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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Reminder: Lenten Carnival opens in one week!

In one week, many of us will be celebrating Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday, if you prefer) - a day of frivolity and merriment. The next day is, of course, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Are you ready?

Are you thinking about how you might observe Lent this year? Do you learn from in reading other's ideas, thoughts, and plans? Would you like to have a family Lenten experience? Maybe you are a long time Lent observer...maybe this is your first time...maybe you just need some different ideas to make Lent more focused and faithfilled.

Wherever you are on the "Lent" journey, I hope you'll join me here, next Ash Wednesday, for a Lenten carnival: "An Anglican Family Lent".

Interested in submiting a post (or posts)? You needn't be an Anglican, just a "kindred spirit"!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Menu Plan Jan 24-30

My menu plan dates are odd because we receive a shipment of fresh, local produce on Thursdays. I am trying to plan my menu based on locally-available, seasonal produce and pantry or freezer items.

Another week of delicious, organic, mostly local, home-delivered produce! We are really enjoying the variety and the quality. So, would you like to see what we got? Here you go:

Right up front there are some huge Yukon Gold potatoes. Those orange things in the back there are grapefruit (quite huge themselves) so that gives you an idea of how large the potatoes are. In the middle, is a lovely head of Romaine lettuce. Then you see a few Roma tomatoes and a few bananas. And at the far left, a large bowl of super-juicy and crisp Braeburn apples.

So, what are we doing with all this? We've made salads out of the lettuce and tomatoes, munched on the apples (are still waiting for the bananas to turn yellow - no gassing to artifically ripen), and enjoyed grapefruit for breakfast. I used half of the potatoes in a delicious garlic mashed potato dish. I'll use the other half later this week.
Here's my menu plan from last Thursday through this upcoming Wednesday:

Turkey Meatloaf, Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes (if you use this recipe - be sure to salt the water, the recipe doesn't call for it, but all potatoes need salted water!), salad

Homemade Pizza

Church "Supper Club", I served the main dish (Baked Ziti with Ground Turkey) and everyone else brought the sides
Church Potluck (brought a pan of the ziti)

And there was just enough left over to eat again tonight with a nice "boule" of bread.

Baked Chicken, and clean out the fridge for sides

It is my daughter's 6th birthday, so she has requested a "Chinese" dinner. We'll pick up some fried rice and lo mein from a local Chinese restaurant, then make dumplings from the freezer. (Costco carries a brand we love!) A 6-year old loving Chinese may sound odd, but since I went to China last spring (to help my Dear Neighborbring home her new daughter), we've all been quite into Chinese food!

Baked Ziti with Ground Turkey

This is just a made up recipe, but it is REALLY good - and so easy. I do not have a recipe, so most of this is done without real measurments. If it is in italics, I don't have a precise measurement, so use your best judgement!

1 lb ground turkey (go for the higher fat content if you can, the taste will be richer)
1 box Ziti pasta (cooked and drained - don't rinse, but if you are worried about sticking, pour a little of the sauce over it and stir to coat)
2 cups (or more - however "saucey" you like it) Barilla (or your favorite) Marinara sauce
1 c ricotta
1 c mozzerella
1/4 c parmesan
1 T Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper to taste

Brown the turkey and season with the Worcestershire, salt & pepper.

In a greased 13 x 9 in pan, spread cooked pasta and browned meat. Pour on sauce (you don't want it soupy, but moist is good). Dot picotta in spoonfulls around the dish, then gently fold the ricotta into the pasta-turkey mixture. Top with a little more sauce, parmesan and mozzerella. Cover and bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes, until bubbly. Remove foil and bake for 5-10 minutes more. Let sit on the stove (recover to keep in the heat) for a few minutes before serving.

Of course, this is excellent with a fresh salad and a crusty bread!

Would the world be better without humans?

Have you seen the special "After People" that looks at what would happen on Earth if all humanity was gone from the planet? We have it recorded, but I've yet to watch it. It is a fascinating idea to explore, though - how fast would nature take back over the cities and how would it happen? Would the world "heal" from the effects of human activity? Would it be more beautiful? And if so, for whom? What, as Christians, is our response to this line of questioning? What is the point?

This guy's got the point.

But yearning for the disappearance of the human species so the planet
will be more beautiful is rather contradictory. More beautiful for whom? I’ve
not seen a koala bear setting up an easel to paint a still life.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Matt Kennedy asks a good question

Can Orthodox Anglicanism Emerge from Disarray?

And of course the comments on StandFirm are every bit as intersting as the article, so read those, too.

One way, possibly, to think of this strategy is to imagine a kingdom overrun by her enemies and its throne usurped by a pretender. In such a situation some provinces would necessarily break ties with the kingdom and seek to regroup, restructure, and prepare for re-invasion. Other leaders and entities would remain within the overrun kingdom for the express purpose of resistance and, ultimately, overthrow. Ideally, both the resistance on the inside and the new kingdom externally would support one another toward the common goal of defeating the invader and restoring the kingdom.

Perhaps it goes with out saying, but Matt, of course, has an excellent grasp of the matter at hand and does a great job distilling the many issues and positions.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Where there is smoke there is fire...

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
- William Butler Yeats

Heart of the Matter has posted this quote for today's meme reflection. It is a great quote and one often used in homeschooling circles to describe our goals as homeschoolers. We desire much more than just stuffing them full of knowledge, we want to enliven them with the spirit of curiousity, experimentation, and investigation. There is almost an implied promise that homeschooling will deliver these results, too. During the last 5 years of homeschooling, there have been many days that promise has kept me going when the "little yellow school bus" was very tempting!

Obviously, no system or philosophy of education can deliver a promise like this perfectly everytime, for every student, nor in every situation. Homeschooling is no magic bullet. But, as I observe my children, I see their eyes brighten and their minds turn with some new idea or thought. This is not in response to a need to perform, but in a true thirst for learning.

This used to be a very occassional occurrance, but now it truly is daily. It is not always the subject on which I am teaching them, but that is OK! Something strikes them as fascinating and they are off- experimenting, researching, trying, drawing, recreating and learning. Times like these I have to put aside my lesson plans and go with the flow. It can be frustrating...but it is rewarding. Sometimes, it feels a bit like a wildfire.

Why does homeschooling seem to enhance this process? I think it has to do with the intellectual freedom inherent in homeschooling. Our children have so much more time to digest what they are learning. They are not hampered by classroom politics. Their independence in thought is encouraged. And they just have more time to ask questions, think, and investigate.

So, I encourage you - if you are new to homeschooling or feeling a little burned out (no wonder with all that fire-starting!), keep reminding yourself that you are lighting the fire - not merely filling a pail. Keep looking for signs of the smouldering fire - the spark, the sizzle, the small waft of smoke. That kind of fire will warm your soul!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Carnival of Homeschooling - #108

A GREAT looking Carnival this week. Alasandra has done a fantastic job. And added some interesting links to American Literature resources, too!

