Thursday, November 17, 2011

God, Our Inspirer

I have to say that this first semester a seminary is tough.  The school is tough, but what really is making it difficult is the balance - work, family, school is not an ideal equation.  The other day when my poor son was complaining that he had hurt his finger, I actually contemplated how I was going to fit taking him to the doctor in my schedule (Good thing I made it a priority since it turned out to be a fracture).

One evening I had a bit of a breakdown when my loving husband commented that he had my back.  I would say in general, he does, but as I was cooking dinner and the rest of the family was watching tv, I didn't feel like people had my back.  I had a major paper due and needed to get some work done and yet, after a full day of work, I was still doing family work, before I could get to what I needed to.  When my husband said, "Don't worry.  I have your back."  I responded rabidly, "NO, no you don't.  If I'm here cooking, no one has my back."  I think he knew he had kind of stepped in it.  However, I will tell you that no one did come in to take over the domestic responsibilities.

It was at this point that God and I had a bit of a conversation.  I wondered if this was just all a big mistake:  I love begin in school and am fascinated by all that I am learning.  I feel at home at the pulpit,  but maybe this wasn't the right time.  I thought, "I want this, but maybe God doesn't."  Immediately, I felt, "I am you, and you are me.  You feel you should do this because I want you to do this."  I need to worry no more. . .But I don't think that it is going to make the work any easier, but it does bring a lot of peace.

So I ask you what God is inspiring you to do?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

 "If you think you're too small to make a difference,
 try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.” 
                                                                African Proverb

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Solution to Crime

I came by this during my reading of "Habits of the Heart" for one of seminary classes.  I thought that it raised a very good idea.  It certainly is not actually the solution to all crime, but perhaps some . . .

John "Winthrop saw justice as a matter more of substance than of procedure.  . . when it was reported to him during an expecially long and hard winter that a poor man in his neighborhood was stealing from his woodpile, Winthrop called the man into his prescence and told him that because of the severity of the winter and his need, he had permission to supply himself from Winthrop's woodpile for the rest of the cold season.  Thus, he said to his friends, die he effectively cure the man from stealing."

I thought that this was a wonderfully inspirational story and leads me to think about how I might embody the same idea.  I don't have anyone stealing from my woodpile, but what could I do to lighten someone else's load?  What could you do.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Children's Sermon for Trick or Treating UNICEF

Some of you know that I have gone back to school. I am actually going back to school to get my Masters in Divinity and hopefully become a minister like Ian. In fact I am going to the same school that Ian went to, that Mardi goes to, and that our student minister, Peter, went to. I have a long way to go but at least I’ve started.

This semester I am taking a class called Congregational Imagination. Do you guys have a good imagination?

Let’s see – can you picture a purple bunny with blue polka dots and a lion’s tail?

You guys do have good imagination.

Well, the kind of imagining we do in this class is a little different. We imagine about churches that we might work in. Let’s say this church. Imagine I walk in and notice the peeling ceiling up there and so I imagine how the church might look nicer with a flat ceiling and so I figure out how to fix it.

OR we have great congregation imagineers right here. Our bells stopped working and so a couple people started talking about imagining that the bells would work again and they imagined not just that they would work but they would be able to play multiple melodious tunes. Their imagination became the carillon that now plays in our steeple.

The imagination used like this is a powerful tool. This is truly one of our gifts from God.

Well there is an organization that has used this same kind of imagination.

In 1946, just at the end of WWII several people got together to talk about the children of the world. They were very worried about the kids. They worried about them not eating properly, about not having clean water, about not being able to go to school.

These people got together and they imagined. They imagined a world where children weren’t hungry, where children weren’t sick, and could go to school. They then created UNICEF, United Nations Children’s Fund. And start to work to solve all these problems. They imagined a day when they wouldn’t have a job anymore because all the children would be healthy and educated.

Then about 1 year after UNICEF was founded a minister and his wife in PA were out for Halloween and they saw all the kid’s tick and treating. And they imagined . . . Imagine if we could use trick or treating for good. So they painted milk cartons to have children collect money for UNICEF. Now 60 years later, the imagination of these people has collected

$164 million dollars

1.6 billion people have safe water

2.3 billion doses of vaccine have been delivered

UNICEF built schools and buying supplies

Improved nutrition for countless children.

This Halloween, we are going to ask you to join in this imagination ideal and Trick or Treat for UNICEF. Vivian will be handing out your boxes and collecting them after Halloween.

Let’s take a minute to pray:

Dear God:

Thank you for blessing us with imagination. We are thrilled with the wonders that fill our minds. We are inspired by now others have used their imagination to change the world. We appreciate the opportunity to help bring other’s imaginations to life in tribute to You. And hope one day our imaginations will also help bring Your heaven to Earth. In Jesus name we pray. AMEN

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Wondering Where I've Been

So I'm sure at least a few of you are wondering where I've been.  Well, even if you haven't been wondering, I'm going to share it with you any way.  I have gone back to school.  Actually, not just school but seminary.  I am beginning the process to become a minister.

