Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas is coming!

Over the holidays, I plan to update my blog on all we have been doing with school.  My camera lenses died, and blog posts are no fun without pictures!  As a birthday/Christmas (and maybe Valentine's Day/Mother's Day/Anniversary gift), I got a new lens.  Yea!!!!  Pix of projects are coming soon!  Here's a quick note about what we are going to be doing this holiday season.  First, we are taking a break in the MFW-ECC curriculum to look at Christmas Around the World.  We are also doing the Truth in the Tinsel book.  Secondly, as cute as my friend's elf on the shelf pictures are, I have enough mischief in my life without creating extra, and I know my kids well enough to know that if it's cute for the elf to do it, they would try it too!  As a giving focused alternative, I am planning to combine the Christmas Angel with Light 'em Up activities.  :)  I plan to post some of these as we go.  Since tomorrow is Dec. 1, I read the Christmas Angel book tonight, and I am making plans.  What do you do in your house to keep your kids focused on Christ at Christmas?

And, while 52 weeks of cookies was cancelled by our household running guru, I will be making cookies through the holidays, and I'll post the recipes.  :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Updates soon!

Things have been crazy busy around here!  My camera is having issues, soccer is keeping us hopping, and we are working on gifts for my sister's baby shower this weekend.  (I'm going to be an aunt!!!!)  Also, allergies are going crazy, and I got stitches this week.  :(  I had some moles removed back in April that my dermatologist was concerned about.  Three of them came back as precancer, but the lab reports showed they had gotten it all.  Well, one came back and brought a new friend, so it had to be cut out.  It hurts!  Anyway, I will update soon with pix from our "trip" to Mexico, and our Exploration Day 15 and the sweet gifts we made for my niece.  On a quick side note, the Bru Crew has really taken this "trip" thing very seriously!  They keep pretending to be in Mexico.  Smiley calls it Me-hee-co, just like a Mexican would.  Little Man keeps pretending to be from other random countries, and the girls keep asking him what brought him to Mexico if he's from St. Kitts & Nevis, or wherever he's pretending to be from at the time.  It is hilarious to overhear their random conversations as I am working on my niece's gift, or cleaning, or cooking, or whatever.  They also play this really fun app that is like the Geography Game from MFW called Stack the Countries.  (The app has a mini game called "Map It" that is just like it.)  They are learning the names of SO many countries all over the world.  They are so sad that we're "skipping so many" in their words.  I reminded them that if we spent 2 weeks on every country, we'd be studying ECC for 5 yrs!  They suggested we just spend a week on each, and be done in 2.5 yrs.  I love their thirst for knowledge!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Outrageous Chocolate Cookies and Potato Soup

Smiley: my ever-present
kitchen helper
It's week 2 of my 52 Weeks of cookies!  This past Friday, I made Outrageous Chocolate Cookies to share with our friends at co-op.  I followed a pin to this blog post, which had a recipe link to here, for these deliciously rich cookies.  They were good, and gone fast!  I made them and hurried out the door, so I didn't get a picture of the finished product.  I didn't have chocolate chunks, so I used 2 cups of chocolate chips instead, and I used 1 1/3 cups of chocolate chips for the semi-sweet chocolate.  I buy them in bulk from Sam's Club.  Also, it turned out, that I was out of brown sugar, so I used 3/4 cup of regular sugar and a tablespoon of molasses.  Smiley helped me make them.  She scooped the dough, which was more like brownie batter onto the pans to put in the oven. 

Smiley was tickled at the shapes of her cookies.
It took a lot of self control for her not to lick her
fingers until she was finished!
Last night, soccer was cancelled due to a torrential rain, so, I stayed home and made potato soup.  It was the perfect weather for it!  Sadly, it is a crock pot recipe, but my crock pot died, and has not been replaced yet.  Thankfully, she gave suggestions for cooking it without one.  I made adaptations, of course, because I always do.  The last time I asked Bru Crew Dad to get potatoes at the store, he bought a 5 lb. bag of yellow potatoes.  (Isn't he a gem to go shopping for me?  I just have to remember to be more specific!)  Since the meal I needed them for required baking potatoes, I wondered what to do with these.  Soup was the perfect thing!  I peeled most of the 5 lb. of potatoes.  We have discovered that we like the skin in our potato stuff, so I left a couple with skin that I just scrubbed well.  I also used 3 qt. of stock, 2 cans of cream of chicken and a can of cream of mushroom.  I was out of onions, so I used a Tbs. of dehydrated onion, and a tsp. of onion powder.  I doubled the pepper and garlic powder.  I cooked my diced potatoes for about 30 minutes, added my cans of soup in, then divided it in half.  We had half for dinner and froze half for another night.  I returned it to the stove to warm the cream soups through and melt the cream cheese.  (Shh!  Don't tell Little Man that I put cream cheese in it!)  Each of the kids ate thirds!  Yum!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Edible USA

