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Monday, January 31, 2011

Daybook - January 31st

outside my window . . . the day seems a bit colorless, especially after yesterday's brilliant afternoon.  A thorough chilliness is settling back in.

I am listening to . . . my two-year old throw a "me do" frustration temper tantrum.

I am wearing . . .brown pants, brown sweater, tan knit shirt and a pale pink scarf.

I am so grateful for . . . morning fellowship with two dear friends.  Laughter, prayer, and coffee.

I'm pondering . . . Romans 12.

I am reading . . . Romans 12.

I am creating . . . still working on the crochet shawl.  It may be a while.

I am thankful for . . .
a generous welcome for our new youth director
a delightful, if small, birthday party for my Little E
hubby's help with getting my eldest off to school allowing me to start school here earlier
friends who "get" me - even when I don't "get" myself
loving family even through a tumultuous adjustment period

around the house . . . we have one more day to get the dining table cleared of the Christmas stuff.  It is about half put away.

from the kitchen . . . Salmon tonight for Little E's birthday dinner.  Last night, her actual birthday, was a youth night so the family wasn't all together.  We'll toast her 9th birthday tonight over her favorite meal!

real education in our home . . . finishing up Adam and His Kin this week and moving on to the story of Gilgamesh next week.  I have a trilogy of Gilgamesh picture books - beautiful illustrations.

the church year in our home . . . we'll read a little about Brigid of Kildare tomorrow and enjoy some Irish tea bread.  The next day is Candlemas.  I'm hoping to come up with a little celebration for that.  I've yet to find a kit for beeswax candles. 

recent milestones . . .
Baby L's new word: Shu-by (Shelby - one of our dogs)
My sweet middle daughter, Little E, turned 9!!!

the week ahead. . .
Funeral today;
Busy Thursday: Open House at our son's school, ballet-tap, and then family coming in to town

picture thought . . .

Birthday fun - Little E in the middle

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Latin for Preschoolers

How can I exlpain to my husband about why 4year olds need to learn latin? He wonders why they can't learn a more practical language like Spanish. AND he doesn't even see that Chinese IS the new spanish...HELP!

This question was posed to me recently in email by a reader. I gave her my answer, which I'll share below, but I would love to ask you all how you would answer her. Leave a comment and let's give this sweet mom some support!

Here's my answer to her . . .
Oh, my, I don't think you are going to like my answer. 
I honestly don't know why your 4 year olds need to learn Latin either. They have plenty of time for that later. However, if your question is why Latin over Spanish, that is a different question. Spanish is a great language for anyone to learn, as is Chinese. Highly valuable and worthwhile. Latin is a worthy language to master, too. It gives you a better grasp of the English language, helps with anyone going into medicine or science or classics, and does help develop the mind in logic and thinking skills. But I don't think it needs to be started so young for it to be valuable.
My eldest started some basic Latin memory at 11 (in CC Foundations) and took Latin in Challenge A and B. Hated it, but did very well. He's taken Spanish this year and loves it. If he does return to CC next year, I'll require him to do well at Latin for one year and then I'll let him do Spanish in addition to Latin. 
I don't see anything wrong with a young child learning a fun language like Spanish or Chinese. Nor do I see anything wrong with your young children learning Latin, but I don't think it is required. Of course all this is just one homeschool mom's opinion! (And I would add here that I think there are far more important things to be learning at 4, like Winnie-the-Pooh and what frogs do in the winter and how to make the color orange and how to make their bed.)
Here is a video you might share with your husband about the value of learning Latin. But I would keep in mind that he has a good point, knowing a practical language is valuable and worthwhile. 
A YouTube Video - personally, the 5th reason is really the most important, but they are all good.

So, do you agree? Can Latin wait until later? Should Latin wait until later?

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Year Without Classical

The subject of Classical Conversations has been quite absent from this blog in the past year...and even then it was a mere mention.  I think a number of my subscribers were originally brought here by a CC post back early 2008 and I am amazed they've stuck around for so long when I have lately offered them so little of what they originally sought.

I haven't talked about it much on the blog, but we have had a "year without classical conversations".  Well, not exactly a year, but a long season.

