Tuesday, September 29, 2009

controlled burn

Today, the kids and I went to the MS State Fire Academy with our home school group. Apparently, little ole' Mississippi has one of the premier fire academies in the country. People come from all over the US, from US territories and even from other countries to train here at our fire academy. Pretty amazing for a little state like us.

Fire is fascinating and it is fun to watch when you know that what you are seeing is being done for training purposes. We were able to see some members the Memphis Fire Department taking a refresher course in airport fire protection. The gentleman conducting the tour, who is an instructor at the academy, told us that firefighters who work within a certain proximity to any airport have to take one of these courses each year to maintain their certification. This means that we got to see the firemen set fire to an airplane and put out said fire 3 times. I am guessing that we were about 100 yards from the fire, but we could feel enough of the radiant heat within seconds to force my children to step back. I figure that it is a good object lesson for the kids ... I don't mind them enjoying seeing the men put the fire out, but I don't want them to want to get close to it.
Here are a few of the pictures I took of the day:

There is a plane under there somewhere

You get a little bit of perspective on how big this fire is when you look at the size of the firefighters in the picture.

The kids' reaction to the fire

As close as I could get to capturing all three kids cooperating for a picture.

JW with Sparky the fire dog ... last time we went he didn't want to get anywhere near Sparky, today, he asked me to take his picture with him.

All in all, it was a good day ... the weather was perfect, the kids behaved well and maybe even learned something, not bad for a Tuesday morning.

Monday, September 28, 2009

it pays to eat pasta

I stole this from my friend at Mississippi Mama ~ thanks Donna, hope you don't mind!

You could win free groceries ... just click the link below and enter the sweepstakes!

It Pays to Eat Pasta

Daybook ~ September 28th

Outside my window ~ sunshine is streaming in ~ it is a beautiful sight, especially since we haven't seen much sunshine here lately.

I am wearing ~ mismatched jammies.

I am hearing ~ the washing machine spinning sheets and a mattress pad ... the kids said that it sounds like the washer and dryer are having a fight.

I am thinking ~ that I really must go to the grocery store today.

I am going ~ to take the kids to the Fire Academy tomorrow ... one of their favorite field trips.

I am hoping ~ for a better night's sleep tonight ... my littlest one didn't sleep well last night so I didn't either.

On my mind ~ I need to call and rearrange a couple of appointments for the week.

I am reading ~ just started the Book of Matthew with the kids last night and Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham ... an excellent book that I plan to post a review of soon.

I am remembering ~ to pray for the Month of Harvest revival that begins at our church on Sunday.

I am thankful for ~ sunshine returning after a long season of rain.

From the learning rooms ~ I am planning to begin implementing the new schedule that I've been working on this week. Nothing major, just hoping to keep a better handle on the kids' regular work and their co-op work and get them on a regular schedule of chores.

From the kitchen ~ nothing if I don't buy groceries soon! For tonight we will have great northern beans, rice and cornbread ~ I think I have what I need for this on hand.

Around the house ~ I need to spend some time assessing the kids' clothes and see what they are going to need for fall and winter, though it isn't quite time to put up their summer clothes.

One of my favorite things ~ a good cup of coffee and a quiet morning.

A picture to share with you ~ my silly son wearing his shirt backwards ... he wouldn't cooperate and let me get a good picture, but it is still funny. (Please ignore the messy desk behind him!)

Visit The Simple Woman's Daybook to find out how to join in the fun, or to find other daybooks to read.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


If you are a return visitor to this blog, you've probably noticed a few changes. I have been playing today with the banner for the blog and have tried several different ones. I will probably keep fiddling with it until I can figure out how to get the pictures clearer, so don't bother getting used to this one.

I have been suffering from what a friend of mine called "blog envy" for a good while now. I just don't know enough to make my blog as professional looking or even as "cute" as other blogs, but I am learning little by little how to do a few things. I am sure that I could do more if I had more sophisticated computer programs to work with, but that would be a little silly for someone who is doing this just for fun. So, I'll just keep plugging along and, who knows, maybe I'll learn something useful along the way.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

my first food post

I had never really thought about doing a post about food or cooking mainly because I am not a gourmet cook and I never really imagined that anyone would be interested in our simple fare, BUT after a conversation at a home school meeting last week, I decided to share a little. So, for my friend, who shall remain nameless, hang on, the lentils are coming!

