31 December 2007

Movies, Movies, Movies

Yesterday I ran away for the afternoon with my neighbor. We went to see P.S. I Love You. It was a tear-jerker - but an overall good movie. The previews always get me though - and then there are about 3 or 4 other movies I want to see. (Remember to pause the player to the left if you want to watch these trailers!) The first one is called "Stop-Loss" -

The other movie that looked really good had Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman called "The Bucket List" -

Did I mention that I love to go to the movies!!!??! Anybody wanna go with me????

30 December 2007

Accentuate the Positive

My friend Tina and I had a long running conversation via email about being positive. Being one that doesn't shy away from controversial topics, books, movies - and wanting always to learn - I recently watched "The Secret" a movie based on the book by Rhonda Byrne. The majority of the content was self-serving to say the least, and chock full of new age philosophies to say the worst.

The movie did cause me to think on this verse from Proverbs 23:7 that says As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. I took this to mean that we play these mental tapes in our minds of who we are - and then we live it out - truth or lie, as a somewhat self-fulfilling prophecy.

There is something to be said for having a positive outlook. Negative people are such a downer. I also know how susceptible our feeble minds are to the power of suggestion, making either perspective contagious. I like to surround myself with optimistic, yet realistic people.

With that in mind, I have been trying to accentuate the positive in respect to my marriage, and how I view my husband. I have been trying intentionally to see the good things - and notice the bad things a little less. Having PMS this week made this task a bit more difficult. In the last 24 hours, I have found some things about Travis that were endearing to me. First, last night on our way home from the big extended family Christmas dinner, I put on the "country legends" station, because he enjoys it, and I heard him singing with Anne Murray to Shadows in the Moonlight. He has such a nice voice, so I enjoyed listening to him. Then, this morning, our handicapped neighbor called and woke us up asking if we could come help, because he broke a pipe and having had a stroke a few years ago, so he had only one good hand to control the water that was spewing everywhere. When I woke Travis, he threw on pants, and was out the door.

The more we focus on these kinds of things, the more we seem to notice them. I am not sure about the "Law of Attraction" but I have tried and proven in my own life that being positive seems contagious.

29 December 2007

Homeschool High Horse

I rarely get on my soapbox about homeschooling. I feel that it is important to respect the place that each person is - even if I don't agree with it. I do believe the best place for kids is at home, but I also believe in being gracious. If someone asks directly for my opinion, I will give it. If they ask for advice, I will share my heart.
But tonight.......what I am about to say is unsolicited ranting.... feel free to peruse other more politically correct blogs.
My nephew is here. We decided to let our kids throw a party while he was here - an in-between Christmas and New Years thing. They invited ALL of their friends - from two homeschool groups, and a teen girl neighbor.
The neighbor came over looking upset about something, little brother in-tow (even though I said it wasn't a good idea for him to come), and proceeded to sit, snuggling up under a blanket on the front porch swing with the nephew (who has a girlfriend) all night. Kendra kept going out on the porch to invite them to play games, cards, and somehow join the party. They kept saying, "we don't fit in at this party".
It is probably hard to fit in at a party when you don't even physically attend. They decided to keep physical distance from all party-goings, and then tried to turn it around on the other "homeschooled" kids. This strongly suggests to me - that public school kids *gasp* are the ones in need of some social skills. Since it wasn't their personal friends, they couldn't find a way to mingle, join in, and have fun.
The party was great fun - too bad they missed it.

27 December 2007

Paper or Plastic

I'm not a big fan of Walmart. It is a necessary evil most of the time. I have a limited budget for my family and in order to make my dollars stretch, I shop where the prices are low. I do not like the quality of their meat or milk, but for the most part it is adequate. Tonight, as I was going through the checkout line at my favorite Wally-world, I had a nice surprise. To the side, I found these handy little recyclable shopping bags, available for only $1 each. I picked up 5 and will probably pick up 5 more the next time I go so I'll have plenty for those larger shopping trips. I just hate the plastic bags and also want to be a more "green" consumer - so this will be a nice step in the right direction.

Please Pray for Justin

My friend Justin spent most of his day after Christmas in the hospital. It appears he has a hernia and needs surgery to correct the problem, that causes him quite a bit of pain. He nearly passed out today because of it. This is when it is the hardest to be so far away from people we love - when we can't be there with them. Please pray for Justin that God would protect him through the surgery. I might just pace a hole in my floor on Monday praying for that boy! This is a picture of Justin with Kullen last November. Justin is Kullen's all-time favorite big boy. He wants to be just like him when he grows up! We love you Justin! Get well soon!

26 December 2007

Impromptu Christmas Eve Love

With about a jillion other things to do, on Christmas eve morning, I decided that all of my local friends and neighbors deserved a little lovin' from the oven. The idea was inspired by my friend Helen, who always made us iced cinnamon buns at Christmas time. I spent several hours making dough and filling and icing, and once warm plates were put together, loaded the kids up to make some deliveries. We only actually saw two families, but left the surprise for the rest in conspicuous spots to be found when the recipients returned home - hopefully that day and not a week later (that would definitely be a surprise - a plate of mold!). It was fun. We got phone calls and emails of thanks - but really - it was our pleasure!
The recipe was terrific. I got it from Marmee Dear's Bread Basket Cookbook. I know she won't mind if I share it here:
Marm's Cinnamon Buns
>Place the following ingredients in your mixer equipped with dough hook:
1 1/2 very warm water (110-120 degrees)
3 Tbsp dry milk powder
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 Tbsp yeast
>Mix on a low speed until combined then add in:
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp sea salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup oil
Unbleached, all purpose flour will be used in the next step.
Mix briefly then add, 1 cup at a time, approximately 6 more cups of unbleached all purpose flour. Add flour carefuly as the full 5 cups may not be needed. You want a soft, workable dough. Knead for 5 minutes on a medium speed. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 2 equal parts. Roll each part on the floured surface to a rectangle. Spread with soft butter and sprinkle generously with brown sugar and cinnamon. You may also cover cinnamon sugar mixture with chopped nuts and raisins if desired. Roll up tightly, beginning at wide side. Seal well by pinching edges together. Even up roll up by stretching slightly. Cut roll into 1 1/2 inch sections. (I do this with dental floss or sewing thread.) Place in greased baking pans, cut side up, with a small space between rolls. Use fingertips to even and flatten out rolls if they are uneven. Let rise until puffy. This should take about 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Frost with icing while still warm.
ICING: Sift 2 cups confectioners sugar into a bowl and moisten with a little water or milk (I used half and half). Add a few drops of maple flavoring and stir until smooth. Drizzle over warm rolls. Decorate rolls with extra nuts if desired.

Cousins

This weekend while visiting with my husband's family, we managed to get an extra kid for the week. My nephew Austin came home with us. He is a fun and energetic boy who will be 17 on New Year's Day. We have been having a lot of fun with him. He starts the morning off with a bang by tromping into Kaitlyn's room and waking the girls up like a large puppy saying, "Play with me!" There have been people chasing each other around with spatulas, late night movies, and lots of laughs. This is one thing that makes me happy to be in Texas, is the chance for the kids to get to know their cousins - as strange as that may be. The picture to the left is Austin giving his cousin Kendra a "Merry Christmas" cuddle on Christmas morning. They aren't always so lovey-dovey - sometimes they love each other by hitting, bickering, stealing things and I won't say who but I believe there was an incident with someone farting on someone else's cell phone! (I won't mention any names.) Ah, the joy of cousins.