Our eldest has been attending a small, private Charlotte Mason-based school for his first year of high school.  In order for us to afford the tuition, it made sense to have the other kids at home and save the CC tuition.  They seemed to need a break from CC...or perhaps just a season at home after so many changes in their lives (adoption, best friends moving away, a pending move, divorce in the extended family).  And they have enjoyed this "season at home".   We all have.  It was definitely necessary as we adjusted to a new schedule with one out of the house each day.

A couple of weeks ago those two at-home kids asked, "When could we go back to CC, Mama?"  So, we are considering a return next year.

As I said earlier, our eldest has been attending a private school.  We'd thought he would be there for his whole high school program.  We were all very excited about that, but it isn't looking likely.  He's had a good year and it has been a positive experience for him.  However, for a number of reasons, he'll be returning home next year.  Thus, he will most likely return to the Challenge program next year.

Around the time we began considering all these issues, I received a comment on that original post ("5 Questions about Classical Answered").  The commenter had some great questions and I hope my answer was helpful.  As I finished writing my response I thought it pretty well summed up my thoughts on CC.   Perhaps you are one of those readers who has wondered when I'd post about CC again.  Maybe this will give some food for thought about CC.

She asked:
I currently homeschool through an online charter school.  I really like the curriculum. Though it isn't Christian, I can interject my thoughts on the topics. We go to a co-op once a week with about 30 other families, most of which are Christian, and the kids do art science and history there. I am hesitant to completely change what we're doing because my daughters have made great friends and are doing well.

I am curious though, to understand a bit more. Is the "memory work" the "tools" used in later years (challenge?) in the dialectic stage? Is memory work the main focus in the elementary years and do they truly memorize the information? I'm trying to understand how the kids are "taught to learn" and "taught to think."

Finally, if I wanted to incorporate CC into my current homeschool and not completely change curriculum, what would you suggest? Any certain activities or CC products?

Thank you for your time and insight.

I answered:
It sounds like you have a positive learning experience your are involved in. I'm not sure I would change it if it is working well for your family. Unless there is something *you* aren't happy about...or if you are feeling the need to do something different for your children (ie just because they like something doesn't mean it is the best). So, I wouldn't be quick to change unless you really feel a need to do so.

The tools that are learned in the grammar stage, which for CC are probably most importantly fact memorization and presenting one's thoughts and ideas, are the very things that undergird the upper levels of learning.

It is often described as learning "pegs". You place the "pegs" in your child's mind through memory and then later when they learn something that relates to that "peg" they have a place to hang it.

For example, my son had been working on learning all the countries and capitals. One day he was listening to the news with me and he exclaimed, "Hey, I know where that is!" I wish I could remember what country it was, but I remember thinking it was a fairly obscure country. Certainly one that many people would have to look up to fully understand the story being reported. My son had a "peg" on which to hang that information and thus his learning was enhanced. Because he had that fact, he was then FREE to think about what he was hearing.

That is the basic idea.

And it is how we learn. We learn the basics, then we begin trying them out, then we become masters at it. I want to learn crochet. First I learn the basic stitches and their names. I memorize them. (Grammar) Then I begin putting them together, trying them out. I make a scarf. Mostly, I still need a pattern. (Dialectic) Eventually, I become a master and can create my own patterns. I share them with others. (Rhetoric) So, that is how we learn to learn and learn to think. Through the process of learning to crochet...I've learned a good pattern for learning ANYTHING else in life. But I've also learned to think up my own patters - to think. I am FREE from patterns of others, I can make anything!

But this idea is NOT exclusive to CC. It is part of the classical model of education and you could use that ancient wisdom to enrich any educational models you are currently using.

CC helps by doing a great deal of the leg work for you - gathering facts and showing you ways to present those facts in a way that is engaging to your students.

I'd suggest perusing the CiRCE Institute and Christine Miller's Classical Education websites for more information on the classical model. Both are excellent resources!

Oh, and you asked how Christ is incorporated? Well, Christ is The Word and The Truth. So, if you are studying Truth, you are studying Him.  (In retrospect that was a bit of a flippant answer.  But I do stand by it.  I think I was just running out of steam.)

