Family Time

pups.jpg Yesterday afternoon, feeling a bit rushed, I finished filing my oldest’s schoolwork for the day and cleared off the kitchen table while dialing my husband’s cell phone.

Ever mindful of the time, I whispered orders to my two oldest daughters while waiting on dh to pick up. We’ve been getting a later start each morning these days, now that we have a bucket calf to bottle feed (traded a colt for it!) and with my oldest daughter’s many rabbit trails (ie: wanting to do an extra page of math, wanting to read 15 pages of history instead of 3, handwriting 3 long verses in cursive instead of 1–aren’t I blessed to have such a motivated child?) the end of our school day has been edging closer and closer to 4 o’clock!

I’d promised dh to get to the courthouse (he finished putting the ’76 Ford cab on the ’74 Ford body and it passed inspection–yippee!) and drop his two truck titles off, and I had less than a half hour to get there before closing time!

Now, when you live in the country, you are ever-mindful of the gas in your tank. Every trip to town must count. It’s even harder during the homeschool year, because I try not to run errands during school hours. So with most businesses closing at 4:30 or 5 P.M., things can get hectic!

4:10 P.M. ~off the phone, having finalized plans to meet dh at the park at 5 (great way to make the most of a trip to town, as he’s headed through town on his way home from work at that time). As I pulled my toddler’s sneakers on her feet I asked my oldest if she’d want to get one of her puppies (yes that’s her and the two cutest of the pups in the pic above!) on a leash and load it into the back of our Suburban. (The park is ever so much more fun with a dog along!) Her face lit up, and she hesitated briefly before asking, “Could I take Heart instead?” (For more on Heart, read Heart Story) Heart is her border collie, mother of the pups. Made my day that she’d choose Heart over the pups! They’ve got such a special bond…

So, we (minus dog) sailed into the treasurer’s office at 4:29 P.M. Whew. Met my hubby at the park at 5 P.M. and had a grand time chasing the border collie and 3 girls all over the play equipment. Fall in all its splendor surrounded us…felled acorns begged to be stuffed down my dh’s shirt (hey, he was using me for target practice from clear across the playground!), leaves filled the air like floating feathers, and the breeze was just enough chill to need a jacket if you weren’t already warm from showing off on the monkey bars!

We came home to our bustling acreage…fil has started soybean harvest and the main grain bin storage is housed on our property. So while fil was here anyway (augering beans from the big semi into the bin) he and dh decided to bring the horses (around 13) in from pasture. I’ve mentioned before that the pasture we rent is adjacent to our land…accessible by a gate in this ancient rock wall to the south of our house. So, pretty simple to bring them straight across our place from the pasture gate to the corral at the horse barn.

Meanwhile, my 8 yo is dragging our two nanny goats on ropes to tether them in the grass on the hillside. This way, while weed-eating, their 5 offspring will stay close vs all of them finding their way into the soybean field!

The girls and I have been turning their ponies out every morning to graze, so each evening they need herded back to their horse pen. Our menagerie of stockdogs need fresh water and food, and their turn to run and stretch their legs. By 8 P.M., the little black angus bucket calf had been fed, supper was on the table buffet-style, and the hide-a-bed was sheeted up and ready for…..

Curious George!

Yep, our favorite kid’s movie was released on DVD two days ago and we snapped it right up!

My family, my world. Couldn’t resist capturing a bit of the blessedness and bottling it up on here.

Chicken Fetticine Recipe

We’re having crockpot Chicken Fetticine tonight and it’s one of those unbelievably easy and tasty meals so I thought I’d post it here for you. My friend Jana shared it with me years ago and it remains a family favorite to this day!

Chicken Fetticine

  • 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts–thawed
  • 1 package Italian dressing seasoning
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 small can mushroom pieces (optional)
  • 1 (12 oz) package fetticine noodles (we like the spinach enriched ones…fetticine florentine)

Place chicken and Italian seasonings ONLY in the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add rest of ingredients except fetticine noodles, and cook for another half hour. Meanwhile, boil noodles according to package instructions. Serve over cooked noodles, or mix all together!

