Monday, October 19, 2009

Recipe for a Perfect Day

One of our many recipes for a perfect day...
A bag of caramels and some autumn apples,

a roaring fire,

and It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!
make a perfect autumn tradition.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sickies in the House Today

Bishop is sick today. I am assuming it is the flu. I am doing my best to create a peaceful atmosphere, allow for rest, encourage fluid intake, and increase vitamin C and restrict sugar consumption. I have made him a comfortable temporary bed so that I may keep a close eye on him and I dole out lots of hugs and snuggles. I enjoy what the book "Festival, Family and Food" has to say about preparing for convalescence. And I find what Lynn at had to say about 'special soothing traditions' to be both timely and inspiring. I am encouraged to develop more of these type of traditions for our family. Are there special foods and drinks that you serve to your convalescing? Do you have a special box of activities or special books to read that you reserve for those who are sick in your family? What do you do with those children that aren't sick that occupies them while maintaining a peaceful, healing atmosphere?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Children's Lit Fest!

I love the town that I live in. There are so many opportunities that are educational and allow us to interface with the community. Today we had the opportunity to attend a children's literature festival. Fourteen authors of children's books were brought to town so that they could share their passion with children in grades 4-6. It was promoted mostly within the public schools but my thoughtful librarian gave me information on it and we were allowed to attend. It was so cool. We got to visit with two different authors for an hour each. We chose to attend sessions with Frederick and Patricia McKissack and Cheryl Harness. Patricia McKissack was a soft-spoken yet animated storyteller. She shared with us her very personal inspiration for her stories. She has published approximately 100 books and most of them were inspired by her life experiences. Our family loves her usage of the southern vernacular and our favorite book at this point is "Goin Someplace Special."

Cheryl Harness' presentation was lively and upbeat, as was her personality. In order to grab the attention of her audience she began her presentation with a little harmonica playing.

During her presentation she shared with us the process of getting a book published. She even shared with us original pieces of art. She was generous and engaging. Her sense of humor is evident in her books, even though she is the author/illustrator of books of history. Her books are jam-packed with historical facts and have the most fabulous paintings to go along with them. They would be a perfect accompaniment to any U.S. history curriculum. We love 'Ghosts of the Civil War' and 'The Three Pilgrims."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sink or Float?

Given the fact that we have been studying explorers, such as Christopher Columbus, and will soon be covering the early settlers of America, to include the Pilgrims, it seemed appropriate to do a little something with boats. I looked through the archives of a really cool blog at and found this engineering activity. I gave the boys 2 straws and a sheet of aluminum foil measuring 12"x18" and asked them to build a boat. The boys placed their boats in a sink filled with water, placed pennies in the boat and counted how many pennies the boat could hold before sinking. Maceo's first boat didn't utilize any straws and it held 31 pennies.

He then gave it a second shot. This time he utilized his straws and met with more success. This boat held 67 pennies.

Bishop's first boat, of which there is no picture, only held 5 pennies. The basic idea was great but the surface area was extremely limited. He then expanded upon that idea and created a larger boat. This boat held 200 pennies.

Inspired by his own success he created yet another boat. This one held 266 pennies. WOW!

Missing Him Already

Herb has left. As I write this he is en route to his duty station. We are already missing him.

We had a great time and look forward to spending more time with him during the holidays.
We love you, Dad!!!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Columbus Day!

We began formal educational lessons on September 8 with ambitious intentions. These intentions included covering U.S. history from the age of exploration through the civil war. However, a week after beginning lessons Dad came home and, as mentioned in previous posts, most formal lessons went to the wayside. As we anticipate Dad leaving we must also anticipate returning to a schedule that will allow us to accomplish our goals. As a way to ease back into our lessons and as a way to share what we do with Dad, I opted to take advantage of Columbus Day. I decided that we would take this opportunity to review what we had learned about Christopher Columbus at the beginning of the school year. I had the boys complete worksheets that I acquired from These sheets will be used in lapbooks that I hope will be assembled by the end of the week. We did map work, identifying places relevant to Columbus - Italy, Spain, Portugal, Bahamas, India. We discussed the terms 'Old World' and 'New World'. We created lists of foods from the Old World and the New World. The boys then went on a scavenger hunt looking for foods from our kitchen that were representative of Old and New World foods.

