12/30/2009

Feel the heat


It seems like something is always broken or in the process of breaking, doesn't it? If a tire isn't needing to be replaced then the stove goes out, or the toilet won't stop running, or an old pipe behind the kitchen wall cracks and leaks under the floor slowly, until your sub floor is all wet and your tile starts to pop up and your lower cabinets are warping and your insurance company doesn't cover slow leaks that are hidden in walls. I guess it is all part of life- learning to take the good with the bad.

Our latest life lesson was when the weather began to get cooler and we went to turn on the new-ish furnace in our crawl space. Nothing happened. So my very handy and do-it-yourself husband figured it just needed a new ignitor since the old one crumbled in his hand. He bought one and installed it and...still nothing. An hvac man came out and gave us the bad news. We needed a new furnace.

So, after weighing all our options (and being rather chilly in the process), we decided to install a wall-mounted, blue flame gas heater. If it warms the whole house- great! If not, we will make it through this winter and then try something else.

In the first picture is the infrared heater Scotty bought at Lowe's for almost 300.00 which required a plug and a gas line. It went back to Lowe's after he found a new and better heater on Craig's list for much cheaper.

This is our new "fire place" as the kids call it. It warms the whole house and I even had to turn it down on low today cause it got a little too toasty in here. It is SO great to have heat again!

12/29/2009

A Better Covenant

Growing up in a non-denominational church, raised by parents who both attended Bible colleges, and going to a Christian school for many years, I was in deep. Sunday school, church, youth group, Bible class at school everyday... So with ALL that religion how come there was SO much I didn't understand? I have believed in Jesus for as long as I can remember and have never wavered or questioned that He is God in the flesh. That He died for my sins and that He arose from the grave. That He is coming again. I know that is true. But I wonder why, in all my years of religion, I was never taught the new covenant. Where is the new covenant even found in the Bible? Is it actually laid out for us? Or do we just piece it together and rely on ourselves to figure it out? Or trust some people with seminary degrees to explain it to us? Following after what is right in our own eyes? No! Our God is a loving Father. He is a God of order and truth. Of course He has laid out His plan of redemption for us. Of course He has made His covenant known- the terms of the new covenant- and what it actually is. Really? YES! In all the many years of Bible class and Sunday school no one ever turned in the Bible to Jeremiah 31:31 and began reading the actual new covenant. I would say that is a pretty important thing to understand. Especially since we are taught that we are under the new covenant. Well then, what is it???

I was taught that the law was the old covenant and that people used to try to be saved by obeying the law. But when Jesus came and died that He did away with the law and now we live under grace. I was taught that since His blood covers my sin the law is no longer needed. There are even scriptures that SEEM to back up this way of thinking. After all, didn't Paul say that the new covenant made the first old? That the old covenant was decaying and vanishing? Hmmm. Is that the law of God he is talking about? Ready to vanish? If so, then WHY would our Messiah tell us that not even one jot or tittle of the law would be done away with until heaven and earth pass? Maybe Paul wasn't talking about the whole law of God which he himself calls perfect. Maybe he was talking about the covenant of the Levitical priesthood being replaced my our High Priest in the order of MelecTzadik (King of Righteousness) This order was indeed vanishing and is now no longer able to practice because the temple is gone. Our new High Priest is better because He is the perfect Lamb of God, spotless and sinless. He can go before the actual throne on our behalf. The Levitical priesthood was limited by their own flesh and sin.

People used to obey the law because they loved the One true God. Their sins were covered by the blood of sacrifices brought to the altar by the Levitical priests. Laws for the Levitical priesthood are contained in the law of God. Now that the perfect Lamb of God has come and shed His blood for our sins we are no longer under the old system of that priesthood, but are now under our new High Priest- The King of Righteousness- who shed His blood for our sins.

Sins? What are sins? Who defines right and wrong? God does. It is called the perfect law of God in the book of James. What is the law of God? Where is it found? None of these things were taught in all my years of religious training. Each church or denomination decides what is right and wrong? All we have to do is look in the Bible for the truth. Just open to the first page...

The books of Moses, the Torah (meaning law in Hebrew), are the first five books of the Bible. This is the perfect law of God. It is also called the Word of God since it is from His mouth to Moses. It is called LIFE to those who take hold of it. Our Messiah is called the living Word. He was God's Word made flesh. He walked in the righteousness of the Torah, never sinning. In 1 John 3:4 we learn that sin is transgression of the law. Our Messiah came to fulfill- or show us how- to walk in righteousness, perfectly. He is our example. 1John 2:6 "He that saith He abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked."

Then we can just learn the Torah, study the first five books of the Bible, obey all the laws found there, and save ourselves! Right? May it never be!

By looking at the new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31 we can begin to see God's plan. Is it to obey the law to save ourselves? NO WAY! Is it to believe in Jesus and throw out His Torah (teaching and instruction for walking in righteousness) and live, each man following after what is right in his own eyes? NO WAY! God's promise and His new covenant with us is that HE will put His law within us and write it on our hearts and that our sins He will remember no more. He said He will do it. He keeps His promises and His covenants are everlasting.

Our Messiah is our salvation. By the shedding of His blood He has saved us. He has brought us into the new covenant by His blood. He will write His laws on our hearts. He will give us His Spirit to lead us in His righteousness. It is His work and none of ours.

The precepts of men are like sinking sand.

