Monday, December 26, 2011

On the First Day of Christmas...

I don't believe I learned that the 12 Days of Christmas are the days after Christmas, leading up to Epiphany (the celebration of the Wise Men who followed the star to bring gifts to the Baby King, God's Son).  If I learned about when the 12 Days of Christmas are as a child, I didn't remember.  I do remember learning about that as an adult.  I don't keep my wise men in the stable anymore.  I put them all together for the picture I took for the blog post yesterday, but they usually live across the room, until Epiphany.

For myself, growing up in a Christian home, there are things I took for granted.  I love when other Christians bring things to light for me.  Yesterday at church, our song leader pointed out the circumstances of Mary delivering baby Jesus in the stable.  Imagine all these people in Bethlehem for the census... sure they're tired and cranky... but you see a young mother, about to deliver her first baby.  He pointed out that those of us in the church, if we had been there, mother of our Savior, or not, we would have given up our room and slept in the stable ourselves.  I have given birth to a baby, I know I would have been willing to give up my room for a young mother-to-be.  I wonder how Mary felt... God would have a room for her, if He wanted her to have a room. I imagine she was still praising God, so thankful for the stable.  How does a person have such faith?  I think, that is why she was chosen.  Our Savior came into this world illegitimate and born in a barn.  The world would not take a second look at that child.  But the heavens and the Heavenly hosts proclaimed His birth... and the Wise Men sought Him out to bring Him gifts.  And me, funny child, knew this story practically from birth, and never thought how remarkable having stars and planets line up to proclaim a baby's birth and having Kings who study the stars chase after this baby to worship Him... and not even one person volunteering their room for a pregnant young woman, a baby being born in a barn... like that must happen every day back then (ha!  I don't think so).  As a child and young adult, I didn't realize that Mary and Joseph were not yet married.  I learned that when I read my daughter The Very First Christmas by Paul L. Maier.  There is a disadvantage to some of those children's Bible story books.

Our pastor showed a short video, a funny video about a living nativity.  At the end, the video was serious, the man playing "Joseph" said he could not give up his baby boy.  If he was God, the world would be in trouble.  I have thought about that before, but I still marvel at that sacrifice (something I am certain I didn't grasp as a child).  God planned all that would happen, from the beginning... He knew Jesus would be born in a stable, and die on a cross.  He knew when and where and how.  I can't imagine.  I am thankful that I am human, unable to know the future, because I don't think God made my brain and my heart capable of knowing such things.

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Traditions

My favorite Christmas tradition at my Dad's parents' house involved the manger scene.  Every year, my grandparents put up a manger scene.  Grandma would take the manger scene all apart and assign everyone a piece.  Then grandma would read the Christmas Story and when each of our pieces was named... be that piece Mary, Joseph, donkey, lamb, Shepherd, or the always wanted baby Jesus... we would go up to the manger and place our figures inside.  My Mom made sure we had a manger scene for our first Christmas.  The manger scene is the Christmas decoration that I enjoy the most.  I nearly kept our manger scene up all year last year.

The lights and ornaments on the tree are pretty.  I do enjoy turning down the lights and just enjoying the glow of the Christmas Tree.  We had a tradition when I was growing up of putting up our tree every Thanksgiving.  I am glad I started the tradition of giving my children a new ornament each year, because putting up the ornaments and remembering who gave them to us, or when we made them, or Mom and  Dad made them, was the most fun thing for me in helping set our family tree as a child.

I like taking a family picture each year.  I like seeing how everyone has grown and seeing how clothes and hair change over the years.  Here's our picture from after church this morning: 

Merry Christmas!  
Happy Birthday to Jesus (or Yeshua-"The Lord is our salvation")!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Memories

Tonight I sang an a Capella version of Away in a Manger with a special choir group at church for the Christmas Eve service.  My parents came to watch.  I got to sing Christmas hymns with them at the end of the service.  Singing with Mom and Dad reminded me of good times growing up... in church with my family, even with my Mom's friend and her kids looking at Christmas lights and singing Christmas carols.

I was talking with my sister the other day about the different Christmas experiences we had growing up.  We have not "done" Santa Claus with our children.  Our parents did not confuse us with the myth of Santa Claus.  We did watch the kid's Christmas programs with Santa Claus on tv.  I even remember sitting on Santa's lap once at the mall... I don't remember if I asked to, or what.  My brother, sister, and I always knew  that Santa Claus was not real.  We knew that the reason for Christmas was to celebrate the birth of God's Son, Jesus.  I saw kids at school who were so caught up in Santa Claus, and I remember when they found out Santa wasn't real.  I know some of them felt like they were lied to.  I know I felt like they were lied to.  I felt bad for them.