This is a huge step in my life (and that of my family).  I believe that God has set this path before me and has been pushing me toward it my whole life.  It has been an exciting, but also a scary step for me.  I look forward to the many things that I will be learning and hopefully I'll have more than a minute or two to share some of it with you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Strange Juxtipostion - Sexy Minister?

Ok,  this post is going to seem a little odd if it is read immediately following my previous post.  Stick with it though,  isn't this a prime example of what it means to be a woman?  We are a bit of everything.

This has been a very exciting week.  I received word that I have been accepted into a masters of divinity program.  Yes,  I will be working toward becoming a minister.  This was a very big step, and I still have several more steps to get everything in order, but I'm trying to get it all done to begin the program this September.

I questioned whether it was too late to take a step like this.  I really worried whether I was putting myself before the kids who are only minutes away from college themselves.  I fretted over maintaining our family balance.  Then I prayed, and I followed through.  I figure if I am listening correctly and this is where He is aiming me then it will work out and I have to be ready to try.

If you ask Me where to go, don’t be afraid to follow when I lay the path.

Where is your path leading?
Are you brave enough to follow?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

How to be Sexy

  You know that old phrase, "beauty is only skin deep"; well, I am beginning to think that it doesn't even run that deep.  Recently my daughter has been pushing me to try colored and patterned bras.  I've got to say that I was hesitant at first, but relented and tried. I'm hooked, literally.  Wearing sexy bras, makes me feel sexier. 

I'm not quite as adventurous as my daughter, who would wear a bra like this:

She thinks the more colors the better.  But I definitely have turned a corner.  My most recent purchase:

which I guess is pretty racy and certainly way beyond my traditional white or beige that I have worn for the first half of my life.

The best thing is that I swear when I put on these bras I feel prettier, sexier, more attractive.  The only one that sees them (except for an occasional bra strap - my bra straps are forever peaking out) are me and my husband, but I would bet that others see the different attitude that I have been exuding because of my new underclothes.

Ironically, I was talking to the minister's wife the other day and she admitted the same thing.  Her daughter had been encouraging her to get out of the grandma underwear.  She pulled her shoulder strap out and bared a purple strap.

In fact I heard on the radio this phenomenon is not just a local one: .  Daughters in general are affecting mom's dressing habits.  I don't think I'll ever be as cool as her, but she definitely has uplifted my spirits and my sex appeal.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Can you find a Tomatillo in your grocery store?

I had a revelation yesterday at the grocery store.  Some of you more exotic cooks may already know this, but those of you that are just beginning some experimentation may not.  Do you know that we are not all shopping in the same grocery store.  Ok, I know that what I find in my grocery store vs. what is found in Spain or some other foreign country is totally different.  I know that if I am making some rare Martha Stewart 20 ingredient masterpiece, I'll have to go to a chef store.  I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about regular recipes out of Cooking Light or Taste of Home.

I had to find Flank Steak for one recipe.  Ironically another woman was looking for the same thing.  We scoured the steaks to no avail.  We finally asked the butcher.  He said, "We don't get too much of a call for flank steak at this store.  We don't always have it."  Ok, I can understand that. 

Next,  I was searching for tomatilloes.  It didn't help that I didn't even know what I was looking for.  I could find them neither fresh, nor canned, so I asked my helpful fresh produce stock boy who promptly pulled out his vegetable book to show me what one was.  Apparently, it is in nightshade family.  But alas, there was none in this store.  He advised me that if I went to the Chicopee store (about 20 minutes away), they carry them.  What?  A store 20 minutes away from the same grocery chain has different food on a regular basis.  What am I missing?  I think I becoming adventurous, but I've only scratched the surface.  Alas,  there is even more on this planet to see and do than I already know.

What interesting food have you found in a recipe that you have never used before?

Challenge:  Go to a grocery store that you don't normally frequent and search out the differences.  Try something new.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Something from Nothing

Sometimes we wonder what we can give to others.  This cabinet reminds us that we can always give something, even when we have nothing.  This beautiful cabinet was created out of leftover pieces of a barn.  This cabinet was created by a man who lost his home in the tornadoes.  He was so thankful for all the church had done, he gifted us this beautiful cabinet.  I would have said that he lost everything in the storm, but obviously not everything.  He clearly maintains his talent and his heart.  So when you think that you have nothing to give, look again.  Look not outside yourself, but within, and remember this wonderfully giving inspiration. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Need a New Coffee Maker

A few weeks ago, our house either got hit by lightning or we got some kind of electrical feedback.  During that storm, we managed to lose some interesting but specific electrical items in the house.  The smoke detectors blew throughout the house.  Two GFI plugs shorted. The digital screen on one of the phones went.  Most upsetting, my coffee maker died.

I am not coffee crazy, but I do enjoy my coffee especially at night before bed.  I love coffee with a good book.  I was very sad to not be able to make my coffee. So  I thought about whether I should buy another maker or go back go Gevalia.  We had used Gevalia years ago, but had stopped it long before we even moved.  Their coffee is a little more expensive than the cheap store brands or some of the typical large manufacturer brands, but we have decided that their coffee is well worth the little extra that you spend.   So I decided to restart the service.  I was ecstatic when only a few days later my coffee maker came in the mail.  I think the post mistress was a little taken aback by my enthusiasm by the delivery.
  So thank you Gevalia for my new coffee pot.  I look forward to many years of my coffee deliveries again. I have decided after many years that sometimes it is worth a few extra pennies to get a little less of something truly exquisite.

