Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: Daylight Savings is late this year and I don't like it. I have said before and I'll say it again, our bodies were not meant to wake up when it is still dark. And so I am happy that next week we will have light at 6:30 am, like we should.

What I'm reading: I enjoyed an article in the newest HSLDA magazine last week....Lessons learned from homeschooling by Michael Farris. A few lessons that stuck out to me: You can't be on Facebook and homeschooling, Do not fall into the trap of perfectionism, and Your marriage is more important than your curriculum. Good reminders.

What I'm listening to: Book worm on the piano. She is playing a song in a new key today - the key of D with two sharps, and she is constantly forgetting the C#'s....

What we're learning: Nutsy is hard at work blending short vowels. We'll learn R, P and T this week. Dasher is really coming along in math. She says her favorite part is counting money. The older two have some re-writes for their language arts class and are also working hard to memorize their chosen continent's countries for geography. Bookworm chose Africa and Mr. Lego is memorizing Oceania and South America.

What I'm watching: My kids grow. They don't need me as much....they can all dress themselves, bathe, brush their hair and is moving too fast.

What's cooking: Spaghetti is on the menu tomorrow night. We'll have peas, bread and a nice green salad to go with it.

What I'm buying: I did forget to get a couple things at the store when we went grocery shopping last week. Later today if I have time, we'll run out to get them.

What I'm thankful for: I am thankful for the house I live in. It is not perfect, and I find myself wanting some things to be different, but then I stop myself and remember that God has me exactly where He wants me to be.

What I'm creating: I made my first amigurumi creature last week....a sock monkey! I worked on him while we were watching the World Series. Dasher claimed this little guy (you'll see him below), and so I am making another one for Nutsy.

What I'm praying: That I would not see, at the end of the day, the number of boxes I have checked off as finished, but rather what I have done to mold my children's hearts and teach them about Christ, both through my example and instruction.

What I'm planning: We have our artist study/composer study/art lesson this week in co-op which we always have a fun time at. Aside from that, school is normal this week. Three weeks to go before our Thanksgiving break!

What we did this last weekend: We did some serious searching for a missing library book on Saturday....I have a whole love/hate thing with the library. We had a fun game of Risk with the kids Saturday night....the boys made an alliance and wiped the girls off the board. Sunday we went to church and then over to a friend's house for a soup tasting party, wonderful, encouraging fellowship, and good times.

What I'm looking forward to: This week I am surprising the kids one day and making Caramel Apple Cider in the crockpot to drink during school. Every year around this time we collect fall leaves and do fun crafts with them....later this week we might head out and see if we can find any yet.

A picture to share:

~Here he is....I still need to give him eyes and then find some red felt to give him those classic red lips. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Yes, Those Are Real Pliers

I have been videoing more lately....I still can't get into the mentality that my camera can also video.

And while talking to my dad the other day, I mentioned that we videoed the tooth pulling episode over the weekend and he wanted to see it.

So here is Nutsy, getting her very loose tooth pulled out by My Sweetie and a pair of real (but clean) pliers.

For you, dad......


And you can see I still need to improve my cinematography skills; like any good photographer, I turned the camera to fit the image and accidentally recorded sideways.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: We started the morning a bit Monday Musings is a little later and I am writing this while the kids do their independent school work. Sometimes it is good to mix things up a bit.

What I'm reading: The last book I read was One Big Table by Molly O'Neill. This is a fun cookbook I picked it up at the library last week that has recipes from all parts of the melting pot of America.

What I'm listening to: The wash going upstairs, and my tea kettle starting to hum on the stove. I am going to go in right now and make myself a cup of black tea.

What we're learning: This week we are doing a literature week for our history study. In the last seven weeks we have studied lots of great people so we are taking a week to read some of the historical fiction book I have....Luther the Leader by Virgil Robinson, Ferdinand Magellan: Master Mariner by Seymour Gates Pond, Isabel, Jewel of Castilla by Carolyn Meyer, and Thunderstorm in the Church by Louise A Vernon. In co-op we will be learning about the different kinds of feathers, and do an experiment to see why birds need oil glands.