Since we've always homeschooled our children, and I like to find out the history behind things we do (I think part of that is all the Sociology classes I took in college), I looked up the history of Santa Claus for our kids.  I enjoyed teaching them about St. Nicholas and how he became the myth of Santa Claus people celebrate today.  We started a tradition of celebrating St. Nicholas Day (December 6th, in case you were wondering).  On that day, my children open their stockings.  I had began giving them a new ornament every year for our Christmas Tree, but opening a new ornament just before you take down the tree is not so much fun... so they now get their ornaments in their stockings on St. Nicholas Day.  Then they get to enjoy the ornament for a whole month!

My Dad grew up in a home that "believed" in Santa Claus.  My Mom grew up in a home that only celebrated Jesus' birth.  My Mom's family didn't always have a Christmas Tree at Christmas when she grew up (actually, I think she can count on one hand the times they did); if memory serves me correctly, they didn't usually have presents.  They both went to church and celebrated the birth of Jesus.

So, growing up a grandchild of my Dad's parents and my Mom's parents, my siblings and I (and our cousins) experienced different Christmastimes at each grandparents home.  I don't remember when I realized that we didn't get Christmas (or birthday) presents from my Mom's parents, but except for asking "why" at some point... not getting presents from my maternal grandparents didn't really matter.  My grandma was a wonderful cook, and so are my aunts.  We enjoyed a delicious meal and lots of playtime with our cousins (10, plus 3 second cousins... my mom is the youngest of 6).  I always enjoyed just visiting and being with my Mom's parents and extended family.

At my Dad's parents, when my brother, myself, and our cousins were young (my sister is 8 years younger than me) my grandma would have someone dressed as Santa Claus stop by to visit us. My brother and I had to pretend that "Santa" was the real deal.  We always got presents, but I remember being disappointed so many times... even when we thought they were getting us something we really wanted.  One year we were expecting boom boxes (portable stereo cassette radios)... they were not stereo, they were mono.  I remember an ugly doll that I named after a little girl I didn't like.  My three cousins were all boys and they were not very nice little boys (they grew up to be nice men though).  For the cousins, we drew names for presents.  My aunts took turns with me, until my sister was born, because both wanted to buy for a little girl.  One aunt usually made me things... doll dresses were my favorite (except the ones for the ugly doll, but they did fit other dolls later on); the other aunt always gave me something store bought ( I liked when she got me music boxes).  I did enjoy quiet times with my Dad's parents, and I loved playing with the toy kitchen furniture that my Great-grandpa made my grandma.  We did have some nice times playing kitchen with my cousins in the upstairs of the old farm house.

I remember visiting my great-grandparents (my dad's mom's parents... who were still living when I graduated from college!).  I had a thought today about how I was a little creeped out by my great-grandparents when I was little... I think it was because they were old.  Really, they weren't that much older than my Mom's parents, or my Dad's dad, but they were "great" grandparents.  I remember not really wanting to give them a hug and kiss goodbye.  Great-grandpa's face was scratchy many times from stubble.  As I grew up, I came to know his heart and love him so much!  I look forward to heaven, when I can hug him and kiss his scratchy cheek again (grandma, too... but without the scratchy cheek).  My great-grandma was so sweet, she even paid me to finish an afghan doing hairpin lace; she wanted me to learn that much.  She would give up her coat for someone who was cold, in fact I believe she did one time (maybe more than once that I don't know about).

I think, remembering these things that time, love, example and treasure in heaven are so much more important than gifts, trees, lights... and all those other things that appear so important to our modern world.  There are people around us who don't even know who Jesus is, people who don't know the real reason we began celebrating Christmas.  What a gift we could be giving.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me my family and your Son.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Top Ten Reasons for Homeschooling

I loved the CHENI Homeschool Group's Top Ten Reasons Why We Homeschool.  The kids in the group came up with the list.  Check it out HERE.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Homemade Magnetic Poetry

I used some sticker paper that I bought at the Dollar Tree and some 1/2 advertising magnets that we got in the mail, and made our own magnetic poetry.  I just printed out the words and punctuation on the sticker paper, applied the sticker paper to the magnets, and cut them out.  Some parts of  the magnet did not stick very well, but they were cheap and fun to make... and I can make more.  :)

I thought this would get my son interested in making sentences and reading them (worked for a few days).  I have had lots of fun making sentences, and my daughter has, too.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cake Mix Cookies

This is such a cheater recipe... cookies really don't take that long to make, but cake mix cookies are so moist!  Also, I don't freak out so much about making them on short notice.  Thomas volunteered me to make cookies for AWANA and his work this week.

