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Friday, January 30, 2009

7 Quick Takes - Jan 30

Another week of Jen's 7 Quick Takes...

As I expected, blogging has been spotty, but I didn't want to miss the last 7 Quick Takes before e leave on our adoption trip. That' what's, obviously, been foremost in my thoughts this week, so you'll notice that trend in my 7 Quick Takes!

There are so many unknowns about our daughter for us! One of these is "How big is she?" We know that at about 2 months she was around 8 1/2 lbs which puts her in the 5% for weight here in the states. Based on that I'm estimating that now she'll be a little under 12lbs at 5 months. But her two month weight could be a weight reflecting a very low birth weight and her weight gain might be beyond the percentile she could be up to 16 or more pounds. Of course she could have dropped weight or slowed down on her growth and be still just barely past 10 lbs.

This unknown means we have to bring clothes in many different sizes. I'm bringing a few 0-3 month, mostly 3-6 month, and a few 6-9 month. That goes for diapers, too!

We had packed all our stuff (did a dry run) into 1 large suitcase to check, and 1 duffle-style and one small suitcase carry-ons. In our luggage we were carrying another duffle to help us transport home memorobilia and gifts. But instead we have decided to use both duffles as carry-ons and check both suitcases. Our carry-ons have all the things we "couldn't live without" (and couldn't purchase there) and a few changes of clothes for both us and the baby (my packing prowess is impressive!). On the way home we'll check everthing - except the bag with the gifts and memorobilia.

I am amazed at the number of people who have offered to help - taking our kids, taking dogs, feeding the cats, loaning us travel items, calling in favors, etc. I'm not surprised - we have good friends, but I am really humbled by it all. Adoption is pretty good for gaining some humilty in many ways.

Hubby and I are really looking forward to the adventure of travel ahead of us. We travel well together and enjoy visiting new places. We can't wait to see Ghana and experience the culture! I could pass on the heat, though, but there's no getting around it.

In some ways, hubby and I feel like we are about to go on second honeymoon! At least it will feel that way for the first couple of days and then I suspect the baby will change that! Of course, after you've had more than one little one (especially when you get beyond 2), having just one to care for seems so easy.

Today is my daughter's 7th birthday! Happy Birthday Sweetie!

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Adoption News! UPDATED

Wow - I've been an absentee-blogger, haven't I? Well, I do have a good reason...NESTING! I've been in pretty heavy nesting mode and we just got news today and expect more tomorrow that could throw it into serious overdrive:


Tomorrow morning at 9AM (Ghana time, that is 4am EST) our petition for adoption goes to court in Ghana! We are praying for everything to go smoothly and for the judge to issue a "favorable opinion" on a final adoption decree.

My stomach is in knots - I've no idea how I'll ever get to sleep tonight. My husband has suggested wine, lots of wine. I'm not even sure *that* would do it.

I'll post in the evening (we are out of the house all day tomorrow) with any news. Thank you for your prayers!

UPDATE: Our adoption was GRANTED!! We are the parents of a new little sister! We'll be making travel plans soon, so I'm sure blogging will be a bit spotty between now and the time we return. Pray for us to be able to bring her home on the first trip (if all our documents are ready for the US Embassy, we should be able to do that!).

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Peter Piper's Picks: January 10th

Welcome to the first Peter Piper's Picks of 2009!

The first post I want to share with you is from the Deputy HeadMistress of The CommonRoom posting at Frugal Hacks. She tackles the price of convenience - and how it can undermine our budget quickly and dramatically. I also love that she pulls in some quotes from Michael Pollan - my current favorite non-fiction writer. If you've not read any of his books about the industrial food model, I highly encourage you to seek them out.

And speaking of Michael Pollan - back in October he was on NPR with Terry Gross talking about his ideas and suggestions made to the next president in an open letter published by the NY Times. A foodie blog I read Kale for Sale brought this interview to my attention. She says it is 40 mintues worth your time, and I'm certain she's right. If you aren't familiar with Michael Pollan's idea, this audio will be a good introduction.

HT to Jen and Jessica - who both pointed me toward this article. Our life as mothers often feels quite un-holy or un-contemplative as we are pulled in so many directions by so many little hands. How can we set our focus properly that we are indeed living a life of holiness and contemplation not altogether different from a monastic? I suppose the first step is in recognizing it as such. Both home and monastery are places "to learn that time is not ours, but God's."