Luke 6:46-49 "And why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to Me, and heareth My sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a Rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a Rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great."

12/15/2009

Stitches

If your brother ever tells you to kick a piece of scrap wood down off the tree house with your bare foot- don't do it!

Hamsters


One day, during our 5th grade Science lesson on Rodents:The Gnawing Mammals, Micah's text book suggested that the student acquire a pet rodent of some kind to observe. (Thanks, A Beka!!) Micah thought this was an excellent idea and started a campaign to get a hamster. He appointed Sunny as his campaign manager and the two of them commenced to beg and reason with us for a week or two. We wavered and considered the cost of a cage and all the accessories which was really the main reason we were objecting.
One day we stopped at a small thrift store to browse around when lo and behold- there sat a cage stuffed full of all the things you need to make a hamster comfortable and keep it alive. The price sticker of $5.00 was just too good to pass up. After calling dad and texting him a picture of his find, Micah walked out of there one happy boy. Scotty took Micah and Sunny to Petsmart that evening and came home with not one, but TWO hamsters.

They are cute little balls of fur, but they bite which is a big bummer. Sunny wants to hold them so much. As is normal with kids, Micah lost interest in them after the novelty wore off and Sunny has become their main care giver, advocate, and mother. She watches over them and keeps their food and water full. She loves to get them out and let them walk around in a box or in their hamster ball (which was included in the $5.00 cage!). After suffering five or six hamster bites on her fingers Scotty brought her home a pair of thick work gloves that she now wears because she just can't resist...she has to hold "Fat-man Piggy-cheeks" and "Fluffy".

Our gnawing rodents have provided hours of enjoyment. Even Scotty has grown a little fond of them despite the fact that he ends up being the one to clean out their cage lately. And just think- it all started with a science lesson. (Thanks, again, A Beka!!)

12/08/2009

Woe, Woe, Woe! Merry Mithras?

My heart has overflown onto my blog page, so anyone who cares to know a little more about why our family is not so merry during christmas anymore read on...

This time of year is kinda tough for me. Not for the typical reasons that most people who struggle with the "holidays" have, but for a much different reason. This will be the fourth year that our family has not participated in this crazy mess that people call christmas. We have not observed it in four years! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would NOT be celebrating christmas! I loved it! I thought it was a religious celebration bringing honor to God. I had many nativity sets and displayed them proudly, talked to my children about the "true meaning" of the season, generously gave gifts while teaching my children it is better to give than to receive, and made sure to include lots of religious christmas carols in with the rest of the delightful mood lifting music of the yuletide season. I loved the shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking, special family time and good cheer feeling that christmas brought. I thought that the only thing that could be wrong with christmas was the commercialization of it all. The greed and the lies about Santa were wrong, right? Following the example of my parents, we never told our children that Santa existed as anything more than a make believe character. Also, it was SO wrong to call it x-mas! How horrible to "take the Christ out of Christmas"!! After all, HE was the reason for the season, wasn't He??! As long as I put an emphasis on the religious aspect of all this then everything was okay. Not only okay, but a good thing- a wonderful thing- in fact, the most wonderful time of the year!

So why do I no longer observe this magical time of year? Because, for some reason, God has given me a heart that longs to know the truth. My prayer has always been for His truth to break through at any cost. As much as I loved this season and all the fun and feelings, I love Him more. I wanted to know the truth. So, as a start, I went to the library and sat at a table with a stack of reference books, encyclopedias, and historical studies of holidays and customs. Upon learning the origin of this celebration, I found out that it has NOTHING to do with our precious Savior. He is not the reason for the season. It was being celebrated long before He was born in a manger, in Bethlehem, in the fall, during the Biblical fall feasts of God. He spoke through the prophet Jeremiah saying not to learn the way of the heathen. Upon studying the origins of what we call christmas I was appalled and ashamed at what I had been participating in. Today, the depth of the deception surrounding this "holiday" is unbelievable.

This time of year is hard now. It is hard to know what to say to a kind cashier wishing you a merry christmas when she doesn't really know what she is saying. It is hard when people pity your children because they miss out on all the gifty greed and other "at least do it for the kids" aspects of the season. It is hard when people actually get angry because we do not observe it, or instantly assume we are atheists or no longer believe in the Messiah. The irony of it all!

So here is the sticky part- here's the part I can't wrap my heart or my mind around- here's the kicker- the big question mark: How do I cope with loving the people- friends, family, and even strangers- who are happily celebrating a season that I DETEST, LOATHE, and ABHOR? It hurts. I get an ache in my heart seeing a tree in the window of my loved one's homes. How can I be angry with them? I was doing the same thing just a few short years ago without remorse or shame. They are not ashamed. They do not understand. I keep loving, keep praying, and keep clinging to the truth of His Word. What else can I do? In Him is the only true peace.

12/04/2009

Quite the character


Micah's spelling words are of a common theme and this week's theme is personality. As we went over his new list he began to claim certain traits saying, "that's me" or "I'm that". I was happy to notice that all of the character/personality traits that he thought described him were positive. He was right on with many of them, such as compassionate, generous, considerate, individuality, and especially creative. Others are more like personal goals, such as responsible, diligent, and organized, even though he thought they, too, described him to a tee. I am glad he has a healthy self-esteem and am proud of all the wonderful personality traits and character qualies that make up my darling son!

