Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Something To Remember As We Enter The New Year

Myself
-by Edgar A. Guest 

I have to live with myself, and so
I want to be fit for myself to know,
I want to be able, as days go by,
Always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don't want to stand, with the setting sun,
And hate myself for the things I've done.

I don't want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself,
And fool myself, as I come and go,
Into thinking that nobody else will know
The kind of a man I really am;
I don't want to dress up myself in sham.

I want to go out with my head erect,
I want to deserve all men's respect;
But here in the struggle for fame and pelf
I want to be able to like myself.
I don't want to look at myself and know
That I'm bluster and bluff and empty show.

I can never hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself, and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience free.

I think I bears remembering here that not only should we comport ourselves in such a manner that we can like ourselves, but that we are not the only one who can see inside us.  God sees all the stuff we think, and oftentimes do, keep hidden from everyone else, and even knows about those things that we don't like (or, are not used to) admitting to ourselves; like the true motivation behind the things we do.  It's good to give ourselves heart check-ups from time to time, to make sure that even the "good" that we are doing is done with the right intention.  The New Year is a great time to do a heart check-up.



Thursday, December 24, 2009

Twas the night before, the night before...

...and the last of the presents (except for the gifts of food, which will be wrapped as needed), are wrapped and under the tree.  This is the first year we went ahead and put the gifts under the tree instead of bringing them all out on Christmas Eve, after everyone's in bed.  I'm just not as young as I used to be, and I want to go to sleep.

I thought I might as well get a post in now because the next few days will be BUSY - as I'm sure they will at your house as well.  The first of our four Christmas dinners/parties will happen tomorrow.  There are cookies to bake, meals to prepare, gift bags to pack, the house to clean, and kiddies (and young [and older] adults) to get ready.  It sure does sound like a lot, but trust me, it's not nearly as hectic as it has been in years past.  Having older children makes the whole thing much more manageable.  Plus, time has taught me to pare down, and enjoy more - a lesson that would have served me much better had I learned it as a young, busy-with-so-many-little-people-mom.  I hate to remember how crazy I used to make myself, and the rest of my family with what I thought was necessary.  Oh well, live and learn - and try to teach your kids better.

Before I leave off, I would like to ask anyone out there listening to be in prayer for the health care bill they are trying to shove down our throats.  It's heinous that it's even being voted on in such a rushed, haphazard fashion.   We would all do well to remember what Thomas Jefferson once said;  "My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government."  Here, here!!!  This is an example of that at it's worst.

After praying about this, thank God for all that you do have, hug your kiddies, and/or any other loved one that you can pin down for a minute or two, and spend some time focusing on the greatest gift ever given to mankind - JESUS.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow


We've had a rare, before Christmas snow!  Not that it's going to hang around until Christmas, but still - it's snow!  We seldom get snow before January and Feburary, actually, we seldom get snow at all; ice and sleet are more common.  There are years we don't get any, and there are years where we get just enough to really irritate the kids - the kind where I won't let them go out, because while there is, technically, snow on the ground, there's just enough to make a really big, muddy mess.  Then there are those rare (and I think much more appreciated because of their rarity) years where we get one or two really nice snows. 


This is what our yard looked like late yesterday.
There are three swings, but the girls are constantly
tucking two of them out of the way so they can spin
around on the one in the middle.


Self explanatory; the deck. It was snowing in
both of these shots, but it's kind of hard to tell.


This morning.


It rained and sleeted some more after the snow
last night, so there's a layer of ice on top.
That's pretty common for around here, and
certainly doesn't keep the kids from playing in it.


When one of your darling daughters steps in a
hole, the ice layer becomes more apparent.






Pictures like these, of ice coating everything,
are much easier to get around here.


A particulary pretty little spot in the stand of
trees behind our house.


And finally (for those of you who are used to seeing
snow, I'm sure you're glad I'm about done), this is a
shot of the back of our house.  Aren't the clouds
beautiful in this picture?

Once they were all back in the house, Kay made hot chocolate.  She opened a new gallon of milk and poured it in the pot before shaking it up, so ALL the nummy (as T.Lynn likes to say) cream got in there.  It was sooo good!

We'll go and try to dry the girls coats and mittens, so they can at least get one more shot at the snow before it all melts.  It's already above freezing and water is dripping from everywhere, so there's only so much time before everything is, yet again, one big muddy mess - that will freeze tonight and start the whole process of melting and freezing again tomorrow.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thinking Outside the Box

"New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common." - John Locke

The thing is, the opinion, or idea doesn't even have to be "new" in order to come under scrutiny by others.  It just has to have not been acted on in a generation or two, and if you dare nudge your family in that direction, you are setting yourself up for endless questions, comments, criticism, and even down-right hostile encounters.  People are so used to judging, and being judged that oftentimes you can't even offer an honest answer to a question without the questioner thinking that you are passing judgment on them for not thinking the same.
Here's the short list of things I've been scrutinized for:
Staying at home, even before we had children.
Staying at home after we had children.
Breastfeeding
Having more than 2 children.
Homeschooling (this would undoubtably be the biggest)
Wearing dresses/skirts all the time.
Believing that my husband is the head of the house (and daring to teach my girls the same).
Courtship
Now ask yourself, are these concepts really new?  Nope, they're not.  Think back a hundred and fifty years or so, and you'll have to admit that most of the things I've listed above were normal then, instead of being "weird".  Schooling did have many variations, even then, but teaching children at home was still quite common.