Ms. Quality Time thought she didn't need
the extra sugar from the frosting, and used
extra M&M's for the Gulf of Mexico, since her
Mississippi River extended into it.
How many sentences and blog posts start with "I saw this idea on Pinterest..."?  How did we ever think of anything before Pinterest?  Anyway, following the trend, I saw this idea on Pinterest this weekend, and knew I had to use it!  (Scroll toward the bottom, past the Valentine's Day stuff to find it.)  In ECC we are leaving the US today and heading to Mexico.  So, this morning, we put landforms on the USA, talking about things one might fly over and see out the window as they left our country.  I cut out a US map, traced it will edible markers onto an extra large tortilla, and let the kids make the Rocky and Appalaichan Mountains with chocolate chips, the Great Plains with green tinted coconut, the Mississippi River with a blue sour punch straw and the Great Lakes with blue M&M's.  She used Twizzler Pull 'N' Peel (or something similar) for the Mississippi, but I wanted it blue.  I see now the wisdom in using the Twizzlers or other licorice rope, since it is more flexible, and the Mississippi is not nearly as straight as we made it. There was frosting to "glue" it on with.  Some of the kids chose to use it, some did not.  It was a fun (and yummy) activity.  :)

Tenderheart's USA
Little Man didn't want to use frosting b/c he
was afraid he wouldn't be able to find and
remove the coconut.
Smiley's USA

Saturday, September 15, 2012

MFW-ECC Week 4

Well, we have wrapped up our study of the United States of America this week. Smiley showed much improvement in her state recognition by the end of the two weeks. Whether she was being difficult, was tired, or just having at off day, I don't know, but early in Week 3, I had each kid label the states they recognized on a blank line map of the US. I was going to label hers for her, but she only recognized Alaska. Thursday of this week, we repeated the activity. The older three kids were a little frustrated about it. They know all the states and where they are in the US, so it felt a little like busy work, but I had them label them with postal abbreviations, which it turns out need more work at our house. Smiley was delighted, however! She was able to easily identify five states: ours and the ones surrounding it. With a little more gentle pressure from me, she got up to fourteen states that she was able to correctly identify and put on the map! This week was crazy busy, which made me grateful for how much less busy work there is in MFW! We mostly skipped the first grade stuff this week. Smiley usually works on it while the other kids are working on their reading, but I knew we were pressed for time this week. We doubled up on school Monday, because Tuesday we had science class at a nearby science museum. The museum is about an hour away, but there is a Sam's Club not too far from it, so I use the opportunity to get groceries. We were able to count the day as a school day because of the science class, but I knew we would not get much curriculum done. I brought math in the car for Smiley, since she doesn't double up as well as the other kids, but she gets carsick easily too, so it didn't get finished. Also, rather than cooking, we went to a local place for burgers. Mine never seem to turn out the way I want them to on the grill, plus after our Friday morning school, then co-op with our friends, I don't feel like cooking! Co-op and cooking days seem to go together this fall, so we may be eating out for the food instead, which might be better. I can follow recipes, but how do I know if some new food tastes right or not. If it is bad, is it because I made a mistake, or do we just not like that kind of food? We'll see how that goes. We did cook though! We made cookies to take to co-op. I'll blog about that soon, probably on Tasty Tuesday. :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

52 Weeks of Cookies

 A friend of mine did 52 weeks of cake last year.  I really enjoyed seeing all the cakes she made and posted on facebook each week.  I considered joining in as well, but we are not big cake eaters.  We want cake for our birthday, but that's mostly it, and sometimes, even then, we will choose a cookie cake over a cake or cupcakes.  I prefer cupcakes to cake because they require no dishes and are more convenient, but to make each kind look different takes a lot of work.  However, we LOVE cookies!  Bru Crew Dad's first word was cookie!!!  So, being the cookie lovers that we are, since I tried new cookie recipes two Fridays in a row, I felt inspired to do 52 weeks of cookies.  The plan is for each cookie to be from scratch and different from the others.  I don't know exactly how this will work, but it will be fun to try it!  If you make any of the cookies, let me know what you think!