12/01/2009

Beard blog

Watching the game.

Right now is my lunch break between teaching 1st grade handwriting and 5th grade spelling. So I thought I would post a short blog about my husband's beard :-) Never thought I'd be blogging about his beard, but...

He grew it over 4 years ago just to see what it would look like. All my life I have thought that beards were so prickly and crunchy looking and have wondered why anyone would want a mass of dry, course hair growing all around their mouth. Sorta like super-gluing a bird's nest to your chin. Needless to say I've never been a fan of facial hair. It took a little while to get used to Scotty's new addition, but eventually I did and even had to admit he looked better with a beard. It had "grown on me" so to speak. ;-)

In the time he has had that beard he has become quite fond of it. He enjoys not having to shave and somewhere along the line he decided it would be a permanent fixture on his face. A few times I have asked him to shave it off, just for a little while, so I could see his cheeks again. He has always declined. So I was happy to hear of a bet he made with a friend from work just a few weeks ago. It was suggested that Scotty, being a GT fan, would shave off his beard if UGA won, but if Tech won his Bulldog fan buddy would have to shave his mustache (which he has had for OVER 30 YEARS!) So the bet was on and the waiting began.

Three nights ago the big game came on. There were moments of hope where he thought he might get to keep his beard, but in the end all was lost- the game, the beard, and his bragging rights for another 12 months.

Off came the beard exposing his baby smooth face. I better enjoy seeing those cheeks while I can because that beard is already starting to come back.



11/29/2009

Remembering Kawasaki's Disease

One year ago today we were sitting in the E.R. at Scottish Rite (for the second of four times in two days) with a VERY sick baby girl. Eliana was a tiny 14 month old and wasn't even walking yet. She had begun to run a fever just before Thanksgiving and, even though we were alternating Tylenol and Motrin like our doctor taught us to, it just wouldn't break. She was sleeping a lot and when she was awake she was lethargic and just wanted to lie in my lap. Scotty took her to the doctor the day after Thanksgiving and he diagnosed her with an ear infection. I was doubtful because she had never had one before and was not touching her ears. She didn't seem to be in pain. Two days after Thanksgiving we were at my mom's house having dinner with the whole family and Eliana slept right through the meal. When I finally got her up mom and I noticed a rash on her belly and legs. It wasn't that bad and she has always had a bit of eczema, so it wasn't really cause for concern. We couldn't get her to eat anything and she hadn't really eaten much for the past four days. That was cause for concern. Luckily I was nursing her two to three times per day so I still had milk and that is the only nutrition we could get her to take because of the comfort it brings. So I went and nursed her. Shortly after she began to vomit. So we headed home and called the doctor. He advised us to take her to the hospital.

Scotty loaded her up and off they went on the almost hour drive to Scottish Rite. They were there all night and got home around 5 am. The ER doctor called just as Scotty was walking in the front door and said the nurse was NOT supposed to send them home. He said Eliana was dehydrated and needed IV fluids and to bring her back. We dropped off the older children with my sister and headed back to the hospital. They took a urine sample and diagnosed her with a urinary tract infection, but said her ears were fine- NO ear infection at all! I knew it! But again, I was skeptical because she has never had a UTI before. So they put an IV in and begun to give her fluids. The doctor said she would "pep up" within and hour and be ready to go home. I wanted my baby to pep up so badly. She had been pitiful for days by now and I was ready to see her smile again. Well, one, two, three hours went by and no pepping. So finally they gave us a prescription and sent us home with a NOT pepped up baby (despite my objections) She was lying there on the stretcher not moving and looking just awful and the doc walked in and said, "Wow! She's looking MUCH better already!" I looked at him like he was crazy because I was just thinking the opposite! I told him she was looking even worse to me. But he sent us home anyway.

By the next morning a new symptom had begun. Now Eliana's lips were cracked and bleeding. I called our pediatrician and the phone nurse was a life-saver. She had worked at the children's hospital for years and as soon as she heard of all the symptoms she said that my baby probably has Kawasaki's Disease and we need to get her back to the hospital right away. She went to check with the doctor and then they sent us back. We had to rush out. I had never heard of this disease and it was SO scary to hear that your baby has a disease! We called family and everyone started googling it like crazy.

When we got back to the ER they took us back right away- no waiting this time. Eliana had lost two pounds by now. Her heart rate was very high and her fever was still raging. The doctor came in to see us (a different doctor) and explained to us that she did NOT have a UTI, but that one of the symptoms of KD is white blood cells in the urine which usually means UTI, but that no culture had grown in the urine sample. So there was no infection there. He explained that Kawasaki's Disease is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to other common illnesses in children, but when all the symptoms are present they can finally diagnose and treat it. This can take several days. The symptoms include a high fever that does not respond to medication, rash, white coating on the tongue (she had this too which had me baffled), cracked and bleeding lips, white blood cells in the urine, and listlessness. She had them all. They explained that the treatment is called Intravenous gamma globulin or IVIG. It is purified blood antibodies administered through iv. Because of the KD Eliana's blood vessels were swollen and inflamed, so it took over TWENTY needle sticks before they finally got an iv in. Scottish Rite brought in their iv team. They used an ultra-sound machine to find a vein. They were about to shave a patch on her head and put the iv there when they tried one last time and finally got one in her arm. That was terrible to watch. She was in so much pain and could barely open her eyes, but she was crying pitifully as they stuck her over and over in her little arms, hands, and feet. In the end I was crying too. So finally they took us up to a room and checked us in. I was anxious for the treatment to begin because she was getting worse by the hour. They told us that all of her joints were inflamed and swollen which is why she was lying perfectly still. It was painful to move her, so we didn't want to hold her because it caused her pain.