This makes enough for a family of 5 with leftovers, and it’ll stick to your ribs!

SWR Spelling Blurb

We’re reviewing our spelling words this week and  I just have to rave a bit about how much we LOVE our Spell to Write and Read curriculum! My oldest, at age 8, has 260 words so far this year so we’re testing 60 a day and she’s acing them! And more than getting her words right, she has a great attitude about the process which means so much to this mama!

My first grader has learned 120 words (she gets 20 new words a week) and is loving the spelling. She much prefers spelling to reading and does a whale of a better job at spelling too, I might add! (We’re still struggling to keep focused at reading time! She can read, and is proud of this accomplishment, but doesn’t yet enjoy it!)

The SWR curriculum is a one time purchase that can be used over and over for each child in your family. The spelling lists included go from preschool/Kindergarten to college level, and they’re accompanied by SOOO many great suggestions and teacher “helps” to reinforce grammar, handwriting, understanding of word meanings etc. The program is built upon the 70 phonograms and a slew of spelling rule cards. Finally, the English language makes sense!

Your child learns how to sound out words to spell them phonetically, enters each week’s spelling words into a self-created spelling book and reads those words to you each day. In essence, they learn to spell before/as they are learning to read. You practice the phonogram cards each day, and teach the spelling rules as they’re introduced and practice using them by illustrating how they’re used in the back of the child’s spelling book.

For example, when you’re teaching the five spellings of /er/, they make a chart in the back of their speller with the headings:

er   ur  ir  wor  ear

Then under each heading they file the appropriate spelling words as they’re dictated each week. Under /er/ they’d write “her”, under /ur/ they’d write “church” and “spur”, under /ir/ they’d write “first”, under /wor/ they’d write “worship” and “word”, under /ear/ would be “early”, etc. And it’s reinforced each day when you go over the phonogram flashcards. When they see /er/ they’ll say, “er as in her”; when they see /ur/ they’ll say “ur as in church”. And so on.

We bought the core kit, the learning logs, the clock stamp (for a SUPER fun way to teach preschoolers how to write correctly), and The Alpha List. Great investment.  Wanda Sanseri (the author) will have you outside with your preschoolers painting their phongrams on the sidewalk with a paintbrush and a bucket of water. I could go on and on, and believe me, I’m not getting any perks for this glowing recommendation! If your child is older and already spelling, this program is still worth buying. There are placement tests in the back to let you know where your child falls in the program.

Best of all, it’s Christian based! What more can you ask for?

Musing on Music’s Power part 2

Some great comments on this morning’s “music” post led me to this link for The 107 Theses, “A Call for Reformation of Contemporary Christian Music” by Steve Camp. (Thanks Anna! and all the rest of you who took time to share your thoughts!)

Here’s a little taste from the Steve Camp site, he shares this to build up to the fact that CCM is seriously close to being on the downgrade, if not already slipping:

Charles Hadden Spurgeon spent the final four years of his life at war against the trends of early modernism, which he rightly saw as a threat to Biblical Christianity. Spurgeon wanted to warn his flock about the dangers from moving away from the historic positions [of the truth]. ‘Biblical truth is like the pinnacle of a steep, slippery mountain,’ Spurgeon suggested. ‘One step away, and you find yourself on the down-grade. Once a church or individual Christian get on the downgrade,’ Spurgeon said, ‘momentum takes over. Recovery is unusual and only happens when Christians get on the ‘up-line’ through spiritual revival.’ History has vindicated Spurgeon’s warnings about the down-grade. In the early part of the twentieth century the spreading of ‘false doctrine and worldliness’-theological liberalism and modernism-ravaged denominational Christianity throughout the world. Most of the mainline denominations were violently if not fatally altered by these influences. A hundred years later, we are seeing history repeating itself again… ‘False doctrine and worldliness’-the same two influences Spurgeon attacked-always go hand in hand, with worldliness leading the way. Christians today tend to forget that modernism was not first of all a theological agenda but a methodological one. (John F. MacArthur, Jr. Ashamed of the Gospel (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1993), 21-23, emphasis added.)

