January 27, 2011


Though I'm hardly on Facebook these days, it was a good way to share some news with a lot of people at once.  For a few of our friends who aren't FB users, and for my own journal-keeping purposes, I figured I'd better quickly outline three major changes that our family is dealing with in 2011.

1.  First, the happy news!  Baby #6 will join our family approximately August 30.  After a miscarriage at 7 weeks last summer, I was thrilled to see a heartbeat on the monitor at my first appointment on Monday.  I'm just past 9 weeks, and all is going well so far.

2.  And the sad news.  We learned on Monday that Ted is definitely deploying for a full year, with 4 weeks of training beginning in mid-April and leading up to his report date of May 28.  Though we were bracing ourselves for the possibility, knowing that it is a certainty has cast a certain pall over our lives.  And yet, we know God's purposes will prevail, and we pray that He alone will receive the glory for what He accomplishes in and through us during this time.  We do rejoice and thank the Lord for moving the hearts of our landlord and his wife to allow us to extend our lease one more year, so the children and I will be able to stay put, giving us some much-needed stability and nearness to our support network in the neighborhood and of course at our amazing church.

3.  Finally, we have officially begun a new diet/lifestyle.  I hesitate to use the word "diet," because that conjures up images of people trying to lose weight.  That isn't really our primary goal, though I suppose the taller members of our family could stand to lose a few pounds, LOL.  The program we are following is the GAPS diet, along with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.  The steps leading to this major decision are too complicated to outline in this (supposedly) short post, but in a nutshell, we hope to heal the bodies of our family members who have been struggling with allergies and asthma and have been on medication for the symptoms.  Enough is enough--it's time to stop treating the symptoms and get to the root cause.  Additionally, we have learned too much about the food industry, so our change is more than simply cutting out sugars and grains--we're also replacing meat and dairy products with REAL food!  More expensive, to be sure, but we want to know our food is coming from good sources that will help us be healthy, not add to our health problems.

Any one of these issues could easily overwhelm me on any given day...but combining all three, I feel completely consumed.  I freely admit I'm overwhelmed at the thought of adding another baby to our clan when I feel I can barely keep up with the care and schooling of the ones we have.  Doing it all as a single parent makes the task even more daunting.  And now add to that the fact that I am cooking 3 meals a day and can no longer rely on the "easy" meals that seemed to free up so much of my time!  This week, I have spent approximately 90% of my waking hours in the kitchen.  I have been consumed by the difficulties of implementing a new lifestyle.  I know it will get easier as time goes on...much time this week has been spent making homemade condiments and soup bases, for example.

When circumstances threaten to overwhelm me, I just cling to my Father in heaven, and I keep thinking of the verse from Lamentations:  "Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail."  What a promise!  He will never fail us.  He will never leave or forsake us.  When the world seems to be spinning out of control, He's there holding it together.  How thankful I am that He is our Rock and our Redeemer.  Without Him, who could stand?

And so we are NOT consumed!  I have many moments in which I feel I am.  (You should have seen me trying not to curse at my blender this afternoon!!)  But by God's grace, we will get through this, and Lord willing, it will be triumphantly declaring His praises and His glory!

January 20, 2011

Three on Thursday

Yikes...2011 is WELL underway, isn't it?!

1.  I attended Stampin' Up!'s Leadership Training conference in Nashville last week.  It was a lot of fun!  Ted did well as the substitute teacher with the kiddos, and they all had a good time while I was away.  I got to go line dancing for the first time at the Managers' Reception, and we got lots of free stuff during our time there.  It was my first time to attend Leadership since 2008, and I was blessed to spend lots of time with some amazing Christian women who love this company as much as I do.  I returned home extremely exhausted but very excited about what this year might hold...from a business perspective!

2.  However, we have no idea what the year will hold for our family in general.  The latest word is that it will be at least February before Ted knows whether the waiver was approved and he will deploy, or if it was rejected and we'll receive another assignment this summer.  Either way, there is going to be a lot of change around here!

3.  We got 6 inches of snow today.  Sigh.

January 08, 2011

12 Weeks Down!

On Friday we finished Week 12 of Core 3, which means we're 1/3 of the way through this "school year!"  That's a relative concept around here, since most of the time we typically school throughout the summer, taking breaks whenever we want or need to.  I was thinking we would do Cores 3 and 4 slowly, over the course of 3 years total, to give Arden a little more time to catch up, but honestly, I'm not sure what I was thinking we "should" be waiting for!  Arden is doing just fine...he may not be paying as close attention to some of the history reading as his older sibs, but he's doing great for a 7-year-old participating in this rich Core.  Even Kenna enjoys some of our readings, particularly science, which currently involves lots of pictures of interesting sea creatures.  And I'm not sure that she isn't taking in our read-alouds, either!  We just finished The Witch of Blackbird Pond, which, surprisingly, was a hit with EVERY student in our household!  Even Kenna would chant, "Wi-itch, wi-itch, wi-itch" with the others when they were begging us to read just "one more chapter."  I can't imagine that she would have truly followed the story line, but she seemed to know the characters' names, and who knows?!  At least she's in training for listening to long stories!

