Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Soup and Salad

Did you know that you can grow your own Romaine? It is another unbelievably easy pinterest idea.
When you cut the bottom off your lettuce, just stick it in water and watch it grow. There was literally a little tiny bit of growth from the middle of the bottom the day after I stuck them in water. The above picture was taken three to five days in to the process, and now we're two weeks in, and the lettuce looks like this:
Notice that I've added another batch of Romaine. We eat a lot of salad around here, so I'm super excited about growing our own!
Speaking of salad, the cold weather is definitely encouraging me to make more soup and salad meals!
Add a hunk of this Magic Bread and you have a restaurant-worthy meal.
Leftover Beef Stew
Set aside about 2 cups of chopped beef from a crock pot roast. Bring 4 cups of beef bouillon to boil. Add chopped potatoes, and chopped carrots. After 10-15 minutes, add frozen corn and green beans and two cans of chopped tomatoes. Add spices to taste. Add in the chopped beef from the roast. Let simmer for 15-30 minutes. (Can you tell this is a no-recipe recipe?--Add some things to a pot until it tastes good. That's the way most of my soups go.)
Did you know that stir-fried rice is a leftover dish in China? When we would order it in a restaurant, sometimes we would get a weird look--kind of like ordering leftovers.
Well, soup works that way for me a lot of times and this soup is another example. When you make mashed potatoes, make enough to have leftovers because this soup is yummy and easy!

Mashed Potato Soup
Basically for this soup, you need equal parts mashed potatoes and chicken broth--from there, you can add a couple of tablespoons of sour cream (or greek yogurt) and seasonings to taste. We like ours tasting very much like the mashed potatoes--a very creamy, yummy soup.
Garnish with cheese and bacon bits.

I can definitely tell you this soup got better and better the more left over it was. My family does not like mushrooms, so I had to kind of swish the mushrooms out of their portions, but that means I got to eat them all. It was very yummy!
Chicken and Mushroom Soup
Boil a whole chicken until falling apart. Reserve stock and debone chicken.
Saute celery and onion in 2 T olive oil. After the vegetables become translucent, 
Add the vegetable mixture into the rest of the reserved stock. 
Saute mushrooms and add to stock.
Add other vegetables (any you like), seasonings to taste and chicken to the pot.
Simmer for 20 or 30 minutes.

Like my new plates? They are from ikea and very inexpensive and I love them. I know they're going to scratch up as they age, but I was able to get enough of them that we can have an every day set and a company set. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Call for Action for Those Who Love Babies

This is a baby.
A baby.
According to parentweekly.com, a baby at about 6 weeks is about an inch long.
It has a beating heart,
baby boys have a tiny penis
"Week eight marks the beginning of a very busy developmental stage: its face continues to change as the ears, eyes and the tip of the nose appear; the intestines start to form in the umbilical cord; and your baby's teeth begin to develop under the gums."
Just a little bit later,
"He or she has eyes, a chin, bits of teeth, a nose, and a forehead and the fingers and toes are almost fully formed."
In the fourth month, 
a baby
sucks its thumb,
has all its major organs
and its tiny kicks begin to be felt.
And all of this 
is before that "age of viability" that some use as a permission to believe that 
this is not a a baby.
But it is.
But there are many, many people in this country right now who can look at that form above and say
"Not a baby."
And not only that, they can advocate killing it.
But that is not really what burns me up the most.
What burns me up the most is that there are many people in this country right now
Who do believe that that is a baby
They know that this is a baby!
And yet they sit idly by while millions of babies are killed.
Millions of babies.
How can we be so apathetic?
We allow the Wikipedia definition of abortion to prevail
and spread its lies to our vulnerable teenagers.
Here are some quotes from Wikipedia's abortion entry:
"Abortion, when induced in the developed world in accordance with local law, is among the safest procedures in medicine."
" Legal abortions performed in the developed world are among the safest procedures in medicine... making abortion about 14 times safer than childbirth."
"Complications are rare and can include uterine perforation,pelvic infection, and retained products of conception requiring a second procedure to evacuate." 
Yes, in case you didn't know,
Wikipedia uses the Planned Parenthood language
for the unborn baby:
"product of conception" or "POC."
"Some proposed negative psychological effects of abortion have been referred to by anti-abortion advocates as a separate condition called "post-abortion syndrome", which is not recognized by any medical or psychological organization."
Where are girls interested in abortion going to go for facts?
Why, the internet of course! And who do they trust on the internet to give them facts?
Wikipedia, right?
And what are they going to hear from Wikipedia?
There are no side effects.
It is completely safe.
Get rid of this POC.
Convenient half-truths to base their decisions upon.
And what do we who "care" do about this?
We bloggers find other things to write about.
We Christians find other things to care about. 
Plus, this is an uncomfortable truth to deal with.
I mean, who wants to deal with pictures like this,
This is a baby too.
A decapitated, aborted baby.
This is what a baby looks like when a vacuum abortion has been performed.
And as Abby Johnson has explained, someone has to piece the baby back together
to make sure all of its little parts are there
and not harmfully left behind in the mother.
Please, for the love of life!
For the love of a merciful and good God!
For the love of babies,
do something.
Write a post.
Repin a pin
See a movie.
Post on FB.
Or Twitter.
Have a conversation.
Volunteer with an organization 
who spreads truth
and gives free ultrasounds.
Tell your children the truth.
Pray that this atrocity would end in our lifetime.
For the love of babies.
repost from March 2012

Monday, January 21, 2013

Painted Vases

Problem: I have glassware that is disappearing on my dark wood shelf. 
Solution: White paint (isn't that the solution for so many problems?)

