Monday, May 16, 2011

You Can't Convince Me

We received Evan's CAT scores already today.  He scored better than 99% of 1st graders!  In fact, he performed as well as the average 4th grader!

Much of that is his own natural abilities, but I'm convinced he's fulfilling his full potential because of homeschooling.  I'm not a homeschooling fanatic, by any means....but I definitely do see that it has benefits and am assured we made a wise decision for this part of his education.  Even more than those great scores, I am assured by the character traits that I see growing up in him, his love for God and His Word, and his view of the world that is being shaped by his growing knowledge of God. 

Our decision to homeschool has been encouraged by some, not understood by others, and criticized by some.  And though you wish all people would see your decision favorably, we didn't make it to be popular with other people.  (In fact, I was one of those people, only a few years ago that said I will never homeschool!)  We made this decision based on what God was convincing us was best for our family at this time. 

You can't convince me that homeschooling is detrimental.  It may not be for everyone, it may not be for you.  It may not always be for us.  But, it is good.  It has been very good for my son.  I look forward to seeing what it will produce in my twin boys as they start this fall. 

If you are considering homeschooling, let this encourage you.  It is NOT detrimental, as many will try to claim.  If God is truly leading you to do it, it can be more than "not detrimental", it can be excellent. 

Evan with a science experiment, growing a sweet potato vine.

Kudos to my student for his hard work and determination.  I loved the big smile that came across his face when I showed the results to him and praised him for his good work.  Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as to the Lord.  (Colossians 3:23)  That's my hope and prayer for Evan, wherever he is being schooled.  Not that he is always in the 99th percentile, but that he always does his best, because he's doing it for God, Who is not impressed with percentages and numbers, but Who is pleased when we do all that we do for His glory. (Colossians 3:17)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Epitaph for our Friend Nemo

We suffered a loss here in our home a few days ago.  Evan's beloved pet goldfish, Nemo, died unexpectedly.
Poor Evan cried and cried.  I knew he'd be sad, but I wasn't prepared for how hard he'd take it.
Mostly he feels bad.  He thinks he should have been better at taking care of Nemo.
And he feels guilty because as he says, "I only gave him one birthday."  :)  He forgot to throw Nemo a birthday party this March.  Yes, last year he celebrated Nemo's birthday with him!  What a sensitive soul he has.

Nemo was a good fish these last two years.  This picture was taken just after he joined the family.

Evan wrote this note today about his pet fish.  I thought it was a sweet epitaph for Nemo.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My 8th Mother's Day

Today marks the 8th year God has blessed me with the privilege of being a Mom.  I had fun making a collage of all my Mother's Days so far.  It's neat to see how God has grown my family since that first Mother's Day in 2004, when I was a mom to a 3 month old little boy.  Who, by the way is 7 years old, finishing first grade, reading books like you wouldn't believe, and losing his baby teeth....and is one awesome big brother.

Years 2005 and 2006,  I realized I didn't have a Mother's Day photo for of Evan and I.  Not sure why.  But I had Easter pictures which were very close in date to MD.  :)  As you can see in 2006 (3rd on the bottom), there were 2 other children present, just hidden.  :)  Those two boys are going to be 5 in a couple of months!
They are funny, active, sweet boys.

The 4th photo on the bottom looks like my hands were full, but so was my belly....6 months pregnant with baby #4.

Year 2007 (in the middle) was my 1st Mother's Day with all 4 of my boys.  Sweet little O-man is now almost 4, a chatterbox and a momma's boy.

Each year the boys get cuter, and I get older.  Sigh.

Thank you, God, for these precious lives you've entrusted to my hands and my heart.  May I be faithful in this task, so that one day when I see Your face, I can present them back to You with joy.

Click to play this Smilebox collage
Create your own collage - Powered by Smilebox
Create your own picture collage

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bonnie's Boston Brown Bread

Ha, look at that, I alliterated!

