don't. That would be a job of stress, beyond all stress. If you want a good picture of what that job would be like, go back to the Old Testament. Read the story of David. His struggles were so far beyond anything I would ever want to imagine. But I can bet, many of them are similar to what the president goes through on a daily basis. In 1 Samuel 30, the Israelites are in the middle of a war. David and his men have just returned to a village that had been pillaged by the Amalekites. The men's wives and children (including David's two wives) had been taken captive. So verse 6 says, "David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God." So I take myself back to that time and put on David's shoes. I have never been to war, so it is very hard to picture. Of course I have seen movies of war, but it's not the same as being in it. I have also never had to live the basic lifestyle they had. If they had a bad day, they couldn't just run and grab dinner at Chick Fil A. They couldn't just throw a frozen pizza in the oven. They had to work hard for every piece of food they ate. Then, to be in a war on top of that. I wonder how much they actually ate when they were out. Add to that, coming home to find all their families had been kidnapped. They are tired, hungry and distressed. I wouldn't want to lead that group. But David did, under threat of stoning. Even with everything that had gone wrong, David found strength in the Lord. Now I think about my "problems". When you put them in perspective, I really don't have any serious problems. My housing situation isn't exactly what I'd like, but I have a place to live. Gas prices are outrageous, but I have a car and gas to get me places. I don't have a lot of extra money to do all the things I would like, but I have food to eat. I have two precious children that I am fortunate enough to be home with and have the opportunity to raise them up in the ways of the Lord. If David, in his circumstances could find strength in the Lord, how much more can I find strength.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Shrimp Ceviche

Yesterday, we went to a 4th of July party. Chris made a Shrimp Ceviche that was very popular. Here is the recipe.

Shrimp Ceviche
1 batch of Tomato/Citrus Marinade (see below)
1 batch of Marinated Onions (see below)
4 cups Water
1 1/2 lbs shrimp (peeled and deveined)
2 Tbsp cilantro
pinch salt/pepper
Hot Sauce to taste
2 Scallions (the white part plus one inch of the green)

Prepare Tomato/Citrus Marinade (can be done the day before). About 4 hours before serving prepare Marinated Onions, use half in the recipe and half for garnish. In a large sauce pan, combine water and scallions, bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, simmer 2 minutes. Add shrimp. Remove from heat and let stand a few seconds until shrimp turns pink. Drain and discard scallions. Rinse shrimp under cold water. Cut shrimp in half crosswise. Add shrimp and cilantro to Tomato Marinade. Stir to mix. Cover with plastic and refridgerate 2 to 3 hours. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce.

Tomato/Citrus Marinade
1 cup Water
1 lb medium sized tomatoes
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup lime juice
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp worcestershire
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp EVOO
1 tsp black pepper
1 - 2 tsp hot sauce

Bring water and whole tomatoes to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Remove and cool. Remove tomatoes with slotted spoon and let cool. Slip off skin of tomatoes. Put tomatoes in blender and blend until smooth. Strain out seeds. In medium glass bowl, mix tomato puree, citrus juices, ketchup, worcestershire, mustard, oil, pepper, and hot sauce. Stir. Cover and refridgerate up to one day.

Marinated Onions
hot water
1 medium red onion halved and sliced lengthwise into paper thin half moons
juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Pour hot water over onions. Let stand 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. In small mixing bowl, combine onion, juice, salt, and pepper. Cover and let stand at room temp until onions turn pink, about 3 hours. It is best to make the day you are going to serve.

Eleven Years

The 4th of July holiday messed me up a little, and I missed Friday Inspiration. But it is fitting that it come on Saturday this week anyway, as I am taking a break from what I said I was going to do. Why, because it is my anniversary today. So the verse for today comes from 1 Corinthians 13. It was read at our wedding, 11 years ago today.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always prseveres. Love never fails.

It has been a crazy, but amazing eleven years. Twelve years ago, I was very single (and possibly contemplating becoming a nun). On this very day, in 1996, I went to the wedding of my very good friend. It is a very crazy story of why I asked Chris to dance, but that's for another day. The point is, we did dance. A very short 36 days later, we were engaged. So, on this day in 1997, we were married. Five months later, we were expecting a son. September 1998, Lucas was born, and then we moved across the country. At that point we really learned the meaning of "Love is patient". We were both working crazy schedules to keep Luke out of daycare. We were sleep deprived, living in a new place, never saw each other, and had the stress of a new baby. What were we thinking? The ooh, aah feelings of new love were not there at that point. But praise God, that love did persevere. That's the thing, no where in that verse does it say that love is a feeling. We could not have gotten through that, or made it eleven years by relying on feelings. However, the other thing is, once we persevered through that our feelings followed the action. Chris is an amazing man. He supports every crazy thing that I do. He loves God, loves me, and loves his children. No, the circumstances of our life are not perfect. We are not living in a dream house, have all sorts of money to go on lovely vacations, the list could go on and on. But would I give him up to have all of that? No way. He is the man not of my dreams, but that I never imagined possible. All that, and he can cook. What more could a girl ask for.