What I'm watching: Last week at the library I found some Julia Child cooking shows on DVD. These are the ones where she would invite a guest onto her show and they would bake while she would stand and watch. My favorite one we watched over the weekend? A Chocolate Raspberry Ruffle Cake. Three layers of chocolate, creme fraiche between, fresh raspberries in the layers, and chocolate ruffles on top. Someday, when I have a whole day free to bake, I will make this.

What's cooking: Later this week I am making an oven barbequed chicken dish; it is super easy and when it is done the chicken just falls off the bones.....yum.

What I'm buying: I can't think of anything I need to buy.... I am on the look out for a new math book for Nutsy.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for our health. I know it is inevitable that we will get sick a few times every year, but I am really thankful that we don't have any long term illnesses or sickness.

What I'm creating: Last week I printed off a few patterns for some ami things to make. I have always done better with knitting so we'll see if I can crochet these. They are supposed to be simple ones.....we'll see...

What I'm praying: For our extended family. That God would bless them this week and draw them nearer to Him.

What I'm planning: Just the normal stuff. I didn't blog much last week and I don't know if I will get another post in this week or not. I am focusing on school, keeping the house up and being a godly wife. Blogging just gets put on the back burner sometimes. :-)

What we did this last weekend: The kids and I got out our scrub brushes and washed all the baseboards and walls downstairs on Saturday. That was a long in coming, and definitely felt good to get done. Sunday we went to church and Sunday school, then home for a relaxing day. We hung out as a family and played Up the River and had a delicious won ton dinner.

What I'm looking forward to: We have our 4-H rabbit meeting this week; Mr. Lego is now a teen leader and has a part in leading the meeting. Co-op is Wednesday of course; we always have fun there. And then Mr. Lego is loving his Lego Engineering class on Fridays.  Just a normal week. :-)

A picture to share:

This is Nutsy, with a very loose tooth, that she didn't want to pull out herself. But she DID let Dad pull it out with pliers. 

Crazy Nut.......

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I am really thankful we live in a small house. We sure can mess it up pretty fast, but it can get cleaned up quickly too. It also keeps me from hanging onto things I don't need.

What I'm reading: I picked up a book at the library last week: The Ultimate Guide to Homesteading by Nicole Faires. It is mostly a fun read; I am really enjoying the section on homemade soaps and candles. Someday.....

What I'm listening to: Right this moment? Legos being pushed around upstairs, the bird chirping in the kitchen and someone else talking quietly upstairs.

What we're learning: This week Dasher is doing narrations and copywork from different selections by Hans Christian Andersen and the older children are learning about prime time longitude in geography. In history we are learning about Suleiman and the Ottoman Turks, Zwingli and the Swiss Reformation, and the Anabaptist Movement. We have co-op this week and of course, Mr. Lego's Lego Robotics class.

What I'm watching: We spent an evening over the weekend watching The Andy Griffith Show. We are all fans of this fun show and love sitting back to watch Sheriff Taylor and Barney-Parney-Poo. :-)

What's cooking: Tonight I am using my crockpot to make General Tso's Chicken. It looks super easy so we will see how it comes out.

What I'm buying: I can't think of anything I missed in my big shopping trips last week....give me a few days and I am sure I will think of something.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for my friends. Friends who see a need and step up and help out, friends who encourage and hug, friends who laugh with you...friends that are right there with you on the road of life.

What I'm creating: A clean pantry. Last night the kids found a couple black bugs in my mixing bowl and I had seen one on the ground earlier last week, so my plan after school today is to pull everything out and deep clean the cupboards. Fun.

What I'm praying: That I would not see any good in myself and expect God's grace, but that this week I would remember that "Nothing in my hands I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling....."

What I'm planning: I probably need to get out sooner rather than later to pull up our summer garden. I got really discouraged this year; we only harvested a handful of my heirloom tomatoes, a couple cucumbers and we lost a zucchini plant early in the season. I am going to give gardening a rest until next spring....

What we did this last weekend: I ran errands on Saturday, then we had a yummy chicken stir fry for dinner that night. Sunday we heard a convicting sermon on Matthew 3 and then Sunday School after that. After church we went over to a new friend's house and had a fun time getting to know them and their kids better.