Don't miss it!

Monday, January 21, 2008

5 Questions about Classical Conversations answered

Updated April 24th, 2009

Megan (from Half Pint House) asked me to explain how Classical Conversations worked in our homeschool. Instead of posting, I just emailed her. However, on second thought (and because I've gotten some Google search hits), perhaps it might benefit others to share our experiences with Classical Conversations. So, I'll answer some common questions about the program.

Please keep in mind I am not a CC tutor or group leader and each group can be different. Please refer to the website or your local director for OFFICIAL information! This is just one homeschool mama's experience.

1) What does a Classical Conversation day look like?

We start with a group assembly (starting at 9:00) that includes: general announcements, prayer and Pledge of Allegiance. Then the tutors gather their classes and head off to thir classrooms. Once in their classes, the tutors introduce the week's memory work and lessons. These include: Bible study, Math, English, Latin, Geography, Timeline cards, History, and Science.

At noon, the Foundations class is over and we break for lunch. Those who are not staying for an afternoon session of Essentials stay for lunch or head on home.

Of course, each group will be run a bit differently.

2) What am I expected to do during my child's Classical Conversations class?

As a parent, I am expected to attend the classes with my child. Since I have three kids in the program, I float between their three classes. While in the classes, I sit and listen, help my child or others when needed, give the tutor a hand when she needs it (passing out supplies, helping a student to and from the bathroom, etc) absorb the information presented and learn some new teaching techniques from my peers (the tutors). The parents often compare notes a little in the back of the class, too.

We are expected to be there - it really isn't optional as this is not a "drop off" environment; however, if you have to be away for some reason (other kids are sick, appointment that couldn't be scheduled for another day, etc) you can have another parent act as your child's "guardian" while you are gone. Most directors are pretty understanding if you just let them know of your plans ahead of time.

Some other areas of involvement:
Our group also requires any parent using the nursery to serve in the nursery on occassion. And some of us who do not use the nursery also help out in there sometimes.

During the afternoon session (Essentials - a Grammar and Writing program for older elementary kids), parents are in the classes again with their children. Childcare is offered for younger siblings - this is fee-based.

3) How do you use Classical Conversations during the week?

What does the rest of the week look like...well, that really depends on what your goals are for your kids. Some families drill, drill drill the memory stuff. Some don't do any of it and just let their kids absorb whatever they can on CC days. We probably fall somewhere in the middle. Here is what we do (our CC meets on Wednesdays) - this does not include the basics (reading, writing, arithmatic) nor other areas of our school such as literature:

On Monday, we review last week's memory work. We briefly go over the memory sentences and facts. This takes about 15-20 minutes at the most. Sometimes we just listen to the memory CD once or twice and that only takes about 5 minutes. This is the day we do Christian Studies, so I often go over their bible memory work a bit, too.

On Tuesday, I introduce the upcoming week's lessons. Really - very briefly (because that is what we are paying CC for!) Mostly, I just want the info to be a bit familiar the next day at CC. There are two areas I concentrate on a bit more: the timeline cards and geography. We pull out the map and spend a few minutes finding the countries or geographic features. And then we look at the timeline cards and try to come up with some buzzwords to help us remember the order they go in. We shuffle and sort a few times.

Tuesday is our History and Modern studies day (thus the emphasis on geography and timeline cards). I also do some reading to flesh out the history sentence for the week. The timeline cards and the history sentence do not necessarily correspond with one another. At first it was confusing, but we've got it worked out in our brains now. We just think of them as two different things. I use Story of the World, Usborne history books, Child's History of the World...and sometimes other fiction or picture books.

Wednesday is CC. We go and come home - that is it for our school day. If we didn't have Essentials in the afternoon, I might come home and do a little more work or review in the afternoon.

On Thursday and Friday, we go over the memory sentences/facts - often just using the CD. If we don't get to that one of those days, I keep a copy of the CD in the car and we listen some there, too.

Fridays are Science days: we read more about a subject (in our books or online using an Usborne Internet-linked encyclopedia) and/or try an experiment. CC on Wednesdays to help demonstrate the science memory sentence, but I am going.

4) What does it cost?

I hesitate to answer this, because fees may be different from place to place. But I know it can help to have some idea of what is expected.

These are the fees we paid for our Foundations classes this year are: Registration is $50, Supply fees $50, Facility fee $25, and Tuition is $312. That is per child, of course. It may seem pretty hefty, but it is for the whole year and I have found it to be WELL WORTH it!

5) What do you like most about Classical Conversations?

The fellowship for the kids and me has been HUGE! They love CC and look forward to it every week. I've really enjoyed getting to know some more moms in the HS community. And it has helped me a great deal with accountability.

Classical Conversations is very adamant that YOU are the teacher (the CC teachers are called "Tutors"). I make the decisions about what we do and when we do it...and there is no pressure to meet some standard. The drill parents and the absorb parents are equally supported in their goals for their kids. But, knowing that the class is moving along in the material has definitely helped me stay on track this year!

If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer!

Also, if you are interested, I have begun adding some books that I have found helpful at my Amazon Store. I do get a (very) small percentage of any purchases made through these links, so if you appreciate my blog, that is a really helpful way to say "thanks". And I thank you, too!

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Menu Plan Monday - Jan 17-23

My menu plan dates are odd because we receive a shipment of fresh, local produce on Thursdays. I am trying to plan my menu based on locally-available, seasonal produce and pantry or freezer items.


Roasted Winter Vegetables, Italian sausage (turkey), bread

- one of my favorite winter meals



- normally we have Pizza, but I didn't make it out to pick up my dough from the local pizzeria, so we punted and had nachos. Simple, quick - everyone's happy.


Mushroom Ravioli with tomato sauce, Purple Cabbage and Green beans with Green Curry

- This was a mommy and daddy meal. The cabbage came in our weekly produce delivery. I'm not sure the two dishes go together, but they were both tasty. And the purple and green was beautiful!


Penne with meat sauce, bread

- we had some ground turkey we needed to use up, so it went into this sauce.


Sweet & Sour Cabbage, Roasted Herbed Potatoes, breakfast sausage (turkey)
- using up our last bit of cabbage, some potatoes, and the turkey sausage we keep on hand in the freezer


Soup, salad and bread
- I'll use the leftover meat sauce from Sunday night, chicken stock, barley or rice, and whatever vegetables I want to use up. Probably potatoes and carrots.

COTF (Clean Out The Fridge) Night
- this is our homeschool co-op day, so it is nice to not worry about having to do anything more than pull out leftovers and heat them up.

Sweet and Sour Cabbage

This is super quick!

2 T packed brown sugar
2 T vinegar
2 T water
1 T oil
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
1/4 tsp salt
dash of black pepper
2 c shredded red or green cabbage
3/4 c. chopped apple

In a large skillet mix sugar, vinegar, water, oil, caraway seeds, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in cabbage and apple. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat about 5 minutes or until cabbage is crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Serve with a slotted spoon to drain off the liquids.