The next thing a person should ask themselves is:  Is society really any better right now?
I don't think so.  Yes, we have more stuff, and more opportunities, and less people probably die from starvation, and (definately) less people die from easily treated infections; but has that really made us happier?  Again, I don't think so.  People are constantly dissatisfied and depressed, always reaching for more and more, and our families are in ruins.

The above quote uses the word common, and while I think it a better word to use, most people think of things as "normal", or "abnormal" (when in reality they are just common or uncommon).  I don't care about "normal".  When we were newly married, and expecting our first child, I looked around at how "normal" families were doing things and decided that I didn't want that for our family.  It was depressing to see the families struggling after so much stuff (and happiness) and the children turning out to be demanding little monsters that you really didn't want over at your house for fear of the mayhem they would bring.  I could never wrap my mind around the concept of reasoning with a two year old (they don't reason - they want).  I don't agree with the idea of children having rights (as in their right to have the newest/best whatever, or their right to privacy, except when in the bathroom).  They aren't paying for the house, so it isn't REALLY their room - hence - YOU have the RIGHT to know what's in there (and you SHOULD know - no child should have an arsenal, or drugs in their room, and you not have a clue about it).  I started watching the families that I felt were succeeding in raising their children well, and incorporating what they were doing into our family.  After I got saved, I began to see how those things lined up with scripture.  Now, oftentimes, the biggest stuggles come when I try to explain our beliefs to other Christians.

I'll leave this off with a final thought - a really sad event that happened several years ago, in a neighboring county, that sums up how society has failed when it comes to their families.  It was winter (but winter in NC frequently means it's freezing overnight, but will get above freezing during the day) and we had some nasty weather during the night.  It was the kind of day that has the school officals wrestling with whether or not to cancel, delay, or start school at the normal time (it's a no-win situation for them).  In one county, a 17 year old girl died that morning in a car accident on the way to school.  She was driving and lost control of the car on an icy patch.  I am very sorry for the loss that family endured, but as I watched TV that night, a reporter was talking to her mom, and her mother was blaming the school officals for her daughters death.  The thing that struck me the most was the fact that the mother admitted that she didn't feel as though it was safe for her daughter to drive that day, but allowed her to go off by herself anyway.  Why does this bother me?  Because the entire decision was the parents responsibility. When it comes right down to it, it's the parents job to ensure the safety of their children, and if you think a situation is dangerous, you don't put your children in it.  Period!  Parents have become so accustomed to abdicating responsibility for their children, that it has become "normal".  So, all of our hands-on, in their face, know all of their business, the kids are with me all the time type of parenting leaves us wide open for all the comments, criticism, etc. I mentioned earlier.  But that's okay - I'm a big girl, I can take.  

There are times though, that all I can really say to all of this is, "Well, we'll just have to wait and see if we did it right." 



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Co-op

Our co-op order came in today.  Yay!!

The weight for the total order ended up being about 2,000 lbs., so hubby took all three of the younger girls with him when he took Beenie to her guitar practice, in order to free up both of the older girls for me.  My cousin was also available to help, as were two other kids from church (one's mom was heading up the whole thing).  They were very quick, and had the truck unloaded by the time the other mom and I could get things organized to start checking and splitting up the order.  There were a couple things missing from the order, but all in all, I think it went pretty smoothly.




This was our part.  We have 75lbs. of Kamut, 25lbs. each of soft white wheat, pinto beans, and popcorn, and 5lbs. each of thick rolled oats, kidney, red, and navy beans.  170lbs. in all, and the best part is that my portion of the shipping was less than $15.00.  Again - yay!!

I set out buttermilk to culture last night so I can start baking all kinds of yummy things.
I see pecan sticky buns in our future (as soon as we shell the pecans!).


 



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ever wonder what happens when you play tag in a long (brand new-you know, it would HAVE to be brand new) skirt?



This is what happens.  Of course, I was informed
that she didn't step on her own skirt - the one
chasing her stepped on it.   Well, perhaps we
should wear one of our older, already worse-
for-wear skirts when we plan on running around
outside.  (But mom, we weren't planning on running
around - it just happened.)

 
Thankfully, it mended nicely.  Mostly the
lace was just torn from the skirt, but even
the parts that were a little shredded came
back together with just a little effort.
All things consisdered though, this was a much
easier mend than the one that got caught in the 
 bicycle chain.  As if the holes aren't bad enough,
you have all that grease to get out too.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

School???

Ask any of my children and they'll tell you that I ALWAYS tell them that dreading a task only makes it harder to get it done.  And, being a (reasonably) good mother, I constantly remind them not to procrastinate.  So why is it that all I keep doing is eyeing the stack of schoolwork sitting on top of the school cart, beside the computer table - you know, as opposed to actually picking it all up and going over it?  Well, part of it is that I've been fairly busy the past several days, so it has gotten backed up into a pretty impressive pile (I hear echos of myself, telling the girls not to put things off - it only makes the job worse), and part of it is that when I did have a few minutes yesterday, I procrastinated. 
Ugghhh!!  It sure is easier to give advice, than it is to live it out.  There's a lesson in there somewhere - something along the lines of only taking advice from people who actually exhibit the things in their life that they're trying to relate to you.  Just don't tell the girls I said that until the school cart is cleaned off!
I'm going, I'm going.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Milk

It was milk day, so guess what happened - again. 
Yep, you guessed it, it rained.
Not that I don't appreciate rain.  We had quite a run of dry years there for awhile, so I should just hush up about the whole thing, but...Really?  Rain every other Tuesday in SC?  Maybe I should I should move my pick up day.