23 December 2007

Overheard by the Christmas Tree

Kendra and Kaitlyn were dismayed because they could not get the Christmas tree lights on. They communicated this to their dad by saying, "Dad, help us turn on the tree." My ever comedic and witty husband sauntered up to the Christmas tree and said:

"Hey tree, you like me bay-beh?"

What strange things are happening this holiday at your house???????

22 December 2007

#1 Song on the Day You Were Born

My friend Stephanie posted this on her blog - and I thought it was neat. You can go to this site and find out the #1 song on your birthday, the day you were married, etc. The chart topping song on the day that I was born, February 28, 1970 was "Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel.
Awesome blossom!

21 December 2007

Bittersweet

I have some friends who have said they would come over and bake cookies today. It is not very formal, but it will be so much fun! I really hate being in the kitchen alone. Our house in WV had a kitchen that was sort of open to the living room. We had our computers right there in the area. This old house has the kitchen as its own separate room. There are things I like and hate about this. I like being able to listen to music when I cook and that others can watch the television if they want. The kitchen is the central room of the house, but that also makes it a high traffic area and people get in my space.
I do miss baking with Kathie and Jeanette and even the huge group that used to meet at Helen's house. This has been a year of doing some maybe familiar things with new people. It is a joy getting to know new people, and falling in love with their precious kids - in the way that I loved my friends' kids in WV. Last night we were at the house of some new friends, and it was brimming over with energy and laughter. Amy, the hostess, is a soap maker, which is something I've always wanted to do - at least once - and it was neat seeing what each new person brings into your life.
It is still always bittersweet.

20 December 2007

Wicked Crazy

After our tornado fly-by on Saturday, I was none too happy to hear thunder rolling and see the flash of lightening all night long. I didn't sleep that well. This is one terrible storm. I called Travis on his way to work and he said it is pretty bad out there. It is storming bad enough that I am not wanting to go take a shower yet. I don't know why - but when I was a kid you didn't talk on the phone or take a bath when there was a storm. I have a friend who still won't talk to me if it is storming outside - even after much explanation that the danger existed in the possibility of lightening traveling down a cord to the phone and zapping you. I have also seen it travel down an antenna into an old console television that I was sitting 3 feet away from. It was turned off and blew anyway.
It's crazy outside, but not just because of the weather. I tend to be an extrovert, who doesn't mind being out and around people, even in somewhat crowded situations, but a few days ago I was in a Walmart where the throngs of people felt like a mob of crawling cockroaches, it was just that icky. Then last night, the girls and I went out for the final thrust of what we needed to get done, not to mention grocery items that we needed, including toilet paper. As we were leaving one store, there was a man in a truck that squealed to a stop next to a car where a woman was jumping out - all kinds of profanities ensued. It appears that she cut him off and he followed her into the parking lot angry to have it out. I was glad he ended up driving away - but it was freaky to see tempers flaring like that. Then on our way home, I was driving along about 60 mph through an area where there was a convenience store, when suddenly a car shot out in front of me with no lights on - and he was a dark gray color. I didn't see him until I was right on top of him. Things are so crazy out there - I think it is time to stay home until Christmas. I realize that these things can happen anytime, but there is a strange tension and energy out there. I think I'll stay home and watch movies instead! Y'all be careful out there!

19 December 2007

Alisha and Nolan

I haven't scrapbooked in forever. That is the nice thing with the digital scrapbooking. I can get inspired to make a page and just make one. I don't have to hunt for hours for the right stuff - or dig it all out just to put it away at dinnertime when we need to use the table. I can just open up a program and some pictures and some other stuff, and be inspired!
My inspiration came from an email after a recent reunion with my sister. She was telling me all about her 9 yo. son and then said she was still "getting to know" her 4 month old baby. I thought that was precious. It went along the lines of the Charlotte Mason philosophy that children are "born persons" that I have embraced with my whole heart. I just loved it. Then I heard this quote by Max Lucado which also enveloped this thought - it was perfect for word art for this page. I just popped all those pieces together and made this page that will always be special.
Just a little something special for my sister at Christmas. I am so thankful that you found me! I love you girl.
I have another inspiration - but no time. I'll share that page when it is finished as well.
If you like the word art on this page and would like me to send it to you - please email me at julientexas AT sbcglobal DOT net - I'm happy to share! Good words should be repeated.

Grammar Grade

I found this on Stephanie's blog. I have always been a grammar and spelling natural.
You Scored an A

You got 10/10 questions correct.

It's pretty obvious that you don't make basic grammatical errors.
If anything, you're annoyed when people make simple mistakes on their blogs.
As far as people with bad grammar go, you know they're only human.
And it's humanity and its current condition that truly disturb you sometimes.
The It's Its There Their They're Quiz

I will say that I post this with hesitancy. The last time I did such a quiz - which is for FUN - somebody pointed out a flaw they had found in one of my posts. So yes, I have a likely better than average command of grammar but am not perfect! *smile* I do get annoyed when I see people make simple mistakes with the incorrect usage of there, their and they're or to, too and two, but not enough that I lose the meaning of what they're trying to say. I know some people write their posts in Word and check the grammar and spelling before posting, but I can assure you that what you see here is off the cuff, and you will likely find many errors - grammar whiz that I am - if you look hard enough!

18 December 2007

Random Smatterings About My Day

I got my children who are less than "morning people" up and out the door this morning by 8:30 which was no small feat. I had a 9:00 appointment at GameStop in a neighboring town to pick up the only used PSP to be found in the state of Texas (well at least the eastern side!). When I got there, utter disappointment. The thing looked like it had been put face down on a dirt road and scraped back and forth. On the chance he might read what I say here, I'll not share the outcome of this particular story until later.
At the mall, we got to hear a local high school choir sing "Deck the Halls" to the Nutcracker tune - and it was SO beautiful. What a treat. I am trying to learn to stop and enjoy the "moments" that come in life, and not be in such a hurry all the time. Also, while we were out, we met my neighbor Debra at Rao's Bakery and had a Gelati. That was so awesome. I had Tiramisu flavor. And to think, I almost went to Starbucks! I loved the charming atmosphere. And you can't beat weather nice enough to sit outside on a patio in December eating a frozen dessert.
On the way home, I decided to take a back road and let Kendra drive for about 20 minutes. She enjoyed that, and did very well. Neither of us have been anxious for her to drive again since the Video Store incident. But it is time to get her on the road again. Back roads for now. But I think it was very successful. I felt very calm. In fact I even took out my camera and took a picture of her while she was driving!!!
This evening, Kaitlyn was having a breakdown about getting her assignments completed for Biology class. She signed up for this class on her own, but has been feeling burned out lately. I want to encourage her to persevere without forcing her. She asked me if I would work with her, and to my delight the module she is on is about genetics. It was a flashback to one of the only things from school that I remembered loving! We had a great time studying the possibilities that Queen Victoria's children would have hemophilia, with the heterozygous traits on the alleles. (does anybody know what I just said?)
Kullen just asked me to help give him a bath - a 10 year old boy! Write that down people! After that I am ready for bed. Hope your day was equally as nice!

17 December 2007

SNOW in Texas!!

