Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What's for Dinner?

Pin It This will never be a recipe or cooking blog. Ever. I do enjoy cooking and like to try new things, but I get the things I try from other cooking blogs and feel no need to post recipes or cooking tips.


Every now and then I try something that everybody loves. It's somewhat rare for EVERYBODY to love the same meal around here. We don't have picky eaters really (thank heavens, and God bless those of you who do!) but still it's rare for everyone to love and request something.

Even more rare for everyone to request something that is easy to make.

Even more rare for them to request soup when it's 97 degrees out.

So that is why I'm sharing this recipe with you! I found it on the Big Mama blog, but I'm not digging through her archives to find it. She has a great blog, so go spend some time over there and get ready to giggle! But do it while this soup is cooking:

(Oh, and I changed a few things here and there. The basic recipe is the same though!)

Tortilla Soup

You'll need:
6 corn tortillas cut into squares - I think I cut each one into about 16 squares
3 tablespoons olive oil
5-6 tablespoons cilantro
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder

Heat the olive oil then toss all of that in and saute it for a couple of minutes. The tortillas will get nice and brown.

Then add:
29 ounces tomato puree
2 quarts chicken stock
1 chopped onion
1-2 cups cooked chicken, chopped

Simmer these together for about 15-20 minutes, or longer, but the tortillas kind of start falling apart. It tastes the same if they're whole or fall apart, so I usually let it simmer a while longer.

We top it with sour cream, Monterrey Jack cheese, and fried corn tortilla strips. It makes a lot, and freezes pretty well. I made this Sunday night for my family of five. We also had it Monday for lunch, and there are 2-3 servings left.

Let me know if you try it! It is so easy and so yummy!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I Admit That ...

Pin It I saw this on another blog and had to steal it! There will be no Not Me-ing today, these are actually things I admit to!

1. I admit to having a few more cupcakes from Brendan's birthday than I should have.

2. I admit to chatting with a friend about Weight Watchers while munching on one of those cupcakes.

3. I admit to looking at the teary eyes of my newly turned five son, remembering that five was the magic number for giving up sippy cups, and getting out of bed and making him a sippy cup of pink milk. Sigh. He'll still be five tomorrow, so we'll give up sippy cups then.

4. I admit that I am so relieved that AWANAs is starting back up again, so I can have my two free hours on Sunday night for planning our school week.

5. I admit that planning our school week really only takes about fifteen minutes most weeks, but if you bring that up in conversation ever, I will insist that you are a vicious liar, and that it takes every single minute.

6. I admit that watching my son run through the yard covered in shaving cream screaming that he was having SO MUCH FUN has made me want to buy stock in shaving cream so we can make this a more frequent occurrence.

7. I admit to having a party for my middle child four months after her birthday. I'm sure that earns me some stellar parent award. She had a fabulous time though, so I guess it makes it all worth it, right?

8. I admit that I'm still holding out hope that she will forget that I told her she could have a slumber party for her tenth birthday. I also admit that I'm 99% certain that she will not forget.

9. I admit that I'm every bit as excited as the girls are to see what happens next in the book we're reading for history. I admit that I detest textbooks, but love living books and probably would have enjoyed history in school had we not had to deal with textbooks.

10. I admit that after Brendan left for AWANAs, I put his new Buzz Lightyear in Spanish mode so that he would dance.

Okay, that's all I'm admitting to for now!

Friday, August 27, 2010

And the winner is ...

Pin It

And comment #1 is ...

Congratulations, Micah! :D

(And on an unrelated note ... read Becky's comment on my mold post. I think she has a great point, that I hadn't really thought about. I've been thinking some more and I want to continue that topic, but we've got a really busy weekend planned, so it'll have to be next week!)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Feeding My Children Moldy Bread

Pin It I know this is not news to anyone, but it's tough raising godly children in our world. I suspect that it has been tough raising godly children in ANY world. No matter the outside pressures, the inside nature is still sinful, and in our house, lazy.

We are in a place where my kids are exposed to more culture and media than ever before, particularly my oldest. So now we're faced with choices daily as to what's appropriate and what's not. And I do mean daily. Songs, youtube videos, books, tv shows, movies, magazines ... constant bombardment.

As much as I would like to put my children in a box and only allow the things of which I approve to enter that box, I'm finding that, as great as that strategy sounds, it isn't really possible. They live in the world and are exposed to the world. Plus, how can I teach them to be discerning if I am that much in control of their environment?

