A Curtain Ramble

It’s chillin outside to the extent of ground-covering sleet action all day! Amazing that just yesterday I was outside in shorts and a t-shirt, hanging my living room curtains on the line. It got to 60 degrees yesterday! I should have known those high winds were blowing in some winter weather!

I always get in a little frenzy when it’s time to deck the halls. This year, I want to put evergreen swags (artificial, can’t afford the real ones) across the window tops (I have five nice sized living room windows).

Of course, to prepare for the swags, down come the curtains and rods and along with them a bit of dust and invariably some cobwebs. Spiders like my old house.

My curtains aren’t drapes or anything, but I love them (floor length navy blue checked tab-tops from Penney’s) and want them to last!  Washing them is ideal, except, it wears them out! So with the winds yesterday, I thought, I’ll just wind-blast them! It worked! (Hey, airing curtains instead of quilts!)

The girls dusted the living room while I washed the windows with Murphy’s Oil Soap–they’re still at an age that loves cleaning (unless it’s their room)! Thankfully, the blinds are still pretty clean from their last dunking in my tub.

Side note: An online friend told me she never bothers cleaning her blinds, she just buys new ones at the dollar store. She swears they’re super cheap. My problem: our dollar store doesn’t carry mini-blinds. I’d like to convert the whole house to Roman shades, but haven’t gotten that done yet. Okay, side note over.

Part of the process was cleaning out the stereo and going through all my audio cassettes. Which meant, playing some favorites. My Girl by the Temptations (dh and I went to that movie in our dating years), I Cross My Heart by George Strait (one of our wedding songs), I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas, Handel’s Messiah. To each one, my 6 year old said, “Was that song played at your wedding, Mommy?” Lol.

All in a fun day’s work. I tried not to overdo it, but lost my voice by evening (remember I’m fighting off a cold). However, today was a new day. I didn’t get my swags up, but we got the tree up and most of our other Christmas cheer spread around.

So, tell me, what do your living room curtains look like?

A Recipe for Comfort

Comfort food. When I’m sick, I want my mom’s chicken stew with dumplings. Or my mother-in-law’s chicken and rice casserole. What does it for you?

It’s pouring outside, temps in the thirties, and my family is sick. We’ve all got one form or another of the common cold. The hydrogen peroxide remedy is having to work overtime on this bug! Can’t tell if it’s working yet…seems to be on some of us and not on others! I’ll keep you informed…

I opted to make the chicken and rice casserole tonight. Mainly because it’s very easy, and easy sounded good.

Chicken and Rice Casserole

  • 1 stick butter, melted; in separate small dish melt an additional 2 TB butter
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 3 cups cooked rice (doesn’t matter what kind)
  • 3 chicken breasts, halved (I cheated today and used 6 boneless skinless chicken tenders)
  • Paprika

Combine 1 stick butter and soups in saucepan. Heat, stir until smooth. Add cooked rice and pour into a 9X13″ pan. Lay chicken breasts on top. Brush with 2 TB melted butter and sprinkle with paprika. bake at 275-300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.

My hubby took the children to the monthly goat sale…we’re selling 3 head. By the time they get home, our supper will be ready.

What do you crave when you’re down for the count?

Sweet Potatoes, Bananas and Honey, oh my!

I’m convinced that someone like me must have invented the following recipe. Someone not very fond of the traditional sweet potato-marshmallow-smothered hot dish. And that’s putting it nicely.

But when my mom brought this amazing dish to a mutual friend’s birthday potluck, I began to change my tune. I made it for our big Thanksgiving meal, and I’m making it again to take this evening to another family get-together.

Whipped Sweet Potatoes & Bananas with Honey

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • 4 bananas, unpeeled
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temp
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • kosher salt (I used regular)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3-1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork, put them in a roasting pan and roast for 45 minutes. Toss the bananas into the same pan and continue roasting for 10-15 minutes until both potatoes and bananas are very soft. Remove the pan from the oven but don’t turn the oven off.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a large mixing bowl. Peel the bananas and add them to the bowl along with 1 stick of the butter and the honey. Season with salt and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon (I just used my Kitchen Aid mixer) until everything is well combined and the mixture is fluffy. Spoon into a 9×13 pan/baking dish and smooth the top.

In a separate mixing bowl, use a fork to combine the remaining stick of butter, brown sugar, flour and pecans until the mixture is the consistency of coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the sweet potatoes and return to the oven. Cook for 20 minutes or till the crumbs are golden. Serve hot.

