Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thank you God, for pictures!

I'm so thankful!  When I'd all but given up on recovering my lost pictures, my dear hubby tried the memory stick in the computer again and got it to work long enough to transfer the pictures to the desktop.  While he left it transferring, the memory stick died again!  But not before he got all my missing pictures back for me.  I knew I was waiting too long to try to get something done, but I hadn't given up hope.  I didn't want to send the disk away somewhere and the only "local" place was an hour away... in not the neighborhood you want to go to by yourself, or with children.  Anyway, I kept putting it off, and I'm glad I did.  :)  Thank you, God, for letting me have my pictures back.

Here are a couple of birthday pictures that I was really sad to be missing:
Poor Ellie, I couldn't find the birthday candles (they were in the trunk of my car from when I'd celebrated birthdays in the park with my friends in September... I found them when I cleaned out the trunk) and we didn't have a 9, so Ellie held the 6 upside down before we lit it.  Oh, that is a sad moment in motherhood.

Wyatt birthday cupcake tower/cake in New Mexico, at his cousins house, because his birthday is the same week as Thanksgiving.  He hated that haircut.  The hair dresser messed up and cut it shorted then the guys asked for.

It's My Birthday!

Thirty-three must be a magic year. My brother called to "tell me I was old".  Honestly, I can't remember the last time my brother wished me a Happy Birthday, so I will take it!  My sister and her three girls came to hang out with me this afternoon.  I managed to catch almost all my birthday calls.  My sister took some pictures of me.  I have been wanting to update my blog picture, since I've had new glasses for a year now.  I can't decide which picture I like...or if I want to wait and take one closer to the blog anniversary. 

I told my sister that I look like I have a double chin in some of them.  She said, no you don't.  So, I'm being brave and posting them.  While she was taking pictures, she was looking through the camera and at one moment she said, "You look like Mom."  Which I take as a compliment, I've always thought my mom was pretty.  It's funny though sometimes, when you look in the mirror and see your mother staring back at you. 

Last night was parent night at AWANA and I got to go.  I was sitting on a chair with Ellie and one of the girls at  her table said, "Is that your mom?  I thought she was your sister!".  I told Ellie that people used to say that to me and my Mom all the time, actually sometimes they still do.

So these are my birthday pictures.  Should I use one of these for my profile picture?  Which one?

I like how green my eyes look in this one.  The color is truer, but I'm thinking I should have adjusted it, because I look paler than I do in real life.

This looks like my skin tone.  This is similar to the one Ellie took of my for my profile picture almost 2 years ago.  Only the lighting is better and I still think that I look like I have double chin.  :(

The coloring is kind off crazy in this one with the sun shining on me and  bit of shadow.  Changing my shirt to a pink color might have affected that too.  I like my chin in this one.  :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Treaure Hunt

This kids needed some motivation today and I needed to see some better attitudes with their schoolwork.  I still have most of my old toys, well preserved.  I didn't get a lot of stuff (at least not compared to some kids), but my parents taught me to take good care of my stuff.  Anyway, they like my old toys.  So, we made a bargain.  Ellie could have one of my old Cabbage Patch Dolls and Wyatt could have three of my old Hot Wheels.  Not the best bargain on original cost, but they were both happy.  I was happy, too; I saw instant attitude changes.

The Cabbage Patch Dolls that I was going to show Ellie were in a plastic container in our storage room in the basement.  It took me a while to remember where I'd put them.  I have a lot of stuff in there!  Especially since I am still painting the basement and I keep shoveling things in there to get them out of the way.  (I so need to concentrate and eliminate, as my Aunt June would say, when I get done with the painting projects.)  Wyatt got my Russian Cabbage Patch Doll, because he had been promised one of my boy dolls when I gave Ellie my My Child doll.  So, his deal was a little sweeter.  Well, in finding the doll container, I found an identical container that held some of my tiny doll like miniature Strawberry Shortcake Baby, some of my paper dolls, coloring books, folders.