What I'm looking forward to: Now that I know there are bugs living in my pantry I am really looking forward to cleaning them out.....

A picture to share:

~This child can always make me laugh.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

4H 101: Club Meetings

It's time for another post about 4-H. If you are interested, I have already written an orientation on 4-H and also written a post about projects.

Now club meetings.

I took my camera to last month's meeting, but didn't have the right lens with me, so the club meeting photos didn't turn out too well. But I did remember to bring it to this month's meeting and got some nice pictures.

A 4-H club meeting is a lot like a business meeting. In many ways. Like we tell the kids, sometimes you have to pay attention when you are bored, and sometimes you have to get up in front of everyone and give a presentation. This is all good practice, especially for my son, who will one day be a provider.

The meeting starts out with the pledge of allegiance and the 4H pledge. These are led by the Sergeant-at-Arms.

Have you ever wondered what the 4 H's stand for? Well you are about to find out.

4-H Pledge

As a true 4-Her,
I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
my heart to greater loyalty, 
my hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, 
my country, and my world.

Head, heart, hands, health. I have actually seen a judge ask what the 4 H's stand for at a county fair showmanship competition to determine a tie! 

The president leads the meeting and the first thing up, is for the secretary to read the minutes.

Now lest you think that our club is having an impersonation night; for the October meeting, they could wear costumes. 

I had nothing to do with this.

Jack Sparrow, er, Mr Lego.....

After that all the officers give their reports....the treasurer, historian, editor, sales coordinator and club correspondent. 

Next up is the project reports. These can be done by anyone in any project. That child gets up and give a short report on what was learned that month at their project meeting.

Here is Bookworm giving the leadership project report. 

Her costume was her 4H uniform.

The other projects that we heard from were the rabbit project, riflery, arts & crafts, and the hug-a-pet projects.

After that comes the old the meeting this week the vice-president passed out awards she had picked up at the county achievement night.

Here is Mr. Lego getting a gold medal for his record book at county judging. 

Then comes new business.....this month the members elected someone as the web officer, and also voted to include the names the new club leaders on our bank account. 

Committees then give their reports...this can range from river clean up committees, food drives, and the grange breakfasts.

Finally, the president talks about the upcoming meeting and any announcements.

(Mr. Lego, as the secretary, is furiously writing the entire time so as to include all the happenings in the minutes.)

Then a member motions to end the meeting, someone seconds it, and the club meeting is over!

The meeting lasts between 30 to 45 minutes and is completely run by the kids.

At each meeting we also do a fun activity; this week it was having a pumpkin coloring contest and a dessert potluck.

Here is Nutsy coloring her pumpkin....

Next month we are having a pie eating contest, and the following month is our canned food drive.

And just so you can see what they look like all the other months when they are in uniform, this was from last month.

Our club has a fun time, but does take this seriously. I have seen my children become much more confident in front of others and more assertive when speaking publicly. And a lot of that I think is due in part to our involvement in 4-H.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ten on Ten

{9am The little girls are doing a U.S. State puzzle}

{10am My hot cup of tea is sitting on top of 
our school books, ready for our together-school}

{11am - A chilly morning calls for school done in 
front of a nice fire}

{12pm Lunch is a hot bowl of Miso with rice}

(1pm After school with the little girls, it is time to tackle the dishes}

{2pm Still raining outside}

{3pm I remember the forgotten laundry from this morning}

{4pm A soft candle on the mantle as evening comes}

{5pm With a few free minutes before dinner preparations,
I cut out my table runner}

{6pm Dinner is clam chowder with sourdough bread}

ten on ten button small

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: What to do with those rabbits. We had a sad day Sunday, the kids went out to check the rabbits and we lost one of the does during the night. We are not sure why or what was wrong with her, but everyone took it pretty well. (We actually had too many does, so between you and me it made things a little easier.) I have another doe that should have babies in two weeks and we are trying to breed another doe this week....these rabbits sure don't want to procreate.....

What I'm reading: The kids finished up Goodbye, Mr. Chips last week, so I need to get hopping on it too. I also want to start reading The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ by Ruth Bryan.

What I'm listening to: Quiet conversations on the sofa behind me, someone heating up water in the kitchen, someone humming at the table.