There is a specific scripture memory component to CC.

What are your thoughts on Classical Conversations?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Epiphany Season Menu: Emeril's Pot Roast

I found this recipe on  The contributor says it is an Emeril Lagasse recipe.  All I know is it is pretty easy and smells delicious as it is cooking in my oven right now.

Emeril's Pot Roast
Serves 5

1 chuck roast (2 1/2 lbs)
5 garlic cloves, peeled
olive oil  to taste (1/2 T)
salt and pepper to taste
2 c beef stock
1/2 lb potatoes, quartered
1 med onion, peeled and quartered
1/2 lb carrots, peeled (I cut in 3rds)
1/2 lb turnips, peeled (I cut in quarters)
1/2 lb parsnips, peeled (I cut into 3rd)
1/8 c flour
1/4 c water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Make 5 slits throughout roast.  Stuff a clove of garlic in each slit.  Rub the entire roast with olive oil.  Season wit salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  When the pan is hot, sear the roast on all sides, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the pan and place the roast in a dutch oven with a cover.  Add the stock and cover.  Place in the oven and cook for 4 hours.  (I turned mine about half way through as recommended by another chef.)

Place the vegetables around the roast and cover.  Cook for an additional hour.  Remove the roast from the oven and arrange on a serving platter, reserving the liquid.  Whisk the flour and water together.  Pour the reserved liquid and grime into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Whist the flour mixter into the reserved liquid.  Bring the liquid back to a simmer and cook for 4-6 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

I'm hoping there will be some leftovers to make soup with tomorrow for lunch.  We'll see. . .

Monday, January 24, 2011

Epiphany Season Menu: Bacon-Leek Tart

My first recipe to share from the Epiphany Season Menu rotation. This recipe is from a Southern Living "One-Dish Meal" magazine.  It was quite tasty and I'm glad we'll be getting to enjoy this!  I will say that for my family of 6 I made the recipe as is and it served just enough.  Next time I'll double this and make it in larger dish.

Bacon-Leek Tart

4 med leeks
3 thick hickory-smoked bacon slices
1 c shredded Gruyere (or swiss) cheese, divided
2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dry)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 package (17.3 oz) frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 egg white

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Remove and discard root ends and dark green tops of leeks.  Thinly slice the leeks, and rinse thoroughly under cold running water to remove grit and sand.  (I like to let mine sit in a big bowl of water giving them a little swish here and there.  If needed drain, rinse and soak again.)

Cook bacon slices in a large skillet over medium-high heat for about 8-11 minues or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 Tbsp of the hot drippings in the skillet.  (I was not picky about how much was left.)  Crumble bacon.

Saute leeks in hot drippings over medium heat 5-7 minutes or until tender.  Stir in 1/2 cup cheese, thyme, salt and pepper.  (I didn't want the cheese to melt all over my cast iron pan, so I didn't add the cheese at this point.  I waited and added it to the puff pastry just before I put on the leeks.)

Unfold pastry sheet; fit into a 9-in square pan with a removable bottom (I used a 10' round tart pan and served it like a savory pie instead).  Whisk egg white until light and frothy. Brush egg white onto pastry sheet.

Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until browned.  Remove from the oven.  Press pastry with back of a spoon to flatten.  Top with leek mixture; sprinkle with crumbled bacon and remaining 1/2 c cheese.  Bake 5 - 7 minutes more or until cheese is melted.

Recipe notes:

* So, my tart was layered: cheese, leeks, bacon, cheese.

* Do NOT use turkey bacon.  It is just too tough.  The flavor of the turkey bacon was fine, but it was hard to cut.  Next time I will not make that mistake.

* I served this with a big green salad and canned peaches.  A crusty loaf of bread would be nice, but it just seemed like too much bread with that flaky crust.

* This seems very fancy, but it was really quite easy to make.  And quite tasty!

Daybook - January 24th

outside my window . . . oh, another grey-hued day, but I think there is a hint of sun.  What type of trees are they that keep those pale orange leaves all winter?  Why do they do that?  I think we need to learn about that today.

