For Crying Out Loud….

Sarah has pneumonia! It’s the end of July for Pete’s sake, who has to worry about pneumonia in the Summer?!? It’s not a bad case and she’ll be good as new in a day or so, but for crying out loud….

Oh, well. She’s being a trouper about it and it’s giving us an opportunity to sit around and do nothing for a day or so, which we badly needed. I get to wait on her and feed her soup, ice pops and apple sauce, which I love. She gets to lie around and watch all the TV her heart desires, which she loves. Hopefully nobody else will get it!

Homeschool Supplies Have Arrived!

If you were wondering if I was ever going to post about homeschooling…seeing as how my blog is supposed to be at least partly *about* homeschooling….well, wonder no more!

Actually, I have purposely NOT been writing or even thinking about homeschooling. We homeschooled through 2 1/2 straight years, with no break…and got burned out. So this summer, I put all the stuff away and made myself not even think about it all summer long. It’s been great! We really needed that, and I am (finally) starting to feel excited about starting the new school year.

We are using several different curriculum this year, one is K12. K12 is actually a public homeschooling program in our state, several states offer this program (click here to see which ones). You get a whole ton of supplies, an online program for each class, a teacher to help you if you need it, and credit for the classes you take. There are a lot of great things about the program and also some not so great things, which is why we’re only using parts of it this year. The great thing is, we can pick and choose classes to use…and our tax dollars pay for it! I couldn’t believe the amount of “stuff” you get with this for ‘free’. We have to return it at the end of the year, but for the most part it’s all brand new and in great condition!

This will be Rachel’s first year as an official schooler. She’s starting Kindy! She was so excited about getting her supplies, she cried every day this week when they didn’t come. Today, on our doorstep were boxes and boxes from UPS full of all these fun things! As a Kindergartner, she could choose 3 classes. We chose Language Arts, Math, and French. Here’s what came in the mail:

The boxes. Some of them belong to Isaiah and Sarah, who so far have no burning desire to open them. Sigh.


Literature supplies: All these great Newberry Award books!

Language Skills: Handwriting Without Tears, Junior Great Books, special HWT writing paper, and a ton of worksheets. Plus, a big book of fairy tales and some great books of poetry.

Phonics! This is so cool…a notebook with magnetic pages, tons of phonics magnetic tiles with letters and blends, two magnetic/white boards (one that folds into an easel), worksheets, games, and a package of beginning readers. Plus, a package of tiny white boards, some whiteboard markers and an eraser….Wow!

Giant math workbook. Um, I hope we’re not expected to do *all* these pages?!?

More workbooks!

Math supplies! Look at all this fun, hands on stuff.

We got it all out, looked it over, discussed how much fun it will be…and then I made her put it all back. I know it sounds mean…but I told her it was all school stuff, and school doesn’t start until September. I let her choose one book to read, and that was it…she has to wait. I’m hoping that the suspense will add some excitement to the idea of school, and she will be looking forward to starting up in September. She seems OK with that and we’re both excited to start kindergarten….this will be the first year I’ve done kindy with one of the kids, so it will be a new experience for both of us!

I’m not sure how much of the K12 curriculum we will use on its own and how much we’ll add…I’m thinking we will also be doing Explode the Code and of course we’ll be adding Bible. We also have a new science program I’m excited about, and we’ll be doing some art with friends.

Well….that’s it for the homeschool discussion for now. I’m putting it all back in the box and not opening it until September…well, at least until it’s time to get organized the week before school starts. We still have some Summer left!

The Lament of the Dead iPod (or "My iPod Saga in 23 parts)


1. Buy the iPod online. Decline the extended warranty because you are certain it is a rip off and you are already spending something like three times what you normally would. Surprise husband with the expensive little musical device as a Christmas present. Garner much praise and affection from said husband Christmas morning.

2. Haul out every CD you and hubby ever collected from the beginning of time. Well, from the beginning of CD’s anyway.

3. Begin the tedious process of ripping each CD to the computer and then syncing it to the new iPod.

4. Revel in the delight that is having your entire…and I mean ENTIRE…music collection right there at your fingertips, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Build hundreds of playlists and forget what’s on them.

5. Stash those obsolete CD’s in a box and hide them deep, deep in your spider-filled basement. Kiss the cracked and broken jewel cases goodbye. Rejoice in the knowledge that you will never see another pile of CD cases growing on your stereo and have to wonder…..do any of those actually have CD’s in them?

