Oh Happy Day!

This is a happy post from a mom in a really great mood because it's Friday and the end of our third really great and really smooth week of school. In fact, I am so proud of my students that I made them a smoothie and popcorn party during reading time today. Simple things like this are a thrill and they were very pleased with their treat. Their hard work over the last few weeks has made mom's job so much better. They have already learned their first 2 memory verses for the year way ahead of schedule and my grade book is already sprinkled with quiz and test grades for each of them....most of which are good! ;-) I'm not holding my breath, but if the rest of this year could continue on as it has been thus far it would be a dream come true.


Awwww, Nuts!

(Please excuse the terrible picture which does these no justice)
I saw this recipe on a friend's blog last night and jumped up to try it. Ever since learning about how healthful walnuts are I have been trying to get my children to eat them. No one cares for them except for me. So I had a big bag of raw walnuts in the cabinet that had been dwindling very slowly. When I saw how easy this was and how delicious my friend said they were I knew I had to make these and try them out. The recipe seems so simple, I wondered if they could really be as good as she claimed they were. They are, my friends! They are!

First of all the smell of these glazed walnuts cooking is scrumptious. Every one of my children came into the kitchen to find out what smelled so good. Then I had to shoo them all away until the nuts cooled enough to try them. They were a huge hit! 2/3 of them got eaten last night and the only reason 1/3 remain is because I put them away. Now I know a way to get them to eat nuts. I realize that raw, uncooked, unheated, unsweetened nuts are better, but this is a start to get my youngsters to begin enjoying nuts. And maple syrup is a more healthful sweetener than sugar for sure.

I will be making a big batch of these to put in our basket that we take to Sukkot. I'm sure most people will love these- maybe even nut haters.

So here's the recipe:

Glazed Walnuts

2 c. walnut halves
1 T. butter
pinch of salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/3 c. pure maple syrup

Melt butter in a skillet or sauce pan (stainless is recommended for a better glaze) over med heat.
Add cinnamon and salt. Stir in maple syrup and walnuts.
Stir as syrup gets bubbly.
When the glaze thickens on the nuts they are done.
Remove from heat and cool on wax or parchment paper.
Try not to eat them all at once.

This recipe and many others that have become family favorites can be found at http://www.tammysrecipes.com/

If you like walnuts (or even if you don't) you must take a few minutes and make these. They are SO worth it!


Coming Soon: Camping Season!! :-)

After a loooong, booooring, hooooooot summer we are SO READY for the fall and our upcoming camping trips! YAY!! In my mind I am already planning and packing.

First, we are going for the weekend with family. There is a really great state park that is not too far from where we live and has lots to do. We went there last year and had a great time. Lots of campfire laughs, each family makes a delicious meal, and we all leave with happy memories. Sometimes a giant tree might even get cut down by our overly zealous guys, who are overcome by the call of the woods and the feeling of campy survival, that lands in the middle of one of our campsites and crushes a few things yet spares the lives of all. The tree might even rip a tent. But hey- you can never have enough fire wood! And we all survived. That is the important part. This will be our first time camping in our "new" pop-up camper. Okay, so it is 14 years old, but it is new to us :-) Besides having fun with family and the kids having a blast with their beloved cousins, this trip will give us a chance to get a feel for our camper and work out all the wrinkles before our BIG camping trip---- Sukkot 2010!!

This is an 8 day adventure with our congregation of loved ones from North Carolina. We all get together to celebrate the Biblical feast of Tabernacles/Booths. This will be our 5th year participating in the fun and our 4th year with BondServant Ministries. They host a week of great teachings, music, dancing, home cooked meals, warm friendship, and so much more. This feast is a blessing beyond what words can explain. For all the planning it takes to camp for over a week, it is soooo worth it! In fact, planning, packing, and making our offering basket (each family brings a big basket of snacks, foods, and treats to share with everyone throughout the week) is all part of the fun and I wouldn't want it any other way. And if the anticipation is big for the adults, you cannot imagine how excited our kids are. They absolutely LOVE sukkot!!