The treatment began around 1 am and the doctor told us she would improve through the night. They administer it for 12 hours. We watched her for awhile and she began to look worse and worse. Her face and eyes were swelling so much that she was unrecognizable. I expressed my concern to the nurse who found the doctor (this was at 3 a.m.) who came in to talk with us. I was in tears. By now we had had so many misdiagnoses that I was beginning to doubt this one too. Why was she still looking worse even after two hours of treatment? But this doctor was very kind and she explained that she had seen this happen before. She assured us that Eliana was going to improve. We reluctantly tried to believe her.

It took two days for Eliana to begin to improve. Because I still had milk I was able to feed her. It was the only nutrition she was willing to accept and this seemed to be a huge relief to all our nurses and doctors. She wanted to nurse every two hours or so like a newborn, but I was glad because I got to hold her. It was painful for her to be picked up and moved, plus she was hooked up to so many cords and tubes, but we managed to nurse somehow- every two hours or so.

Scotty and I slept on a tiny couch/bed that was designed for one person and ate hospital food and stood by that metal hospital crib for five days. We watched our baby get worse and worse and then better and better together. We tried to comfort her the best we could. Scotty comforted me when it got so hard that the tears over flowed. One of those times was when they had to do an ultra sound of her heart. The lady rolled her machine in and flipped the baby onto her back. Eliana was in pain and afraid and tried to cry the whole time. It was taking so long and it was just so hard to see her very upset and in pain. Scotty leaned to my ear and whispered, "Why don't you walk down to the lobby." I did. When I came back she was in Scotty's lap drinking from her cup!! I was SO glad to see her drinking!

Her heart was looking good, but she would have to be on HIGH dose aspirin therapy in the following weeks to protect her heart. Finally, she began to look and feel better. We even loaded her up in a wagon a few times and rolled her down to the lobby to see the aquarium. My mom and sister came to see her and Mippi was able to get her to take some bites of a banana- her first bite of food in a week! She couldn't lift her head, but she followed us with her eyes and nibbled her banana if we put it to her mouth. Micah, Sunny, and Mippi made her some colorful decorations to look at which we hung from her crib.

Day four after treatment she was feeling quite perky and spoiled. By then she was having a hard time getting to sleep because we were in the room with her. We ended up rolling her up and down the halls in a hospital bassinet trying to get her to doze off one night. By the time we took her home she was quite spoiled. The only thing she wanted to eat from her hospital trays was the dessert and because we just wanted her to eat- we let her! After five days in the hospital they let us go home.

They told us that if her fever begins to return to bring her back in because some children need two IVIG treatments. Sure enough, the day we got home, here came the fever again. This time it was much lower, but we didn't want to take any chances. We called and they told us to bring her back. She got a second IVIG treatment that night. It was a Sunday and the Infectious Disease specialist was not there so they went ahead and did the treatment anyway. This time they put the iv in her foot- which was SO much better. The next day the specialist told us that she hadn't needed the second treatment . The fever was most likely from a virus that she had picked up from the hospital. She said the second treatment couldn't hurt her and on the contrary it was an immunity booster. So we went home again, this time after two and a half days.

Eliana slowly got better, began walking shortly after, and had a great big growth spurt- gaining 8 pounds in just 3 months!! She completed her high and low dose aspirin therapy and went for her follow up EKG six months later which was normal. On cold mornings her joints seemed a little stiff and sore for awhile. But today she is a healthy girl. We don't see any side affects from her ordeal.

None of our children have ever been sick like that before. We have never even had any one's tonsils out. So we felt helpless and afraid as we had no choice but to put our child's best interest in the hands of the doctors and nurses at the hospital. It is hard to trust strangers who don't even love your child. But they took excellent care of all of us. We are forever grateful to them. We saw many people there whose children were very very sick and we felt humbled and blessed to be going home, after only one week, with a healthy child who was on the mend.


Feeling bad before we knew how sick she was. This was a few days before her first trip to the hospital.

Lying in the ER getting her iv fluids. This was before her lips started to swell and bleed.




During her IVIG treatment. She doesn't even look like herself.




This was taken during the ultra sound of her heart. She was very uncomfortable lying on her back.

Mippi visiting her sweet baby.

Mippi got her to eat some of a banana- her first solid food in a week!


She was starting to feel a little better. Looking at pictures of Bubba and Sissy. She really missed them.
The swelling had started to go down and her mouth finally stopped bleeding.

Looking at the fishies. We were here in the middle of the night a couple of times.


I couldn't believe she would keep her mask on! She wore it for her wagon rides- whenever we left our room.

All better! Here she is healthy and happy a few months after getting out of the hospital.