So, there's a line to walk here.

I remember a friend had an analogy about eating bread with mold on it. The mold being the negative influences in our lives. How much mold is allowed on bread we eat? If you want a sandwich and the only bread is just a bit moldy, do you try to pick it off and eat the bread anyway or give up on having a sandwich?

I'm not entirely sure what the answer is. I know we have allowed a little mold into our children's diets. Of course I would prefer not to, but truth be told, I've let a little mold into my diet as well. Sometimes even putting jam on that bread and enjoying it. Every now and then even going back for seconds.

I don't WANT to eat moldy bread and I certainly don't want to feed them moldy bread, but sometimes it tastes good, and everyone else is eating moldy bread. Romans 7, anyone?

This is another area where I don't have a ton of wisdom. I am praying for discernment for me, and for my children, and for grace when a little mold seeps in.

If you have any wisdom here, please feel free to share with the class! And, please continue to enter the Same Kind of Different As Me giveaway; it's the post below this one.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Giveaway! Same Kind of Different As Me

Pin It F A B U L O U S book! Absolutely fabulous!!

This one may very well change your life!

Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, and Lynn Vincent.

I pretty much inhaled this book; I think from the moment I picked it up until the moment it was finished was less than a day. I loved the story! I was shocked to find out that people in our modern world still lived lives such as Denver Moore had, and laughed and cried and examined my own heart all through this book.

You will love reading this book, even if it challenges you to look closely at your life and at the lives of those around you.

Interested? Leave me a comment! I'll leave comments open until Thursday night and will choose a winner Friday morning. As always, if you're local, I'll deliver the book to you. If you're not local, shipping is on me! :)

Please feel free to share the link with your friends.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Heart Faces - Beach Fun

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When Jim was home on leave in January, we decided to make a trip to Galveston for the day. Note, I said *JANUARY*. We had a cold winter, relatively speaking, so I figured a trip to the beach would not include actually getting into the water. Silly me.

My sweet four year old not only learned that beach water in January is cold, he also learned that beach water is salty. He had a great time though, and I was quite thankful that we brought some warmer clothes to change into, just in case someone happened to get a little wet, or completely soaked from head to toe, at the beach!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Not Me Monday!

Pin It
Mckmama- Not Me Monday

It's been a while since I've done one of these. :)

Last week is off limits though. I've already blogged about it, and that whole week? Well, that just wasn't me. Period. Mmmmkay? ;)


We are NOT getting ready to celebrate the fifth birthday of a little man I promise I just had a couple of years ago. He could not possibly be going to be FIVE this week! NO. WAY.

Funny that Hurricane Rita seems long ago, but the baby born just a couple of weeks before seems like he can't be that old. And we shall not relive the day of Rita, or worse, the day of evacuation. Ever. Amen.

We have not made a big production about turning five, and how five year olds have to give up some of the things from baby days. We've been building up to giving up something for several months now.

That something? It wouldn't possibly be sippy cups, because everyone knows that not only is five too old for a sippy cup, so is four. And probably three. So, there is no way that my child still has a cup of chocolate milk in a sippy cup every single morning.

And it certainly would not be me who has encouraged this habit somewhat, because giving him a sippy cup means that he will come snuggle with me in bed, so that a) I can sleep in a little longer, and b) I can pretend that he is still a baby a little longer.

Nope, I'd never do that.

And I wouldn't have planned a big "Let's package up all the sippy cups and give them to Tucker!" celebration, either.

And I'm certainly not going to miss the morning "grab your sippy cup and come snuggle me" time. Because milk in a cup that might spill? On my bed? NOT GONNA HAPPEN. Maybe he will still come snuggle me, even without a cup. I hope!

But this would not be us, because my dear son, who is not going to turn five this week, gave up sippy cups at the appropriate age of three, long ago.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Thank You, Some Honesty, and a Week One Report

Pin It First, thank you all so much for your comments on my previous homeschool post! I'm glad I could encourage y'all. :) I so appreciate those who have encouraged me through the years - from trying to homeschool with a high needs toddler, to trying to homeschool two with a baby and a hurricane, to now trying to figure out how on earth to add number three in. It's funny to see how different our schooling looks now from how I had envisioned it all those years ago. It's funny in a good way though. (Although having little stair-stepped children standing every morning to pledge allegiance still pops into my mind every now and then!)