What we're learning: This week in our science class we will learn about bird field guides and the difference between bird calls and bird songs. We are moving onto question #49 in the catechism, which I think must be the longest one in there. In history we are learning about Machiavelli, Raphael, and Luther and his ninety-five theses.

What I'm watching: A cloudy morning. If I could choose, I would never have a cloudy day on a Monday. I have enough trouble getting going on Monday mornings, without the sun to cheer me up.

What's cooking: Tonight I am making clam chowder, which is timely because it is supposed to rain today. Tomorrow I am making my Quesadilla Pie for dinner with Spanish rice.

What I'm buying: Later this week I have my monthly shopping, so I am making those shopping lists....

What I'm thankful for: I am thankful for my camera. The used one I bought last spring is still working good, and I am so thankful that I can record life with it. Which reminds me, I need to start snapping some photos is the 10th!

What I'm creating: I never got to my table runner last week; this week looks a little calmer, at least in the first part, so I am going to sit down and try to make it.

What I'm praying: I have some good friends that are driving to Texas right now with 8 of their children, to see their second born son graduate from basic training. So today I am praying for safe travels this week....another friend's children are flying back from the east coast this week, and a few dad's in our congregation travel often in their work. Traveling mercies please, Lord.

What I'm planning: To go work out, even though I don't feel like it. Then a nice warm shower and school with the kiddos.

What we did this last weekend: On Saturday we visited my friend's pony rides and petting zoo at a nearby pumpkin farm, then we grilled chicken for dinner and played a rousing game of Up The River (or There And Back Again) with the kids. Bookworm won. Sunday was church and Sunday school, then over to a friends for pizza and volleyball. Back to church again for our monthly evening worship.

What I'm looking forward to: A totally normal week. And I am looking forward to my big shopping trips; I enjoy looking for the best deals and filling the cupboards and freezer.

A picture to share:

~Signs of the season.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

An Indian Feast At Home

I really love to eat.
And thankfully, I really love to cook.
And I like a different variety of foods.....Japanese (duh), Chinese, Indian, Greek, Italian.....yum.
And, I want my children to love those foods too.
I used to think that I wasn't talented enough to cook ethnic foods in my own kitchen, so my Sweetie and I would go out to restaurants to partake in these delicacies.
And when the children were smaller and could share the kiddie meals, we would take them too.

That day has come and gone. Now, in that once in a great while when we do take our entire clan out to eat, it is something of a monumental occasion, seeing that restaurants with six hungry stomachs, can cost an arm and a leg.

(One thing to make clear here; we could go out more often with our kids, but we have chosen to not spend our money that way, except for special occasions.)

So what to do?
I decided a few years ago to bring the restaurant food to our table. Not take out, but my cooking, (for the most part), these fun meals.

And the other day, we had an Indian Feast.

There is this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant near our house that serves Indian food that my Sweetie and I had been to on a couple of dates, and after describing the food to the kiddos I was inspired to try to create the meal.

I perused a couple cookbooks, looked online, and visited a nearby Indian grocery store.

On the menu:
Chicken Masala
Chicken Korma Curry
Indian Spiced Lentils
Basmati Rice
Roasted Vegetables
Coriander Chutney
Madras Tomato Chutney

Lots of food, but I love leftovers. 

And the other thing that made this otherwise daunting menu easier, two of the dishes were in crockpots. 
First thing, in the morning I got my crockpots ready.

This was the Indian Spiced Lentils.

I got this recipe from the A Year of  Slow Cooking blog. The only thing I do differently is to double the spices, and, because I already had 2 chicken dishes planned, I left out the chicken.

The other crockpot dish was the Chicken Masala. (At the link the recipe title is different....I have Stephanie O'Dea's cookbook and in the cookbook she calls that same recipe Chicken Masala.) This had the most amazing spice mixture in it, garam masala. That stuff is heavenly. Again, I doubled the spices.

This is what my counter looked like after the crockpot lids went on....

.....spices really make me happy.

So does this....

.....two less dishes to cook in the afternoon!

About an hour before dinner I started the Chicken Korma Curry.