6. Rip your friends’ music to your iPod. Incur bad music karma (wink wink). Sorry, it’s true confession time. Guilty!

7. Feel really cool at the gym because you have a little rectangle of pure awesomeness strapped to your arm. Who says Stay-at-Home mothers of 3 aren’t cool! I may be old and boring, but I have an iPod!

8. Enjoy the iPod for what is approximately one second more than the life of the regular iPod warranty.

9. On a road trip, notice that your beloved iPod is making a funny noise.

10. A digitally rendered picture of a dead iPod appears on your screen. Panic.

11. The iPod is dead. Mourn deeply.

12. Call Apple’s help line. Get put on hold. Listen to sitar music for something like half of eternity. Maintain not the smallest modicum of hope that you might be eventually be connected to someone who speaks fluent English.

13. Your call is eventually answered by someone whose name is unpronounceable to your American tongue. Remind yourself that he probably has 10 children he is supporting and that the job he is doing is keeping them all off the street. Remind yourself that as difficult as his English is to understand, it’s way more understandable than your Sanskrit would be. Launch into a description of your iPod’s brief illness and eventual demise. The conversation, after reading aloud the microscopic identification code several times off the back of the device to establish that I actually own it (no Z, not C…Z….not P, Z….no, Z, not D….ok, ZED! Yes, Zed. Repeat for about 20 numbers and letters), goes something like this:

Tsunk K’puk: ‘Goood ev’ning valu’d iPod cusomer. My name ess Tsnuk K’puk. What can I hlp you wees de prblem?’

Me: My iPod was making a funny noise and then a dead iPod icon appeared on the screen.

Tsunk K’puk: Oh, dis velly bad. Velly bad. You say, de iPod es making noise? Yes? Noise first, den icon?

Me: Yes, it was a sort of a grinding noise.

Tsunk K’puk: Oh, dis velly bad! Velly bad make noise. Dis noise, es bad hard drive. Velly bad! You have ec’tend’ed war-en-tee?

Me: Uh, no….

Tsunk K’puk: (you hear a clucking noise over the line) Ooooooooooooo, you wish you had ec’tend’ed war-en-tee!

Me: I’m sure I do! But I don’t. What can I do?

Listen to Tsunk K’puk explain that Apple will basically do nothing at all to fix the iPod, and that it cannot be fixed by anyone else. However, they will gladly give you $25.00 towards your purchase of a brand new iPod! Feel like chewing the phone and briefly consider flushing the iPod down the toilet.

14. Get online, determined to find a way to fix your poor dead iPod. Think of all the CD’s in broken jewel cases, sitting there gathering cobwebs in the deep dark basement. Look even harder.

15. Find a brilliant online company that will fix your iPod, for a fraction of the cost of a new one! Rush to the UPS store and ship the bugger right off. Call them to ensure that they can get your iPod back within a week, as per the claim on the website.

16. Wait FOR SIX MONTHS without your iPod. Call the company. Call them again. Give them your UPS tracking number, give them your iPod identification number, give them a piece of your mind. Call them again. Call them again. Email them.

17. Watch the CD cases build up and gather dust on your stereo and wonder if any of them actually have CD’s in them.

18. Email your local news station and report the outrage to the local business watchdog. Wait for another 3 months with no word.

19. Give up and buy a new iPod.

20. As you load the dreaded stacks of CD’s back into the computer you purchased since the last iPod and rip them one by one all over again, get a phone call from the news station…they are doing a report on the iPod-fixing website that ripped off your old iPod, would you care to comment?

21. Realize that you don’t really want to appear on TV whining about the injustice of your long lost iPod (you’d rather blog about it instead!). Realize that ranting about it on TV isn’t going to set a great example of how a Christian should be. Try to think of a way you can spin it so that you are exhibiting Christian values…What would Jesus do? Publicly forgive the company that has your iPod? Publicly apologize for ripping your friends’ music? Publicly apologize for giving in to temptation purchasing an item you really couldn’t afford in the first place and then feeling prideful because your iPod has more gigs of memory than your neighbor’s? Give up. Decline to comment.

22. Plug your new iPod in, store the extended warranty you now know is well worth the extra money safely in a desk drawer, and box those darn CD’s back up. Banish them to the spider-filled basement until the next tragic iPod death. Consider it a lesson learned.

23. Enjoy your ENTIRE music collection, right at your fingertips, 24/7. Try not to calculate the actual cost of your iPod addiction as you feel very cool at the gym.