And back to frugality - I love lists of fun or useful ways to reuse items. Here are two I found interesting: Reusing an empty McCann's Steel Cut Oats can and Uses for old, worn out jeans.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

7 Quick Takes: Jan 9th

Jen's 7 Quick Takes is up for this week! There is just something satisfying about getting quick, bite-sized bits from bloggers. This week's quick takes seemed to get longer and longer as I went along....

Our adoption court date didn't happen this week. I don't know why exactly, but suspect it might have something to do with the elections not being finalized until this past weekend. Also, our facilitator's wife just had a baby! So, we hear from him that we are "all set for court next week". TIA (this is Africa), so sometimes things get delayed.

I've had a request from a blog reader (her second request, actually) to post about how we schedule our days, specifically with Classical Conversations work. Perhaps a Mr. Linky would be in order so other CCers can add their schedules, too.

Got a new planner - you know, new year, new planner. Actually, the truth is that I switched back to an old planner. For many years I used a "Classic" sized planner and loved it, but started to feel it didn't give me enough space. So, last year decided to make the switch to the full-sized "Monarch" planner. I didn't really love that. It was just too big. I keep my planner out on my kitchen counter and that Monarch just took up too much space. So, back the the Classic and I am really happy! Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I suppose.

About that planner - one thing that has made the difference is that I switched back to Franklin Planner products. I don't know why, but they really are worth the price difference. So, if you've tried a planner and never tried Franklin Planner, I highly suggest you consider taking one of their classes and making the switch.

Meal planning - a friend recently asked me about how we plan meals. I promised to share with her a great 5 week rotation of meals I put together for my family. If anyone is interested I'll probably share it at my food blog. Check on Monday - I'll try to have it up for "Menu Plan Monday". Do you have a monthly rotation plan for your menu? I'd love to link to you if you do!

My new interest is "babywearing". Now, I don't think I'll ever be as hardcore as some of the ladies in these circles are, but I did use and enjoy a sling with my three bio kids. With the adopted little one on the way (she'll be about 6 months when she gets home), I'm beginning to get back into it. Since I gave away all my baby stuff, including the sling, I've launched myself into the world of baby wraps.

DN (dear neighbor) used one in China for her adopted daughter and she's passed that one on to me, but I've also purchased another one (Storchenwiege Inka - if you are interested). DN's was a stretchy one - great for little babies, but the other one I purchased is a woven one. These are better for bigger babies (so I read). It is very long (like 12') and good for many different carries. When we get to Ghana, I think I will also purchase fabric to make a smaller one, good for simple carries. Between the three I should be covered for the next couple of years!

I've been spending oodles of time reading about and trying out different carries. It is like a whole subculture: Front wrap cross carry, rucksack carry, poppins rebozo carry, strap carry, etc. My DD (6) has been my guinea pig for the carries and helping me "break in" my wrap.

This is really the year for change...and you'll think this is odd. but somehow our kitchen applicance always seem to be the "canary in the coal" mine. Something in the kitchen goes and major change is on its way (or has just happened.

Now this is weird...for 15 years we had a great little black&decker toaster oven that chugged away almost daily and then it had a little fire and died. We replaced it with another black&decker which didn't last long at all. In fact, the knobs broke off (we could still use it by using a pair of pliers to set the timer) and then this week it stopped working altogether.

So, I started looking to replace it...but all I could find were super-cheap toaster ovens or super expensive ($75 and up!). There were some inbetween models but they did not get good reviews. Well, in thinking about how we use a toaster oven these days (really only for toast) we decided that it might be wise to go back to just a plain toaster. You can get a decent one for $25 and we did!

It is just so strange afer 16+ years of a toaster oven, we are back to a basic toaster. Hubby has doubts that we won't miss our toaster oven (and we might). But with the size of our family growing, we really can't use the toaster oven to fix small meals (we don't fix small meals!), it makes less sense to invest in technology we won't use. Long live the TOASTER!

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Carnival of Homeschooling - Third Anniversary!

The Third Anniversary of the Carnival of Homeschooling is up at it's original home: Why Homeschool. This is the grandmama of all Homeschooling Carnivals! This week's in particular is quite large (55 entries!) and looks to have some really great entries.