I bought this package of spices at my local Indian grocery (when I bought the garam masala), and have made it before. Very easy; just add the spices, water, and chopped raw chicken, and let simmer for an hour.

I have never been served roasted vegetables at an Indian restaurant, but at our house, I feel kind of funny not having anything veggie-like at a meal. So I cut up whatever veggies I feel like and roast them. Today it was sweet potatoes and white potatoes, but I have been known to include green beans, carrots, onions or whole garlic cloves.

These get tossed on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper, and are put in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

The rice is cooked in my trusty rice cooker....I buy the Basmati in the bulk foods section of my grocery store.

The last things to do are to open up the chutneys that I bought at the Indian grocer, ($2.49 for 3 of them!)

...and heat the bread. In the past I have bought Lavash at Trader Joe's, or even gotten fresh Chapati bread from the Indian store, but today it was warmed tortillas on the stove.

You just gotta have something to dip into the chutney.

The roasted vegetables come out of the oven, the crockpots are brought to the table, and everything is ready.

This is my plate....

..... I kind of kept with the traditional Thali meal by separating the different tastes into different dishes.

And the kids?

As you can see, they loved it.

So don't be scared of cooking different things for your family.
Eat in. Try new things. Laugh lots around the table.
Your family will love it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking:  The weather sure is changing. Last night we slept with the window open and I swear there was a 20 degree drop during the night. I will miss the warmth of summer, but am looking forward to Gingerbread Lattes, warm fires in the fireplace, and cozy socks.

What I'm reading: This week I am reading through Five Children and It by E.Nesbit. I love how she writes and am really enjoying the book. I plan to read this to the younger children in our co-op during literature time.

What I'm listening to: Coffee brewing in the kitchen. We seem to be having a slow morning, so Bookworm offered to make us all some coffee to help us wake up. Yes, I occasionally let my kids drink coffee.

What we're learning: In history we are learning about Michelangelo, Northern Renaissance artists and Erasmus. This is a week full of art history, as it is our monthly art history meeting with the co-op, where we will learn more about Fragonard. We will also be doing another art lesson on watercolors and studying Mozart and his music.

What I'm watching: Over the weekend my Sweetie and I watched The King's Speech again. I think that movie is going to be one of my top five favorite movies. The acting is superb and I love the story.

What's cooking: I make out my menu every month, which I made up about three weeks ago. And this week I had chosen to make Minestrone Soup on Tuesday....the very day that we are going to have a rain storm with a high of 65 degrees. What a change from the 90's we had last week!

What I'm buying: Last night we went out to put another water jug in the crock, and found out we are out. And since I still have my tap water phobia, I'll be off to the store very soon to refill all 5 of our jugs.

What I'm thankful for: My sweet children. Sometimes life with them can be tough, but they can almost always make me laugh.

What I'm creating: I don't usually decorate seasonally, but I saw some cute ceramic pumpkins at the dollar store the other day. They are now on the table, with some fall colored candles, and fake leaves. I also bought some material to make a table runner so I want to work on creating that later this week.

What I'm praying: There are some needs in our church family......sickness, lack of employment, important decisions to be made, and traveling mercies needed. I try to remember to pray for those around me and to remind the children to include others in their prayer time.

What I'm planning: I am planning to go exercise with Jillian Michaels, take a shower, then do school with my children. Oh, and go get my jugs of water. And since I love my cup of tea during our history reading, I might need to run over there after my shower. I am so thankful we live very close to a grocery store!

What we did this last weekend: I did some fun baking on Saturday for our monthly church fellowship meal.....yummy Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars. I also made an Indian Feast for our family that night. Sunday we went to church and Sunday school, then had a lovely time fellowshipping with friends. Then we headed to a new assisted living facility which is closer to our church. Our first Sunday there went very well, with about 10 residents coming to the hymn sing and devotional we help put on.

What I'm looking forward to: I am looking forward to co-op this week; it is our more relaxed co-op meeting of the month , and we usually have more time for fellowship. We have our Leadership Project meeting also, and someone special is turning 12 later this week.....

A picture to share:

~My plate from our Saturday Indian Dinner. This was all actually pretty easy to make; I'll blog about that later this week.