Maybe I'll find something better to blog about after the van dries out.  I'll give it a try after I excavate the mud from the floormats.


Friday, December 4, 2009

I'm getting Superman to set up my tree.

Yep, that's right.  Superman will set up my Christmas tree.  Seem a little wierd?  It's really simple.  Last year I bought this adorable christmas tree stand that is a little sleigh with a section in the middle to set the tree in.  It's entirely too cute, but it turns out that it is a bit of a pain to actually put a tree into.  I will add here that the tree we had last year had some knobby areas around the base that made our job a little more difficult as well.  Anyway, the girls and I struggled valiently last year to put the tree up.  It kept leaning first this way, and then that way.  We did our best to rework the screws that hold it up, twisting the tree around, and proping it in different ways.  We even took it all the way down and put it back up again.  By this time, the base was looking a little worse for wear, and I was ready to pitch the whole thing  getting just a bit frustrated.  Then dear hubby came to the rescue and suggested we put rocks in the base to help stabilize the tree.  I had just the thing - glass fish bowl beads.  Our last fish had died a month or two before, so we had a bunch out in the garage.  They worked like a charm, and on our third attempt, the tree went up without a hitch.
Now, where does Superman fit into all this, you might ask.  Well....add one smart aleck teenage boy into this mix and it might all make sense.  You see, when one of the girls was relating the story to a friend at church, he thought it was rather amusing that it should take the three of us that many attempts to get the tree up.  After he shared his opinion on the situation, I demanded sweetly asked him to come set up our tree the next year.  Actually, my response was something along the lines of, "Okay superman, if you think it's that easy, YOU will put up our tree next year".  I reminded him of this just the other day.  He doesn't seem to have much of a problem with it, but there is a part of me that REALLY wants to buy the biggest tree we have ever had, sit down on the sofa, and watch him have at it.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Excitment

It's been pretty exciting here today.

Late this afternoon, while on the phone with one of the ladies that orders milk with us, we lost power.  Since the sun was on it's way down, it was pretty dark in the upstairs hallway and in the stairway.  The power was blinking off an on, some of the girls were hollering "I can't see!", and I was trying to yell over everyone to the older girls to turn the AC/Heat pump controllers off, while running through the house to get to the breaker box in the garage.  You see, we've had electric panels in AC units fry when that has happened before - I don't want a repeat.  After the power blinked off the last time, the girls lit every candle we had, and we sat around and discussed what we were going to do about supper.  When we talked about possibly going out, hubby tried to pick on us by telling us we were trapped since the van was in the garage and the door was down.  We had to let him in on the fact that we are well acquainted  with how to disengage the automatic opener so that it can be opened manually.   Enough of us were talking at the same time, that he never got around to asking us why we knew that.  We ended up deciding to have pizza delivered.  When I called in to ask about their menu, the very nice lady on the other end suggested (midway through) that I could look it all up online - Nope, sorry, no power = no internet.  We were both laughing before I hung up.

The next little bit of excitment may not be all that exciting for anyone else, but it was for me.  We are putting in our first co-op order for grain, and other organic food.  Yay!!!  I've wanted to do this kind of thing for so long, but I guess no one else in this county is interested in eating well - okay, so maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but it has sure seemed like it every time I've tried to find out about co-oping.  I go to church in a different county, and one of the ladies there does co-ops, so I have my first opportunity to get a decent deal on grain.  I wanted to order all kinds of things, but I tried to be good, and not order a bunch of stuff that I can't put in the cabinets.  I'll try to start getting some buckets, or other containers that will hold big quantities of things like beans and rice, but it will take time to do it all.  Plus, I could just see hubby looking at, oh, 100lbs of rice, or something, and going berserk.  I did order a total of 100lbs of grain, but he's seen fairly nice size quantities of that before, and right now he's just tickled that he's not having to pay more for shipping than the grain costs per pound.

Now I can go plan on some baking for this week - no more rationing my grain, since my order will be in soon.  Yay!!! 


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Murphy's Law and Cinnamon Candy