This has to be one of the easiest and most fulfilling pinterest ideas I've tried. All there is to turning your dull glass vase into something beautiful is squirting some acrylic paint inside and letting it drain to the bottom and then turning it over and letting it drain to the top. 
There you have it. So easy.
Let me know if you give it a try! I'd love to see your results!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tellus Science Museum

North of Atlanta, GA there's a little gym of a science museum that we visited on Saturday.
We studied dinosaurs all week last week in preparation for this trip.

We learned a lot and it was great for the kids to see in "real life" what they had only seen in books during the week.
The above is a conjecture of how big a shark must have lost some of the teeth they have found--a shark the size of a school bus perhaps!
Oh and by the way, the boy lost his second tooth while we were at the museum. Good memories!
Besides dinosaurs, Tellus has a great minerals exhibit, complete with this model of the earth's core and crusts
and a very fun interactive science exhibit (called "My Big Backyard") where you can experiment with things like gravity, weather, light, magnets and sound.
They also have a planetarium and some other cool exhibits that we just didn't have time for on Saturday.
If you're visiting the area or anywhere near, I highly recommend the Tellus Science Museum.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Baked Brussels Sprouts

No, I'm really not kidding. You too can fall in love with brussels sprouts.
They taste great, they're easy to cook and believe it or not all three of my kids gave them the thumbs up.
They didn't ask for seconds or anything crazy like that, but they ate all that I gave them and were pleasantly surprised.
Baked Brussels
1 bag of fresh brussels sprouts
1-2 T olive oil
sea salt
lemon juice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse and trim brussels sprouts. Toss olive oil, salt and pepper with sprouts and spread evenly over a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake on the center rack of your oven for 25-30 minutes, turning brussels occasionally.
Carefully transfer hot brussels sprouts to serving bowl and sprinkle with the juice of 1/2 lemon. Toss lightly and serve.
(The dark parts taste yummy, so don't be afraid to let the brussels' outer leaves turn nearly black.)

We had these last night for dinner and I just ate the rest of them for snack. They were as yummy today as they were last night.
Be careful; they're addictive!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Plans from a Planner

If you've read anything here (or if you know me personally) you know I'm a planner. It's like an obsession. At night, when I lay down to sleep, instead of getting fuzzier, my brain gets sharper and starts planning. If I'm going to plan everything in sight fun things, I might as well share them with you, right?
Current Plans Include
We're using the notebooks again. This time our content will include
1. Very simple writing curriculum for the oldest, written by yours truly, that will walk her through writing an essay a week, complete with brainstorming, outlining, rough draft, final draft and stylistic technique rubric
2. Second half of Saxon3 Math worksheets
3. Grammar worksheets covering parts of speech, labeling sentences, correcting sentences and more
4. Science writing prompts (I'm excited about these). Every day they will copy a writing prompt and write a few sentences about it. I'm hoping this will spur on the natural science curiosity that is usually alive and well in this household.
5. Daily sheets like the one below except that for this semester I've switched out the easy US states for countries in Africa. They will identify the country by its shape by finding it on the map of Africa and then fill in its capital as well. The boxes that contain skip counting and sentence labeling below have been changed to hold some of the daily Saxon math review. Our memory chapter is Philippians 2.
Outside of the notebooks
6. The oldest will also be continuing her horseback riding and the journal and reading that goes along with that.
7. The oldest and the boy will attend choir at our church with periodic performances.
8. We're continuing with our Spanish in the car and online with Discover Spanish.
9. We will visit the local aquarium once a month with a short lesson and time to explore.
10. We are continuing our (almost) weekly swimming.
11. We have a Kindle now! I'm working on loading it up with games that will especially target math facts and problem solving skills. 
12. The boy will not have the essay writing curriculum but will have a reading comprehension worksheet (or two) a day and another writing sheet, as well as handwriting each day. 
13. Last but not least, the hubby is continuing his leading of history. We will review the Middle Ages and begin the Age of Exploration and the Renaissance and Reformation. We will mainly be using The World of Columbus and Sons and Famous Men Of The Renaissance & Reformation along with other fiction and non-fiction books, lots of coloring sheets and activities.