I had picked up some cake mixes on sale last month (also had a coupon or two!).  I want to make up some of my own cake mixes in a jar, but I haven't gotten around to making them yet.  Amy Bayliss had a 10 day series on Canning Jar ideas... and I love the idea of making up homemade mixes in canning jars to have them handy.  I really want to eat healthier, but I grew up cooking with convenience foods... and that is a hard habit to break.  This was a Betty Crocker recipe that I altered slightly... I actually made it slightly easier & more versatile.


1 box (or canning jar) of any flavor cake mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten

6-12 ounces of chocolate chips, or other chips, or candy pieces (optional)


Mix everything together & spoon onto cookie sheet (I usually do a dozen per sheet).  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 mins.  Edges should be brown, centers will be soft.  Cool 1 minute on pan, then move from cookie sheet to wire rack.

So, here are some ideas:

One year when we visited my cousin and her family, I used vanilla (or yellow, or white) cake mix and chocolate chips for one batch, the other batch I used a chocolate cake mix and swirled milk chocolate and peanut butter morsels.

For our homeschool co-op Holiday Party (we combine Thanksgiving & Christmas) I used a vanilla cake mix, chocolate chips, and crushed peppermint.

Right now I'm making plain vanilla (I think the kids we decorate these), plain chocolate (if they were for me, I'd add chocolate chips!), spice cake and cherry chip... each separately.  The family will take the vanilla and chocolate to AWANA & the spice cake and cherry chip cookies will go to work with hubby.

I think the spice cake would go great with butterscotch morsels, or reeces pieces... and chocolate goes good with almost anything.

Misty's Taco Style Lentils

Tacos are an one of those meals that are so quick to make.  I would say they are a staple around our house.  I was delighted when I tried the recipe for Taco Style Lentils from the Hillbilly Housewife and the family all like them.  Taco Style Lentils makes tacos even more affordable and easy to keep ingredients on hand... since lentils and rice are not as perishable as meat.  The recipe from the Hillbilly Housewife includes bullion cubes, so I altered the recipe slightly, because I cannot seem to find bullion cubes that do not have MSG in them.  Here's my version of the recipe:

3/4 cup dry lentils
3/4 cup brown rice
1 package homemade taco seasoning (or other package taco seasoning)
4 cups water

Add all ingredients to a 2 quart saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cover with lid, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45-50 mins.  You can also make it in the crockpot on Low for 6 to 8 hours.  The author of the recipe had never made it on high, but the rule of thumb is usually about half the time for High, so probably 3 to 4 hours.

Serve as you would taco meat... Taco Salad, Burritos, Taco Shells.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Misty's Easy Taco Soup

This is a combination of other taco soup recipes I've tasted and a taco style lentil recipe I've used from the Hillbilly Housewife website.  I made up this recipe, along with a Simple Chili recipe, and left them simmering in crockpots for after church, when we were having another family over for lunch. I love the way the house smells when something is simmering in the crockpot.


1 lb hamburger-cooked (you could make this with turkey burger, or another can of beans)
1 can black beans
1/3 cup brown rice
1/3 cup lentils
1 can diced tomatoes
1 or 2 cups of water (depending on how soupy you want it, or how long you'll be gone)
1 package homemade taco seasoning (or other taco seasoning)

Simmer in the crockpot on Low, or on the stove top.

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips. You could also serve with baked potatoes, or corn bread.

Misty's Simple Chili

I made this Chili Recipe and my own version of Taco Soup before church one Sunday and left them simmering in two crockpots.  I also turned the oven into a slow cooker for baked potatoes; I washed them, pricked them with a fork, and wrapped them in foil.  I put them in the oven at about 250 or 300 degrees and they were so yummy! I could have pulled out another crockpot and made the potatoes inside that instead, but Ellie prefers the potatoes in the oven (Wyatt prefers them in the microwave).  I love crockpot meals for after church and other busy days.  My hubby used to say "Chili and tacos are the same thing, and I prefer tacos."  Today, he actually asked for chili, so I thought this was a good day to share this recipe.