It’s like dessert. Try it, you’ll love it. And I’m off to pull my taters and bananas out of the oven…

Dr. Phil’s Take on Homeschoolers

Ha. Thanks to Gina, I’m onto him. Dr. Phil, that is.

For those of you that wonder what the big deal is, go read “The Homeschool Scuttle”…or save yourself an hour and read the highlights of the article here.

Dr. Phil is airing today, November 24, a taping titled: “The Great School Debate”. In a nutshell, he’s lumping all homeschoolers into the “unschooling”category. Yeah, take the most radical and controversial approach out there and bingo, sensationalize it.

Taken from the article:

Dr. Phil opens the “Great Debate,” episode with news-media coverage of the recent school shootings, and in a grand flourish of the “Great Debate,” he states that more and more families are turning to homeschooling. This episode could very well be mainstream America’s first exposure to a “typical,” homeschooling family.Perhaps, a very new “Newbie,” is thinking of homeschooling as they watch this show, interested in the wise Dr. Phil’s assessment of homeschooling. While it’s true that the Unschooling family did hold her own very well against Dr. Phil who relentlessly kept quizzing her with questions such as, “Yes, but don’t you want your child to be prepared to compete in America’s competitive Market?” His choice to use a “Radical Homeschooling Family,” was exploitive, deliberately calculated and controversial.If he truly wanted to have a “Great Debate,” why not begin the show by first having a knowledgeable, reputable homeschooling advocate explain the many different styles and ways to homeschool, and the theories and benefits of each style, so that the mainstream general audience could develop informed opinions and be appreciative of what they were debating in the first place?He never, ever, once said, “Teach us about homeschooling.” Or, “Explain to me the different styles of homeschooling.” Instead, he right off, used this extreme, self-proclaimed, “Radical Unschooling Family,” and never explained the basic concepts of homeschooling and all the choices that homeschoolers can make in how they choose to teach their children.What I found most fascinating was how Dr. Phil enticed homeschoolers to be a part of this program. You’ll have to read the “Bait and Switch” part of the article, if you decide it’s worth your time. I had to laugh at the fact that the homeschoolers invited to the program were asked not to bring along any children under 18. Weird, huh. Even stranger when the homeschool families standing in line outside the studio realized that busloads of public school children were arriving to take places in the audience.

Hmm. What’s up with that? Deliberately rigging the audience?

The viewing audience will not be able to see the audience as being high school children. To the television viewer, they will just be arms in the air opposing homeschooling. This is when I realized why we had been brought in as, “Special Guest Audience.” The Dr. Phil Show took no chances. They wanted to make sure that they had an audience of 10-15% that would passionately raise their hands in favor of homeschooling, and a guarantee that the entire rest of the audience would be strongly in favor of traditional schooling. They did not want an audience of people who did not care one way or the other, as they might have had with a random, mainstream audience. They needed to have a handpicked audience that would unilaterally, overwhelmingly opposed the homeschooling, *ON* a homeschooling show in which the homeschoolers had been invited, and had come to express their love of homeschooling!

You’ll have to watch it and fill me in. Or read the article. According to people who’ve been to his tapings, this isn’t the first time he’s exploited lifestyle choices by pretended praise.

For those of you able to tune in, I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts.

Thanksgiving Tradition

As I made my desserts in prep for today’s feast at my big sister’s house, I thought about all the times loving hands had prepared these same recipes.

Aunt Lilly’s pie crust has probably been around half a century at least…will my daughters and grand-daughters be making it fifty years from now? Fun thoughts like the above danced through my head as I assembled a cherry pie.

Then, there’s the fabulous Chocolate Cream Roll…seen by my other big sister on a 1979 cover of Family Circle magazine and rated #1 most requested birthday cake in our family ever since! This is the first year I’ve attempted to make the confection, and it’s quite the production! (I need more practice!) Not your typical “jelly roll” cake, each layer has a bit of brewed coffee from the cake to the whipped cream filling, to the chocolate satin frosting. Yum doesn’t begin to describe it.

Trying a new recipe this year, thanks to my mom. It’s a hot dish–sweet potatos and bananas under a crumbly brown sugar-pecan topping. Mmm.

What food says Thanksgiving to you?

Today’s my day to post at Writer…Interrupted. I do hope you’ll go on over there and read my “Thanksgiving Ties” post. Maybe it will give you some fun ideas for keeping the kiddos happy pre-dinner, and the adults happy post-dinner!

