Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Saving Money

For years, our family has been praying to get out of debt. So far...it hasn't happened. We're still praying. We're also stepping up our efforts.

I know it's a cliche to say "make a game out of saving money," but I do feel like it's a challeng we can meet with God's help.

We've recommitted ourselves to getting out of debt. Some of the ways we're modifying our lives to accomplish that are :

  • Trying to go out to eat very rarely
  • No paying overdue fines at the library
  • Dave said he'll pack his lunches for work
  • I'm going to spend less this year on curriculum *ouch!* (see how committed I am?)
  • I'm going to try and spend less for groceries
  • We're going to try and make presents rather than buy them all
  • No vacation this year

Things we've already been doing tword that end:

  • No cable TV
  • Not paying for news (newspapers online, etc.)
  • Buying as many clothes as we can at Salvation Army & Goodwill
  • Doing 30-day cooking
  • Cheap vacations
  • Taking advantage of as many inexpensive or free family activities as possible (civil war reinactments, park days, family zoo pass, etc.)

If you can think of other ways we could make a dent -- let me know! I'm on the hunt!

Monday, June 25, 2007


I don't like Bunco. So, when it was my turn to host it -- I said we weren't going to play. My favorite part of playing Bunco with my friends is seeing my friends...and eating. So, on my night, I decided we'd just visit and eat. I asked everyone to bring a dish plus the recipe. I'll make copies of the recipes for everyone. And we'd chat. I told them they could bring a craft they were working on, if they wanted. These are the recipes I fixed :

Hot Beef Dip

1 – 8oz pkg Cream cheese, softened
½ Onion, minced
1 C sour cream
½ t Garlic powder
½ Green pepper, minced
1 pkg dried beef, cut in 1” squares

Mix everything together and bake ‘till bubbly, 30 minutes @ 350. Serve with crackers. When I bake this in my stoneware loaf pan, it stays hot on the way to a party covered with foil, even in winter.

Isaac, you do not bear
The wood alone,
For on your father’s heart
It weighs like stone.-Charles L. O’Donnell

Cheese Cake

4 – 8oz pkg Cream Cheese
Grated zest of 1 lemon, 3t dried or 1T fresh
½ C Heavy cream
Grated zest of 1 orange, 3t dried or 1T fresh
1 ½ C Sugar
1 t Vanilla
4 Eggs, lightly beaten

Mix cream cheese, sugar & cream until smooth. Add eggs & beat again. Mix in the zests and vanilla. Pour into a buttered 8x3 inch round pan (I use a springform). Place this pan in a slightly larger pan. Pour boiling water into the larger pan to come two thirds up the side of the cake pan (I used tap water). Bake until firm, approximately 2 hours, adding more water when necessary. Turn off the oven, open the door, and let sit until cooled. Invert onto a platter. Garnish with strawberries.
[Her actual recipe calls for ¼ lb finely ground blanched almonds to be placed in the bottom of the cake pan before you pour in the cheese cake so that when you invert it, the almonds are on top. I don’t do this step.]
I bought grated zests in the spice isle just for this recipe – a great investment!

A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on. – Carl Sandburg

Friday, June 22, 2007

Summer Reading

We've done the summer reading program every year at the library. Some of the kids do better than others. This year ALLLLLL of the kids are super excited about it. The prizes aren't all that wonderful (some are cool), but they kids are soo psyched! It's really fun to have all of them trying to squeeze in as much reading time as they can.

This is turning out to be a terrific summer, maybe even BECAUSE of my limited energy. I can't push everyone (including myself) as hard as normal and we're definately enjoying things more - even the small amount of school we're accomplishing! Last year I remember praying about getting back some of the easy-going school times we had when the girls were little. God answered my prayer by allowing me to get knocked up. (4 1/2 months left and counting)

I saw this in an advertisement. I didn't know they had this!!

The kids are also liking this site that encourages reading

Monday, June 18, 2007

Crochet Headband

Using #3 cotton thread and an "F" needle, I whipped this up last night in preparation for the 4th of July. The main band is 2" wide (about 10 rows) and 10 1/2" long (about 50 stitches across). Each tie is 12" long (about 55 stitches). To make it just a little bit fancier (I know it's pretty basic), I took 5 stitches of the ties and made them into a "V". It would have been better if I tapered off the last 2 edges where the "V" comes together so that it's only 8 stitches wide, instead of 10 -- but it doesn't noticably pucker.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Godparents are really important in our family. We wait until the baby's born to ask a couple to be Godparents and ask them to prayerfully consider before they agree. We consider it a big responsibility. Those people need to be involved enough in the child's life to determine when things may be amiss or have a good enough relationship to talk to the child when they may not be as open to us. We write Godparents into our will. If anything should happen to Dave and I we don't want money to keep a set of Godparents from including our child to a trip to the icecream store or whatever they deem in the best spiritual interest of our child. We have our children pray for their Godparents and anytime they ask, they mail them school papers, or cards, or whatever strikes their fancy. That is their special relationship.