Makes 3-4 servings. I served this with sausage and roasted potatoes.

Purple Cabbage and Green Beans with Green Curry

This is a recipe original to my dear "Chef Hubby".

1 sm head of purple cabbage, shredded or chopped
4-5 handfuls of green beans (fresh)
1 T (or so) olive Oil
1 T (or so) soy sauce
1 tsp (or so) green curry paste
salt and pepper to taste

Heat up the olive oil and green curry paste in the pan (a big heavy one - we used our cast iron skillet). When it is warmed, throw in some garlic clove - chopped. Toss in the cabbage and green beans. Saute for a few minutes and then give a dash of soy sauce. Continue cooking until veggies are tender - don't over cook! You want it to be a bit crispy.

YUM!!! It's got a little heat from the curry and good saltiness from the soy! And SO pretty!

Roasted Winter Vegetables

Roasted Winter Vegetables

from Simply in Season

6 - 8 cups of winter vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabags, beets, winter squash (peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces or 1/2 inch slices)
2 T oil
1 T dried (or 2 T fresh) herbs such as: rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano

Toss ingredients together. Spread in a single layer on greased baking pans. Roast in a preheated oven at 425 degrees until tnder, 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 8 as a side dish, 3-6 as a main course. Use any mix of vegetables you like, but it is suggested you use one sweet (carrot, sweet potato, parsnip) and one with a stronger flavor (turnip or rutabaga). I used rutabaga, parsnips, and carrots when I made this recently.

Holy or Holey?

You may, or may not, have heard about the Episcopal church out in California that had a combined Hindu-Christian service (read more here and here). I wasn't going to blog about this - because, frankly, I'm tired of the Episcopal church's antics. But the Confesssing Reader has an excellent post and I think it is worth sharing. So, what is so awful about this combined service? He has an excellent explanation of the issues at stake.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Excellent Movie Review blog

Movie reviews like this:

"Most Christian thinking (at least in the West) I describe as "suburban Christianity". This means ideas and concerns are developed from the point of view of a bunch of puffy suburbanites sitting comfortably and safely in their homes. Only the most affluent Christians would sit around and seriously discuss whether it is healthy to watch PG-13 Rated movies or not - we are so blessed to have such stupid concerns. While I have nothing against the Western middle class, it seems to me that much of our theology has been weakened by our casual lifestyles. Films such as this can wake us up from their comfy naps and remind us that the power of the Word is there for people in far dire circumstances, who seem to have nothing to save them. Hope - God - still lives in the darkest of places, no matter how deep the well we fall, his grace is still there."

are worth reading for their own sake.

I highly recommend the blog Catholic Media Review - whether you are Catholic or not.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Homeschooling Tips and Tricks - 2 Tips for planners

I have two tips to make up for being a day late!

My first tip is using a highlighter to mark off completed assignments on my planner. I started doing this last year instead of scratching them off with pen or pencil. I wanted to be able to show hubby what we'd accomplished and found it was too hard for him to read through the scratched out marks.

The side benefit (which has become the main benefit to me) is that it encourages me to pay more attention to what we HAVE done rather than what we haven't done each week. :)

See for yourself:

(Obviously taken early in the week!)

The second tip is for those of us with a few or more students. I really like to keep all my planning on one main page. (My older student gets his own planner page with more detail as needed.) But this can be confusing or messy for a number of reasons.

So, to keep my planner fairly neat and orderly, I use colored dots to indicate which assignments apply to which children. Eldest gets a red dot, middle gets a blue dot, youngest gets a green dot. Now, I can put all their Math assignments in one block each day!

Here is a close up:

6 great books for families celebrating the Christian Year

Are you interested in reading more about celebrating the Church Year with your famiy? Here are some books I've found particularly helpful:

Celebrating the Church Year with Children
Lots of crafts and hands-on learning activities

Rings, Kings, and Butterflies
Includes a CD with printables. An excellent resource for the classroom, homeschool, sunday school, or family worship.

To Dance with God
In depth reading for families of all sorts and ages. Great if you have older kids, too.

Christ In Easter: A Family Celebration of Holy Week
A gentle guide to observing Holy Week in the family.

Living in God's Time
Wonderful guidance for family worship with the church year.

A Continual Feast: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Joys of Family and Faith Throughout the Christian Year
Great traditional recipes and more

FYI - if you purchase these books via one of the above links, I'll earn a small credit. Thanks for supporting my book habit! :)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The First Rock: Feasting, Fasting, and other church year observances: part 2

The following is a from a series of posts about my new year's resolutions or my "Big Rocks". These posts can be found here, or by selecting the "Rhythm, Reverence and Time" label.

Did you enjoy visiting with my friend, Deb? I hope you'll go by and visit her blog! She's got lots to say about life, homeschooling, books, and Orthodoxy, and I've learned a great deal.

My friend, Nissa, has had some craziness in her life this week and we just haven't been able to get together on a post. But hopefully we will in the near future! Go by and visit her blogs - they are truly wonderful. She has two blogs: Simple Gifts (which is more than just a blog, it also is a whole website dedicated to simple, faithful living - podcasts, eloops, a magazine, a conference and a shop!) and a specifically Lenten blog, which is just a fabulous resource.

As these ladies would tell you, there is more to observing the church year than just fasting, so, I'll share what I plan to do as an Anglican.

But before I do, perhaps you are curious about WHY someone would observe the Church Year. You might find these links helpful: Maybe you need a good overview of the Church Year, it's history, and modern usage. Wondering why some churches don't observe Lent or other holy days? But is is scriptural?

Each year, it seems, our family broadens our observance of the Church Year. We started, as many people do, with taking Lent more seriously and then grew into a more faithful Advent. Having found these celebrations very enriching to our own faith and that of our children, we've made the decision to learn more about the whole Church Year. Lately, we've begun, slowly, incorporating feast days of saints that are special to our family. One area in particular I'm focusing on this year, for myself, is Ember Days.

