Saturday, January 29, 2011

This week's menu

Thought I'd share what's on our menu for the week:

Breakfast-baked oatmeal and boiled eggs
Lunch-EMFH (Every Man For Himself--aka leftovers)
Dinner-slow cooker French dip with salad and homemade bread

Lunch-cheeseburger cresents
Dinner-lettuce cups (The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook) and rice balls (Basic Asian)

Breakfast-biscuits and sausage
Dinner-cheddar & potato soup with spicy spare ribs (cooking double to use in fried rice on Wednesday) and homemade bread

Breakfast-cinnamon bread
Lunch-homemade Mac and cheese
Dinner-stir fried rice, potstickers, and chocolate wontons--recipes from The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook
(due to other commitments, we're celebrating CNY tonight, it's on Thursday.)

Breakfast-toast and sunny side up eggs
Dinner-chili taco salad

Lunch-sandwiches or homemade lunchables
Dinner-Dh is hunting, so it's leftovers and sandwiches for the weekend...

Breakfast-banana nut muffins (the boys make them!)

Dinner-PW chicken spaghetti (cooking extra chicken to make 2 chicken pot pies-one to eat this week and one to freeze)  Both recipes are from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl

Our newest gizmo is a popcorn popper and we're loving it.  The kids are into having popcorn with nuts/seeds for a snack and we were going through the microwave bags too fast!  I also bought a Kindle book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  I made my first batch of bread today and it turned out great!  One of the kids said it tasted as good as Great Harvest Bread Co.--I'll take that as a compliment!

We (Troy) ended up grinding 53 pounds of venison from one deer!

Ingredients for baking bread today (minus the oil)

 This is what it looked like right after I finished mixing it:

This was 2 hours later--it had tripled in size!

Getting ready to go into the oven...

Fresh out of the oven.  I sprinkled a little too much flour on top, not a big deal...

The kids LOVED it!

~Excitedly waiting on popcorn~

What we do in our spare time...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Could you be this young man's family?

Liyuan is 13 years old and is running out of time to find a family.  

 Liyuan was born on Dec. 1997.  His mother left home when he was little and her whereabouts are unknown. His father died of illness in August 2007 and that's when he came to the orphanage.  When he came in, he was depressed and rebellious because of the changes of environment and his father’s death. He didn't listen to others’ advice. Later under the loving care and concerns of all of the staff in this orphanage, he slowly became outgoing, can greet people around him proactively, help caretakers look after crying children, help elders in the institute sweep the floor, and carry water etc. The institute applied in September 2007 to declare that his mother was dead. People’s Court judged to declare his mother’s death in December 2007. Because Liyuan’s parents all died and he has no direct relatives in his family, he became an orphan. 

This institute knows from the residents’ committee of the birthplace of Liyuan that the he is a hardworking and kind-hearted child at home, can help family members do farm work that he can do, and gets along well with neighbors. He began to study in preschool class at the age of 6 years and is a pupil who loves studying lessons and doing labor work. Normally in class he engages in difficult and dirty tasks actively and can finish them successfully. In the beginning due to his different dialect, he had academic difficulties, but now he has good academic results and is praised by teachers and classmates.  He is currently enrolled in Grade 5. Usually he rides a bike to go to school and comes home from school by himself, has great independence, usually has meals alone, takes a bath, and washes clothes alone. At school, he can listen to lessons attentively and seriously, gets along well with classmates, but in the beginning because of his different dialect, his academic results can not become good. Usually after class he plays games with other classmates, joins in some small outdoor activities. Now he has become more and more outgoing and active.

Liyuan honestly doesn't have much time.  When a child reaches the age of 14, they are no longer considered adoptable.  They either go into the adult portion of the welfare institute (think nursing home with no hope) or they are put out on the streets to beg and work in any way they can to support themselves.  

Please pray about it.  Could you be his family, his hope for a future?  Time is running out.

Contact Xiaoqing with BAAS at for more information.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Midyear checkup!

We've almost finished 24 weeks of school!  I thought it would be a good time to look back and evaluate what we've done and see if anything needs adjusting or tweaking.

Overall, this year has gone pretty smoothly (said in amazement!).  I honestly have to say it's been our best year ever.  One thing that testifies to that is how little I have changed course over the year.  In previous years, I would get swayed by "new" curriculum I'd run across.  I'd switch and change and realize that it had it's problems too.  Here and here I posted about our upcoming year--schedule and curriculum.  It was fun just looking back over those 2 posts, because not much has changed (unless we finished a book)!  To me that symbolizes a peace with where we are, a peace with the curriculum, and with the style of learning (Charlotte Mason).

I thought you might be interested to see the minor tweaks I've made and what we've kept.

Bible and devotions:  The boys are still reading one chapter a day in their bibles and we have moved on to a new devotion book Grace for the Moment Morning & Evening Edition.  Both boys finished their bible study books and we started The Book of Proverbs God's Book of Wisdom .  We still do scripture memory daily.  For the girls, we have started Truth & Grace Memory Book #1 and they love it!

