Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Giving Thanks Challenge - Final Report

1. Family
2. Freedom of political voice and vote
3. My family's health
4. Thanksgiving Day Wraps and Apples!
5. My faith and my church.
6. Breakfast with the family
7. Wood Stove & Flannel Sheets
8. creative juices
9. Listening to my daughter read for Story Time
10. Being born in the US
11. All those who have sacrificed and died for our freedom
12. Laughter - especially of small children
13. Singing at OSV by candlelight
14. Many hands to lighten the work load.
15. A pen and paper
16. new recipes to try
17. books
18. Cinnamon
19. My car (but I would be more thankful for a transporter ; ) )
20. My dad (and my mom who I miss dearly)
21. Enough
22. The internet
23. A new job
24. Christmas Carols
25. a wonderful holiday meal
26. fried clams at Lenny & Joe's
27. suprise announcements
28. hymnals
29. loving dog & cat
30. Scouts

Celebrating an Old Fashioned Christmas

What are your traditions for the holidays? A new one the DD and I have added is singing at Old Sturbridge Village. As you know, we sing regularly with OSV, but Christmas at the Village is something extra special. If you happen to have an open December weekend, you may want to plan to attend OSV's Christmas by Candlelight.

Unfortunately, we are not pictured in this feature, but you can see what a wonderful experience you'll be in for. So I hope you'll put the shopping and holiday craziness aside to enjoy a few hours of nostalgia and beauty.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Feast or Famine Job Hunting

Why can I look, look, look for a job, not get anything, and then suddenly get called in for two interiews in the same week.  I was mortified to tell the second caller that I had already accepted a position at the first and I'm still not sure that I made the right decision.  It is so hard to marry family needs with work needs. And the question is am I looking for a job or a career.  Of course, how do you hold of one offer to find out about the other and if you do are you putting at risk the first.  Unfortunately or fortunately, I am a very conservative person and believe in that old saying that "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush".

So think of me tomorrow morning as I start a new job and pray that I made the right choice.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Third Hand Smoke

My son enlightened me on third hand smoke the other day.  "Mom, do you know what third hand smoke is?"

"I'm not sure what you are talking about."

"First hand smoke is when you smoke yourself.  Second hand is when you are breathing someone else's smoke.  Third hand smoke is the smoke that emanates off of couches and other fabrics for days or months after someone has smoked."

I'm never sure where he comes up with this information.  Lately, he's had all sorts of little nuggets from the John Tesh radio show which apparently he falls asleep to.  Suddenly, he'll tell me about how drinking water helps you lose weight or that apples really keep the dentist away not the doctor.  Dear Son has become just a wealth of knowledge. 

Of course sadly, we unwillingly did an experiment on third hand smoke the other day after visiting my father.  My dad had thoughtfully pulled all the yellow jelly beans out of his jelly beans since he knows they are DS's favorite (my father figures that since he doesn't eat vegetables, he can get his beans in other ways and dear dad stocks up on jelly beans at all times of the year.).  So my son brought the jelly beans home in the container.  When he opened the container in our smoke free house, we all almost gagged.  The smell was absolutely overwhelming.  My husband joked that now if we were missing Poppie we could just breathe in the canister.  Of course, that is after he marched us all off to the shower to get the smoke out of our hair and clothes.  So be warned, there is a new public health menace: third hand smoke.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's Complicated - A Movie Review

I was pleasantly surprised when my husband came home early last night.  I didn't expect him until 10:00, but he arrived a little after 7:00pm.  I had just turned a movie on, so I started it again so that we could both enjoy it.

I think we laughed almost all the way through it.  Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin were a perfect cast. And they got the rating right on this one.  It is an "R" rating, but a real "R"  and not a quasi "X".  There was one butt shot and conversation I certainly would not want a young child to listen to, but all perfectly appropriate for an older teenager and adult.  This is my kind of movie laughter, slice of life, and relationships.  The only thing that would have made it a better movie night would have been a great glass of wine for me.  Instead, hubby and I popped Jiffy popcorn on the wood stove and had a cup of coffee.  (Did I mention we've been married for almost 20 years?)
So I highly recommend "It's Complicated" for you and your spouse, a group of women together, or a night when you are looking for something to do yourself.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Leaf

I watched you play
    all summer long.
I dangled up above.
    When the breeze blew,
             I quietly called your name.
But I, I was too high to play with you.
And so I watched, tethered above, dangling in the tree.