So, here is what our calendar will look like this year:

Epiphany season

5- Shrove Tuesday Feast
6 - Ash Wednesday Fast, Imposition of Ashes, "Quiet Day"
8 - Friday Abstain (from meat)
13 - Ember Day Fast, Wendesday "Quiet Day"
15 - Ember Day Fast
16 - Ember Day Fast
20 - Wednesday "Quiet Day"
22 - Friday Abstain from meat
27 - Wednesday "Quiet Day"
29 - Friday Abstain from meat

5 - Wednesday "Quiet Day"
7 - Friday Abstain from meat
12 - Wednesday "Quiet Day"
14 - Friday Abstain from meat
16 - Palm Sunday
16-22 - Holy Week
19 - St. Joseph's Feast
20 - Maundy Thursday
21 - Good Friday Fast
22 - Holy Saturday, Vigil
23 - Easter Feast and season observances

23 - St. George's Feast

11 - Pentecost Feast and season observances
14 - Ember Day Fast
16 - Ember Day Fast
17 - Ember Day Fast
21 - St. Constantine's and St. Helena's Feast
26 - St. Augustine of Canterbury's Feast

10 - Martyrs of China Feast
24 - Nativity of St. John the Baptist Feast

15 – Dormition of the Theotokos

14 - Holy Cross Feast
17 - Ember Day Fast
19 - Ember Day Fast
20 - Ember Day Fast
29 - St. Michael and All Angels Feast

4 - St. Francis of Assisi Feast
31 - All Saint's Eve

1 - All Saints' Feast
2 - All Souls' Feast
30 - St. Andrew's Feast, Advent observations begin (Advent 1)

6 - St. Nicholas' Feast
7 - Advent 2
13 - St. Lucy's Feast
14 - Advent 3
17 - Ember Day Fast
19 - Ember Day Fast
20 - Ember Day Fast
21 - St. Thomas' Feast, Advent 4
24 - Christmas Eve
25 - Christmas
25- Jan 5 Twelve Days of Christmas Feast

I'm not totally sure how I'll observe the Ember days, yet. I'm still just learning about them, but I suspect there will be fasting or abstaining from certain foods or activities in order to focus more on prayer.

When I get to sharing the "daily rocks", I'll include more details about this, but until then I'll just mention that I'm in the middle of setting up a family worship area for Morning and Evening Prayer (one or the other at this point - eventually we'll get to both). I've heard about doing this in numerous places, but just recently was loaned a book by my Dear Neighbor (DN for short - not to be confused with DH!) that gave me a good grasp of what this might look like. The book, Living in God's Time: A Parent's Guide to Nurturing Children Throughout the Christian Year, is a great resource to learn about and share the Church Year with your family.

As the dates get closer, I'll flesh out the celebration plans for our family, which I will share here. Generally, for saints' feast days, we'll learn a bit about the history of the saint (how they served God) and perhaps a little a history, geography, and/or cultural lesson to go along with that. We may have a special snack or meal, too. And we'll give thanks to God for the example of that person's life. Another book my DN has that I'm dying to dig through is A Continual Feast: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Joys of Family and Faith Throughout the Christian Year.

(FYI, if you decide to purchase any books I recommend, click through this site to Amazon and I'll get a small credit. Thanks!)

If you are interested in following along as I incorporate these celebrations into our family, subscribe to my RSS (see the orange button under the photo). Then you'll be notified when I update! Or check back and select the "Holidays and Holy Days" label.


Ahhh - a SNOW DAY! Last night as DH and I were climbing into bed, we noticed it had started snowing, as predicted. Big, fluffy, wet flakes - and lots of them! Of course, in true Carolina fashion, it began to warm up just enough to turn to rain by the morning. There is still snow on the ground (at 9:30), but it is looking quite slushy.

I was hesitant to do it, but I let the kids go out right after they wolfed down some breakfast (eaten in record time, as you might guess). They managed to have a great time despite the fact that it was raining. They even built a snowman and had a snowball fight. Down here in the sunny south, we are not picky about our snow - we'll enjoy it no matter the conditions!

Oh, my, they came in totally drenched, red-cheeked, frozen-fingered and quite happy. Look at the pile of clothes!

Then they snuggled up on the couch under a warm, toasty down comforter while I fixed the requisite hot cocoa. It just wouldn't be a snow day with out it, would it?

I do love snow days. They are a little different when you are home-schooling, however. Even when other schools may be cancelled, we can still get some work in. It is hard to concentrate when there is all that lovely snow out there...but it is best to atleast try...

Now, to convince them we still have to do school. Heck, now to convince ME we still have to do school.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Don't get too comfortable

Word of Faith. Prosperity Gospel. Have you heard about this stuff? Joel Osteen. Heard of him? I commend to you this article.

HT: Quo Vadis

Monday, January 14, 2008

Menu Plan - Jan. 10th - 16th

We receive a delivery of produce on Thursdays, so our meal plan does not run Monday- Sunday, but Thursday to Wednesday. We are doing our best to plan seasonal meals with local produce in an effort to eat more healthily, support local agriculture, and do our part to reduce fuel use.

Our first box of organic produce arrived Thursday! Lovely, lovely produce. Not all of it local, but that is understandable this time of year. This week, I'll choose as many items that keep to our "seasonal" meal plan...and hopefully are also locally produced.

Here's our meal plan:

Broccoli-Rice casserole, baked chicken with rosemary

Homemade Pizza (with bottled olives, roasted peppers, pepperocini and fresh mushrooms)

Treated to a Mexican feast by our weekend guests

Potluck at church

We had so much left over food, we had to have a Clean out the Fridge night. See:

Turkey-Barley soup (you can find the recipe here), with Rustic Rosemary bread

Second night of Turkey-Barley soup, with Rustic Rosemary bread.

A Carnival for Lent: An Anglican Family Lent

How do you observe Lent in your personal and family life?

What traditions do you find most meaningful?

What new spiritual disciplines might you undertake or which ones would you commend to others?

How do you bring young ones on the path with Jesus through the desert-season of Lent?

Lent will be the subject of the next Anglican Family Carnival (hosted, here, at A Ten O'Clock Scholar with help from Jeanne of At A Hen's Pace). We hope you'll join us, here, on the first day of Lent (Ash Wednesdy, February 6th, 2008) for "An Anglican Family Lent".

Bloggers: If you are an Anglican blogger, we'd love for you to share how you observe Lent: fasting, special meals, prayers, activities, etc in your family. Or perhaps, you'd like to share some devotions or thoughts on the Lenten season. Please send a link to your submission post by midnight on Sunday, February 3rd to me at: . If you have more than one post, that is fine, just make sure either they can all be accessed from the link you send OR you list each link seperately in your email.

Please feel free to announce this carnival on your own blog or email this link to friends who might be interested. (Also - you are welcome to use the graphic above to advertise this carnival.) If you have any trouble with the graphic, email me and I'll send you the .jpg file.

Non-bloggers, we'd love you to participate, too! You may leave your contribution in the comments section when the Carnival opens on Feb 6th. If you have a lengthy submission, you may email it to Kerry by Sunday, February 3rd and I'll do my best to post your submission as a "guest" spot.

For those of you who are not Anglicans, but who follow the liturgical year and observe Lent, please join us if you would like--we'd love to have you! Just mention the church you attend or your upbringing or whatever makes you a "kindred spirit."

We appreciate it if you can help spread the word give everyone time to put together those inspiring posts!

The First Rock: Feasting, Fasting and other church year observances: Part 1

The following is a from a series of posts about my new year's resolutions or my "Big Rocks". These posts (2 so far) can be found here, or by selecting the "Rhythm, Reverence and Time" label.

