August 28, 2008

Days of Food :: 13

Some favorite cookbooks today!

I really like books...all kinds, especially those with pictures of the finished product of a great recipe. I've been known to whittle away time at Barnes n Nobles or Borders just browsing and reading through cookbooks while sipping a spiced tazo chai latte!

Even though I enjoy them, there are not many cookbooks on my shelf {sigh}. A few of my favorites through the years and that don't get tossed into a give-away box:

Simply in Season is part of a World Community Cookbook series. I also own a few others in the series.

Extending the Table--I love this one! Recipes from Botswana, Poland, Mexico, the Phillipines and many other countries. The intriguing part are also the stories & quotes from around the world. I simply like reading this cookbook {and guess what, it has very few pictures & none of the actual recipes--and I still think it's great.}

For children:
We found this book at a yard sale and what fun it is! Pretend Soup is a great early cookbook for preschoolers and is tailor-made for this age group. Easy to follow pictures (illustrated, not photos) of each step.
Now it's counterpart Honest Pretzels, for ages 8 & up, is on our wish list.
And, if you need a reference on when to feed what foods to an infant/toddler and making baby food, let me recommend the Super Baby Food book. I still use info out of this one.
And there are the faithfuls like Betty Crocker, Southern Living annuals, Martha Stewarts, etc. I just keep checking those out of the library. I'd love to hear any cookbook favorites of yours!


Link of the Week

There are some great phonics and reading activites...and a FREE week-by-week reading program for K and 1st! Includes resources to download such as picture cards and sight words; and several 'how-to' videos. Click on 'Teach the Program' to get started.

Nature Exploration

Hi everyone! Jordyn reporting here...
I LOVE being outside and enjoy escaping out into the sunshine. Why be indoors?, ugh! So in our first week of official school, we've done a lot out of doors. Listening to Mom read, writing, just playing or looking for treasures for our nature table.
This week I found a cicada shell and had SO much fun scaring my sister with it!! It was the best! Which, of course, is not its purpose as Mom pointed out. Along with learning that my sister does not like bug-looking things, Mom showed me pictures of how cicadas shed their shell. I learned a new vocabulary word (molting) and found out that other animals like birds and snakes molt too!
Hmmm, I wonder if I can find a snake skin to use on my dear sister....


August 25, 2008

The Beginning

Of another school year! Somehow, we ended up taking more of a break from academics than was originally intended. Maybe the girls being involved in King and I had something to do with it; but oh well, that endeavour was incredibly educational!

We're back to dusting off the books and picking up where we left off or moving forward on new material altogether. We began it all by sitting a spell in the sunlight and reading His Word....

It's going to be a wonderful year! {we'll be back to blogging a bit more regularly too.}

August 22, 2008

Being Present

One very beneficial aspect of my time away was the practice of being present. Of keeping to the moment at hand and avoiding the trap of mentally staying one step ahead. You know how that goes :: writing a to-do list as breakfast is being eaten :: feeding the children lunch while planning for dinner :: keeping an eye on dinner cooking while making a phone call and thinking through the activities of the evening. And on and on the story goes.

There is not judgment in my voicing the path of multi-tasking. Frankly, I believe it is often necessary! But the pitfall is that we can find ourselves living in this mode most of the time and applying it to all aspects of our lives.

Such as to our relationships.

For example, have you given thought to the effort that it takes to listen? To really set aside all other mental activity and to fill our minds and hearts with the words being spoken by the one sharing them? To be present for them and truly demonstrating care, concern or whatever support may be needed?

As I ponder my own ability to do this well, there is a flood of thankfulness for those who bless me with ardent, gracious attention---even this week. When words did not merely fall from my lips & to the ground, but instead were absorbed by ones who genuinely listened. Who were being present on my behalf.

Oh, gratitude, gratitude....thanking HIM for such friends.

I'll be back to the food theme soon. May your weekend be enjoyable!


August 15, 2008

Home Again

gratitude for...
117. peace within this soul

118. glorious and indescribable beauty

119. whispers of grace, reminders of His presence

120. praise for the written Word! access to the richness of it all, a reminder that there is no need to hide or be afraid

121. excellent weather, although I'm happy to return to less humidity!