A Little Spiritual Geometry

Here’s an interesting illustration that Isaiah and I came up with while we were doing some math last year. I like the visual illustration, and I like it that it appeals to the mathematical side of the mind…a side which is sadly lacking in my own brain, but abundant in a lot of other lucky people! I thought it was interesting that he saw a connection between God and Math, my feeling (as a child, anyway) was that math was actually from the pit of hell ;o)

Here’s the analogy:
A Line. The Line goes on forever in both directions, eternally proceeding forward and backward with no beginning and no end. The Line represents God.

A Line Segment. The segment has a defined beginning point and an end point. The segment represents our life on earth, defined by the endpoints of birth and death

A Ray. The ray has a defined start point with a line going off in just one direction, eternally forward. The ray represents our soul…with a defined beginning but an eternal path forward.

I’m not feeling led to say much more about this. I think it’s a powerful illustration, and I’ll let the reader consider its implications. God bless!

This Week’s Gluten Free Menu (with some new recipes)

The name of the game this week is…..BUDGET! I’ve got a bunch of odds and ends in the fridge and freezer, and not much left in the grocery budget (um…Ok…pretty much nothing left!) since we spent more than usual preparing for and driving to the campout. Ah, how I love gas prices! But I digress. Luckily, last week I bought some nice produce at a new natural market and I have some staples stocked up in the freezer, so it shouldn’t be too bad. Time to get creative….I am actually sort of excited about seeing what I can come up with!

Monday: Grilled chicken, grilled zucchini, leftover baked beans.

Tuesday: Red Beans and Rice. Soak a bag of large red kidney beans overnight. Place beans in a crock pot with 3 cups of water, a bay leaf, and some salt. Cook on low all day. About 3 hours before dinner, add one chopped onion, about 5 cloves of pressed garlic, and 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning. Chop one Kielbasa sausage into small pieces (the smaller you make them, the less likely your kids will be able to pick out just the sausage! Just a hint for those of you with kids…). Stir the sausage into the bean mixture. Let cook until dinner….if the beans are too runny, stir in a little rice flour or corn starch to thicken them up. It should make a nice, savory gravy. Serve over cooked brown rice, with a salad on the side. This makes a lot, so freeze some or use it for lunches all week.

Wednesday: Polenta pie and broccoli. We had this recently but we’ve got everything for the recipe and it’s good enough to repeat! Here’s the recipe:

1/2 cup cornmeal
2 cups water
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 egg, slightly beaten

Mix the cornmeal and water, heat to boiling, reduce heat and cook for 6 minutes, stirring frequently until mixture is very thick. Remove from heat. Stir in beaten egg, let stand 5 minutes. Spread into a pie plate and bake for 15 minutes, then put toppings on and bake for another 20 minutes. I’ll use a can of chili beans (not canned chili, just chili beans), sliced green onion, goat milk mozzarella cheese, and crumbled chips on top.

Thursday: Grilled steaks (picked some up last week on sale and froze them), baked potatoes, and Roasted Corn, Black Bean and Mango Salad. The salad looks good, I found the recipe online at Realage.com. We’re going to just use what we already have, so I will rinse a can of corn kernels instead of the fresh corn and use dried chipolte peppers instead of the canned type. Instead of bell pepper, I will use some leftover mini yellow and red peppers that are in the fridge and need to be used.

Roasted Corn, Black Bean, and Mango Salad
You can make this simple, fresh salad up to 8 hours ahead of time.

Ingredients
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (from 3 ears)
1 large ripe mango (about 1 pound), peeled and diced
1 15-ounce or 19-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 small canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, drained and chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the corn mixture to a large bowl. Stir in mango, beans, onion, bell pepper, lime juice, chipotle, cilantro, cumin, and salt.

Friday: Tuna sandwiches on homemade bread, steamed artichokes, canned peaches. We have several jars of homemade canned peaches left over from last year’s crop, and it’s time to use them up because in a few weeks we should be seeing our peaches ripen!