MFW-ECC Week 3

My bed this morning!
(No wonder I'm always tired!)
Well, the craziness of soccer continues!  All four kids playing, two traveling, I coach two of them, and Bru Crew Dad coaches a third one.  Last year, it seemed like we lived at the soccer fields, but I saw all but one or two games.  None of them overlapped.  This year, the overlapping is constant.  I have seen less than three quarters of Ms. Quality Time's games so far this season, and I've had to leave Tenderheart's game (where I am asst. coach) to go coach Little Man's team (where I am head coach).  I have also seen only about two quarters of Smiley's games.  It makes me a sad mama to know my kids are playing just across the field, and I can't cheer for them and support them.  Week 3 was a little harder for us than Week 2.  We are studying countries now, so the workload changed a little.  Smiley is just in first grade, but she does most of this stuff with us (with a LOT of help).  Assuming that we stay with MFW, she will do it all again in a few years, so I'm not stressing about whether she "gets it" or not.  Right now, we are studying the U.S., so it's very familiar to my kids.  That makes it easy.  They were not very interested in the Week 3 crafts, but when they saw quilting as a Week 4 art project, they decided to do that, except that they don't want to glue fabric on paper, they want to make "real" quilts.  So, again, this will be a long term project, rather than a 1 hr. project.  As a quilter, it was hard to say no to that request.  :)  Consequently, they are making doll sized quilts. 
Tenderheart's Doll Quilt-
She plans to make a disappearing 4 patch
for her American Girl mini doll.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

MFW-ECC Week 2


Smiley had to use her finger to smooth out the
lines, so it would look pretty.
Little Man's N. & S. America ("and don't
forget Greenland!")
This  post is delayed because the last thing on  Week 2 was a world cake.  Well, we are not big cake eaters, but we love cookies!  So, the Bru Crew decided to make world sugar cookies instead, but soccer kept getting in the way!  Each child made 2 cookies: one for North and South America and one for Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.  Only Ms. Quality Time left room and thought to put Antartica at the bottom of each cookie.  Little Man had me outline his continents, then he filled them in.  Smiley had me do all of it.  Tenderheart and Ms. Quality Time completed them on their own.  As far as school itself went, Week 2 was MUCH smoother than Week 1.  We were finished by lunch most days, and those that weren't finished up shortly after.  It was SUCH a relief to me!  I doubt our schedule will be great and things will be super smooth until soccer is finished, since right now we have a lot of evenings where we aren't home until 9:00 or later with all four kids needing showers, but it is what it is.  Part of the beauty of homeschooling is that we can be flexible.  The Bru Crew is lot loving the science this year.  We have done Apologia sciences in the past, and they interest the children more than Properties of Ecosystems, but biomes aren't really covered in Apologia, and I think this is important.  The teacher's manual indicates that science gets more interesting in Week 3, so we'll see.  :)  Here are more pictures of the Bru Crew and their world cookies. (Notice the soccer uniforms in the pix.  They all had a game that day.)
Ms. Quality Time making
her hemispheres.

Tenderheart getting the frosting bag ready.


Little Man had me outline the continents,
then he filled them in.
After I took pictures of her hemispheres,
Smiley piled on the green frosting to make them "yummier."
*ETA:  Find our cookie recipe here and the frosting recipe here.  I didn't follow the cookie recipe at the frosting site because I didn't want to refrigerate and wait!  I rolled the first tray of cookies in colored sugar crystals because I knew they would want some warm from the oven.  The rest I left plain for frosting.  I noticed that these cookies need to be flattened or they bake up tall instead of out.  Bru Crew Dad is not a frosting lover, so he enjoyed the sprinkle cookies better than the frosted ones, but the rest of us loved the frosting!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Living and Active Week 1 Clare over at Peak 313 Fitness is hosting a five week challenge for getting more exercise and getting in the Word.  I'm excited about participating!  I played soccer with my kids last night, and ran hard, but I'm counting that as bonus.  I still plan to do the 4 exercise routines she suggested.  I definitely need to be more active, and I'm praying this is just what I need to make that happen.  Will you join me?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cookies for Breakfast