I don't have it all together. At all. It took all of two days before our schedule was adjusted to start an hour later. It's about to be adjusted again because the work load on one child is a little more than it should be, but I don't have the wisdom for how exactly to adjust it yet, so she's still doing it all. The thought of "BUT I PAID GOOD MONEY FOR THIS!!" is still rolling around in my head.

I've discovered with parenting that the only time you really have it all together is before they're actually born. Really! I knew all about parenting and had all my plans worked out. I giggle at it now. An example? Her name was GABRIELLE, and we wouldn't be using nicknames. Not only that, pacifiers were evil and my children would not be using them. GABBI left the hospital with a pacifier in her mouth. Giggle. Funny how things change when you're actually in the situation.

Same thing with schooling. My personality isn't the biggest fan of flexibility, but I really appreciate that the Lord has given me a measure of it with our school. I think that's the main thing. It will always be difficult for me to be flexible, however, it's so great to give myself permission to change things that don't work for us. I always know exactly what my plan is before it starts, then when it does start, there is always some tweaking that needs to be done.

Now for our week one report.


Day 1 was not good. One child cried, one had a tantrum, one got in trouble for something he didn't do. Oh, and I may have hidden in the bathroom for a long period of time, pretending to ... well, you know ... but really reading a book. All in all, not a stellar day.

After that, it did get better. I think it's going to take some adjustment to get back into our routine. We finished early last year and took a LONG summer break, so we have developed a lot of bad habits that need to be broken, plus just getting back into it is always tough. I did expect that it will be easier when Bren goes to preschool in a couple of weeks.

(Oh yes, this homeschool mom is sending the little one to preschool. I know my limitations. ;) ) He'll be at home for kindergarten next year, but this year I think he will benefit from preschool. :) I know we will all benefit from him going to preschool. ;)

I think we are going to LOVE the Heart of Dakota curriculum that we're using. English and math are going okay. We need to work on memorizing some math facts, but we'll get there.

All in all, other than the first day, I'd call our first week a success. Funny that I'm the one who is incredibly excited about sleeping in tomorrow morning. Which of course means that I will wake up at 6:30 am and not be able to get back to sleep. Murphy's Law abounds at my house!

I'm looking forward to catching up with my homeschooling blog friends to see how your first weeks went/are going/ will go!

Book Winner!

Pin It

Thanks so much for playing!

Pam, I'll email you right now and will get your books out in the mail to you. :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another Book Giveaway -- Amish Fiction

Pin It Anyone up for another book giveaway?

The Daughters of Lancaster County set by Wanda Brunstetter
Included are the three books in this set:
The Shopkeeper's Daughter
The Quilter's Daughter
The Bishop's Daughter

I have read these books, and I think I got them used, or at least one of them. There are probably some dog-ears here and there.

These books were such a pleasant read! Again, they probably won't change your life, but they are a glimpse into another world. If you're not already a fan of Amish fiction, these books will lead you that way.

Interested? Just leave a comment. I'll leave comments open until Thursday night and will choose a winner on Friday morning. If you're local, I'll deliver these to you, and if you're not local, shipping is on me.

Feel free to share the link with friends.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More Homeschool Stuff

Pin It I just wanted to share a couple of tips and tricks I've learned through the years. It's funny for me to think about being a mom of "older" homeschooled kids. As I'm seeing many friends starting their homeschools with their kindergarten and first grade aged kids, and I have a 7th grader and a 4th grader this year, I guess I am an older homeschool mom. Wow.

There are a few helpful things I've learned through the years though, and maybe something I've learned can be helpful to someone else.

The main thing - sometimes what is a huge struggle for a four year old may very well be a piece of cake for a six year old, and for nearly everything I can think of, it's just as well to wait until they're six and make it easy. We struggled to teach my oldest blends and two vowel words when she was four. For some reason I tied my entire self-worth up in having a child who was able to read by the time she was out of preK. She did learn, but it was a struggle, and school was not fun for her or for me. Poor guinea pig first children! (For what it's worth, I think there was no permanent damage done.)

Child #2 started first grade with the ability to read "pig," "dog," and "cat". We played through kindergarten and didn't worry about it. By the end of first grade, she was reading well. Very well. She was ready and it was super easy.

That's not to say, "hey, don't teach your kid to read!" but figure out where your child is and what they're ready for before stressing yourself and them out. :) You're homeschooling, you're in charge, so tailor it to your child's needs, and yours as well. The homeschool police will not come after you if your child is not reading until first grade or later.