Character issues:  I've added in Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends.  Jacob seems to be having a tougher time than usual with Connor and his AS...  Jacob longs for a brother to play with him in a more interactive way.  I am hoping that using this book will be a good sort of social story for Connor and of course, what brothers and sisters don't need to work at being better friends.  We also still read one selection a week from The Book of Virtues for Young People.

Math:  Both boys are still using Saxon Math and it's going well.  We'll stick with it!  We also finished reading Mathematicians are People Too.  The girls use the Math-U-See Primer a couple times a week and LOTS of life skills--counting, helping mom cook, etc.

History:  Gotta love the SCM History guides!  We're on lesson 146 of Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation, & the Epistles.  I can't believe how much we (yes, we) are learning.  We are learning so much about the reformation that I never knew.  We have about 30 lessons left and then we move on to some American history (hoping to time it right when SCM comes out with Module 5...).  I really enjoy these guides because they aren't overwhelmingand they give you such a nice outline of daily readings, a little less work for me.  We've tried numerous ones (Weaver, SOTW, MOH...) and I always felt like it was too much--too much for me and too much for them.  Lots of stuff that was just fluff thrown in just for the sake of filling it up with activites.  SCM gives you what to read as a family (the spine and other books) and what to assign each level to read independently (if possible).  We've loved most all the books this year--The Man Who Laid the Egg, Thunderstorm in Church, The Beggar's Bible, Around the World in a Hundred Years, Christopher Columbus...and that's just our together reading!  Connor has read The White Stag, The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, The Shining Company, The Magna Charta, In Freedom's Cause, and he is now on The Prince and the Pauper.  Jacob has read The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Vikings, Adam of the Road, and he is now reading The World of Christopher Columbus and Sons.  Wow, kind of an eye opener for me.  Sometimes when you're in the middle of it you don't see the big picture.  We've covered a lot of history.

Spelling and Copywork and Grammar:  Jacob does SCM Spelling Wisdom 1 and Connor does Spelling Wisdom 2.  They do it 3 times a week and Copywork the other 2 days of the week.  It is amazing to see their skills increase without using dry, boring, contrived lists.  And their handwriting!  To flip through their pages of writing and see the improvement....sure gives them a burst of encouragement.  They didn't believe it would happen and they don't see it in the day to day of it, but to go back and flip through...good stuff!  They both finished their Analytical Grammar for the year.  Connor does have to do one review selection every other week.

Reading and Handwriting:  The girls and I have been working on Get Ready for the Code - Book a and Handwriting without Tears.  Shaoey is into writing all of our names and then Grace copies Shaoey's paper!

Literature:  I added this in.  They have a literature piece to read 3 times a week and a science selection to read 2 times.  Connor has read Gentle Ben and now The Deer Slayer.  Jacob read Gentle Ben and is now reading In His Steps.  We were using Jacks' Insects for science reading, but we found it too dry for us so we switched to The Story Book of Science.  We really like the conversational tone much better.

Foreign Language:  After dragging it out longer than I should have, we finally ditched changed from Latin to Spanish and it seems to be a better fit.  We're using Getting Started with Spanish and SPANISH in 10 minutes a day®.

Science:  We are reading Discover Nature in Winter: Things to Know and Things to Do a couple of days a week and we try to take a nature walk and make a nature journal entry on Fridays.  The girls and I are reading Christian Liberty Nature Reader Book 1.

Picture, composer, and poetry study:  This seems to be hit or miss.  We only do each one one day a week, but some weeks we don't hit all 3.  This would have bothered me in the past, but I feel that we have such a rounded selection that we are hitting quite a bit.  No guilt!

Extra:  We still do The Fallacy Detective and we added in Mavis Beacon Typing.

In addition, we've had numerous field trips so far this year--Houston (NASA, Houston Zoo, and the Cockrell Butterfly Museum and Museum of Natural Science), a corn maze, a Christmas tree farm, hunting in Sonora (both boys killed bucks)...

I know this looks like a lot, but would you believe we are done by noon most days!  Honestly!  We don't do every subject every day many of these things only take 10-15 minutes each.  It really is such a delight to spend the days with my children.  (Please don't read that as we never get under each other's skin...we are human, not saints!)

How are you doing this school year?  Have you made changes?  I'd love to hear about it!  I've been wanting to try my first Mcklinky and this sounds like a good place to try it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

As I emerge from the battle...

I feel victorious over the kitchen!  I thought you might appreciate some before and after pictures.  Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures before we unloaded the island, but I think you can imagine what it looked like with every thing in the chairs, on the floor, and on the island INSIDE the island!  FULL and stuff falling out every time we opened cabinets!


This one wasn't too bad on the top, just the bottom had bottles falling out every time we opened it!

All this and more was under the island!!  (I had 2 wonderfully silly helpers.)

All this--25 coffee mugs, 2 sake sets, travel mugs, coffee, tea mugs and accessories, and 2 escargot plates (don't ask...we've used them once in 15 years and I don't eat them!)....