So our first week back to school after a lazy holiday vacation went pretty well.  Admittedly, most of our language arts time was spent writing Christmas thank you notes...but we'll get back into full swing with that next week.  Charis is in the throes of a research paper, and she has discovered that she actually enjoys taking notes on the note cards I gave her.  Her face was as long as a bleak Monday when I told her the assignment, but she cheerfully picked her animal (the fascinating bonobo, which she fell in love with at the Cincinnati Zoo) and has been doing some reading online.  We still need to get some hard copy sources, but we have three weeks to do this thing...

In math, Charis is learning fractions, and let me tell you, I LOVE the Math-U-See fraction overlays.  Way cool!  I never thought fractions were all that difficult, but it's really neat to actually SEE what's going on from the beginning.  Her lesson last week was adding and subtracting with like denominators.  I'm sure she's thinking, "Big whoop," so I think it will be fun when we get to be able to find the common denominator.  (Am I a geek for liking fractions?!)

Tobin is breezing through the beginning division facts, having mastered (for the most part) his multiplication facts, and is quickly catching on to the concept of dividing.  Arden, meanwhile, somehow blasted his way through the first 17 lessons of the Gamma book, and it dawned on me yesterday...WHY am I trying to slow him down a bit?!  Wouldn't it be EASIER to have him finally catch up to Tobin and have them work together?!  So we'll see how that goes!  Arden may, in fact, slow down when we get to multiple digit multiplication...that's coming soon, so we'll see what happens.

You know what I love?  Watching what my kids do with their free time.  Sure, they sometimes enjoy Wii or playing with friends, but I've noticed a LOT of reading of past Sonlight books this last week!  I think Tobin discovered the Core K shelf existed, and he's been reading through all those read-alouds on his own!  Charis has checked out various craft books from the library and of course keeps busy with projects and also enjoys reading the historical diary/journal type books.  (Don't tell her this, but she probably now knows more about the Vietnam War era than I do...we never seemed to make it past World War II in my history classes!)  Arden...well, he doesn't exactly reach for educational books, but if you want to know the major plays from the recent hockey or football games, just ask him!  He has taken to asking me if he can watch game highlights on the computer the day after!  (Thanks to Ted for that one!)

As for Kenna, she is making good progress herself, and I can't take a lick of credit for it!  She can identify all the letters of the alphabet correctly and can recognize all the names in our family if they are written out for her.  She is working on writing her own name and enjoys drawing and coloring a lot more than she used to.  She has recently become a good little puzzler, which is GREAT...I give her puzzles to work on while we do our history and science lessons, and she gets the benefit of hearing us read out loud and discuss things while we get the benefit of some peace and quiet as she works!

Well, it is time for our nightly read-aloud time.  We're back to the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series, book 6, from which we took a bit of a break since we fell behind on our Sonlight reading with the holidays.  But now we're caught up, so it's back to our extracurricular reading!

January 03, 2011

A Couple of Recipes

I thought I'd post the recipes I referred to in the previous post in case anyone is interested.  One is a healthy option for breakfast or a nice complement to a dinner, and the other is not in the least bit healthy, LOL.

(Note:  I've changed the original recipe to make it more heart healthy and to take away the refined sugar, so I'll write out my own version with the original directions in parentheses if you want to try it that way.)

1/2 cup melted coconut oil (original: 1/2 cup Crisco; I've also used applesauce instead, but coconut oil has some wonderful, healthy properties)
2/3 cup honey (original: 1 1/2 cups sugar)
1 cup water (if using Crisco, make this boiling water)
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour

Mix above ingredients well.  In a separate bowl, mix 1 pint of buttermilk and one bag (or 3 cups) of Fiber One cereal or All Bran cereal.  Add to first mixture and mix well.

Pour into muffin pans (use non-stick spray unless you're using muffin cups) and bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.  The batter keeps well in the refrigerator; sometimes I mix it up and leave it in the fridge for awhile, as the cereal seems to get softer, but either way, these taste yummy!  Warm up and spread butter on them for a nice treat, or eat without butter to save on calories. :-)

This is my Aunt Iola's recipe that my mom passed on to me.