I am listening to . . . Diane Rehm and my girls enjoying a warm oatmeal breakfast.

I am wearing . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . JEANS, a dark purple alpaca sweater and brown top.  Thinking about adding a warm scarf as it is chilly this morning.  Oh - and a new hair cut!  My dear friend and hairdresser, Julie, blew out my hair at my appointment last week.  I really liked it, so I've continued blowing it out a bit.  Still curly, but the curls are a bit more sleek and defined.

I am so grateful for . . . educational options.

I'm pondering . . . those very educational options.  Also, the "worthless servant" who buried his talent in the ground rather than using it.

I am reading . . . almost finished with The White Queen, about half-way through my first reading of John Locke's "The Reasonableness of Christianity", Euthyphro, and my February "First Things".

I am creating . . . a new crochet project - a wrap for me.

around the house . . . working on new chore charts - finally.

from the kitchen . . . Bacon-Leek Tart tonight, and my first ever try at a Pot Roast later this week.  Hubby and I were complete vegetarians for over 10 years, but have slowly been adding meat to our family menu over the past few years.   Beef is our newest addition.  In the past it has been mostly meatballs, meatloaf or in spaghetti sauce.  This will be the first roast!

real education in our home . . . we are continuing to enjoy learning about bones.  I've got a fun game of "Simon Says" planned for today's science lesson.  "Simon says. . .  touch your patella!"  The goal being to learn the names of major bones in our bodies.

rhythm and beauty in our home . . watching the paperwhites bloom the past two weeks has been soothing and reassuring.  I do love the quiet coldness of winter with its crackling crisp air, but it is bearable only when we know spring is on its way.  And the scent, which my mother hates and I'll have to remove them from the house before she arrives this weekend, has a sharp note - almost acidic, but in a soft flowery way.

the church year in our home . . . working on Epiphany icons this week.  I've been meaning to do this for some time, but it is on my "to do" list.

one of my favorite things . . . Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea.

the week ahead. . . Wednesday: Going to visit a Classical Conversations community as we consider educational options for next year.  Friday: Mom and Step-Dad coming to visit.  Sunday oldest daughter E's 9th birthday!

picture thoughts . . .

I love this little miniature painting.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Amusing Ourselves to Death - my notes

Dorothy discovers "the Great and Powerful Oz"
Way back in high school (I'll confess my age by telling you that I graduated in 1988) I read Animal Farm and loved reading it and discussing it in and out of class.

A few years ago I picked up Brave New World by Huxley.  While Animal Farm was a clarifying look at totalitarianism, Brave New World is a prophetic look at our own world of "Freedom from"  rather than "freedom to": freedom from religion, freedom from responsibility, freedom from truth, for example.  I was totally transfixed.  Someone had pulled back the curtain to show the man behind the "Great and Powerful Oz".

In conversations with friends more recently I'd been introduced to Neil Postman's ideas, specifically, his comparison of Brave New World and Animal Farm.  With those two worlds percolating in my mind, I decided I ought to read Postman's book Amusing Ourselves to Death.  And so I finally picked up a copy  last year.  It sat on my shelf for some time waiting its turn to be put in my "reading" pile.  It is a very slow moving pile, admittedly.

Well after a few months, I've finally finished it!

Here are my notes from Chapter 1.  Others to follow.

Ch. 1 The Medium is the Metaphor

"...the clock has the effect of disassociating time from human events and thus nourishes the belief in an independent world of mathematically measurable sequences.  ... in the fourteenth century, the clock mad us into time-keepers, and then time-savers, and now time-servers.  In the process, we have learned irreverence toward the sun and the seasons, for in a world made up of seconds and minutes, the authority of natures is superseded. ... Eternity ceased to serve as the measure and focus of human events."

This and some comments from Andrew Kern (wish I could remember where he talked about this - maybe if he reads this he can help?) makes me want to read more about this time period.  But more importantly doesn't this idea just floor you?  That something as innocuous as the invention of the clock, something I am quite partial to, could change a culture so drastically.