I made up this bread recipe, and it’s pretty good. To make the bread:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups milk (substitute goat, soy, or rice)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup rolled gluten free oats
  • 1/4 cup Salba seed (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons xanthum gum
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast

Beat egg and oil and honey together. Heat milk to lukewarm, mix in yeast and let sit until bubbles form. Mix milk into eggs and oil. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Slowly pour dry ingredients into wet, mixing until it forms a sticky dough. Grease a bread pan (I use a long, industrial pan…you may need 2 smaller pans) and dust with cornmeal. Transfer dough into the pan, cover with a clean cloth and set in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until loaf is brown on top and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

By the way, Salba seed is a great ingredient for gluten free baking! It really adds a lot of moisture to your breads, and holds them together like xanthan gum. My father in law gave us a bottle, and I love it! It’s also very high in Omega 3, so it’s good for you too. If you don’t have the seeds, just leave them out and add another teaspoon of xanthan gum.

Saturday: Chicken rice bake. Brown rice, chicken chunks, onion, garlic, frozen peas, leftover broccoli and zucchini if we have it, some saffron and celery salt all mixed in with a box of Imagine Organic Potato Leek soup and some IMO sour cream substitute. Bake until the liquid is all absorbed and the chicken is baked through. Sprinkle goat cheese on top for those who can have it.

Sunday: Grilled chicken, homemade hummus, and cucumber sandwiches on homemade gf bread and a salad (leftover corn and bean salad if we have it).

Camping Trip


Contemplating the view from the tent (or maybe just asleep sitting up?)
Asleep in her chips
Enjoying the great outdoors

We had a great weekend at the church campout! Lots of friends, lots of fun, games for the kids, fellowship for the grown ups, S’mores over the campfire, and singing worship songs together at all hours of the day and night. If the amount of fun had by a child is indeed directly proportional to the amount of dirt found on his or her body, then I can safely say that the kids had a really, really great time! We did, too. Can’t wait ’till next year!

Camping Menu

Well, I finally worked out what to take camping. Here it is:

Friday night: Chicken Salad Sandwiches (on GF buns), fresh fruit, chilled steamed artichokes (that needed to be eaten or would have gone bad…cook them *before* we leave), chips.

Saturday: Breakfast: Hashbrowns, eggs, and little smokies. We’ll have gluten free donuts (Kinnikinnik) and regular donuts as well, and hubby will make camping lattes (yes, we own a camping espresso maker….don’t ask). Lunch: Hormel summer sausage, cheese (goat cheddar and smoked gouda), fruit, crackers (corn chips instead for me and Isaiah). Dinner: Bratwurst over the fire, baked beans (I’ll bake them beforehand and heat them up on the campstove for the potluck), and whatever we can eat from the potluck. I’m figuring on Isaiah and I eating the brats, beans, some corn chips and fruit and if there’s anything else we can eat it will just be a bonus. S’mores on the campfire will be dessert.

Sunday: Quick bowl of cereal served with rice milk and blueberries for breakfast, pack up camp and head home after service!

More Photos

Can you handle still more photos from our trip? I had so much fun taking photos and the surroundings were so beautiful, I just couldn’t decide which to post.


Rachel having fun on the fence after feeding a horse.

Sarah had fun painting faces…her handiwork on Rachel and her own face.

More Photos


Our kitten went swimming! She jumped in the tub all on her own, and was mad when we took her out. She jumped back in and swam around for awhile…what a strange cat!

Rachel and her cousin hamming it up for the camera.
kicking back and watching some fireworks in our yard

Sarah and Rachel watching from a safe distance…pyrotechnics are not their favorite!

Missions Update

Hubby took this picture here in town…I love it!

From the Euro 08 Blog

A WIN!

This is a comment from Anthony Testa, one of the pastors from the il rifugio church in Italy. This is about a man named Antonio that came to the first concert we played in the Piazza. There is a lot to his story, but now he has started a new chapter in his life! Antonio had never been to the church before and God was defiantly tugging at his heart! God is good in His promises!

Tony

This is the message from Anthony:

Friends,

I hope this makes it to you one way or another. Last night at prayer it was just Tony (Chinese believer in the church), Antonio (who came to all the concerts & Sunday service) and I. I figured that God was doing something since we generally draw 10-20 people at these gatherings.

Antonio opened up to us and began to share his hurts, his past and his need for Jesus. Tony & I reviewed the gospel with him, he’s heard it about 6 times in the past week and then asked him what would stop him from placing his trust in Jesus. He joyfully said, “NOTHING!”.

We then prayed and he prayed. I think he finally found the forgiveness that he’s been looking for! Praise Jesus. Please pray for him. I hope to connect with him tomorrow for coffee—a small coffee that you don’t sip in a plastic cup!

I love you all and miss you dearly. Praise God for our partnership in the gospel.

Blessings,
Anthony