My colors changed as the cool winds blew.
And finally,
     I fluttered down.
I sit waiting now,  
           waiting for you to play.
Please! Oh, please! Won't you come out and play?

My time here is short.
My colors are gone.
Soon I'll be swept away
    to deteriorate and decay.
Please! Oh, please! Come out to play!

Jump and pile.
Pile and jump.
Let me feel free for just one more day
                                       before I'm taken away.

Confession of Infidelity

I must come clean.  I have been unfaithful to my blog.  Of course most bloggers  are unfaithful to their blog.  They and I enjoy writing so they post in many different places.  If you would like to see some of my other work, you can check me out on Associated Content.  A particular article that I thought you might enjoy is one I published yesterday called Favorite Children's Books to Read Out Loud.  I hope that you will take a minute and check it out. Hopefully, you'll enjoy it enough to forgive my infidelity.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Recipe for Salisbury Steak

What do you do when you don't have the right ingredients for a recipe? You improvise.  Sometimes your efforts aren't so good, and sometimes you are pleasantly surprised.  Here is the surprise that I got the other day.  It was yummy.  It is great with mashed potatoes and some fresh green beans.

Salisbury Steak

1 onion diced
8 oz mushrooms sliced
1 can condensed mushroom soup
2 lbs ground beef
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 egg
1 T flour
1/4 cup ketchup
1 cup water
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Gravy Master

Saute mushrooms and onions until softened.    While sauteing, combine 1/3 cup soup with beef, crumbs, eggs.  Shape into six to eight oval patties.  Remove mushrooms and onions when done and put aside.  In same pan, brown beef patties.  While browning, mix remaining ingredients.  Make sure gravy is smooth.  After patties are browned on both sides, add gravy mix to pan.  Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until cooked as desired.  Stir occasionally during cooking process.

Sometimes not having what you need causes you to be a little more ingenious.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Be Sure to Empty Your Pockets

Oopsie. I left a pen in the dirty clothes. Wait, let me clarify. The pen wasn’t mine and it wasn’t in my clothes. I just failed to extract it before I put my husband’s clothes in the wash. I think it actually faired the washer fairly well. The drier on the other hand is not so attractively white anymore and we won’t even discuss what the clothes look like.

Unfortunately this is not my first time washing something I shouldn’t, but somehow I am not encouraged to be any more careful. You would think that I would diligently check the pockets, but it is my firm belief that the person putting the clothes in the basket should do that. Doing laundry is mundane enough without having to add another step; and so I’m sure there will be more washed pens, rocks, receipts and wallets in my future. I can only hope that it will also mean a few spare dollars and quarters so I can repair the damage I’m doing.

If you’re wondering why the people putting the laundry don’t check their pockets, don’t waste your time. I think they believe in the laundry fairy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

When Do You Put Up Your Christmas Lights

Is it November or December?  I am shocked at how many people have Christmas lights out already.  Don't get me wrong.  I love Christmas and Christmas lights, but November 14th.  What is it about our culture that we are always looking forward to something bigger and better as opposed to enjoying where we are currently?  Are they going to celebrate Thanksgiving? or just zoom right by to Christmas?  I'd like to think that extending the holiday allows them to enjoy it more, but I have the feeling that it probably just brings more stress (and I'm sure an even larger electric bill).

When do you put up your Christmas lights?

No more toilet paper tubes

Have you heard?  Kimberly-Clark has announced that they will be removing toilet paper tubes from their toilet paper.  Technically, apparently they are called cores, but you know what I am talking about: the cardboard center of the toilet paper roll.

Apparently, toilet paper tubes, according to Kimberly-Clark's October 28th press release, toilet paper cores account for 160 million pounds of waste.  Of course my question is not why we are taking it out, but why didn't someone think of this earlier? And does this mean we are going to have less expensive toilet paper since this part is being removed?  And of course most importantly, how are we going to do all those Kindergarten crafts?