The real exciting finds were in my books.  I found the Young Writers book from my elementary school.  I was "published" in it in 5th grade.  It was so exciting to be chosen for the book.  It's just a bunch of facsimiles (remember those?!) bound together with a comb binder, like the "books" I make for my kids at home, but I'm so excited I found my winning story!  I thought it had been thrown away over the years, lost forever.  I also found a SuperMag that my neighbor (about 5 years older than me) had given me.  I thought I'd gotten rid of all of them.  Wyatt found one at a thrift store and was so excited to ad this one to his collection. I found my Helen Keller book that I had just about convinced myself was not mine, but a library book, because I couldn't find it here or at my mom & dad's house (or that it was just lost forever, too... I should've known they were together!).  I found all those fun books we pulled out and stapled together in elementary school.  I can't wait for the kids to read them.  I found a stack of Wee Wisdom Children's magazines that I didn't even remember keeping and a couple other books that I don't remember reading.  Books are definitely treasure to me.  My Bible is the best treasure, but these other books are pretty special, like finding old friends.

Well, I'm off to read my kids The Not So Wonderful Step Sister by Me in the 5th grade!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Making Your Home A Haven: Fall Challenge

Okay, hopefully I am doing this right.  Almost two years into this blogging thing and I have still not figured everything out.  Courtney over at Women Living Well  has set out a Fall Challenge.  Each week there is something new to do to make your home a haven.  You can check out the list and instructions to join the challenge over at Courtney's site, but I'll give a short explanation here.

Week 1 is a candle lit everyday and a prayer for peace in your home every time you look at the candle.  Week 2 adds soft music and remembering to use peaceful words and have peaceful relationships.
Week 3 adds cleaning up clutter and thinking about what clutters up your spiritual life.
Week 4 adds tender moments with your family, ah, cuddles!
Week 5 (final week)  adds pleasant aromas from the kitchen.

The Bible verse for the challenge is John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Light Bulb Moment

Okay, I'm a bad girl...staying up past my bedtime.  I'm going to be a tired girl tomorrow.  But I'm downloading an audio book, chapter by chapter.  While I'm doing that, I'm cleaning up my e-mail.

I opened a new homeschool e-mail that I started getting and it had the verse that I taught my Sunday School class this last Sunday, which is Deuteronomy 6:5 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."  And low and behold, had I not connected that the verse directly following that is the verse I helped pick as our verse for the homeschool support group that my friend, Colleen, and I founded:  Deuteronomy 6:6-7 "These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons (and daughters) and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."

I know I've read both sets of verses by themselves many times.  I'm sure I've read them together a couple of times.  But seeing them today, in that e-mail newsletter, hit me like a ton of bricks.  That is the number one, most important thing to be teaching my children:  to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and strength.  Which is a pretty tall order when you find out what loving really is.  I shared with the ladies in my Bible Study a while back about how some people call the Bible the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.  Well, how much more basic can we get, God tells us exactly what we need to be teaching our children day in and day out.  If we fulfill that order, I think we'll be doing pretty good.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Won!

I'm so excited!   I sat down to look at my e-mail, and I won a free ticket to the latest A Woman Inspired Conference:  Beauty and Wellness from Amy Bayliss.  I went a little further in my e-mail and I won the A Tale of Two Kingdoms book contest from The Old Schoolhouse magazine.

Thank you, God!  I know winning is not just luck.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Menu Planning

Recently, a friend was asking for tips on menu planning.  Well, I thought I'd share on my blog what I shared with her.  At one time, I planned my menu on "theme nights".  I had Italian, Mexican, Seafood, Vegetarian, Soup and Sandwich, then Fried Chicken or something like that for Sunday or whatever day on the weekend was my day off.

I also sent her some links to check out.  A recent post on Women Living Well was also on menu planning, very similar to the way I used to menu plan.  A post of the Heart of the Matter shares a book review, but includes some good ideas for menu planning.  If you sign up for Molly Green's Econobuster's E-newsletter, you get a free Menu Planning e-book!  Home Made Simple had a good article for beginners menu planning.