Are you interested in being more intentional about observing the feasts, fasts, and other observances of the Church Year? I am! Occassionaly, I manage to get my plans together, but not as regularly as I'd like. This is one of my Big Rocks for 2008. But as I'm learning, having the Big Rock in mind (or in hand) doesn't mean it is actually put into the jar of accomplishment. That takes forethought and planning. These posts are my way of getting my thoughts and plans together for 2008 - making sure I get that big rock into the jar.

Those who are Catholic or Eastern Orthodox are blessed to have excellent guidance from their churches on when and how to observe the church year, but Protestants are often left to fend for themselves a bit in this area. And yet, for many Protestants, I'd bet this would be something they'd find very valuable to themselves personally and to their families. If more Protestants plumbed the excellent depths of Catholic and Orthodox tradition, they'd see the beauty and truth in many of their practices.

I've asked two of my online friends, Deb and Nissa, if they would share with me (and you) a little about their own fasting practices. Deb is Eastern Orthodox and Nissa is Roman Catholic. Deb has agreed to be a guest blogger here. And Nissa has a whole blog devoted to Lent with lots of good fasting information. I'd like to start with Deb, call it alphabetical order.

So, with no further ado... May I present to you my friend, Deb - from Deb on the Run.


"Mom? How much longer until Lent starts?" My daughter asked me one day. This is not the first time I've heard this question. Several times a month one child or another will ask me when Lent starts and how much longer until Easter (called Pascha in the Orthodox church). Usually,
they end with "Mom I can't wait until Pascha!" In fact, my 16 yr old has been telling me she can't wait until Lent & Pascha since before summer even started.

I never thought that my children would look forward to Easter more than Christmas. This has been one of the unknown joys of becoming Orthodox almost 2 years ago. Some of it is due to the 6 weeks preparation for Pascha called Great Lent. Within the Eastern Orthodox tradition we fast every Wednesday and Friday and have 4 fasting periods: Dormition Fast (Aug), Apostles Fast (July), Nativity Fast (Nov-Dec) and the most important: Great Lent which preceeds Pascha. During this time, Orthodox faithful prepare for the Death and Resurrection of our Lord by fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. We also have extra services during the week to encourage the faithful during our Lenten Journey to Pascha. Of course, the most daunting for a convert is
fasting. Traditionally, on fast days we are expected to fast from animal products (except shrimp/clams/Lobster, etc.), wine, and oil. However, Orthodox Christianity is not about following a set of rules, it is about the salvation and sanctification of our souls.

No one expects a newbie like me to be fasting like someone who grew up in the church or a monk. When I began my first Lenten Fast I went to my priest and asked him what the heck was I supposed to do. Because my husband and teenage son were not Orthodox he advised me to talk with the whole family and come up with a workable plan using the traditional guidelines as a goal. There are also food allergies in the family that needed consideration too. Since my husband is a die-hard meat and potatoes man, we decided that those who were Orthodox would abstain from meat products and reduce (or eliminate if possible) - treat type foods - cake, cookies, chocolates- etc. Hubby and son would continue with their meats during meals, and we all would eat the rest.

But, the fasting is about so much more than food. It is about reflection on our own lives in relationship to Christ and our brother's and sisters. This is what John Chrysostom said about fasting:

"The value of fasting consists not only in avoiding certain foods, but in giving up of sinful practices. The person who limits his fast only to abstaining from meat is the one who especially lowers the value of it.

Do you fast? Prove it by doing good works. If you see someone in need, take pity on them. If you see a friend being honored, don't get jealous of him or her. For a true fast, you cannot fast only with your mouth. You must fast with your eyes, your ears, your feet, your hands, and all parts of your body."

And a priest once told me: "fasting without prayer is dieting."

This is central to the Orthodox understanding of fasting = its not just about the food. Even though it looks like its about food, its not. However, I could say fasting is the spotlight that shines in all the dark spaces. It was amazing (and frightening even) that what I didn't put in my mouth effected how much I noticed I wasn't all that "together" as I might have otherwise convinced myself. Suddenly, I noticed how easy it was to get annoyed or short tempered. My thoughts weren't as Christian and loving as I would have liked them to be either. I became aware of my own spiritual shortcomings and laziness.

The Lenten journey was long but a good learning experience. I fell many times and clung to God. When I reached that Paschal night it really was the Feast of all Feasts. When we got home from the services before dawn, I wanted to turn on all the lights and wake up the rest of the house and all the neighbors, shouting "Haven't your heard? Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!"


Thank you, Deb.

If you are interested in learning more about the Eastern Orthodox church, Deb has links on her blog, not to mention her great posts!

In my next post on this subject, Nissa will share her experience with fasting from a Roman Catholic perspective.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Jan 7th-11th - A New Semester starts!

Our school was back to work this week after a long hiatus over the Advent and Christmas seasons. We did some educational activities during that time (and I counted some of these as "official" homeschool days), but nothing baldly academic in nature.

Classical Conversations started back up this week, which we were all looking forward to! I didn't quite accomplish all my plans for this week, but I'm fairly happy with our first week back in the usual school groove. The week ended with a weekend visit by some friends from TN, so we spent a little time doing "Home Ec" to get ready for that! :)

Devotional Time

Started using our The Anglican Family Prayer Book book again. I keep harping on this little book , but I really do love it. If you desire to introduce your kids or family to the Book of Common Prayer or to use it for home prayer and devotion, this is a great resource. I highly recommend it. We managed to read our The Child's Story Bible, too, on a couple of days.


DS 11 is anxious to get through his Saxon Math book (a bit of a holdover from last year - when we took time off to do fact practice). So, we've decided to double time it through, skipping over those lessons he will either get in the next book or those with which he already shows proficiency. If he is up for it, I may just start giving him the tests to work through until he gets stumped. Then we'll do the lesson that corresponds to his point of "stumpedness".

DS 8 is working his way through his Singapore math. Again, a bit of a holdover from last year. This week's lesson included learning to add by tens (42 + 10 = 52, 65 - 10 = 55)

DD 5 (almost 6) is flying through her Early Bird Singapore. This week we stated comparing "less and more" with numerals and manipulatives.

With the 8 and 5 year old, I also play Arithmetic Lotto and do some simple practice reading the clock.

Poetry and Literature Selections

Read from Ambleside Online's Year 1 Poetry Collection, including: "Velvet Shoes" and "A Calendar". Read a couple chapters of Five Little Peppers and How They Grew.


Our Veritas Press timeline cards for this week go from "John Calvin and the Institutes" to "The Mayflower Lands at Plymouth".

English: Grammar, Writing, Phonics, Copy Work

DS 11 had a very light week. Just some review of sentence classification and diagramming.

DS 8's reading has really been picking up steam the past month or so. He's enjoying the DK reader (level 2) Star Wars: Journey Through Space. We also enjoyed completing a MadLibs Jr. story.

DD 5 completed a few pages from her Get Set for the Code: Book B.

Both the 8 and 5 year old and I played Phonics Lotto, too.

Classical Conversations Memory Work

Back into the memory groove with Week 13! We kept it simple this week by just using our Memory Work CD.

