Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving ~ 2012

For a country in which a day was set aside for giving thanks and praise to God, and for a home in which to gather for this purpose, Lord I thank you.

Making schnetken (sp?) with the leftover pie dough!
For loved ones that gather together, and for traditions that help glue our family together, Lord I thank you.

For good food to eat, and the means to purchase and cook this food, Lord I thank you.

For the gift of life, so that I can enjoy another Thanksgiving with those I love, Lord I thank you.

Gathering in a circle after dinner and sharing what we are thankful for.

 Our "niece" Hailey!

My mother in law, sister in law, and nephew.

 My hubby and his dad.

For family, both near and far, and those who are family by the blood of Christ we both claim, Lord I thank you.

Watching funny youtube videos!

For laughter and silliness and good, clean fun, Lord I thank you.

Fixing Hailey's hair with every scrunchy and bow in the house!

For your great love, which covers a multitude of sins, and for your GREATNESS, which is over and under and around us all, Lord I thank you.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thursday's Thankful Things

"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be."
—George Washington

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Hailey is here for Thanksgiving!!  Woot, woot!  (my cousin's daughter, who visits periodically from college)

She taught us how to make homemade tortilla shells.  Super easy and super delicious!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our Week In Review

This would be for last week.  :-)

Last week we began a three week study of Victorian England, but the week before that had been a study of the Texas War for Independence, including the battle of The Alamo in 1836.  Because I have several boys, and they were so into the desperation and heroism of the Alamo story, we let the Alamo spill over into our first Victorian England week quite a bit.  Which is a somewhat odd mixture I must say!

I went to the library and checked out every book the children's department had on The Alamo.  I selected one in particular to be our fifth grader's history book for that week, and left the rest in the family room for everyone to look at during book time.  This one captured the imagination of son G: The Alamo, a day that changed America, by Shelley Tanaka.  It is the story of the battle as told through the eyes of a young Mexican boy inside the Alamo with his mother when the fighting began.  Some of it was historical fiction, but much of it was historical fact, and the pictures were AWESOME!

I read a short book about Davy Crockett to Little Man, and afterward he made a flapbook of Davy Crockett's life.  He dictated to me what he remembered from the book we had just read, I wrote down his words, and then he drew accompanying pictures.  This is the page about Davy's childhood.  The picture on the right shows him atop his horse, whipping some cattle into shape!  (when he was just 13 years old he helped herd cattle across several states).

Then we got the idea to make a diorama of The Alamo mission/fort itself, and that idea grew into this:

The perfect size for little Lego Mexicans and Texans!  Take a note of the flag ~ at the time of the battle, the flag did not yet bear the symbol of the lone star.

The boys poured over their books to break the battle down into smaller pieces.  Who was defending what part of the fort?  Who fell first?  They designated a lego man to be Davy Crockett, one to be Jim Bowie, and another to be Colonel Travis (who was very likely the first, or among the first, to be killed on that fateful last day of fighting).  They carefully set everyone where they were thought to be in real life on that day.

And then....

Some revisionist history began happening.  Somehow the Texans acquired medieval era weapons.  And blood began to spill....

We even had a few beheadings.

Here is Davy Crockett in the middle of the picture, with a pile of dead Mexican bodies nearby (which did happen in real life).

Here is Jim Bowie, fighting from his bed inside the chapel of the fort.  He was sick with pneumonia at the time, but bravely fired from his bed until his ammunition ran out, and then fought with his famous knives until he finally succumbed.  He was very likely one of the last ones killed.

Our boys have had tons of fun with this, and aside from the medieval revisions they made (which they *know* are revisions!) they also learned details of the battle that I am sure they would not have known otherwise.

We watched the John Wayne movie version of The Alamo, and the three middle boys are all polishing up writing assignments having to do with The Alamo (son C wrote a story about Davy Crockett, son G wrote a biographical essay on Crockett, and son L wrote a report about Jim Bowie).

Son C usually had a dog by his side as he did his history reading!

We have acquired a second dog to "dog-sit" and while I have never really cared for the look of pugs, we are learning to love this one!

Next week:  Pride and Prejudice, and tea and scones!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What Friends Do....

when the computer has been declared off limits. Cause I'm mean like that ;)

 They make beautiful music together. :)

That we can sing along to!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


We are utilizing a somewhat eclectic approach to literature this year.  Daughter G, a 10th grader, is not taking a formal literature class in order to focus more on writing.  She is, however, reading 19th century literature at home, to go along with the same time period as our history studies.  She and I are both working our way through Les Mis right now, with an eye to the new movie due out next month! 