1 lb hamburger (or turkey burger...or you wouldn't have to use meat at all)-cooked
2 cans dark red kidney beans
1 can chili ready tomatoes (or crushed tomatoes)
1 can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion (or some other diced tomatoes with peppers, etc.)
2 Tbl and 1/4 to 1/2 Tbl chili seasoning
approx 1/2 Tbl onion powder

Simmer in crockpot on Low, or on stove top.

My Favorite Homemade Taco Seasoning

My scribbled recipe card says I got this recipe from, but I'm not sure I could find the exact one again.  We had a family over from our old church that has a son with a gluten allergy.  I never thought about that being an issue with taco seasoning, but his mother mentioned it.  I looked at the packages in the store and was surprised at the ingredients.  I have become a label reader and had narrowed down my pick of seasoning to one, but that one appeared to have gluten ingredients...and I had wanted to start making my own seasoning anyway, so this seemed like a good time to try it out.  I actually tried three different recipes.  My family deemed this one the winner:

1 Tbl chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flacks (original recipe says OR 1/8 tsp cayenne)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin (original recipe says 1 & 1/2 tsp OR 1tsp)
1 tsp sea salt (I usually leave this I have some Himalayan sea salt I might try now)
1 tsp black pepper

I watched a vlog on the Grocery Shrink one day about how she does a little assembly line of her mixes and she inspired me to do the same.  So, I pull out my snack size baggies, all the seasonings and appropriate measuring utensils, and package up a bunch of these at once.  I store them a tin, ready for use!  I use one package per one pound of meat.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farmstead

We so enjoy living history that we participate in doing living history ourselves.  Not surprising that our first field trip of the new school year was to the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farmstead in Kansas.  Mahaffie had some free family nights during the summer, and we enjoyed the one on the Civil War (Civil
War reenacting is what we do).  We got some great ideas for the next Civil War Days for the kids club.  We also enjoyed our very first Stagecoach ride!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

History of American School

I read a really interesting article about the history of education in America from the Christian Law Association.  Our current system of mass education was led by Horace Mann, who fought for a government-controlled education based on the Prussian model.  Instead of allowing various religious groups to establish their own schools, the state would instill more secular beliefs in the children.  Thus began what would be today's unbelievable interpretation of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights as "separation of church and state".  Just to clarify, the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution reads:  Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  Somehow removing prayer from school sounds like a breach of our First Amendment Rights.  I was glad to see in the side notes that the Board of Education in Texas still has an understanding of our Bill of Rights.  Did you know that Texas is the only state that was an independent Republic before joining the union of the United States?  I often wonder if things got too bad in the U.S. government, if Texas would once again become an independent republic.  Also interesting, to me, is that our state governments have had the right to establish laws concerning religion.  Anyway, if you're interested in the article, you can read it by clicking here.

I also read a couple of interesting articles at Parent at the Helm.  One was about how three out of five community college entrants needs remedial help.  Many are coming into school at only a third grade reading level!  The other article was about how young children over the past 60 years have changed the way the play because of a change in toys, change in our society and environment.  The changes have been detrimental to children's cognitive and emotional development.  The conclusion was that kids need more time to be creative and imaginative in play, and we all need to be in less of a rush to be drilling them in facts for testing.

Friday, December 9, 2011

White Chicken Chili

I had a cold this week, and didn't want to pack anything in my lunch for work.  I wanted soup, but didn't want to heat it up in the microwave in the break room.  So, I had chili at Wendy's from the dollar menu.  Wound up being like $1.64 for a "small" size chili with four saltine crackers.  It was perfect.  I even felt better after I ate it.  I paid more attention to the chili when I ate it the second day (I usually work two days outside the home each week)... the chili had onions and peppers in it, along with two kinds of beans and some meat.  When I grew up, us kids didn't like onions and peppers, so chili was tomato sauce with beans, ground hamburger, and a package of Chili Seasoning.  Mom and Dad would spice theirs up in their bowls, if they decided to.  Now that we are all grown, they really spice chili up... but that's another story.  The side of the Wendy's Chili Bowl said that the chili was low-fat and high in fiber, which are great things in my book.