My next question is, when will someone be innovative enough to do the same thing with paper towel rolls?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How to study spelling with the kids

I found an online free spelling program that you all may enjoy.  Spelling City allows you to enter your own spelling words or to use preset lists that they have and then you have three choices: learn, play, test. The games are mostly for younger / middle age children, but frankly could be a fun way to practice spelling words at any age.  If your child, like my son, hates spelling practice, this may be the answer:

Makes practicing for spelling tests fun

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sarah Palin the next Ronald Reagan?

So after my post about Sarah Palin's TLC show yesterday, I sat down with my son to watch a movie.   My father had given me a history movie to watch with the kids.  I thought for some reason that it was about WWII, but it turned out to be about Ronald Reagan.  The topic still fit my need for a little Social Studies so we watched anyway. 

The film was actually Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny hosted by Newt and Callista Gingrich.  I cannot even tell you what a great retrospective it was on his life, his character, and all he accomplished.  There were a few points I actually found myself crying.  But as I was watching it, I found myself thinking of my post about Palin.  Her renegade and rough and tumble attitude seemed mightily reflected in Reagan.  I even learned that between Reagan's first run for presidency (He lost the primary to Barry Goldwater) and his second, Reagan hosted a radio show, which the commentators noted may have led to his win in the second election because the electorate was so familiar with Reagan and his ideals.  See I wasn't wrong in my comment yesterday "genius or insane",  maybe I should have just left it at genius.

Certainly there are a fair share of differences too, but Reagan and Palin come from a similar ideology and both have a bit of a take it or leave it attitude.  Wouldn't it be great to have another great president?  One that we could really be proud of and admire?

One of the most interesting comments about Reagan was that many people thought of him being from the far right, but that he actually governed from center right.  And he was not afraid to cross the isle to get things accomplished, but knew when to stand his ground.  I think in Sarah's background we can surely see that this is her way.

Could Sarah be our Reagan again?  I figure it won't be too long before the race begins again and we'll see.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sarah Palin - Future President or TV Celebrity

I have to admit that when John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate I did not know much about her but I quickly became an admirer.  I liked the renegade attitude.  I appreciated her willingness to take on the status quo.  And frankly, I was very exited about setting up a possible female presidency, especially with someone who seemed so down to earth.  I was very saddened to see how the Republican handlers handled Sarah and her family, and I felt very angry at the way the media treated them.  I really hoped the McCain / Palin ticket was going to pull it out but to no avail.  But I continued to follow Palin hoping that we would see her reemerge for the next Presidential election.  Then she resigned as governor of Alaska.  I was dumbfounded and figured that she had basically committed political suicide.  It was difficult enough that she was only a one term governor and people were already questioning her leadership ability, but to quit.  I pretty much wrote her off the political scene at that time.  I was interested in her involvement in the Tea Party but saw her more as a celebrity spokesman than a "candidate".

But then I read, ok, actually heard, Sarah Palin's Going Rogue, which as I had hoped, explained why she stepped down as governor.  She explained further how she had become paralyzed as  a government official.  How law suits were pouring into the state and attacks on her government were jamming the cogs.  This certainly did not excuse her in my eyes but helped with the understanding. My hope for her and 2012 wast starting to reignite.

Then yesterday I sat down to see if OnDemand had my 19 kids and Counting episode.  As I plugged through "Life and Home", then to "TLC", I saw it - Sarah Palin's Alaska. 

WHAT?  The Palin Family was becoming TLC's newest reality TV family.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  It is an eight week series in which the Palin family is supposed to introduce us to Alaska.  Now I can't figure out if this is genius or insanity.  It is supposed to get us to know the family better and show us that Sarah is not a diva, but I think this may just be too much knowing.  if she does run after this and wins, what does this say about the US electorate?  Is the presidency becoming a popularity contest?  A beauty pageant?  Do we choose our president based on issues or a great smile?