122. TIME. to read, to roam, to do nothing or close to it. a wonderful, wonderful gift. worth the effort to make it happen.


August 8, 2008


I'm heading off for a few days...


to rest.

Per my husband's initiation, each August I am to take a few days of personal retreat for the purpose of physical rest and spiritual rejuvenation. Last year when he began this tradition, I must admit that my response was resistance at first. Could I leave it all and pause? Wasn't there work to do?

Yes, there is always plenty of 'work' to do. Our lives are full with caring for the children, ministry responsibilities, caring for our own covenant relationship, activities, people to visit, places to be...oh, the list goes on! While our daily and weekly rhythm of family life is far from chaotic or haphazard, it is full.

And that fullness often takes a toll. A good friend once shared with me a very wise tip :: there is good stress {such as planning graduation celebrations for my daughter} and bad stress {we all understand this kind}, but it's all stress to our minds and bodies. Simple and true. So while I enjoy my life and the intricate design of how it all fits and works together :: and while I've thoroughly been blessed by the activities of the last several months, our homeschooling year, and our opportunity to serve in the church...I realize the wisdom of my protector when he commands me to rest.

Yes, commands! It's not an option he says :: this going away and taking in the quiet. And truly, gratitude rises up within me for this man who understands my need and provides, even when I question.

So, I submit and away I go! Journal, a few good books including the Word, a few clothing essentials and an attitude of expectancy. Blessings to each of you and I'll be back in this space after returning and then reconnecting with my family.


Days of Food :: 12

Pecan Salad
about 1 cup pecans, chopped if you prefer
1 pkg. ramen noodles, broken up into small pieces (throw out the spice package!)
2 TBsp butter
saute, stirring often, all three until noodles have browned a little. cool on paper towels
romaine lettuce & other spring lettuces
broccoli, coarsely chopped (my pic above has no broccoli as we didn't have any that day)
dried cranberries
Layer salad--lettuce, broccoli, noodles & pecans mix
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar or use sugar substitute
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1-1/2 tsp soy sauce
mix well; pour over salad right before serving as the dressing will wilt the salad fairly quickly.


August 6, 2008

Our 2008-2009 School Year

We have put much time, thought, prayer and conversation into deciding what would be best for the children and for our family this upcoming school year. Trying to take into consideration each child's abilities and needs and yet wanting to keep focused on the values our family holds dear.

One blog post significantly impacted our decisions and helped to shape how we wanted to include each subject into living life. Our homeschool journey is about academics, yes...but also much more about life :: relationships, growing together as a family, and the like. Our family includes Dad, Mom, Jackie (college freshman living at home & helping out), Janelle (5th), Jordyn (K), Josiah (pre-preschooler, age 2.5)

So, in the spirit of the post mentioned, with titles borrowed by permission from the gifted writer Ann, our school year will include:

Listening ~ a way of the Spirit
daily :: reading aloud to all children-the New Testament using the Narrated Bible, continue with catechism for boys and girls, scripture memorization, praise, worship, prayer...listening to His Spirit

Blessings Every Day :: Josiah's favorite! One of the best devotionals for young children we've used.

often :: excerpts from Trial & Triumph for understanding of our Christian heritage, Kay Arthur Bible studies for kids--book of John (Janelle, 5th grade)

Love ~ a way of sacrificing
the foundation of everyday family life, learning to love one another :: extending grace, mercy, forgiveness. encouragement will be towards finding ways to demonstrate that love to siblings, parents, spouse to spouse, parents to children

Labor ~ a way of serving
the ability to work is a gift and we do not shirk away from household chores. the children each have a list of responsibilities; summer time & early in the school year is usually a time for training on new chores. this year the older children will train the younger as each is taking on a bit more & moving 'up' in their ability to work. we do manual work in small chunks & responsibilities are separated into morning and then evening chores.

as a family we will also seek to serve others :: making meals, volunteering, etc. as needs arise in our community circles

Loveliness ~ a way of seeing (poetry, nature, music, art) ~ training eyes and ears to take in the beauty of the created & to be in awe of the Creator and Giver

Poetry Patterns for the 5th grader; much reading aloud of quality poetry for all children