A Fresh Basil Plant in the Kitchen

I broke down this week and purchased a basil plant for the kitchen. This was actually a big step because I hesitate to bring any live plants in the house because inevitably the cat will try eating it, knocking it over, or causing some other mischief.  So far though, he hasn't bothered it.  In the meantime, we've had basil in a pasta dinner and basil on our pizza.  The Basil is MMMMMMMM good.

I am actually most looking forward to fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, fresh tomato with a sprinkling of Italian dressing. 

If this basil plant continues to thrive, maybe I'll try some of the other fresh spices.

How do you keep your cats from getting in your plants?

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Challenge to Non-Believers

My brother and I often have conversations about God's existence.  He is definate a skeptic who believes that the rest of us have created a being to satisfy our need for answers.  Certainly, when someone has such an anti perspective there is no logical agrument that is going to change their mind.  So I have asked him to try an experiment (whether this will work or not I do not know, but I know that if we take one step toward God, He'll take at least two toward you - so I am hopeful):  I have asked him to talk to God everyday for 40 days.  He needs to tell him his concerns, his faults, his questions.  I believe as this conversations unfolds, he will see that it moves from a one sided to a two sided conversations. 

It will be interesting to see if the skeptic is willing to give it a try. I encourage you to pose the same challenge to other non-believers.  I would live it if they would comment and let us know how the experiment unfolds.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer “Squash-amole” Recipe - Every Day with Rachael Ray

Summer “Squash-amole” Recipe - Every Day with Rachael Ray

This is the recipe that we made today at the tornado relief center. We are trying to get creative with the donations from people's gardens.

HINT: Toasted day old bagels are a great thing to dip with.

Life is Good celebrates volunteers

Life is Good.  Isn't this the truth?  I have now been working on and off at the tornado relief center since June 1st.  The experience has been devastating, uplifting, challenging, life changing, loving, and unforgettable.

Yesterday, the volunteers were gifted with t-shirts or hats from Life is Good.  Certainly none of us did this work for a reward, but the thank you was much appreciated.

It is still unbelievable how much work is left.  The clean up will not be marked in days or months, but years.  It will also be marked in the countless miracles we have all witnessed, and the friendships that have been formed.

Maybe a new design for Life is good is hands in hands.  When many hands make light work, Life is Good.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tornadoes in Massachusetts

There are many things that you think about when you choose where to live.  Certainly there are considerations about jobs, family, education, etc, but often there is part of you that is searching for safety.  When you live in the northeast, you figure that you are fairly safe: major hurricanes only come by every ten years or so, earthquakes are generally minor, forest fires are usually contained, and tornadoes are usually small and rarely affect the population.  We do have winter storms, but they eventually melt.  All and all comparatively, it seems to be a fairly safe place to be until June 1st of this year, when a tornado swept through Western Massachusetts extending from Westfield to Charlton (almost 50 miles).  It was like the tornadoes that you see on the news in the Midwest except the Midwest doesn't have trees like we do.  The devastation was extreme.

Fortunately, this is not my home.  We were very lucky, but the area near our church not so much.  The impact was unbelievable in width, length, and general impact.  Trees look like toothpicks sticking from the ground.  Areas that couldn't see the sky due to a canopy of trees are now bathed in sunlight and blanketed in the night sky.  Houses are covered in blue tarps, split in half, or town completely from their foundations. The cleanup will not be measured in days but more likely months and probably years.

The one amazing portion that I have been blessed to witness is the coming together of a community to help those in need.  I have worked all of last month at the tornado aide center.  The outpouring of support not just from locals but from those that came miles and miles just to help has been incredible.  One night, one of the people asked, "Do you make all this food?  It is delicious."  While I may have wanted to take credit, I was able to say that no, all the food was donated.  We had not had to make anything.

When people wonder if there are still good people on this earth, I know without a doubt that the answer to this question is a resounding, "Yes."  It is a shame sometimes that it takes devastating emergencies to bring us all together, but you can surely know that in a time of need, we can and will come together.  This is one of the great things about people in general and specifically about the USA.  As different as we all are, we truly are all United.

God Bless the USA!  Happy Independence Day!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mother Daughter Time

Finding time to spend with your daughter is critical.  As they get older, it may be harder and harder and schedule, but truly they need your time more now than they did when they were little.

Yesterday, as all the men were away,  dd and I had a morning and evening time.  Of course the morning was getting up at 4am for the Royal Wedding.  I personally found this special, because I remember getting up at 4 am for Diana and Fergie's weddings.  Unfortunately, when I was a child, I got up alone.  To get up with my daughter and share this special memory was wonderful (I think I did nod off a bit - we were up until midnight the night before).

Last night, we had to do some errands and so we shared a dinner together and then came back for one of our favorite mother daughter times.  We did a foot soak with a hand and foot massage while we watched a movie. 