Having experience with a culture that is not "pre-clock", but not at all a servant of the clock, it is a hard thing to not feel that we clock-lovers are superior.  Surely, it is a virtue to be where you say you will be when you say you will be there, right?  But then you begin to realize that the other culture is far more free.  They are always on time, because "late" doesn't have a real meaning in their culture.  It allows the freedom to stop and take care of the needs of a friend or stranger when you aren't under the pressure to "be on time".

What more might lay ahead for me in this book.  I'm almost afraid to read on.  I'm not sure I want to know.

Epiphany Season Menus

In the past, the sweet blogger at Evlogia has shared seasonal menus.  She creates  a basic one week menu that is repeated for the whole season.  The seasons being based on a Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar.  Tried the one week and it wasn't enough variety for my family.  This Advent and Christmas I tried an alternating week with a few changes here and there for feast days.  It worked fairly well - although I find I don't stick to it perfectly.  Very typical of me.

While I'm a little late (also typical), I have done my Epiphany Season/Ordinary Time menu and thought I'd share it with you!  I love having it planned out...I don't have to think what is for dinner - or lunch - or breakfast.  But I will say that we are terrible at keeping to my plan for breakfast, excellent with lunch, and fairly good with dinner. Things do come up, so sometimes we have to "punt".  (I keep a supply of quick and easy dinners around: frozen asian dumplings, pasta and sauce, etc)  

If you are not a menu planner, this may seem like a straightjacket.  I promise you it isn't.  It actually gives you quite a bit of freedom!  Give it a try and see what you think.  Plan out some basic meals.  Try not to plan pasta meals back to back.  Or soup for lunch and dinner.  Give some thought to how you can piggy-back meals (roast chicken becomes soup later in the week).  Often I keep one evening free and call it "Clean out the Fridge"....we eat leftovers or whatever we scrounge up.  (We aren't doing it now because hubby and I are eating leftovers at lunch - the planned meals in the menu are for the kids.)  Just remember the menu plan is there to help you...if you all have a hankering for tacos and the menu says pasta - ditch the plan!  You own it, not the other way around. 

Recipes for my menu plans will be posted here and there.  If there is one you'd really like to have, please let me know.

Here is the link to the Google Doc: Epiphany Meals

Have a productive Saturday and a restful Sunday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Today is . . .

. . .a special day in our home.  Two years ago this sweet girl became part of our family.    

We celebrated with fresh Krispie Kreme doughnuts.  YUM!  As you can see, L is not shy about eating!

Oh, yes, they are that good.

Cheers, Baby L, here's to two years as a part of our family.

Adoption 2nd Anniversary!

We celebrated with fresh Krispie Kreme doughnuts.  YUM!  As you can see, L is not shy about eating!

Oh, yes, these are that good.

Cheers, Baby L, here's to two years as a part of our family.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Have you heard of choosing a "word of the year"?  I think I'd had the idea floated past me sometime in the past year or two, but a few bloggers that I read regularly recently posted about choosing their word of the year and I thought it sounded like a wise idea.

The idea, or at least the way I'm using the idea, is to select a word that you will meditate and ponder and seek God's wisdom about.  How can you live out that word?  How do you need to learn to be that word?  How can you believe that word?

I prayed about it and contemplated what word might be meaningful.  What word I needed to learn by heart.  And the word that came to me was "Worth".   Mostly that I need to learn my own worth - my worthiness before God and man.  But I also need to recognize the ways I'm not living in a way worthy of God.

For all its worth.  

Worth its weight in gold.  

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Here's the first little nugget I got today from my bible reading:

Proverbs 6:12-14   A worthless person, a wicked man, is the one who walks with a perverse mouth, who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet, who points with his fingers; who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil, who spreads strife.

That's a lot to ponder right there.

Are you interested in choosing a word for 2011?  Here are some posts by other bloggers to give you more ideas. . .

Ali Edwards seems to have been the originator of this idea, at least as far as the blogosphere goes.  I do find it hard to believe that in all the history of mankind it hasn't been done by others before, so if you've heard of this from some a Church Father, I wouldn't be surprised.

Christine Kane takes a look at how a word of the year makes a much better resolution than a resolution.