Subject area reading (Family)

My kids (the whole family actually) had some very late nights, so we took advantage of the homeschooler's option to sleep in. :) But, this meant we missed some of our subject area readings. The only subject area I managed this week was History. We listened to "James Watt and the Tea Kettle" from Thirty More Famous Stories Retold, looked at the The Usborne Book of World History (Guided Discovery Program), read from Children's History of the World on the subject of the Industrial Revolution. DS 11, also read from The Story of the World: Early Modern Times "Cotton and Guns".

Subject area reading (Student)

DS 11 and I read about "Orion" from D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths.

DS 8 and I read about "Odin's 8-legged Steed" from D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths.

DD and I read "The Frog's King" from Aesop for Children.


DS 11 gets to present an oral report at next week's Classical Conversations on any subject we chose. He asked if he could do his report on the history and making of root beer. I thought that sounded like fun, so I agreed. He did a little research and planning for his report.

And that was our week. Thank you for visiting with us. If you've posted your weekly report, drop me a comment and I'll come by to visit you!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A little weekend reading

Because I seem to be stumbling across some interesting tidbits today, I thought I might as well just put them all into one post for your ease and mine! So, here you are...

* Interested in teaching your children (or just introducing them to) Mandarin? There is a new program coming to Nickelodeon to do just that! Here's more information.

* Christians in a coutnry I have a fondness for are facing some very difficult days. When my husband and I visited Turkey in 1995, we found people very open and kind. Even out in the coutnryside they were eager to be hospitable and gracious.

My favorite memory was stopping at a gas station in a remote area to clean off our dusty windshield and being treated like honored guests. We were whisked inside to sit with the owner and sip tea, while someone else cleaned our entire car. The owner spoke no English (and we spoke no Turkish other than a few polite phrases), so our conversations was, literally, a listing of American actors they knew and hubby and I nodding and smiling in agreement. It went something like this:
"Nick Nolte" (said more like "Neek Noltuh")
"Yes, Nick Nolte" (giggles all around)
Keep the Turkish people in your prayers.

* And in Anglican news - this is really big news. BabyBlue Online has the scoop on the most recent development on the property disputes in Virginia. The State Attorney General has stepped in and said according to constitutional law "...the Episcopal Church is simply wrong."

Friday, January 11, 2008

What do you do all day?

Every wonder what your homeschooling friends do all day? Now is your chance to find out! The Heart of the Matter blog has a fun meme today - "A Day in the Life" of homeschoolers.

Below is my submission:

I'm up at 6 or 6:30 (depends on the bedtime the night before) to shower and dress. I hate getting up that early and I hate getting showered and dressed right away, but I've found that it is the best way to make sure I stay on top of my day. So, I do it.

Next, I make tea or coffee, read my Daily Office, and spend some time in prayer. The kids are still sleeping while I look over my day, chores, errands, meals, etc. I often get a chore or two done (laundry, a bathroom cleaned, etc).

Around 8, I wake the kids up. They take care of getting themselves up, dressed, beds made, teeth brushed, etc. When they come down, breakfast is waiting for them. I have one child who must have a good breakfast, so I make a full breakfast almost every morning. After they are done with breakfast, they do their morning chore (only one - any more than that and we never get to school): DS 11 feeds and waters the dogs, DS 8 cleans up the kids' bathroom, and DD 6 feeds and waters the cats.

On Wednesdays, we have Classical Conversations. We are there from 9 until 3. But during the rest of the week our days look like this:

I try to get the kitchen cleaned up while and school books out while they do chores. But sometimes the dishes wait until after lunch.

School starts at 9ish.
  • First we have family prayer and bible reading. I'm using a wonderful book: The Anglican Family Prayer Book by Anne E. Kitch. We do "Morning Prayer" - part of it and use the weekly prayer cycle to guide our prayers. This is really quite informal.
  • Next is Math. We all do math together. I give the eldest his math practice problems (review) and do math instruction with the other two. Then I give them a table activity to work on (puzzle, drawing, etc) while I teach eldest his math lessons. While he works on that, the younger two and I play a math game.
  • Then we read a poem or two (or three) and whatever family reading we are enjoying. Right now it is "The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew". This we enjoy while snuggled up on the couch.
  • Next we pull out our Veritas Press timeline cards. We do a few different things with them: shuffle them up and put them in order or make up buzz words that cue us to the title, or read the backs and learn a little something to flesh out our history a bit.
  • Back to the table to work on English, Grammar, Writing, Phonics. How this goes each day is a bit of a toss up. I often get the eldest started on some grammar work (from Classical Conversations "Essentials") and then play a game with the younger two. Then I switch off working with either my 8 or 6 year old while the other one plays on (a great FREE online phonics program). My eldest needs more help in writing, so we often have to do more of this in the afternoon. I'm working on adding copy work for the youngest two. They could do this while I work with the eldest.
  • Then we pull out our Classical Conversations memory work. We just spend a few minutes looking at this. I often skip this, because we have a CD we listen to in the car quite frequently with good results.
  • Finally, we spend a little time reading aloud in our subject of the day. Monday is Christian studies, Tuesday is history, Thursday is folk tales/literature, and Friday is science.
Now, we break for lunch and a bit of relaxation (the time is around 12:30).
At 1:30 we all retreat to our rooms for "Read or Rest". I expect the kids to sit quietly on their beds and either read (or look at books) or rest. My eldest LOVES this time - the other two often balk.
At 2:30, we start our afternoon session. This includes chores, individual reading, and soon will include family lessons of French or Latin. Then we finish with a snack at 4:00 and they spend the rest of the afternoon playing outside.
I get to enjoy some time catching up on emails, phone calls and such.
I'm thinking about making Friday into "Fine Arts and Fun Science" Friday. These are things we often don't get to. My eldest son would still do some math and grammar, but then we'd enjoy a day of Picture Study, art lesson, science experiment, etc. It sure would be fun! We'll see...
Now, go by The Heart of the Matter and check out the rest of the submissions!

A little Friday silliness

The Recipe For Kerry

3 parts Wisdom
2 parts Desire
1 part Delight

Splash of Vigor

Finish off with an olive

I'm doubtful about the "Wisdom" part, but they got the olive JUST RIGHT.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Are you an Episcopalian (or Anglican) Homeschooler?

Life on the Planet is looking for a few good homeschoolers...Episcopal (or Anglican) homeschoolers, that is.

Are you one? Then leave a comment here ('cause I am, too and I've got something to share with you) and then scoot on over to the Planet and say, "Hello!"
HT (and graphic courtesy of): Principled Discovery

Carnival of Christianity

Another good Carnival you'll want to know about: the Carnival of Christianity. This week it is at Parable Mania. At the top of his post, you'll find links to lists of past carnivals and future hosts.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Looking for some homeschool encouragement?

THOM Magazine

Have you heard about the new online homeschooling magazine? Do go check it out - The Heart of the Matter! See if you can spot some familiar bloggers there - I bet you will!