I am completely overwhelmed. A package came in the mail today from my friend, Ethel to my Lucy, bringing me snow from WV. Yep - when I say SNOW - I mean more like a blizzard. There was a snow-everything. Snow balls, snowmen, tea with a snow theme, snowball gobstoppers. lollipops that were cherry snow flavored, snowman handsoap, a pez snowman, snowflake candy, snowflakes of every size and description, and an amazingly soft snowflake blanket that I am going to use every day and if anybody else touches it they will pull back a bloody stump be severely reprimanded. She sent me a snowflake goblet and has a matching one like it - so we can drink blackberry wine "together". I also got a big huge snowman mug that says "without you.....I'm a drift". For those of you that don't know what a"drift" is - it means the snow is all blowing all around instead of being a snowman. (Thought I'd clarify it down for you southern folk!) This was just amazing - and i am overwhelmed. I wanted to throw the loose snow all over the house - but I just couldn't let myself do it - so the kids and I went outside and threw it all over ourselves. Nope I don't have make-up on yet and it's 2 pm Texas time! I don't know what I did to deserve it - but the Lord only knows how much I needed that love today!

Funny Video - A Homeschool Family

I wish I could find a way to embed this video - but it is set up to play instantly when you click on this link. It is a must-see for Homeschoolers! Very effective in helping us not take ourselves too seriously. Weirdos that we are!

16 December 2007

Christmas Cookies - New Recipes This Year

I decided this year that I was going to find some new recipes to make for Christmas. Travis' cousin Renee was supposed to come and bake with me, but called early this morning to cancel because she wasn't feeling well, so the kids and I decided to start our baking anyway. The two new recipes that we chose turned out to be such winners. Sooooo yummy! These recipes are both from Taste of Home's Holiday and Celebrations Cookbook 2003.

Peppermint Biscotti

¾ cup butter (no substitutes) softened

¾ cup sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp. peppermint extract

3 ¼ cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 cup crushed peppermint candy

FROSTING:

2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

2 Tbsp. shortening

½ cup crushed peppermint candy

In large mixing bowl, ream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extract. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir in peppermint candy. Gradually add to creamed mixture, beating until blended (dough will be stiff).

Divide dough in half. On an ungreased baking sheet, roll each portion into a 12-in. x 2 ½ in. rectangle. Bake at 350⁰ for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully remove to wire racks; cool for 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board; cut diagonally with a sharp knife into ½ in. slices. Place cut side down on ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until firm. Remove to wire racks to cool.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip one end of each cookie in chocolate; roll in candy. Place on waxed paper until set. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 3 ½ dozen.

I did not dip them in chocolate, I drizzled it over and then sprinkled with the crushed peppermints. I also found the rectangle was not my favorite – so you can shape them however you want!


Frosted Nutmeg Logs

These cookies have an EggNog flavor - and they are fabulous!

1 cup butter (no substitutes) softened

¾ cup sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla extract

½ - 1 tsp. rum extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. salt

FROSTING:

1/3 cup butter, softened

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ - 1 tsp. rum extract

1-2 Tbsp. half and half

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and extracts; mix well. Combine the flour, nutmeg and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. On a lightly floured surface, shape dough into ½ inch wide logs. Cut into 2 inch pieces. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350⁰ for 11-14 minutes or until center is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

For frosting, in a mixing bowl, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, extracts and enough cream to achieve a spreading consistency. Frost cooled cookies. Yield: about 4 ½ dozen.

Sistas!

Here is the post I eluded to yesterday...
A couple of days ago I got an email - the message subject was "long lost sister". My first thought sadly was to wonder what new angle the spammers were taking with this one. But when the email came up in my preview pane - I saw that it was from someone named Alisha. I have two (step) sisters named Alisha and Renae. We haven't talked since 1995. It is a long story - but let's just suffice to say that we were not encouraged to have a relationship with each other, and the parents who should have helped us stay in contact no longer have an active part in any of our lives.
Renae had been searching the internet to reconnect with some friends from high school, and somehow was routed to my blog! She is a homeschool mom of 4 - and it appears we have so much in common from movies and books, to homeschooling, to a love of history, to our faith. Alisha is the mother of two gorgeous boys. We may not have quite as much obvious in common, but we were always thicker than thieves when we were younger. I remember listening to our 80s music together, late night talks about french kissing and boys. Because I know how much these girls have overcome to become the tremendously special women that they are today, I am so incredibly proud of them.
I am so terribly sad at the years we have lost. But I am not going to waste one single moment grieving over that when we could spend it getting to know each other again. It's been too long. I love them. I am so thankful. I am so glad that they had the courage to make contact. I have made fruitless efforts to find them online. I guess that blogging has a lot of benefits we can't even imagine - and I am glad that I didn't blog so incognito that they couldn't find me. The last couple of days have been a flurry of emails about our lives, and sharing pictures of our children. It has been terrific.
We don't have a "family" picture of us together - although through the years we were able to share a few holidays together. I took some pictures of the three of us and made this little "Christmas" picture out of some snippets from Thanksgiving 1989. I was 19, Alisha 16 and Renae 14. It was totally the 80s! Can you dig that hair? Geesh. How did I hold my dang head up!
I hope you two are reading this and know how glad I am that we have found our way to each other again.

15 December 2007

Five Words No Wife Wants to Hear

That would be: "Oh my God! Get down!"
Early this morning, Travis and I had been up for about 10 minutes and were tooling around the kitchen. I was getting the coffee pot started up, and he was looking outside the kitchen door asking me why all the animals were sitting there looking up at him like they wanted to come in. There was a thunderstorm outside, and we had seen flashing from lightening and heard the thunder roll, but suddenly the sound and the lighting outside changed. Travis yelled for me to get Kullen in the hallway rightnow!
The girls were sleeping over at a friend's house in another town after the co-op's high school Christmas party.
We got in the hallway, where I wrapped both arms and legs around Kullen and held on for dear life. The whole house rattled, and you could hear things snapping outside. I kept begging Travis to let the animals in but he said it was too dangerous to open the door.
After about five minutes, it quieted down. It was unbelievable. Our trampoline was bent up, our neighbor's light pole was snapped in half like a twig, there were branches and limbs down everywhere, and our power had gone out. A quick survey of the neighborhood showed a roof ripped off of a garage apartment, a fence down, but generally speaking, everything was okay. Nobody appeared to be hurt, and the damage was minor. All day long we heard more reports about horse trailers flipping over on cars, and all kinds of property damage. My super hubby spend the day re-installing a light pole for our handicapped neighbor. It took all day long to get our power back on.
I know tornadoes happen all the time, but it is a little scary when it touches your little corner of the world. Our house is fine. The only damage we suffered were a lot of downed limbs (some too big for me to carry), a hole through our trampoline netting, and a piece of tree bark which got plunged into the grill of Travis' truck!
In a strange way - I feel like I earned some sort of a "Texas badge" that reads, I survived a tornado!

I have some especially good stuff to share too - I've been reunited - due in large part to this blog with some family members that are really precious to me. I can't wait to share the whole story with you.

14 December 2007

Get Yours First

I was listening to Christian radio while riding with Kullen in the car tonight and I heard a curious thing..... the announcer was talking about some upcoming concert, and how there will be a special release of tickets. They went on to say, get yours first before they are released to the general public.
Am I missing something?
What about Jesus' teaching that the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.
Even on the Christian radio station, the message seems to be "hurry up and get yours before the next guy".
Any thoughts?