I'm going to steal The Thinking Mother's idea and make my own Word of the Year mug.

If you have or decide to choose a word of the year, please leave a comment!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Daybook - January 17th: The Big Thaw

outside my window . . .  the Big Thaw is on and in a heavy-construction neighborhood (there are 8 houses currently being built, a few more lots being cleared and prepared) with a giant mud-pit in the middle of the road (stalled road repair) that means a lot of RED CLAY mud.  Yuck.

I am listening to . . . Diane Rehm's story about Mark Twain's biography.  He wouldn't allow it to be released until 100 years had passed since his death.  Not a lot of money for books right now, but this is one I might have to splurge on.  And the 3 at-home kids are busy at the kitchen table drawing and being silly.

I am wearing . . .  jeans (I know, I really need to branch out), colorful striped wool sweater, my favorite Dansko Almandine Tiger's Eye clogs.  I've heard people say that the new ones that are made in China are not as comfortable as the ones from Denmark.  It's hard to say.  My old ones are so comfortable, but I think that is because they are wonderfully worn in.  The "fancy" leather probably has less give than the plain, too.  But now that I've had them for a few months, I think they are just about as comfortable as my old ones.

I am so grateful for . . .  my husband's prayer/accountability group.  He gets up early each Monday morning and meets with two other guys he's been friends with for a long time.  They've helped each other through a lot.  I'm hoping to have the same thing someday soon!

I'm pondering . . .  my mid-year educational re-adjustment.  Seems like the cold winter days tend to make me feel the need to assess what is working and what isn't.  The basics are getting done, but I'm feeling the need to get back to including those enriching areas: nature study, poetry, art, music.

I am reading . . . my new First Things arrived this week!  It is still temptingly-wrapped in its plastic wrapper.  Still plodding through The White Queen (frivolous historical fiction).  Plato's Friendship.  The Reasonableness of Christianity by John Locke.  I'm enjoying the Plato.  The Locke is a very, very slow reading.  This may be on me "reading" pile for some time.

I am thinking . . . about friendship itself and my word for the year "Worth".

I am creating . . . my menu plan for Epiphany Season (Ordinary Time).  I sat down last night and wrote out my plan for the next couple of months.  Enough repetition to make my job easy, but enough variety to not be boring.

on my iPod . . . I've decided that in addition to my Orthodox podcasts, I'll balance out with some Reformed podcasts.  So, I've found a favorites right now are: The White Horse Inn and Ordinary Means.  I've noticed a decided difference in attitude between the speakers from each church background.  Orthodox speakers, even when very intellectual, have this amazing undercurrent of humility.  I've found the Reformed speakers less so...but I am enjoying getting a better understanding of the Reformed theological perspective.

around the house . . . laundry to be put away, Christmas decorations are taken down and waiting to be boxed up.

from the kitchen . . .  we have some bananas that are well on their way to being ready for banana bread.  I've also got some leftover rice I might make into rice pudding for dessert.

real education in our home . . . Well, as I said, I'm doing some thinking about our home school.  With the move we pared down to just the basics while we got the house settled and haven't quite gotten back to full steam, if we ever were there.  I am one to err on the side of letting my kids explore a new game or interest rather than pushing through with my own school plans.  This can be taken too far...but how far is too far?  Right now my kids are enjoying making a shadow puppet show in our coat closet.

rhythm and beauty in our home . . . we are trying a new schedule to accommodate Toddler L's needs.  Instead of trying to do one-on-one school while she is up with us, I am getting my older daughter (8) up early to do school before Toddler L awakes.  We then do the "fun" school subjects: history and science reading, projects, etc while she is awake.  Then after she goes down for her afternoon nap my younger son (11) and I get his school work done.  We've only done it for a few days, but it seems to work pretty well.

the church year in our home . . . looking ahead into the Epiphany season.  Considering what saints we might want to read about and what days to celebrate.

one of my favorite things . . . this will sound silly, but my mom and step-dad gave me the most delicious jam for Christmas.  It is called "FROG" jam - fig, raspberry, orange, ginger.  It is just heavenly!  I enjoy it on my leftover St. Lucia bread each morning.  And sometimes in the afternoon, too!

the week ahead. . .
:-: school meeting (eldest son's high school) tonight.
:-: a church meeting Wednesday night.  Need to think and pray about that one.
:-: L's adoption day anniversary Thursday (2 years since we passed court in Ghana)
:-: friends over for dinner on Saturday

picture thought . . .