So, I have been in a chili mood.  I don't make chili very often, because my hubby always says "Chili is the same thing as tacos, and I prefer tacos."  The kids, of course, listen to what Dad says and are pretty uninterested.  I am thinking what a great immune booster chili could be during the winter months and how eating chili seems to be clearing up my cold.  Then I go to a different grocery store on my way home because they have a bunch of sales going on and I want to pick some of the sale food up.  I am working on a price sheet (to compare common items at the different stores around me) and I was checking out the price of canned beans... on sale for 39 cents!  At Aldi (usually the cheapest) for 55 cents.  Also, many different versions of canned diced tomatoes for 39 cents each.  They also had a huge roll of hamburger for a great price.  I couldn't resist.  I stocked up on chili fixin's.

I had cooked some chicken in the crockpot to make chicken pot pie (recipe coming soon!), but I knew I had more than enough.  I also remember I had a package of white chicken chili seasoning in my seasoning package tin (now filled with homemade season packages, but this was still leftover since I make chili so infrequently). 

Just before we left to go on a bike ride, I tossed these ingredients in the crockpot (which you could put on a stovetop just as well, but I wanted this to be hot and ready when we got home... and making the house smell good):

White Chicken Chili

1 14.5 oz can of petite diced  tomatoes with sweet onions
1 15   oz can of great northern beans
1  11 oz can of mexican style corn
2-3 cooked breast chicken pieces (could also use canned chicken, or leftovers)
1 package of white chicken chili seasoning (or your own seasoning mix)
1 cup of water

Everything is already cooked, just needs to be heated up.  I put the crockpot on low and we were gone for 5 or 6 hours.  I'm sure the chili was ready before then, but it was not over done.

I'm sure 15 or 20 minutes on the stove, or maybe even less, would also do the trick.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Parent's Pool

Wow!  I haven't written in so long.  I was looking at my drafts and realized how behind I was.  I thought this would be fun to post.  As the weather is getting very cold around here.  The kids are I were talking about how depressing having the daylight for so short a time is.  I thought posting pics of summer fun would be nice.

My parents got this pool the summer my baby sister turned one year old.  So, I was almost  nine years old.  I spent every summer there growing up.  We never took fancy vacations when I was at home.  I never ventured more than one state away in any direction until I was in college.  The pool was our vacation each year.  I learned how to care for the pool as I grew up.  Chlorinating and vacuuming the pool became my job, and I still remember how to do all that.

Mom and Dad had to replace the liner after the pool hadn't been used for a few years (after I got married).  My kids have been able to enjoy the pool for a few summers now.  I enjoy seeing them play together where my brother, sister, and I used to play.  I wish I knew where the picture of the three of us in a blow up tire was; I would have to scan that and post the picture here.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Best Things About My Birthday

1.  God gave me another day on earth with my family and friends, good health, home, work, food, sunshine, and lovely fall weather.
2.  Cards, calls, and facebook messages wishing my a happy day.  I love an excuse to catch up with people and touch base.
3.  First Day of Homeschool Co-op this year, and my first time teaching a class in over a year (I was permanent substitute last year)... and I got told by many students that my class was their favorite!
4.  Cute new skirt from the thrift store (that my son told me I should buy for myself) and cool picture my son took of me.
5.  Date with my hubby to Planet Sub (which has special newlywed significance, from when we lived near Lawrence, KS and the Yellow Submarine sub shop) and to see the movie, Courageous... which made me laugh so hard my sides hurt, and cry a whole bunch, and pray, too.
6.  A wonderful young lady to stay with the kids while we went out.
7.  Sweet hubby driving to another town to get the Bordeaux Cherry Chocolate Frozen Yogurt I wanted.
8.  Enjoying the frozen yogurt shake I made at home.
9.  Safely home.
If only I had a cape, I think I'd look like a superhero.  :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Flower by Ellie

Flower by Ellie

My sweet daughter drew this flower and I asked her if I could put it on my blog.  She loves art and has always had her own style... which usually includes multi-color.  I remember her co-op teachers would get upset with her when she was younger (and her with them) because they wanted her to color a country a certain color and she wanted everything she colored to be multi-colored.  I love the things she draws and colors.  They make me smile. :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September is the month for Family Friendly Movies and Giveaway!