I also shared some time friendly and kid-friendly recipe sites.  I may have shared this one before, but I love the Crockpot365 site.  She has been on Rachel Ray, and also had a cook book published.  Her recipes are usually those that you throw everything in the pot and let it cook.  Those are the kind of crock pot recipes I like. She also converts regular recipes to crock pot recipes.  She reviews the recipe and has her own kids try them.  She really inspired me to use my crock pot more!  All Recipes is another good site; you can search under "kid- friendly".  One of my favorite sites is Kraft, for family friendly recipes!

I really like menu planning pages.  You can always use a piece of paper, but a cute menu planning page is a lot of fun to use.  Donna Young has some cute ones.  The Homeschooling Helper has a very practical one.  My favorite ones are at the Organized Home, including my very favorite one that is a menu planner and a shopping list all in one.

The way I do menu planning right now,  Thomas and I usually sit down together on Sunday after lunch and plan out his meals (because I fix his lunch stuff and  have it in the fridge to put in his lunch box in the morning).  Then, just recently, the kids & I have started to sit down (when Daddy's done) and plan our meals during the week.  I usually let everyone take a turn picking an evening meal.  Friday night or Sunday is usually a special meal, because I have more time to cook.  Wednesday night is a crock pot meal.  

Thomas' favorite crock pot meal is what we call "Crock pot Chicken".  The meal is so simple.  In the morning, I put frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a 3 quart crock pot with two cans of cream of mushroom soup (no water) on low (they usually cook between 6 and 8 hours.  In a 4 quart crock pot I put potatoes, like bake potatoes; I got that recipe from the Crockpot365.  Then, in a 2 quart crock pot, I put two regular sized cans of green beans with two tablespoons of butter on high.  

I also like to make those on Sunday, so we can have lunch ready as soon as we get home.  One Sunday, I did frozen meatballs and sauce in a crock pot while we were at church, and then cooked spaghetti and garlic bread (because those take under 10 minutes) when we got home.  We had a salad on the side.  That was a great idea!  No one was starving by the time we got lunch on the table.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tuna Patties

This is my mom's recipe, but I'm becoming known for it.  Tuna patties are on the top ten of my comfort foods.  Mom's been making them for as long as I can remember.  The especially cool think about making tuna patties, as opposed to salmon patties, is that you don't have to worry as much about the bones.

Ingredients Needed:

1-5 ounce can of chunk like tuna (or whatever kind you like, with or without oil)
1/2 bag of saltine crackers
1 egg

*I usually double this, but the picture above is single batch as in the recipe.

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  Use your hands to form into patties and fry on each side like hamburgers in a skillet.  You may need to add a little oil to the skillet, especially if your can of tuna does not have oil in it.  A non-stick skillet will help.  I use cast iron and I'm finally getting used the different skillet...I don't burn the tuna patties most of the time now.  :)  The above picture is not with the cast iron skillet, because it was still full of oil from making funnel cakes.

Tuna patties usually accompany a box of Annie's All Natural Shells and Cheese and a pan of green beans with a little butter.  Sometimes the kids and I make them with Shells and Tomato Juice.

This is a cheap meal and also pretty healthy.  Tuna is a great way to get some omega 3s.  Wyatt and I like to eat these cold, too.  I like make sandwiches out of them sometimes.

Shells and Tomato Juice

This is another recipe of my moms.  I don't remember her making shells and tomato juice very much when I was growing up, but the kids and I make this often.  Thomas doesn't care for it, so we usually make it for lunch, when he's not here.

Ingredients Needed:
1-12 ounce box shell pasta
(we like Hodgsen Mills Whole Wheat Whole Grain Medium Pasta...they're more like a small in other brands)
1-46 ounce can of tomato juice
2 Tbsp butter
about 1/4 -1/2 milk (I don't measure this, I just pour some in till it looks creamy)
pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions, but use the least amount of time.  Drain.  Return to pot and add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir and cook till butter is melted.