My boys posing in front of a statue in downtown Fredericksburg, VA on our Thanksgiving trip.
I just love this photo.  H (on left) is 11, S (on right) is 14.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A week of winter pleasures

We rarely get to enjoy the quiet whiteness of a snowy landscape.

Steaming bowls of homemade chicken and rice soup.

Little E teaches us how to make some playdoh creatures.

Toddler L enjoying a morning of playdoh

A first sleepover with our new neighbor (in the white, little E in pink)!

Not the best picture, but I had to show you what our crazy dog does.   She even sits perched on this stool like some over-sized bird.

a promise of spring

A week of winter pleasures

We rarely get to enjoy the quiet whiteness of a snowy landscape.

Steaming bowls of homemade chicken and rice soup.

Little E teaches us how to make some playdoh creatures.

Toddler L enjoying a morning of playdoh fun

A first sleepover!

Not the best picture, but I had to show you what our crazy dog does.   She even sits perched on this stool like some over-sized bird.

a promise of spring

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Don't miss this...

Cindy is doing a new book study on Ten Ways to Destroy Your The Imagination of Your Child.    I'm not a participant, but just reading the book club posts is phenomenal.  It isn't too late to join in, and it is never too late to read the commentary!

The first week's post and links can be found at:  Book Club: Chapter One - Why Truth Is Your Enemy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Daybook - January 10th: SNOW!

Outside my window ... the snow has been falling since 3 this morning. They say it will snow all day!  We've got about 4 inches on the ground as of early afternoon.

I am listening to ... my daughter and her friend playing with the King Louis. They are warming up from a couple of hours in the snow.

I am wearing ... jeans (imagine that), tan knit top, bright robin egg blue top over that (layering, you know), a gray wool sweater, and a pretty blue, tan, purple scarf to keep my neck warm.

I am so grateful for ... snow days, homemade hot cocoa, warm fires, and snuggly socks.

around the house ... did not get Christmas taken down this weekend, I think this might be a perfect activity for a snow day.  Guess I'd better get started.  My kitchen is in serious need of the Kitchen Fairy.  I think she has taken a snow day, too.

from the kitchen ... pot of broth simmering on the stove for soup tonight.  Hopefully some homemade bread, too.

one of my favorite things ... our new fancy coffee press.  (old one hit the floor and shattered a couple of weeks ago)

recent milestones ...  Baby L's newest phrase is "Me, too?" which we hear anytime someone asks if they can do something.  Pretty cute.  We like to make up silly, but awful things to ask and see if she'll say, "Me, too?"  "Can I go have my ingrown toe nail extracted?"  "Me, too?"

a few plans for the rest of the week ...
   a lot will depend on the snow - we may be home quite a bit this week but if not....
:-: meeting at the church office Wednesday evening
:-: ballet and tap for E on Thursday
:-: some friends over for dinner on Friday

picture thought ...
Little E and hubby (out of the frame) clear snow off the car.  Didn't last long, within a few minutes it was covered again!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Daybook - January 6th, Epiphany

Outside My Window ... a normal January day: 40s, sunny.   Construction has begun on the house next door. The lot has been cleared and the well dug.  Soon we'll be awakened to the sound of hammering and sawing.  I'm starting to think our neighborhood should have been named "The Big Muddy".

I am Listening to ... my daughters singing songs from Little Mermaid.  We are having a very light school day today.

I am Wearing ... my favorite black jeans, pink knit top, and gray wool sweater.  Warm.  Easy to move in.  Nice looking, but not fussy.

I am so grateful for ... a friend's safe return home from the ER last night.  Follow ups with the doctor today should set everyone's minds at ease that all is as it should be.

I'm Pondering ... generations.  How should they be named?  When?  What will this most current generation reaching adulthood be called?