Some that look particularly interesting:

Don't miss it!

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Monday, January 5, 2009

A Family Epiphany 2009

A re-post, with some updates, from last year's A Family Epiphany:
Tuesday 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.

There are lots of fun craft ideas you could do to celebrate with and teach your kids about Epiphany. If you have kids who like to color here are some coloring pages to print. You might also make some paper crowns and let the kids decorate them with glitter and such. The website Catholic Culture has some wonderful information, too. Be sure not to miss the items (recipes, prayers, activities) in the drop-down menus in the top bar.

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). Of course, you'll use "09" for 2009 this year! I also read a suggestion to make the marks on all the doors leading to the outside.

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". I'm using this King Cake recipe this year.

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!

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Crockpot Cabbage Casserole

Serve this with sausage and corn bread and you've got a nice meal! Serves 6.

1 large head of cabbage, chopped
2 c water
1 T salt

1/3 c butter
1/4 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/3 c milk
1 1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese

Cook cabbage in saucepan in boiling water and salt for 5 mintues. Drain. Place in slow cooker.

In saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Add milk, stirring constantly on low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese. Pour over cabbage.

Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Can be made ith cauliflower instead of cabbage.

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Classical Conversations - Cycle 3 - Science

Yesterday I finished the History lesson plan for Cycle 3, now I've got the Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Science lesson plan for you! Scroll down to the beginning of the second semester.

Don't forget to check out my Amazon "aStore" (I get a small precentage of each purchase you make through blog links and the "store". If you enjoy this blog and/or this lesson plan, it is a great way to say "thanks" - and doesn't cost you a thing! :) ) I've added books I use for these lessons plans - plus lots of others!

Please leave a comment if you download this. Also, if you share with friends, would you direct them to my blog to download this rather than just sharing the file? Thanks, that will help me gauge the usefulness and circulation of this info.

Follow this link for the Science lesson plan for Cycle 3. Enjoy!

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Classical Conversations - Cycle 3 - History

As promised (even if a bit late), I've got the 2nd semester history lesson plan for Classical Conversations Cycle 3 ready! Scroll down to the beginning of the second semester. You'll notice I'm still filling in some resources for the last couple of weeks (covering present day info and some US Goverment), but I think there is enough there to cover the material.

Need books for this semester? Check out my Amazon "aStore" (I get a small precentage of each purchase you make through blog links and the "store". If you enjoy this blog and/or this lesson plan, it is a great way to say "thanks" - and doesn't cost you a thing! :) )

Please leave a comment if you download this. Also, if you share with friends, would you direct them to my blog to download this rather than just sharing the file? Thanks, that will help me gauge the usefulness and circulation of this info.

Here is the link to the History Lesson Plan. It is a GoogleDoc, so you should be able to download right from that page with no problems, but let me know if you need some help.


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Black-eyed Peas and Sausage

This is a dish I made up last night and it was just wonderful! Easy to put-together, a one-disher (well, except for the rice), warm and filling...and cheap.

1 lb bag of dried black-eyed peas (or 4 cans of cooked, but dried are easy and cheap)
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, sliced
butter or oil to cook the onions and celery (about 1 - 2 Tablespoons)
1 lb or so of italian sausage (I get "sweet" italian turkey sausage)
1 can of tomato paste
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
4 cups of cooked rice

Soak the dried peas overnight in 7-8 cups of water in a seperate bowl.

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, melt your butter/warm your oil and saute the onions for a minute. Salt the onions to "sweat" them out a bit and then toss in the celery. Cook it all until just soft. Pour in your beans and the soaking water in to the pot.

Bring the pot to a gentle boil. Add the tomato paste, stirring well to make a nice sauce. Throw in your sausage and cook everything for 20 minutes or 30 minutes. You can put the sausage in whole or cut it up. If you you cut it up first, you should throw it in towards the end so it doesn't overcook.

Season to taste and reduce heat to a very, very gentle simmer to keep it warm with the flavors meld a bit more. If cooking in a dutch oven, put the pot in a warmed oven rather than keeping it on the stove top if you wish. I warmed my oven to 250 and then turned it off when I put the dutch oven in.

Serve it over warm rice and you are set to go! This will serve a crowd or a family of 5 for dinner and lunch the next day...and then some. Since this is a new dish to me (and I made it up), if you have any suggestions please leave me a comment.