If you like tomato soup, you will like this.  Sometimes we eat this all by itself.  Sometimes we make green beans to go with it.  Other times we make grilled cheese sandwiches.  I like to have shells and tomato juice with black eyed peas.  This is a very versatile and budget friendly dish.

Funnel Cakes

This is my recipe for Funnel Cakes from Middle School.  The recipe doesn't say how many it makes, but I'll tell you, it makes A LOT.  I think I got ten or twelve out of the batch I made the other night.  I made less than half, then save the batter and made the rest today.

Ingredients needed:
1 and 1/3 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder

1 egg
2/3 cup milk (or more if batter is too thick...I definitely needed more)

Sift dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Mix egg and milk together and add to the dry ingredients. Beat until smooth.  Hold a finger over the bottom of a funnel, pour in some batter, remove finger and let batter drop in a spiral motion into 1 inch of hot fat (or oil).  Fry until golden brown, turning once.  Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve HOT.

They would also be good with cinnamon and sugar...wish I would have thought of that earlier today.  Ellie wanted to put butter and syrup on them.  I told her she could.  Good stuff.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Do You Like Being Homeschooled?

I always find the children amusing when the cashier at Wal-mart asks about school.  They are usually quick to reply that they are homeschooled.  The latest time, they got asked, "Do you like being homeschooled?"  This is almost always interesting, because I never know exactly what my children will say.  This time, Ellie said "Yes!" and Wyatt said "Kind of."  That just reminded me of the little "survey" at the end of the stories on  They always ask "Did you like this story?" and the choices are "Yes", "Kind of", and "Not Really."  Phew, I'm glad neither one of them gave me a not really.

Then today, some friends stopped by and Ellie told me later that the children did not know what a typewriter was called.  They called the typewriter "that thing that people used before computers."  Ellie said, "I'm so glad that I'm homeschooled, and I know what a typewriter is called."  Ellie recently found a really funny/cute youtube video done by a homeschooled girl who is now grown up, married, and recently had a baby.  It's called Homeschooled????.  I think both of my kids are pretty happy being homeschooled.

They both got pen pals this summer.  There was a little form on the back of their Clubhouse magazines to send in for a pen pal.  Ellie got hers back first.  Her pen pal is girl just 20 days younger than her from Ohio.  She was thrilled and so was her new pen pal.  They were fast friends and writing to each other every week, sometimes twice a week for a while this summer.  (Note:  This is another way that this homeschool teacher turns everything into a school lesson... writing to pen pals is writing/handwriting practice!  And the kids thought I was excited because they were getting pen pals.  That was not the half of my being excited that they wanted pen pals.... )  Wyatt is a little young for the Clubhouse magazine suggested ages 8-12.  Technically, he should still be reading Clubhouse, Jr., for ages 3-7 (for another 2 months).  So, when Wyatt didn't get a pen pal as quickly as his sister, I was thinking it might be a while before they found someone close to his age who was looking for a pen pal.  Well, a month or two later, he got his pen pal.  His pen pal is a boy about two months younger than him from Arizona.  Wyatt sent the first letter, and he didn't hear anything back for about a month!  I was getting worried that he would not hear back at all.  When Wyatt's pen pal wrote back he told Wyatt that he was homeschooled, and asked if Wyatt was.  Oh, there was so much excitement in my kitchen.  Wyatt was celebration hollering and Ellie was as much, or almost as much, excited as her brother that his pen pal is homeschooled.  Ellie and her pen pal have not discussed school yet.  Though Ellie is now ready to ask her.  They've been too busy discussing what they like.  They both live in the country and their favorite color is green.

I'm so thankful to God for sending them just the right pen pals.  I'm also thankful that my children appreciate being homeschooled.  I'm thankful for the freedom, the right, and the privilege to homeschool my children.