My bookmark is the purple one and hers is the pink one.  I work hard to try and pass her, and she works hard to make sure I don't.  :0)  My hubby is listening to the audio book of Les Mis while he drives to work, so that when all three of us are finished reading/listening we can have a fabulous discussion of it!  Hope that discussion actually materializes.... and that it materializes before we go see the movie.

Son G, an 8th grader, is taking an online literature class this year.  After experimenting on child #1, I realized that an introduction to literary terms and the experience of being accountable to someone other than mom were both good things to have prior to starting high school.  So this is the year for child #2.  He is currently reading The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, and enjoying it a lot more than he thought he would!  In class they are discussing the plot of this story, and delving deeply into an analysis of each major character.

Son L is reading solely for pleasure right now.  He is on book 5 of the Redwall series, and is completely enthralled with it!  My regular readers will know that he has had a rough start to 7th grade, and is having to work very hard in a few other academic subjects.  So I am thankful that literature for him can be purely pleasure reading right now, without the expectation of having to be prepared for a class.

Son C is reading books that correlate with our history studies, and recently finished the complete, unabridged version of The Swiss Family Robinson!  This book even looks old, doesn't it?!

He loved it and I was so proud of him for soldiering through the somewhat awkward manner of speaking.  When he was done, I had him do a simple "beginning, middle, end of the story" assignment just to solidify the flow of the plot.  He drew pictures down one side of the paper, and wrote a description beside each picture of what was happening.

Little Man's literature is still me reading stories to him.  I try to read every day, but must confess that is a challenge.  If I have an extended reading time with him three times a week I feel very successful.  Okay, make that two times.

In addition, my husband is reading The Book of the King (Book 1 of The Wormling series) outloud to all of us, and though it is our goal to read at least 5 nights a week, in reality it happens about two or three times. 

See what I mean?  Eclectic!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Post Election

Probably the most significant election in my lifetime, so far, is now over.  For our family it was very disappointing.  As a family we were not exactly supporting a candidate as much as we were supporting American self-government and the candidate that we felt would best represent our christian worldview.  We involved the children as much as we ever have in an election, praying together, discussing major issues, the values of each candidate as much as we could measure them, pausing in the middle of TV ads and explaining the truth or error of them.... then praying some more.  We knew it would probably be close, but fully expected Romney to win. 

I took all the children with me to vote, not just to the polling station but all the way into the booth with me.  Showed them the ballot, explained the proposals for our state.  It was a long ballot, and they were extremely patient as I filled in all the little bubbles for about 10-15 minutes.  Little Man proudly fed my ballot into the counting machine and we were each given an "I voted!" sticker.  I got tears in my eyes as I solemnly told the children, "thousands and thousands of people have died for the right to do what I just did."  Our daughter, especially, felt the weight of that, as this is the last general election before she too will be voting.

We sat down that evening in front of the TV, each of us with our electoral college map and several blue and red crayons.  We popped popcorn and anticipated coloring huge portions of the map red.  Which of course we did, just not the most populated sections.

When Romney took an early lead the children were ecstatic!  We muted the TV in between "state calling" and played games.  When a new state was ready to be called, we un-muted the TV and ran to get our crayons.  The mood was very upbeat and fun.

By about 10:30 we realized that it was going to take much longer to count Ohio, Virginia, and Florida, so we put the boys to bed, promising to tell them first thing in the morning who had won.   We let our daughter stay up with us.... we prayed.... we watched.... we listened.... our daughter picked up on the obvious media bias toward Obama (yay for critical thinking!!).  The three of us pondered the possibility that we might not know for several more DAYS who had actually won.... and prayed that it would be decisive and we would know that night.

God answered that particular prayer with a yes, but most of the other ones with a no.  We were completely stunned when the TV commentators announced that Obama was our 44th president.  The mood in our family room was instantly deflated.  I felt myself going very rapidly through the stages of grief... first denial, then anger, then bargaining.  We watched to the bitter end to be absolutely sure.  Finally, acceptance and just an overwhelming sadness.

I was very saddened in the morning to have to tell our boys that Obama had won.  They thought at first that I was joking.  After breakfast I gathered the children together and had a very serious conversation with them about what this could mean for our country and for us, as a family.  I am not much of an alarmist, but I do not want to be unprepared, nor do I want my children to be unprepared for the trials that are sure to come.  I do not know in what form they will come, but they will come.  Each of the children prayed... such heart felt and honest and simple prayers.  How God must love the prayers of children!