Happy Thanksgiving. May it be a memorable one.

Thanksgiving Lore

My favorite Thanksgiving story is the one about Squanto and God’s sovereign plan for his life.

It’s proof that if you rely only on public school textbooks, you’ll miss many fascinating truths about history. My friend and I were just discussing this the other day. History isn’t sacred anymore. Textbook writers are too “politically correct”.

Anyway.

A couple years ago, my dh heard this incredible story on Christian radio. The Squanto story. Intrigued, I did some research and found corresponding info online. Did you know that God prepared Squanto, years in advance, to be just the one the Pilgrims needed their first years in America? It’s an amazing story, one well worth sharing round the table tomorrow.

Dr. Ralph F. Wilson of joyfulheart.com, in Squanto: God’s Special Indian, writes the true story of how God prepared Squanto for the Pilgrims.

It almost seemed that a plan had led him. The first time he was captured he learned English. The second time, he was freed by gentle Christians who taught him to trust in Jesus. And though his own people had died of sickness, God had sent him to a new people who built their colony where his old village once stood.

Can you imagine the Pilgrims’ suprise at being greeted by an Indian who:

  1. Spoke English?
  2. Knew Jesus as his personal Savior?
  3. Felt that God had given him a “new family” in these people who needed guidance so badly? 

It’s an amazing story, I hope you go print it off and read it to your family this holiday.

Some intriguing facts about the article:

This account is based on historical facts found in primary sources such as William Bradford’s Journal, Capt. John Smith’s The Generall Historie of New England, and Sir Ferdinando Gorges’ Brief Narration, and numerous secondary sources.

Our Christian heritage is a very cool thing.

Weekend Kindness: Love List to Hubby

This past weekend’s mission was:

Send a love letter listing the reasons “Why I love you so much.”

So I wrote a love letter to my husband…he’s the best, and I’m so glad God put us together! In deference to his private nature, I decided I shouldn’t post it here…so I removed my original list.

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

What I Love About My Wife at MInTheGap

What is this? | Get the code!

 

Airing Quilts, Lifting Spirits

What better title for a “real life” update than “Airing Quilts”? Though, in reality, I am airing the bedding (yes, real quilts) out on the clothesline…it’s a beautiful day for mid-November. Now that you’re imagining the peaceful, Amish-like scenery of many quilts strung out on a line…

 

The past two weeks have been a flurry of drop-in visitors, early Thanksgiving get-togethers, Bible studies/lunches, International cooking classes…plus all the associated cooking and cleaning that goes with the above, and me trying haphazardly to keep up with the homeschooling, the blogging and my recommitment to “writing the great American novel” (yeah, right). Don’t get me wrong, I love every single minute of it. I have the best family in the whole world, friends who are like family, awesome online friends here in my little corner of the blogging community…Yes, I’m feeling pretty thankful these days.

 

A few favorite moments recently, just because:

  • A wonderful girl from my “puppet leader” days called out of the blue wanting to stop by and “catch up”. Talk about exhilarating! She’s been out of state for several years now, and suddenly she’s on the phone and only five minutes from my house! (It just happened to be a “clean” house day too, can you believe it?) Best of all, she’s in her early twenties and on fire for God. My two oldest daughters just ate that up! We never wanted the visit to end, but it did…4 hours later!
  • My parents come to my home one morning a week for Bible study. Dad’s teaching is riveting, let me tell you. He’s never been your “garden variety” preacher. We sit at my kitchen table, nursing our coffees and usually a sweet treat or two and study God’s word. Wow. What a privilege. Then we end our time by sharing lunch together.
  • Twice a month on Thursdays, my good friend Deborah and I take turns hosting a day of homeschooling our children together. Yesterday, we met at her house. Or a cast of colonials did, because we all dressed the part in floor length skirts/costumes and had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in which each child had a part.
  • This past Tuesday we learned to make Chinese egg rolls and authentic fried rice at our International cooking class! This is definitely a meal we’ll be making again!
  • My new critique partners are outstanding! I’m so enjoying their WIPs (works in progress) and getting objective feedback on my chapters is something I’ve long craved. It’s SO encouraging…
  • Some girlfriends and I had a Ladies Potluck a few nights ago, a birthday celebration. I rarely get out at night, so this was a treat! We sat back and chatted for almost three hours…
  • Dh and I have had some great talks lately. Whether it’s his daily call home from work, or the couple times I’ve had him to myself while fixing supper…or the after-bedtime-the-clock-is-ticking-and-we-don’t-care dream-talking on the couch, it’s been special.
  • And the last of this line-up…a few weeks back dh and I took our girls to see President Bush! What an opportunity, and so inspiring, to stand with thousands of other value voters…to be yards away from the President of America.

