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Archive for August, 2006

Still Sporadic

I continue to be the sporadic blogger.

Everyone knows that the key to setting a routine is to start strong and never deviate from the plan for two or three weeks.  So far, so good, thus my apparent lack of blogging.  My older three went back to public school last Thursday and Anna and I hit the books.  Hard.

For the most part, I’ve always been what some call a “classical” homeschooler.  Never one to buy one of those “packaged curriculums”, I’ve always prided myself in the fact that I researched the full array of curriculums offered for each subject.   And of course, I wanted my children to learn from “real, living books” rather than from the hum-drum workbook/textbook approach.

But Anna wasn’t taking to it last year like the others had and I decided that a change was in order. I broke down and did what I said I would never do:  I ordered nearly everything in the Rod and Staff 2nd grade package.  With the exception of Saxon Math and Explode the Code phonics workbooks, my 8 year old is being schooled with “a package” this year and it’s going great.

But it takes longer.  Or  at least it seems like it does.  Maybe it’s just 2nd grade.  I know I used to homeschool my two older kids with two babies underfoot, but I don’t remember it being this hard.  Every day at 8am, as soon as the older three tumble down the stairs and head to school, Anna and I start piano practice.  She hasn’t quite gotten to the point where she can practice independently, and so I sit by her side on the bench, tapping out rhythms and singing along as she plays.  We’ve also been managing to get a math lesson in every morning  before baby is ready to hit the ground running.    After  math, I open baby’s bedroom door and say, “Good morning, Jane!”  She always replies, “Hi, Hi, Hi!”  Jane seems to know only two speeds:  “on” and “off.”  A baby of superlatives, she says all words in groups of threes.  “Where’s your ears, Jane?”  “Ears, ears, ears!” she replies.  “Where’s your nose?”  “Nose, nose, nose!”  She doesn’t slow down all morning.  So, in between explaining to Anna the difference between a declarative sentence and an interrogative sentence, I’m looking for new ways to distract baby.    “Here Jane, colors!”  “Look Jane, Legos!”  “Peeeeeeeeeep eye, Jane!”  By noon, I’m exhausted.

It would be easier to send Anna on to school with the others; but we’re convinced that Anna is thriving spiritually here at home and so I press on.

No one ever said that the easier thing would be the better thing– now, did they?

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  ~Galatians 2:20

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Bible Saturated

Today I was privileged to attend a mini-conference on teaching children’s Sunday School at our church.  We bought the DVD of the Bethlehem Baptist’s Children’s Conference and viewed them together in our fellowship hall.  Oh, what a heart for God those people have.  I was so inspired both as a Sunday School teacher and as a parent to be more Bible-saturated.  Pastor David Michael used an object lesson (since all good children’s teachers use object lessons, right?)  He took a sponge and dipped it in a pail of water.   As he raised it out of the bucket, it was so saturated with water that it was dripping back into the bucket.  He said, "This is how our lives should be–so saturated with the Word of God that we can’t help but ooze and drip with it."

He left us with this Word: 

Weak doctrine = Weak faith = Weak Christians

So read the Word, sisters.  Read it, memorize it, talk about it, think about it, obey it.

Drip with it.

Sponge

Give ear, O my people, to my law; which we have heard and known…And our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.   ~Psalm 78:3-4

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Dear College Republicans, National Federation of Republican Women, Concerned Women of America and–last but not least–the National Republican Women:

I want to thank EACH ONE OF YOU for your weekly calls.  Sometimes I start to feel lonely and like I have no friends and then the phone rings–usually while my family is sitting down for supper–and it’s you.   Again.

I don’t know if you’re calling just because you like to hear my voice or if it’s because you think I’m going to eventually crack under the pressure.  Let me assure you–although I am a Republican who has gone public  on her stand against abortion and even sport a "It’s a Child not a Choice" bumper sticker on the back of her mama-of-five-mini-van–I will never give you any money.  I won’t give you $100, $75 or even a "small gift" of $50.  Heck, I’m not going to give you $10.  Not. Ever.  You see, my husband and I stand in the small group (4%) of Americans who actually tithe their income.  By tithe, I don’t mean to imply that we occasionally throw a twenty in the offering plate.  We really, honest-to-goodness, give 10 percent of everything my husband brings home and live on the other 90%.  My husband and I are also a part of another minority:  the one-income home.   So, while I support George Bush and I certainly support our troops, you’ll have to look elsewhere for your money.

But if you want to keep calling me, well, OK.  I can blawg away while you chatter away.  It’s no skin off my nose. 

Or you could stop calling…

Please?

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Summer’s Over

The new clothes are set out; pencils, markers, and Kleenex boxes are stuffed in backpacks; and the pancake batter is sitting in the Kitchen Aid  ready to be whipped up in the morning.   The house is unusually quiet for 9:30pm because everyone is already in bed!

Bye summer.  We had fun with you this year.

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Arm_and_hammer

I shared my red beans and rice recipe a while back–but now that Works for Me Wednesday is a weekly event, I’ll share all of my tricks about this little dish.

The truth is, I can really make a mean dish of Cajun red beans and rice.  We absolutely love this stuff and eat it about twice a month along with a huge side of southern cornbread.  (No sugary, Yankee cornbread, PUL-leeeze!!)  Besides being super yummy, it’s super cheap and frugal mamas everywhere should learn to incorporate this southern staple into their menu repertoire.