11/24/2009

My little squirrel

The baby of the family sometimes wants to be a big kid like her brother and sister. She has been asking to do school work since she was eighteen months old, so when I ordered our books for this year I added a 2 year old curriculum for her. It came with an arts & crafts and a numbers book. She enjoys having her own box of crayons and work sheets. This squirrel hat is one of her crafts. She colored the tail and I cut out the ears and then she glued them onto the headband. While I was stapling it together she went to her toy basket and dug out this little squirrel doll. She cradled it like she was the mommy squirrel. It was so cute I had to get some pics. We went outside in the crunchy leaves to take some, but Eliana does not like to have her picture taken. She never has. Now that she is old enough to tell us why I understand it is because of the flash, but even when she was just a couple of months old she would always turn her face away from the camera. Now she shakes her head no and says, "light, light" pointing at the flash. But I did manage to get these two. I love how she is holding her baby squirrel so lovingly.

11/19/2009

Towel Troubles

For the first few years of our marriage I folded towels by the basketful. Even though it was just my husband and I, and we tried to use the same towel more than once before tossing it into the dirty clothes and grabbing a clean one, it still seemed like I was folding every single one we owned every time I did the wash. Then one day we found the answer to all our towel woes- the terrycloth bath robe! Not just any old terrycloth bath robe, but nice, thick, absorbent ones. We use our robes all week after each shower and then just hang them on a hook to dry for the next use. Each of our kids has their own robe as well. Scotty has mounted hooks in their bathroom and on each of their closet doors in their bedrooms so there is no excuse not to hang up their robe. This has cut the towel usage down to hand towels and wash cloths only. Now bath towels are only used to clean up the occasional spill, dry up the bathroom floor, or for guests. I wash the robes once a week or less and they don't have to be folded. Just hang them back on their hooks. A really good absorbent robe isn't cheap, but we have had ours for years. They hold up and really don't wear out. The kid's robes were $30.00 each from Costco, but we bought them 7 years ago and they are still in great shape! We have just passed them down the line as they grow.

Another issue in our house has been sour towels and robes. Last year one of my kids threw a wet beach towel in their hamper. Since I only wash clothes once a week it was pretty stinky by the time I found it. Their robes were also a little sour from the times they didn't hang them to dry. I washed them a couple of times and they still weren't fresh out of the dryer so I decided I would try bleach- even though it might ruin the look of the brightly colored robes and towel. If bleach freshened them it was better than throwing them out. So I washed them in hot water with about 1/2 cup of bleach. They were as good as new if not slightly faded. They have smelled fresh ever since.
Today I decided to use bleach one more time on a pile of less than fresh dish towels. They are all brightly colored, but again, I'd rather they have bleach spots and be fresh than have to throw them out. They weren't cheap. I can't stand towels that aren't absorbent enough, so I shelled out the extra cost for some really good dish towels. I set the machine on hot water and added my usual detergent as it was filling, along with a scoop of oxy clean and about 1/2 cup of bleach. They all came out smelling lovely, without even a hint of stink, and the bright colors still look as good as new. I guess the bleach is diluted enough not to fade the towels, but still strong enough to kill the mildew or whatever the lingering stink is.

So, for now, my towel troubles are over.

11/18/2009

Fabulous fall recipe




A few weeks ago, while waiting at the dentist office, a recipe in a magazine caught my eye. It sounded really good, so I filed it away in my brain. Things have been known to get lost in that filing cabinet, but I managed to remember this one. The recipe was for butternut squash ravioli. My husband stopped by the store for me with a short grocery list and purchased the largest butternut squash I have ever seen. I finally got around to making something with it. Last night I washed it (since my kids had been playing with it like it was a baby doll for a week or so) cut it lenghtwise and then again, making 4 slices. Then I scooped out the seeds and rubbed it with some butter, put it in a glass casserole pan with about an inch of water, and roasted it at 350 degrees for an hour- until it was tender. This was all in preparation for a special fall lunch. It was so tasty I decided to share the recipe.


Butternut Squash Ravioli with butternut squash and basil cream sauce:

"Here's a fun recipe that begins as an afternoon cooking project and ends as a wholesome dinnertime treat. In the kitchen, kids can take turns cutting, filling, and crimping each squash- and cheese-filled pouch. At the table, they'll be introduced to the delicious appeal of freshly made pasta. It's a simple, hands-on lesson that proves good things come in small packages.

Ingredients

FOR THE FILLING:
2 cups cooked butternut squash
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup mozzarella
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

FOR THE PASTA:
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs

FOR THE SAUCE:
remaining squash filling
1/4 c. milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup water
fresh basil leaves

Instructions
Blend the squash with the milk, cheese, nutmeg, and salt & pepper until it has a smooth, mashed potato–like consistency. Note: The squash can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Make the pasta. On a clean work surface, mound the flour and make a well in the center. In a small bowl, use a fork to lightly beat together the salt and the eggs. Carefully pour the egg mixture into the well. Using the fork, gently incorporate the flour into the egg mixture, a small amount at a time. With your hands and a spatula or dough scraper, work the dough until it pulls together into a smooth, pliable ball.
Halve the dough, then form each piece into a 1/2-inch-thick disk. Cover the disks with plastic wrap and set them aside to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Lightly flour your work surface and halve each dough disk. Roll out one of the dough portions as thinly as you can (to about the thickness of a dime), then use a 2½-inch-diameter drinking glass, biscuit cutter, or cookie cutter to cut rounds from the dough. Arrange them in pairs. Repeat with the remaining dough. Each half disk should yield about 7 pairs of dough rounds.
Further thin the dough rounds by pinching them between your thumb and forefinger. Each round should increase in diameter by about 1/4 inch.
Use a pair of dough rounds to make each ravioli. With a pastry brush or your fingertips dipped in water, paint a 1/2-inch perimeter around one of the dough rounds. Spoon 1/2 tablespoon of the squash filling into the center.
After filling the ravioli, press the other round of dough on top of it along the moistened edges. Use the tines of a fork to seal the edges.