First up is the pizza I made Monday night. You will notice that there are no vegetables on it. It is just hamburger and cheese. My personal favorite is sort of a fajita chicken pizza ... grilled chicken with bell pepper and onion. But, the kids like the hamburger and it was what I had on hand, so we went with it. I do use my bread machine to make my own crust and since I use whole wheat flour, I feel a little better about feeding the kids pizza.

For my friend at the home school meeting, here's the scoop on the lentils.
I was sharing with some of the ladies that I felt somewhat guilty for enjoying an array of snacks at the meeting while I had left my family at home to eat only lentils and rice. My friend confessed that she wasn't even sure what they were. So, just in case there is anyone else out there wondering the same thing, I'll tell you what I know ... which isn't much.
Lentils are a type of dry bean. They are the closest thing you can eat to a perfect protein without eating meat. They are also perfect for a late planner, like me. They cook in about 1/2 hour, unlike other dry beans that have to be soaked and then still take several hours to cook. I have to admit that I was a hold out on cooking lentils for a long time. My brother, who was single at the time, kept telling me that they were easy to cook and tasted good, but they seemed a little too "health food nut" for me. But, I finally gave in and cooked some and have been surprised to find that they have become my favorite of the dry beans we eat.
I cook mine with lots of water because my family likes the juice ... it is what my Daddy Tom (my Daddy's grandfather) would have called pot liquor. I season the beans with a little olive oil, salt, liquid smoke and Spike (a seasoning blend that can be found in the health food section of some stores ... I like it because it only has one ingredient that I can't identify so I have to assume that it is healthier than other seasonings). I also like to add a little ground red pepper, but my kids don't like it much. One word of caution, if you are planning to cook these little bity beans, don't overcook them, they get mushy very quickly.
Last night, I served them with sausage and corn fritters ~ which are quick, but I really prefer corn bread.

These are D's beans with his sausage and fritters mixed in ... not my favorite way to eat them, but I don't mind as long as he eats them.

And finally, I'll share my healthy version of the kids favorite chocolate chip muffins. They really like the ones that come from a mix. I have to admit, that they are easy and taste good, but we are trying to eliminate ingredients that we can't identify from our diet, so I decided to see if I could find a better way to satisfy the kids. I tried making blueberry muffins, which I love, but they didn't like the real blueberries. (They prefer the "blueberry" pellets in the mix muffins!)
So, as I was looking for another idea, I found a recipe for oatmeal muffins. I figured that since oatmeal cookies are good with chocolate chips that the muffins would be good, too. And, I was right.
They even passed the test of my extremely picky eater. Amazingly all three kids liked them.
Just for the sake of honesty, I must confess that I didn't tell the kids that these were oatmeal muffins and that the chocolate chips were just an extra ingredient. I just called them chocolate chip muffins. I did tell LB about the oatmeal after they finished eating, but we agreed to keep that little tidbit of information to ourselves.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Daybook ~ September 21st

Outside my window ... another cloudy day

I am thankful for ... my friends and family who helped me with LB’s tea party yesterday.

I am wearing ... gray sweats and an orange t-shirt.

I am hearing ... the kids discuss the movie they watched on TV last night.

I am creating ... an updated school/chore schedule and hopefully a place of peace for my hubby to come home to.

I am going ... to stay at home as much as possible this week.

I am reading ... the Nancy Drew book that LB got for her birthday.

I am hoping ... to work through a mountain of laundry today.

On my mind ... Ronnie and his work … this promises to be an insanely busy/stressful week and I want to keep our home life as simple as possible to help.
From the learning rooms ... co-op work today ~ LB has to create a timeline for Paddle to the Sea and we need to work on the vocabulary for Zoology. I think we’ll all do the timeline together, since I think JW would benefit from it too.
Pondering these words ... A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grevious words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1 (I’m still working on this one from last week)

From the kitchen ... leftover mess from the tea party this weekend.

Around the house … catching up on the work neglected while we planned the birthday party.