What?  Cookies for breakfast?  You may be thinking that Bru Crew Mom has lost her marbles.  :)  Well, it all started a couple of years ago when Bru Crew Dad replaced his daily breakfast with Oatmeal To Go bars to lower his cholesterol.  (It worked beautifully, by the way.)  The kids were jealous, and wanted these yummy oatmeal treats too, but they came six to a box, and cost over $3 each box, most days.  I told them no.  Then, one time, the store was out of the bars, and I bought Bru Crew Dad Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies.  Then, the Bru Crew was REALLY jealous.  Dad gets cookies for breakfast?  We never get cookies for breakfast!  I tried to explain that these were different, but in a child's mind, there is no difference.  Cookies are cookies are cookies.  So, I set out to find a recipe for breakfast cookies, because I am NOT spending that much money on breakfast for my children regularly,  especially considering that they are still hungry after they eat one!  It took a lot of hunting, and I still didn't find the perfect one, but I found one that was close here.  I have adjusted it to meet our taste preferences, and my easy cooking preferences.  I reduced the sugar because I could.  I reduced the oats because I use whole wheat flour, and it absorbs more liquid.  I also use whole eggs.  I avoid using just egg whites whenever I can because we tend to not use the yolks later, and I hate wasting food.  I also replaced the oil, water, and prune puree with just apple sauce.  (Side note:  I have also used banana puree, pumpkin, and others.)  I have one that won't eat nuts in his foods, and I don't keep apricot around, so we use dried cranberries.  Here is my recipe with adjustments:

Bru Crew Breakfast Cookies:

1 1/2 c brown sugar
2 c rolled oats
4 c whole wheat flour
1 Tbs baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 c unsweetened apple sauce
3 whole eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c raisins
1/2 c dried cranberries

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.
2.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray.  (I used a seasoned stoneware pan, and I do neither of these.  They are non-stick already.)
3.  Mix first 7 dry ingredients in a large bowl.  (I use my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer.)
4.  Make a well in the center and pour in wet ingredients.  Mix well again.
5.  Stir in raisins and cranberries.  Dough will be thick!
6.  Using an ice cream scoop (or Large Pampered Chef Scoop) place balls of dough 2 inches apart on the sheet.  (If you do not have a scoop, you can roll golf ball sized balls of dough.)
7.  Spray your hand with non-stick cooking spray and flatten the cookies.  Because of the lack of fat in these cookies, they will not spread on their own.  (See picture above.)
8.  Bake 8 minutes for a soft and chewy cookie, 10 minutes for a more cake-like cookie.
9.  Cool on pan for a couple of minutes, the move to cooling rack to finish cooling.
10.  This makes around 3 dozen large cookies for us.  They freeze well, but stick together, so layer with waxed paper before freezing.

*Also, I have used banana puree instead of apple sauce, and used nuts and chocolate chips instead of fruit to make "Banana Nut" cookies, and I've used canned pumpkin with pumpkin pie spice and cranberries for a fall version of these cookies.  Varieties are endless, but different purees cook up differently, so the texture isn't always exactly the same, but they still taste good and are healthy.  Soon, I plan to try sweet potatoes!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

MFW-ECC Week 1

We all went to Disney World last Sept. 
This is the Bru Crew's last group
photo with Great-Grandma.
(Bru Crew Dad's sister and parents went too.)
This post is a little a lot delayed, sorry!  The evening before we were to start school, we received a call that Bru Crew Dad's grandmother had died.  We prayed about it, and decided to start school as scheduled anyway, since the kids had been looking forward to starting.  We also thought it would help take their minds off of the loss.  Because of the viewing, funeral, and Bru Crew Dad's parents staying a few days after, it took us two weeks to get the first week of curriculum finished.  (As I type this, we are wrapping up week two, with much greater success.)  I read several blogs last year about ECC and several posts in the forum, and was prepared for the first two weeks to be a little intense.  Also, knowing that this was our first year in MFW (and my oldest girls are doing some additional history stuff in preparation for junior high), I was expecting kinks.  As we wrapped up our first week, I was slightly concerned that I'm made a very unwise decision, even though I'd felt like the Lord was leading us to it.  Nothing went like I was expecting it too.  As I already mentioned, I'd read all these blogs, and saw all these cute pictures of kids doing the activities.  Our mandarin orange globes?  Not picture worthy...Ms. Quality Time rinsed hers and restarted at least 3 times.  I drew the continents on the others, but even copying the globe in front of me, my Atlantic Ocean was significantly larger than my Pacific Ocean.  Not only that, but NONE of them wanted to peel it carefully to try to late it out flat.  However, we did finish school each day before soccer practice, which was a tremendous blessing!  (I can't tell you how many times in the past I've had a kid take school work to the soccer fields, and sit on the bleachers doing their "homework" during a sibling's soccer practice!)