Bring two large pots of water to a boil (using two pots allows all the pasta to be cooked at once).

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat with any remaining squash filling. Add milk and stir. Then add water and blend. Add the basil and continue to cook the sauce until it's light brown and has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat. Remove basil leaves from the sauce.

Line a large plate with paper towels. Add half the ravioli to each pot of boiling water. The pasta will float to the top after 2 or 3 minutes, but continue cooking it until tender, about 15 minutes more (take one out and test its tenderness before draining an entire batch). When the ravioli are done, use a slotted spoon or spatula to scoop them out and transfer them to the paper towels to drain. To serve, place the ravioli on individual plates and drizzle them with sauce. Sprinkle on more Parmesan, if you like. Makes about 30 ravioli."

This recipe got 4 stars in our kitchen. It lost a star cause it's not fast to make, but the kids plates were all but licked clean. This is very tasty!

11/17/2009

Smooth Sailing

"Ahoy! I'm sailing! I sail!..." I just love days like today when everything goes smoothly. We have had no school issues, no bad attitudes about assignments, no slow poking, and no texts or phone calls to the principal. It has been a lovely day, so far. Now if we can just make it through chores we will be doing really great!


Not everyday goes this way. In fact, smooth sailing days are rather rare. Some days a storm comes up, rips off our sails, sinks our boat, and we are splashing around in the waves just trying to keep our faces above water until we can make it to shore. But not today. Today, even though the forecast calls for cloudy skies and rain outside, inside it is a beautiful day to home school. All attitudes are sunny and the sea is calm.

11/10/2009

Sew many projects, sew little time...

I only have 8 more half rows to go on Micah's quilt. Then all that will be left to finish it is the binding around the edge. I can't believe I am finally going to finish it. My goal is to be done by Thanksgiving. He has waited so long for his quilt. Scotty's Granny turned Eliana's baby blanket over to me to hand quilt for her. She can no longer do it with her shoulder injury. So I vowed to finish what she started to the best of my ability. She did a beautiful job and it is so beautiful now. Hopefully it will turn out okay after I am done with the quilting.

I have a few other sewing projects that are ready and waiting, including a dress for each of my girls and a some really cute stuffed animals. They will be made from a Simplicity pattern that is a replica from one of their vintage patterns from the 1950's. The animals are so cute and it looks like they will be easy to make. I also got a pattern to make a baby doll with clothes for each of my girls. There was a .99 pattern sale at one of my favorite fabric stores so I sort of stocked up on projects for awhile. Sunny will begin learning to sew this year so I got her a simple apron pattern. She is very excited to get busy on that.

When life slows down for us a bit (and the quilts are finished) I will start some of these and post pictures of our progress.

11/09/2009

Psalm 118

Some days are hard. My goal is to do my best, but I don't always succeed. Sometimes I get pressed down and depressed. But He always lifts my head again. I am so grateful and thankful that He knows His children. He knows where each one is in this world full of wickedness and sin and His hand is mighty to save. Blessed be The Name of the Creator of heaven and earth!

11/03/2009

Graham Crackers

When I offered my toddler a graham cracker she nodded and said, "Graham-mama cracker". How cute is that? (Grandmama is what I call my grandmother) Here is a super delish recipe for

"Graham-mama Crackers":

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low to incorporate.
Add the butter and mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract.
Add to the flour mixture and mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours.

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator.
Flour the work surface and roll the dough about 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick. It will be sticky, so flour as necessary.
Cut out crackers with pizza cutter. I cut mine into 3X3" squares.
Gather the scraps and add to other half of dough still chilling.
Place the crackers on parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough and scraps.





Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker with the back of a knife. Then prick the dough on each side of the dividing line with a fork.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Watch them carefully so that they don't burn.






I had never made crackers before and this was the only recipe I could find that didn't call for special flour like graham or whole wheat. I only had unbleached all purpose on hand that day. So I gave these a try. Make sure you don't roll them out too thin unless you want them to be very, very crunchy. These are a little crunchy, a little chewy, and oh so tasty! I don't know how long they will stay fresh in a zippy bag because they only lasted 2 days in our house. They are so good! I will make these again.
*Update* I did make these again to take on a camping trip and we made s'mores with them. Recommended!! (Also see my homemade kosher marshmallow recipe)

10/21/2009

Don't liiiiike it!

"Don't like it! Don't Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiike it!" That is what my 2 year old says whenever she hears a loud noise or has food on her plate that she doesn't want to eat or any other undesirable circumstance in her life.

When I remember that my birthday is coming up this weekend that phrase goes through my mind. Birthdays used to be so fun! I remember waking up , even days before, feeling so light hearted and excited. There was so much to look forward to. I never had a big fancy party, but I always felt special and loved. Mom always asked us what kind of birthday cake we wanted. As busy as she was, she would always make a cake and a meal of our request. I always got cards from my grandparents and great grandparents in the mail. And what kid doesn't look forward to birthday presents? My parents never went overboard with gifts, but I got a few special things and I always loved what they gave me. One year I even got to have 3 friends spend the night. I remember sitting on the porch swing, waiting for them to arrive, with butterflies of excitement fluttering around in my stomach. Getting older is great when you're a kid. Each year is a badge of honor.