One of my favorite things ...fresh sheets.

A few plans for the rest of the week ... nothing much outside of our normal weekly plans.

A picture thought I am sharing with you ... my baby girl on her 10th birthday.

Don't forget to visit The Simple Woman's Daybook to see lots more daybooks or to learn how to join in the fun.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

double digits

This morning at 7:45 my firstborn child turned 10 years old. I have been dreading this day for weeks, but I am over that now ... it isn't like I could stop it from coming, although I did try to talk her into going backward this year ... she wouldn't go for it.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to the baby girl who completely changed my world on this day, 10 years ago. At this moment, her Daddy was proudly introducing her to her two grandmothers. He was so happy to be able to tell them "It's a Girl!" She was a beautiful baby, with a head full of blond hair! I will admit to being biased, but I am supposed to be, so I won't apologize for it.

I had an incredibly easy pregnancy with her. I lost weight, never got sick and didn't start wearing maternity clothes until I was 7 months along. If all of my pregnancies had been that easy, we would probably have 5 or 6 kids by now! There was very little drama in my pregnancy with LB, which she has more than made up for in the last 10 years. The only trouble came in the last half hour before she was born when my labor wouldn't progress properly and her heart rate began dropping and my blood pressure began rising so the doctor decided to deliver by c-section. I must tell you that this was my biggest fear all through my pregnancy. My sister-in-law had a c-section with her first son and it was a nightmare ... one I didn't want to experience. And, truth be told, I didn't. I recovered very quickly, with very little pain and no real problems. And none of that mattered because I had my sweet little girl to hold and that was the only thing I could concentrate on.

Fast forward a few years and I'll admit to lots of struggles with that sweet little girl, who has a personality much like her mother's. Poor thing, she looks just like me, too! But, today, I am celebrating my daughter. I have never doubted that she is a gift from God, for which I will forever be thankful.

Daddy's tree frog - the day she came home from the hospital
Her first day at church

On my parents' porch

My favorite outfit!Almost 2

Mother's Day, 2007 ~ wearing my dress

With her baby girl ~ Maria

Happy Birthday, little girl ...
you'll always be my baby!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


It happens about this time every year. I get excited. I start planning what I am going to pack and talking to the kids about what they want to do. The kids start getting excited, too.

So, what sparks this excitement in our household?

The power of a simple gift.

I first heard about Operation Christmas Child about 7 or 8 years ago when it was introduced to our church by a lady who had lived in California and participated in the project there. I have to admit to be a little slow to catch the vision for this ministry. I had never heard of Samaritan's Purse or Operation Christmas Child. Of course, I had heard of Franklin Graham, but that didn't impress me too much. Still, packing shoe boxes was easy and fairly inexpensive and LB thought that it was fun (she was the only child old enough at the time to participate with me) so we got on board, slowly.

But, it wasn't until I really began to understand the impact of this ministry that I truly "caught the vision" for my personal involvement and, along with others in our church, began to see an opportunity for the church to get involved as well. As a result, for the last few years our church has served as a relay center for OCC and has been truly blessed in the process.

Over the years, I have come to love this ministry. If the only purpose was to bring joy into the lives of hurting children, I would still love this ministry. But, this ministry goes beyond simply supplying momentary excitement through the receiving of a gift. Every box that is packed and prayed over represents at least one opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a child who might not have ever heard the name of Jesus before.

Last year, that number was 7.4 million children.

And many of those boxes opened the door for the Gospel to be shared with the families of the children ~ parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings. People who are hurting, desperate, and forgotten and who all of the sudden realize that somewhere, someone cares and they want to know why anyone would care about them. And then someone tells them ... the person who packed this box loves you because God loves you. He knows who you are and what you have done and He still loves you.

He knows who I am and what I have done and He still loves me.

If God can use me for His purposes, surely He can use a simple shoebox filled with gifts and dedicated to Him so that He can minister to a hurting child that I have no opportunity to touch in any other way.

I suppose that you have noticed by now that I am passionate about this ministry. I would love to share with you all of the reports that I have heard over the years of how this ministry has impacted both the lives of the children who receive the boxes and those who pack the boxes, but I can't. But, you can visit the Samaritan's Purse website and find all the information you need to see the impact of this ministry and also to get involved.