I made my mom-in-law's Boston Brown Bread last night for the first time.  It was so delicious.  The boys gobbled it up for breakfast this morning.  Now, if you are blessed enough to know my mom-in-law (the Bonnie in Bonnie's Boston Brown Bread), you're probably aware of what we know.  She is a GREAT cook and baker.  In fact, it was a tad bit intimidating when I married her middle son almost 14 years ago!  He's put up with his share of flops over time, but one thing I've always counted on was that if I made one of Mom's recipes, I'd be ok. 

Well, this bread is no exception.  You must give it a try.  And pick up some Breakstone's Whipped Butter to go with it.  Yum!  The bread tastes awesome warm and is just as good cooled.  It's easy and cheap.

You will need cleaned out cans to bake the bread in.  I used 29 oz sliced peaches cans.  She said that crushed tomato cans work well, too.  This will make 4-5 loaves depending on the size can you use.  (I halved the recipe because I didn't have enough cans or nuts for a full recipe, and it made 2 of the 29 oz cans.)

1 generous cup of raisins (I only had the golden ones on hand.  They worked deliciously!)
3 c hot water
2 c sugar
2 T butter
2 eggs
1 t salt
5 1/2 c flour
2 t baking soda
2 t vanilla
1 c walnuts, chopped (I only had chopped pecans on hand....again delicious.  Ben said he actually preferred them!)
3/4 c molasses

Simmer raisins in water for 12 minutes.
Cream sugar, butter, and eggs.
Add flour, salt, and baking soda to creamed mixture alternately with hot water/raisin mixture.
Add molasses and vanilla.
Stir in nuts.
Fill greased cans 1/2 to 2/3 full of batter.
Bake 1 hour at 350 degreees.  Test with toothpick to make sure they are done.
After you take them out of the oven, let them set in the can for 5 minutes to sweat before trying to tap them out.


Also good with cream cheese on top, but I love it with the whipped butter.

Excuse my awful picture.  We were in too big a hurry to eat them, that I didn't get a picture of the loaves in the cans, or before they had been partially devoured. :)  And the space monkey plate...well, they had 4 packages of those paper plates on clearance at Target for 75 cents each package!  I bought all 4.  :) Works in a house full of boys! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

For Love of Reading

This is what Evan has been doing lately. Reading while walking through the house. The Reading Bug has bit him, and he is reading up a storm.  Love it!

I started at the beginning of the school year buying Magic Tree House books for Evan. I gave the first one to him on the morning of the first day of school, as a Welcome Back to School gift.

He is enrolled in the Pizza Hut Book It program, so we have been using books in the series for his reading goals. Every time he finishes one, I have to go find him the next one.  And because his momma is sentimental we're collecting the series instead of just getting them from the library. I had a collection of Berenstein Bear books when I was little that I had saved and was hoping to give to my kids. Our dog destroyed them before my kids were born and had a chance to read them!

I found him a set of the 10 next books in the series on eBay for $7.49, which was a steal!  They arrived only a week ago, and he has them all read already! 

I love seeing him enjoy reading so much.  Makes me happy as his mom....and his teacher!

Now he is writing his own stories.  So cute!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Evan's 7 Year/ 1st Grade Portraits

Isn't he handsome?

Buy Digital Prints

Buy Digital Prints

Buy Digital Prints

Buy Digital Prints

Buy Digital Prints

Buy Digital Prints

Buy Digital Prints

In the Water

We've had an eventful weekend.  Last night we had to call our insurance company and initiate a auto claim and a homeowner's claim.  You never want to have to do either.  You certainly never want to do both in the same day!

Due to the winter storms we have had recently, our roof has built up a lot of snow and ice.  The weather has finally warmed up a bit, and all of that ice and snow has no place to go.  Well, I take that back, it found two places...the inside of our living room and the top of our van.  The roof of the van is caved in, the windshield is shattered, there is body damage.  There is brown water leaking down from the second story roof, behind the siding and constantly dripping down the living room wall onto the floor and dripping from the ceiling.  At one point, we had 7 buckets on the foor to catch all the leaks.