Another tip - if something isn't working, feel free to scrap it and go on to the next thing. It took me quite a while to give myself permission to do that. I would think "I paid good money for this!" and "THIS person loves this, so it should work for me too!" Um, not necessarily. There are so many curriculum choices out there suitable for all different types of moms and kids! Don't feel stuck with something that isn't working.

And the last one for now ... We use workbooks here, and we keep track of pages done. By the time a couple of months have passed, the box that holds completely worksheets is a mess. By the end of the year, it's a fire hazard. This year, I saw that a friend had the spines taken off of her workbooks and had a spiral binding put on. Oh, how fabulous! I didn't ask how much it cost because I wanted to do it to our workbooks and didn't want to think it was more than I wanted to pay. LOL It was ... are you ready for this?

$4 per book. Seriously. Sooooo worth it! Office Depot did them for me. I took them one day and they had them ready the next.

Okay, that's it for my tips for now. If I think of some more, I'll make another post.

I will add -- I wrote this post over the last week. Yesterday was our first day. It was not a fabulous day. Oh the irony, right? We're up an at 'em this morning though, ready for a new day!

And I will add also ... another book giveaway coming tomorrow! :D

Monday, August 16, 2010

Answer ...

Pin It If you guessed that he had just pushed his sister into the pool, you were correct. Becky, you get five points for guessing correctly!

She suspects nothing. Cousin Emily, however, knew it was coming.

Woohoo, success!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Question of the Day

Pin It Why does this child look so pleased with himself?

Answer to follow in a day or two.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pensieve Blog Hop '10

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Welcome! This looks like a fabulous Blog Hop and I decided this morning to join in after seeing it on several friends' blogs!

I'm Melanie, a Christian wife and mom. I have three little ones and we homeschool. I love photography, and well, reading blogs! :)

Let's see ... here you'll find posts on homeschooling (most recently!) and my attempts to clean off my nightstand by giving books away on my blog. I have some other parenting posts here and there, and some marriage posts as well, as we try to adjust to my husband coming back home after a year in Afghanistan.

So that's me and my blog, in a nutshell!

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Schedule

Pin It This is where it gets fun. Our homeschool day is going to be interesting this year. The girls have to share the computer and share the TV.

We have three computers in this house. Our desktop has no sound for some reason or other, plus it's in the family room where the TV is, so it can't be used for classes. Jim's laptop would be fine except he doesn't have a number pad, which is a pretty helpful thing to have in a math class. This leaves my laptop. So, each girl does her math class on my laptop. Each math class takes about an hour.

Then there's the TV/DVD player. Gabbi has one class for which she needs the TV. Mad has three. Gabbi's class should take thirty minutes. Mad has a fifteen minute class, a thirty minute class, and a forty-five minute class.

Then they're doing a fair amount of work together.

(See, those of you wondering how to do kindergarten with a toddler running around? It doesn't get any easier when they get older. The logistics do change, but it's equally chaotic. Sorry to share that particular ray of sunshine with you.)

We have two schedules here. The Monday schedule, because Monday is our co-op day and we do an abbreviated amount of work at home. Then we have the rest of the week schedule.

Here's what I've worked out so far:
Monday -- Co-op ends at 12:15 and it's five miles down the road. Somehow that translates into us never getting home before 1:00. Not sure why that is.
1:00 Eat lunch
1:30 Gabbi - math (computer)
Madelyn - reading (DVD)
2:30 Gabbi - English (DVD)
Madelyn - math (computer)
3:00 Gabbi - spelling (mom)
3:30 Madelyn - English (DVD)
4:00 Madelyn - spelling (DVD)

I'm thinking I might need to find a way to make Mad's spelling four days a week rather than five, or maybe make reading a four day a week class. Her classes take a while because she's a VERY kinesthetic learner and will need to take frequent breaks. I think I'll either have to shorten Mad's Mondays or lengthen Gabbi's, because Gabbi finishing her day's work an hour before Madelyn does is not going to work. That said though, Gabbi is likely to have co-op homework, and we can add it in on Monday afternoons if need be. The times are VERY flexible. I just put them in that format because I know about how long each class should take them.

Oh, and if you're wondering, during all of this, Brendan will be running around pestering the snot out of both of them.

Tuesday - Friday:
I am REALLY hoping we can start our school day between 8:30 and 8:45, and 8:30 is what I'm going to be striving for. This will be the biggest challenge I'm thinking, especially for the night owl. If I can get them going before Brendan goes to preschool though, it will give us a good start on the day.