So, today I shout it from the mountain tops "I LOVE MY HUSBAND". I am so looking forward to the next 11 years, and beyond.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Inspiration

Today I am starting a new column on my blog called, "Friday Inspiration". Why Friday? Because there is no time like the present. As I was telling my son last night, "It's called the present because every day is a gift from God." And today is certainly a gift.

Today's verse is from Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
This is a verse that I have claimed for a long time. I loved the power in remembering that it's not my strength that I need to get me through the tough times, it's His. Then, I discovered that there is a similar verse in Matthew, and one in Luke. Then I started to dig further, and found many more verses that emphasize the same fact. So over the next many weeks I am going to look into this further and post one verse every Friday. When God wants to tell us something, He puts it in the Bible. When there is something He really wants to tells us, He puts it in there over and over again. Today, I pray that you will know God's strength and power, and turn to Him for your strength.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Father's World, Exploring Countries and Cultures

Our astronomy lesson is over, but I am looking forward to ordering our next science books. I will be ordering some studies on physical sciences from Answers in Genesis. In the meantime, we are still hard at work on other subjects. A few weeks ago we started on a journey around the world (without leaving home). I was hoping to be able to include both of my children with the lessons, however I don't think that is going to be the case. Most of the work is just too complicated, and not interesting for my 5 year old. Of course, that's not saying he is not at all involved. Our lessons began with a basic overview of world geography. In order to better illustrate our lesson, we baked a cake. You may notice that becoming a theme. Lucas loves watching the cake challenges and Ace of Cakes on Food Network. He has a desire to learn how to create cakes like they do. So we are learning that together.

Then we started our journey here in the United States. Part of the fun of learning about cultures is food. So we are going to eat our way around the world. You think because we live in the U.S. there wouldn't be anything to learn. However, there are so many different regions of the U.S. that are very different. We made New England Pumpkin Cake, Rocky Mountain Trail Mix, and Grits. I had wanted to have apple pie, but we did not get to that.

We are now moving on to Mexico. Last night we had Tacos and Bolillos (Mexican Hard Rolls). Chris made some Gondules (pigeon peas) also. But we forgot they needed to be made ahead of time, so we did not get to eat them yesterday. We will probably have them tomorrow with some rice. Gondules are not Mexican. I think they are actually Puerto Rican. But that is part of the North American unit as well. I thought about making some Mexican Wedding Cakes for dessert, but they are not actually Mexican either, and I don't really like them. Besides, as you can see from my other post, we were busy making a volcano cake. I never realized how much fun school could be. I just wish my kids would realize how good they have it, and appreciate the fun.

Final Astronomy Lesson

Oh my. We learned so much valuable information today that just proves how great God is and what a miracle is that we are here. The last two units in the book didn't seem very long, so I thought it would be a good idea to combine them into one. However, they were just jam packed with exciting information. But the best part was the lesson the kids got about working together to build a model space station. We pretty much stepped back and let them do it. Which is actually a very hard thing for me to do. And then we had a volcano cake to celebrate the end of the lesson. I am going to just leave it at that and let the pictures do the talking.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pluto - A Planet, or Not?

Today we learned about our last planet. Or did we learn about the last planet last week? A few years ago, the International Astronomical something or other changed the definition of a planet. According to them, Pluto is no longer considered a planet. But many scientists believe that it is. We discussed both sides of the case, and the general consensus among the children is that Pluto is a planet. I don't know that it really matters one way or the other what you call it. Our project for the day was making ice cream. What does ice cream have to do with astronomy, you ask. Well, not a whole lot. But it is cold just like Pluto, so there. We mixed powdered sugar, cream, and flavoring in a little bag. Then, we placed the little bag in a bigger bag filled with ice and rock salt. Shake forever, it seemed and voila, ice cream. NOT! A couple of the baggies work, a few didn't. Oh well, it was a fun project anyway. I've always wanted an ice cream maker. But I realized in buying the ingredients, that it is much cheaper to just buy a gallon of ice cream. So in the future, I think that is what I'll stick with. Next week we are going to combine the last two units. We will be learning about stars, and explorations into space. And I have a special treat planned, if I can pull it off.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Peanut Butter Round 2

Here is how to make yummy peanut butter.

Start with one cup of shelled, ROASTED peanuts.
Add 2 TBSP of oil.
I added just a smidgen of honey for sweetness, but not necessary.

The roasting is the important step that I missed before. To roast peanuts, simply put in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes (laid out flat on a baking sheet).