My mind is overcome with the details, the loss of transportation, the deductibles, you know, all that STUFF.  In my stress today, my husband reminded me of that.  "Bec, it's just stuff." 

And thankfully, STUFF is all that was damaged.  If that ice had fallen a little while earlier, my family could have been in that van as it was crunched.  My kids could have been in the driveway.  Instead, they were nestled safely in their beds.  Ben was outside at the time, he could have been hit by the huge chunks of ice (some of the chunks on the ground after impact are still 2 feet wide and several inches thick) falling from the second story roof had he been on that side of the house at that moment.  God has perfect timing, doesn't He?  His protection is wonderful.

I had an opportunity this morning to discuss that with the kids.  Our Bible lesson was on the account of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River. 

"So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan."  Joshua 3:14-17

I immediately thought of the faith that Joshua and the priests had.  I know too often when I come to flooding rivers (or living rooms) in my life, that I want to stand on the banks and wait for God to do a miracle.  But what does God want me to do?  What does faith look like?  It's putting my feet in the water and watching from there as God holds back the waters and makes a clear path for me.  I don't know how much the boys got out of class this morning, but I know that that 1st grade Bible class was what I needed to hear.  What does putting my feet in the water mean in this circumstance we find ourselves in?  So far, I've come up with...not worrying (hard for me!), praying instead of stressing, trusting God will take care of us, doing the painful part of getting the quotes even though we don't know how we'll pay for the deductible, choosing to see that God has allowed this for a reason, rather than grumbling and complaining, and probably most important, showing our boys that in the seasons when the rivers in our life are flooding, that we put one foot in front of the other, not looking back and wishing for the "comfortable" path we were just on, but trusting that what is on the other side of the river is soooo much better than where we've just been wandering.  God doesn't promise to create bridges over the rivers.  That would appeal to us, wouldn't it?...Just keep us out of the water altoghether.  But, God does promise to not let the waves overtake us as we walk through the rivers. And you know, if we never get our feet wet, how will we ever appreciate dry ground?  We have to do what those priests did, put our feet in the water, so our children can watch God do something wondrous.

After the Israelites all crossed safely, they took stones from the Jordan and made a pile.  That would serve as a rememberance for them, especially the children, of what wondrous thing the Lord had done for them that day.  We had the chance to talk about what happened to our van just outside the walls of our home yesterday, how God protected each of us, and what a wonderful thing that was.  And then we talked about how can we remember that.  One way is to thank Him.  It's harder to forget something we are busy thanking God for.  We can journal it, and draw a picture of it.  (This is something Evan is going to do in class.)  And we can tell others.  So, I am telling you.  Even though we are in the midst of a minor life trial (so many people are dealing with worse!), God has been wondrously gracious to us, and I am confident He will give us something better on the banks on the other side of the river.  And we will remember.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Twice Baked

I've decided to try to do twice baked meals, as I call them, frequently to save money and time, and also because I'm not a fan of just having leftovers.  This isn't rocket science, but not something I have really planned out in the past.  Last night I made 2 batches of meatloaf, baby carrots, and a large batch of mashed potatoes.  Meatloaf is one of the boys' favs.  (It's not something I thought kids are supposed to like, but they actually complain that I don't make enough!) 

After the 2nd batch cooled down, I put it in the frig.  Then, tonight I pulled it out, and popped it in the oven to warm it back up.  I took out the left over mashed potatoes, mixed some shredded cheese and sour cream into them, and popped them into the oven.  While they were warming, I made some gravy, and toasted some whole grain bread. 

We topped the bread with slices of the meatloaf and poured gravy over, making our own open faced meatloaf sandwiches.  Yum!  The twice baked mashed potatoes were delicious and creamy, and it all made for a good meal on such a cold wintry night.  Best of all, I spent very little time in the kitchen tonight, but had a tummy pleasing, comfort food meal to share with my family.

I'm looking forward to coming up with more twice baked meal ideas my guys will enjoy.  Trying to make the most of every minute and every dollar!  Got any twice baked meals you enjoy?  Do share!