There is a great new family movie: Dolphin Tale coming out.  One of the consultants on the movie is the son of Sally Clarkson, homeschool speaker, author, and pretty cool lady.  The two child stars are homeschooled, I know that is fairly common these days among child actors, but I will say that the girl is one of the exceptions to your average Hollywood child stars from the interview I saw of her where shares about your calling from God and her passion for God (she even shares about her typical day... including chores!).  I don't know about the boy.  I haven't seen an interview with him.

The dolphin story is based on a true story, from the movie makers of Blind Side (also based on an inspirational true story).  In the movie the homeschooled star, plays a homeschooled girl! Ellie saw the trailer at a movie she saw with a friend this summer.  She said she really wanted to see Dolphin Tale, and I really want to take the kids! The movie is about a dolphin who is found by a boy wrapped up in litter and hurt.  The dolphin loses his back fin/flipper and the boy makes helping the dolphin want to live and be able to swim again his mission.  I foresee the need for a box of tissues.  I also imagine there will be some cheering going on.

There is a giveaway going on at Sally Clarkson's blog.  She and her hubby are giving away four Dophin Tale packages with t-shirts, beach balls, posters, stickers, and more.

There is free curriculum to go along with the movie and also a call to homeschoolers to flood the theaters on opening day, September 23rd from the Homeschool Movie Club... along with free curriculum from other family friendly movies like Kit Kittredge and Ramona and Beezus.  I encourage you all to check out the Homeschool Movie Club HERE.   

Click HERE to see the movie trailer and HERE to see the homeschool clip that is out to see.

If you don't know about the Walmart/P&G Family movie, the newest Family Movie Night shows on tv this Saturday.  The movie is called Game Time: Tackling the Past.  You can find out more about the Family Movie Night HERE.  My family and I have enjoyed every one of the Family Movie Night movies.  I'm not sure which one is my favorite, but the last one, Who Is Simon Miller, was pretty great.

Tomorrow, a movie called Seven Days in Utopia comes out.  Looks like a pretty good family friendly movie, though I've only see the trailer.

I am SUPER excited that the makers of Facing the Giants and Fireproof have their new movie coming out September 30th (my birthday) :  Courageous!!!  Check out clips and a music video from Casting Crowns at the Courageous Movie site.    The subtitle is "Honor Begins at Home".  The movie is about being Godly fathers and husbands.  I am so excited for this movie.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Exciting Possibilities

I have owned my new digital HD video camera for almost two years (Thanksgiving...early Christmas present 2009).  Ellie held a Summer American Girls Club at our house over this summer, and one of their projects was a film of the Kirsten play:  Home Is Where The Heart Is.  One on Ellie's friends was supposed to bring her video camera for filming, but happened to be on vacation both weeks that the girls filmed.

So, I volunteered my video camera.  First I wanted to make sure I could put the videos on a dvd.  I had tried to do this multiple times.  When I went to try last month, I had an upgrade waiting for my software.  Well, I don't know how much actually changed, but since the upgrade, I've been able to figure out how to archive my videos on a dvd and how to string the videos together to make a dvd that we can watch on a dvd player!  Hurrah!  That was my goal from asking for the video camera for Christmas that year; I wanted to be able to put our home videos directly on a dvd.

Anyway, I am really excited!  There are so many possibilities with a video camera that I'm finally figuring out how to use.  The camera is so small, I could take it in my purse anytime.  I could make video blog posts (I could be a vlogger!).  I could record some of my "dittys" like Carol Barnier suggested and share them with you all.  There are so many things I could share!

P.S.-Just realized how much my daughter and I are alike... she calls her Nintendo DS "new" after seven months and I still call my video camera new after two years!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gratitude...Learning Love

Today I finished reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  I was reveling in how the Holy Spirit leads as and God links the message at the church we went to on Sunday, not our usual church, but one we were trying out... and the Fireproof Couples Study that we're going through again (with a different couple)... and Ann's blog, A Holy Experience, and her wonderful book.  I was reminded of how wonderfully God linked together my reading of The King Will Make A Way with the Ladies Bible Study that I was in to show me the simple truth, that I should have already known, that what God really wants from all of us in for us to know Him...he wants a relationship with us, and the truth I realized again today, that He will make a way.  I thought for so long that the point was that Christ died to that we might live with Him when we end this life on earth, and certainly He is with us all the time, He lives in us, but I didn't really understand how that worked... God living in us.  The beginning is our accepting the relationship, communion, if you will.