While there, check out their blog and you can add yourself to their blog ring.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Tupperware storage - loose lids?

Meredith at Like Merchant Ships has been sharing some great household organizational ideas the past few days. Today she is discussing tupperware storage. It can be a hassle, can't it?

To contain my tupperware lids, I've been using a Sterilite plastic "shoe box" that slides out like a drawer. With the lids stacked vertically, it is really easy to find what I'm looking for and the lids don't go falling all over the place.

For larger tupperware items (whose lids do not fit in this box) I store them stacked with the lids underneath and nestled together.

Menu Plan: Jan 7th - Jan 13th

Last week, I learned of a service in my local area that delivers fresh, locally grown, organic produce to your door. This is just the sort of thing I've been looking for, so I'm excited to give it a try. This will definitely change the way I plan meals, though.

Each week (Tuesdays) they email with the list of produce coming in the shipment. We can pick and choose from this list the things we'd like to recieve. Then the delivery comes on Thursday. So, this means I will have to begin my meal planning on Tuesday, shop for other things I need on Wednesday, and start my menu plan on Thursday. As this is the first week, I'll just have to stretch out my pantry until Thursday.

So, here is my plan for the first part of this week. Check back for the rest of the menu plan on Wednesday!

Tuna Tetrazzini*

Henerakaa (Finnish Yellow Split Pea Soup)* - makes a large batch. We'll eat half on Tues and Weds. and then freeze half for another week
Rye bread

leftover Henerakaa, rye bread

Check back for the rest of our weekly menu on Wednesday.
(* recipes to follow)

Tuna Tetrazzini

This is a stand-by in our family. I keep all the ingredients on hand (most are pantry items). It also makes a great casserole to share with a friend in need. When doing this, I mix it all up and deliver it ready to be baked.

2 7oz cans of tuna
1/2 lb of pasta (spaghetti is traditional, but rotini works well, too)
2 7oz cans of sliced mushrooms, drained
2 cans cream of celery soup (most any cream soup works well)
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c bread crumbs (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drain and flake the tuna. If using long spaghetti, break into 3 pieces. Cook pasta until tender. Combine mushrooms, cheese (reserve a little for topping), pasta and tuna in casserole dish.

Blend soup, milk, nutmeg and stir into pasta mix. Sprinkle top with reserved cheese. Bake for 35 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese lightly browned.

Henerakaa (Finnish Split Pea Soup)

This is a great winter meal. It uses lots of winter vegetables and dried yellow split peas are an easy pantry item to keep around. You can use any combination of the winter root vegetables you (turnips, parsnips) like, but do try to find and use some rutabaga. The flavor really makes this soup delightful, I think.

This makes a large amount of soup. I like to freeze half for another day. The other half is enough to feed my family of 5 for two meals with a good hunk of bread. I recommend a dark rye - especially sour rye if you can find it.

2 c dried yellpw split peas
8 c. veg or chicken stock (or water)
2 medium potatoes
2 large carrots
3 celery stalks
1 large onion
1 large rutabaga, peeled
2-3 tsp. dry mustard
dash of allspice
1 tsp dry marjoram
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp dry thyme
2 tsp salt
a good dose of pepper (to your "heat" level)
croutons (optional - I like to make my own with pumperknickel bread)

Rinse the split peas. In a large soup pot, bring the peas and stock to a boil. Coarsely chop vegetables and add them to stock as it comes to a boil. Simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until peas are soft and disintegrating. Puree the soup (an immersable "wand"-type blender is great for this, or just do it in batches with your regular blender) until quite smooth. It will be a thick soup. Add the spices and herbs. Reheat as needed and serve. Top with croutons.

When reheating leftovers, you may find it necessary to add a bit of water or stock to thin out the soup just a bit.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Big Rocks

So, the Big Rocks from my last post. They've been rolling around in my head for the past day or so. Decided I needed to put pen to paper, or rather finger to keyboard, to do some active thinking about them.

What are the Big Rocks? For me, they are those things that nurture and sustain me and my family. Time spent: in enjoyment of one another, in worship or prayer, at creative pursuits, and in keeping a peaceful home are some examples of the things I consider Big Rocks. There is other stuff in my jar, the "grit" as Anne calls it, I'll look at that in another post, perhaps.

As I turned the rocks over in my brain, I realize that there are different types of Big Rocks. Some are daily rocks, some are weekly, some are monthly, some are semi-annualy - I think you get my drift. I understand thinking about the Rocks on a daily basis - and making sure these accomplished (not that I don't need to work on that, but I do try to do that). But I often find that I neglect planning for the Big Rocks that are the weekly, monthly and semi-annual type. I need to plan when these Rocks should happen and then....write them down in my calendar. This is not revolutionary thinking for many of you, I know, but for me it is!

Here's an example: Scrapbooking, obviously not a daily or even weekly Rock, but one I do want to accomplish. In my mind, I know that I want to do some scrapbooking each month; however, because I do not actually write it on my calendar, it doesn't happen.

So, following is my list of the Big Rocks in my life's jar for 2008. In each area (daily, weekly, etc.) , I will literally be writing these down in my calendar today with as much detail as I can. Some will have to be planned out month by month (like the cultural events, which will depend on local events), but most can at least be "penciled in" figuratively and literally.

Prayer - personal and family
Home Education and family learning
Mother Culture (personal reading, blogging, crochet or other craft project)

Writing letters and making calls to family and friends
Special Lord's Day plans (special meals, activities)
Missionary support work

Enjoy God's Creation with family
Creative, Cultural, Educational events (taking a day to shoot some film or do some sketching, visiting a museum, attending a concert or play, listening to a lecture)

Celebrating Feasts and Fasts and other Church Year observances
Family travel

I'll follow this post up in the next couple of days (time-permitting - we are getting back to homeschool) with some of my thoughts and plans.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Making resolutions - Rhythm, Reverence and Time

So, this week, after making some homeschool-related resolutions, I've been mulling over my personal resolutions. Of course, there are SO MANY I could make...that nagging 15 lbs, better organization, less TV, yelling at the kids, crabbing at the hubby...and on and on. I often feel so paralyzed by the thought of making RESOLUTIONS, that in the end, I don't. And to tell the truth, I've never been very faithful to keep arbitrarily set "rules" like New Year's resolutions, anyway. It just seems so "band-wagon", doesn't it? Most often, I find my best "resolutions" are made when I have just decided "Everything's (got to) CHAAANGE" (said in my best Holly Hunter Texas-drawl - and if you can name the movie, you'll win some link love).

However, this year I feel a little differently. Things in our family and my life have recently changed significantly for the better (in terms of stress and "busy-ness) and we are all really enjoying the breathing room. In fact, my husband has been telling anyone who asks, "This has been the most peaceful and enjoyable Advent and Christmas, EVER." None of us really know *why*, but we all agree with him. And we want it to continue!