I'm sure some of you are bound to know about Murphy's Laws.  The biggie, of course, being, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.", and  I don't where I picked up the second part, but I like it, "...at the worst possible time."  Now, apply that rule to a child, sneaking a "hot" cinnamon candy disc, in a moving vehicle, and there you have it - my morning.  Now, you may start by wondering how I knew what would fix this situation, so I'll start my story with what happened a few days ago. 
My dear hubby likes candy.  I should probably say, he loves candy, so when we were at a store early last week, he picked up one bag each of butterscotch discs and cinnamon discs.  He had not really expected the younger children to like the cinnamon discs because they were hot, so when he found out they did, he brought the candy to the kitchen (he usually keeps a stash in our bedroom), and told the girls they were welcome to it.  Probably should have worded that differently, because I found them eating it in the car Friday afternoon(they had brought some along in a little purse - and no, we weren't shopping - we were returning borrowed tables).  About the time I realized they had it, Murphy's law rears it's head.   T.Lynn bounced on the seat, swallowing whole the piece she had in her mouth.  It took all of 3 seconds before she started crying.  What, may I ask, do you do to help that?  She described it as burning, so I drove to the nearest convenience store and bought some Tums.  I really wanted Pepto, because I thought it coating her stomach would help insulate against the cinnamon oil, but all we had was Tums and some water, so we gave it a try.  She said it helped a little, and since we were close to home, I got there as quick as I could, thinking we had Pepto in the medicine cabinet.  In rolls the second appearance of Murphy's law - we didn't have any.  Okay - what do I do now?  She is still pretty uncomfortable, so I tried out the Mylanta Grandma keeps on hand.  It worked, much to everyone's relief, and she voluntarily handed over the other piece of cinnamon candy she had.  I mistakenly assumed it would be awhile before she would ever eat cinnamon candy again.
Fast forward to this morning.  We were pushing it, slipping out the door in just enough time to get there and get our lunch in the kitchen before services started.  No time for ANYTHING else so, of course, we have another run in with Murphy's law.  We weren't very far from the house when someone shouted that T. had swallowed another piece of cinnamon candy whole.  I still had the Tums from Friday, but they were buried somewhere in my purse.  It took a few minutes to find them, and get them to her, but hey, they helped some last time, and we'd pass a convenience store in just a couple of minutes if she needed something more.  (We're okay - we'll only be a few min. late.)  This time the Tums didn't do a thing - I guess the other piece was smaller, and she had just put this one in her mouth.  The convenience store was not very convenient (they haven't been since the lottery was passed), so by the time we got the Pepto, we were going to be at least 15-20min. late.  We weren't on the highway very long before she started crying again.  The Pepto wasn't working, so I head for the next exit.  I stoped for a second to add everything up.  From there, we'd be more than 20min. late, and we still needed to go by a store to buy some Mylanta (and I really don't need anymore of it), so I decided to just go back home.  By this time, all I've really done is drive in a great big circle.  I have to admit that the first thing I did when I got there was to throw away all the cinnamon candy, then I got her the Mylanta.  We also had a discussion about sneaking candy. 
Our church is quite a bit away from us, and starts at 10:00, so by the time it was all said and done, we still had time to surprise my step-mom by showing up at her church for their annual "Hanging of the Greens" service.   Afterward, she invited us home, Dad cooked us a delicious meal, and we got to visit for awhile.  So, things did end up well, but I won't buy cinnamon candy again - probably ever.   


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gee - thanks girls!

Ri, and her best friend Lys, both awarded me blog awards.  I love them both, and I thank them for the awards, but I do not intend to obey all the rules of both of the awards this time.  First - I just don't read enough blogs to pass them on to the required number of new recipients, and second - I'm not nearly computer literate enough - it takes me forever to do all the link things, and I don't intend to become savy enough to do them quickly.  It would just encourage my natural tendency to shiftlessness (I'd sit around on the computer even more, and I have too many things that really need to be done).

So, all that being said, I will do one of the things that was "required" by both the awards.  I'll tell you 7 things about myself.

1) I hate celery.  No - it doesn't matter what you do to it, spread on it, or in any way try to hide it.  It always has a way of making it's presence known, and it's yucky!  And no, I don't even use celery salt, or seed, or anything else - it's yucky - oh wait, I said that already.

2) I play several instruments - or at least I did in school - umm - okay, I'm not going to tell you how many years ago that was, but at the time I played the flute, piccolo, baritone saxophone, Jamaican steel drums, and the marimba.  I piddle around, and can occasionally pick out songs on the piano too.  I do read music, but where's the fun in that?

3) I'm not an animal person.  If they're useful, they're okay.  But they're just not my cup of tea, unless they can protect you, catch mice, or can be eaten.  I taught my girls early on that Bambi tastes really good when he's all grown up.

4) Most of what I've learned has been self-taught, and most of that has been by good, old fashioned trial and error (lots of error).  Which is why I tell my girls that they should learn by other people's mistakes.  They can't possibly make them all on their own (although I must be testing out that theory myself).

5) On the list of things that I'd just love to do in my life, shopping ranks right up there with unanesthetized root canals.

6) My younger brother once said that I was the only woman he knew who could take a 3hr. car trip and never once initiate a conversation.

7) Although I deeply wish (and frequently pray) both my parents were saved, I'm equally grateful that I was not raised "in church".  I know these two things seem like contradictions, so I'll explain.  I think that because I was not raised in church, and as such, without any particular denominational bent, I have been able to look at the scriptures with a fresh set of eyes, so to speak.  I can take the scriptures at face value, without all the assumptions I would have had if I had heard them preached a particular way all my life.  We once attended a church where we were having a discussion with the leadership about a certain area of doctrine.  Several members of the church talked with us, expressing their wishes that everything turn out well, or asking us how things were going.  If asked about our position, I would explain it, but to my surprise, most of them said they had never really thought about it.  It (the church's position) was just what they had always been taught.  I actually think this is kind of sad.  The scriptures tell us that we should, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."  II Tim. 2:15.  I do not wish to undermine any pastor, or preacher, but we are clearly to study the bible for ourselves.  They are only human, and subject to all the same problems/temptations that we are.  Sometimes it may just be a matter of them trusting in what they were always taught, but we are still to double check and study about it on our own.  