Have Fun!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter may seem like a strange thing to blog about, but here I am. My oldest child went to public school for Kindergarten and 1st grade. Plus he was in preschool for nearly 3 years before that. When I started teaching him for 2nd grade, there were many things he already knew. But I am also still, 2 years later, discovering things he should have learned but didn't. That is not the point of my story. The point is, that with my little one, he has never gone to any school other than here at home. As he has gone through preschool and now Kindergarten/1st grade it is like my first time teaching all over again. He has to learn things that I never thought about teaching, because his brother already knew them. Where am I going with this story? Well, the instructions in the first grade mathbook today were to make peanut butter. Huh? What does peanut butter have to do with math? Well, it has to do with measuring and following a recipe. The blessing of homeschooling is that they get to do a project like this at all. Schools would not be able to do anything of the sort due to peanut allergies. So, we head off to the produce store to buy peanuts. Then, we head home to start shelling peanuts. I am not really much of a nut person, so I don't know about all the different types of peanuts. Apparently the ones I bought, are not the best tasting ones. The boys love eating peanuts, but tasted these and spit them back out. But we trucked on anyway. The second step called for 1 tsp of vegetable oil. I figured why not make it healthier and use EVOO. I don't know if that affected the flavor or not, but it was the worst peanut butter I have ever tasted. Here's my question. Does anyone know what kind of peanut I should use to make peanut butter? Also, I've heard almond butter is really good. Does anyone have a recipe for that?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Asteroid Belt

Some scientists believe there may have at one time been a planet between Mars and Jupiter. There are some other theories as to why there are so many asteroids in between Mars and Jupiter. We will probably not know the truth in our lifetime. I am learning so much with this book. I hope the kids are learning even a fraction of what I am learning. For this lesson we did not use the book project. I got some posterboard and some paints. I had the kids make a picture of the solar system that we have learned up to this point. In other words, from the sun to Mars and the asteroid belt. It was very interesting to see 7 different interpretations of this (and one rainbow). We had one picture where the sun ended up looking like a pizza. One where the sun looked a little like a heart. The 5 and 6 year olds had to draw all the planets, they could not understand a solar system with only four planets. The 3yo was the one that made a rainbow. Some drew the sun in the middle of the paper, some drew part of the sun on the edge of the picture. Great time.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Ancient Egyptian Mummy

Mars and Olympus Mons

Olympus Mons is the solar system's largest volcano. It is located on the planet Mars. So of course the project for this week was building and erupting a volcano.

Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of it painted and erupting. But let me tell you, if your kids are bored, take them outside and let them play with baking soda and vinegar (or diet coke and mentos). The boys and girls from 3 to 12 were immensely entertained by playing in the dirt and erupting volcanoes.

The Moon and Telescopes

I am behind in posting our science units. We studied the moon a couple weeks ago, so let's see how much I remember. Hopefully the kids retain better than I do. The moon really is amazing. It is exactly the perfect size to control our tides. Without the moon's gravity to churn up the ocean, it would get stagnant and the beaches would get dirty. By accident, you say. I don't think so. After learning about the moon, the kids made their own telescopes using a paper towel tube and two magnifying glasses. We had to look up later why the image is upside down whereas regular telescopes are not. I remembered in the middle of the night, that telescopes normally use mirrors to flip the image. I still am not sure what causes it to be upside down. It must have something to do with the curve of the lenses.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Evan's First Story

The Kid That Goes to Baseball
by Evan Blunt

The boy and his dog are going to baseball. The dog has the ball. The boy has a hat on. The dog is following the boy with the baseball shirt. The boy is wearing clete baseball shoes. The boy's team is the Red Sox. The Red Sox have won all 16 of their games. Right now, they are going to the championship game. The boy plays second base. He is by his team. He will get ice cream if they win, or maybe french fries. He may get a pumpkin to make pumpkin pie. The dog will do a dance.

The End


We did the lesson on Earth this week. We had a total of 9 kiddos this week. If we keep growing, I think I'm going to have to get a license or something. But it was fun. We learned how perfectly Earth was designed for life. It is the perfect distance from the sun. It has the perfect rotation and atmosphere. It even has the perfect magnetosphere (mag neet o, like on x-men). We had to learn what a magnetosphere is. It is basically the magnetic field surrounding the earth to help protect us from the solar winds. These are the same solar winds that cause the beautiful Northern Lights. With all these perfect design elements, if even one of them were slightly off, we would not be here. We are not here by accident. We were placed here by a loving God, who knew EXACTLY what He was doing.

Our experiment this week was building a compass from a magnetized needle and a cork. Unfortunately it was hard for the floating cork to stop moving because it was so windy outside. But at least the kids know how to build a compass if they are ever lost in the middle of nowhere with a sewing needle and a cork. But I think they will also remember what a magnetosphere is. And most importantly, they learned that we are not here by accident. I will have to remember to take pictures next week.