I'd Like to Fry Some SPAM!

What is up with SPAM??? I get a lot of emails between personal stuff (one of which was a very exciting email from my "step"-sister that I haven't heard from in way too many years this morning!!! Hi Alisha!!), homeschool groups, and a heavy work load. That stuff in itself is enough to sort through - but it seems that in the last few months the amount of SPAM I am getting has taken a surge.
It wasn't all that bad - I can press the delete button like nobody's business
If you needed Viagra or Cialis, I could definitely hook you up....
But...
These freaky little spammers have started to add pictures to their ads.
The other day I saw something that I can't unsee.
It.freaked.me.out.
So Dear Mr. Spam-man,
Don't send me any more nightmares. It's hard to use the computer wearing a blindfold!

13 December 2007

Out of the Mouth of Babes

This was on the Houston Christian radio station - and there has been a lot of hub-bub about the wisdom of this little man. I didn't know until my friend Carol sent me a link that they had it on YouTube.

12 December 2007

PJ Pants

My neighbor Debra drug me out to Joann Fabrics on Black Friday and we took advantage of 99 cents a yard flannel. It was the only shopping we did. She likes to sew, and I had the optimistic idea of making pj pants for my kids for their Christmas Eve pajamas. With all the stuff going on at work, and the hustle bustle of activities during the holiday season, I was starting to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew. The high schoolers from co-op are having a Christmas party this Friday night, and the girls are having a sleepover afterwards, and one of my girls hinted that it might be nice if they had some holeless new pajamas to wear. I had bought two different fabrics for each of them, so I could make them a pair for now and another for Christmas. I worked all afternoon on an "easy" pattern. They turned out pretty cute. They're pretty happy with them, which I think is all that really matters. Kendra's pants (R) have a "New York" theme - city scape and Statue of Liberty. Kaitlyn's pants (L) have skulls and grungy prints on a pink back ground - Kendra says they are the perfect blend of "fancy"and "evil" just like Kaitlyn !! The flannel is a really nice quality and very soft. I hope they are made well to last them for a long time.

That Says it All

Well it is starting to feel like winter in east Texas! Just to be sure you don't think I've suddenly stopped complaining, let me clarify that it went straight from sticky, humid 80 degree weather to damp and freezing, skipping every single phase of potentially enjoyable weather in between. Ick. I had to run an errand this afternoon. Since I never know how to dress, I went out wearing capri pants, and froze my little (work with me here it is one of my smaller features) hiney off. I looked down at the cart - the contents of which were frozen pizzas, ice cream (with plenty of chocolate of course!) and Kotex. Does this not say it all???

Blog Rating and a Story

I saw this on my friend Jenny's blog. I too was a bit surprised to get this rating - although I'm not sure why - I have never considered myself a "G" rated person.
online dating


At any rate, this story is very likely to change my rating. My youngest daughter can be a bit snarky at times. She has a dry, sarcastic way about her. She is negative and pessimistic and to be honest it is a huge contrast with the rest of our family, although her dad has a bit of this streak as well. We went to this amazing Christmas event the other night called "An Evening in Old Bethlehem" where the entire expo center was set up like Bethlehem at the birth of Christ. There were artisans, beggars, tax collectors, three wise men, a wedding party walking the streets, musicians, and the innkeeper walking up to you shouting that there was "no room at the inn". We even had a girl walk up to us about 50 times asking if we wanted to buy "fresh, 2 week old fish" from the sea of Galilee. It was so elaborate, and very lovely. They even had a few donkeys here and there. At one point, after seeing the manger with Joseph, Mary and the Christ-child, I was pretty excited, and turned to my kids, forgetting the older two are 14 and 16, and said in my "mommy voice" - " do y'all wanna go pet the animals?" My 14 yo. turned to her sister and said, in her perfectedly snarky way, "I don't know. Kendra, do you want to pet the (insert biblical word for donkey)?" My husband was no help at all, trying to muffle his laughter.
Some drops of hot pepper sauce will be administered later, when I stop thinking it is funny.

11 December 2007

Walking in a Ginger Wonderland

One of the things I love the most about this time of year is making a gingerbread house. My friend Helen always made a ton for our homeschool group - and it was so much fun to get together, pool our resources and bring a ton of candy, and decorate our little houses. I was so excited when a group of ladies wanted to do it with me!
Tonight, my friends Taffy and Beverly came over and we baked the walls of gingerbread houses till it was coming out of our ears! We also made some royal icing green and covered sugar cones to make Christmas trees, and glued some large marshmallows together for giant size (scaled next to our small houses) snowmen!
We decided to make smaller individual houses - and think the kids will enjoy them. We did have some minor wall collapses, and had to cut some walls because the roofs were short. Other than that, we did fine, although I don't see having our own construction company in our future! Stay tuned till Thursday, and I'll post pictures of the houses once they're decorated.
Man my house smells good!

10 December 2007

Christmas Spirit

There is something indeed magical about the snow - the hush as it falls to the ground, muffling the world around as if putting it to bed. But the next day, reality - the shoveling, the snow-blowing, the rocking motion of your car back and forth, back and forth as you try desperately to dislodge it from the frozen driveway, the extra layers of clothing. I am keeping day #2 of snow in mind as I grapple with my winter/Christmas sensory deprivation.
I have decided to embrace the differences in the Texas Christmas season. A big shift in my attitude came today at co-op. We went there early this morning, leaving around 7 am. It was hot and muggy. The humidity was so heavy that the papers I was carrying were damp when I got inside. Ugh. But by this afternoon, after the 4th & 5th grade Christmas party, I took the kids out to the playground while some other suckers moms cleaned up. It was beautiful. Everybody was wearing short sleeves. The temperatures were perfect. All day long I had received gifts from different kids. It was a nice day. Even though it didn't feel like "winter", I definitely felt the Christmas spirit warming my heart.

08 December 2007

My Grinch Name

My friend Stephanie did this and it looked so fun!!!
Your Grinch name is:
Dismalgrinch Crankynoggin
Yep - mine is fitting too!
What is your Grinch name?

07 December 2007

Respect for Children

One of the reasons - one amongst millions we have chosen not to institutionally educate our children, is because of the ability the "system" has to make your children into a number, part of the pack, a face in the crowd. I remember being traumatized in middle school because my pants split all the way down the seam and the teacher would not let me call my mom - in fact she told me to return to my seat. I have seen other kids wet their pants because they were denied a bathroom break, or told they didn't need a drink of water. When you discuss these things with certain people you get the attitude that these kinds of things prepare children for the "real world". I don't know about you, but as an adult, nobody prevents me from using the restroom when I need to, or getting a drink if I'm thirsty. Aside from wanting our children home with us so that we could be their primary influence, and as parents have the opportunity to guide their hearts towards the Lord, we never wanted them to have to endure the humiliation that can be heaped on children who are not thought of as individuals with thoughts, wants, dreams and real physical needs.

Too late.....
I wasn't going to blog about this, but I think I have to since blogging is therapy. I am working on forgiving which was another reason for the hesitancy, feeling that this story will enrage others, and thus fuel the anger, instead of the aiding my quest towards letting go of what could grow into a very large resentment.