I knew that there was the great mystery, the relationship between a husband and wife that is the example on earth that we can see with these human eyes of ours to show the relationship between Christ and His Bride, the Church.  Then Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts clues me in to the gratitude and blessing that is the opening, blossoming, and understanding that relationship.  The church we went to showed me the history and the betrothal and wedding traditions that Jesus used to show us, His disciples, His students, His Love, how he was pledging His self to us.

And I felt like the light bulb finally turned on, I understood how this relationship, the oneness worked.  I didn't just want to understand how to be one.  I wanted the experience, the feeling... how Ann described the culmination of her own understanding in the last chapter of One Thousand Gifts.

I was driving the family home tonight, listening to my mix cd of Contemporary Christian music made up of downloads from my itunes gift card gift from Mother's Day.  Ellie keeps me up on new Christian songs and artists by watching the music videos on JCTV (when I wasn't much younger than her, I discovered new Christian artists the same way, but I had to stay up extra late on the weekends to catch them on our local station that aired Christian programing).  One of the songs that she tuned me into was The Invasion by Trip Lee.  So, I added that song to my downloads about a week ago. 

Thomas listens to Christian music on the radio, and introduced me to the two songs before that The Invasion on the cd, and I was thinking about the words as we listened to the songs:  Closer by Shawn McDonald "I just want to be closer to you.  I just want to be closer.  I am yours. You can have all of me, anything, everything..."

and More Like Falling In Love by Jason Gray "It's gotta be more like falling in love, than something to believe in, more like losing my heart than giving my allegiance... it's like I'm falling in love"... and I so wanted that... like I said, that feeling of closeness, oneness, falling in love.  I wanted to be able to bless God with my thankfulness.  More Like Falling In Love  reminded me of the quote on my refrigerator, "Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair." G.K. Chesteron. 

Then I listened to The Invasion as much of the song went by, because I don't know the song well enough to rap along with the lyrics, but part of the song is sung (not rapped) and I sing along with the woman singer, Jai, "I give my gratitude, Jesus.  You died to make all things new-yeah.  My knight in armour, when our world in falling.  Your love's never failing.  I find safety in your arms."  I meant every word, and I felt that feeling I was asking for.  Oh, we just have to ask.  As Thomas says, "We have a rich Daddy, who wants to bless us with gifts... and we only have to ask."

I'm still reveling in all of this... gift.  I just had to write it all down... and share.

I'm pretty sure I'll share more on One Thousand Gifts.... I wrote pages in my notebook today while the kids were at Vacation Bible School.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Abraham Lincoln and I would have been friends

Thomas brought home a bunch of info about President Lincoln, because he is considering taking the family to visit the Lincoln Library and Museum in Illinois (a family vacation/field trip).  In the information he brought home, was quote from Lincoln:

"When any church will inscribe over its altar, as its sole qualification for membership, the Savior's condensed statement of substance of both law and Gospel, 'Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself,' that church will I join with all my heart and all my soul."

The quote was a part of an article about our 16th President's faith, because he never signed on and formally joined a church, or identified himself with a certain denomination.  I firmly believe from that statement, and the many speeches and writings of Abraham Lincoln that he was a Christ follower and I will meet him in heaven someday. 

The important thing is that we are a part the the Church, the body of Christ, not that one is aligned with a certain denomination, brick and mortar, or wood structure here on earth.  None of that will last, but our relationship with God and other Christ followers will still be with us when this world is no more.  This is not to say that Lincoln (or myself) did not attend church services in a building;  his family was Baptist, and he attended Presbyterian church with his wife in both Illinois and Washington, D.C..  President Lincoln's words and example show that he was a Christian, I have no doubt.  Since President Lincoln and I apparently have similar beliefs about joining a church and man made rules, I am pretty sure, had we known each other in this life, we would have been friends.

Homemade Snow Cone Syrup

I've seen this simple homemade snow cone recipe on several sites, but I believe the spot I originally found the recipe was the Hillbilly Housewife newsletter.  The formula is so simple, even Ellie and Wyatt have the ingredients memorized.

Homemade Snow Cone Syrup

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 package unsweetened Kool-Aid (or other drink mix)

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan and boil, stirring almost constantly to make a syrup.
Then let cool and pour into your squirt container.

So easy!  I love that we don't have to have high fructose corn syrup in our snow cones.  Now I'd love to find a recipe that doesn't have any artificial flavor.  I have an idea to substitute the Kool-Aid and water for a cup of lemon juice... I think that would make All Natural Lemonade Snow Cone Syrup, but I haven't tried that yet.