Ds#3 hasn't gotten to see his Godparents in about a year, and he's felt it. While he still keeps them in prayer, he has lamented the distance in time. Today was a particularly special day when we got a chance to get together with HIS Godfather!!! It doesn't take much to please a kid. While Dave and I had a fabulous time visiting with him for hours, Ds#3 only needed a few minutes of time to feel really special!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Park Days

Park Days are a HUGE part of our homeschool in summer. We look forward to park days all year and relish every moment. While some busy moms come for an hour, we come early and stay late and love every minute. The moms sit together with all the lunches we've brought, and the kids come to us when they need us. It's a near perfect arrangement!! (One of the benefits of bringing the camera is that I don't have any pictures of ME in them!!)
My kids are in orange. Many of the larger families choose a color so they can find their kids easier. I just have to count to 4 when searching the playground. Every Thursday of the summer, you'll find our family at a local park.
On a particularly hot day, the kids found a shady tree

Sometimes the moms have to intervene.... Today they fought over whose turn it was to use the straw they found on the ground to dig in the dirt. At least they're past the stage of putting things in their mouths.
The kids are sure to come home filthy!
But they come home filled with friends and fun ...and EXHAUSTED from all the play!!! What a perfect summer day!!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Homeschool Goals

Not the soccer kind - the "what do I need to accomplish?" kind.
We -set -goals -in -our -school.
We -set -goals -how -'bout -YOU?

I have 3 sets of goals.

  1. Long term goals for each child (Ex : we'll get through all of history 2-3 times before graduation / or Each child will know how to do all chores in the house by age 13.)
  2. The ones I set (goals) -- My goals are based on my "perfect homeschool dream" year.
  3. The reality I'm willing to live with (actual expectations). -- My expectations are based on the child's abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and the knowledge that life happens, but school has to stay at a certain priority level throughout the year.

I set both for each child & each subject.

Math - Goal : finish MUS Gamma for DD#2 by the end of the year / Expectation : that she'll work diligently at her own pace and understand what she's doing before we move on. So, I want to finish the book...but if she goes through it faster than a year or takes 1.5 years, I'm ok as long as she's doing her best.

History - Goal : To cover the ancients in one year / Expectation : That we'll mostly cover all that this year and work through the summer if we don't make it, so we can start next year on track.

Reading - Goal : That the 1st grader will learn to read this year / Expectation : That he'll do his best, but knowing it may take him 2 years to really "get it."

With our priorities that the needs of the family come before any preconcieved druthers of what school will look like (for example my pregnancy or a sick relative or a family vacation) it's neccessary to ward off feelings of failure for me to have these sets of goals. In my book, I may not get an "A" as a teacher this year, but I kept our priorities, I tried my best and I didn't fail. If for some reason (a pregnancy or a sick relative) keeps us from even attaining our expectations for the year -- I need to reassess my priorities, my goals and my expectations and see what has to be reevaluated for next year so that I'm not failing my child's education.

It's a delicate balance that we all attempt. With God's help, we may not please ourselves (in a "perfect homeschool year"), but we can please God by putting His priorities over our own. These sets of goals help me do that. It also keeps me from beating myself up about all the things I didn't get done because if I fall somewhere between the two sets of goals...we didn't do so bad!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Dd#2's Godmother gave her a new recipe to try and she loves it. You start with fresh Avacado, which I'd never been brave enough to buy before.

1/4 tsp cumin (or more to taste)
1 tsp or so lime juice (substitute lemon juice if you don't have
pinch of salt (Dd#2 used 1 Tblsp to suit her taste)
1 tsp finely chopped onion (DD#2 used 3 TBLSP to suit her taste -- it did
turn out good!)
tomato, chopped (she used about 1/4 cup)
*Some people add cilantro, but we didn't have any and Dd#2's godmother didn't recommend it. However, Dd#2 LOVES cilantro, so she would have put in lots if we had it.
Serve with a dallop of sour cream on top

Avacado is fresh when the peel is black & a little soft to the touch, but not smooshey. Cut in half width-wise (as opposed to length-wise). Spoon the seeds out & throw away. Spoon out the flesh into a bowl leaving the peel intact. Throw away the peel. Smoosh up the flesh with a fork, but leave it a little chunky. Sprinkle cumin ontop. Sprinkle lime juice. Sprinkle salt, onion & tomato. It wasn't in the directions, but Dd#2 stirred it up. Chill before serving. Dd#2, always desirous of instant gratification, put it in the freezer for 10 minutes. We ate it with lime-flavored tortilla chips. It was VERY good.

It turned black in the fridge, but we were told to expect that when not eating it the first day. The Fairy godmother said it was fine to eat unless it seperated and water was on the top. It was not pretty, though, and Dd#2 refused to eat it black.

Monday, June 04, 2007

My Books Came In

I got more than half my books for next year's curriculum last week!!! It's such an exciting feeling. They're waiting on 10 more to see if they come in, and there's another 20 or so that I'll have to order new online. But it's so exciting to get new books. Dd#1 is NOT overly happy, though. She keeps begging me to let her read them now. She even told me I was a mean mom to order new books before she was allowed to start on them. She told me they're taunting her just sitting there, brand new, unread. I have caught her sneaking into them twice, now.

I think she'd even be ready to start regular school days if she could only read some of those books. The other kids though.....do not have such strong siren songs coming from the books at them!

Well, I'm excited, even if no one else is!