The foot soak recipe is so easy.  I'm not even sure where we picked it up, but it is simply: hot water, powdered milk, and a few drops of extract (we use almond).  We put the mixture in a large aluminum foil tray (one for each) on towels and make sure that everything is within a hand's reach so that we don't have to be disturbed. And then after soaking a while, we use salt and oil as a scrub.  We follow that with a hand and foot rub with handcreams from Bath and Body Works; specifically, my daughter loves Moonlight Path.

Not only did we have some wonderful food (Farmer's Market deep dish pizza at Uno's), great conversation, but the pampering reminded me of when dd what a baby and I would give her a baby massage. There is something about touch that creates intimacy and reminds us that we are all human.

If you think your baby is all grown up and doesn't need you anymore, you are wrong. Take time today to schedule a date with your daughter, whether she is 16, 36, or 56.   You will both benefit from the time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Greg Mortenson and the beautiful lie?

This is such a sad story. I have found Greg's mission to be such an inspiration. I hope somehow there may be an error in this report.

Greg Mortenson and the beautiful lie?

Friday, April 15, 2011

The End of an Era - All My Children and One Life to Live Cancelled

I have to begin this post with a confession: I was once a Soap Opera junkie.  I watched the ABC Soap Opera line up from the time I was 12 or 13 until well into my 20's.  The first love of my life was "Blackie" (John Stamos) and the first concert I went to was Rick Springfield.  Granted those are both General Hospital characters, which was the easiest for me to watch based on the school bus times,  but I certainly knew my Erika Kane and Asa Bucchanan too.  I haven't had the time to watch them in years, but to hear that they are stopping production on AMC OLTL is sad.  And frankly, I feel for the actors too, many who have acted for years and years on these shows.  I hope for them new opportunities await.  As for me, it will be interesting to see what the new generation of tv brings (not that I'm home to watch it), but from a sociological perspective.  Are we back to game shows, cooking shows, or more reality tv.  Maybe there is something new that we haven't even considered.  If we're lucky, maybe it will mean that people will shut the tv off and start getting outside and interacting one on one, but somehow I doubt that as it is pretty hard to sell commercials to that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lent - Giving something up & Gaining something New

Lent has traditionally been a time of giving something up.  In our old church, Lent was celebrated more by taking something new on.  This year, I have kind of done both. 

Many people choose to give up sweets during Lent, but I don't eat that many sweets so how many times will I really be tempted - one or two during the forty days. I decided to give up coffee.  Maybe I need to explain what that means to me.  I generally get up with coffee, have at least one during the day, and my favorite time of the whole day is a coffee before I go to bed.  Now mind you, until now, this "sacrifice" was not a public thing.    I really felt like I wanted to experience this myself, I didn't want to share this plan with anyone: so I put a little codicil in my Lenten fast - I would not get myself coffee. However, If someone else bought me a coffee, I would gratefully accept it.  (Note:  I could not ask someone else to get it for me.  It had to be a random act of kindness of which I had no control.) This may seem like just wishful thinking, but I have at least two angels in my life that suprise me with coffee, so this was a real consideration. I will also note for those of you that are not familiar with Lent, that I became very thankful for Sundays which are not included in the Lenten 40 days.  I didn't over indulge but I surely did partake. 

Coffee was a really good thing to give up because it literally made me think of Lent every single day.  I could feel the temptation of Christ.  I could feel loss and sadness.  I know that sounds a bit extreme and I certainly don't mean to the extreme, but I would liken it to running sandpaper over you arm repetitively making you think about how it might feel to have a deep cut.  The feeling is not the same, but it is a little hurt that makes you ever mindful of a deeper, darker, more painful possibility.

At the same time, we took on attending our church's Lenten series of dinners with a conversation about the movies Economy of Love.  And we made our once a month Breakfast with the Bible a weekly experience.  These times of togetherness, which originally felt like just another responsibility have actually translated into the oasis of my week.  It is like swimming miles, but knowing when I touch that buoy that I will be relieved and have finished the race.

These two Lenten experiences have broadened my faith and deepened my Christian love.  I'm hoping the lessons will far exceed the 40 days of action.

What did you give up or add on during this Lenten season?  How has it changed your views or experience?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Scouting Sunday

Can you believe that she is up there again?  I may have to soon call DD, "Reverend DD".

We have started a wonderful tradition at our new church of Scouting Sunday.  This is by no means our tradition, but in fact a worldwide tradition that we have just established here.  This is the second year that we have done it up here.  We did it in our old church with much wider success as it was an established tradition.  Here, it is only in its second year; so we have had moderate participation so far.  This year was better than last and hopefully next year will be better than this one.

Traditionally, according to the Boy Scouts of America, Scouting Sunday is set as the Sunday prior to February 8th. However, variations are acceptable.  We have actually been using the last Sunday of February.  What Scouting Sunday means varies from one church to another.  For us, basically, the kids take over the entire church service.  Our daughter has actually been the one to facilitate the service and give the sermon (one of the downfalls of having parents in charge of something). All the other kids and in some cases adults do the other readings, ushering, lighting of candles, etc.  But frankly such a celebration can be whatever you wish to make of it. 