Little Man had almost equal parts blue and
red, so his tongue is purplish.
Also, while the grandparents were here, we took a field trip to the Blue Bell factory.  We got to see where they pastuerize the milk, freeze the milk, how the store the sugar, add in flavors, and put ice cream into the cartons.  The highlight of the trip was eating the ice cream at the end!  One of the ice cream options was "Krazy Kolors."  I ate Triple Caramel, Ms. Quality Time ate Red Velvet Cake, Tenderheart ate Cherry Vanilla, and the Little ones got Krazy Kolors.  It has so much food coloring in it, that it colored their teeth and tongues.  It was a fun, educational, tasty, and Kolorful experience.
Smiley had a lot of blue.  Sorry for the blur,
but that expression is priceless!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dig Into God's Word with us!

On September 3, kids all over the country (world?) will be participating in a new Bible Study with their families.  The idea behind this study, is to teach children how to read the Scriptures, analyze what they are saying, and apply the truth they find.  It is explained as an archeological study, using that terminology.  You start with "The Map" setting the stage for where you are going in your study that day.  You move on to "The Dig," where you read the Scriptures for the day.  You find "The Treasure" and then there's "The Display" where you apply what you discovered in God's Word to your children's lives.  What I love about it, is that it is straight Scriptures!  This study does not give you one verse, then a fluffy story and an application.  It gives you a passage each day, guiding questions to ask about it, and a verse or two for the week to memorize.  Each Sunday, you stop at "The Oasis" where you review what they've learned in the week, along with an activity page to complete.  What a great way for a dad to lead family devotions!  It takes out all the guess work, removes the pressure and guides Dad as he guides his kids into God's Word.  Won't you join us?  You can get your ebook here!  It is available as a PDF file, or for the Kindle or nook!  Kindle and nook versions include a link for "The Oasis" downloads, so you don't miss out on those activities.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First Day of First Grade?

Smiley's Scroll Alphabet page A-F 
 Well, we are officially out for the summer, and have been for a couple of weeks.  I give the kids a couple of weeks truly "off" where they can sleep late, and do whatever (within reason) they want all day.  By the end of the second week when wake-up is around 10 am, lunch around 2:30 pm, and bedtime is after 10 pm, we're  ALL crazy!  So, we begin our summer schedule of getting up at a reasonable time (6:30, anyone?), which leads to a reasonable bedtime, and a sane Mom!  There are not a lot of kids in our neighborhood, so it doesn't feel much different, and BruCrewDad works year round, and heads to the gym before 5 am each morning, so early to rise, early to bed works better for our family.  (I know the saying is early to bed, early to rise, but that doesn't work in our house.)  The Bru Crew does NOT go to bed early unless I wake them up fairly early and keep them busy all day, thus, we continue working on the 3 R's during summer break.  Yesterday was our first day back in the saddle, and it wasn't pretty.  Lots of meltdowns, and a math page that took two hours.  :o(  After lunch, I busted out the new books so I could organize it all while I still remembered what I bought and why.  ;)  Smiley looked at some of it with great interest!  She finished what I required of her quite quickly today, then begged to start her new stuff.  What was I to say?  "No.  You have to wait until August to learn this new stuff you're excited about." 
Can you see why we call her Smiley?
Practicing writing Aa, Bb, Cc
   By then, she won't be excited!  So, Smiley started first grade today.  ;) We talked about how the Bible was written on scrolls, and looked online at images of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Then, she wrote her letters for practice, then beginning sounds as I dictated words.  This was all after she had already done a page in Math U See, and a handwriting page.On a side note, I had a brilliant idea today.  This fall, we are doing My Father's World-Exploring Countries and Cultures (ECC).  Since we will be studying cultures around the world, I wanted to also cover Christmas around the World, but Christmas is crazy, and I'll be honest, we don't get much done between Thanksgiving and New Year's.  So, when I saw a facebook post about Christmas in July, I thought, that's perfect!  We can do Christmas around the World in July!  Then, we have our appetites wet for ECC without the stress of a full blown project in December!  We can make Christmas passports, Christmas goodies from around the world, and end with a party!  Won't that be fun?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Strawberry Cupcakes with Ganache

It's Tasty Tuesday!  At the request of the Cubbies Leaders at church, I am making 2 dozen strawberry cupcakes for the Cubbies' last night of class.  I am on a quest to reduce our processed foods, which means making cakes from scratch, instead of a mix.  I found this recipe, and fell in love!  Now, just an excuse to make them right?  Well, that came along with the Cubbies!  I am leaving out the red food coloring.  My cupcakes will be less pink than the picture, but I'm okay with that.  At first, they were not nearly pink enough, and I couldn't fit all the cupcakes in my oven at once.  I baked 24, and was unimpressed with the coloring.  After that, I pureed a few more strawberries and stirred them into the remaining batter.  Those cupcakes had a much better color, but did not rise as well.  Did they not rise because they had already risen some, or because the egg whites were beginning to fall, or because I folded more puree into them, I'm not sure.  Her frosting sounded yummy too, but I was looking for less sugar, since I'm covering them with the chocolate Cubbie Bear faces from yesterday's post.  It came to me, ganache!  I am using this recipe, but again altered it.  The 60% Cacao Ghirardelli chips come in a 10 oz. bag, so I just used 10 oz. of chocolate instead of 12 oz.   Tomorrow, I'll post pix of the finished product, along with my taste test reviews!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Make-It Monday!