Home Improvements:
I'm going to re-do our dining room!
It has looked almost exactly like this since we moved in 5 1/2 years ago. I've already taken down the curtains. (Anyone want to buy them? They're listed on craigslist.) I'm planning on painting the wallpaper white and doing some other moving around--clean and fresh is what I'm going for. I'm also going to buy a large white curtain rod (from Lowe's) and inexpensive white curtains from IKEA. All together, I should be able to manage quite a different look for only a little bit of money. 
We're also planning on the hubby painting all the trim in the house, hiring someone to re-do our gutters and perhaps getting a new large cabinet for the kitchen as funds allow. It feels like spring cleaning around here!

Here's another thing that never changes about me; I always have a trip or two in the works.
First trip up is to a local museum this Saturday.
All that planning above doesn't include this week's schooling, which is almost entirely focused on dinosaurs! A science museum not too far from here has a wonderful dinosaur exhibit, so we're taking a day trip soon to add some personal experience to our learning.
(we last visited this museum in October of 2011)
Also up in the way of trips is the boy's "7yo trip with Grandad" to Legoland, a possible trip down to see a friend (who lives at the beach) around Easter and a hopeful trip (maybe hitching a ride with my dad?) up to Cincinnati to see the 
Creation Museum. You have to check this museum out. It looks amazing!
Studying dinosaurs this week has definitely made me want to learn more about how to explain history in the light of what we know to be true in the Bible.

I could go on about the plans. There are all kinds, but I do try to keep in mind that "a man's heart plans his ways but the Lord directs his steps" and keep all these plans in an open hand lifted up to my Lord. And of course, everything is contingent on that wonderful possibility of being chosen to adopt at any minute!
What are your plans for this semester?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Family Game Night

We get a lot of presents for Christmas. It's kind of crazy, really. We have some really generous Grandparents, and sometimes that can get a wee bit overwhelming.
This year, in an effort to use these wonderful gifts toward a family oriented goal-
-I asked for and gave games.
Our kids get very few gifts from us, the parents, so I have to be very careful what I choose. I was very pleased with the above gift. I wrapped each game and then put them in a treasure box (from Hobby Lobby) and wrapped that as well. They were happy with the games, and we've had a lot of game-play in the family room because of them.
One set of grandparents also bought the kids a Wii. Already we've had some giggly family time in front of Disney Just Dance.
And we're looking forward to trying out our Hasbro Family Game Night.
We got a few other games as well--

And this--to help us all get into the horses the oldest loves so well.

So, as you can see, we're all set for pretty much 365 family game nights in 2013. : )
What games do you play with your kids? 
How do you spend your family nights?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

This Year

This year, may you 
celebrate the simple things,
enjoy the everyday,
relish the craziness
delight in the quiet moments.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

On Sunday our pastor made a statement that I hope rings in my head all year long. He said, "I can't say it strongly enough. There has been a murder in the church!
Safety and security have slaughtered 
Service and sacrifice!"
He was talking about in the church--the church in the broader sense 
and our church specifically, I'm sure.
He was talking about in the Christian's heart.
In my heart.
I have known this for years--known it and believed it.
(See this post with the rest of this quote:
"Because what they're actually feeling in their heart, I think, is the word of Jesus, which is saying to them, "No, I didn't make you for safety. I made you to go build my kingdom and transform the world.")
And yet I forget to live it. 
I live in my nice house with all my stuff; I even complain about all my stuff! I have my husband coming home each evening; I even complain when he's late! I have my healthy kids; I even complain when they wake up in the night! 
I'm sure you get the picture. My safety and security have bred an ugly ungratefulness.
How do we counteract this? What can I do?
Our pastor gave a few bits of advice woven into the rest of his sermon (on Matthew 10, by the way).
1. Do what you cannot do. Live risky. Ask for the Holy Spirit's power. And all good things come from Him, so all of the following are really part of #1.
2. Start with who you know. This is the hardest thing, isn't it? I can serve and sacrifice right now by lovingly greeting my kiddos when they wake up, making breakfast with joy and spending the day loving them.
3. Give as freely as you have received. Really, could we ever match His generosity? He gave His own Son!
4. Trust that God will provide. This is very easy to say (or type) but it is definitely refer back to #1 for the actual doing.
5. Live like someone died for this. "Christianity defined is the most dangerous special operation. Someone may well die. Someone already has."
6. Go every day. Disadvantage myself for those who are lost so that they will receive the advantage of the Kingdom and the Gospel.
7. Speak it every day. It may feel a bit corny at first to bring up the Bible often to your children or your husband. It often feels contrived to me. But I believe in Deuteronomy 6. I believe that Scripture is woven beautifully into our lives, so there is beauty in speaking it!
8. Go to work. If I see myself as a contented slave laborer, what won't I be willing to do? And really, if there is any possibility that this would bring me closer to Him here or in heaven, what wouldn't I do for that?!
9. Nothing can stand in the way. Nothing can stop His grace. He is all powerful. I want to live this way, you know? I want to live as a daughter of the King--never ruffled because I know that my Daddy is in control. Fearless, confident and humble.
10. Live simply dependent. We depend on Him--without questioning--without needing any applause.
(I first wrote this last Jan, and I'd like to put it in the records as this year's "new year's resolution." God's blessings to you and your families this year!)