Of course, having said all that I do have to tell you that I will be tuning into TLC for Sarah Palin's Alaska and there is still a part of me that looks forward to seeing:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Making Homemade Pizza

It is the day before grocery shopping and the cupboards are bare. Ok, not that bare, but some combinations would make interesting meals. So I have decided to make some homemade pizza. For years that meant that I would revert to Amy Dacyczyn's Tightwad Gazette version, but DH has found that he prefers King Arthur Flour's version just a bit more. (Frankly, I still like Amy's more due to the time constraints, but today I had the extra time.) Hopefully, it will be even tastier when I add the tomato sauce that I made the other day.

Lately, it seems I am cooking something up in the kitchen everyday. We made Aunt Florence's Irish soda bread to bring to book club on Monday and Charlotte's molasses cookies for church on Sunday.  In fact, I was thinking that it is time to start making up recipe books for the kids.  DD will be 16 and DS will be 14.  Part of me would like to think that they won't move out for years, but the other part knows that it will be in the blink of an eye.  I think that one of the gifts that I would like to send them off with is a compilation of our favorite recipes.  Certainly, this will not be a one day project so perhaps I should start now.

Ironically, DD was touting her cooking skills just the other day to a friend who wasn't even sure how to boil water for pasta.  I thought "woo-hoo," as she was walking her friend through the steps of making dinner,"at least DD won't starve to death when she is on her own."  I thought of some of my first meals that even the dog wouldn't touch.

I know for sure that I will put the homemade pizza dough recipe in their cookbooks. What family recipes do you wan to pass down to your children?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Jim Henson's Prodigy

Sometimes I worry so much about my son.  Reading and writing are still such a challenge for him.  He has improved exponentially, but it is still an up hill battle.   But then he does something like this:

Just some Sculpey and an imagination.  He started with a need to create a hamburger and all its fixin's and then he got into these little characters.

Looking at them all I could think of was the Muppets.  What do you do with a creative mind like this?  How do you grow it from play to art / stage?  I know the first step is to let it flourish and grow without being stomped on which we have allowed, but now how do we give it the light and nourishment to offer him stability and earnings in the future?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Discussing Death with Children

I'm not 100% sure how I ended up with the responsibility of discussing death with our Sunday School students, but today that was my charge.  As this is the first Sunday following All Saints Day, the topic was discussing family and friends that had passed.  Fortunately, our new curriculum, the Whole People of God, had a terrific plan to cover the issue. 

Since many of our children are very young, I was very nervous about how they were going to react to the subject.  Unfortunately, our poor little kids have lost far too much in their lives and each of them had lost someone close to them.  One family had even lost a sister.  This sad truth didn't bring a depressing bend to the conversation, but instead uplifted us all. These little ones had a better understand / acceptance of death than most of us adults. Part of the object lesson that the curricula suggested included the use of a rock and a feather.  The rock represented sadness.  The feather represents a light heart knowing that your loved one was with God.  The kids understood the sadness, tears, and heaviness; but I was concerned that they would not understand the happiness that can also be associated with death.  I cautiously asked why we might feel happy for someone that died.  I waited for some Smart Alec to say that they were happy because they didn't like the person anyway, but none said that.  The kids understood right away.  They knew that we could be happy because our loved one was now with God.

Even more special is that they knew how to keep a loved one alive.  They understood that we could share our loved ones with others through stories, that we can remember them through activities that we once shared together, and that we can keep our loved one alive through memories. 

While I went into this class nervous about broaching such a difficult subject, I left class blessed to have seen God shine through little angels.  Clearly, they were more in touch with the flow of life than most adults.

"The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."  23 Psalm: 1-4 (KJV)

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Some people say that homeschoolers can be a bit odd and in most cases I would argue that this is a stereotype, but today I will have to admit that we are a bit wierd.  My son, who is two weeks shy of 14, has been playing a faux didgeridoo.  He found that blowing in the wrapping paper core makes and interesting noise and that depending on the length and diameter of the core, he can get different sounds.  Most kids would be fascinated by this for about 10 minutes.  We are now pushing days!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Abundance of Apples

Ok, what do you do with a bushell and a half of apples when you bought them for Halloween and have most of them left over?

  An apple pie is obvious, and I did make one for the family.  However, that only accounted for 5 cups out of a lot, lot more.