I think Scouting Sunday is a wonderful celebration to infuse the church with people that might not ordinarily attend.  It also offers the Scouts a deeper insight into their religion and may even inspire them to take a step into the clergy.  Any way you look at it, there is not too much of a down side.  I encourage you to plan an event with your church.  If you have any questions about the actual structure of the service we planned, feel free to contact me with questions.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How Church can stop your worrying

Last night and this morning, my neurons have been firing at an amazingly rapid rate.  Strangely, this is something that happens to me often just before my period.  PMS for me may mean a little testy, but it also means very productive. Sometimes the rapid fire, can make me a little giddy / punchy so I hope that you will get a bit of a laugh at the comic that I created after listening to this morning's sermon.  Take the time to read the scripture and take it cum grano salis.

Here's hoping you can find the real message and worry not : )

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Best Love Scene in a Movie - Ever!!!!

I was watching He's Not that into You with DD the other day.  And I have to say that they movie has the best love scene ever.  It not one with sex or passion or any traditional love scene.  In fact, all they do is hug.  But there is a part in the movie, after Jennifer Aniston has given Ben Afleck an ultimatum about getting married and has moved out, her father has a heart attack and she is holding down the fort.  Her brothers and brother-in-law are at the house but paying more attention to football than anything else.  Jennifer looks exhausted.  She, holding a basket of laundry, asks her brothers if anyone has done the shopping.  They reply their fine, they have everything they need. She exasperated says "No, for Dad," but gives up before the words are even out of her mouth.  You can she has all but given up. Then she turns, looks down the hall, and who does she see in the kitchen doing the dishes but Ben.  He blurts out that he's already been shopping, picked up some healthy choices for her father, and reassures her that everything is going to be ok.  Jen hugs him relieved.  And that is it.  That is the best love scene I have ever seen in a movie.  True love at its best!  I won't ruin it for you, but . . . maybe they'll get married any way.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Creating a Valentine's Day Card from Scratch

Happy Valentine's to all of you! 

This was actually made by DS (14) during Sunday School.  He came down while I was teaching. Some how he took the simple mouse project and turned it into something extra special.  Certainly, no one else's mouse looked like this.  So we wanted to use it to wish you all a happy valentine's and remind you that today is not about the money you spend on your loved one; it is about taking the time to show them how special they are to you.  Showing them might only take a few cents.  This card for example is made from three sheets of construction paper, a glue stick, and a piece of recycled cording, but it's message is clear - you are worth my time.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Throwing a Sweet 16 Party

A sweet 16 to many girls is like a segment of the MTV show, Sweet 16

but it doesn't need to be like this.  Sometimes simple is more unforgettable than over the top (and frankly, way more affordable.).  We had DD's 16th at my cousin's tea room with 6 girls and 6 adults.  Four of these girls that have been together since DD was in pre-school.  This is our Girl Scout troop.  A group of friends that I hope will last long after they age out of the Scouting program.  I reminded them after the toast what a special group of friends they are and that they have something rare that I hope they will work to preserve.  They were certainly the perfect group to celebrate this special day.

Don't worry, this is sparkling cider, but just another touch that made the day super special.  What do the 16 year olds really want?  I think they just want to feel "adult".  They want to feel like a new section of their life has begun.  So this was a delightful way to celebrate the birth of my baby girl.  We had assorted yummies from cucumber sandwiches to American scones to hand made heart chocolates.  I think it all translated into an unforgettable day. 

This is the birthday girl and me at the celebration!  The only negative is that I think, based on a comment today, that dear husband (her father) felt a little left out.  I guess I need to learn to share my princess a bit.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Need to Know about how Physical Education Affects the Brain

During my exercise time last night I caught Need to Know on PBS.  Interestingly the topic was education (one of my favorite topics).  The story I picked up the broadcast on was this:

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

Now obviously as a homeschooler, I'm not really too concerned about setting up a physical education program in my public school, but I think the basic science definitely crosses over to homeschooling.  First of all maybe this is one of the many reasons homeschoolers to score better because they are not glued to their seats for 6 -8 hours a day.  But I'm not looking to figure out why homeschooling is better, I'm looking to improve it and certainly this concept of physical education boosting scores and learning can be helpful.  We are pretty flexible as it is, but maybe I can encourage more breaks between lessons with exercise as the goal. 

Let me know what you think of this information and how you think we can adapt it to homeschooling?  Maybe you do already.  How does it work?  Specifically, how do you implement it?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

How Much More Snow are We Expecting?

I envision our dog wondering how he made it back to the Alps.  This is a picture just out our side door.  If it was a slightly wider angle, you would see that this pile is up to the lights on our lamppost.  I don't recall ever seeing snow like this before. We actually had to dig a path from our driveway to the oil intakes on the side of the house so that we can have oil delivered tomorrow.  Frankly,I'm thrilled to hear that the groundhog did not see his shadow, but I didn't think he would anyway.  We haven't seen sun in weeks and I'm not sure how he would get out of his den. With all this snow, I'm thinking that even if we don't get another flake, it may be a while before we see green grass.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Organize Your Food to Save Money

Buying extra food during sale time is a great way to save money, but not if you can't find it when you need it or forget that you have it at all.  Organization is really the key.  You need to be able to see the extra food that you have, and you have to rotate it so that it doesn't go bad.  Building or buying shelves that allow you to see your stores is a great idea.  DH and DS this weekend worked on ours.  Apparently you can buy the plastic end pieces that allow you to insert 2x4's to build these shelves.  The plastic pieces can be found at your local Lowe's and Home Depot.  It takes just a few screws to get everything put together.  I'm hoping to get a few more of these shelves, but this is a great start.