Now, as my birthday approaches, I don't feel the least bit excited. It could just pass on by for all I care. Mom still makes each of us a cake of our choice and hosts birthday dinners for all her kids and grandkids. But for some reason getting older is no longer fun, happy, or exciting. Birthdays are no longer exciting. Needless to say I am no longer excited about getting older. As Eliana would say- Don't like it! DON'T LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIKE IT!!!

10/14/2009

A stitch in time


For Micah's 9th birthday I decided to make him a quilt. It was my very first time making one. Scotty and I had a great time going to different fabric stores and choosing the patches (or blocks, as real quilters call them) He remembers going with his Granny and picking out the colors and fabrics for the quilt she made him when he was a kid. His Granny is an amazing quilter and has made- I don't know how many- beautiful quilts. She has made one for each of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She has had so much joy from quilting and has wanted someone to carry on after her. I like a challenge and I sew, so I decided I would be the one to pick up the needle where Granny left off when her shoulder wouldn't let her enjoy her favorite past time anymore. I chose the simple design and Scotty and I planned the block size and overall quilt size together. This one is called an "Eye Spy" quilt. We looked for the funnest and most colorful fabrics we could find. The kids can lay on it and play I spy for hours...that is, when I finally finish making it.


After we picked out dozens of different fabrics and bought a quarter yard of each I brought them all home and washed them. Then I had to iron each piece and cut out each block. That took a day or two. Scotty helped me with the ironing and cutting and even bought me a nice rubber cutting mat and sharp wheel to make it faster and easier. Then I pieced the quilt on my sewing machine. That went fast and only took an evening. After that I sandwiched the cotton batting between the block top and the backing and pinned it like crazy. Then I basted it with lots and lots of huge stitches. Granny told me to be sure and baste it a lot so it would be easier during the quilting process. I decided to hand quilt instead of trying to do it on my machine. Granny was glad. She knew something I didn't. Hand quilting takes hours and hours. Dozens of stitches slowly turn into hundreds. Hundreds slowly become thousands. Each stitch becomes and act of love. You spend a lot of time thinking about the person you're making the quilt for. She usually takes a year to complete a quilt for someone and she does the entire thing by hand. She won't admit it, but her stitches are perfect and tiny. Mine? Not so much. But still stitched with love. From the planning to the final knot- I never knew how much work and time is involved in creating a quilt.



So a year and a half later I am still quilting away. I'm getting closer and closer to finishing this thing. Micah will be so glad when I'm done. I'll be so glad when I'm done. The craziest part of all is that I'm planning to make one for each of my girls when I finish his. I better give myself at least 2 years this time.

10/13/2009

Slowly but surely

A week long camping trip means mounds of laundry and lots of equipment to put away when we get home. I usually get overwhelmed when there is so much mess and extra work to do on top of our regularly scheduled day of homeschool and chores. But I am trying to stay calm and get things done little by little- one thing at a time. So we are just following our normal daily routine and I am finding moments here and there to work on the aftermath of our trip. Eventually it will all get cleaned up and put back where it goes. The laundry is now done except for the last sleeping bag tumbling around in the dryer. I would say that is huge progress.

10/12/2009

8 days




We survived our camping trip! This was our fourth year celebrating the Biblical Feast of Tabernacles (also known as the Feast of Booths or Sukkot- which means temporary dwellings) In the past we have traveled to North Carolina to join a congregation there. We have made many good friends and have always had a good time. But in the spring my best friend's brother got married and his wife's family invited us to join their group in South Carolina this year.

I will dwell on the positive parts of our trip. Some things I enjoyed are as follows: meeting some fun and sweet new people, the smell of campfires, holding a puppy, the drive to Charleston, the sweet- sweet air conditioning in our van, the beach, watching my children play and have a great time, roasted marshmallows, smoked turkey with Mr. E's b-b-q sauce, good laughs, Eliana's ponytails, tossing kids on the parachute, Aunt Gwen's green salve, watching the little girls wash dishes at the spigot, wading in the river, helping plan a scavenger hunt, hearing how much the kids enjoyed the hunt, lemon cello, and being together with no t.v. or internet for 8 whole days.
My favorite part of the whole trip was going to the beach! We didn't know until we got to the state park where we were camping that it was only about 30 miles to Charleston and the beach. So one hot day we decided to load up and make the short drive. Our kids love the beach and we didn't get to go this summer, so this was an opportunity too good to pass up. We took our three kids and a few others, too. They all swam and played and had an absolute blast while we relaxed and enjoyed the wind and waves. It was wonderful!

We survived the crazy heat, a yellow jacket infestation, mosquitoes feasting on our flesh, barking dogs at 3 a.m., poisonous ivy, rain, rain, and more rain. Micah got to make a breakfast hobo, Sunny made a new friend, and Eliana got to enjoy the beach for the first time. We learned a little, grew a little, and made it home safely. Overall we had a nice trip. But I have never been so happy to pull into our driveway as I was last night when we got home sweet home.