My son was sent out of his PE class at co-op the other day. I was surprised to find him sitting in the office when I went into a back office to print off the Mom's Notes newsletter that is one of my duties. He followed me and said, "Mom, I got sent out of PE." I said, "Why?" He said, "Mom, I don't know."
As a mom, I'm thinking that something is missing to this story, but I know my son. I know what he is capable of, and yet, I have also known adults to be unfair, unkind and even *gasp* wrong. I started asking what he was doing. His class was doing some sort of aerobic work out which is very cardiovascular. He said that he started to feel that his chest was tight, so he went to the side and sat out. I asked him if he was disturbing the class, he said no. I asked him if he was doing something the teacher asked him not to do, he said no. About a dozen more questions of everything I could think of that he might have possibly done to deserve the most serious disciplinary action we can take at the co-op - and all answers "no".
Let's back up a bit and clarify that he is severely asthmatic. He was sick the previous week with a cold, getting up in the middle of the night for breathing treatments, and taking his inhaler frequently through the day. The PE coach was informed about this at the beginning of the year, and seemed very agreeable and on board with letting him stop whenever he needed to. I explained to her then that we let HIM say when HE needs a break - we don't qualify it because he is really the only one who knows his body.
Fast forward to this day, I tried to find the coach to discuss this with her. I even called her at home and on her cell phone that evening, and could not reach her. This was Monday, and finally on Wednesday morning, I was able to get in touch with her. Our conversation started with her saying this, "I think we have a spiritual issue here."
I took a deep breath. I hate it when people over-spiritualize everything. We are spiritual beings, and everything we do is spiritual - but there seems to be this hocus-pocus mystical thing that goes on where people weigh and judge one another in this realm. Ugh.
I let her speak. I listened.
My summation of what she said is that she thinks my son uses his asthma to sit out when he doesn't want to do something. I asked if he disturbs the class. No. I asked if he disobeys something when she specifically asks him to do something. No. I asked if he is disrespectful to her. No.
She said on the day in question that he had gone to the side and sat out, and then laid down on the floor. I asked her if she asked him to sit up. She said no, she didn't have time to stop and do that. What she did have time to do was walk over to him and tell him to "get up and go to the office" - and he said she was angry.
She said he sits out when they do something hard - but participates in the things that are fun. I asked her what the hard things were. Aerobics or heavy work-outs. I explained that asthma, being a respiratory illness would respond more severely to these types of things and make his refraining more legitimate - not that I think on any planet near or far, I need to prove this to her.
She said that this has been bothering her all year, and yet she has not said one word to me or Kullen. She hasn't ever said that she thinks he gives up too easy or that he could try harder.
In any case, I am thankful that she did not push him to continue the activity. However, I am very concerned that she feels it is her place to evaluate whether he is having a legitimate issue with his asthma or not.
The coach is a first year homeschool mom. She doesn't really "get" homeschooling yet. She told me she has been very frustrated and feels that homeschooled kids all think they can do what they want, whenever they want, and that they will be ill-prepared for the real world. Again, I refer you to the first paragraph here - where I ask you what bodily functions would be denied, or told we were using chronic illnesses to "get our way", or were forced for that matter to participate in an athletic activity we did not choose. What is "real world" about that?
Anyway - I have talked to the appropriate people, and have a little peace that they are keeping an eye on the situation. But in my heart, I am so frustrated that people get away with treating children in a way we would never treat another adult. I am furious that my son was discriminated against because of an illness, and that someone would think it is their place to assess his "spiritual condition". I am humiliated for him that he was sent without his shoes to sit in an office when I deal with other kids in class throughout the day who are displaying willful disobedience who are at least given a warning. He was sent out without a clue as to what he was doing wrong, and taunted as we went to our car by an obnoxious boy in his class. I feel a bit helpless that as important as this was to me that we were not able to protect him from this kind of situation.
I need to get past this. I know I need to forgive. Any thoughts or suggestions on how I do this? If the same thing had been done to me, I'd be over it already, but do it to my child and we have a different dimension of anger, frustration, and resentment to deal with - the Mama Bear kind.

06 December 2007

Blast from the Past - Me and My Baby

My mother-in-law sent me this picture of myself holding my Kaity-bug when she was about 2 months old. I just love it. I don't have a whole lot of pictures of me with my kids - so this is a rare one. I don't look old enough here to be a mommy, but I was - twice!
Kendra was 2 years old and we lived in Raleigh at the time. My mother and father-in-law took this picture when they visited us that summer of 1993 - but I had never seen it.
I just thought I would share since it thrilled me so much!

Shocked and Saddened

I have so many thoughts and only a few minutes with which to blog about them. My husband woke me up this morning to tell me about the mall shooting in Nebraska. Have y'all been to Nebraska? I have and let me tell you - it seems like the most average, ordinary place in the world. Unbelievable. One thing I do know is that as rough and tough as my big old husband is, his heart is still tender and he is still shocked at evil in the world. This is precious to me.

05 December 2007

Monkey Bread - in or out of Bed

Before y'all go thinking that Monkey Bread is code for something else, I thought I had better quick share this recipe. There is such a thing as monkey bread and it is our family's favorite - as well as a Thanksgiving morning tradition for at least one other! It is very yummy, and so simple.
Monkey Bread
1 pkg. of canned biscuits (4 cans, any kind)
1 cup of sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 stick of butter, melted

Mix sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl or large ziploc baggie. Cut biscuits into quarters, separate pieces and toss in sugar and cinnamon mixture, and then arrange loosely in a bundt pan. After all the biscuits are coated and put in pan, pour remaining sugar mixture over the top, and then cover evenly with melted butter. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Let it cool for about 5 minutes - and use a large spatula to swat your family away while it cools, the turn out onto a plate.

It is the BEST when it is warm! Yum.


Peaking Curiosity

Living with a 10 year old boy makes you wonder about things you'd rather not know... such as.....why was there a straw in bathtub this morning??

If you know - please don't answer. Ignorance really is bliss.

04 December 2007

I Love Me a Working Man

The hubby got a job today! He starts tomorrow. It isn't the job we were wanting and is a cut in pay - but it is a paycheck for right now! Woo hoo! I celebrated by buying two small Christmas gifts. Today was also his birthday. I made him monkey bread for breakfast, with coffee in bed.
It's been a long day - so I apologize for this incoherent post. I just had to share the good news!

02 December 2007

I Just Totally Stole a Great Idea

My friend Shasta added a very cool Christmas music player to her blog - and it only took me a few days - but I finally figured out how to do it! I used to always have music on my blog, and it made me so happy, but having to host it on a site and then embed it and all that jazz was just not worth it! Then not long ago my girls were using something called "project playlist" on their myspaces, which is pretty neat - but WAY too big to use on my sidebars here. So, this one was just about perfect, and cute too - I love the way you can see the graphic of the CD that is playing. I have loaded all Christmas music. It will autoplay but I kept it at the top of my page so those of you who would prefer to peruse in silence, can still do so. If you want to change the song (let's face it - some of them are obnoxious after a while) just click to the right side of the player and it will go to the next song. Some of these are auto-filled so I don't even know them. Others are here deliberately.
Thanks for the hat tip, Shasta babe, you're da bomb!
Feedback would be great - is the music good - or is it annoying to have to click off? Most of us are now reading using Bloglines or Google Reader anyway - so whaddya think?