Okay - that's a little peek into me.  I hope you all enjoyed it (or at least got a chuckle or two).  BTW - I'm serious about the shopping thing (and the celery)!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I am alive.  I made it through another Thanksgiving dinner with my mom's family (hey  Mom & Aunt S. - if you're reading this, I do love you).  It's always a lot of work, and it's always loud (that's just us), and it's always a bit hectic and crazy, AND, I love them all.

BUT - next year I'm kicking them all out of the kitchen!!  (Except for the  3 of you who were helping - you know who you are.  Thanks!!)

We have a fairly large house, but at one point, almost every single person was in the kitchen, hanging out, talking, GETTING IN THE WAY.  My word - it was the last 30min. before serving (#1 I was shocked and amazed at the shear number of them that were there that early), and they're standing there, while those of us who are cooking, and setting up the serving area, and unpaking plastic plates, are weaving in and out of them trying not to bump them with hot pots, or having them bump into whatever we were carrying.  It was crazy.  Then, about five min. before time to give everyone instructions and ask the blessing, they all disappear and had to be hunted down.  Go figure!

At any rate, everything got done and we settled in to eat right on time - despite the traffic jam in the kitchen.

You may ask why I didn't banish them from the kitchen to begin with - I think I was suffering from shell shock.  I've never seen that many of them show up on time, let alone 30min. early.  And yes, I did tell those of them that were bringing paper products to be early, but I just figured that they would only be 15-30min. late if I actually told them to be there 30min. early.  Again - go figure. 

Now we just have dinner with my Dad, step-mom, and younger brother on Thursday.  This dinner will be EASY.  First - there's not many people.  And second - my Dad wants the same thing every year, I don't even have to ask:  Chicken and dumplings, fresh bread, and chocolate pie.  Of course, we'll throw in a veggie or two, and my step-mother always makes a green bean casserole, but that's it.  

Well, I'm going to run.  It was milk day, and traffic was not at all good.  I'm going to have a cup of tea and put my feet up. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ignore

See, another weird post.

Ignore Me

Ri has been trying to help me put a signature thingy on my blog, so if you see a few weird posts, I'm sorry.  We'll get it done eventually, or I'll give up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Can You Have A What?

Children!
I was sitting here, in the workroom (computer & printer tables, school cart, bookcases, sewing machines (on tables), ironing board - you name it) trying to catch up my reading on some of my favorite blogs, and T.Lynn joined me.  She was/is sitting quietly on the floor with my pin cushion, taking out all the straight pins and organizing them by color.  From time to time all of my children have done this.  I have long straight pins with bright, multi-colored heads, and the children have loved pulling them all out to organize them by color, or make patterns, or, in Bree's case, "draw" with the pins, forming them into grapes, bananas, chili peppers, rainbows (Beenie did the rainbow thing too), whateverWell, we were all sitting there (Ri was reading over my shoulder, as she is inclined to do) when T. announced that she was organizing my pins for me.  Me - "Thank you.", and I turn back around to the computer. T.Lynn - "Can I have a dollar?"  My mind - "Can you have a what?", to Ri I whispered, "They wouldn't need to be organized if she had left them in the pin cushion."  Basically, all I told T. was that I wasn't paying her a dollar.  But my mind still wants to say, "Really?  You want me to pay you a dollar for cleaning up a mess you made?"  Again I say - Children!

Becky

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ordinary Arts

Mia, over at Aspiring Homemaker , had this nice little quote on her blog the other day. 
"The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest." ~ Thomas Moore.
I've encouraged my daughters to think along these lines with regard to housework and cooking.  They can both seem a drudgery from time to time, but when we look at it as a way to minister to another soul, to make someone else feel good, then it's not as hard a thing to do.  Plus, it takes the emphasis off ourselves, which is when we really get to feeling bad, or unappreciated, or any of those other feelings that lead to discontent. 
With that in mind we'll get started on our week of cleaning and cooking.  Our big family Thanksgiving dinner (the one for my Mom's side of the family) will happen this weekend.  For a couple of different reasons, we never have that dinner on Thanksgiving Day (and for a couple of other reasons, we do all the cooking).  We put out the fall decorations this past weekend, and we'll work on the cleaning through Thurs.  I'll probably finish up my shopping on Wed. or Thurs., and then we'll start cooking on Friday.  We'll cook all the desserts, and do as much of the prep work as possible Friday.  At some point this week I'll work up my time schedual for Saturday.  There are so many dishes to cook, that I have to schedual everything out so that it's all done (or will still be hot) at the same time.  It should be slightly easier this year since, in addition to the roaster oven we've had for a few years, hubby bought me a three element hot plate with three 4qt. stainless steel pots.  Between the 3 new pots, the 4 burners on the stove, and our 2 crock pots, I shouldn't have any trouble at all keeping all the veggies hot (without having to jockey things around on the stove all the time).  Our menu will be:
Turkey                                                     Desserts:
Ham                                                           Chocolate Pistachio Cake
Pot Roast                                                  Red Velvet Cake
Turkey Gravy                                          Chocolate Pie
Stuffing (2 kinds)                                     Apple Pie
Mashed Potatoes                                     Sweet Potato Pie
Velveeta Shells and Cheese (my           Lemon Merangue Pie 
one give in to 'yucky' food)                    Pumpkin Cheese Pie
Baked Sweet Potatoes                           Buttermilk Pie
Pinto Beans                                               Brownies
Green Beans                                             Brown Sugar Brownies            
Corn                                                           (some call these Blondies)
Lima Beans                                               Lemon Poundcake
Raw Baby Carrots                                  Pumpkin Roll                                    
Cranberry Sauce                                     Banana Pudding
Deviled Eggs
Olive/Pickle plate
Biscuts
Cornbread
Can you tell we like desserts?  Well, some of them may be bumped off the list if we run out of time, or space in the refrigerator.  I hope it will be cold enough this year to use the garage as a refrigerator like we did last year (just for some of the pies), but it's not looking promising so far.
For now...Hi-ho, Hi-ho, It's off to work we go!