So, I just kept going.  I didn't make whole pies, but just the insides.  I read up on freezing pies and people were very positive about multiple ways to do it.  I opted for space reasons to just  do the insides of the pies.  They are mixed according to the recipe and then frozen. 

When I am ready to make the pies, I will take them out, thaw them, put them in the pie shell, and cook normally.  Given all the extra apples we have, our family should be having pie about twice a month through spring.  Would you like to come for dessert?

Note:  If you are wondering why I bought so many, I must confess that I have a condition that requires me to over cook for company, over plan our trips, and over purchase for any activity that I am not 100% sure of the number of people attending.  And frankly I think this is a fairly common female affliction.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Time is Relative - Einstein's Theory of Relativity

Einstein theorized that time is not a constant like we think of it.  There are ways to "adjust" the speed of time.  Most people believe that this theory is important to physicists, astronauts, etc., but that it doesn't really apply to themselves.  When are we going to loop around the sun or surpass the speed of light?  But I think this theory has a lot more relevance than we give it credit for.  For average people, we don't have to worry about "actual" changes in time, but perceived changes in time.  For example,  why when we are in times of extreme stress does time slow down and seconds seem eternal?  Why when we are doing something we enjoy does time speed by? Why is realizing that our perception of time is important?  Because we have one life.  Do we want our life to speed by or would you like to savor it?

How does time speed away? I find that we schedule it away.  Today for example, I am working on Advent and the Christmas Pageant.  How can I enjoy November if I'm already thinking of December?  I have harnessed this over scheduled beast a bit in my life, but somehow he still gets away from me once in a while.  But harnessing him, was a challenge, and it continues to be a challenge to keep him under control.  I find minimizing my schedule to be helpful.  Also, truly being in the moment to be the other secret.  If I am cooking, then I should be fully cooking and not thinking of the ten other things on my mind.  This is certainly a challenge especially for a mother, homeschooler, and community activist, but it is possible.

Today, challenge yourself to slow down.  I don't mean to take smaller steps, but let time slow. 

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  NIV Matthew 6:34

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Don't Forget to Vote

Did you hear me!  Stop watching!!!

Go Vote!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Giving Thanks Challenge

How funny it is when things happen near each other.  I believe synchronicity would be the term.  Well, just after I posted earlier today, DD introduced me to the Giving Thanks Challenge. I think giving thanks is another great way to lift your spirits; so I have decided to join this challenge and I hope you will consider joining too.  My list will be located in my right sidebar.  Each day, you will see a little more of my thankfulness.  I look forward to seeing all that you are grateful for.  We are all well blessed.  Sometimes, we just need to remember to look around to find the blessings.  My first blessing is my family.


Doing Good = Feeling Good

Do you have those friends that seem like depression is their friend?  They just don't seem happy unless they are complaining?  I swear Facebook has made this even worse.  Some people have turned complaining into an art form.  I think that they are bolstered by the people that post supportive comments, but the positive comments don't actually seem to encourage the people to change:  it just encourages them to complain even more. 

My husband is fascinated by one of our friends who begs for Friday every Monday.  Not once in a while, but every single week.  We've decided that if life is really that bad then maybe it is time to move on and change your life so that Monday is a good day.  Hating 1/7th of your life is not the way to live.

Then there is a certain family member that tells us how awful life is: how tired, uncomfortable, and out of shape he is.  At least once a day, among the many, many posts we are reminded how bad his life is.  We started by trying to be supportive, but clearly he doesn't want or just can't accept help.

So, I'm not sure if my post the other day was in response to this negativity, but my post was "Doing good = Feeling Good". This is a sentiment that I not only espouse but live.  This weekend for example, DD and I worked a blood drive on Friday.  Saturday, we visited our former foster child. Sunday, we wrapped Operation Christmas Child boxes in the morning and then returned to church to hand out Halloween Fair Trade Candy.  All and all it was an amazing weekend.

I think that doing good and helping others is better than any anti-depressant out there.  The power of one making a difference is almost intoxicating.  And I'm always reminded that one + one = even more good work getting done. The only thing better than doing good work yourself is doing good work with others.

I hope that you will find a way to help others and then you can post about it so that we can all be uplifted to do more.