The only problem with beans is, well you know, the gas…  You can buy a product called Beano, but it’s a little pricey and you have to embarrass your guests by telling them it’s available and asking them to put a little droplet on their first spoonful.

  Uh, no. 

OR, you can do this little trick that really WORKS FOR ME.

1.  Soak beans the night before in a stock pot of water and dump about 3 or 4 tablespoons of baking soda in the water.

2.  The next morning, pour beans in colander and RINSE THOROUGHLY.

3.  Place beans in crock pot or whatever it is you cook them and cover with fresh water.   Voila!  No gas.

If you forget to soak the beans  the night before, don’t panic.  Just put your beans and baking soda on to boil for 10 minutes.  Then cover and let them sit for an hour.   Follow the rest of my directions above.

Here’s the recipe, in case you’re hungry now.  🙂

———————————————————————————————–

MICHELLE’S FAMOUS RED BEAN AND RICE RECIPE

1 bag Red Beans (NOT pinto beans–NOT Kidney beans)  I use 2 bags for our family.

-Soak the beans overnight.  Put a few tablespoons of baking soda into the water.
-Rinse the beans the next morning and put them in the crock pot.
-Fill the crock pot to the top with fresh water.

Spices:

1.  CREOLE SEASONING (Zatarain’s or Tony Chacere’s)–(I dump quite a bit of this in–  maybe *12 shakes from my big 17 oz shaker jar of Creole.)

2.  GARLIC POWDER–(I dump quite a bit of this in as well, but not as much as the Creole.  Maybe *6 shakes from a regular sized Garlic Powder jar.)

3.  CUMIN POWDER–Only *two little
shakes

4. SALT–To taste. Go easy on the salt. You can always go back and add
salt, but once you use too much, the dish is briny and ruined. Cook on
high all day long.

30-60 minutes before serving, add a chopped up Polish Kielbasa Sausage (These
cost between $2.50 – $3.00.) If I’m leaving the house and my crock pot
behind for the day, I will chop the sausage up (in little pieces–
slice the sausage in half, slice in half again and then in pieces) and
leave in a Tupperware in the fridge. Then, when I get home, I will
microwave the sausage pieces for a few minutes before dumping them in
my bean pot.

30-60 minutes before serving, add 1-2 cups of COOKED white rice.

Serve with hot, buttery Cornbread
made from Martha White buttermilk, self-Rising, enriched white
corn-meal mix. Of course, this tastes best if baked in an iron-skillet.
The next best thing would be in a Pampered Chef stoneware casserole
dish. I always make 2 pans of cornbread for our family.

Enjoy!

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Sporadic Blogger

Cole’s been so swamped with doctoral work this summer that he really didn’t get a summer.  While the kids and I have spent many an afternoon at the pool or the library, he was either reading (some 3,000 pages) or writing (some 100 pages) in between all of the regular, standard duties of a pastor who has no other staff-members  but shepherds a church that could use two or three!   This last Wednesday over lunch, he looked at me and said, "Usually at the end of a class, I feel that release that comes with knowing it’s over; but this time is different because my last seminar was all about how to BEGIN the dissertation.  I feel like I’ve been running on high for three months now and I need to turn it off but somehow I can’t seem to do it.  I have nothing left to give this Sunday in the pulpit."

He thought that perhaps he needed to get away.

I told him that if he could find a preacher, I could book a hotel and pack the bags.  I really didn’t think he would do it.  In our entire fifteen years together, we have never taken a "spur of the moment" weekend trip.  When you only get three Sundays a year to vacation with, you don’t play fast and loose with ’em.   No, you don’t.

So you can imagine how my jaw nearly fell to the floor when he called me an hour later from the office and said, "I’ve got a preacher."  I kicked it in high gear, booked a hotel  and packed the bags.  We headed out late Thursday night after band camp was over and arrived in the hometown of famous author Mark Twain sometime around 1am.

The next morning we headed out to explore all that Hannibal, Missouri has to offer.  We walked through the caves that Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn tromped around in.  We rode a riverboat down the Mississippi, saw Mark Twain’s boyhood home and the home of his childhood sweetheart Laura Hawkins (aka Becky Thatcher.)  We ate a LOT of good food including catfish (Cole’s favorite) and fudge (mine.)  Basically, I guess you could just say that we  mosied around and didn’t get in a rush for an  three entire days.   Wonderful!

Surprisingly, the kids loved all the historical stuff–especially my older two who had both read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.   The cave was voted as coolest thing we did while the riverboat wasn’t as fun as we had anticipated because of the heat and lack of breeze.  (Riverboats go sloooooowwwwww, in case you didn’t know.)  We made it back to our town just in time for the church’s annual back to school picnic.  Our only regret was that we couldn’t stay "just one more day."

Today Cole has spent the entire day researching for the disseration in hopes of having a proposal to turn in by tomorrow.  I pray that he’s having good success and and that he’ll be encouraged by the time the library closes at 10pm.  In the meanwhile, I’m trying to enjoy the last three days of summer before school starts on Thursday.  I know I’ll have a lot more peace and quiet once Thursday comes, but I always dread it a little.  I just love having them all at home with me, y’know?  Even when they’re driving me nuts

So, if you’ve been wondering why I’ve been so sporadic on the blog–well, I’m just trying to eek what little bit of summer I have left with the kids.  I’d say that I’ll be more consistent next week, but next week I’ll be homeschooling a 2nd grader and entertaining Toilet Baby in between lessons.

But I’ll still be around and eventually I’ll find my groove with all of the fall activities and, well, you know… STUFF.

More later… 

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