8:30 Gabbi - math (computer)
Madelyn - reading (DVD)
9:30 Gabbi - English (DVD)
Madelyn - math (computer)
10:15 Gabbi - spelling (mom)
Madelyn - English (DVD)
10:30 Gabbi - quiet time/devotion
10:45 Gabbi - independent/history (Heart of Dakota extension package items)
Madelyn - spelling (DVD)
11:15 start their work together. I'd like for them to get the history portion done and then we can have lunch. After lunch, we'll do the science and poetry portions. This curriculum is completely new to me, so I'm planning to go for a couple of weeks and then revise our schedule as need be. We pick Brendan up at 2:00, so I'm really hoping they will either be finished or close to it by then.

This is a more detailed schedule than I have EVER had before. I know the times will be very flexible and will probably end up not being very close to what I have planned. I'm anxious to jump in to the new curriculum and see how it's going to work. I think the thing that has me wondering the most is just trying to figure out how long it will take. I hope to do reviews of the various pieces in it through the year.

So, that's the plan for the schedule. My prayer is that I will have both the discipline to stick to it and the flexibility to give it a rest when need be. Hm ... maybe it's the kids who need that prayer more than I do. ;)

Coming up soon ... the tips and tricks I've learned through the years. It will be a short post. ;)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Let the Countdown Begin!

Pin It The countdown until school starts, that is!

It's just about time. Less than two weeks to go. Most of the supplies are bought, and I'm pretty excited. The start of a new year is always exciting. This one is a little different because we're changing things up quite a bit. Exciting and intimidating all at the same time.

Here's what we're doing this year:
Science and History: Heart of Dakota Creation Through Christ Because she's in 7th grade, we'll be using the Extension Package with her. It will be a lot of reading for my child who doesn't necessarily enjoy reading, but they're living books so I think (HOPE!) she will enjoy them. This will cover science, history, reading, art, spelling, and poetry. This curriculum is the major change for the year. We haven't ever done anything like this before. Seriously - we've been textbook driven up until now. I really think they're going to love it though. It will allow them some creativity and will prompt some more independent learning, I think.

English: Bob Jones Writing and Grammar 7 We'll be using DVDs for this, and are very excited to see Mrs. Vick again. She taught Reading 6 last year and both Gabbi and I loved her.

Math: Teaching Textbooks 6 and Teaching Textbooks 7 Way back when, we skipped a grade with Gabbi. Well, we skipped a grade in everything except math. She started sixth grade math last year but didn't finish it. I expect that by the end of this school year, she'll be somewhere in the middle of math 7. Maybe we won't need a huge extended break like we took this summer and by the time next school year begins, she'll be ready for math 8. Or not. And if she's not, it'll be okay. (Somebody take it upon yourself to remind me that I said that, okay?)

She will also be taking co-op classes in Science, History, Literature/Writing (woohoo, they'll be doing a speech!) and drama.

Science and History: Heart of Dakota Creation Through Christ We're going to let her join in with Gabbi on this. She will just be using this for science, history, poetry, and art.

English: Bob Jones English 4 This will be on DVD.

Reading: Bob Jones Reading 4 This class and English are the first classes we did on DVD with Gabbi. We both LOVED this reading class. I'm really looking forward to Madelyn doing it too.

Spelling: Bob Jones Spelling 4 Madelyn spells pretty well, and I was actually planning to use the Heart of Dakota spelling with her. She told me she wanted to use the DVDs I made for spelling also, so we're going to go with it.

Math: Teaching Textbooks 4 She actually got started on this last year. I plan to supplement with multiplication and division drills.

She will also be taking co-op classes in Literature, Science, History, and Drama.

We will be having a daily thankful time for four day a week preschool. Haha. Yes, he will be going to preschool for prek. I do have some things for him to do at home if preschool doesn't work out for some reason or other, but I expect he'll be doing fine there.

Okay, I have more to post, but I think I'll save it for tomorrow. I have a couple of tips to share that I've learned over the years, and our schedule as well.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Yada Yada winner!

Pin It
Like the scientific method I'm going with this time?

Congratulations Amy! I'll send you a note to get your address and will get these right out to you!

There are more to come, but it will be a couple of weeks before I get to them. :)

Thanks for playing!!

(Oh, and did you see? The author of these books left a comment on the last post! How cool is that?!)