With suprises like this, I may leave my husband and son home bored more often.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Home Cooked Comfort Food - Chicken A' La King

Sometimes you have to look to your past for inspiration.  Last night I made a yummy roast chicken, but then ended up running DD down to CT for a UofH game for her birthday.  We were originally supposed to go and then yesterday was yet another miserable weather day in the Northeast so we weren't going to go, thus I stuck in the chicken; then it looked like it was clearing, so I left DH and DS to eat it.  We were supposed to meet my father at the game, but the driving was so bad, I ended up calling him and telling him not to come up. Instead DD and I had dinner at Ruby Tuesday (BTW thank you Ruby Tuesday for a surprise dessert - how did you ever know that it was her birthday?  Could it have been the tiara she wore?), and then headed over to the game.  Anyway, that all meant that we had roasted chicken left over to use for tonight's dinner.  For whatever reason, both DH and I had the same thought - Chicken A' La King.  It was somewhat funny that DS thought that Chicken A' La King had to be some fancy food since it had such a fancy name.  I told him that no, Chicken A' La King was a housewife's friend because it is cost effective and a great way to use leftovers.  Here is the recipe that we used, but remember that it is a recipe that is supposed to help you clean the fridge out so don't be afraid to add all sorts of things.  I particularly remember the Lima Beans in this, but you will find them missing from my recipe, and I would have added peas but DH hates peas.

Chicken A' La King

9 T cornstarch
9 T butter
1 1/2 tsp pepper
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 c water
1 can cream of chicken soup
4-5 c diced cooked chicken
1/2 - 1 c carrots diced and cooked
1/2 - 1 c corn (canned or cooked if they were frozen)
1 can green beans, drained
1 cup milk

Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in cornstarch until mixed.  Add pepper. Mixture will thicken. Stir constantly. Dissolve chicken bouillon in 2 c water. Pour into butter mixture.  Continue to cook and stir until thickened again.  Add cream of chicken soup and milk (you can add more or less milk depending on the consistency that you would like).  Be sure to get out all of the lumps.  Add chicken and vegetables.  Stir to mix.  Heat until everything is warm.  Serve over toast.

I'm telling you that this recipe was sooooooo sinfully yummy.  DS loved it, and I can't seem to stop myself from sneaking little spoonfuls of my husband's since he's not back from his meeting yet.  Somethings from your childhood are meant to left there (yes, I'm speaking of those Lima Beans) and others are meant to be brought back and enjoyed.  I hope you take the time to enjoy this childhood favorite.

PS.  Here is the newly 16 year old celebrating at last nights UofH girls basketball game with the mascot, Howie.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why New Mothers Really Don't Need Sleep

16 years ago today my baby girl was born.  It amazes me all that I didn't know that day.  Now she is taller than me (and possibly smarter than me - but don't tell her that).  No matter how much everyone tells you to cherish every moment, it is hard to internalize that when you are changing pooppy diapers, cleaning up spit up, and are completely sleep deprived; but truly, time moves in a flash and the next thing you will know that little baby will be getting ready to drive.  It is amazing to think that my baby will be leaving the nest in the next few years.  She's ready to get her driver's licence.  She is signing up for college courses this summer.  It is a far cry from that first night when I wondered what idiot decided to leave the hospital early as I could not settle her down and no longer had a call nurse button.

So skip the sleep and enjoy every moment.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blog to Learn

I found this on Edu-tube, but it is as relevant to homeschoolers as it is to regular school children.

If you want to see my daughter's blog, check out A Cup of Tea with Mom and Me.  Theoretically it is both or ours, but realistically it is more hers than ours.  And I would agree it has been a great platform to improve her writing.  It certainly isn't her only writing, but I will tell you that I don't have to beg her or plead with her to post.  It is all her and if you look through it from beginning to end, you will see that she has shown a great deal of development.  So after reviewing all the safety rules with your children, encourage them to Blog ON.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ordinary People?

I thought you might enjoy this:

Friday, January 28, 2011

If you could be any superhero, who would you be?

Tonight, my son is glued to Incredible Hulk the Movie (2000+ version).  I asked him if he knew that we used to watch this as a weekly series.  Apparently, he did because he even knew Lou Ferrigno who played Hulk (apparently he had a cameo on Sunny with a Chance today ironically).  We then started to talk about other Superheroes of our time.  He joked that I would have been Wonder Woman.  I corrected him to say that when I was growing up, I actually wanted to be Isis.  He of course had no idea who I was talking about.  Do you remember Isis?

Now mind you I would never be ashamed to be Linda Carter (the Wonder Woman of the 70's), but Isis was extra cool.  The show wasn't long run, but I loved it.  If you could be any superhero, who would you be?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Vegetarian Recipe that Even Meat Eaters Will Like

DD has decided to become a vegetarian.  She has been fairly diligent about her decision and frankly, fairly inspirational. Monday night when my husband was out and I had to make dinner, it seemed foolish to make a meal that one out of the remaining three of us wouldn't eat, so I started scouring her Vegetarian Times for something to make.  I flipped across this recipe and decided that that was what I was going to make.