Nature backpacks! Mama is working at a bag for each child to include items for our walks: small sketchbook, colored pencils, binoculars, paper bags for collecting, tweezers, field guides, bug houses for the preschooler & kindergartner, magnifying lenses, small nets, flower press for the 5th grader, cameras

Music education :: Mama will teach recorder and piano to Jordyn (K) and violin to Janelle (5th) who will also continue with piano lessons 2x a month each. Though this could happen at home, it's been helpful for Janelle to experience lessons from others. All children will continue to be exposed to a wide variety of music, study the lives of composers and attend concerts when available

New art idea this year. We currently have on loan 'Picturing France' from the National Gallery of Art--it's free! Slides, large full-color prints, curriculum for art appreciation, which we will touch on here & there through the year. Also the Come Look With Me series and Discovering Great Artists will be used periodically as we check them out of the library. Some of our art appreciation will be incorporated into tea time. There will also be some focus on handcrafts (primarily knitting and embroidery) and other arts/crafts projects for all children as they fit or arise in our days.

Literature ~ a way of seeking, discovery through great books, resources
American history for the 5th grader will include reading significantly! We'll peruse through early American history by way of many books. We'll use A History of US as a skeleton of sorts to keep us on track with topics, though the text won't be used as much. Also, A Blessed Heritage is incorporated as wanted to add African-American perspective. Blessed Heritage is very literature-based, so again, many good books will be read! Continue a bit of ancient studies with A Mystery of History Vol. I

For Jordyn & Josiah (age 5 and 2) we'll continue to read aloud to them for 2 hrs a day. This can be accomplished in our family because everyone else can also assist Mom in this goal!

Language ~ a way of speaking & writing
narrations & copywork to be done weekly for both K and 5th {both links have many ideas on each topic, keep scrolling!}

our 5th grader is taking a Latin course 2 mornings a week, includes vocabulary, grammar and critical thinking studies

Foundations & Frameworks (F & F) reading comprehension program for K and 5th :: this is a curriculum written by a wonderful friend of ours for the school setting. Last summer he trained us on how to incorporate it into our homeschool & we did for 4th; not much info online, the link has basics and materials are only available to those trained--but, we plan to post more about it throughout the school yr. To say it's excellent is an understatement.

F & F will also be used for phonics, grade K, supplemented with readers

French level I for everyone! Mama speaks the language, so this helps.

Logic ~ a way of scaffolding ideas
Saxon 76 Math for the 5th grader
ACSI Math for Jordyn (K)

Science will be taught some by Dad this year for Janelle, who is thrilled! Using our state standards, he'll put together curriculum with an emphasis on many hands-on experiments {he taught 5th grade many years ago and has been waiting for this opportunity!}. Mom will continue to oversee Health (including physical education)/Nutrition

A Child's Geography

For Jordyn & Josiah, Exploring God's World of Wonder. does feel good to have it all written down, even for our own sakes. Our approach will be to tackle the more weighty subjects such as math in the morning hours and after lunch will be available for nature study, art, music, etc. But we remain flexible and open to the need to occasionally change it all up.

Days of Food :: 11

As a family, our favorite fish is probably tilapia {though Mama is partial to red snapper} :: not too fishy tasting, light and wonderful with just about any spice thrown on it. Usually, I just use lemon-pepper and some olive oil. We enjoyed it with herbed rice and a veggie mix.


Summertime Fun


August 4, 2008

Days of Food :: 10

No picture today, but the link has one!

This weekend I tried a clam chowder recipe for the first time & that went over very well, even with the kids {except one, but I knew she wouldn't like it anyway}. We lived in New England for several years and my husband grew up there, so this is a classic northern dish. I didn't eat clam chowder until I met my husband.

I also didn't eat mushrooms or crabs. Or much of Italian food. But, when in Rome do as the Romans...and so New England rubbed off on this Texan girl :: who by the way, still loves authentic, I mean really authentic Mexican food and also seafood right out of the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing compares.

So when I recently found cans of minced clams and clam juice at a grocery outlet, I grabbed them all and whipped up the recipe. It's good--not as wonderful as the one we enjoyed in Boston once, but good enough to repeat {that was the family vote!}.

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