And this from the same source:

Os Guinness is “spot on” when saying, “[we have seen a change] from an emphasis on ‘serving God’, to an emphasis on ‘serving the self’ in serving God.” The object of faith is no longer Christ, but our self-esteem; the goal of faith is no longer holiness, but our happiness; and the source of faith is no longer the Scriptures, but our experience. Christian music currently reflects this. We are producing a generation of people that “feel” their God, but do not know their God.

There’s a lot more good thought provoking stuff over there, I encourage you to check it out.

Musing on Music’s Power

Here’s a hot topic for you, let’s explore how the culture has influenced Christians through music. I’m inviting you to chime in with your own personal opinion. 

 

This past Saturday night, I happened to hear Ravi Zacharias on Christian radio—his topic taken from his “Leadership Workshop on Worship” (CD 209). The following quote immediately caught my attention:

“When Lucifer fell, he fell directly into the choir loft.”

Funny? Here are a couple of verses about the scheming of Satan:

  • 2 Cor. 2:11, “…in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”
  • 2 Cor. 11:14, “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”

And read Revelation chapters 2 and 3 for more on Satan, and for God’s wake-up call to churches. Stuff like “Synogogues of Satan” and “the few people who have not soiled their garments…” All directed to churches. When you think about music, and how powerful it is, doesn’t it make sense that Satan would see it as a great way to infiltrate Christianity? Especially as the trend for Christian music has historically been to borrow from its secular counterparts?

 

Look how divisive the subject of music is. For starters, the praise and worship time has greater importance now than it ever has. Song time crowds more and more into the sermon time. Church shoppers are wanting the whole package…and good preaching sometimes takes a back seat to good music. Some churches have had to adopt separate services to please their members. Hymns only for one set, CCM (contemporary Christian music) for the other. Some agree that you can listen to whatever you want on your own time, but in church the tone needs to be more reverent. So where is the line drawn regarding the form of worship? Can we Christians remain in touch with the culture without sacrificing to its gods?

 

I admit to a history of struggling when it comes to claiming a stance on CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) and Christian rock, having enjoyed both. Our church music service is a blend of mostly CCM with a hymn or two here and there. It’s not out of the ordinary for our worship team to play guitar along with the keyboard or piano, and recently, one of the worship teams added their drum machine to the background (very subtly)…and I liked it. But that’s a response I’m struggling with and it spawned my post here about music. I want to know what God thinks and says about it in a church setting.

 

For interest, not necessarily to prove any points, here are a couple of verses on praise music. Eph. 5:19 says,

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

And Col. 3:16,

“Teaching and admonishing in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

If our church suddenly went to hymns only, I’d sincerely miss the CCM. And I wouldn’t want to have to choose between the two. (That said, I’ve been in churches where the CCM resembles more of a boyfriend/girlfriend love song than a praise song to the Lord, and I recoil from that with all my heart). 

 

I also fail to appreciate Christian book stores whose music section is full of posters of Christian rock groups with sneers, males with earrings, and other secularly appearing similarities to rock groups. Kutlass, for instance. What would be the Biblical culture’s equivalent? “Come get drunk on wine during communion?” Maybe worshipping God ritualistically, Roman-style? Do we really have to “become” the world in order to win the world?

 

What about the new trend for alternate music that’s neutral? Switchfoot, Reliant K…at first thought it seems admirable…one step in the right direction, but is it just going to become a genre of American “good” apart from God? (Subject for another post…)

 

Ravi Zacharias closed his message with a word picture along these lines. Would you give your spouse your favorite music on CD for their birthday, even knowing they hated it? (Okay, sure, we can’t be positive as to what form of music God loves and hates, but…the question is worth pondering.)

 

What do you think?