I used my Tightwad Gazette dough recipe as I didn't have any refrigerated pizza dough in the fridge, replaced garlic powder for minced garlic, and olive oil for the non-hydrogenated margarine, but all in all I followed the recipe.  It was delicious.  This is definitely a recipe that we can all agree on - carnivore and herbivore alike.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Can a Homeschooler get into college?

One of homeschooling parent's worst fears is: have I done enough to help get my child into college.  Ok, maybe I am projecting my fear, but I do know some other parents who share this fear.  Well, we have actually now taken a partial step toward alleviating this fear.  Last night DD took her placement exams at the community college.  Mind you DD is technically a Sophomore in high school, but it has been my plan that she begin working on her Associates degree in the last two years of high school and then transfer to a four year school for her Bachelor's.  She then has it planned to go on for her Master's in Library Science at Simmons College in Boston (yes, this may be a little specific and hopeful, but she actually has already toured the campus and talked to a professor there and I think her heart is set).  She placed well on the exam.  So I can begin to breathe a little easier.  Next step will be registration for either summer session or fall and then it is up to her from there . . . Now, I just have to worry about her brother.  That one may be a little more complicated.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kim Kardashian Tweets about Teen Mom 2

Ok, I have to make an admission.  It is neither that I occasionally watch Keeping up with the Kardashians, nor is it that I have watched MTV's Teen Mom.  The admission is that when my husband travels, I don't sleep.  So this past weekend was very, very long and apparently one night I fell asleep to E! (not my normal channel to watch but it is tough to find something to watch the later it gets) and woke up to E!News.  The big "news" (I use that word carefully) was that Kim K tweeted "It seems that shows like Teen Mom are all of a sudden making teen pregnancy seem cool in the eyes of young girls...but girls, these are not people you should idolize!' Now that statement woke me up.

Having a daughter who is 15, I have seen both the Kardashians and Teen Mom.  Now I must say that I was apprehensive about Teen Mom the first time I watched it, but I was pleasantly surprised by the honesty of the show.  Pregnancy was by no means glamorized.  The show portrayed the good and the bad of being pregnant young.  Frankly, any glamorizing of the situation or admiring of the moms is occurring outside of the MTV show in the tabloids and other print media.  In contrast, Keeping up with the Kardashians and the other Kardashian shows are horrible.  In general, they promote excess: excess in spending, excess in drinking, excess in permissive behavior, excess in attitude.  While I appreciate that they try and support one another as a family and that we all have faults,  I think that one should maybe be self reflective before commenting about other shows.  And if truly Kim is concerned about how tv affects our youth and their morals then perhaps she should get more involved in the development of her own family's show.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Planning a Sweet Sixteen Birthday

Can you believe that it is almost that time?  My sweet daughter is about to turn 16.
So as everyone knows, 16 is the time for that time honored tradition of a sweet 16 party.  Unfortunately, not everyone is bi-statal (My new word for half living in two different states.  We lived in CT for the first 14 years of her life and have lived here now almost two year).  What does this mean for a 16th birthday party?  It makes it very difficult.  Where do you have it? Who do you invite?  She has made a few friends up here, but not as many as she had down there.  But now we've been gone from down there long enough that some friendships aren't what they used to be.  Needless to say, we have opted out of the traditional big shin dig and have decided to do a small but very special day at my cousin's tea shop, Tea Roses Tea Room.

We have planned a delightful afternoon tea and have rented out their back room. We have been very blessed with a tight knit Girl Scout troop that will travel anywhere to do anything together and so we are keeping it small with all the girls and their mom's (these girls have been together since Daisies).  After what I'm sure will be an unforgettable afternoon (it always is with this group), I suggested to DD that she contact an old friend to go to the movies.  DD and her friend haven't seen each other in a while but talk on Facebook, texting, etc almost every day.  So I'm hoping although this may not be the bash that she once dreamed of, but  that it will be unforgettable anyway. 

I will keep you posted on how the actual day turns out.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Comparative Religion Course for Homeschoolers

This year I have begun to undertake a bit of a comparative religion course with my son.  It is probably not fair to use the word course because that implies that I am using a curriculum or have created a specific timetable with specific resources, and this is not so.  Maybe I should call it an exploration of religions.  We are Christian - - -Protestant - - - Congregationalists by experience and practice, but I think it is important to know about other world religions.  We have thus far been reading about the three main monotheistic (One God) religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, but also came by a great book about Buddhaism.

DS has kind of expanded on this by visiting a Jewish service this past summer at the Boy Scout Jamboree.  So I am always on the look out for additional resources to add on to this exploration.  Last night, I came by a great resource on PBS to further explain Buddhaism.  If you have any interest in learning more or teaching about this religion, I recommend the show itself and the resources availalbe on the PBS website.