10/02/2009

A scary way to start the day

At 8:00 this morning I was sitting at my desk teaching math to my 5th grader. My 2 year old was in her highchair in the kitchen and my 1st grader was unloading the dishwasher. I could see both of them from where I was sitting. Suddenly, I glimpsed "someone" coming up behind me out of the corner of my eye. I was terrified for a moment because all of the people in our house were in my sight and I knew no one else was here. I didn't want to turn around and was frozen with fear for a split second, then flooded with relief, then overwhelmed with laughter when I realized that a half deflated helium balloon, left over from my baby's birthday party and floating about shoulder high, had drifted in from the parlor and was hovering behind me. WHEW!!! That was a close one :))

9/28/2009

Party animals and Terrible Twos

Eliana in her animal crackers party dress mommy made. Ready to party! 

Eliana had a zoo animals party on Sunday afternoon to celebrate turning two. This year we only invited family and still we had 10 kids- all first cousins! (plus another cousin on the way) The activities were blowing bubbles outside, a candy hunt inside, the Hokey Pokey, and then cake and ice cream after Eliana opened her gifts. It was crowded and noisy and hot- much like an actual zoo. All of the children seemed to be having fun....except maybe the birthday girl.


Now I'm not a first time mom. I've already been through the "terrible twos" twice before, but I was still very embarrassed when my daughter acted out and started crying when we tried to get her to open gifts. She has always been a little bit timid and takes time to warm up to new people and situations so I'm sure that having a house full of enthusiastic party guests wasn't exactly putting her at ease. But it was still embarrassing, in front of a room full of people waiting to watch her open their gift, when she started acting like fire ants were attacking her. All she wanted was cake and m&ms and she was willing to pitch a fit to get them! We are now on high alert that the "TTs" have started and we must go from awwww-she's-just-a-cute-little-baby mode to nip-it-in-the-bud mode.




Eliana might not have had a total blast at her party, but she has been playing with her new toys all day and I know she felt special on her day (maybe a little too special). We would like to thank all of our guests who came to her party and who love her- tantrums and all.

9/24/2009

Two years ago today...


This date two years ago was one of the sweetest memories of my life. Oh sure, I had to go through the agony of labor and delivery that day, but just look at the reward. Eliana Israel was a blessing and a surprise. We had finally given up our dream of more children when in January of 2007 two pink lines appeared heralding her eminent arrival. Shocked, surprised, elated, we went through the next nine months until she made her grand and gentle entry into the world at a tiny 7 lbs and 3.9 oz. (a preemie sized baby by our family's standards) On that day she was welcomed into a family that had been longing for her and waiting in anticipation to meet her. Her name means "My God has answered".
Eliana is a wonderful person. She makes us all laugh everyday with her spunky attitude. That same attitude tests and tries Scotty's and my parenting skills, forcing us to stay sharp and united. She is her big brother's pet and Sunny's little tag along. Micah, in particular, is totally smitten with her and spoils her rotten. He teaches her funny little things and she is his preforming monkey, doing all types of "parlor tricks" that he has taught her. He thinks that she is hilarious and the cutest thing he's ever seen. She is eager to learn and wants to do all the things the other kids are doing. Her favorite activities at this age are playing toys, watching "toons", taking showers or baths, playing outside, riding around on Micah's shoulders, and coloring/writing/drawing. When it comes to good sleepers we are 3 for 3. Eli takes one or two good naps each day and sleeps all night in her own bed. She has a good appetite although she can be a bit of a picky eater sometimes. Her vocabulary is growing and she is talking more and more these days. Two years have gone by pretty fast since that day when I first held my little bundle. They have been a challenge and a whole lot of fun.
Every year, when any of my children's birthdays rolls around, I get a little (or a lot) sad. I usually cry a little (or a lot) the night before. I guess it is because time keeps moving us further and further from that very precious day when they were born. But I am happy, too. They are growing up to be the special people God created them to be. I love getting to be their mom and watching the miracles of their lives unfold.

9/23/2009

Best shelf ever!

My 10 year old son spent the night with his grandparents last night and when they brought him home today he had a surprise for me. He had built me a set of shelves for my laundry room!!! He even painted it and carved my name in the side. The shelves slide out and everything. What a thoughtful and creative boy! He told me he "wouldn't have made it for me if he didn't love me." I told him I will keep it forever.

9/22/2009

First day of fall

Waffles for breakfast

I
really love the fall. It has always been my favorite time of year and I look forward to the cooler weather and crunchy leaves. Of course, it's still hot outside here in the deep south until about late November and we've had so much rain lately that the leaves won't be crunchy anytime soon. But today is the official first day of fall, so I'm making soup for lunch anyway, even if it is eighty something degrees outside.

There is lots going on around here this week. Projects will be happening and I will try to post pics. Scotty has been working on enclosing our backporch to make us a spacious and much appreciated schoolroom. That project is coming right along, but is currently in rain delay. I'm planning on doing a little sewing for my baby girl who is turning 2 on friday. I will also be making her a giraffe birthday cake and finishing up the plans for her little family party
.

9/21/2009

My First Blog!

Hello out there! After reading the blogs of friends, friend's friends, and friends of friend's friends I was inspired to make my own. Finally, today, I found the time to start it up. It's like an on-line diary that anyone can read, right? Kinda weird- but fun! People are so interesting and I really enjoy reading about how other moms manage their days, their kids, their responsibilities, and whatever else they want to share. So in case anyone out there wants to take a peek into our daily life- welcome to my blog!