Weekend Kindness–Java Style


I really enjoyed this coffee-themed one, can we do it again?

In my dreams, it would have been lovely to hire a sitter (yeah, one who didn’t mind watching a toddler with chicken pox) and take a friend to Starbucks, but hey, I believe in the “glass half full” mentality, so a little improv was needed. I dropped in on a friend armed with crullers and cappuccinos and we had a great heart-to-heart while the kiddos played.

Twas grand. And true friends don’t mind exposure to chicken pox. (Wink).

Have a Weekend Kindness to Share?Leave a Comment and we’ll paste your link here:

Get the Weekend Kindness code here!The purpose of the meme is to get people motivated to be kind to our fellow men and women and to encourage one another in that pursuit. If you participate, leave the link to your Weekend Kindness in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Weekend Kindness with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their Acts of Weekend Kindness. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Just a little chat about chicken pox…

My week started with thunderstorms taking out our computer modem, and ended with one miserable two year old dotted with chicken pox. Through it all, I’ve learned that HP’s technical support beats Staples’ 800-number system hands down and that pretty much every over the counter anti-itch potion is too harsh for a toddler’s skin!

 

Toddler is our first child to never be vaccinated. For anything. And even with my two older children, I opted not to vaccinate for chicken pox. My medical doctor even advised me not to, saying the vaccine was basically peace of mind for working moms who couldn’t afford to take a week off to nurse sick children. And one week can morph into two or three if all the kiddos end up catching the disease. My chiropractor, who believes in going vax-free, told me that what most of the American public doesn’t realize about the chicken pox vaccine is that these kids will need to be revaccinated as adults and if they forget, they are in for a life-threatening case of chicken pox.

Anyway, I didn’t get on here to argue the pros of not vaccinating.

What I really crave are “been there done that” great tips on getting through this junk? I’d classify toddler’s case as just shy of “raging”…last night I was up all night with her while dh went on a midnight run to the nearest open store (thirty minutes away) to get more Calamine lotion, Claritin allergy for toddlers and Curious George band-aids (isn’t he the best daddy? And no, we don’t cover every sore with a band-aid…). I’m so thankful we’re done with the toilet training, b/c the pull-up I had her in for night-time was really chafing her sores. And she really doesn’t need a pull-up at night; she wakes up half a dozen times during the night to go to the bathroom (all false alarms for the most part, ugh) anyway. So she’s completely in cloth training pants now, thanks to CP.

 

We’re going to do an Aveeno bath soon and re-apply the Calamine. I hate to give the Claritin unless she just can’t sleep at night without it. Any tips and all prayers are greatly appreciated!

TIA!

On Mega-Cooking

A friend who reads my blog asked me to give more info on mega-cooking. One of my favorite subjects! (I’m always out to snag someone to join me for a morning or afternoon of doubling and tripling meals!)

In years past, several other homeschool moms and I borrowed a huge, well-equipped church kitchen in which to mix and assemble our family-sized meals. The kitchen we used had four ovens, two sinks, every utensil/bowl/baking necessity, and best of all a queen-bed sized island in the middle that made for some exceptional female bonding while we worked! (Wink…)

Armed with the grocery sales ads and our favorite recipes, the six of us would gather after a homeschool day meeting and quickly map out our strategy. This would include decisions on whether to go with ground beef or chicken dishes (whichever was on sale), whether to triple two recipes or double three recipes, and what steps we’d do at home in preparing to assemble. Sometimes, when we were feeling really conscientious, we’d plan an activity for the kids to do while we cooked. (One mom would have kid-duty while the rest of us assembled her meals.) But most of the time, we just let them run hog wild in the gym. Hey, we could watch them while we worked!