Watch the full episode. See more The Buddha.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Looking for a Sunday School Curriculum

Our church is unique in that our Sunday School is all in one.  There are no grades and not too much room to separate even if we wanted to, but I believe that a strong Sunday School makes for a strong church.  Thus, as usual, open mouth and instead of inserting foot, I add a commitment to my calendar.  I also kind of believe that if you are going to complain, you better be willing to do something about it.  Therefore, I am on the committee to help out with the Sunday School. 

This year we started working with an online curriculum called The Whole People of God.  The unique thing about this program is that you pay according to the number of people in your congregation.  It is available all online which means that we can have multiple people access the curriculum and no one can forget to pass the book along.  They are lectionary based and have lessons weaved throughout the congregation.  We even took our Christmas Pageant from the curriculum with some adaptations.  They have multiple levels to pull from, but since we teach the masses, I usually just use the Primary level and adapt from there.

If you are looking for a curriculum to use, after several months now of using it, I can highly recommend The Whole People of God.  Now, I can only pray that they don't stop publishing like the last one I really liked, BibleQuest.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Following Directions - Step by Step - Making a Prayer Shawl

Sometimes I am appalled by the number of things that can completely frustrate me.  I have a college degree and yet some things that appear simple are soooooo hard.  This week my challenge was crocheting again.  I have crocheted in the past, but I was trying a new pattern which I found  in:

I was so excited when the library added this book to their collection.  When I took the book out I was thrilled to see that many of their patterns were rated "easy", so I thought no sweat, I could finish it in a weekend. HA HA. My daughter finally told me that I couldn't give the prayer shawl to the intended recipient because I had sworn too much and it would take double prayers to release the negative energy I had put into it.  I didn't really intend to swear.  It was just that I had started it about 5 times.  I thought I was on the right track, but then after many rows and many hours I would look back and what should have been nice, even rows were wavy, erratic edges.  I had lost at least 10 stitches.  I wanted to give up, but then DD had to use her secret weapon - - -my own words. "Don't give up!" She said.  Uggggggggghhhhhh.
Finally, she, who has never touched a crochet hook says, "Give me the pattern."  She starts reading "SK first SC and DC in each DC after. CH three." She asked, "Mom, is this English?"  But in her confusion, she found my error.  Her careful reading and my translating brought forward that I was skipping a whole row and chaining three when I was supposed to be chaining one.  I was back on track.
Now if I can keep the cat from playing in my yarn,  I should be able to finish the prayer shawl. I think when I get this pattern down,  I will do the same pattern again for our dear friend.  Hopefully by then, I will have used up all my swears and be able to confidently and prayerfully finish her shawl.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Secret to a Long and Happy Marriage

I don't think I have ever been as excited about an anniversary as I am this one.  I am not excited because we are going somewhere wonderful or because I'm expecting some big present (I think we are going to the Outback for dinner and then shopping at BJ's for the Boy Scout pasta dinner and we banned gifts a long time ago.). I am just excited that we are at 19 years.  It seems like we are very lucky to have such a length of time together.  I see so many of our friends getting divorces and on second and third marriages and yet we are still together.

DH and I started dating in my senior year of high school.  Who knew we would still be together so many years later?  I will never forget my husband's words when he tried to give me his class ring and I refused it, "Don't worry. We are going to get married someday, so it doesn't matter if you don't take it now."  I walked into my house and told my mother that he was insane; but, I guess he had the last laugh and was correct.

For those of you that are in the single digit celebrations or contemplating a future together, you may ask what the secret is.  I think the answer is that there is no secret.  Living with someone for so many years takes a lot of hard work, a lot of communication, and a lot of compromise.  Love is over rated some times. Commitment is everything.  If you think you are going to love every moment, quit now and walk away.  There may be days or moments that you down right hate each other, but then you remember those special moments, those special times, and the reason you are together and the anger slips away. 

I can only hope that I will posting about our anniversary for years to come!  I pray that one day will celebrate our 50th or 60th together, and may God bless all those couples who have.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Cure for Depression

This weekend our family hosted a new foster child for the weekend.  This is called respite.  The child comes for a short period of time between placements, or, in this case, while the "regular" foster parent(s) take a break.  We were pleasantly surprised with a delightful teenage girl who fit in wonderfully in the family.  This morning we took her to church.  Afterward during coffee hour, I asked her what she thought of the church.  She looked around and said, "Everyone . . .everyone is. . . is, so . . . .happy." She was profoundly impressed by this. As I looked around I saw the younger girls marching in a parade, some middle grade boys playing Foosball, guys chattering, people eating.  I saw laughter and smiles.  I saw true happiness. 

Does this mean the people of the church don't have problems? No.  We all have issues and problems, but for a few brief hours we are removed from it all and given a shot of happiness and joy that we can bring with us out the door and try to spread in the world.  This girl had hit on it, church, God, religion, for me is happiness, joy, comfort, replenishment.  Even on the darkest days I have felt His love, and on good days, I feel so blessed to reflect that love and peace to others.

I sent this girl's observations to our minister, because I thought that he should hear the compliment.  We had heard the sermon and were reflecting God's love into the world.  Apparently, we had internalize the sermon so well that it was immediately obvious even to someone who had only met us all once.

Praise to God! May His goodness, kindness, love, and peace flow through me.  May He use my hands and guide my feet.  Might my life be used to His purpose.  AMEN