I hope you will catch the vision quicker than I did.

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you,
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ September 14th

Today, I am rejoining the ranks of daybookers. For those who may not be familiar with daybooking you can check it out at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Outside my window ... big white clouds overhead and gray ones in the distance, and a yard in desperate need of mowing.

I am thinking ... about the busy week ahead.

I am thankful for ... forgiveness.

I am wearing ... lounge pants and an old VBS t-shirt.

I am remembering ... my Granny, who would have been 90 yesterday.

I am creating ... plans for a special birthday party this week.

I am going ... to a kick-off for Operation Christmas Child tonight.

I am reading ... The Canon of Scripture and Family Driven Faith (again).

I am hoping ... just to keep up this week.

On my mind ... my Daddy's shoulder surgery on Wednesday.

From the learning rooms ... the kids are doing chores at the moment since school is after lunch on Mondays.

Pondering these words .... A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grevious words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1

From the kitchen ... I need to plan a menu for the week, but for now, I am planning to cook chicken and peas to take to my parent's house tonight since they are babysitting the kids for us.

Around the house ... laundry and cleaning ... normal!

One of my favorite things ... packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

A few plans for the rest of the week ... a homeschool mom's meeting tomorrow night and preparing for LB's birthday party this weekend.

A picture thought I am sharing with you ... I have used these before, but it seems appropriate to share these again this week. This picture was given to my great-grandmother by my Granny - the one who would have been 90 yesterday.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

anticipation revisited

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about looking forward to a family reunion the next day. Well, it was a great day. I enjoyed catching up with my cousins and seeing our kids play together.
This weekend, we repeated that same exercise, just with a different family. Today's family was my mother's father's family. So last night I again spent the night cooking and this morning, after sending the kids off to ride with my parents, Ronnie and I packed up the van and enjoyed the 45 minute drive to Roosevelt State Park without any squabbling children and managed to find something to talk about other than our little angels.

I truly wish I had some pictures to show you of my children walking a large drain pipe close to the picnic pavilion where this annual party is held. These pictures, if I had any, would be even more fun (for me anyway) because my cousins and I walked that same pipe as children, though very few of us were brave enough to try it today.

Alas, though, I don't have any pictures because my digital camera has bitten the dust (with a little help from my sons) and the only one I have available is the old 35mm my parents gave me in high school. I am not sure if it even still works, but I may have to try it out since we have a milestone birthday coming up this week.

And finally, I suppose that this is our week for squirrel encounters. Today, while walking our little Hurricane to the clubhouse to find a more sanitary restroom, he met a small squirrel on the path. This little fellow (the squirrel, not the boy) had obviously been fed by visitors to the park at some time, because he got within six inches of my little guy and would have come closer with any encouragement from him. Since we didn't have anything to feed him (which I am sure you aren't supposed to do anyway) we just watched for a few minutes and proceeded on to our destination. Again, it would have been really nice to have a camera about that time. If I could have captured the moment you would have gotten to see how excited it made D to be that close to the squirrel. At first, he couldn't decide if he wanted to be excited or scared, but then he calmed down and loved it!

I realize that this post has been rather rambling, but it kind of fits the kind of day I have had so I guess it is appropriate. It is now past the time I should be in bed and since my hubby is already snoring, I think I'll head there now.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

an amazing sight

This afternoon, while LB and I were stuck in the house working on an assignment for her co-op class tomorrow, JW and the Hurricane were playing in the yard. LB was trying, unsuccessfully, to convince me that the meager 4 sentences she had already written were the best she could do for the story she was supposed to be writing when JW comes bursting into the room telling us that he saw a squirrel in our tree.

A little bit of explanation might be appropriate here. We live in one of those subdivisions where every tree was cut before the first foundation was poured. We have one real tree in our yard and a few shrubs. There are trees in the neighborhood next to ours, which joins yards to the house across the street, and there are woods fairly close, but birds and lizards are the only wildlife we've seen in our yard until now.

Okay, back to the story.