I am Reading ... Amusing Ourselves to Death N Postman, The White Queen P. Gregory, and still working on the December First Things journal.  Still working on a lot of things, actually.

Towards a Real Education ... considering how to proceed with a toddler who needs lots of undivided attention.  It is tricky trying to juggle their needs!  We are still thoroughly enjoying Adam and His Kin.

Towards Rhythm and Beauty ... after illness and Christmas, we are getting back on track.  I slept in many mornings recently, so I'm resetting my body's schedule to get up early again.  It's groggy around here.

To Live the Liturgy ...  It is Epiphany!  We are extending ours a bit to keep the celebration going while my Dad visits.  But we'll pack it up this weekend and have a small, family Epiphany celebration Saturday night.

Around the House ... always catching up on laundry.  Next week, we resume the "new house" sorting.  We've run out of shelf space for books, so it is time take a serious look at some of what we own.

From the Kitchen ... soup today for lunches the next couple of days, hopefully some bread, and baked chicken for dinner tonight.  I have some bananas looking mopey, so maybe some banana bread.

One of My Favorite Things ... our new lighting in the kitchen!  We had one sad light fixture in our kitchen prep area.  Horrible lighting - could hardly see what I was doing.  This weekend we installed under-the-counter lighting and a new track fixture in the ceiling.  It is this cool flexible track so we could bend it where we wanted it to go.  Now I have GREAT lighting over the sink, at the stove and the various prep areas!

Recent Milestones ... Little L is doing lots more talking.  She's really started expressing things in more and more complex sentences (2 and 3 words rather than 1).  We can't always make out the words...and sometimes they are just the word pattern rather than the word itself, but she's making progress!

A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week ... 
:-: Dad coming to visit today
:-: Maybe catch a movie Friday afternoon with him and the older kids.
:-: Dinner out for hubby and me, maybe!
:-: Helping a friend move on Saturday

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome 2011!

In it came whether rung in wildly with gaiety and glee or welcomed quietly with gentleness and joy.  However you saw it come in, aren't you glad it is here?  Of course we should welcome everyday with a sense of newness and excitement, but a new year feels so clean, so unused, and, well, so new!

At our house, we'll clean the house a bit (I'm sure the kids will be over-joyed) and then make a trip to IKEA Charlotte to look at lighting and enjoy a Swedish Meatball lunch.  Then we'll come home to a dinner with black-eyed peas (cooked simply with Ro-Tel tomatoes and some bacon) and dessert of bread pudding - see the bottom of this post for the recipe.   It is a simple celebration for our family - in keeping with yesterday's post.

My planner is just about all prepared for the new year.   Fresh calendar pages (in Franklin Covey's pretty "Blooms").  New tabs (Avery has printable ones, if these aren't new, they are new to me!).  And some page protectors for frequently used pages.

Today is also the Feast of the Holy Name.  Being the 8th day after Jesus' birth, this is the day on which he'd have been circumcised and officially named - a great day of celebration for his mother and father.  Now, if you are on top of things, you might consider making initial-shaped cookies for your family (IHS for Jesus and your kids' initials).

Old-fashioned Bread Pudding from Southern Living, Nov 2001

1 16 oz day old French bread loaf, cubed
2 12 oz cans of evaporated milk
1 c water
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1 large apple (Red Delicious recommended), grated
1 c raisins
1 1/2 c sugar
5 T vanilla extract
1/4 c butter, cut up and softened
and a batch of Bourbon Sauce (see below)

Combine first 3 ingredients; stir in eggs, blending well. Stir in pineapple and next 4 ingredients.  Stir in butter, blending well.  Pour mixture into a greased 13X9 inch baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 35- 45 minutes or until set.  Serve with Bourbon Sauce.

Bourbon Sauce
3 T butter
1 T all-purpose flour
1/2 c sugar
1 c whipping cream
2 T bourbon
1 T vanilla extract
1 tsp nutmeg

Melt butter in a small saucepan; whisk in flour, and cool 5 minutes.  Stir in sugar and whipping cream; cook 3 minutes.  Stir in bourbon, vanilla, nutmeg and simmer 5 minutes.

Happy New Year!