We wanted to have foods that would honor Columbus in a sense. The boys wanted to have pizza as Columbus was from Italy and pizza is Italian. So we had pizza for lunch and examined the ingredients on the pizza. The boys came to realize that pizza as we know it would not have existed prior to the introduction of New World products to the Old World. Tomatoes for the pizza sauce would have come from the New World. For dinner we served a Genoa Sandwich Loaf, a fruit salad (it was 3/4 Old World), and a Genoise Sponge Cake. We gave thanks to God for the wisdom and courage of Columbus. We asked for God to impart his wisdom to us and to give us the courage to be obedient to him especially when we are asked to do something that is contrary to conventional wisdom or popular belief. We also thanked God for His creation, the diversity within it and His provision for His people regardless of what part of the world they might come from.

In case you are interested, the sandwich recipe came from the Taste of Home website and it goes a little something like this...

1/3 c. olive oil
1-1/4 c. packed minced fresh parsley
1 c. minced fresh basil
1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese, divided
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 loaf (1 lb.) French bread, halved lengthwise
1 lb. thinly sliced hard salami
2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced

For pesto, in a blender, combine the oil, parsley, basil, 1/4 c. parmesan cheese, garlic and nutmeg. Cover and process on high until blended. Spread cream cheese over cut sides of bread; spread with pesto. Layer the salami and tomatoes over pesto; sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn." -Elizabeth Lawrence

As the Autumn (prepare-for-winter) to-do list grows it is good to remember the above words, it is good to remember to just sit still and enjoy this moment.

My Autumn to-do list:
clean and decorate front porch
buy and have delivered firewood
clean out garden
mulch flower beds
winterize house and outbuildings
collect black walnuts
preserve herbs
crack and store pecans
check emergency supplies
make bread
make candles

Learning Great Lessons

The countdown is on...Herb will be leaving in less than a week. He will be returning to his duty station a couple states away. He is required to check in on October 15. It is hard to see him go but it has been so great to have him home. The boys, in particular, have relished their time with Dad. During Dad's time home we set aside formal educational lessons for the boys believing that multiplication tables and spelling lists can be addressed at a later date but this limited time with Dad is priceless. I value this flexibility. But please understand that although formal lessons have gone to the wayside lessons have been learned nonetheless. Herb has taught the boys the fine art of grilling and starting and maintaining the fire in the fireplace. I fully expect them to keep the fire going this winter.

They learned about offense and defense and how fun it is to watch football on a fine autumn day.

They learned how to swing a bat at a ball and a little bit about baseball cards, too.

They learned a bit more about the civil war and how fascinating history can be.

They learned to reach a little further in order to climb a little higher.

But, most importantly, they learned that their Dad loves them unconditionally and are reassured that he is devoted to them. They are reminded that his arms are strong and his embrace is comforting. They learned that time together is powerful and good.

Small and Simple Successes

I so often feel as though I am spinning my wheels, falling behind, not accomplishing much of anything that I hope to accomplish. I have great ideas and maybe even greater intentions and yet I accomplish so little. My head, so full of the check lists with so little checked off, becomes cloudy and I become frustrated. But maybe I will experience some clarity and satisfaction if I occasionally make note of my successes, even the small and simple. Today I remembered to take my SilverBiotic and vitamin C in order to help boost my immune system as I believe I may be coming down with bronchitis. I made my husbands favorite picadillo tacos and spicy tacos for the kids complete with freshly fried taco shells and homemade salsa. I tried out my recipe for homemade applesauce prepared in the crockpot. It is almost finished. After I give it a try I'll let you know how it turned out. Small and simple successes or, should I say, slow and steady wins the race.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cool Trip to Memphis

Hey, so, Keegan and I went to Memphis this weekend. I love this city! The one time Keegan and I went to Memphis before we hung out on Beale Street eating good food and listening cool blues music. This time we opted to do something different. After taking care of business we checked out the National Civil Rights Museum. Fascinating! The museum has been constructed around and encompasses the Lorraine Hotel. Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis mediating a strike of black sanitation workers. He was staying at the Lorraine Motel, one of the few places that would accept black lodgers, and was assassinated on its balcony. The facade of the hotel, including the balcony, and the room in which he stayed have been preserved. The museum itself traces the history of black Americans, their struggles and their triumphs. The exhibits are set up in timeline fashion. It is a profound presentation of American history - early to contemporary. Also, interestingly, there is a woman, Jackie Smith, who has sat outside peacefully protesting the museum since the ground was broken in 1987. I was unable to speak with her during this particular visit but her signs stated that she was protesting the museum because she believed that it was gentrification of the civil rights movement and did not honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. Definitely something to think about. I look forward to speaking with her next time I am at the museum. Short of a tragedy, I am sure that she will be there. As of the day that we visited, October 5, she had been protesting for 21 years and 255 days. It was a fabulous trip. I love road trips and I love spending this kind of one-on-one time with Keegan. Next trip to Memphis will involve a tour of Sun Studios - something to look forward to!!!!