Becky

Friday, November 13, 2009

Food Prep.

Here are a few pictures Ri took of our food prep day.
  

The sink is pretty big, so the pumpkin looks very
small.  This was one of the smaller ones though.


This was one of the mid-sized ones. Don't know
what happend to the color on this one - it's a little off.


The outsides may be dull colored, but as you
can see, the inside is bright.


We ended up filling the roaster oven 5 times,
though on the last run it was only about 2/3 full.


Two platters loaded up with pumpkin ready
to be scraped out of it's skin and blended.


Nearly done.


Now, this is what happens if you have a brain
lapse and walk away from the table without
removing the stick blender from the bowl.  The
cord will pull it out of the bowl and make a huge
mess on the floor, wall, and all surrounding furniture.
By the way Ri, thanks for cleaning that up!!


Now I'm mixing up the filling for the egg rolls.
I know the meat for the filling is usually raw, but
we usually make a huge batch, freezing most of it for
future use.  I have found, through trial and error, that
it's much easier to cook the ones that were frozen if the
meat has already been cooked.  Then you don't run
the risk of overcooking the outside, but not quite
getting the inside done. 


Ri, Beenie, and I rolled them up.  I was impatiently
waiting for Ri to pull off one of the spring roll wrappers.
The color is a little weird on this picture too.


We didn't get any good pictures of making
the pomegranate jelly, but here is some of
the finished product.  I found myself a little
short of 1/2pt jars, so I used whatever I had.


We tried our best to get a good picture of the
beautiful dark red this jelly is.  This picture
doesn't really do it justice.

Of course, this wasn't all we did that day, but this is already a really long post, and I didn't think to get any other pictures.
I like to do food prep days at least twice a month, even if it's just something like making chicken broth or stock, or beef stock, culturing yogurt and buttermilk, and cooking up some kind of meat that we can pull out and use for a quick supper, or for lunches.  For me, having homemade broths and stocks on hand is invaluable.  Already cooked meats have also been a real life saver when we need a quick meal, or want something a little different for lunch.  I also like making spaghetti sauce in a large enough amout that I'll have enough left that I can freeze some for at least one spaghetti or lasagna dinner (usually 2).  I've heard of families that also cut up veggies and stuff to keep on hand for quick snacks, and while I've often thought that was a good idea, if it was already cut up the kids seem to eat it twice as fast.  If they have to put forth a little effort for it, it keeps it from evaporating from the fridge.  Shoot - if they had to peel grapes we might be able to keep them around for more than a day!

BTW - we are all feeling better, but T.Lynn still has a yucky sounding cough.

Becky

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ugh

I'd love to post about, well just about anything, but Ri was kind enough to share the cold she had last week with some of us.  All the pics Ri took on Monday will just have to wait.  I managed to do my cousin's tutoring (only because he had to miss last week and his test is in a few weeks - and because he was willing to risk getting sick), but Ri oversaw school for the younger girls and even took Beenie in for her guitar lesson (I didn't want to share with her teacher).  Kay did the housework and cooked supper.  Thanks girls!
I do try to use herbs as much as possible to treat just about anything, but I've got to be honest, when night time rolls around - bring on the NyQuil!

Becky

Monday, November 9, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

I'm about to fall down, but I thought I'd throw in a little something today since I was updating about Grandma anyway.  I plan on explaining things a bit better later (I'll have pics. then too - Ri hasn't uploaded them yet).
I jumped the gun a little on my food prep. on Saturday, and I'm glad I did.  I went ahead and did 3 of the pumpkins, and started a batch of grain for the sprouter.  We also did other cooking in preparation for Sunday, but we'd have done that anyway.

Today I did the last pumpkin, got the grain in the dehydrator (which had to be cleaned because it hasn't been used in forever   a few months), started roasting the bones for my beef stock, and left the children taking apart all the pomegranates while I ran to the store.  Hubby had checked the ads and found that one of the stores has quite a few items on sale that we were going to need for Thanksgiving. THEN - when I got back home, I started cleaning the last of the white stuff off the pomegranate airls while the girls put away the groceries and Kay finished cooking the ground beef for the egg rolls.  She chopped up the garlic, and grated another onion (Ri did the first), while Ri chopped veggies to add to the stock and I whirred up the pomegranate arils in the blender and put them in a cheesecloth lined colander to drain off the juice.  Then I mixed up the rest of the ingredients for the egg rolls and Beenie, Ri, and I rolled, while Kay (with T.Lynn's help) fried some up for supper.  Bree made the salad.  I wanted to finish up the pomegranate jelly after supper, but hubby's blood pressure started spiking, so that was out of the question.  I had to start with his nitro paste and monitoring.
Belive it or not, but we did manage to fit school in around everything else, so I still need to look over the things that the girls finished up on their own (of course, the older girls do most of theirs on their own - so I need to look over all of that).  Somehow we also managed to wash three loads of clothes today (shhhh-two of them still need to be folded).