It's Make-It Monday.  As the school year winds down, so does AWANA.  BruCrewDad is helping lead the Cubbies, and he voluntold me to make cupcakes.  (Around here, if someone else volunteers you for something, you were "voluntold.")  I was happy to do it.  The perfectionist in me wanted the perfect cupcakes that screamed "CUBBIES" and not just regular cupcakes.  The other leader requested strawberry, so I get to try a new recipe.  Yay!  (I will sample them first, and if they are nasty, I'll go buy a cake mix.)  Stay tuned tomorrow to see how that goes!  Okay, so here's what I made for Make-It Monday:   Cubbie Bear's face!  I made 24 of these out of chocolate to put on top of the cupcakes!  Aren't they darling?  I also had plans to do some quilting today, but these cute little faces took WAY more time than I planned.

Friday, April 27, 2012


One year ago today, our little town got turned upside down and inside out!  As I read through my post not long after, I cried all over again.  Such a tremendous sense of loss in those days!  My parents were here recently, and I showed them our downtown area.  So much has been cleaned up, that it's harder now to see the devastation.  Dirt has been placed in the giant holes that our HUGE old trees left, and the grass has covered them, so to one not familiar with our town, it didn't look too bad.  There is a building that was hit that had a mural painted on the outside of the building, and they reused the bricks they could, but without regard to the mural (maybe on purpose, I don't know), so you can see the outline of what was lost in the storm.  First Baptist has sent its steeple off to be repaired, so it looks funny right now.  Our old building has been leveled, and the hole filled.  Some of the buildings and homes have still not been repaired, but most have been repaired or leveled.  The local restaurant that had been around almost 100 yrs that I mentioned in my first post has been reopened.  Our community has come together in a way that only tragedy can draw people close.  Our church has been sharing a building with another church in our community whose services are the opposite times as ours.  They have been very generous to allow us an extended visit!  If you have ever shared your home with someone for an extended time, you know how hard it can be to have two families in one house.  This church has never made us feel unwelcome!  They have been kind and generous with us for a year now!  And, at this point, it looks like a year more.  We have tried to do our part as well, tidying the sanctuary after we finish, and sharing responsibilities with the lawn.  This past Sunday, we had church at our new property for the first time!  Our association has a portable baptistry, and our denomination baptizes those who have chosen to trust Christ for salvation.  The church we are appreciatively sharing, baptizes infants, so they had no baptistry.  So, we had the association's baptistry brought out to the property and filled so we could baptize all the people (in this case children) who have trusted Christ this year.  We all brought our camping chairs and had church outside, then we moved into a metal building still on the property and celebrated how God is still working in our church by baptizing six of our kids, one of whom was Tenderheart!  It was such a touching moment!  One of the children was baptized by his grandfather, and our pastor baptized the other five, including his youngest daughter.  I remember walking away thinking, God, You are so amazing!  Satan thought by destroying our church building, he could destroy us.  Thank You that the church is the people and not the building!  Thank You for continuing to work in our faith family, drawing us closer to You, drawing our children to You!  May You be glorified as we rebuild! As time marches on, and the one year anniversary is here, I sense of loss has lessened, but not the sense of God's movement!  God has his hand over our town (and my own family)!  Despite the devastating losses of property, our death toll was low!  For an F-4, that's pretty unbelievable!  God is doing new things in our town, in our faith family, and individually in our own hearts.  I can't speak for the whole community, but our faith family is going back to Scriptures, examining what our purpose should be, what we should be about, and how the Scriptures say to do it.  We have not been without our ups and down corporately since that time.  Our music minister had a massive heart attack after Thanksgiving, and we weren't sure he would survive it.  Our hearts cried out, "God, haven't we suffered enough?"  God healed him, and he has started leading us in music again just this month.  It feels so great to sing from the choir loft again!  While he was recovering, his wife, who's also our pianist, fell off the stage backwards and busted her head open.  She recovered completely too.  We've had others fall as well, to the point were we made it a church-wide "rule" that you have to stay vertical!  ;)  All of the injuries have been relatively minor.  I think God wants us to see that this is still a battle.  We haven't won, just because we didn't let the loss of our church building keep us from gathering to worship, we have to keep fighting, because Satan will not give up.  The enemy is real, and he wants to destroy us. (1 Peter 5:8b-Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.)  But, praise God, Jesus' words in John 16:33 are just as true! (John 16:33-I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.)  In Christ, we can overcome the world too!  