This is how to homeschool....

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Today we learned about Venus. It is the second planet from the sun, but is the hottest planet. The thing that continues to amaze me is how, with all the evidence, people can continue to believe in the "big bang". Venus did not land where it is by accident. According to the big bang theory, everything started from one explosion. According to physics, an explosion causes everything to spin in the same direction. Venus rotates in the opposite direction of all the other planets. Venus has thousands of volcanoes covering its surface. For our experiment today we learned about lava flow by using melted butter as the lava. Our volcano was a small bowl tipped upside down onto a plate, covered with flour (rocks, debris, etc.) The kids also made a comic strip about what a day on Venus would be like. Next time, we will study our own amazing, perfectly designed planet.

Friday, March 21, 2008


This week, we shared our astronomy lesson with another family. It made the fun lesson, even more fun. We read about the planet, Mercury. Some highlights from the lesson: Even though Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, it is not the hottest planet. It has no atmosphere to keep the heat in like Venus and Earth do. The temperature ranges from 700 degrees F to -300 degrees F. Mercury is covered with craters as a result of being hit by asteroids. Of course, if it had an atmosphere, most of the asteroids would have burned up before making it to the surface. However, one thing that baffles scientists is the areas that are flat with no craters. If the universe has been around for billions of years, what are the chances there would be so much crater free area. Things that make you go hmmmmm. For our experiment, we made a model of Mercury. We had to make homemade dough (like playdoh). The recipe is in the book. We made one for each child, but we probably could have done it with half the amount. They formed their dough into a ball and then had to fill it with craters. The kids had a blast, and by the time we were done, we had 3 models of Mercury. We started with 6 kids. The boys thought it would be more fun to combine their dough and make a mess out of it. But the important part is that they learned Mercury is covered with craters. Can't wait to see how the lesson on lava goes next week.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Sun

The sun is some very amazing evidence of God's creation. We started our unit on the sun. We had to compare to scale the size of the earth to the size of the sun. I had no idea how big the sun really is. The demonstration we did was use a basketball for the sun and a peppercorn for the earth. Then we got to go test the power of the sun. We went outside with a magnifying glass and some chocolate candy bars. The goal was simply to melt the chocolate by concentrating the power of the sun through the magnifying glass. We concentrated the sun a bit, and the chocolate started to melt. We concentrated a bit more, and it started to bubble. Then, we actually managed to light the chocolate on fire. No, they were not big roaring flames, but there was smoke and little bitty flame. The boys thought that was absolutely cool. Of course, that opened up a whole can of worms to try to find other things to light on fire. Not going to happen. The magnifying glass should be used under close supervision at all times.

As I was reading ahead in the book a bit. I also learned that the sun is growing brighter and hotter each year. At the rate of increase, if you were to go back billions or even millions of years, life on earth would not have been possible. The sun would have been too dim and cold. Things that make you go hmmmm. It also does give some credence to the theory of global warming, but not in the way it is portrayed by the media.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


We just started using a new science curriculum that we are loving. It is published by Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. The book we are using is part of their "Young Explorer Series". It is called "Exploring Creation with Astronomy". We are having so much fun, so I thought I would share a little of what is making it so fun. First of all, as you can tell from the title, it is taught from a creation perspective. The book is divided into 14 lessons. Each lesson is designed to take about 2 weeks doing science 2 or 3 days per week. It is designed for ages 6-12. I personally love the immersion approach. Study one topic and learn it well before moving on to the next one. Here's a sample of what we have done so far.

Unit 1 was about the solar system in general. We spent about 2 days reading the lesson. Then we were instructed on how to build a model solar system. We did not use their directions, because I had bought my children a model solar system kit for Christms. It is just a bunch of various sized styrofoam balls with some wires to attach the planets to the sun at the appropriate length. I got it at Michaels, and it was under $10.

Unit 2 is about the sun. We just started today, and had soooo much fun. Halfway through reading the lesson, the book suggested we act out the earth's orbit. Since we don't have much space inside, we put the books down, put on our shoes and ran outside. We went over to the sand volleyball pit in our community. I liked the sand, because I could draw out the earths orbit for someone to follow. One person was the sun, and stood in the middle of the orbit. One person was the earth, and had to walk slowly around the sun while spinning. We skipped the spinning part, because that was just a little too much. Then, one person had to be the moon. This was the difficult job. The moon has to run around the earth while the earth is walking around the sun. I got dizzy just doing that. You see why spinning could get a little much.

I am super excited to see what is still to come in this book. I will try to keep posting the experiments as we do them. I know one of them involves a magnifying glass and some chocolate. I will try to group the posts together so they are easy to find.