When you’ve mega-cooked for awhile, you gather a repertoire of family favorites. I’ve assembled mine in a binder. Each recipe is written or typed out on typing paper, and I have three columns as follows:

3x 2x 1x Ingredient

Under the “3x” I put the tripled amount of whatever ingredient is first on the recipe. “2x” stands for the doubled amount, and “1x” is the normal recipe amounts. So for meatballs, it might look something like this:

3x 2x 1x Ingredients

6 lbs 4 lbs 2lbs ground beef

And so on, listing each ingredient’s amount in its column. It makes a handy reference when shopping list time rolls around.

Also, there are a couple ways to go when deciding how to freeze your meals. You can line your 9×13” baking dishes with foil, freeze, then pop the frozen lasagnas or casseroles out and store in 2 gallon Ziplocs. Or you can buy foil pans at Dollar General, sometimes 3 for a dollar! If you go the Ziploc route, seal the zippered line all the way up against a drinking straw, and then suction the air out of the bag by inhaling on the straw a few times. This wards off freezer-burn, and the bags stack better in your freezer. Don’t forget your Sharpie pen to label everything as to its contents and the date!

We always cooked our meats prior to our cooking sprees, and usually were at the clean-up stage after two hours of work. On a chicken day, we’d come home with two 9×13” pans of chicken-veggie lasagna, two 9” chicken shepherd pies, and Chicken Tetrazini or Chicken Crescent Bundles. On a beef day, we’d do bierocks, meatballs or mini-meatloaves, and two pans of beef lasagna. Pretty good to have six meals to show for two hours of “friend time”. Especially when you think that most of us spend anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour on meal prep/baking each evening for supper!

You needn’t limit it to main dishes either. Sometimes, we’d make 8 dozen cookies, or frozen fruit salads.

Our homeschool group meets at a different church now (smaller facilities), and we haven’t mega-cooked together in ages. I keep thinking I need to put out feelers at my church, to see if any of the other mommies want to dig up their favorite recipes and gather together to share the cook-load.

By the way, I do have a few other posts under the mega-cooking category over on my sidebar. I’ll try to add to them here and there, so if you’re wanting a particular recipe that I mentioned, let me know in comments!

Better Late Than Never–Weekend Kindness

 

The “Watch the Kiddies” directive came at a great time for us. So I thought. My sil had a scheduled c-section, so we offered to watch her two older kids some evening prior to the surgery…so she and her dh could splurge on one last date. Alas, it didn’t work out. So I extended the invitation on into this week. Still didn’t work out.

And what a blessing! My youngest woke up feverish and dotted with chicken pox this morning. Would have hated to pass that along to a family with a newborn!

Btw, it’s a girl!

Have a Weekend Kindness to Share?Leave a Comment and we’ll paste your link here:

Get the Weekend Kindness code here!The purpose of the meme is to get people motivated to be kind to our fellow men and women and to encourage one another in that pursuit. We all If you participate, leave the link to your Weekend Kindness in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Weekend Kindness with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their Acts of Weekend Kindness. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Modesty, Teaching Our Children, and Fishbowls

I didn’t have any blog ideas today, so I thought I’d point you over to MInTheGap’s site. He generously invites me to guest post on his site once a week or so, and here are links to my three latest posts. I’m also including the first few lines of each one to hopefully draw you over there! Just click on the title to go directly to that post!

Innocent Victims of the Fashion Industry

“I couldn’t wear black as a child. It was too sophisticated.

As a mother raising three daughters in today’s culture, I wish all I had to worry about was the color of their clothing. My poor sisters remember when all their friends were wearing pants with zippers while they were condemned to polyester and elasticized waist bands.

Zippers were masculine!”…

Teach It To The Children

The far-reaching power of a Godly heritage; do we fully appreciate the potential impact of our daily testimony on future generations?

Psalm 78:5-6, expands brilliantly,

For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should teach them to their children, that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children…”…

Life in the Fishbowl

“Yes, life in a fishbowl, a phrase often used when describing life in a pastor’s family. Displayed to be admired or found wanting, high expectations can drain even the most eager of God’s servants. Actually, times have changed. Used to be, a congregation expected the pastor’s wife to fulfill most of the roles now covered by the education and hospitality committees…”