Later that morning I posted this to facebook:

So, so sad for the future of our country, and for the future of Israel. As I listened to Obama's acceptance speech, so well written and delivered, it struck me how at odds his words were with the *actions* he has taken during these last 4 years as president (wanting to leave our children a country free of debt, yet wracking up the largest deficit in history, declaring we had the strongest military in the world, while actively working to dismantle it, etc..) and I was filled with profound sadness for my children. Hubby and I turned off the TV, clung to each other, and prayed like never before... begging God's forgiveness for how we as a nation have turned our backs on Him, affirming outloud the truth that HE is in control, not Obama, HE is Lord of the universe, not Obama, we put our trust in HIM, not in Obama (or any man). I went to bed, still sad, but with a less heavy heart. May the Lord help us to cling to truth, and to have the courage to stand strong for HIM during the trials that are ahead.

One of my friends, who supports Obama and his worldview, encouraged me to take heart, and said she was sad that I was sad, to which I replied:

Don't be sad that I am sad. Be sad that our country has so turned its back on the God who, by His providence and grace, allowed it to be formed in the first place. My sorrow is not over Romney's loss, nor even over Obama's win, exactly. But over what his win MEANS for our country. How he will interpret his win, and what may be irreparably done in the next four years. There will be decisions that harm us as a country that cannot be reversed. There very well may be sovereignty lost that cannot be regained. My sorrow is for my children ~ that they will grow up in, and inherit, a country far different than the one I grew up in. One that is increasingly hostile to their faith, and opposed to their deeply held, biblical beliefs. I do take heart, because my hope is in the Lord and not in any government! But in studying American history as intentionally as our family does, it is deeply saddening to see the erosion of our country from within. I am not speaking just of specific issues on which we both know that we disagree, but also on the very foundation of our government itself. I'm glad we can agree that God is in charge, and because He is, I trust that He is allowing what will come, and that He will be with His children as they go through it.

That first post-election day was a grieving day for me.  I got very little else done.  But Thursday morning, I woke up galvanized for action!  If this was, indeed, a wake up call to God's children, I heard it loud and clear.  I am awake!  God help me to be more faithful to you, more faithful to my husband, more intentional with my children.  Help me to be more aware of what my government is doing, more mindful of world events, more dedicated to sharing God's good news with the lost, more compassionate to the hurting.  Help us as a family to be prepared for financial hardship, to be prepared to defend our faith, not just in big ways but in small every day ways.  Help us to be READY for what comes next, whatever that may be.  Awake, watchful, and ready.  

And most of all, help us to be ready for our heavenly bridegroom.  "When He shall come with trumpet sound, oh may I then in Him be found.  Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.  On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!  All other ground is sinking sand."

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Couple of New Recipes

After about 5 months I finally updated my cooking blog with these two delicious entrees.  Both are from The Pioneer Woman's cooking blog, which if you have never checked out, you must!  Complete directions and links to her gorgeous-er pictures (yes, that is a word I just made up!) are on my cooking blog.

Chicken Florentine Pasta

Supreme Pizza Burgers

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Trunk 'n Treat, and other Halloween-ish Activities

For the first time this year, our church hosted a trunk 'n treat event.  Different church families hosted "trunks", gave away candy, and interacted with over 200 newcomers from our community!  (as well as lots of church folk, like us)  Our three older children all helped host trunks as part of their small groups, while son C and Little Man attended as.... Yoda (this was before I had time to sew his cloak, so the fabric is artfully arranged around his shoulders....),

....and as Lego Man!  Daughter G made this costume for son C last year, but um..... he wasn't able to wear it due to it being spray painted just the day before, so when he put on the helmet he passed out from the fumes.  Yes, bad mommy moment.  It was a little smaller this year, but still worked!

Some of the trunks.... a pirate theme.


Under the sea....

 Cowboy... (or farmer/rancher, not sure which!)

Hippo princesses!  Who doesn't love hippo princesses? ;)

Another under the sea....


and many, many more.  It was a bitterly cold and windy afternoon, so doubly notable that so many people from the community came out.  Very fun!

Back at home, we had our annual pumpkin carving time.

And here are the boys all ready to go out on the hunt.  Lego Man, of course.  And Yoda again (this time with a sewn cloak!).  Son G went as Hawkeye (from the Avengers) and son L went as Green Arrow.  They put their costumes together completely on their own.  Don't you think son L looks rather menacing?

For the first time ever, daughter G chose not to go out, but to stay in and read while passing out candy!  I think she made the right call ~ again, it was super cold!  She *did* dress up as a soccer referee though.  She really had to think hard for that costume. ;)  We had a large number of kids come by, and I noticed a much smaller number of "scary" costumes this year.  I hope that is a new trend!