Came from this small corner cabinet!

One of my favorite kitchen places now--all my measuring spoons in one place, all the many chopsticks in one basket, AND only the items I ACTUALLY use--novel idea!

(Above and below back up to each other.)

 (The above and below back up to each other.)

And my 2 helpers going strong.  What hams!
Tomorrow I think I'll tackle the sunroom (where we actually spend most of our day).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Word/Verse for my year

A few days ago one of my friends from the ChattyGirlsGroup mentioned how she was choosing her word and verse for the year.  She directed us to this blog that she follows.   I'd never really thought about it or read much about it.  Then in a totally unrelated confirmation, I "stumbled" upon this blog that also talked about it.  Hmmm...  I am learning that when God has things show up a few times, it probably means that I need to take notice!  After thinking and praying about it, I have come up with my word and verse for 2011:


Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.  Proverbs 15:16 (KJV) 

How appropriate considering so much of what I've been into lately--natural, simple, back to basics...  From the books and magazines that I read--Mother Earth News, Grit, Suburban Farmgirl, MaryJaneFarm--to cooking from scratch and raising chickens--thanks to Pioneer Woman and the above magazines--to the products I use--homemade lotion, lip gloss, natural shampoo & conditioner, cleaning supplies, etc... 

After reading Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider, I am inspired to regain control of my stuff and put it in it's place--literally and figuratively!  She gives a 10 day "plan" to go through your house.  The goal here is based on a quote from William Morris "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."  To go through your house one room at a time completely emptying it of stuff (except furniture and wall hangings, unless you want to), cleaning it from top to bottom and then... THEN comes the hard part.  Going through your piles and filtering it through those 2 things:  useful and beautiful.  It doesn't mean living with nothing or a barren house, but making the decision--is the item worth more to me or is the space and having less to care for worth more?   Oh how attached we are to stuff... She also addresses souvenirs and momentos, giving us "permission" to let go of them, that it doesn't mean we loved the trip or our time with family any less.

Please understand me, the goal is doesn't deal with just the stuff though.  I recently read this about simplicity:  the simplifying of one's life in order to focus on things that are most important and disregard or avoid things that are least important.   I want my focus to be about the "things" that are important, that have true significance--God and people/relationships.  But by choosing to deal with my physical stuff and it's hold on me and to live simply, I free up my time, resources, and attention to pour into the most important things--loving God and loving people!  I want to be free to be used as God sees fit without the stuff holding me back.  You know what I mean, that thought that "oh, I can't invite them over, the house is cluttered and a mess" or "I can't make a meal, drive her somewhere, spend an hour or two listening to her, etc for her I've got laundry, cleaning, etc... to do."  Can you tell I've heard those in my head before?  By getting rid of the excess and waste, the house should run more efficiently, freeing me up to spend more time in God's word, more time seeking His face (and not His hand), and more time loving and worshiping Him which will overflow into loving others as God loves them, not as I see them, but as He sees them.  

The beginning of the year seems like a good time to do this, so I started it a couple of days ago.  I did the living room yesterday.  Should be heading on to the front room (library) and dining room today, but I feel that the kitchen is REALLY what needs it.  Time to get rid of all those extra gadgets that I know don't get used!  If in doubt, I love the suggestion to put it in a box somewhere else and if I haven't gone to get it in 3 or 6 months, apparently--I don't need it!  So time to go empty the kitchen, if you don't hear from me in a few days, you may want to send in a search and rescue team!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Jacob turns 11!

And finishing up the year on Dec. 30th....Jacob's birthday!  My sweet, servant hearted, loving Jacob turned 11!  We celebrated by having a handful of friends over for an airsoft war, pizza, and chocolate heaven cake.  Doesn't get any better than that!

11 years ago...what a weekend that was!  We were going vbac and early because his head was off the charts for a 38 week baby, so we induced at 6 am.   He didn't decide to come out until 8:48 p.m.  Troy was on call that weekend and had office hours the first half the day.  Then came to my room and napped before rounding in the hospital.  We were discharged by 1 p.m. the next day.  It turns out that that weekend would be the worst flu season in Lafayette...pharmacies ran out of meds, Troy got over 50 calls in just over 24 hours, and we had a newborn with jaudice...  Ok, more than you probably wanted to know...  But it was all worth it!  Here's by boy:

Christmas 2010

What an amazing Christmas!  The kids are all at a fun age.  We were able to spend time making presents for friends, building gingerbread houses, visiting friends... We did our traditional Christmas Eve chicken and sausage gumbo with Troy's family.  Then Christmas day we read Luke 2 and opened presents, then we visited his parents for lunch.  We had a wonderfully quiet and peaceful day.  (compare to Christmas 2009--my have they grown!)

The grandkids then and now:

To get the fun of this picture, you need to look in the bottom right...that would be a pokey arm!

Granddad and girls

 Dad had to try out the boys Christmas present a few days before...had to make sure it works, right?

My handsome husband...still makes my heart smile and gives me goosebumps!