Romans 8:31-39
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died —more than that, who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Leap Day (A Day Late)

Since the earth takes 365 1/4 days to orbit the sun, we add one day (February 29) to every fourth year.  At our house, we call this Leap Day.  Considering that my kids were all too young to remember anything we did 4 years ago on Leap Day (for that matter, I don't remember either), I started something new.  We ate backwards!  We frequently eat breakfast for dinner, so that wasn't too different, but dinner for breakfast?  Well, that's different.  We even ate dessert first!  Imagine my kids surprise when they wake up to the smell of cupcakes and see me making pizza.  "Pizza for breakfast?" they ask.  I just smile.  Then, I sit them down and give them all a cupcake.  "Huh?"  I answer, "Well, if you're going to eat backwards you have to start with dessert, right?"  Other than eating backwards, we didn't really do anything out of the ordinary.  Then, severe weather cancelled church, so we watched a movie together instead.  How do you celebrate Leap Day?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oobleck Anyone?

Tenderheart's oobleck looks like Bartholomew's!
We love Dr. Seuss around here!  Since his birthday is Friday, we are celebrating all of his funtastic stories and reading a children's biography of him this week.  We will end our celebration on Friday with some other homeschool friends and some very Seussical foods!  (Followed immediately after by a celebration for Smiley, since her birthday is Thursday!)  Today, we read the first two chapters of his biography.  It has 10 chapters...perfect for 2 a day for a school week!  We also read two of his books today, If I Ran the Zoo and Bartholomew and the Oobleck.  We, of course, had a discussion about magic words and how they don't really exist, (except "Please", as Little Man was quick to remind me), and how only God can make things fall from the sky.  We then proceeded to go outside and make oobleck.  It is a glorious day here!  Shorts and t-shirts in late February!  The kids have made oobleck before, but they do not remember.  Genius that I am, I thought it would be a good rainy day, cooped up in the house activity a couple of years ago.  WRONG!!!  It created such mess that I have not ventured to make it again since, until now!  It was something I enjoyed immensely as a kid, and so, weather being what it is, we took our oobleck outside.  The Bru Crew is loving it too!  What is oobleck, you ask?  Well, I can't really say what Bartholomew's oobleck was, but ours is a simple mixture of cornstarch, water (that's what's in the orange soda bottle) and food coloring.  Mixed to the right consistency, it will resist pressure and be a solid when a force acts upon it, and turn back into liquid as soon as the force is released.  What is the right consistency?  I don't measure the ingredients, sorry!  I just put some cornstarch in a bowl, add water and stir.  Then we add more water or cornstarch based on how it stirs.  If it's barely a liquid even as we swirl, it needs more water.  If it doesn't clump when we stir, it needs more cornstarch.  You can probably google how to make it, and find someone's site with measurements.  It is quite fun to roll it into a ball, then let the ball sit in your hand and run through your fingers back into the bowl.  The Bru Crew struggled to mix in their food coloring.  How do you stir something that turns solid and breaks into chunks every time you stir it?  Well, they figured out that if you swirl the bowl, there is no force acting upon the oobleck and it remains liquid.  It takes a while to get the colors mixed in that way, but it works.  Ms. Quality Time is most perplexed!  "How does it do that?" she wants to know.  You can tell by her expression in the pictures that she's trying to figure it out.  :)  I spent half-an-hour working with them and it, and then I came in to post and take care of household responsibilities.  They are still at it, and having a blast!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My First Quilt