1 prepared chocolate cookie pie crust
1 cup peanut butter
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
12 oz. Cool Whip
Hot Fudge topping (not sugar free)

Beat together peanut butter, cream cheese, and sugar.  Fold in 3 cups of Cool Whip until well blended.  Spoon mixture into pie crust and smooth to edges.  Microwave opened jar of fudge for one minute; spread over peanut butter layer, as much as you want, and refrigerate until firm.  Before serving, spread remaining Cool Whip over the top.  Yummy!!

Back to Real Life in the New Year

What a fun holiday we had!  Rhonda stayed with us through New Year's Day, and we enjoyed a New Year's Eve progressive dinner with our Wednesday night prayer group.  We had appetizers at Steve and Heather's house--Heather is an AMAZING chef, having gone to culinary school and not being afraid to experiment with various tastes.  We were treated to some fabulous appetizers, served on fancy platters, and had to be careful not to fill up before the next course, which was soup and salad at Milt and Virginia's.  Another good course, followed by dessert at Shirley and Bruce's house.  I did contribute a "Decadent Peanut Butter Pie," and Shirley's eclair was WONDERFUL!  I was good and only had half slices of each.  This year one of my resolutions is to break my sugar addiction and to greatly reduce my consumption of sugar--which means no desserts for quite a long time!  I've been fairly good so far, but I did have a leftover eclair on New Year's Day...other than that, two days sugar free, LOL.

Thursday morning I woke up with my neck cranked around in a weird position, and I've been in pain ever since.  I've made two trips to see my chiropractor, which has helped, but I think it will be another couple of days before I can move normally.  Very frustrating...especially since another resolution was to get back into a regular exercise routine, which hasn't really happened since we went on our American vacation in September.  Sigh.  Soon, my P90X DVDs, soon!!

New Year's evening we went to Scott and Eilene's house for a night of Catan and, of course, good food.  Eilene made a big pot of rice, and I brought chicken in orange sauce, while she fixed a sausage/bean type dish.  Both were very yummy!  Ted ended up bringing Lucan home and putting him to bed while Charis watched a couple of Little House episodes and babysat.  It's hard to believe we are at that point now!  Soon she'll be able to watch all the kids with us being farther away than just a couple of houses down the street!

Sunday we enjoyed a day of rest after beginning a new class:  Resolve to Read 2011.  For a number of years Ted and I have read through the Bible during the course of a year, but we haven't really been part of a class or discussion group with it.  We're using an NIV Chronological Bible, which I think will really be fun.  We try to vary our readings with different versions, so this will shake it up a bit.  Last year I read through the archaeological study Bible that we had given Ted for Father's Day a couple of years previously.  I loved the cultural and historical notes throughout!

Ted was off work again today, so I zipped to the commissary and enjoyed the early bird shopping hours, then delivered a meal on the way to my chiropractor appointment.  I don't know if I've blogged yet about the Kitchen Kindness ministry at our church...I think I've THOUGHT about blogging about it, but probably haven't actually done it.  Anyway, the short version of the story is that I am now the coordinator for this new ministry, and it's been really amazing to see how God led me to do this and how He has been working through it.  I'll try to write more about it later, but anyway, it was a blessing to serve one of our own Kitchen Kindness volunteers today.

Meanwhile, here at home, Ted had the kids start on some school work, and then we all put away groceries and had lunch before working to "un-decorate" before doing some school reading in the afternoon.  Lucan babbled for quite awhile before finally falling asleep for his nap--he didn't nap at all yesterday, and we suspect he is teething again.  He has been rather cranky the past couple of days and hasn't slept very well at night, either.

Now I have crunchy cracked wheat bread in the bread maker and some buttermilk bran muffins in the oven.  It's nice to get back in the kitchen again--last week I set up some pretty easy meals and didn't really do any baking at all other than a couple of loaves of bread for the family's lunches.  Tonight's meal is panceit using some chicken and broth that I cooked and prepared a couple of weeks ago, so it should come together quickly, and then I am looking forward to meeting with my neighborhood ladies' Bible study group. 

Tomorrow, it's back to the REAL schedule!  Ted heads back to work, and the kids and I will be here all day for school and Charis's piano lesson!  Vacation was fun while it lasted, and this year, though I'm looking forward to our regular routine again, I actually do feel sad that we don't have more holiday time.  With not traveling this year, we really didn't have anything stressful going on, and our time together was truly relaxing!  Ah, well.  Guess we'll look forward to the weekend!