Loving this time of year…and since the tune has been running through my mind this entire post, I’ll share the lyrics with you…hope your holidays are off to a great start!

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you "Be of good cheer" 
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year 
It's the hap -happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings 
When friends come to call 
It's the hap - happiest season of all
There'll be parties for hosting 
Marshmallows for toasting 
And caroling out in the snow 
There'll be scary ghost stories 
And tales of the glories of 
Christmases long, long ago 
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year 
There'll be much mistltoeing 
And hearts will be glowing 
When love ones are near 
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year 
There'll be parties for hosting 
Marshmallows for toasting 
And caroling out in the snow 
There'll be scary ghost stories 
And tales of the glories of 
Christmases long, long ago 

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year 
There'll be much mistltoeing 
And hearts will be glowing 
When love ones are near 
It's The Most Wonderful Time 
It's The Most Wonderful Time 
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year       

By: Eddie Pola and George Wyle 

Homeschooling and The Internet

kidsandcomputers1.jpgFor anyone–homeschoolers especially–the Internet is a massive library. Its bookshelves, endless and full—not only with books, but with magazines and research papers. And it’s a library teeming with experts anticipating your every need.

 

Thanks to the Internet, children around the world can go to school, from the comfort of home. And in a classroom this diverse, imagine the opportunities! Studying and exchanging information with children of other cultures, learning their foreign languages as they learn ours, sowing seeds of Christianity throughout the process.

 

 

Want more? Continue reading my post, including my favorite homeschool websites, today at MInTheGap

Irrational Fears…and Children

My little girl is scared.  

It’s not just a phase, my six year old has always been fearful. I’ve come to realize, or to think, that it’s her cross in this life…to be anxious.

There was no leaving her in the nursery as a toddler. When she was three, we had several months of her irrational fear that I’d left her alone in the house. I mean, she would call my name once, I’d answer from the laundry room (or whereever) and she wouldn’ t hear…so she’d immediately run screaming my name, panicked that I’d abandoned her. It’s enough to make you think I’d threatened to leave home without her or something. I assure you, I did not. Ever.

Now, lest you think she’s afraid of everything, she’s not. She’s never been afraid of storms, of the dark, or of big dogs or bugs. Rarely do nightmares plague her. She has no fear of heights–her constant tree climbing, and monkeying-up-doorframes proves a certain lack of inhibition.

The experts have plenty of recommendations for the above fears: exposure to a new litter of pups (a non-threatening version of what terrifies them, ie: big dogs) or pretend play with a new stuffed animal dog, playing with flashlights or colored lights in a dark room (for fear of the dark), interacting with bugs by use of ant farms and butterfly habitats…but when we rely only on the “experts” we may miss the important spiritual lessons needed learned.

These fears are part of God’s plan for my daughter. Sadly, I’m only now realizing this and connecting the dots.

With prayer and encouragement, she overcame the majority of her fears by the age of 4.5. However, they’re resurfacing. She’s afraid of strangers. Terrified.

She will not go to Sunday School anymore, because there are several new children in the class…and when the SS teacher left them unattended once to go make copies…it freaked 6 yo out. When this spilled over to not attending Christmas program practice, my concern flags flapped in overtime. Yes, just like the children of Israel, I’m a slow learner. Here we have another opportunity for growth, and what do I do? Anxiety is sin, you know.

Three weeks have gone by and here’s what I’m doing:

  • I’m acknowledging her fears, and trying to remain patient as we work through them. These last 3 weeks she’s been sitting with us during adult SS.
  • I’m praying for her the power prayer of Ephesians 3:14-21. (the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is ours for the asking!)
  • I’ve told several trusted prayer partners of this need.
  • She and I talk. She knows God is with her, and that she can pray for His help and peace. She knows two verses on fear: Isaiah 41:10 and Psalm 56:3.
  • We had a devotion on Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

This past Sunday, though she opted to sit with us in adult SS, she decided she was safe attending Christmas program practice without me. (This practice is done during the sermon…)

 So, by the grace of God, we go…

(and for anyone tempted to say this is a by-product of homeschooling, a socialization issue, it’s not. A personality and spirit issue, yes. )