More blessed and more welcomed than the cooling weather and crunchy leaves of fall are the feasts of YHVH (the LORD) which He has given to His people to bless them and teach them about Himself.


End of the Rope

We are a family of messy people. :-( Unfortunately. Neither myself or my husband kept our rooms clean as children, nor did we pick up after ourselves. Neither of us have ever been neat and tidy. This has always been a huge burden to me. Oh how I longed to have a lovely and tidy room, to be organized and perfect like my brother, to make my mom proud with my neatness (or at least avoid infuriating her and kindling her rage with my sloppiness). It just didn't seem to be in me. No matter how much I wanted to be a tidy person and no matter how much effort I put forth, it just wasn't happening. It would take all day to clean my horrific room and then only minutes to mess it back up. This has been my life long struggle. And, although I seem to be improving with age, I still deal with the beast.

The fact is, a little clutter doesn't really bother me, personally. Now it definitely bothers me for others to see my clutter. But a dust bunny here and there, a pile of mail, laundry waiting to be put away, a pair of flip flops by the couch, some one's empty glass on the end table.....while these things might drive the average person mad, I (and everyone who lives here) hardly notice them if at all. Why? Why? Why?

Is it motivation that we lack? Or something in our DNA? Are we all really just lazy bums? What is the deal??!!

Now Scotty and I may be comfortable with some clutter, but our children have taken it to a whole new level.

While a bit of clutter doesn't bother me, a mess does. A mess makes me CRAZY and there are always many messes all over the house. The kitchen is a constant struggle. From crumbs on the floor to the bread and peanut butter being left open and out all the time- I could scream!! It seems the second generation of "Messies" are twice as bad as the first! They leave drawers and cabinets open, don't flush the toilet, leave their dirty clothes all over the house and their toys and shoes in the van. I could go on and on... It is just beyond frustrating! Picking up after them is not going to help them OR be good for my sanity. How will they learn?? How will I teach them?? I have been trying since they were two!!

Everything I can think of has been implemented around here -from charts to rewards and punishments of every kind. Sometimes something seems to be working for a while, but it all fails in the end. These people live like animals and I'm ready to build a pen for them in the backyard!

It's time for the mess to go! I'll never stop trying to overcome it! Now I'm off to google for some more help....more ideas....more advice....more things to try.......anything!!!!


First day of School!

1 down. 179 to go.

School days keep us busy, busy, busy around here. Over the next 36 weeks we will memorize scripture, learn more about the Bible, do math, science, seat work, history, art projects, experiments, spell, take tests and quizzes, play games, go on field trips, read lots of books, review, visit the library, write, and be very creative. Hopefully it will all be done in an orderly fashion. If we don't have a schedule we don't get as much done and it is way less fun for everyone. Today was the start of our academic year.

My preschooler made a book all about herself. It has her picture on the front and her hand and foot prints inside, along with her current height and weight. She also colored pictures and joined in big sister's phonics lesson with enthusiasm. She had a very good day.

My second grader adapted to her new schedule with a positive attitude, used her best cursive handwriting, and finished all of her lessons and seat work quickly. She had been nervous about starting a new grade, but now she is looking forward to this year. She had a wonderful day.

My sixth grader frustrated both of us with his slowness and gloomy attitude. This really surprised me because he had been so looking forward to starting school. He has a big desk all to himself this year and we have done some modifications to his curriculum which give him more independence. The independence thing didn't work out so well today. Hopefully, he will do better as we go along. His day wasn't awesome, but it ended well.

Now that starting school is accomplished we will pick up some momentum and just keep going strong, lesson after lesson. Time will probably seem to pass by much faster as we look forward to cooler weather, camping trips, and then the birth of our new baby! My goal is to pre-plan and strategize so that this event doesn't throw us in to total chaos and bring our well oiled school machine to a screeching hault. 2010/2011 school year- Let the fun begin!!