We have a huge supply of Kool-Aid, because I used to buy the packages whenever they were on sale.  Even though the kids have been making at least two batches of syrup every week, we are no where near running out of Kool-Aid packets.

I don't make Kool-Aid very often anymore, because of the artificial flavor and coloring.  I especially like the Invisible Kool-Aid for the non-staining properties and lack of artificial color.  I grew up on Kool-Aid.  My "oldest" friend (because we've been friends since we were toddlers, ages 2 and 3... I'm the older one) lived right across the road. Her house smelled like Kool-Aid every time you walked in.  Her mom would never put a whole cup of sugar in, so whenever she left the kitchen, us kids (the two of us and our little brothers) would grab the sugar canister and add some more!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cow Appreciation Day

This is the second year that we have participated in Chik-fil-A's Cow Cow Appreciation Day.  Last year, I thought this was just a day for kids to dress up and get a free kids meal at Chik-fil-A.  When we showed up last year and I saw grown ups getting free Chik-fil-A, I knew I was dressing up this year.

So, here is a group photo on the front lawn:

Ellie and I are holding our tales.
Look close and you can see my ears sticking out of my head scarf.
I had to make both kids new ears, because we managed to lose the ones from last year.
Wyatt couldn't find his shirt either, so you can see his tail easier.

If you want to see the kids pics from last year, click HERE.  
FYI, you'll have to scroll down a bit, I was catching up on A LOT in one post.

4th of July

Not only is the 4th of July our nation's birthday, it's Thomas and I's wedding anniversary.
This year, we celebrated 12 years as man and wife.

We got this cool patriotic shirts for the 4th and for an upcoming family reunion.
The shirt features Psalm 33:12.
We hadn't bought matching shirts since my second trip to the homeschool conference.
Ellie has now outgrown  her "I am homeschooled and so were..." shirt.

The free concert this year was BlackHawk.

This concert is so fun in the park, because Wyatt plays on the monkey bars...

and Ellie swings.

The boys relax in our lawn chairs.

The girls hang out on the picnic blanket.

We get to see my cousins and their kids.
This is the back of Thomas's pickup with some of my cousin, Ruth's, kids (she has five kids).

Ellie is only 3 months older than Elise.

My cousin, Ruth, and I (she is older than me, but I won't say how many years).
We try to visit her family once a year.
It's always a treat when we get to see them more.

Had to take one of the boys while they were looking, too.

We always  have fireworks on our anniversary!

The Great American Drive-In Movie Theater

One of my favorite things about summer is that the Drive-In Movie Theaters are open.  I remember my very first drive-in.  I saw the movie Annie, here in the very town where I currently live.  That drive in is now built over with town homes.

Luckily, as I was lamenting the lose of drive-in's in college, a co-worker told me there was still a drive in near where she lived!  I got to take my hubby to his very first drive-in movie!

Then we found out there were actually two drive-in theaters somewhat near us.  We've been going ever since.

Drive-in theater theaters are my favorite, for many reasons:
Where we live, anyway, there is always a double feature (Friday and Saturday night are triple feature!.. if you can stay up that long.)
Kids age 12 and under are still FREE!
We get to load up our own snacks... popcorn, popsicles, chocolate... all the good stuff.
The pickup bed is pretty comfy, better than a lot of movie theater seats.
I enjoy watching the movie outdoors.

The downfall to the Drive-in theater is trying to find two good movies playing together.
We have done well so far.  In June, we saw Kung Fu Panda 2 and Rio.
In July we saw Cars 2 and Kung Fu Panda 2... but we left before Kung Fu Panda 2 was over.  We liked the movie, but Thomas thought we were all falling asleep.  I was just trying to get comfortable, because I forgot extra pillows... again!  And Mommy is always the one who goes without.
Wyatt with our Burts Bees Bug Spray.

Ellie with our Ghiradelli Vanilla White Chocolate.

Daddy with popcorn, Wyatt with the popcorn and bug spray, Ellie still with chocolate.

Me, being dramatic, because I had to set up the pick up bed for everyone.

My "Hurray! We're at the Drive-in."

Look to the right and you can see the old speakers hanging on the pick bed side.
The family looks comfy!

Should always carry a tripod.... ha, ha!