Becky

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gettin' Into the Swing of Things

Okay, I'll admit it.  I've just been plodding along lately.  Just covering the basics, not very enthusiastic about extra stuff, ... BUT... Thanksgiving will be on us before you know it.  And then, of course, there's Christmas.  It's time to get busy.  So, I pulled myself out my slump and started getting to work.  I used the time the girls were at Mom's to make a new chore plan.  I had a pow-wow with the girls Mon. to update them on the new plan and started getting a few things going.  It's started a little slow (what with the girls needing to re-coup, all that laundry they brought home, and keeping up with what's going on with Grandma), but yesterday I was determined to really get something going.  I started with the pumpkins that have been hanging around since our last trip to the apple orchard.  I got the two biggest done yesterday and now have 8 pts. of pumpkin puree in the freezer.  Then the girls and I  prepared the menu for our big Thanksgiving dinner with my Mom's side of the family.  I also got inspired by a recipe for pomegranate jelly I ran across yesterday, so when I was in the store today I checked out the price - guess what? - they were on sale, so I bought a bunch.  I've got a plan all worked out for Monday.  I'm going to make it a food prep. day.  I'll work on some more of the pumpkins (I've got 4 more), make the pomegranate jelly, start some beef stock, and cook up a bunch of ground beef for a variety of uses.  We'll probably go ahead and use some of it to make a bunch of Philippino style egg rolls to tuck away in the freezer.  I'd like to be able to wait and make yogurt then, but T.Lynn has already rebelled against the store bought kind we had to put on our fruit salad at breakfast yesterday.  She wouldn't touch it, so I'll put some milk in the crock pot when I'm done here.  There's a couple of other things I'd like to try and fit in, but I want to be realistic, and there's only so much I can fit on the counter and stove.
I can't wait for Monday!

Becky

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Blog Award

My precious daughter and her best friend (who is my best friend's daughter) have awarded me with a favorite blog award.  Here it is:


Pretty, isn't it?

Apparently, when you receive one of these you have to do several things.  (I'm so new at this sort of thing.)  The steps for this award are as follows:
1. Post about the person who awarded you, and their blog.
2. Give the award to five of your favorite blogs, give your reason for chosing that blog, and leave a comment telling them they have been awarded.
3. Answer the ten questions.
4. Have tons of fun doing it!

OK - Here goes.

1st - Ri is my lovely, second oldest daughter, and Lys is her best friend - she is lovely too, by the way.  If you want, you can check out their blogs by clicking on their names.  Both of them are tremendous blessings, and have both accepted Christ as their personal savior (YAY!!!).  They both aspire to be stay-at-home wives/moms.   Both of them are also interested in photography, so Lys' mom and I get to see lots of pictures, and hear of the constant need for batteries (or they are anxiously waiting for the batteries to recharge).

2nd - I give this award to:
1) Mother Hen at Shipfull of Pirates - I even like the name.  She's down to earth and she has lots of tips and good recipes.  My kind of gal.
2) Laura at Heavenly Homemakers  - I love her sense of humor and it was one of her e-books that I used to help me get started with canning.
3) Organizing Mommy at Organized Everyday  - She's a hoot.  I love her resourcefulness.
4) Kim at Life in a Shoe  - Love the pic. at the top, and am especially fond of her stories about "the boy".
5) Mia at Aspiring Homemaker - I appreciate the encouragement she gives to young ladies.

The names of their blogs contain a link to the site.  Now, on to the questions.

1. Have you ever ridden an elephant?  I think so...at a fair once when I was very young?  Very young was quite awhile ago.
2. Have you ever eaten squid?  Yes.  It's good as long as it's not overcooked.  It's rather like chewing leather if it's overdone.
3. What is something crazy you have done with your best friend?  We tied each other's shoes when we were both huge pregnant with Ri and Lys - does that count?  It seemed quite funny (and maybe a little crazy) at the time. 
4. Have you ever held an alligator?  Just like Ri (and Lys),  I've never held one, but I have eaten it.  It's good too.
5. Have you ever let a snake slither through your fingers?  No, not slither through my fingers, but I have touched and held them.  And once I was with a school group that they allowed to hold a huge boa constrictor - when I say huge I mean it took a bunch of us to hold it.
6. What is your first and foremost dream in life?  To see my children go on to love and serve the Lord.  For them to marry saved young men who share their vision for a home dedicated to serving the Lord, and to raise whatever children the Lord blesses them with in the nurture and admonition of our Lord.
7. What is your dream vacation?  At this point it would just be my dream to one day have a vacation. 
8. What is the funniest movie you've seen?  I don't know - my opinion of what is truly funny has changed quite a bit over time.
9. What is your favorite song?  He Leadeth Me or Amazing Grace.
10. If you could change the world in one way, what would you do?  I'm not sure - I can't really say that I would want to have everyone saved (that would be great), but it's important for us to have free will (to freely accept Christ) and where there is free will, there will not be 100% acceptance.  I would like for hearts to be more receptive, or all governments to allow Christians to spread the gospel openly, or....you see my dilemma?

Okay, I think that's all.  There are plenty of other blogs that I follow and enjoy throughly, so please don't be offended if I didn't pick yours.  (It took me forever to do the whole link thing anyway - if I had to do more I'd have been here all night.)  Blessings to you all.