Bummer of a Summer

This summer was a bummer. There were no trips or vacation get aways. No beach fun, no ocean waves to replenish the soul. No sand castles, or sunburns, or seashells. Just these 4 walls and stifling heat. All summer the heat held us captive. Scotty stayed busy at work with extra training and over-time, so we didn't even get to see much of him during our break from school.

On the bright side, a new member of our family has been forming and growing all summer long. We got to find out it is a baby boy and have been blessed with a healthy pregnancy so far. No one went hungry. No serious injuries or illnesses plagued us. And at least Scotty has a job to go to, and the option of over-time which gets us through the tight times.

Focusing on and being thankful for the blessings is the only way to get through the crumby times of life. And we have so much to be grateful for!


A Potty Training Tale

Last winter, when my baby was not yet 2 and a half, the plan to begin potty training in the spring sounded good. We would be nearing the end of the school year and the days would be warmer- perfect for our bottomless method where the trainee spends all day in only a shirt or dress. She would be nearing 2 and a half and everything would work out fine. I was confident in my plan and hadn't really mentioned it out loud. It was settled in my mind and I had put it on my mental "to do" list.

But my 7 year old had other ideas. She decided in her heart that it was time for her sister to use the potty. So, after school, she started taking the baby into my son's room where we had a tv/vcr hooked up for them to watch videos. Her brilliant plan was to put the baby on her potty, juice cup in hand, and play "Once Upon a Potty" for her over and over everyday. It had been my older daughter's favorite training film. When I found out this was going on I smiled at the big sister's sweet efforts to help her sibling, but doubted her plan would work and hoped it wouldn't interfere with the "real deal" when springtime came.

However, to my great surprise- it actually worked! Maybe it was the low pressure approach. Or maybe it was that the baby wanted to be like her big sis. Whatever it was, I was so glad and so proud of my girls! We sorta took over the process and brought the potty out into the main living area and started rewarding her for using it at that point, but to this day my big girl gets all the credit for potty training her baby sister. In fact, this trainee was even sleeping through naps and all night in panties within only a month or two. She has been our easiest and fastest success so far. It worked out even better than I could've planned and my girls have a special bond and a good story they will be able to tell their children some day. :-)



Today's post is just to brag on my husband. He's not perfect or anything, but he sure does have a lot of good qualities that I admire. He is never lazy when it comes to providing for our family. He never complains about having to get up early and go to work, even though he rarely gets enough sleep and has to work ten hours a day, often in unbearable heat or chilling cold. On his day off he cuts the grass, deals with outdoor issues like treating the dogs and grass for fleas and ticks, moving the chicken tractor around, or having the tires changed on my van. He is always meeting needs and never complaining or keeping count of all he has done for others. We needed a place to spread out and have our school day, so he enclosed the back porch and made us a schoolroom. Our central heat and A/C went out, so he took a week off work and instead of going on vacation or relaxing around the house has been in the ridiculous heat building a deck in trade for a brand new system. If our elderly neighbor has a need he is there to help her, day or night, no matter what. She often declares what a blessing he is to her, making her feel safe and cared for. He is always willing to stop by the grocery store on his way home from work to pick up whatever we may need just to save me from having to take the whole crew with me. Even though he may not seem very compassionate on the outside, whenever anyone gets sick or has to have a prescription filled he is usually the one to take them to the doctor. He sits and waits, and goes to pick up the required medicine. He has gone to every single OB appointment I have ever had with all 4 pregnancies- just because he wants to. And when the babies are born he wakes up with newborn and me in the night just to admire the little one or make sure we don't need anything before going back to sleep. Speaking of waking up in the night- he does that, too, if the dogs are barking or if a child gets up for any reason he is the first one to check things out and take care of any needs. His sense of humor keeps me laughing. He is a kind dad, slow to get angry, and one of the most patient people ever born on this earth. He is a fun dad which sometimes gets him in trouble because he is just as wild as they are and tends to get them even more rowdy. But to them it is awesome and they will remember all their lives how dad wrestled with them and did flips on the trampoline. No, he isn't perfect, but it is a blessing to have such a husband and I just had to brag.