LB and I both follow JW outside to see this curious sight, but we weren't prepared for what we actually saw. Sitting on the tree trunk was a baby squirrel. The poor thing looked like it was about to fall and I was afraid that the kids were about to see a dead squirrel. As we watched, the little thing started making the squeaky barking noises that squirrels make and we could hear what sounded like another squirrel answering it.

At this point, I was wondering if there was any way we could help what I figured was a baby that had lost its mother somehow. That was until I saw the mama squirrel, and let me tell you, she was a mama on a mission. I am not a squirrel expert, so I am only assuming that this was a mama squirrel, and since it is my story, we are going to keep calling her mama. She came down the tree and quickly took the baby in her mouth and dashed across the street, through our neighbor's yard, up their fence and into the huge oak tree in the yard behind them.

Pretty cool, huh? But that isn't the end of our little squirrel story.

LB and I came back into the house to again work on the dreaded story, but we had only been at it a minute or two when JW comes back into the house to tell us that the mama squirrel is back in the yard across the street. So, again, we all head out into the yard to watch the show. This time, I realized what was happening. There is a cluster of dead leaves about 2/3 of the way up our tree that is apparently a nest. The mama squirrel disappeared into the leaves and came out carrying another baby. Again, she sprints down the tree and across the street and back up the oak tree. In all, we saw the mama squirrel make three trips back and forth across the road, though we only saw two babies, we are assuming that she was moving one the other time too.

I grew up living in the woods and the only interesting thing I ever saw concerning a squirrel was one falling out of a huge oak tree and hitting the ground, bouncing and landing back on the tree. Today's squirrel story is much better, don't you agree.

There are two really great outcomes of our adventure this afternoon. One, the kids (and their Mama) got to see nature at work. And two, LB got a new and more exciting topic for her story. Now, instead of meeting a duck, Paddle witnesses a squirrel mama moving her babies from one nest to another. Maybe I'll let her write her story as a guest post. She would probably like that.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

the words I hate the most

There are two words that bring more trouble to the life of our little school than any other. These are the words that instantly stop any progress and can within seconds cause my anger to rise. They are so easy to say and so hard to overcome. As far as I can tell, there is no positive application for these words (though I am sure that there is something redeeming about the words, but for now, I don't even want to hear it).

You may have guessed by now that I am talking about the words I can't.

I can't work this math page.

I can't read that word.

I can't write an interesting story.

I can't be nice to my brother/sister.

Some days I just want to scream: YES YOU CAN! And if you tell me that you can't one more time I am going to come unglued!!!!!!

Rather than totally losing it with my kids (which I will confess to having done, but I am working on that) I have found myself quoting to them the equation: I can't = I won't try = I will fail. I am not sure where I heard this and I don't know if it is sinking in with them, but my goal for this year is to banish that evil idea from my kids' minds and replace it with Philippians 4:13 (which is the verse we have chosen for our school). I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

I would love to hear your ideas about how to accomplish this goal. How would you suggest getting rid of this attitude?

Monday, September 7, 2009

prayer walking

1st Sundays in our church mean one thing ... prayer breakfast. The concept is simple, you eat, you pray; except somehow, it got to be more about eating and less about praying. So, as the time for the 1st, 1st Sunday of the new church year rolled around, the wonderful lady who organizes our time together decided that we needed to change the focus. Let me just say, well done, my friend!

Today, instead of taking my kids off to hang out in the nursery while the adults prayed in the fellowship hall, we prayer walked our church while the adults spent a few minutes in corporate prayer before they also dispersed to pray throughout the building. We started in the sanctuary with the list my friend had prepared especially for the kids. During our whole walk, I only prayed one time. My children amazed me with their understanding as they prayed for the staff of our church, our instrumentalists and the choir. We walked down the hall and my 3 year old son prayed for his Sunday School class. Upstairs, the older kids did the same thing for their classes, as well as for the other classes that meet in those rooms.

I hope that this doesn't sound like I am feeling prideful about how "spiritual" my kids are. Just the opposite. I am truly humbled by what I experienced with my children today. This morning, through a 15 minute prayer time, God opened my eyes to what it means when in Matthew 19:14

Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

I am thankful for new insight into who my children are and how open they are to taking the needs that they see around them to the Throne of God.