Vintage Commercials

I totally blame this on Tina! We were emailing earlier about all the childhood memories. She was talking about how "politically incorrect" the Rudolph and Santa movies are with the dad and others making fun of Rudolph for his nose - and on and on. These movies were it - a once a year thing. I remember having to have all my homework done, have a bath, and be completely ready for bed, and sitting in front of the television for 15 minutes before it came on anxiously waiting for the yearly viewing of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer or Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Tina was saying she and her husband were filling in the commercials for her boys - and taking a little walk down Nostalgia Lane with her - I decided to look up some vintage commercials on YouTube! Wow!
Do y'all remember this?


And could somebody please tell me why I never knew about the Walton's Country Home toy as a child? I totally want one. But a quick Google search did not show any for sale. The last surviving one probably being in a 70s museum somewhere near Walton's Mountain!

This was fun! If you go to YouTube and find any fun old commercials, please share them!

A Worthy Opponent

I am always trying to find something to do with my 10 year old boy whose two passions in life are knives and guns. Bodily functions and repetitive noises run a close second. The other night we pulled out the mancala game and sat on my bed and played until we were cross-eyed and had so much fun. I taught him all of my tricks, and the student did indeed exceed the master!

01 December 2007

Odds and Ends

Okay - just so y'all know - nobody is in trouble - I wasn't upset with anybody and some of you had commented - so the smacking self in the head, and throwing yourselves off of a cliff can cease and desist. I just needed to know you were here, and you came through with dazzling colors. Y'all are the best bloggy buddies a girl could have!

Last night I had a dream in which I was getting down on my knees at the edge of the couch to kiss my husband (yes, this is a PG rated dream), and when my lips got close to his, he turned into Hagrid. In case you don't know, he is an ogre-type from the Harry Potter series - pictured to the right here. I have never been a big fan of "clean-shaven" preferring more of the Marlboro man type, a bit rugged - but Hagrid???!? After a quick kiss, I realized (
still dreaming!) that it was my husband in a disguise. If you interpret dreams I would LOVE to know what you make of this.

My neighbor Debra came over a bit ago and helped me untangle and hang up last year's icicles! It looks so twinkly and pretty outside. We even threw a few big red lights on one of the monstrous azalea bushes, that are long since out of bloom. We also had a cup of coffee with caramel syrup and real cream. Mmm. That will do wonders for your soul. Later her family is coming over for some potato soup, while the rain starts and the temperatures drop! They really know the highs and lows around here.

Yesterday I stood for about 10 minutes in the detergent aisle at Wally World trying to decide if I should spend $4 something for fabric softener. I concluded this to be a luxury for me - as well as the rest of the population who will now see my hair sticking out from my head like they do on cartoons when somebody gets shocked - cause y'all my hair gets static electricity like nobody's business. I think I maybe could use this to my advantage and end our woes over the high cost of electricity in the state of Texas - if only I could get my husband to figure out how to harness this power that I possess. I also stood there wondering if other women around me were thinking crazy things to blog about. Do y'all ever do that? Wonder if you'll be fodder for the bloggity goodness of some other rabid blogger!???


For those of you who are my friends on Homeschoolblogger or Homesteadblogger, I am reading your blogs on my Google Reader, but I cannot log in there - or even go directly to the site to leave you comments - and that has been for over a week now. This is why I don't blog there anymore. Is anybody else having that trouble? Marsha, Deedeeuk and a handful of others - I am sorry. It is so frustrating.

Anyway - hope this fine Saturday afternoon finds you all well. There are many things to worry about, but much more to be thankful for - so I leave you with this, my new mantra......
When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings....
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my bleeeeessssings...

30 November 2007

Come Out Come Out Wherever You Are

Hey! It has been a really hard week, and I think I am just needing a little comment-love. I have posted and posted throughout the week and nary a comment received. When I check my stats it appears that I get between 75-100 visits every day. If you are reading this - or anything I have posted recently, would you please take just a wee little second and leave me a comment. It would mean so much! You too lurkers - even if you never comment, just give me a shout out and tell me where you are reading from or how you found me, or any little tidbit.
Some of you who are my dear friends tell me all the time "I read your blog" - but don't be a voyeuristic friend - let me know you're here! Don't make me beg!

Snowflakes in Texas

My kids have gotten pretty good at making snowflakes. I told them that I wanted all five of the large windows in our dining room to be covered with them, and I came home after a long day with my husband looking for jobs, they had made our dining room into a winter wonderland. Aren't these snowflakes beautiful? None of the pictures I took even got close to showing the fabulously flakey windowpanes that are making me feel so happy right about now.
It isn't even cold here, but there are snowflakes all around.

What a Wonderful World

My friend Ethel (if you'll remember she's Ethel and I'm Lucy) sent this to me this morning - and it gave me such a lift I just had to share it - WOW!

29 November 2007

One Foot in Front of the Other

The last few days have been an endless procession of resumes, online applications, faxing of pertinent documents and driving and driving and driving from place to place to place following lead after lead after lead, and chauffeuring around an unemployed husband who also happens to be quite sick. I have recited his social security number forwards and backwards and possibly at one point while standing on my head. I have schmoozed and used every bit of my womanly charms - which if you know me means I had to borrow a little from a real woman somewhere else! We basically still know nothing - but in the midst of total exhaustion, and a ton of frenetic energy that is driving us, there have been some pretty cool moments.....
  • uninterrupted conversation with my husband, including a cheap-o lunch at Taco Bell - the most fascinating part of which was learning in great detail all about different types of welding - and I'm not being sarcastic
  • whistling at him as he walked across the parking lot to put in an application and watching him walk a little taller, even though he turned around and said, "yeah right!"
  • filling out an application for him, and having him say "it must be hard to live with me" - and knowing that it is, but he must be worth it
  • hearing him tell the man at the Veteran's branch at the employment office that I was his best asset
This morning I was in such a panic that I just wanted to give up - throw in the towel - go back to bed and pull the covers over my head - lay down and die. Throughout the day my perspective has changed as I have had a really good day with my husband. It is like the Lord has tried to stop my world from spinning, directed one foot to step out in front of the other, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out .......... even these days of turmoil are full of abundant life.

27 November 2007

I'm Toast!

Travis and I worked many hours last night on his resume. This morning we were up bright and early heading to the employment office - which on a fluke just happened to be closed because the 3 staff members were all at a training. Go figure! Welcome to life in rural Texas! I also had a run in with a lady at the Department of Human Services. I called to ask some questions - and she hung up on me while. I. was. talking. Now excuse me - I tried to have a gracious attitude about how she treated me - and considered that all day long she has to deal with people who want something for nothing. I tried very hard to keep this in mind - but the bottom line is that there is no excuse for rudeness. Regardless of the circumstances, people are often dealing with her at some of the most vulnerable times of their lives. A sympathetic ear, a kind word, a smile, and some understanding on even the most basic of levels can go a long way. I am definitely lodging a formal complaint - AFTER we are not in their system. Ugh.
Anyway - it has been a long day. We have looked tons of things up on the internet, made a jillion phone calls, printed out resumes, filled out applications, talked to people about how to search through the "workforce" website, and on and on and on. In the midst of that - we had "Family Night" at co-op tonight and so we were running around from early morning until almost 10:00 tonight. I am exhausted!