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7 Quick Takes: Jan 2nd

Jen's got her weekly "7 Quick Takes" back up and running again. Go check it out!

Yesterday, I bought HUGE dutch oven. It is a 7 quart blue-enameled cast iron monster- and I love it. Ever since I purchased my Julia Child cook book and ran across a number of recipes calling for a dutch oven, I've been mulling over this acquisition.

Le Crueset is THE BRAND, of course, but I really can't justify the expense right now (about $260). I'd been considering going with a brand that got good reviews for being a quality inexpensive one (about $50 at WalMart), even though there were some things I didn't like about it (knob could only go to 350 while pot could go much higher...a little smaller size than I liked). But then...low and behold, I found a Cuisinart brand (with an enameled cast-iron lid knob, too!) at TJ Maxx for $70! It retails at $125. I had some Christmas money to spend, so that was a happy cash purchase.

I used my new dutch oven to make a delicious pot of black-eyed peas and sausage last night. Gotta eat my black-eyed peas on New Year's Day! I'll post the recipe on my food blog: To Every Meal A Season. It was REALLY easy and got rave reviews from the whole family. And it doesn't require a dutch oven to cook - but it sure was a nice pot to use.

Trying to order parts for a crib I'm borrowing from a friend. The voice mail says, "We are closed for the Holidays and will re-open on Jan 2nd." But they aren't answering their phones. Oh, well...guess they decided to extend their holiday break until Monday. I don't blame them. Can't believe it is time to get that set up!

Spent New Year's Eve Day reorganizing my laundry room/craft/school supplies. Hubby and the boys hung some new wire shelving back in November and I finally had some time to really work on getting them all organized in an efficient manner. I've got mostly art supplies, school games, and "table time" activities ...and of course the laundry and cleaning supplies. Today, I'm working organzing my "desk" space (really just a corner of the kitchen counter). Maybe I'll post photos when I finish.

Another project for today (and this weekend) is working on the rest of my lesson plans: Science, Ancients, Literature, etc. These plans might make good fodder for blog posts, too, no? I'll share documents via GoogleDocs as I finish them - and add books to my Amazon "aStore". Let me know if you find this helpful. (And any books you purchase through links on this blog or from my "aStore"earns me a tiny bit of credit at Amazon - not much, but enough to purchase a good book every now and again.)

Our dishwasher is broken! It has been giving us problems intermittently for the past year, but not enough to cause us a real inconvenience. Just occassionally it won't start right up and it needs to be opened and closed a couple times before it "clicks" on...well, now it isn't starting at all. Luckily, I did find some info on the web to help us try to fix it before we call in a repairman. I'll let you know how that turns out...Oh, how my hubby LOVES plumbing work. Update: It was a 15 minute, FREE fix! Apparently, this model (GE Nautilus) has a fan that sometimes gets stuck and this shuts down the motor as a safety feature. The fan just needs to be cleaned off and loosened up. Yea!

Seven - The Best for Last
This upcoming week is our court date for our adoption (don't know which day, yet). We do not have to be there in person, but will be represented instead. Pray for everything to go well - and for a positive outcome! (The judge should give a "favorable opinion" followed by the final adoption decree about 2 weeks later.)

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Scholar's New Year Review

Welcome to 2009! Often this time of year leaves me feeing a little breathless, sort of a "How did we get here?" But this year, it really feels like a new really feels like 2009 - maybe because it has been a very full year. Whatever the reason - I'm glad a new year is here!

One wonderful thing about keeping a blog is that it lets you look back to see what you've thought about, dreamed up, worried over, and maybe even accomplised over the course of a year. When I looked back today, I was surprised to see what's been on the Ten O'Clock Scholar blog this year! Take a look:



I planned and hosted a Way of the Cross for Children
and don't miss the photos from that event!

We decided to expand our family by international adoption


(fyi - I'm working right now on the second semester and should have it posted this weekend)


Started a new blog: To Every Meal a Season

(I'm planning on some updates to this, so watch for that upcoming post!)

A post for Blog Action Day (this year's focus: Poverty) on Holy Poverty.


Rethinking the Christmas Craze - maybe it isn't so crazy after all.

This year is shaping up to be one of big changes for our family and I hope to hone my focus on this blog a bit more, so I hope you'll visit often!
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