My first dabble in the world of quilting turned out differently than I expected!  BruCrewDad had strongly encouraged me to quilt, maybe even to sell them.  I struggled at first to figured out why.  I came to realize that my children are abundantly blessed in the clothes dept. and sewing clothes for them when I think we have too many already would be aggravating.  I do, however, find the hum of the sewing machine to be soothing, and the sense of accomplishment when a project is finished is incredible.  SO many of the things I do are LONG term projects (like raising children) or continuous projects (i.e.-dishes and laundry) that it is immensely satisfying to finish a project and for it to be complete and not need redoing!  When I'm stressed, I find concentrating on my seems fills my mind and blocks out all other things.  I will have to guard that this doesn't turn into an obsession.  For my first quilt, I bought precuts from my local shop where I get my sewing machine serviced.  There were tons of 5" squares for $10!!!!  It turns out that the quality of fabrics was not great, and the quilt has been quite frustrating at times.  I was also struggling with who my first quilt recipient should be.  BruCrewDad suggested donating it to our local thrift store.  Since I occasionally visit the local thrift stores looking for fun things to repurpose, I didn't think I could handle that.  What if they want to sell this quilt for $25?  What if it sits there for 3 years and no one wants it?  I began to pray about what to do with this quilt and for whomever would receive it as I pieced the top, and then, as I purchased the batting and the backing and began quilting it.  I feel led to give this quilt to my closest center for abused and battered women.  I figured they could use it, and I wouldn't have to wonder how much value had been placed on it at the local thrift store.  There is also a local crisis center for pregnant women to help them choose life for their unborn babies.  Maybe my next quilt will be a baby one!  My local craft shop has some cute pink and chocolate brown precuts, and I know just the project for them!  These fabrics are all the same quality, as opposed to what I bought before.  Before that though, I have some gifts I have to quilt, and I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my fabrics by mail!  One of the things I'm making is a wedding gift, and I saw that the wedding is only 16 days away, so I hope it comes together quickly!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year: New Goals

As each year draws to a close, I take the time to ponder it, reflect upon what went well, and what didn't, what I can change, and what I cannot.  I am starting this new year with some new goals.  I am choosing to focus on what didn't work and what I can change to make it better.  I am starting my days with exercise, and taking the kids to the gym for P.E. first thing on school days.  It is my prayer that school will go better after we burn off some extra energy, and fitness is important.  I feel better when I'm active.  I have been avoiding the gym because there is a guy there who gives me the creeps, but I realized that we are spending way too much money each month on a FAMILY membership for one person in our family to use the facility!  My solution, work out some at home, and then exercise there with the kids.  If they are with me, the creepy guy might say hi, but that's the extent of it.  He's also a dad, so he's careful of what he says in front of the kids.  Included in my fitness goals are to run a total of 500 miles total this year.  BruCrewDad's running friends are aiming for 1000, and BruCrewDad himself is aiming for 1500, but that goal is too lofty for me.  If I run 10 miles a week, I will still have 2 weeks to be on vacation, sick, or have a headache.  (I can't run with a headache.)  Added to my fitness goal are my health goals of limiting my sugar intake and having a more set schedule (go to sleep/wake up at the same time).

I have house goals too.  I am working harder with the kids to put things away instead of "down."  I have been throwing things away.  (Little Man had a full 13 gallon garbage bag taken from his room last night!)

One thing that I can't claim as a goal that I have prayerfully set, and I don't know how long it will continue, but God has removed my desire to "read for fun."  Reading has always been my escape.  House stressing me out?  I find a quiet spot to read.  Kids making me crazy?  Go in the bathroom, lock the door and read.  If my mind was lost in the pages of a story, it didn't matter what else was going on.  God has changed the desire to escape it through books.  Now, when the house is stressing me out, we put on praise music and clean.  When the kids are making me crazy with their bickering, we sit down and the table and do a craft, or go to the gym and blow off some steam by running or throwing tennis balls at the wall as hard as we can.  Only God can do that in me!!!!  (This does not mean that I am not reading anything at all, just not reading much fiction right now.)

Lastly, and most importantly, I have set some goals for my relationship with the Lord.  I read my Bible regularly, but have never read the entire Bible cover to cover.  (To be honest, Leviticus bogs me down!)  I am reading a One Year Bible in the evenings before bed.  My goal this year is to read the whole Bible.  I am also reading a devotion with a verse with my morning OJ, and studying the names and attributes of God with my morning coffee.  I might also read another devotion book that I love the author of with my afternoon coffee.  I want Him to consume me!!!!

Have you reflected on last year?  Have you prayed over this year?  What is God wanting to do in you?  What is God wanting to do through you?  What is God wanting you to change?  Psalm 37:4 says "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." (NIV)  For a long time, I misunderstood that verse.  I thought if I just focused on God, He'd give me whatever I wanted.  God is not a genie in a bottle!  God has taught me that if I delight in Him, His desires will become my desires.  The desires of my heart will be the desires of His heart, and what I ask for, He will delight to give me, because they will reflect His nature, His purposes, and His glory.  That is my biggest goal for this year-to delight myself in Him.  What about you?  Do you delight in Him?