26 November 2007

A Bloggy Commercial Break

I have a new planner for sale called "The Plan". It is available in both Homeschooler's and Unschooler's Editions. The planners are currently only available in PDF (ebook) formats, for users to print out as many or as few of the pages as they desire. "The Plan" starts with a December 2007 calendar, so you can start using it immediately.
There are calendar pages for each month with large blocks for you to write in, budget planning pages, monthly menu planners, grocery list pages, pages to plan homeschool lessons OR an unschooling journal to write down the little things that you see your kids doing as they are "learning all the time". Each month has a page for planning projects and tracking your family's health and medical information. There are 3 covers styles to choose from if you want to print one off for the front of your binder. There are address pages, pages to record directions, all those important part numbers for items throughout your home, recipes, plan your holidays and a whole bunch more. I worked hard on this project to make an all-in-one planner.
Click on either of the pictures here to take a closer look.
The planner sells for $16.99. If you are interested purchasing a planner from me directly, please email me at julientexas AT sbcglobal DOT net.

Torture or a Godly Shove

Travis called me this morning. "I have bad news" he says. In my wisdom, I know that nothing following this line can be good - however, there are varying degrees of bad. In the past he has said this cause he got a ticket, or needs to buy new tires, or the price of gas went up. Today, the bad news was at the highest degree of bad.
He. got. laid. off.
I didn't see this coming - and that made the bad news even worse.
Our financial situation is already suffocating, having depleted what we had saved as he has made less than what was anticipated when we moved.
But, God is indeed in control.
Travis is the kind of guy that likes his comfort zone, more than most. He hates change. He has a long list of things he doesn't want to do. He has been talking for a couple of months now about going back into welding, but Mr. Comfort Zone often needs a huge shove to go from point A to point B.
I am trying to look at this situation as a godly shove.
In fact it can be a blessing in disguise. I have questioned the Lord before during times of unemployment and what on earth He was doing - when I had been so faithfully praying that He would give Travis a better job - and clearly heard His voice speak into my spirit "how did you expect Me to give him another job when he still had one?"
So I'm holding onto that.
And I'm thankful for the lessons my kids have learned during this time. When a lot of kids would be wheezing and whining about how this might effect their Christmas - my amazing kids were wrapping their arms around us, praying with us, and encouraging their parents. Kullen did wonder how we're going to eat which I think is quite practical. Suddenly an AK47 Airsoft Gun that was at the top of his list is not a major priority. Good kids. Lots of blessings. I'm counting them instead of the digits in my bank balance today.

24 November 2007

Butt-cold

I thought moving to Texas would mean that my days of freezing were over - but oh how wrong. In fact, it is actually much colder here than it ever was in WV, except without the snow. It is just so damp that it goes right to your bones. The best expression I can think of to use was coined by my friend, Justin when he slept in only his boxers in the beautiful Rocky Mountains when our youth group was camping overnight - he said he was "butt-cold". Now, I know what that means.
I am so cold in fact that I've been drinking a lot of coffee, lamenting the lack of firewood left from last year's supply, and wearing a lot of excess mismatched clothing, including a red fleece paired with a pink and tan striped scarf, snowflake pants and brown wool socks. My daughters and friends have been teaching me the specialized art of taking pictures of oneself (ie. myspace photos) so I thought I'd give ya a little gander at some of my colorful get up! It may not be pretty but hey I'm warm.
Nobody is used to me lookin' pretty anyway! ha ha
Speaking of snow - check out this cool spot to make your own snowflake. It is awesome. Hat tip to Sandy!
Need a Snow Day?

23 November 2007

I Have Issues

So much of my life was spent surviving all the issues of others around me, that mine kind of went undetected, even by me. Recently however, I have realized that I have quite a few issues of my own!

Most of my issues things have to do with cleanliness and hygiene. I hate it when people leave a public restroom and don't wash their hands, then touch the same door knob that I have to touch in order to exit. I LOVE the new restrooms at Walmart that have doorless entrances. They really save me a lot of stress.

......I also hate to see people eat when a meal is being prepared. Normal sampling is fine - but fingers and utensils going in and out of the mouth and nobody's hands are being washed - ugh - it just freaks me out - and has the potential to be the one thing to truly churn my stomach and ruin my appetite. Perhaps I should pay a few of these people to show up at every meal and call them them my "diet buddies".

Another thing I was thinking of today which makes me never want to leave house - the girls were talking about a horrible smell that they noticed in one area of Old Navy. I think I figured that the national holiday of stuffing ourselves sick with a lot of rich food and the next day having everyone with gastrointestinal distress gathering in massive crowds is probably NOT the best idea. Hmm?

Our Thanksgiving in Pictures 2007

22 November 2007

Tetanus with that Turkey?

This afternoon, my kids went on a walk with their cousins and decided to peruse an abandoned house in their Memaw's neighborhood. While there, Kullen stepped on a board with several rusty nails sticking out of it. One went all the way through the sole of his shoe and an inch into his foot. There isn't much on his foot when you look at it, although it did bleed a little. The biggest concern is does he or does he not need a tetanus shot. I called the ER to ask if they thought it could wait for the doctor tomorrow and they told me they couldn't give me "medical advice". Thankfully we found some info on the internet and he may not even need a tetanus shot since he got his last booster when he was around 5 years old. Then a cousin said that you have to get one now with any puncture wound. I am calling the doctor in the morning just to be on the safe side. We boiled the wound out with peroxide and made him soak his feet.
I'll post a Turkey Day slide show tomorrow! No blood - I promise!!!
How about you - any accidents or injuries to accompany your festivities?

21 November 2007

The Day Everybody Cried

Yesterday was one of those kind of emotional days. All three of my kids at one point were crying. The tears weren't the simple "I fell down and boo booed my knee" kinds of things, they were life-traumas - things that touched the heart.
Kendra was overwhelmed at a situation where she tried to do the right thing and apologize for something she did that was wrong - but was not forgiven. She cares about somebody who has been pulled between two worlds, and is believing a lie. She has had to remove herself from that person for a time, even though it is painful. To top everything off, her friend who was coming to visit her in December now can't come until January - which just made her feel more homesick and alone.
After years of not having her hair cut - and growing it very long Kaitlyn told me about a week ago that she wanted bangs. We have discussed little else over the last week. She has asked me 3,593,264,698 times if she should do it. My friend Tina predicted she would not like it - at least for the first few days, and she was right. Kaitlyn went right to the bathroom and started to cry. When I saw her come out with her hair wadded up in a rubber band, and red, puffy eyes, I knew something was amiss. She loves the bangs, but says the lady took a little too much off of her length - and she "worked so hard" to grow it. (I know what she meant - but we can't actually work to grow our hair now can we?)
On the way home from running errands yesterday, Kullen was very disturbed to find a dog that looked just like our black lab, Jett on the side of the road. He knew it wasn't Jett, but when he started to think about it - the waterworks came on.
Oh brother - it was one of those days. Everybody needed a little extra love.

20 November 2007

Food Glorious Food! Pie Crust Edition

Tomorrow, I will bake pies. I didn't want to bake them too long before Turkey Day because I don't like them when they get stale-ish. I found this Martha Steward recipe that I got years ago from my mom - who always went on and on about how wonderful it is in the food processor - only I never had one. I tried it today - and it is a snap. The recipe is terrific - and it makes THE BEST pie crust - ever. I thought I'd share - and tomorrow when the pies are baked - I'll post some pictures of those too!