Becky




Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Guitar Lessons

Before I tell you about Beenie's newest thing, I wanted to say that I stole an idea from Ri today and set up a section on my side bar that will hold updates on Grandma.
Now, on to Beenie's big day.  Today was the first day for her guitar lessons.  She was so nervous she didn't eat much for lunch, so she was starving once it was all over with.  Her teacher is very nice.  He explained things well and she was picking it all up very quickly.  Hubby bought her the foot stool the teacher wanted her to have and decided she might as well go ahead and have a music stand, so as soon as we got home she was itching to get to everything.  I went over the parts of the guitar with her again and she gave me pointers on how to hold one and what string to pluck, what note the string was, etc.  You know when someone's got a good understanding of something if they're able to instruct another, so I let her guide me along even though I was there for the whole session and remembered everything he said.  He also has no problem with my sitting in on the lessons, which was a big plus in my book (potentially a deal breaker if he'd had a problem with it).
Ya'll pray for me now - hubby is seriously considering encouraging the whole drum playing thing.  I just don't think I can do drums.  I'm praying she loses her facination with it soon.  Beating on things that can make a horrendous racket can't possibly hold a child's attention all that long can it???  Yeah - I didn't think so either.   (SIGH)  Where are the ear plugs I bought Ri for when she runs the weedeater?  You know, the ones I never see her using.

Becky   

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thoughts and Updates

Grandma suffered a set back late last night.  She has had periods of extreme disorientation and her oxygen levels start to fall unless she stays on 100% oxygen through the mask.  They are unsure now of how long she will be hospitalized, and they are sure that once she is released she will have to go to a specialized nursing facility for rehabilitaton in order to get her strength back.  My uncle is assesing her condition to see if round the clock care from family members is necessary.  They have never allowed her to be restrained in bed, so different family members have pitched in as necessary to make sure someone is there with her when she becomes disoriented.
On another note, during devotions today, Ri instigated an interesting discussion.  She is all stuffed up, so she was saying that she would not be able to sing today.  I told her to do the best she could and reminded her that the bible just tells us to make a joyfull noise.  Then the question came up as to whether or not the angels made noise or sang well, and I suggested they sang well.  Then Ri said, "Well, what if happy does sound beautiful to God."  Good point.  I'm pretty sure our being joyfull does sound beautiful to God.

Becky

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pretty Normal

With the exception of Grandma not being here, today was pretty normal.  Well, that means that when I went out to take the recycling to the box site and make a quick stop in the grocery store, the two littlest and the neighbor girls turned the garage into their own play house.  I couldn't even pull the van in until it was cleaned up.  I should have gotten pictures, but I really just wanted it cleaned up, and, of course, to get the refrigerated stuff put away.  Not really on top of my game today anyway.  School pretty much consisted of Bible study, music, and home ec.  If you ever feel bad about only accomplishing that much for school you should read, "When You Rise Up" by R.C. Sproul Jr.  I can't say it bothered me, but hey, some would think I was remiss in my duties.
Grandma is holding her own.  The infection was caused by a staph bacteria, but it is responding to treatment.  She has developed a secondary problem of fluid being retained around her heart and lungs, but they've given her an IV treatment of Lasix in addition to the oral she already takes, and they'll check tomorrow to see if that is helping.  I got to speak with her for a moment today, and other than being tired she still says that she feels okay, and she is eating well (a very good sign for her).  The fluid retention is going to delay her recovery a bit, and I'm begining to be concerned about her losing strength the longer she has to be in bed, but we'll just have to see how long she'll be down before we'll know anything more definate.  I would love it if she recovered quickly enough to come straight home and not have to go to the rehab center for awhile. 
I think I'll close my day with a cup of hot tea and a book (I have so many to chose from).

Becky  

Sunday, November 1, 2009

They're Baaaack!!!

Amid lots of talking, excitement (I'll explain that in a minute), a few tears and two - yes two 30 gal. trash bags of laundry, the girls returned home.  Tired (which equals cranky or weepy depending on which child it is), and quite a bit run down.  I plan to spend the next couple of days washing clothes, stuffing them with home-made food, making them nap, and giving them plenty of vitamin C.  They enjoyed their trip, they always do, but there was aditional fun this time - Grandma had purchased a Wii - did I spell that right?  So in addition to all the running around to first one place and then another, they also got to run around in the living room.  They're exhausted.
The excitment stemmed from a couple of purchases hubby and I made this week.  We used some of the alone time to go to the music store.  We got Bree a new (new to us anyway) flute.  Ours was in pretty bad shape and wasn't the greatest quality in the first place (read 30yr old student flute).  And we got Beenie a guitar.  She's been interested in them for what seems like forever.  They had a cute one on consignment for not a whole lot of money, which was sized right for a small player.  We grabbed the opportunity, along with a beginners book, and went ahead and signed her up for lessons.  I know how to play several instruments, but guitar is not one of them.  It all looks Greek to me.  Bree couldn't wait to try out her flute, and all three younger ones wanted to mess with the guitar.  T.Lynn wanted to try out the flute and the guitar, and told us she wanted to learn to play the drums (Oh, please no!).  I think the older two just wanted to sleep.
Grandma is doing better today, and other than being tired, she says she's not feeling bad at all.  She seems to be responding to treatment very well.  I'll have to check in with my uncle a bit later to see what the offical prognosis is (he was not available when I called earlier).  I thank those of you who have offered prayers on her behalf.

Becky