I'm very quick to want to take on any task that needs doing, and of course, my particular weakness is church. (If it needs doing, just ask Kerry. Well, that is a little prideful when there are PLENTY of others who do so much more than me. How about this, if it needs doing, I volunteer.) But, after a long season of hyper-work at our church, hubby and I find ourselves in a lull with many of our previous responsibilities having ended. Now, we are able to truly evaluate what we take on vs. what we choose to not be involved in.

So, here is where I am in relation to resolutions. I want to spend some time this weekend evaluating the "big rocks" vs the "pebbles" vs the "sand" in my life. Then I want to begin developing a realistic "Rule" for myself and my family.

And my resolution? It's simple...and not.

Rhythm, Reverence and Time. I want to see our household, our family, our homeschool, and myself develop a sense of Rhytm and Reverence...and that takes TIME.

This saying "Rhythm, Reverence, and Time" is NOT mine - but it has been hanging on my kitchen cabinet door on a little yellow sticky for about 6 months. (If you know where it came from, PLEASE leave a comment!)

I'm not totally sure how I'm going to accomplish might take all of 2008, but I'll let you know what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. In fact, any post relating to this I'll give it's own label "Rhythm, Reverence and Time". Check back in the coming days - I hope to share some of what I've discovered. In the meantime, do go read the two links in this post, you will be inspired and delighted.

A Family Epiphany

This Sunday is the Feast of the Epiphany, the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of the season of "Epiphany". This Feast and Season commemorates the visit of the Wise Men or Magi to the Christ Child. Contrary to popular imagery, they most likely arrived in Bethlehem when Jesus was a toddler. Whatever the case, we recognize this also as a season that looks forward to the Gospel being shared with the whole world.

A lovely way to celebrate Epiphany is with a traditional home blessing. Below is a simple service for families. Start with Chalking the Door. Gather your family at the front door with a piece of chalk and say the following prayer together:

God bless this house,
From door to door,
From wall to wall,
From room to room,
From basement to roof,
From beginning to end.

God bless this house
and who enter here,
All who eat here,
All who work here,
All who play here,
All who sleep here,
All who visit here,
All who abide here.

(from a wonderful little book: The Anglican Family Prayer Book by Anne E. Kitch)

Then make the marks on your front door: 20+C+M+B+08. Each person can write a small part of that, or you can let an adult write the whole thing with the kids each making their own small cross somewhere on the door. (We find this easiest with little kids.) The C,M,B traditionally stands for the legendary names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazaar); however, I like the alternate: Christus Mansionem Benedicat which means "May Christ bless this dwelling." The numbers are for the year (2008).

Now, you can walk through the house with lighted candles (or just the adults) and Holy Water, if you wish, saying prayers for each room's occupants and activities. Perhaps end your "tour" in the kitchen or dining room with a candlelight dinner, tea or dessert of "Three Kings' Cake".

We don't wash off the marks and they've stayed up as a reminder almost all year long!

A very blessed Epiphany to you!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Favorite books of 2007

I'm enjoying reading the many "favorite books" lists on various blogs and forums (or is that forii?). Thought I'd jump on the bandwagon. Perhaps you'll see something that interests you and join us on the Day Of Reading!

Riding the Iron Rooster - Paul Theroux
He traveled through Communist China by train (just a little before Tianamen Square). I enjoyed this because he appreciated the Chinese people and yet didn't miss their foibles. Helped prepare me for my trip to China.

Brave New World - Aldous Huxely
A classic from 1930's. Shockingly prophetic look into the "future". Here are some posts inspired by reading this book: here and here and here and an excellent article. (The edition I've linked to has some contemporary responses in the back, which I enjoyed reading, too.)

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Houseini
I liked this one even better than Kite Runner, which was good.

Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortensen
Excellent true story of one man's life mission to villagers in the high Himalays/Hindu Kush around Pakistan and Afghanistan. I should say his was not a Christian mission, but he was doing missionary-type work. He began his mission before 9/11, but has been able to continue it after as well. (In fact, he was there at the time of 9/11 and had a hairy escape from the country.)

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid - Bill Bryson Laugh out loud funny memoirs of his life growing up in the 50's. Some other greats by Bryson that I've thoroughly enjoyed: A Walk in the Woods(Bryson attempts the Appalachian Trail) and In a Sunburned Country(Bryson visits and writes about modern-day Australia). In fact, I'd confidently purchase any book by him. Be warned - he does use some bad language; however, it is not gratuitous nor frequent.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

WFMW - Keeping Your Silver Shiny EASILY!

After Christmas, I bet you have all your silver all shiny and pretty looking, right? Sad to think you might have to go through all that polishing again next year, huh? What a chore! Wouldn't you like to avoid that? Well, last year I discovered a really great little product for keeping my silver all nice and shiny: 3M Anti-Tarnish Strips.

They come in strips approx 2 inches by 6 inches and keep silver looking nicely polished for up to 6 months. That is according to 3M, mine have been keeping my silver shiny for almost a year! They work by treating the air around the silver item and retarding the chemical process that leads to tarnish. They work great in silver chests, hutches, or other "closed" environments (like a jewelry chest).

I purchased a bag of 16 strips. This was enough for my silver chest (one per drawer), my hutch (used approx 10 in various places), and 1 in my jewelry box. I've got some leftover which I'll store in a ziplock bag and use to replace the ones in the hutch as needed.

Here is a link to purchase. I have no affilliation with this company at all - just love this product!

Want more great ideas? Check out Works For Me Wednesday!

Carnival of Homeschooling - 2nd Anniversary

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up and it is the 2nd Anniversary edition! Go by and say "Thanks" to the Cates at Why Homeschool for keeping this awesome Carnival up and running.

I submitted a post on Homeschool Resolutions, but it got missed somehow. Oh, well, you are here already, here is the link!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Meal Plan for Dec 30th - Jan 5th

Whew! We are a bit over-stuffed and ready for a change of pace. I'm still keeping us on a seasonal meal plan (using this book as a resource and inspiration) as a way to keep food fresh and inexpensive. I also try to keep our grocery purchases as local as possible.

Since we homeschool and my husband works from home a couple days a week, I plan for all three meals. Here is our plan for this week:

French Toast
"Make Your Own" (ie. leftovers, sandwiches, whatever you can scrounge)
Church Potluck

Fried eggs and toast
"Make Your Own"
Spaghetti & Turkey meatballs (for kids; adults were treated to a Thai Feast courtesy of Gram!)

"Make Your Own"
Hoppin' John, Spinach & malt vinegar, corn bread

Eggs and toast
Fried Mozzerella sticks, fruit
"Clean out the Fridge"

Cream of Wheat
Chicken Nuggets, veggies and dip
Twice Baked Potatoes, salad

Eggs and toast
Corn Dogs
"Homemade" Pizza (I purchase the dough for the crust from a local pizza joint -a large for $1.50, then I throw, top and bake it myself at home.)

Waffles and sausage
Daddy's Night To Cook