Martha Stewart Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/4 + cup of ice water

Makes enough for 2 single-crust pies or 1 double crust pie

Making the dough:
1. Add flour, butter (very cold and cut into cubes), salt and sugar to food processor.
2. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-sized pieces remaining.
3. Add 1/4 cup ice water (mostly ice with water to fill spaces and drain 1/4 c very cold water off)
4. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed. If needed add up to 4 Tbsp. more ice water 1 Tbsp. at a time) DO NOT overmix
5. Turn out onto work surface,; knead once or twice, until dough comes together - Chill
For easy rolling, always start with well-chilled dough, and a lightly floured work surface. Chilled dough will not soften as quickly as warmer dough; flour absorbs any moisture from the dough and prevents it from sticking.

Use this with any of your pie recipes.
Here are some other tips:

To Freeze Dough:

Put tightly wrapped disks in a resealable plastic bag. Label with the date, and freeze for up to three months. Defrost the dough overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Pressing: Place one dough disk on a floured piece of parchment paper. Using knuckles, press edges of dough to help prevent cracking.

Rolling: Roll dough to a 14-inch round. Using parchment, lift and wrap dough around rolling pin; carefully unroll over a 9-inch pie plate.

Fitting: To avoid tearing or stretching the dough, lift around the edge, and let the dough drape inward. Use kitchen shears to trim the edge of the dough to a 1-inch overhang.

Crimping: Fold excess dough under so it’s flush with (and on top of) pie-plate rim, and pinch to form a flat edge. Crimp edge of dough, if desired: Using your thumb and forefinger, press the dough gently against a knuckle from your other hand, and continue at regular intervals.

1 Preheat oven to 350°. Prick bottom of pie dough all over with a fork (to prevent it from puffing up or shrinking). Refrigerate until chilled, at least 10 minutes.

2 Carefully line dough with parchment paper or foil; fill to the top with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is firm, about 15 minutes.

3 Remove parchment and weights; continue baking until crust is golden brown and bottom is flaky to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely before filling.

By following these seven simple rules, you can produce a flaky, tender crust every time.

1. When making the dough, make sure the butter is very cold.

2. Handle the dough as little as possible. Both the stretching of the dough and the warmth from your hands will further the development of gluten -- long, stringy protein molecules that form when flour is blended with liquid -- resulting in a tough dough that's difficult to roll out.

3. Since our pie-dough recipe yields two single crusts, divide the dough in half, and pat each half into a flat disk before wrapping it in plastic and chilling. This will make it easier to roll out each crust into a perfect circle.

4. Chill the dough thoroughly (at least 30 minutes) before rolling it out, and use a minimum of flour to dust the rolling pin and work surface. Brush excess flour from the rolled dough with a dry pastry brush before transferring it to the pie plate.

5. For an extra-crispy pie crust with a golden color, brush the unbaked top crust with water, and sprinkle it with sugar.

6. For a shiny pie crust, brush the unbaked top crust with an egg wash made from one egg and 2 tablespoons cream.

7. Cut decorative vents in the top of a double-crusted fruit pie; vents allow steam to escape and prevent the fruit juices from overflowing.



Today In History - Nuremberg Trials

I have this little feature on my iGoogle homepage that gives little facts about the day in history. The unschooler in me loves it - I can invest as much or as little of myself in learning about the things I am interested in. Yesterday was the anniversary of Lincolns 1846 Gettysburg Address. Today was the anniversary of the beginning of the Nuremberg Trials. I did not realize as I read it how many people were tried and put to death. Astounding - and yet not a drip in the bucket compared to those who were killed and brutalized at their hands.
I got to thinking about whether or not something like Nazi Germany or the Gestapo could formulate again. Maybe I'm totally naive and they already exist right under my nose. There is certainly enough hate in the world. There are so many lessons to be learned from the Holocaust, but some have been twisted in translation. I think much of our whole culture of "tolerance" has come from this. Tolerance can be a good thing - when we learn to tolerate differences among us like skin color, religion, ethnicity, gender, handicaps and disabilities, etc. These are things people are born into and cannot change. The scary thing is that this tolerance has been spread in a thick layer across all sorts of things, and in essences asks us to say that sin is not sin. Let's face it, as Christians we are not so good at loving the sinner and hating the sin - and in so doing, we have put a label on our backs that says "intolerant" which instead of drawing people to Christ, has pushed them away. We have got to learn to love while we are saying as Christ said to those around us "go and sin no more", or we are just adding to the culture of hate.
Maybe I should point out, Hitler thought he was doing God's work of ethnic cleansing. Sin should make us angry - but let's remember who the real enemy is and look at others with the compassion that says, "there but for the grace of God go I."

You may now be excused to go and peruse blogs with cookie recipes!

18 November 2007

A Cat House

My neighbor made me this terrific pillow for my porch swing, all I had to do was give her the fabric. She even made the cover removable so I can wash it. It is really spectacular and I enjoy sitting on the porch swing so much more now. However, every time I go outside to sit on MY swing, the above is what I find. It appears that the kittens have found the lovely cushion as well, and have decided to make it their new bed. All during devotions this morning I kept seeing the swing jangling outside, and eventually the cushion fell off for all of their frolicking. Goodness gracious! It seems the kittens have taken over my house!

Pajama Pants

Since we "worship" at home, I have the luxury of wearing whatever I want. My husband made the mistake of telling me yesterday how cute I looked in my pajama pants. *wink* When I announced that I am not taking them off today - he didn't look phased - so I have declared it a pajama day - all day long today. The weather is particularly gray and dreary - so it suits me just fine to stay home and go nowhere. I also made a double batch of enchiladas for dinner last night - so I don't even have to make dinner - just reheat. I have some unfinished projects to finish before the flurry of Thanksgiving week sweeps me away. Today I am having a PJ pants day!

Do these pants make my legs look fat?

17 November 2007

Does Prayer Change Things?

Yesterday I passed a church with a message board out front that said "Prayer Changes Things". I've heard a hundred different flavors of this same message - "Prayer Works", "Prayer Can Change the World", etc. I suddenly don't get it. What is prayer?
Wikipedia says this:

Prayer is the act of attempting to communicate, commonly with a sequence of words, with a deity or spirit for the purpose of worshiping, requesting guidance, requesting assistance, confessing sins or to express one's thoughts and emotions.

I think this would be a fairly accurate assessment of the common understanding about prayer. My thinking is this – when we say prayer changes things, we make God the passive activist of our wills. It is God alone who changes things as He purposes or wills. Yes, He allows us to come to Him as a child to their father with our petitions, but in the end has to choose the best.

I understand the sentiment behind such a statement – but we need to always be cautious to remember that it is not the Lord who does our bidding, but the other way around. It is a common expression that tends to credit the power to the person praying, when indeed true prayer is an act of humility in relationship with Father, and a confession in the act itself that we are powerless.

Geesh, I wish I could just drive through neighborhoods and notice the colors of people's shutters!

16 November 2007

My Recipe





Julie

- 1/4 cup of loyalty
- a gallon of charisma
- 1 1/2 cups of cuteness

Season and serve.
'What is your personality recipe?' at QuizGalaxy.com

I saw this on Kathleen's blog and Karen's blog -being that I love recipes - I just had to try it. Cuteness? I'll take it!
I am also pretty jazzed that Karen is back in the blogosphere!